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12/31/2012 - 2012 - My Year In Review.

Where did 2012 go? It certainly didn't go out with a bang, like with the end of the world as the Mayan's "predicted," but the year has indeed ended. Every year seems to get shorter and shorter. Of course they don't really, but the years to me now just become a smaller percentage of my life than in the years past. It's like when you're four years-old and a whole year is a quarter of your life so it seems like forever, but as you get older that percentage becomes smaller and smaller and the years get shorter and shorter. It sucks getting old, but oh well, life moves on (faster and faster).

Sales for A Legend in Time and Onboard the Marauder were great in 2012 - thank you to all who enjoyed reading my tales of the James Sutherland Chronicles. Rest assured, Book Three is still in the works. I had to restart it because I didn't like the way it began, and I'm sure that if I didn't like it you wouldn't have liked it either. So, I ended up scrapping it and began anew. It's much better now (in my humble opinion) and I'm more enthusiastic about it with the first 15K word count complete, so I'll be sure to work on it more now.

After Book Two, while being stuck on not liking the start of Book Three, I wrote a bunch of short and flash fiction. One of them is a short where James and Namoenee travel to Ancient Rome, and takes place in between books one and two. It turns out I had all these tales in my head, which required them being written down in order to clear my head for Book Three. One of these stories was short listed, but it was eventually (and politely) declined after "careful consideration." Perhaps my shorts should be compiled as a collection to whet your appetites while waiting for Book Three? (Hint-hint, it's being looked at).

I have also turned A Legend in Time into a screenplay of the same name and registered it with the Screen Writer's Guild. I will begin shopping it around to agents, directors, and producers soon, so if you are one of those or know one who would be interested in making my first novel into a movie, please let me know.

If you've read some of my past posts you know that I did have some art work published. I hope you found them enjoyable also.

Some of my other past posts were about our new dog, Willow. Let me just say this about her; at seven months old she has turned into quite a handful. Not only does she have pancreatitis and needs Tylan enzyme added to her food, but I've been giving her B12 injections. She's very spunky and gets into trouble a lot as she likes to swallow anything that fits into her mouth. The family and I are this close *holds fingers almost together* in trying to find another home for her. This upsets me considerably because I am not the type to give up on something/someone just because they are difficult, but I also don't want to deal with this type of behavior for the next fifteen years. Hopefully she'll grow out of this "phase" soon or she'll end up elsewhere.

My wife and I took the kids to Disney this year, and I went to Barcelona on a business trip. I can't say which one was better. One was nice being with my family, as we had a lot of fun together, but the other was equally as nice without them (sorry girls). As of this writing, there are no future family trips planned, but I may be going to Montreal for work this coming year. It's funny how I've never been to Canada. I always figured because it's so close in proximity that I would get there one of these fast disappearing years.

And so this ends my year in review of mortality. Except for a couple of highlights, this year has been quiet and status quo, which is a good thing as I wouldn't want it to have gone by any quicker than it did.

11/15/2012 - Monkey business and Marge Simpson.

I came across these pictures and decided to share. That’s me and my friend Glenn. It was two years ago, during the Icelandic volcano which forced me to stay in the UK for an extra week due to all planes being grounded in and out of Northern Europe and England because of the ash cloud.

The first week I was there was for business. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I work with a varied group of great people. Then the volcano erupted and eight of us became stranded. So what does one do when he gets an unexpected paid vacation? He tries to see all that he can.

We went to the Black Sheep Brewery for a tour, dinner, and drafts. We went to York and walked the old fortress wall. We went to Manchester to visit the Hard Rock Café. We visited a train museum. We saw an ATM machine called a “Hole in the Wall.”

The local young adults have a dress up night every Thursday. Hat Night, I think they call it--it’s their version of Halloween. That’s when we met Marge Simpson.

We tried on our own hats in a hat shop one day during one of our many walks, but we didn’t buy any.

We went to see Mother Shipton’s Cave and a geological phenomenon known as the Petrifying Well—a sign there read, “The water is of such a nature that whatever is cast in and is touched by this water turneth to stone.” Many celebs have visited this natural spring. John Wayne had a cowboy hat turned to stone there.

All in all, we had fun mixing in a little monkey business during our unexpected vacation.

11/14/2012 - Marriage is like driving a car.

