Being the Ongoing Chronicle of the Anticks, Misadventures, and Odd Deeds of an Overalls-clad Wanderer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The blanketing of the world, part deux


That was fun.

And by "fun", I mean, "This is the kind of shit that makes people want to live in weird places whose names end with 'exas' or 'zona' or 'ida' or 'arolina'."

The lake-effect snow that started the other day? It just kept on coming...for three days. My town has received over 70 inches of snow, and other places nearby have received even more than that.

At least our personal larders were well and truly stocked, so at no point have been even close to going hungry. We never lost power, and our heat has been fine (especially once we saw warnings about the exhaust vents on high-efficiency furnaces, and started making a major priority of keeping them clear). I haven't been to work since Monday, which stinks, but it is, as they say, "what it is". Not a big thing in the greater picture.

How did we occupy our time? Reading, fretting, hanging on the Interwebs. Making geeky jokes about Imperial walkers in my backyard and more Frozen references than anyone need hear. Oh, and shoveling. Lots of shoveling. Holy shit, the shoveling.

The storm came in two "waves", with about twelve hours between the first wave (about 4-5 feet) and the second (another 2-3 feet). So, after the first wave we dug out as much as we could, just to give ourselves a fighting chance of digging out after the second. Shoveling that much snow is really hard, not just because it's difficult to begin with, but when the snow piles get to be almost as tall as you are, it gets hard to figure out where to put the stuff as you shovel it. As it is, I have completely barricaded both of our garage doors, so we won't be getting out of those any time soon. (We haven't been using a garage for a car at all, so that's not an issue until Tuesday, when I have to take the garbage out.)

And then there was the stuff at the foot of the driveway, the Plow Pile, which is the broken clumps of icy stuff blasted up by the passing snow plows. We're lucky that our street was plowed each and every day this week, when other people we know still haven't seen a plow. (We're wondering if some town official or another lives on our street.) That was insanely hard to shovel, but the guy next door let us use his snowblower for a bit, which did help. The kicker there is that a snowblower actually came with the house! It's in my parents' garage. One main order of business, once we're cleared out, is me figuring out if it works, how to use it, and getting it into my garage, so I'll be able to deploy it in everyone's favor. I'm not generally a big fan of snowblowers, but they have their moments.

Let's see, what else? Not much. All those snow days were stressful and worrisome, which meant that they were awful for writing. I don't have much hope of being a NaNoWriMo winner this year, but them's the breaks. Princesses III is still on the way!

And now, because I'm tired and I don't feel like writing a nice transition to the "here's a bunch of pictures" part of this's a bunch of pictures. I'll arrange them roughly chronologically so you can see the progression. And note the dee-oh-gee action; turns out he loves this stuff. What a weird dog.

Oh wait! One geeky thing that struck me as funny, although no one reacted when I posted it a couple of times to social media. Our "official" snowfall total ended up being 71 inches, which I decided to convert into other units. I thought about light-nanoseconds and other such items, but then I settled on...the smoot. What's a smoot, you ask? Well, fifty years ago, some guys were pledging a fraternity at MIT, and as part of their pledge, they were ordered (MIT is legendary for its pranks) to measure a local bridge, using as their measuring stick a guy named Smoot. Mr. Smoot is 67 inches tall, so that's one smoot. Therefore, my town officially received 1.0597 smoots of snow.

And now, pictures.

Snowmageddon '14

Snowmageddon '14

Snowmageddon '14

Snowmageddon '14

Snowmageddon '14, continued

Snowmageddon '14, continued

snowMG 3

Our front walk is now a trench. That mound on the left is as tall as me. #Snowmageddon #OrchardPark #wny

My car, right now. #Snowmageddon #wny #OrchardPark

The Wife's car, right now. #Snowmageddon #wny #OrchardPark

Trench! But there's no thermal exhaust port at the end of it. #StarWarsReference #Snowmageddon #OrchardPark #wny

So, there you go. Snowmageddon 2014 draws to a close. Next up? A massive warm-up might lead to flooding! Huzzah!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Now for Kindle!!!

