Friday, January 29, 2010


I watched the movie "Whiteout" on DVD last night. I missed it in the theaters but wish I could have seen it on the big screen (bigger than my television at least). I like Kate Beckinsdale (OK, I really liked Kate Beckinsdale in Underworld. I think I would have to root for her character if she was in a battle with Buffy and I'd hope she'd pop a cap in Edward just to stop the dang sparkling). Kate gets to kick some butt in this movie but it also has a story, thanks to Greg Rucka (pick up anything with his name on it and read it, you won't be disappointed). There is one extraneous shower scene with Kate but, hey! I'm not complaining.

I watched it in bed after going to bed early (and getting up at 5 am the next day). I just didn't feel very good last night so I went to bed early and did the work I brought home the next day. I felt better and probably did a better job on it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Listening to the State of the Union

I’m listening to the State of the Union on the Internet. I heard about the first five minutes when it came on but I had some things to do and missed most of it live. Lucky me I finished up and got to listen to the Republican response live. And while the new Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, did a much better job than Bobby Jindal, he had nothing new and very little that was truthful to say. He misrepresented the President’s stand on just about every issue and has this delusion that the Republican party has any interest in working with the current administration. Unless the Democrats want to roll over 100 percent and give Obama a bill that would make George W Bush happy, no Republican will vote for it. Their only agenda so far is to block and obstruct every bill or appointment that they can. And unfortunately some calling themselves Democrats aid and abet this obstruction.

So far the State of the Union is what you would expect. The president says a lot of things that Democrats will like and Republicans will hate. Limbaugh, Beck and their slavering minions will find plenty to feed their ranting and conspiracies.

I’m not objective in this. I find it much easier to listen to President Obama. I like what he has to say and how he says it. I found it difficult to listen to the previous occupant of the White House. The main problem I can see with the speech is that Obama relies heavily upon facts and reality. These coins have little value in teabag America.

I guess my take away from all of this (the net-net) is that I feel that calls for bipartisanship need to be abandoned when dealing with the far right (and sometimes even the right wing of the Democrats own party). To quote Obama’s own speech, “Let’s get it done.”

I did like the part where Obama created a commission that had been blocked by Republicans in the Senate. And I really hope he can get “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repealed; it’s just ridiculous.

Overall I really liked the speech. I continue to have high hopes that something better than sausage can come out of the meat grinder of our government.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I’ve Lost a Couple of Writing Books.

I’ve spent parts of several days looking for my copies of “Writing Fiction, The Practical Guide” from the Gotham Writer’s Workshop and “A Writer’s Book of Days.” I really like both of these books. Writing Fiction has tons of good writing exercises for just about every step of the fiction writing process and the Book of Days has a writing prompt for every day of the year. Since I’m trying to make an effort to write every day (even if it’s just a note about not finding my writing books) I’d like to find these two and use them to keep me moving in a somewhat forward direction. I may have to wing it or break down and buy them again.

After I wrote the previous paragraph, I started thinking about the story I submitted to the Writer's Workshop at Norwescon. I wrote an outline of where I wanted to change the story. I put on some Orbital (I like to write to mellow techno) and thought about the story and a scene came into my head. I'm not posting it here because it is both a first draft and from the middle of what I want to change. At least I can write a little even without those books.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I saw Primer the other day and again last night and again last night with the director’s commentary. It’s a very interesting, ultra-low budget film that was recommended to me when I described an idea I had for an accidental time travel story (more on that in a different post).

Primer takes place in suburb of Dallas, Texas around 2001. It involves a group of technology workers that are making circuit boards for hobbyists while trying to get an idea that will generate interest from Venture Capital groups. While investigating near room temperature superconductors, they discover some weird properties associated with the tests that imply the test item (a Weeble) is going forward in time faster when it’s in the machine. They figure out how to do the process backwards and how to build a larger version. At this point the story spins, or loops, out of control in very inventive ways. The film has some interesting takes on the difference between being smart and being wise.

