It's not the heat -- It's the stupidity.


When I saw the Weather Channel forecast of over 100 degree for northeast Indiana, I thought to myself, “Gee – maybe I should take the cover off the air conditioner”.

I’m still working on why the Weather Channel forecasts are always a few degrees higher than those of local news stations. At first I thought it might be their global warming push, but that wouldn’t explain why during winter the WC forecasts always seem cooler. A love of extremes might be involved: People don’t tune in to a 24 hour weather network on nice, calm days.

Still, going from the century mark to the high 90’s doesn’t exactly force us into long flannel underwear, does it? Well, maybe me.

I have a reputation for hating cold, which is well deserved. As a result, a lot of people think I love the heat. Isn’t it just like this country, that everyone is assumed to prefer an extreme? How about a little moderation, people?

I choose the moderate tropical shores of Hawaii, just as soon as I get that six figure book deal. No, I am not packing my bags.

Given no other choice, I’ll take too hot over too cold any day. In the summer, I can find ways to cool down: Air conditioning, sticking ice down my pants, looking at a photo of Nancy Pelosi. In wintertime I just can’t seem to ever get warm enough.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s some mechanical problem at work, where it’s colder than a polar bear’s feet, making it impossible for me to acclimate to the outside temperature. I think my Hell would be a place where it’s constantly cold, the only thing to eat is liver and onions, and there’s nothing to listen to but Joe Biden campaign speeches.

For those who hate the heat, that’s cold comfort.

I thought of this yesterday when I noticed a book I’d left in my car had burst into flames. You know how much I hate burning books. If we really want to harness alternative energy, why can’t we find a way to turn the inside of a car into an electric generator? And on a related note, how much water could we save by siphoning air conditioner drains right back into water treatment plants? We need to think outside the box. ‘Cause people, it’s hot inside that box.

But it’s all relative, isn’t it?

I work with a guy who’s never worn a coat. Never. It’s minus ten in January, and he walks in the door wearing a short sleeve shirt. I can only conclude he’s a Canadian spy, helping prepare the way to invade North Dakota, where it’s warmer.

You can be sure that when I complain about the cold, people in Quebec are scoffing (in French). “You think you’re cold?” (You have to imagine this in a French accent.) “I once had to chop the yellow ice away to free my French poodle from a fire hydrant! Eh?”

This explains why Canadian poodles get so very nervous.

Last summer I spent a week in southeast Missouri during a heat wave. My fiancée warned me, before going swimming in a river, to make sure the water wasn’t boiling. For lunch people would scoop the cooked fish up in asbestos nets. Air conditioners would run away to Iowa. Several people reported their cars being stolen, only to realize they’d melted. Politicians would burst into flames before opening their mouths.

Whenever I mentioned it was hot, Missourians smiled knowingly and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

The mercury still didn’t reach as high as in desert areas, where thermometers have been known to explode. There are places in the southwest where the temperature gets higher than the national debt (speaking of which, I wonder what the weather’s like in China?), and so dry that trees chase dogs around. “But it’s a dry heat,” people will say.

Yeah, but so was my last attempt to bake something, and that’ll kill you, too.

Still, they have a point. Desert dwellers correctly point out that 100 degrees is 100 degrees, regardless of the humidity, but that’s comparing apples to – no, that’s comparing raisons to prunes. Any temperature that begins with a one is pretty bad. However, 90 degrees in the desert doesn’t feel nearly as bad as 90 degrees in the Midwest, where several near-drownings have been reported when people got into their cars without rolling down the windows first.

That’s where the heat index reading came from. Experts say the heat index is a way of showing what it feels like outside, just as the wind chill factor show what it would feel like if you foolishly exposed your skin to a breeze on that previously mentioned January day.

That’s part of it; but the main reason the heat index was invented was to have something to throw back at those people who live in dry climates:
“Oh, sure, it may be 99 degrees there; but it feels like 102 degrees here, so we’ve got you beat!”