As you can see, Stardancer is now available for Kindle! It is exclusive to Kindle right now, but I did enroll it for Kindle Unlimited, so if you're partaking of that service, you can read it for free. (Just make sure you read at least 10 percent of the book, so I get the credit for it, money-wise!) And if you don't have a Kindle, get the Kindle app for whatever device you do have!

The paperback is still available, if that's your preference.


(And yes, I will be getting back to less book-and-writing posting at some point. This month has been exciting, though!)

Something for Thursday (Mike Nichols edition)

I see that director Mike Nichols has died, which is obviously a deep shame. I don't think I disliked a single movie of his that I've seen, although I haven't seen them all. (Well, Regarding Henry wasn't all that great, but it had some good moments.) My personal favorite film of his is Working Girl, the comedy starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford, which I've always felt is a pretty underrated movie. Griffith is terrific in it, and the film was made during the period when Harrison Ford was really firing on all cylinders.

Anyway, here is the title song from that movie, "Let the River Run", sung by the great Carly Simon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Can any of you drop by with a snowplow and maybe a pizza?

OK, that's not fair. Real question: Name your favorite fictional spy, secret agent, or other such operative!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The blanketing of the world

Or at least my little corner of it.

Over the last few days, local meteorologists have been sounding the alarm that today could potentially bring some significant lake-effect snow to the region. Lake-effect snow, for those unfamiliar with such things, is snow that is fueled by cold winds traversing the still-warm and open waters of a large body of water, like Lake Erie. Those winds pick up moisture, and then when they hit land, they dump it, usually in narrow bands of nastiness that are often just a few miles wide. It's not uncommon for towns in the band to get a lot of snow while towns outside the band, just a few miles away, get almost none.

Lake-effect snow bands often start in the Buffalo metro area and almost always, after a few hours, shift southward into what's called "Ski Country" in these parts, so unless you live in those regions, usually you can count on a lake-effect storm not lasting all that long, even if it dumps a good amount of snow.

That, however, is not the case with this one. The lake-effect band has not budged, as of this writing. It started very late last night, and I got up at 4am to check things out. At that point, this is what the local weather map looked like. The blue area is the lake-effect band, and at this point it had looked like this for roughly four hours.

We live right smack in the middle of that. The blue area there is the lake-effect snow band.

Eight hours later, I took another photo of the weather map:

Ayup. The snow band has gotten a bit wider, but other than that, it's in the exact same position it was nearly twelve hours ago when it fired up.

We are getting absolutely socked here at Casa Jaquandor. Virtually every town on my side of the City of Buffalo has imposed travel bans; there are snow plow trucks stuck in ditches. Our street got plowed a couple of times, earlier, but nothing since, because what's the point?

I've seen my share of big snowfalls here, but this will be right up there with the biggest I've ever seen. Meanwhile, friends of mine who live less than twenty miles away are posting photos of their snow-dusted front lawns, blades of grass still visible, under sunny skies.

The following photo has been making the Buffalo social media rounds this morning, taken by a passenger on one of the last flights to actually get out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport. When I say that lake-effect snow can form very sharp lines between clear skies and snowy doom, I am not exaggerating.

That big expanse of gray at the right is Lake Erie, and at the lower-right corner is Downtown Buffalo. Casa Jaquandor? Well, we've been swallowed up by that enormous cloud of white doom. But hey, I still have electricity and the Interwebs and food and rum and Scotch and overalls and blankets and kitties. We'll make it through!

The Empire needs to quit searching my backyard, though.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I am SO behind the times....

Good talk, good talk! See you out there!

A frequent feature of the message boards at the NaNoWriMo website is all the "pep talks": brief essays on writing, sometimes by major authors which are then sent out to the entire NaNo community, and sometimes by regular participants which are then beamed to the local area forums. One great example of the latter ran yesterday, by a fine woman who goes by the Twitter handle So_I_SAW. I asked her permission to run it here, and she graciously conceded, so here it is:

The world doesn’t need my novel. Let me say that again: the world doesn’t need my novel. I have no delusions of grandeur. I won’t be writing the next Harry Potter (or insert whatever book/series in your genre that fits). I don’t think I’ll be writing a game-changing novel.

So why do NaNoWriMo at all? Good question, particularly since I’ve yet to “win”, heck I have yet to finish any of the writing ideas I’ve started.