While listening to the Director’s commentary, I got the feel I was in a crash course on how to make a very low budget film; lots of rehearsal so you can get most scenes in one take, use quality sound equipment, get a few seconds extra at the beginning and end of each scene for editing and lots of other tidbits. The amazing thing about the movie is that it doesn’t look like an ultra low budget film. It doesn’t look like a blockbuster but you can tell these guys had some attention to detail.

So look it up, put it in your Netflix queue and enjoy it. I think it would make a good double feature with Memento.

Sunday Was My Day of Rest

The person I've been dating has decided she has some things to work out before committing to an ongoing exclusive relationship. I accept this. It kind of bums me out but we were still in the early part of the relationship where we're still getting to know one another so I'm not an emotional wreck over it. So I didn't have plans for Sunday like I thought I would. I reactivated my account on OKCupid and that's probably the most depressing part of the whole experience. There's something about on-line dating sites that reminds me of looking for a job (something I really don't like to do in the first place).

I got into a pretty bad mood Sunday morning. I took the boys to lunch at Claire's Pantry in North Seattle. It was supposed to be breakfast but it took a while to get everyone going. It's probably petty but the service at the restaurant put me in a foul mood. The food came out in three separate trips with about 5 to 10 minutes between each trip and I had to remind the server of the items we still needed. And she didn't bring coffee around. What probably made this worse, for me, was that I could see the next set of tables with a different server. This server was doing a pretty good job and it threw ours into stark contrast.

I did calm down and enjoyed most of the day. Calvin had a friend over to play and I got to watch an interesting independent film called Primer. I'll write more about it in a bit.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Calvin at the Skateboard Park

Calvin has his blue bike helmet strapped on over his purple Washington Huskies hoodie. There are less than half a dozen other youth with scooters and about a dozen older youth with skate boards. Jeans and hoodies are the uniform most wear here. Younger kids will have color; older are all black or dark blue. Younger kids have helmets; older have abandoned them.

The smack of wheels and decks hitting the ground is a counterpoint to the drone of the wheels rolling up and down the slopes. Somehow they manage to stay out of each other’s way and most all of the accidents are single person wrecks – usually a skate boarder flubbing an ollie, grind or jump. Click, clack, slap and the occasional groan from the crowd as someone lands wrong on the concrete; almost always they pop right back up oblivious to the facts or pain of the situation. The younger kids are not so stoic and the wail of the more adventurous can be heard as they try and fail to get to the top of the half-pipe; successfully navigated by older skateboarders.

Calvin will sometimes buddy-up with other scooter riders; making a circuit around the skate park or racing around the trail at the edge of the park for walkers and bike riders. Sometimes they are school friends but that’s not a requirement. After a few laps they’ll stop and practice hanging out. There are several low walls around the edge of the park that can be used for grinding but more often server as a bench for a shifting cast catching their breaths and kibitzing about the performances of others at the park.

If there are no accidents, Calvin can do this dance of wheels and flesh nearly indefinitely. He’s still young enough to want to go on the merry-go-round before leaving. I’ll often be drafted to “push harder” or “go faster” to make his enjoyment and my exhaustion continue. His other favorite activity is to climb a tall tree that is near the skate park. Today he’s made friends with two brothers; he’s never seen them before. After scootering around for a while and climbing the tree, they pull a couple of Nerf swords out of their car and they trade off swashbuckling until it is time to go. Even after all of this he still asks to go on the merry-go-round but isn’t disappointed when I tell him we need to leave and he spent his merry-go-round time playing swords with his new friends.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Watching Caprica and Jimmy Neutron

I saw the pilot for Caprica on Syfy this evening. It had some interesting performances and a morally ambiguous grief-driven geek dad trying to bring back his daughter, who has gotten mixed up with some “monotheistic” religious fanatics. The series sounds like it will be interesting with lots of virtual reality time and some storylines that can piss-off groups with no sense of humor.

