So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Joys of (Almost) Teacherdom: Half Price Books

Made two stops at HPB sites today. The first was at their warehouse facility, where teachers can go and grab overstock books at no cost.

Yes. Free books.

I met up with a few folks from my teaching group and we all left with boxes of goodies. Rumor has it that it's sometimes an orderly affair, but today people were grabbing piles of books and stuffing them in their cardboard boxes, luggage, laundry baskets, etc. I at least tried to select things that were of some interest. Wound up with a lot of books on writing, some anthologies, and a bit of miscellanea. Also picked up some cassette tapes: Jackson Browne, Jim Croce, The Call, Beach Boys, Ennio Morricone. My classroom will be rockin' hard, you betcha.

I also went down to the main HPB store in Dallas. Picked up Stephen King's Secret Windows, a companion book to On Writing. Hadn't heard of it before, so cool beans for me. At the register I asked if student teachers qualified for the 10% teacher discount.

They said, "Why not?"

I said, "Yee-haw!"

OK, I didn't say it out loud, but it was implied when I said, "Thanks." The discount covers sales tax and a bit more. Yee-haw, indeed.

I'm sure not every day of being a teacher will go as smoothly, but I'll takes what I can gets while I can gets it.


Mikesell : 7:54 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mister the Seven-Year-Old

Today's Phil's 7th birthday. The post office came through and got his present from me there just in time for the big event. Pirate pajamas for the boy, tonight!*

Phil and Dina celebrated the day up in Portland. The things they did included:Dina also says that Phil negotiated his way into getting an elaborate Ferrari Lego set -- without whining!

I miss out on all the fun.

*Hot Wheels, gummy candies, and much, much more all over the carpet tomorrow...

Mikesell : 10:07 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Issue #212 and Me

If you're a subscriber to the Wittenburg Door Insider, you've already sneaked a peek the cover for Wittenburg Door #212 (provided you check your email on a semi-frequent basis).

The full table of contents hasn't been released yet, so let me sneak you a peek at at least one item in the magazine. Over in the sidebar I've made mention of "Reality TV of Biblical Proportions." That's what I should have named my piece. Instead, my story appears in issue #212 as "A Brief History of Reality Programming." Which doesn't stink -- still...

Here's an excerpt:
Lorna Harkonnen, director of the Red Sea Scroll division of Strang Research Center announced the discovery of a several new scrolls in Cave 4 at Qumran at a press conference. According to Harkonnen, the find establishes that the current fascination with reality television is anything but a modern occurrence.

“These newly translated texts,” Harkonnen says, “show that interest in reality programming is as old as the ancient Hebrews themselves. They chronicle centuries of project development, though very few actual success stories.”

“For instance,” she continues, “an early version of Big Brother -- around 1930 B.C. -- was canceled when ‘little brother’ Jacob stole the show.”

Yeah, it's like that. Full page story, great illustration. (Only one page of about 50 with great stories and illustrations.)

If you're not a Door subscriber, become one. If you already are, Christmas-in-July festivities are right around the corner; order a subscription for a friend (or enemy, if they're really uptight).

Either way, don't miss this issue.

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Mikesell : 7:41 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Coach's Midnight Diner: The Pre-Sale

Coach's Midnight Diner, the genre anthology ("horror, mystery, crime, and paranormal goodness") that selected my short story "In R'lyeh, Jesus Walks" as the winner of its Jesus vs. Cthulhu contest has gone on pre-sale. It's slated to run $15, but you can save a buck by ordering now (hey, order more, save more -- well, sorta).

But, you ask, what's in this anthology? And what does the cover look like?

Worry not; I've got you covered.

But we like worrying. When we don't have something to worry about we start to panic.


Here's a run-down of all the stories. My favorite title has got to be "The Gift of the Magi If The Magi Had Been Big Idiots" (by Paul Luikart). I mean, based on that title alone, if you haven't just now gone back to that first paragraph and clicked on the "pre-sale" link, there's something wrong with you (maybe it's a tumor, my oh so worrisome friend). Here's that link again.

And here's the cover. Mmmmm ... that's some good cover.

Once again, in case after seeing the cover you want to order more, here's that pre-order link.

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Mikesell : 9:40 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Train Rides and Autographs

Last night I got a invite from Angie Poole, a friend and member of my writing group (all the writing group members are friends, btw) to join her and her daughters for a ride on the historic Texas State Railroad. The train runs from Rusk to Palestine (pronounced with a -steen instead of a -stein), and vice-versa. I got there just before departure, met Angie, her daughters Zoe and Jacey, and Jacey's friend Stacy.