Some say marriage is like a small business – if you can last 5 years, you can last a lifetime. But, I like to think that marriage is like driving a car.

When you get a new-to-you car, you need to get a feel for how it handles when you first start driving it. You need to know its boundaries, how sensitive the brakes are, does it pull to the left or right, or does it stay straight on the flats?

It needs fuel to keep it running. You can’t let it just sit there or the battery will die. Make sure the tire pressure is optimal so you always get a smooth ride and better gas mileage. Sure the road will be bumpy at times, but with keeping at least one hand on the wheel you learn to navigate around the really big pot holes.

Regular maintenance, like changing the oil for proper lubrication, is part of keeping your car healthy. Give it a wash every once in a while. Don’t ignore any minor issues either, because they may grow to be big problems later on. Treat your car nice and you will be rewarded with plenty of miles and good travels.

Yes, sometimes you get a lemon right off the lot and have to turn in your car for a new model. It happens, but you can’t let it get you down. You move on by walking, taking the bus, like you did before owning it, or you find a different car.

You need to know what kind of car suits you best before you start driving it. Do you like to drive fast, or do you prefer staying in the slow lane? Economical or high end? Flashy or low key? Manual transmission or automatic? What’s your favorite color? Whatever your preference is, you need to take care of your car once you commit to it.

The only difference between a car and marriage is when you buy a car it starts to depreciate as soon as you sign the purchase agreement, but a marriage is an institution that can last you a lifetime if you take care of it.

Happy driving!

11/11/2012 - Willow

Here’s Willow again – this time at 5 months old and already 45 pounds.

She looks sad here, but not to worry, she’s one happy pup. And so I am … finally.

Over the past 2 months or so, Willow has had “on again/off again” diarrhea, so we placed her on a strict boiled chicken and rice diet. It feels like that’s been going on forever and a day. The vet had me change her dry dog food a couple of times, but it didn’t help. Finally, we had some blood work done and it turns out Willow has a severe intestinal infection and Pancreatitis (a failing of her Pancreas).

I now have to give Willow B-12 vitamin shots for her intestines, once a week for the next 5 weeks and then maybe once a month for the rest of her life, and she needs an enzyme added to her food twice a day, possibly for the rest of her life.

We started the treatment this past weekend, and abracadabra, she’s a new dog!

She never acted sickly, always hungry, yes, but not sick. But she is now definitely different somehow. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s eating more dog food than chicken and rice, and she can now hold her bowel movements until being let outside (golden nuggets in the life of a pet owner)!

I think it’s safe to say that I am relieved to have it finally figured it out, and the treatment is working.

8/10/2012 - Dear Mr. President

Dear President Obama,
Dear Representative Larson,
Dear Senator Lieberman,
Dear Senator Blumenthal,

Please act now to reverse the dangerous “sequestration” budget cuts that will decimate our military and our economy in less than a year.

Democrats and Republicans agree – the $500 billion sequestration cuts set to hit in January would be a national security catastrophe, producing the smallest Army since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I, and the smallest Air Force in its history, putting our troops at risk by undermining readiness and training. Virtually all significant research and modernization would be canceled or pushed back – from the new stealth fighter needed on the front lines to the long-range strike bomber slated to replace 1950s era B-52s. The bottom line according to DOD -- these cuts mean “unacceptable risk in future combat operations.”

The economic impact would be just as bad. Experts at George Mason University and the University of Maryland say the cuts would destroy between 1 and 1.5 million American jobs, potentially driving a fragile recovery back into recession. They would also cut critical funding for NASA and FAA, stalling needed work on our aging air traffic control system and delaying any replacement for the space shuttle. Shuttering military research would dry up the innovation spigot that has fueled new industries and businesses for decades, from jet engines and digital computers in the last century to GPS and the Internet in this one. Today’s economy demands more investment and innovation, not ceding emerging fields to our rivals and letting competitors gain a foothold in emerging technologies like drones, nanotechnology, biofuels, and clean energy.

Cynical pundits say nothing can happen in Congress this year, because an election is coming, but this is a crisis that simply cannot wait. Businesses are laying off workers, the Pentagon is axing critical programs today, and NASA and the FAA will also suffer because of the sequestration threat.

It wasn’t long ago that foreign and military affairs stood apart from the ordinary partisan bickering in Washington. I urge you to stand up for that bipartisan tradition today.