Now I’m about to snuggle up with Cal and watch the Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour (the first Jimmy Neutron / Fairly Odd Parents cross-over). I’ll probably be asleep before it’s over.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I had a thought last night

I had a thought last night. I was thinking about trying to blog every day and lying there in repose; drifting off into the arms of Morpheus and I started putting together a blog post in my head. At this point I had a decision to make. Do I get up and write it down or blow it off and maybe forget about it? I chose to blow it off. Even though I don’t remember the details, I do remember thinking that it wasn’t Earth shattering and I was pretty tired. So I forgot what it was about but not that I had the mental conversation. As part of my ongoing illness (deluding myself into thinking I can and should write) I have trained myself to recognize when something like this is happening and to get up and write it down. Sometimes I look at it the next day and realize that I should have just stayed in bed. But overall I still think it’s a good exercise in not letting an idea get away from you.

Other than that I had a good day. I finally went to the grocery store last night so I had a banana this morning with my cereal and coffee. I’m reading “The Sign of the Four” as an e-text on my phone. After seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie, I went out into the wilds of the internet and found me some Sherlock Holmes stories (in the public domain, of course). It’s some easy light reading while on the bus to and from work.

Here’s a bit of my morning ritual. I get up. I put on my slippers. I go to the bathroom and pee. I go to the kitchen and start to eat a banana while I make coffee. I run outside and drag the trash can and recycle bin to the curb (only on a Monday where I’ve forgotten to do this on Sunday night; it happens way too often). Get a bowl of cereal and look over an article from “The Stranger” or “Seattle Weekly” while eating. At this point there are a lot of variables depending whether the boys are at my house or not. If they’re not then I can shower, get dressed, make my lunch and leave for work. Then I can come back and get my bus pass and/or my key-card to get into work. If the boys are with me then I have to do all of that and get them up and moving, get Calvin a doughnut, wake Duncan up again, turn off the TV so Calvin can focus on getting dressed, wake Duncan up again, get clothes for Calvin and make sure he brushes his teeth before playing video games. By this point Duncan is usually up and moving around so he’s pretty self-sufficient. Sometimes I have to make lunches and get them to the bus stop or school. Usually Tamara will come by and pick them up and drop them at the bus stop on her way to work. After I leave the house I head down to the Northgate Park and Ride and catch the 41 downtown to get to work. This is just for Monday through Friday; the weekend is less organized.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rebooting My Blog

OK, I'm rebooting my blog and moving it away from Tamara still has her blog and other content there but since she is relocating the content to a different provider, I thought I'd just park my often neglected ruminations on this part of the cloud. Now I just need to link in to my Facebook account so that when I post here it will update there and so forth.

For the last two years the Hodge family has been going through a transition that is pretty well done. Tamara and I have ended our marriage of 24 years and the long, drawn-out story about what's it all about will probably be filled in later. The important part is that we're still friends, I'm friends with her new partner, we're co-parenting the kids and trying to get on with our lives with little fanfare or hoopla.

Looking back over the posts you can see that I worked at Microsoft. as of May 2009 I no longer work there (although they paid me through July). I know work for a company called PTSO of Washington. The company provides Electronic Practice Management (EPM) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for Community Health Clinics in the state of Washington. I get to do servers, networking, hardware, Citrix and just about anything else I'm asked to do. I really like the job, the people I work with and the variety of things I get to do and learn. Its super!

I'm trying to write more. I've been trying to write more since about 1985. So I'm on my 25th anniversary of trying to write more and eventually get fiction published on a regular basis. There was a time when I worked for magazines or did freelance non-fiction but that's just not very fulfilling to me so I've tried to focus on fiction. But, alas, I'm too distractable. So I will try yet again to get into the habit of writing. Somehow I feel this is key and until I master this one basic addiction, I won't find the kind of success I'm looking for. I'm not trying to be Tom Clancey or Stephen King. Success for me is finishing stories that I would like to read (not quite there yet) and sharing them with a wider audience. If you go back to January of 2005 in the archive you can see some short samples of my writing.

To that end I did finish a short story and submit it to the writing workshop associated with Norwescon. So sometime in early April 2010 I will have the pleasure of having a pro (or semi-pro) tell me what a piece of crap I submitted. Oh there will be some talk of showing and not telling or building suspense and such. I had a high of about 2 hours after submitting the story before I came down and started seeing all of the things that were wrong with it. I have notes and will be working on these things before the workshop but I'm also wanting to hear what they have to say.

I'd like to find a writing critique group here in the Seattle area to workshop stuff on a regular basis.