Derek's Blog Page

Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

My Photo
Location: Citrus Heights, California


Near Space Press presents Net Assets



Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It has been suggested...

that I don't make such a plaintive cry for donations in my posts. Good idea, that. So except for the prior sentence, I'm not going to do so. Instead, I'll figure out how to put a simple, moderate 'Donate' button in my sidebar. Less begging, more content.

Speaking of content, could someone please post some feedback on the other content in these posts? I mean, do you find what I rant about interesting, or do they sidetrack you from other issues? C'mon, don't be shy. Within the limits of propriety, post whether you like what I have to say and what your opinions are about them.

And I'll try to add in my experiences with The Grill. I do love to barbecue!

You know... I wonder sometimes what's happening to our country. I mean, Batwoman is going to now be lesbian. Lesbian? Why? Why the need to 'revise' history? Couldn't they just create a new character who's lesbian or gay? Maybe a Chickadee could be Batman's new sidekick - replete with un-requited love for his dark knight. Could work... What do you think? Do we have to have every icon be re-written to Politically Correct sexual orientation? Must every one of our heros be 'outed' to please the social adjusters?

I'm asking because I don't see the reason for reversing or upsetting every motivation of characters we've grown to know. Where's the motivation for Batwoman to have ever loved Batman? Is she really lesbian; if so, why did she bother to ever come on to Batman? Does her motivation for everything else in her life stay the same? Are we soon to discover she's secretly the head of C.H.A.O.S? And if nothing else has changed, why is it important to know her current sexual orientation? Does making her, now, lesbian make her a better action figure? I think not. Unless we're to see the look and feel of Batman change to some form of sleazy sex-ridden manga.

To me, this change just smacks of pandering to the politically-correct crowd of critics. And I wish DC had had the balls to 'just say no'.

The Dog Days of Summer

Okay. Not quite yet. But I can feel them on the horizon; the humidity is rising and the temperature is getting into the orange and red zones. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

I and my family had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I hope the rest of you had the same. There's nothing quite like barbecuing babyback ribs on the charcoal grill. Low and slow, that's my method - and don't forget the mesquite chips for the smoke. Right now we're a two grill family; we have the Weber Performer charcoal grill and the Weber Baby Q gas grill. As we don't do that much gas cooking, I'm barely satisified with the Baby Q. It's rather small and the single burner just doesn't do anything for me; I'd upgrade to a Weber Q 300, but it's so danged expensive. I could get an Aussie Bondi two-burner grill for under $100 on eBay. But I think I'll just keep the Baby Q and invest in a Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker/Smoker. I've a hankering for some pulled pork and beef brisket. And then there's the idea of a whole roast turkey for Christmas dinner. Yum! Yum!

Has anyone used the rotisserie accessory on the Weber Performer? Is it easy to use? Got any great recipes?

As you may know if you've read earlier posts, I'm in the process of writing two novels. One is more mainstream, with a bit of romance, the other is more science fiction - very science fiction! I've been in quite a funk and am just now getting back into the creative mood.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Did I mention I'm writing two novels?

In case it's slipped everyone's mind, yes, I am writing novels. And if you check out my two other blogs, you'll be able to read excerpts from them.

In the mean time, didja notice the hoorah over DaVinci Code? I read the book. I liked it. I'll probably see the movie.

Does that mean I'm about to give up my faith? No. Nor do I feel threatened or demeaned by the propositions the author, Dan Brown, has put forth in his story. It's a work of fiction, people. Just as every single story in the "Left Behind" series is a work of fiction. They're all just 'what if' scenarios. By the way, I like the "Left Behind" series. It's written well enough that despite some of the more 'heavy-handed' preachiness, I'm eager to work my way through the entire set. Of course, being LDS, I find the "Work and Glory" series far more interesting...

Now no matter what you think about DVC or LB, you probably have figured out that I'm somewhat geeky. This translates into my switching from just 'dead-tree' (hardcover and paperback format books) to ebooks. What's that? You haven't made the jump? What are you waiting for - an engraved invitation?!?

Look, some of the older PDAs have atrociously small screens, but most of the newer ones support 240x320, 320x480 or 480x640 full-color resolution screens (3.5" to 4.0") and have adjustable font sizes to make even the most near-sighted and tired eyes capable of reading the ebooks. And then there's the dedicated ebook readers such as the older RCA REB-1100 (around $100-$150 on eBay) and the newer iRex Technologies Iliad, Sony eBook Reader and Hanlin Jinke V2/V8 series devices, all of which feature 6" or larger screens. All of these run between $299 and $450 and can hold at least 80 ebooks. (Okay, the pdas win here over the Sony hands-down as it's possible to insert a Compact Flash, Secure Digital or XD 8 gigabyte memory card which can hold around 9,600 ebooks! I'm using a 512MB Compact Flash card and I've got 347 ebooks stored with over 84% of the card still available.)

The fact is that it's far easier to use a PDA for reading than any dead-tree book and you get the convenience that you can also switch over to check out your email and play a game - and not lose your place in the story. Now some of you may already be doing this, but you may have parents and grand-parents who are stuck in the dark ages. Get thee hence to eBay and buy them an HP iPaq, Palm TX/Lifedrive or Dell Axim. Liberate them now!

A short P.S. If you haven't checked out Simon Haynes' work, the "Hal Spacejock" series, I strongly suggest you do so. I've read snippets of his first story and am eagerly awaiting my chance to purchase the dead-tree versions. He also has written some decent writing and ebook reading/creating software. Here's a link to his blog.