Here we are at the Palestine end of the trip (which with depot, snack bar and gift shop is suspiciously like the Rusk side, as well). While I jotted a few notes for a Wittenburg Door Insider article, Angie brainstormed titles for a train-based story, came up with "Slow Train to Rusk, Texas." Me, I like "Rusk, Texas -- Trains Daily."

On the way back I dibsed a line Stacy shared, about dashing a short nebbish's hopes of conversing with her: after swiping her hand above his head she said, "You must be at least this tall to talk to me." Don't know if that'll be in the train story; it has so many possible applications...

After we got back to Rusk, I went out to my car and grabbed my copy Relief Journal, vol. 3, which has a short story by Angie. I brought it back to the depot and got her autograph. She said it was her first signing ever, so someday this puppy's gonna go for big bucks I'm sure. (If you don't already have a copy (un-autographed) of RJv3, click the link above to order one.)

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Mikesell : 7:31 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Special Message for Judy

Dear Judy:

I have your old cell phone number now. Please let your friends know how they can get in touch with you. It's not a problem passing along the message that you don't have this number anymore -- it's just more people call for you than do for me, and that hurts a little.


Mikesell : 10:30 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Monday, June 18, 2007

Been Busy

Spent much of my "free" time last week preparing for Saturday's English/Language Arts content exam. Gotta pass to get a class of my own this fall. Think I did well. We'll find out in about three weeks.

Stay tuned.

Yesterday was rough, spending Father's Day away from Phil and Dina. Did get a cool handcrafted frame with a picture of Phil inside. And some nice cards. Not the same...

Here's the latest pic of Phil (and Biscuit).

In other news, PostSecret had a round-up of Father's Day secrets/postcards yesterday. (Who knows what'll be there next week; browse cautiously...) These were some emails sent in that appeared beneath this postcard:
-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 5:12 AM

My dad used to say that inside of the car's air-bags was uncooked popcorn. When you wrecked the popcorn would pop and you would have a snack until help came.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 6:13 AM

When I was little, my dad told me ATMs worked by having little monkeys inside them. I believed that for years. Now I work in a bank, and wish it were true!

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 6:55 AM

My dad told me the worst swear word you could possibly say was "Bostonian". It meant "someone who has no private parts." My brother and I used the word until we were teenagers and my father giggled every time we said it, right before he sent us to our rooms.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 8:29 PM

when i was little my dad told me that polyester was a small animal in australia & they would kill it to make clothes. that night i sat in my room reading the labels on my clothes for hours & threw all of the polyester ones away.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 10:06 PM

When I was little my Dad told me that the tune played by the ice-cream van was the ice-cream man letting everyone know that he'd run out of ice-cream.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 9:56 AM

When we'd approach exits or toll booths, my father told me the sound the car made when it went over the rumble strips was the car getting angry because I had been bad. I still sit up a little straighter when I hit a rumble strip.

Wonder if the ice cream truck one will work on Phil...

I'll try to check in sometime before next Father's Day, but right now I have to put the final touches on (The Narrative of the Life of) Frederick Douglass Character Bingo. Talk amongst yourselves until I get back.

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Mikesell : 9:59 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, June 08, 2007

Being There

Should've blogged on this yesterday, but better late than never.

The day after Memorial Day my in-laws in California gave Dina and me their very nice Toyota Camry. (Thank You!) And I spent a few days driving it back to Texas. (Thanks Jenny and family for the stop along the way!)

With summer school activity beginning today, I had a short window of opportunity to get the title and registration changed. Well, a week, but that turned out to be barely enough.

On Tuesday this week I went to the shop to get the state inspection done. Turns out I needed more specific proof of insurance before they could help me.

Got that faxed to me from our State Farm agent in Oregon.

On Wednesday I got the state inspection sticker.

On Thursday I went down to the Tax Assessors office downtown (the only place I could find online) to handle the doc changes. Got there a little after they opened at 7am. Was the only one in line. Found out I needed some additional paperwork from California.

A meltdown threatened--this was the last day to take care of the paperwork before the upcoming five weeks were swallowed from 7a-5p, and I had to wait a couple hours before calling the west coast (because that's the kind of courteous and aware of time-zone differences son-in-law I am), and as far as I knew I was looking at another trip downtown, $5 more in parking, and the distinct possibility of discovering I'd need yet more paperwork)--but I persevered. (Thanks God!)