It’s simple really. I need my novel. I need the outlet. I need the story. I need the characters I live with to come out onto the page so I can re-read about them whenever I want. I need the story that I wish someone else would write. I am my primary audience. I need this.

Doing NaNo gives me a chance to refocus. There are so many authors, self or traditional published, who dismiss the event all together. If we really wanted to write we’d do it all the time. We’re not trying hard enough to make time. No novel is ever truly complete in a month. (To that last one I say, no duh. This month is about writing, not fixing and editing.) But to the other comments? I think the statements are unfair. Life gets in the way sometimes. We move, we have jobs and bills, and families. We experience creative drain. Illness. Stress. Or sometimes we just can’t write. Personally I had a few life events that took significant time and energy away from every other aspect of my life. My marriage was falling apart, I was unemployed and struggling with severe depression and a loss of a family member. It was too much all at once. I couldn’t make myself write, read, heck, I could hardly form sentences some days. The truth is, sometimes we just can’t write and hearing we aren’t trying hard enough is unhelpful. Take the break and come back later. And if you’re like me, re-read your old writings for a good laugh.

Doing NaNo allows me to try. Even better, I can do it knowing that there’s a whole world of people also trying. It’s less lonely. There’s a nice satisfaction to adding to my word count and our region’s word count. I can refocus my ideas, have a place to update my stats, complain, and get inspired with other people doing the same thing. I get a touch of healthy, encouraging pressure by participating. I’m reminded that I need this. I can practice leaving all the things that have previously held me from writing.

The world doesn’t need my novel.

But I do.

Every thing in the history of the world that's been worth doing has had to start somewhere, and that the world doesn't always make a huge deal of things doesn't mean they're not worth doing. So go ahead and start!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Resetting the Clock

Lord knows I had my issues with the Aaron Sorkin series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but there are a few moments from it that stick in my head, the best being in the second episode, I think. Matthew Perry is playing the late night comedy show's head writer, and he's moved into the office vacated by the previous guy, who had just been fired for a live on-air rant about how awful teevee is, or something. That's not important. What's important is the the old writer had a digital clock on the wall that counted down the time to the next episode's airing, which meant that he had a constant reminder of how he had to always be working.

Well, in the second episode, our writer guy and his director buddy (played by Bradley Whitford) put together the first episode of their era in charge of the show. It's a long, slow struggle, and they barely pull it off. The very last scene has the Perry character realizing that they've done it, they've got the show finished and it's good and it's on the air and it's all over -- and then Perry happens to turn to the "Countdown to Next Episode" clock, just in time to see it reset and start counting down again.

That's it. Moment's over. Back in the saddle.

Or, a wonderful moment (one of many) in the best baseball movie ever, Bull Durham. Our pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), has just had a pretty good inning, retiring the side in order after spending most of his early season struggling with his control. He comes back to the dugout and takes a seat next to his veteran catcher, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner):

NUKE: I was great, huh?

CRASH: Your fastball's up, your curveball's hangin'. In the Show, they would've ripped you.

NUKE: Can't you just let me enjoy the moment?

CRASH: Moment's over.

My point? Stardancer is out (and really, if you haven't ordered a copy yet, what are you waiting for!), and I'll have more to do to sell it and market it and bask in its inevitable glory, but for now, the clock has reset, and the moment's over.

Time to keep writing.

It's a good think I happen to love writing, but I'd still like to punch the person who said, "The reward for doing good work is the opportunity to do more work."

Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm off to do some work. Sigh!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Those three little words....


STARDANCER front cover

STARDANCER back cover

Yes, today is the day. I'll have more to say later on, but for now: Stardancer is now available for purchase on

Currently the book is available in print only, but the Kindle e-version will follow in two or three weeks (more likely two), with other platforms to follow once any exclusivity periods run out.

As I say, more later.

For now, STARDANCER is available for purchase!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

With thanks

Thanks to all who have served in our military, in wartime and peacetime, with hopes that as the future comes to pass, there will ever be more of the latter and less of the former.

T-minus One!

Oh wow...One day to STARDANCER! How to wrap it up? Well, there is a teen romance aspect to the book, so...Danny and Sandy will finish out the countdown.

Tomorrow, folks! Tomorrow, all things change!