Hal Spacejock

Friday, May 26, 2006

I found some GREAT D.I.Y. camera sites!

Yes. It is possible to create your own camera. In fact you can either make a large-format camera out of wood, aluminum and cloth or you can just go straight for a paper pinhole camera (using 35mm film) that you cut from sheets of printed paper and glue onto card stock to fold and tape together. Here's the link for a large format camera by Ed Hoover: Ed Hoover's Econon LF Camera. However, I think the most fun can be had by doing the colorful camera from Lighthouse in a Tree (Linatree). They've put together an Adobe PDF file which you can download for free, print onto normal paper using your color printer, glue onto the - thin, because you'll be folding it - black card stock using some of that Scotch 77 spray adhesive, cut out with a craft knife, fold and tape together. Here's the link:Linatree Paper Pinhole Camera. It's blocky, it's red and it's just too simple to pass up!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This is a test of pictures

I'm trying to post a picture to this. I'll try the Painted Ladies shot. Oh, great! It worked! This is a picture taken by Greg Dean, who creates the Real Life webcomic. All I did was edit it to enhance the colors.


Didja ever think about your health?

I do. I've been fighting a weight problem for years. As medicine makes advances I've found out that one thing I have been overlooking is my sodium intake. I can control this much better when I use fresh ingredients, but I always thought that 'healthy' prepared foods, such as 'healthy' soups, would not have excess amounts of sodium/salt. Man was I mistaken. I recently ate some Campbell's 'healthy' chicken noodle soup - the kind that comes in a 10.5 ounce can. Did you know that one can of that soup has over 1,100 milligrams of sodium!!! So watch out for the sodium content of so-called 'healthy' prepared meals.

Speaking of health, my friend is involved with "Visions for Life", which markets a liquid vitamin supplement. It looks interesting, both as a vitamin source and a network marketing opportunity - here's the website link: Phyllis' Vision for Life. And don't forget to check out her Mangosteen antioxidant drink website at: Phyllis' Go Mangosteen. Check them out.

New Posts to Homebrew! With Hesitant Stride posts tomorrow!

Yes. I've now posted the entire first chapter of "Homebrew" as well as the first snippet of the second chapter. I'll be adding an excerpt from "With Hesitant Stride" either tonight or tomorrow. Life is Great!

You know, it's wonderful to be able to write every day. And while I write, I listen to talk radio. Sure, I don't always agree with the talk show hosts, but it fills the void. However, I have to remind myself that my 'job', as it were, is to write, not to get excited or enraged over what they're saying on the radio. This is especially true living in California. We're just about a week from our primary and they're all upset about each candidate's stance on various issues, such as sending troops to the border, illegal immigration and the visit of Presidente Fox from Mexico.

Did you know that they've made great strides in computers? Yep. They're now offering Macs from Apple that feature the Intel Pentium D (for dual cpus on the chip) chipset. And the prices for the Windows machines featuring the Intel and AMD dual-cpus are plunging. Makes me wish we were seeing the same level of price drop in digital SLR cameras. I drool over the idea of having a Canon 8- or 12-megapixel dSLR or those Olympus Evolt 8-megapixel dSLRS in my hand. And what's up with Sony, Pentax, Minolta and Nikon? (Okay, Nikon *does* offer a 10-megapixel camera but it's SOOooo expensive!) All their basic dSLRs are 6-megapixels! Why is that?

I don't know about you but I'm all ready for barbecue season. I've already done chicken on my Weber Performer grill and I'm looking forward to barbecueing babyback ribs for my birthday dinner. This year, I'm going for pulled pork from a barbecued pork butt and I've got plans to do a nice beef brisket. Of course, that means, for my family, buying and setting up a new picnic table. I think we'll set up one of those 10' x 10' awnings as well.

Monday, May 22, 2006

With Hesitant Stride excerpts are UP!


I've got all the older snippets moved over and everything is up-to-date on the With Hesitant Stride weblog. Go there and read.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A plea for donations

I'm back after a rather long hiatus. Starting Monday, I'll be posting new material from my novel "With Hesitant Stride". I hope to be able to finish it before the end of June. If you've enjoyed what I've written to date, please feel free to post comments and feedback.

Please understand that I derive great enjoyment from writing this novel. I'm also working on the basic outlines for three other novels, one fantasy and two science fiction works, that I hope to start posting to this blog. However, one of the biggest problems I face is that I don't have the time to both write as much as I think I should and still earn a decent income. (Just so you know, I'm pegging a decent income at $2,000 per month - I'm not expecting to get filthy rich while writing these books.)

What I'd greatly like to do is to continue to bring in $1,000 in regular income and solicit donations to cover the other $1,000 per month. Doing so would free up enough time that I could concentrate on completing, and posting, excerpts from two novels to this blog, the current "With Hesitant Stride" and one of my science fiction pieces, "Homebrew".

So I'm asking you, dear readers, to donate to my writing efforts. As I said earlier, I'd like to receive donations totalling $1,000 per month. That means I need to receive 1,000 $1 donations, 500 $2 or 200 $5 donations in each month. So if 200 of my readers will kick in the price of a good cup of Starbucks coffee each month, I'll reward all my readers with excerpts from both novels. Please, help me free up the time and reduce my monetary worries by clicking on the following link. Donate to Derek's Writing Fund

Thank you for any donation you can give and I'll keep posting ever couple of days.


P.S. I've moved the actual excerpts from With Hesitant Stride to it's own blog page and you can find these excerpts at: With Hesitant Stride

You can also find the excerpts from my science fiction novel, Homebrew, at: Homebrew A Novel