Please defend our military and our economy by reversing the sequestration defense cuts.

Mr. Jonathan Westbrook

If this is something you would like to stand up for, please be sure to visit Second to None for more important info and action items.

Updated 1/7/13 - The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed into law last week, includes a provision that delays the automatic spending cuts - "sequestration" - until March 1. Studies commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association found that the cuts put more than 2 million American jobs at risk, with Connecticut among the states most likely to lose jobs.

8/7/2012 - Willow

Meet our new puppy, Willow!

I've never had a puppy before, never one this young. She is a bundle of joy, and the whole family loves her. We've only had her for two days and already she knows her name, fetches, and is doing very well being house broken. Chewing on things may become an issue, as she attacks my wife's pants and shoes, but she also loves her toys, so we'll have to make sure she always has them on paw.

Willow reminds me a lot of my past German Shepherd, Keisha (not that I am trying to compare). Willow is sweet and smart. She is attentive (as much as an 8 week puppy can be) and tries to understand (again - 8 wks old).

She has big paws for her body and should grow up to be around 85 lbs or more. She's also finding her voice - I think she'll be a loud barker.

Welcome to your new home, Willow. You are already loved.

Update: 8/9/12 - According to the "experts," Willow thinks my wife is her equal, so that's why she playfully "attacks" her. My wife needs to move up in the pack! :o) So, we're going to start letting her feed the dog to see if it helps place her in the correct order.

8/2/2012 - Disney and more...

A lot has happened over the past few weeks; we’re getting a new pet soon, I saw Dark Knight Rises, we went to Walt Disney World, and came home to a sick dog. Yup, money has just been flying out of the bank account.

We placed a deposit on a German Shepherd puppy, who will become part of the family this Sunday. We’re all very excited to welcome Willow into our home and hearts. Choosing her among a litter of 6 was difficult, but I wanted a female, and I wanted her to be docile like her predecessor, Keisha. Time and training (ugh, if ever you’ve gone through house training a puppy you know how taxing it can be) will tell if we made the right decision.

Batman had his final showing (this is supposedly Nolan's final episode in his trilogy), and though I came away from my viewing of it thinking how awesome it was, I have since come to the conclusion that it wasn’t that good. There were plenty of plot holes and not enough of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. The acting was superb and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was a sight to see! But even with these things going for it, it didn't make my Top10 Superhero movie list from my last blog entry.

Also, due to the Colorado shooting, I have a new found respect for Christian Bale visiting the survivors. And kudos to the hospitals who waved charging the uninsured, and to the movie studio for covering some of the medical costs.

A day after seeing the movie, we took flight. Our week in Florida in the middle of July was hotter than the belly of a dragon. Thankfully, Jeannine’s aunt had purchased us all cooling towels, and the fact that I had a pass to avert us having to wait in the long lines for rides, made visiting Walt Disney World bearable. My wife and our kids had never been, and I had never seen Animal Kingdom before, which turned out to be nothing more than a glorified zoo. I will not return there unless significant changes are made. Unlike Magic Kingdom, where you leave one land and enter another with plenty to do, Animal Kingdom is a lot of walking in between lands and there’s not a heck of a lot for kids. Dinoland was awful, with only two rides, one of which my youngest couldn’t do because of height restrictions.

Hollywood Studios was okay, but not kid centric. There were only a couple of rides that we all liked. I would have thought since Disney bought out MGM of their share of the park, that Disney would have upgraded the park to make it better.

Magic Kingdom was by far our favorite of all the parks, and if we go back, we will probably only visit this one again. If Jeannine and I go back without the kids, it might be fun to explore Epcot further than just the walk through we did this time around.

So, after spending gobs of money on a new puppy (just a deposit), Disney park fees, parking, souvenirs, meet-n-greet character meals, and a rental car, we came home to a sick dog, which after a night at the vet’s is now back to normal. The vet said her gastro-intestinal disorder may have been brought on by nerves. Thank you to Jeannine’s family for watching her in our stead – her illness was not your fault – she is a nervous dog to begin with and our being away was the only cause.

I’m looking forward to a quiet (and cheaper) three weeks until school starts up for Jeannine and our eldest, and playing with our new puppy, Willow.

