Happy Birthday to My Wife


I keep a folder of called “Pictures of Mell That I Like” and this was the first one that came to mind this morning and I felt compelled to post it.

Happy Birthday to the woman who is my first thought in the morning, my last thought at night, and has my heart the whole day through.

As sure as God knows He makes all the little green apples, so I am sure in knowing that I am the luckiest husband in the world to have someone like her to compensate for all my faults, to shore up my strengths, to celebrate my successes and comfort me in failure.

She is a wonderful mother to our children and sets a great example of what being strong is all about.

Happy birthday, Babe. I can’t say if you like this picture or not, but I sure do.

A Word About Geese

I stole my story about geese from a tale from history.

We have a pair of geese nesting outside the front entranceway at work and the male goose attacks anyone who comes near. We all complain about it, laugh about it, watch anxiously as some unsuspecting stranger tries to come in the front door, but when they go, I think we will all be a little sad.

My boss told a very short story about how back before Rome was Rome, they were camped out across from an enemy who attempted a sneak attack. The attack was foiled by a flock of geese who started honking when the enemy advanced. You can totally see how I stole it. If I rewrite it, I will do it from the point of view of Lythande. Three characters are two too many in a short story like that.

Here is the link to the real story about how some geese won a battle:



A Story For My Boy

I like to help my son make up stories for his toys. He does an incredible job on his own but he can’t have all the fun!

A week or so ago, I told him a story about Edna’s Stonefish Soup Recipe – based off of a Lego Toy of Han Solo frozen in carbonite. I think one night, I will tell him this story about geese.

Once upon a time, on a planet far, far away, Gudrun The Warrior Maiden stood with her wizard friend named Myfanwy and squinted against the mid day sun, looking for evidence of enemy camps. It didn’t take long before she saw smoke from their cooking fires trailing into the sky from behind the distant hills.

“My scout was right,” she declared to Myfanwy.

“Your who was what?” Her companion answered.

“My scout was right,” Gudrun shouted back.

“I can’t hear you over the honking of those geese,” Myfanwy said, yelling even louder.

“My scout was. . . Never mind.”

They had to shout because of the hundreds of geese that had flocked at the bottom of the valley, between the two opposing armies. The Geese Of The Valley migrated to that spot every spring to lay their eggs and raise their young, leaving on the first day of winter. During the day, it was nearly impossible for the army to communicate their maneuvers. They worked hard once the sun went down and the geese went to sleep, but were woken up at the crack of dawn by the sounds of the male geese greeting the rising sun.

The two friends argued twice over the fate of these birds.

The first happened when Myfanwy told her that issuing quill and paper to every solider was a waste of time. “What’s the point?” She told Gudrun. “Your soldiers are stupid! Only your generals can read.”

So, Gudrun’s army now talked among themselves using a series of hand gestures and sent clerks and priests to every unit to make sure that the language remained consistent throughout the company.

The second came after Myfanwy punished a soldier with a bolt of lightning after attempting to shoot a goose with an arrow. Gudrun got even angrier, but Myfanwy argued back. “That goose may save your life one day!” After that, Gudrun issued an order for the geese to be left alone, no matter how annoying they got.

But now she wanted to avoid an argument. She took her by the arm and walked far enough away from the honking for them to talk.

“We will never be ready,” she said to Myfanwy. “It’s taking ten times longer than it should.”

Day after day, the smoke from the enemy cooking fires came closer and closer and day after day, Gudrun’s army fell further and further behind in preparations. She tried hard to help, but even she got as tired as everyone else. It looked like Myfanwy didn’t need any sleep at all – but she was a wizard and had magical ways to stay awake.

The next day the cooking fires were on the opposite side of the valley. The enemy set their camp up along the base of the hills. Gudrun spent her whole day staring at the troops in the distance but incapable of coming up with a winning battle plan because of the incessant honking of The Geese Of The Valley. She stormed back to Myfanwy’s tent, threw aside the flap and demanded a magic spell that would make her deaf to the sounds of the honking geese.

Myfanwy sat on the floor of her tent, staring intently into the shallow water in her pedastel bowl. Before Gudrun could yell, Myfanwy put up a hand to stop her.

“You must choose someone to hear them for you,” she said. “So that you don’t have to listen to them anymore.”

Gudrun returned with Lythande, a lieutenant from the rear guard, promising him a small fortress and a small staff of squires, maids and guards to serve him. Working far away from the birds, he heard them hardly at all. He winced in pain after the spell took effect – they sounded like they were right next to his ear, honking away. Gudrun’s looked wide enough to split her face in two. She could hear everything, including the guard that was running up to the wizard’s tent.

“Come in!” She commanded.