Went back home. Waited. Had a talk with Dina. Called the coast. Got things set. Realized that maybe I should eat something. Went for a walk. Passed by a State Farm office. Remembered Oregon agent said I should stop in a local office if I needed help with registration.

So I went into Ron Sunstrom's office and talked with Kathy. Found out a) she'd be glad to let Dina's folks fax the documents there (my primary fax receiving site was closed and the alternative was Staples or the assessors office), and b) there was a tax assessors office about 5 miles away (with free parking).

So. Docs come. I go. Everything sails through.

A big thanks to Kathy at the Sunstrom office! THANKS! It's not every company (or every State Farm agent) that lives up to the corporate jingle. But like a good neighbor you were there. (Maybe I'll come over and borrow some power tools sometime.)

I'd post a link for the office, but I don't see anything online. They're located at 1332 S. Plano Rd., Ste. 110 in Richardson (near Buckingham). Phone: 972-699-8588. Email: Ron.Sunstrom.b5db -at- statefarm.com.

Thanks, again.

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Mikesell : 10:44 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oh Brother

Went to Staples tonight and bought a laser printer. Bought two, in fact.

The first, an HP model, didn't support Macs, so back it went. Would've been nice, though. $70 after rebate.

While the Brother model I replaced it with won't be as cheap after rebate, it was $10 cheaper to begin with. And it still broke the $100 mark (before tax--still getting used to life in the land of sales tax).

Paperwork is coming fast and furious (and will get faster and furiouser before it gives out). Most of it is coming via email (either in the email or as an attachment) and I don't process on screen nearly as well as I do on paper. Short notes are fine. Multi-page stuff with multiple to-dos and procedures. Nuh-uh.

Life is better now. Sales tax and all.

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Mikesell : 10:08 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, June 04, 2007

Coach's Midnight Diner: The Ad

I've you have the latest issue of Relief Journal, you may have already seen the ad for Coach's Midnight Diner at the back of the book.

If not: check it out!

I've seen a draft of CMD #1's cover. Same graphic as the ad ... only awesomer.

Having trouble reading the script font in the ad? Here's the info:
(apologies for any typos; get Relief vol. 3 to see the real deal)


Mikesell : 9:56 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Phil and the Car Show

Every year Junction City, Ore., has a cruise-in and car show. In fact, the year we moved down to the camp and conference center our Subaru wagon was part of the cruise (mainly because I was new to the area and didn't know I could bypass the congestion by tacking one street over and paralleling the main drag).

Yesterday Dina to Phil to the car show. Phil brought along our digital camera. Here's what he saw:
Dina also took a few pix of the Phil and the cars:
Phil also got to go for a ride in the Bi-Mart monster truck. He always gawps at it when it's parked in the store lot, so I'm sure this was the high point of his day.

Mikesell : 10:57 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fixing the Internet

About 15 minutes after I got home yesterday (about 2 after I found out about the DKA win) the Internet ceased to be available at my brother's house. It's through Time-Warner Cable and it's gone out a time or two before, usually a few minutes to a few hours. This time it was out overnight (without so much as a phone call to tell us where it was), so I called T-W this afternoon to find out what was up. (I spent the late morning at the public library, quelling my wi-fi jones).

The first phone call ended with the tech asking me to see if I could get online by connecting an ethernet cable to the modem/router. I did. I could. I told him so and the line went dead.

So I called back. I was online now, so I felt a little better. Got re-routed to the point the tech would've moved me to had I not been disconnected. Another "hold" queue, as it turned out.

I went back in the queue when I slipped on some wayward pool water and hit the disconnect button while I bobbled the phone.

After a total of 3 hours (were it not for the disconnects it may have been less) I got through to someone who walked me through resetting-up the modem/router. Took about 5 minutes.

I wrote down notes, so should this happen again I DIY it myself.


Mikesell : 8:02 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Bang! Zoom!

I got word yesterday that the short story I submitted to this year's Dragons, Knights & Angels Short Story Contest took the top spot.

Here's how the editors described "Moonshot": "A minister of a technology-averse sect of Christianity wins a trip to a high-tech, Las Vegas style resort on the moon. Brimming with keen characterization and a distinctive authorial voice, this story has a Joycean epiphany that adds resonance to its finale."

I'm guessing that's James Joyce not Dr. Brothers, but I'm honored either way.

The story should be appearing some time next month, so stay tuned.

(Last year I also won the contest with a short story titled "The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur." That one is no longer available online, but you can get it in the Distant Passages II anthology. )

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Mikesell : 2:08 PM : 5 snarky remarks