7/13/2012 - Superhero Movies

I saw The Amazing Spiderman last night and it was less than amazing. It was good, but for me, it was way too early for a re-boot (even though Spiderman 3 was five years ago) because there’s only so much you can do at retelling the origin of Spiderman getting bit by a spider. There just wasn’t enough of a twist to make the beginning of this tale interesting. That said however, the acting and story were much better than any of the three starring Toby McQuire and was well worth seeing once it got beyond the rehash, and I look forward to seeing the next episode.

Below is my list of my Top 10 American Superhero movies and the year they were released:

10. Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011
9. The Fantastic Four, 1994
8. Superman, 1978
7. Batman, 1989
6. The Incredible Hulk, 2008
5. Iron Man, 2008
4. The Amazing Spiderman, 2012
3. The Dark Knight, 2008
2. The Avengers, 2012
1. Batman Begins, 2005

The Dark Knight Rises comes out next week. Will it make my list? I’m pretty sure it will with Anne Hathaway starring in it as Catwoman (purrrrrr!), but we’ll have to wait and see.

5/27/2012 - Idle Hands

"Idle hands are work for the devil," my grandfather used to say. He was always busy doing something; painting, drawing, wood-carving, photography, and when he tuned in the outer limits on his ham radio.

If he were alive today, there would have been so much we would have had in common, except for his ham radio hobby. Perhaps today he would have enjoyed conversing with people in far away places via Twitter, or facebook, or Opuss instead, but then again maybe not, because old fashion is as old fashion does sometimes. He probably would have stuck to the air waves, but who knows?

I am a lot like him, so my mother, his daughter, tells me. Creative. Imaginative. Busy with my hands, as evident by my "click-clacking" at this soundless iPad keyboard.

It would have been great fun to go on outings with him to paint landscapes. It would have been great fun to whittle some wood and drop shavings at our feet. It would have been great fun to hear him talk to his friends from across the seas and lands.

He worked as an engineer on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Again, busy with his hands. But I only really knew him from his retirement days, his hobbies, and his quiet kindness.

I wish I had known my grandfather better, but he died when I was nine from a heart attack. His art hangs on my walls. Small wooden animals remind me of his patience and delicate hands. A picture of him and my grandmother are proudly displayed. They are all I have left of him, along with a few memories.

5/21/2012 - Change

“The only thing that does not change is change itself.” As much as this saying is true I can tell you that I dislike change. I won’t say “hate” because that word isn’t used in my household, but suffice it to say that I really, really dislike change.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not against technological advancement, or personal growth, or watching my kids become their own persons, but I don’t like changes to my personal environment.

I think this is due to my moving around a lot from the time I was a kid. My parents divorced when I was 8, and my mom and I moved to an apartment complex along the shoreline. Not only did I not understand why my parents were no longer together, but why did I have to give up all of my friends in exchange for strange kids in a strange school? I felt like, and was sometimes treated like, an outsider. And why was I stuck in a little dinky apartment instead of a big house?

Two years later, just as I was feeling comfortable, we moved again. Another apartment, another school, more kids to befriend. And then it happened again as I entered high school.

It’s no wonder I didn’t extend myself to anyone new by then, because I thought that they (or me more likely) would be gone in a few years anyway. I kept to myself; until I joined the swim team and was forced to come out of my shell, but only a little—just enough to not let myself be hurt again should it all abruptly end.

It became engrained in me not to let a lot of people inside my protective wall. I realize this is a hindrance to my being socially trusting and friendly to newcomers now, and I know my wife sometimes suffers for it. Honey, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

From the age of 8 until 43, I have moved a total of 14 times, and I now just want some consistency in my life. I moan on the inside at the idea of moving again, not because of the overall hassle and expense of moving, but because I just want to stay put for a while. Plus, I want my kids to not have to go through what I did. It’s hard enough holding onto friends, never mind trying to make new ones.

I’ve been in my current location for the past 4 years—not bad considering my history. Is it the dream house that I’ve always wanted (on a hill in the woods looking over a valley with no other house in sight)? No. Is it a 20 year home where I will stay until I retire from work? I don’t think so, but before I’m ready to give into change, let me get tired of a place first for once.

4/22/2012 - Book Trailers

I've been playing with a very cool app on my iPad. It's called iMovie. And if you haven't had the chance to see the book trailers on YouTube which I recently created, here's your chance ...