The sentry dropped to one knee and announced they were under attack. Gudrun stepped outside to find the noon day sun blacked out by a curtain of enemy arrows. The next moment, feathered shafts seemed to be sticking out of everywhere. No person or animal had been injured but the message from the enemy was clear – they were prepared to attack at any time.

Gudrun sent Lythande back and went about setting up watches along the front of their camp to announce when the enemy approach. The rest of her army she made ready but the attack never came.

But the geese continued to honk, louder and louder, not stopping until the sun went down. This went on for three days, and each day, they attacked something else.

The first day, they killed all of the chickens and sheep and pigs with their arrows. This forced the cooks to work overtime to prepare the meat so it wouldn’t spoil.

The second day, they killed all of the horses with their arrows. This left Gudrun with no means to retreat.

The third day, they used flaming arrows to torch the wagons, destroying what supplies they had left.

Gudrun’s army could not match the same range as the enemy’s arrows. She met with her commanders and prepared everyone for a final attack.

They met at night when it was quiet and they could think. But even with that, they were tired and wanted it all to be over. But before she revealed her plan, Myfanwy came into Gudrun’s tent, Lythande’s arm draped over her shoulder.

“He insisted he come and see you,” the wizard explained.

Lythande’s cheeks had sunken and his eyes were bloodshot and he leaned on the wizard for balance. He pushed Gudrun away when she came to help.

“The geese,” Lythande said. “The geese.”

“It’s almost over,” Gudrun assured him. “Another day. Maybe two.” He shook his head. “They’re honking so loud. So loud.”

Gudrun promised him a castle and a title if he would last just a little while longer but he refused.

“Not at night,” he said. “The geese shouldn’t honk at night.”

“By all that is holy,” Gudrun declared. “He’s right.”

The she whirled around on her commanders. “Sound the alarm! The enemy is attacking!”

The wizard illuminated the air over the valley and saw that the male geese were defending their nests, wings spread wide and necks snaking forward, their hard beaks and heads slamming into the shins and groins of the shoulders of the enemy soldiers that tried to execute a sneak attack through the valley. Gudrun stopped her archery commanders order to fire arrows into the valley.

Gudrun unsheathed her sword and pointed towards the enemy. “Defend the geese!”

The wizard struggled to keep the field lit while Gudrun’s soldiers defended the valley and protected what geese they could. Where the soldiers were tired and slow because of the short, sleepless nights and the long, agonizing days of honking, the bull geese took the battle to the enemy. Gudrun accepted the surrender of those who asked for mercy and hunted down those that ran. She did not think well of deserters.

She sent message back to the king, telling him that the attack had been thwarted and his kingdom was safe. With the message, she included a picture and a request.

The picture showed a representation of a bull goose in battle stance, its wings spread wide, it’s beak open in a silent honk, its tongue lashing out like a whip.

The request read as follows, “You promised me an army of my own. I request that you refer to them as the Custodians Of The Valley and allow Lythande Whiterage to be their commander. If you have issue with this, feel free to come here and take it up with the geese.”


I’m going back to putting everything on USB keys . . .

This tweet has been on my mind lately.

Mostly because when I ready it back in 2016, I thought that was pretty insightful for him.

Then “Fire and Fury” and “Trump Revealed” demonstrated he didn’t really want to be, nor had any idea of what it was to be, President of The United States.

Now I read about “Cambridge Analytica” and how they make a living crafting governments for the highest bidder, the way that someone would hire a gardener to help grow a beautiful flower bed.

So, that makes me wonder – did The Man Who Did Not Want To Be President become President after being blackmailed by Cambridge Analytica, who in turn had been hired by someone who wanted to custom craft a government for the United States? Did that Tweet from Trump state that he knew how he was going to win because he was told the parameters of the venture?

My idea is not new – you need only Google “Cambridge Analytica” and sit down and be terrified at the implications of such an organization and how Facebook was tacitly complicit in making it happen. All those silly quizes and tests we take to see what our stripper name or what Lord Of The Rings character I am, are all subtle ways of getting my information and the information from all of the friends on my list?

I like conspiracies as much as the next person. But I like them because they are fun in their implications – that the United States staged the entire Space Program like a movie production in an effort to bankrupt the USSR, that all telemarketing calls for duct cleaning are made by a handful of people who can imitate accents and work as part of a global HVAC cartel. I don’t like conspiracies like the “Cambridge Analytica” whistleblowing because they are frighteningly plausible and even if they are real, they are disturbingly dismissable. I mean, they wouldn’t be in business for this long if they didn’t know how to cover their tracks. And if Snowden was as deep as he claims to have been, then why didn’t he tell us about this? Good Lord, can I even trust my Google Drive anymore?

Am I putting everything on USB keys again?

