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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Kludged Today

Now with the November Novel put to rest for a while, I took some time today to take care of some things around the house. I started with cleaning the gutters. That was the second cleaning this year. I'll probably have to clean the gutters again around New Years Day since there are still leaves on the trees.

While climbing up to the gutters,I noticed we have a fence issue. A short length of fence from our house to the shared fence between houses had gone loose. One end of my short segment should be firmly attached to the property line fence. That end was hanging loose.

We share the property line fence with the neighbors. When the fence needed major repairs about five years ago I agreed to let the neighbor do it himself (and he offered to pay the entire cost). Anyway, the property line fence is still standing, but it moves around from year to year, despite the neighbors' several kludges over the years. It's a real work of creativity.

I needed to secure the end of my short fence spanning the gap from the side of my house to the property line. It was tricky, because fitting something in with the previous kludges on the property line fence was a little weird.

Sounds like a real pickle, but it was no problem, thanks to my bag of nails, hammer, crosscut saw and big length of two by four lumber. Here's my work. ..

It's not much to look at, but it will hold for a while.

The top piece of wood is the actual brace. It's securely nailed to the supporting cross planks for each fence. The difficulty was that the neighbors had made two kludges to the property line fence. I had to stack a couple of two by fours to get something level with the property line fence. This is all held together with a bunch of nails.

No duct tape was used. Nails hold it all together.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to Blog Again

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Now that the November novel is written, I should be blogging a little more often.

The title needs more work.

Another November, another 50,000 words, another novel.

I won't look at the mess for at least a week, and then I'll have a better idea of what's there.

Highlights of this whole mess:

The Jules Verne on the Great Eastern took a strange and promising turn. It always bothered me that Verne didn't provide any explanation about captain Nemo. Since nature abhors a vacuum, I was nature's friend and created an identity for Nemo as Verne's alter ego haunting his dreams. The only significant insight into Nemo Verne gave us is his unlimited arrogance fueled by his absolute belief that all powerful men are arrogant and capricious. Starting with that, Nemo grew to resemble Satan from Paradise Lost. Verne's dreams while aboard the Great Eastern are filled with Nemo's successful efforts to foil the Great Eastern's 1865 cable expedition. As I write this I find myself wondering why Nemo wouldn't have just waited for the cable to be laid, and walk out with snips and make a few cuts. After all, pressure is not an issue in Nemo's ocean. That wouldn't have made much of a story.

The saga of Augustus Cary was expressed as a series of letters from Cary to his fiancee in Detroit. He never wondered if he would have great great grand children in California, since that would have been totally Mary Sue. This was by far the easiest to write, since I have written a lot of letters in my life, and the one verified sample of Augustus Cary's writing (a treatise about technical issues in cranberry farming by Stevens Point, WI) revealed a beautifully stilted Victorian era prose.

I honestly can't remember the story around the ship's building and launch. I've been too occupied with spitting out the 30,000 words after that story. I think it was historical fact through the lens of an angst filled engineer. Poor Isambard Kingdom Brunel got killed twice, since his collapse and death om the eve of the maiden voyage (I didn't make this part up, it happened) touched Augustus Cary as well as the engineers.

I am tired of writing now. That's all.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 01, 2010

And so begins This Novembers NanoWrimo Novel

I put a little more thought into this year's opus.

Here's the raw (unedited at all) beginning:

“Grandpapa, Grandpapa, what terrible news!”

“Grandpapa, Grandpapa Benedict, a great ship, the greatest ship ever, has sunk Of the coast of America.”

These words interrupted Ernest Benedict's morning nap, and left him mistily musing on the conditions of his doddering years.

“Every morning these unmannerly descendents feel they must share their opinions with their 82 year old great grandpapa. What ever has become of manners in this kingdom.”

The children continued their interruptions, “Father told us the papers count thousands among the dead. Men, women, children. Thousands sunk with the ship.” Benedict finally found the energy to raise his head and comprehend what he was hearing. He quietly responded to his great grandchildren, “Please, can you bring your great grandpapa the newspaper. He is very tired and finds such fearsome stories from the mouths of babes troublesome. Please, bring me the newspaper and leave me in peace and quiet.”

The eldest of the pack of unmannerly children handed Benedict the newspaper while chewing some unidentified morsel. Per usual, Benedict began reading the paper from the top. For the past few years, he found the newspaper's daily reminder of the current date to be helpful when his memory was poor, and comforting when his view of things was crisper. Tired and housebound, one day was not very different from the next, and sometimes Benedict lost track of the passing of time. The day was April 16, 1912.

Much of the paper's front page was taken up with news about the Titanic. Benedict read the articles full of tragedy and loss. The ship had sunk quickly in the north Atlantic after hitting an iceberg near Newfoundland. A breach in the ship's thin skin let water into the hull so fast that she sank in a matter of hours, before most of the passengers were able to abandon ship. Two days after the sinking, only about 700 survivors were identified, all others were feared lost.

As he read, Benedict remembered an advertisement he had seen a few weeks ago, claiming that the White Star liner was “as far as it is possible to do. . .designed to be unsinkable”.

Bendict began to muse,“As far as possible, as far as possible, these things are not possible today. I know they were possible once, when our Empire was lead by giants. Why must I go to my grave knowing our greatest days are behind us?”

“ In the days of our great Queen Victoria, we designed a ship that could avoid icebergs by constantly measure the ambient water temperature. A ship that could withstand such a collision, a ship that took a sixty foot gash below the waterline without even listing, without its passengers even noticing. A ship so stable in the elements that it could tie continents together with a one inch thick thread, twice in two years. The Great Eastern connected the new and old worlds, and changed the course of history. She even contributed to the arts, providing the inspiration for Captain Nemo and his Marvelous vessel forged of steel.”

“She was conceived and built by great men; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, James Scott Russell, and me among them. Great men trod upon her decks, furthering their works and the Empire's glory while aboard. The great scientist Lord Kelvin and his cable. Even the foreigner Jules Verne and his novels of fantastic future scientific miracles, many miracles that he experienced on his cruise aboard the Great Eastern. How many young men were inspired by the sight of this leviathan rising from the stinking, fetid mud of Shoreditch by the Thames?”

Film rights are still available. I'm holding out for the low seven digits.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.
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