A Legend in Time

This one was actually made second, because I was still getting used to the program. Even from scratch I think I did a fair job, though I don't like listening to the sound of my own voice. Yup, that's right, that's me narrating. Ugh! Book One of the James Sutherland Chronicles will always be my first born - I'm so proud.

Onboard the Marauder

This was created using a template I found within iMovie. When I saw it I knew it would be perfect for Book Two. I added the captions and the public domain still frame pictures. I think it's awesome, and I don't have to hear myself speak.

I hope you enjoy watching these as much as I had fun making them, but better yet, I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

4/12/2012 - The Power of Social Media

Yesterday’s blog did exactly what I wanted it to do. Not just because it was reTweeted and I had many read it, but because it got Delta’s attention. Not long after I posted it, I received a Tweet stating that they (^LH @Delta) wanted to look into my grievance toward my poor travel experience.

Today, I sent them my ticket, SkyMiles, and flight numbers, and sure enough I was offered my choice of a $50 voucher or 3500 SkyMiles. I chose the voucher.

“We expect our F/A to be courteous & professional at all times. It’s unfortunate that a goodwill gesture wasn’t offered @ the moment of the incident. I truly apologize for the service you received on the ATL to BCN flight,” ^EC wrote me.

Now that’s what I call Customer Service! Thank you ^LH and ^EC, because of your quick responses and generosity, I will not hesitate in flying Delta again.

Only next time, please offer me the mimosa so that I may drink it instead of wearing it. :o)

4/11/2012 - Flyers Beware! Delta’s Customer Service is awful!

As a rule, I enjoy seeing new places and experiencing new things, but getting to those places has become a nightmare. Take my recent business trip to Barcelona, Spain, for an example: The lay-over was horrendous coming home. I got into Delta’s hub and through customs without any major issues; in fact, I could have caught an earlier flight which would have gotten me home four hours prior to my scheduled flight. I went to the gate, asked if I could, and the rep told me, “Sure, we can get you on this flight, but your bag will still be on the later one.”

“So, I would have to go back to the airport tomorrow to pick it up?”

“That’s right,” he replied.

I quickly debated that having to travel on the weekend was bad enough, but to kill another hour of it to reclaim my clothes wasn’t worth arriving home early for. “I’ll stay on my original flight.”

When I did get home at midnight I waited at the carousel a full thirty minutes until it stopped. No Bag! I went straight to the claims office, saw my Docker’s roller bag standing there, lifted my arms and shoulders in a “how-did-my-bag-make-it-here-before-me?” gesture, and the woman said, “It came on the earlier flight. How come you didn’t?”


But that’s not why I’m blogging about Delta’s poor customer service. I’m blogging about how, on the second leg of my trip, from Atlanta to Barcelona, when we hadn’t even left the terminal yet (the plane wasn’t moving), a drink was spilled into my lap by a flight attendant. And it wasn’t even my drink!

I got the obligatory up-and-down apologies (and a bunch of hand towels) from the stewardess. I told her it was okay—accidents happen, whatcha gonna do? But after sitting uncomfortably for four hours in business class while I was supposed to be relaxing, possibly even sleeping, I couldn’t because I was wet. Sure, go ahead and laugh. Now it’s kind of a funny image.

After I got home, I Tweeted about it to Delta, “@Delta My flight from ATL to Barcelona would have been better if the attendant didn’t drop a mimosa in my lap prior to takeoff.”

@DeltaAssist responded, “@JonWestbrook Sorry for the discomfort, Jonathan.”

What was I looking for? I don’t know, but that wasn’t it. Maybe a voucher for a free drink and meal for the times I might travel coach. Something. Anything. So I Tweeted back. “@DeltaAssist Sitting for four hours in Business Class with a wet lap was very uncomfortable. Should have been better.” They didn’t Tweet back.

Maybe if I had placed an emphasis on the word very?

Anyway, look, I know times are tough for airlines. They have been for a lot of people, but if you’re looking for loyal flyers, ones who may Tweet and blog about how good they take care of their flyers, then show your appreciation—give a little something-something to those who were spilt on by one of your employees. Be responsible and throw a dog a bone, or in this case a voucher, for his discomfort.