UPDATE — Looks like Cambridge Analytica is pretty hardcore. They managed the whole digital campaign? Sounds a bit far fetched and may be the guy being recorded is making a sales pitch and not exactly copping to anything, but the implications are horrendous.


30 Pounds, 8 weeks

Losing weight is easy.

All you have to do is change every, single habit in your life. At least, that’s how it worked for me.

I stopped ignoring my doctor’s suggestions that I lose weight after he showed me the rising line chart of my blood pressure alongside my Framington Hear Study score relative to my family’s history of heart disease and diabetes. After seeing all of that, I envisioned the top of a dresser and night table completely covered by an assortment of amber coloured containers with white caps, with my name being the only thing on the labels I could pronounce and all of them were what kept me alive. I imagined being a bitter old man who could not enjoy life because of them.

“You need to lose weight,” my doctor told me.

“I have no idea how to do that,” I answered. So I had to find out. And on January 18th, I started to make a change.

I stopped eating anything that grew underground. Stopped eating all baked goods and grains. Stopped drinking beer. Stopped eating chicken with the skin on (including chicken wings). Stopped eating cookies and drinking milk. Stopped drinking milk and eating cheese. Stopped adding salt to what I cooked. Stopped eating sugar and all fruits that are sweet. I started eating all the protein I can stomach and started to keep what carbohydrates I did eat under 10 grams per serving. While I was at it, I cut 500 calories out of my diet every day. Oh, and drink at least 2 litres of water every day (or at least until my pee had a very soft, yellow tinge to it – and to cut back when it went completely clear. Yes, maybe that’s a bit too much info, but that’s how you know when you’ve hit ’tilt’ for water consumption).

I would have give up after the first day if it wasn’t for my wife. She didn’t skip a beat. She made sure all temptation was out of my way and stocked the fridge with everything that fell within the confines of my diet. She embraced every meal I ate with gusto and cheered me on every minute.

I lost three pounds the first week. And then a couple more the next. Couldn’t see a damned thing, but I started to feel a bit better.

Then I met the trainer assigned to me. You see, what I neglected to tell you, is that while I wasn’t in a stare down with Death, but I’d be lying if I didn’t feel like it loomed over me like the “Jurassic Park” T-Rex in the rear view mirror, gaping maw and all. So, I was assigned a trainer to help me with my advanced condition.

At that point my schedule was three meals a day with two snacks in between, all of the dietary restrictions I noted above, one night a week for a detailed weigh in and two nights at the gym. This, in addition to my ordinary schedule of waking up for four a.m. and being home for six p.m. when I wasn’t at the gym or being scanned through the week.

I won’t drop my trainer’s name, but I will say, the kid is frigging amazing. He gave me the exercises, the guidance, and most importantly, the encouragement to keep going and keep pushing me to do more, up to and including my last ‘workout’ this past Friday, which lasted close to two hours.

Two hours! Me! And six months before that point, the only running I would do is if The Beer Store was closing on a Friday night and I had nothing to drink for the weekend. Now? I run enough to require two pairs of shoes – one pair for the gym, the other for running outside. My wife went with me to get both pairs of those, too, in addition to my workout wear. My daughter bought me a workout shirt she thought was cute because the ‘Y’ in gym looked like it was lifting weights.

With that being said, effective tomorrow, eight weeks to the day, I am thirty pounds lighter with another twenty to go.

Like I said, it was easy,

Step one, fifteen years ago I chose chose the right woman to spend the rest of my wife with and then, step two, on January 18th, 2018, I changed every habit in my life.

I Stopped Trusting Microsoft After They Cancelled Groove Music

Groove Music, Windows 10, Cortana, Microsoft Films & TV, XBOX Games, and Office365 work together to allow me to happily interact digitally with my world. I even own a 950XL Windowsphone along with the adaptor so I can use it as a laptop and an entertainment device at home.

Then they cancelled Microsoft Groove on October 3rd and suggested Spotify.

I like the Microsoft Groove interface. I like the selection. I don’t mind that popular releases couldn’t be streamed until weeks after launch. If I wanted it bad enough, I could buy them from The Microsoft Store. 

I didn’t think the switch to Spotify would be that bad. But wait. The Spotify app isn’t supported because the mobile platform is in maintenance mode because Microsoft cancelled their Windowsphone. The Spotify app for the desktop is terrible, dark and crowded. Music purchases can’t be shared across my devices and it doesn’t sync with OneDrive.

Tidal and even Napster looked promising – but I can’t play my purchased music and won’t share among devices or sync with OneDrive. Napster doesn’t even let you purchase music. Pandora isn’t available in Canada.

Looking deeper, I started to chip away at the bedrock of my electronic world.

Where do I go? Well, hello Google.

Google Music does what I want and more. I cancelled Spotify and bought a Google Music Pass.

Google Play Movies & TV is excellent and competitive. As an example, seasons of “Castle” are $19.99 – Microsoft Films & TV has each season for different prices. I can stream it all easily to my current DVD player, which sees Android devices and iPhones quite nicely (not so much with my Windows devices). So why am I bothering with Microsoft Films & TV?

I can save my purchases to Google Drive – $120 annually with 1TB of storage – and migrate data to it from OneDrive after I cancel my Office 365 subscription (the same price). Sure, I don’t have Microsoft Office anymore, but who cares? The Google Suite of programs isn’t bad and my kids use it every day with zero issues. I’m talking about my 6 year old son. It’s that simple.

My children have accounts for Google Classroom at their school. I can see everything they are doing and remain up to date without having to wade through their bags all the time to see what is going on with the various flyers and pamphlets and handouts the teachers have to hand out. Where is the Microsoft equivalent? OneNote? The app is unstable and I’ve lost notes when trying to sync across devices.

Why do I have a Windowsphone? I wanted to support an awesome product that I thought would make my life easier. But now, it seems that Microsoft is focusing more on boutique hardware – the ‘Surface’ stable – and trying to make their OS work. I can’t afford the Surface line of laptops for my family to use any more than I can afford the Apple line of products.

And now that the basis of my digital world is exposed to scrutiny, it makes me wonder- Why did I choose Microsoft at all? Well, for one, I really liked Windows 8.1. But even that is gone and unsupported.

My plan is to migrate away from Microsoft by March of next year. Groove will be cancelled by then and I will have transferred all of my OneDrive content to Google Drive. And then I will not renew my Office 365 account for next year. Hell, I might even play with Ubuntu for a bit as an OS.

I’ll change up my phone, too. A Huawai Honor with dual SIM so I can use it for work and personal. I’ll let my daughter decide what kind of phone she wants when the time comes to change things up. My son is too young now, but Windowsphone won’t be available for him by then.

I’m less than a nit on the appendage of a gnat as far as Microsoft is concerned. I get it. Whether I cancel or not means nothing to them.

There are Microsoft supporters who can detail what’s wrong with Google, and I get that, too. Although, I doubt they will take the time to address my concerns.

What I also get, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing to someone else and I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But, damnit, I interact with my world on a digital level and I need to trust the infrastructure to support me. Microsoft isn’t doing that for me anymore, so it’s time for a change.

NaNoWriMo Updates

1666 words per day. Every day. For 30 days.

  • 894 words per day. Half the expected output. But the month isn’t over yet.

Podcast or a YouTube channel.

  • It was hard enough writing the 20K words that I did. And a YouTube channel? What was I thinking?

Posting an inspirational phrase on the mirror every day

  • Done. And my wife and daughter got in on the act, too. My son just drew pictures on the mirror, but that was okay, too. And they provided a good deal of energy to write when I really didn’t feel like it.

Posting an inspirational image or message on Facebook every day

  • Stopped this past weekend. I started to feel self conscious about it.

Would I ever do this again?

  • Every year from now on.

What are my thoughts on the process?

  • Writing isn’t all about getting published. It’s about finishing what you started.
  • I don’t know how many people will read my book after I finish writing it, but I know exactly how many people will read it if I don’t.
  • You don’t have to feel like writing to write. Just write. The feeling part comes later.
  • Talking about writing is part of writing.
  • Remember at some point you have to shut up and write.
  • Reading is part of writing.
  • You don’t have time for bad books.
  • Remember at some point you have to put the book down and write.
  • Set fire to your television set.
  • Type on a computer with a great keyboard and a shitty internet connection.
  • Don’t get hung up on one process, but it’s important to have one.
  • I proved to myself that I can do it only if I want to do it.
  • Creating excuses only proves I don’t want to do it.
  • I need to be honest with myself about what I can do and why I am making excuses.
  • Believing in yourself is required to see it through to the end
  • Open mic afternoons are very, very important. If you have the courage to read your work in front of a group of strangers, you have the courage to write another page. And then another.
  • I cannot “wing it” because shiny things and Netflix distract me.
  • Speaking of ‘wings’, my internal editor should shut their pie hole until I’m done, and then they can have fun putting me down. Until then, it stays safely locked up in a thimble. For the record, my internal editor is a crew cut, cigar chomping, cybergoth steampunk fairy about the size of my thumb. Another writer plucked its wings years ago like a sadistic child would tear the wings from a fly. Since then the little prick has gotten hold of a backpack with gasoline powered wings so it can fly. It smells like tobacco and old cars whenever my editor shows up.
  • Never, ever give up