2/24/2012 - Command Center

I remember when I was little, between 5 and 8 perhaps, my dad had made a command center. That’s what I remember calling it anyway. He used to own a hardware store back then, so he had access to all sorts of gadgets, gizmos, noise makers, lights, switches, etc., and he mounted all these things to an 8x11 sheet of plywood. As a kid I thought it was very cool – it was my spaceship, computer, robot, or anything else sci-fi that I could think of. Yes, computers were considered sci-fi back then.

Well, I’ve decided to make a similar one for my kids, specifically for my youngest's 3rd birthday.

As you can see in the picture above, I’ve got steering wheels and windows, which will have plastic sleeves behind them to hold different scenes; under water worlds, different planets in space, landscapes, any place the girls want to fly or drive to, I’ll create a picture to fit the windows. I have switches and electronic buzzers and springy door stops for noise makers.

As of today I have everything mounted to the 3x4 board, and grandpa is coming over this weekend to help me with the wiring. I’ll post a picture after it’s completed. I just hope the girls like it as much as I did when my dad made his.

2/6/2012 - Super Bowl

I’m not much of a football fan anymore. I was raised when the Dallas Cowboys were America's team during the Staubach era when being on a team meant you were loyal to that team. Since that time, it is my belief that the role of free agents has diminished the meaning of "team" with players being more like mercenaries for the highest bidder.

So why do I watch the Super Bowl? I still enjoy a good game (close with no blowouts), but I have no favorite team (if "teams" still do exist) anymore. I enjoy the commercials though they haven’t been as good since the BUD – WEIS – ER frog days.

And the halftime shows are great! Below is a list of what I consider to be the top ten…

10) 1997 – XXXI – The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, and James Brown

9) 2004 – XXXVIII – P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake, and Janet Jackson (with her wardrobe “malfunction” (it’s the only reason they’re so high on my list))

8) 2006 – XL – The Rolling Stones

7) 2002 – XXXVI – U2

6) 2009 – XLIII – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

5) 2008 – XLII – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

4) 2005 – XXXIX – Paul McCartney

3) 1993 – XXVII – Michael Jackson

2) 2012 – XLVI – Madonna

1) 2007 – XLI – Prince

1/27/2012 - Daughter & Daddy

Everyone says how much my daughter looks like me, so I thought it would be fun to go searching for photos to find out what they are seeing. These were the only ones which I could find that closely cooperate these opinions. What do you think?

How else are we alike? Well, she's stubborn, sometimes demanding, and knows what she wants / doesn't want. She's kind to people she knows and shy around those she doesn't (accept for saying "hi" to everyone at the grocery store or restaurant). She doesn't understand why she can't have it all all of the time. She loves playing games on my iPad and watching movies (let's hope she likes reading too when she's old enough to read). She naps and likes to stay up late. She loves ice cream and chocolate, but not chocolate ice cream. She thinks that gassy-goosing is the funniest thing ever (especially when we blame each other for them).

But most important ... she loves me and I love her.

1/18/2012 - SOPA Blackout

It’s a battle of Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley.

I can understand why some internet companies decided to go dark today – they are protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills, which are in legislation to try and curb the piracy of entertainment (music, movies, etc.) on the internet.

Companies like Wikipedia have joined in the SOPA blackout on this day in an effort to tell everyone that the bills are an infringement on free speech and open internet.

In my limited knowledge of it, SOPA seems extreme. It states, that if a site like Wiki, which solely has its content derived by its users, or Google, who may unknowingly spider a link to a pirate site, can have their whole web site shuttered by government intervention.

Sure Wiki and Google have a responsibility to police their own sites, but to let the government shut them down completely? No way!

If this is the case, then absolutely, I am against it. And sites like Wiki need to spread the word about the bills’ injustice as much as possible. In their mind, going black for a day was the best way to go about doing so, which is working, because people like me (and those much more informed and invested) are writing about it.

I understand what Hollywood and the music industry are fighting for – lost income. But there has got to be another way other then the wording within SOPA and PIPA. I suspect that lawmakers have realized this too with all the controversy raised over these bills. Hopefully they will not pass as they are now.

Sign the Goggle petition if you agree.

But, what I don’t understand are the people who say they will not use social media or the internet today. Really? Do they (the regular Joes with personal websites or profiles) really think that jumping on the Wiki band wagon is going to help? In my opinion, if I didn't see a post from you today, I would think that you were busy or had nothing good you wanted to talk about.

So, a word of advice … don’t be silent. If you’re against SOPA and PIPA then write Congress and tell them so. Tell everyone on facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, etc. that you’re against it. Educate your peers. Not using social media will not send any message and it will certainly not spread the word.

1/9/2012 - Artist & Author

I can’t remember the last time I sold a piece of art. I’ve been so wrapped up in my writing and book sales over these past years that I have forgotten what it feels like. And, no lie, it feels good.

If interested, you may look at my piece on Daily Science Fiction. They are an online magazine of science fiction short stories, which I subscribe to.

My piece, titled, Survival Moon, will be on the featured daily story for the month of January and then under Stories by Month, January 2012.

I hope you like it. While you’re there maybe you’ll read the featured story and subscribe as well. It’s free.

1/4/2012 - Star Trek vs. Star Wars

It bothers me when people equate Star Trek to Star Wars (or vice versa) when they are completely two different animals. Sure, they’re both space stories, but it’s like equating a Dachshund to a Grey Hound—same species, they both have four legs, eyes, ears, etc., but no way are they the same.

Star Trek is idealistic. It denotes a brighter future where disease, hunger, and the goal of monetary gain are past plights of humankind (and the Federation).

Star Wars takes place in the past, “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away.” It is more “realistic” in that it shows us man’s greed for power and the old time favorite plot of good triumphing over evil.

Star Wars creator George Lucas was inspired by Beowulf and Arthurian myths. Star Trek was created by Gene Rodenberry and was inspired by Gulliver’s Travels and Wagon Train, both with implying moralities.

Star Wars has swashbuckling type heroes (Han and Luke) and Star Trek resolves their issues with intellect (Spock and Picard).

Star Trek is emotionally logical. Star Wars is spiritually compelling.

A major difference between the two is that while Star Trek is based on science fiction, Star Wars is based on science fantasy. This may explain why Star Wars is more widely accepted because it could never happen, while Star Trek could, eventually, if we could ever unite ourselves on this blue ball we live on.

I like both Universes, but I tend to lean more toward Star Trek because of its positive message of a possible future for us (and the fact that I grew up watching The Original Series in syndication). Star Wars Episode IV didn’t come out until I was in high school.

Star Wars was kinda just one story, right? And Star Trek was different every week.

I have to grit my teeth when my dad refers to Star Trek as Star Wars. I’m sure it’s the same for my step-daughter when she talks to me about Justin Beiber vs. the Jonas Brothers, or even Lady Gaga for that matter.

She tried telling me a Lady Gaga joke the other day. Q: How do you wake up Lady Gaga? A: Poker face. I was told the punch line was one of Gaga’s song titles but I just didn’t get it. I thought she meant, Poke her face, which isn't very funny at all.

So, perhaps equating Star Trek to Star Wars (or vice versa) is just an example of a generation gap, I’ll give my dad and others that much. But for those who grew up watching both, in my opinion, they are not the same, so stop saying they are when they are not. Please?

1/3/2012 - Happy New Year

The end of 2011 was a mixed bag of emotions for me.

My dog of almost 15 years passed, which was very sad for me and my family, but I sold a piece of art to an online science fiction magazine, which is exciting. It will be out there for the month of January starting on the 8th. Once it’s there I’ll post a link to it on my News page.

Although it really belongs over on the Artist side of my site I’ve deiced to post anything news worthy under my Author site. Why maintain two News pages, right?

We sprung a Walt Disney World trip as a Christmas present surprise on the girls, which was very cool to see them so happy (envision two kids bouncing around the house like in all the Disney promos), but now I have to hear about it daily.

My eldest (age 9) is saying, “Yea! We’re going to Disney!” and that gets my youngest (age 2, almost 3) going and she asks, “Are we going to Disney today?” At her age she still doesn’t understand the concept of time—no matter how much we try to explain it to her. For her, six months from now means tomorrow.

But let me get back to today. As 2012 begins, I want to take a moment and thank each and every one who has read my books. Thank you, thank you. I hope you enjoyed them and have a wonderful new year.

And for those wondering where my 2011 posts have gone you may find a link to them to the left of here under Timeline.