For some reason people love to brag about their extremes of weather, as if there was reason to be happy about it. Do you know what I call people who proudly live in International Falls, Minnesota, and brag it’s the “Icebox of the Nation”?

Nuts. Frozen nuts.

Those would quickly thaw out and become roast nuts in Phoenix, which is named after a bird that burned up.

I think we should let go of this attempt to outdo ourselves on the bad stuff, and just accept that, as in so many other areas, moderation is the way to go. That was the point I started out to make, I think. I could go back and double check, but … it’s just too hot.

Fictionwise now carrying Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser is available for the Nook and most other e-book formats, now that it’s being sold on Fictionwise:

Fictionwise was acquired by Barnes & Noble in 2009, and is reported to be one of the largest e-book sellers in North America, distributing about 1.5 million e-books a year. That makes Storm Chaser available not just for Kindle and Nook, but for just about every device and software out there.  Although Whiskey Creek Press already has it for sale in PDF and HTML format, which can be transferred to most e-readers, some people prefer to skip the extra step!

It's not the heat ...

I got a dose of too much heat yesterday, while cleaning up chimney debris in the back yard and working on the roof. The temp was only 85 at the time, but heat index was 100 -- it really *is* the humidity.

column: Houston, Wii Have a Problem


            As a professional exercise avoidance expert (seriously, I’ve got a membership card) who’s also a volunteer firefighter and so needs to be in shape, I constantly search for some form of exercise that I actually enjoy. I constantly fail.

            There are people who enjoy weightlifting every day, and running long distances for hours at a time. They brag about “feeling the burn” and “no pain no gain”. In olden times this was called masochism, and reserved for people who paid leather clad women to whip them, then apply salt. I suppose either way you’d hit your target heart rate.

            Others talk about how great you feel after a workout. I’ve yet to determine whether I’m somehow different at a cellular level, or whether they’re simply lying to me and themselves. As an experiment, several years ago I hit the weight room for a regular, honest to goodness exercise regimen. For eight months I ate better, gained muscle mass and lost weight, felt the burn – who wants to be burned? – and was probably the healthiest I’d been since my factory job back in the 80’s.

            Just as with my factory job in the 80’s, I was miserable every second. I can’t help thinking people just claim to feel better, as part of their attempt to convince themselves all that work is really worth living to age 85, instead of 82. The modern health craze is the only thing keeping the adult diaper industry going.

            Now, there are some things I like to do that could help a person stay fit. Walking, for instance – not running. I actually like to walk, although I tend to go too fast for some people. But not fast enough for it to be running, because then I might spill my Mountain Dew. Let’s not get crazy.

            Most of the things I like to do are limited by cost or weather. I like to swim, and go canoeing, and … well, that’s about it. If you don’t have membership money, none of that works in an Indiana winter. So the problem is staying in something that approaches good shape during the cold season.

            As I was Christmas shopping last winter, I stumbled upon a chance to kill two birds with one stone, in a very fit stone-throwing kind of a way: I bought my fiancée a Wii.

            A Wii is a video game console, which at first glance would seem counter-productive. When I used to play my roommate’s Atari (yes, I’m that old), I’d end up a fetal position on the floor, trying over and over to protect my cities from incoming bombs with Missile Command. But oh, how things have changed. You see, the Wii came with a game called Wii Sport.

            Oddly enough, there are sports I hate watching or playing in real life, but enjoy on Wii. Although the videogames seem realistic, with Wii I can actually hit a tennis ball – something I’ve never been able to do in real life. Never. Also, I can hit a golf ball in the direction I want it to go, and box without ending up flat on the floor, unless I trip over the coffee table. Which … happens.

            It’s a miracle.

            The real miracle is that you don’t just push a button and move a joystick. The Wii controller is set up so that you actually perform the actions on the screen, so for instance when I swing a baseball bat I have to swing the controller. That’s what gives Wii a chance to be something that actually helps the fight for fitness. It’s as if World of Warcraft players had to pick up a real sword and swing it around to fight off those giant monster thingies.

            It does work. However, as I’ve discovered in the last few months, certain precautions need to be taken.

            First of all, do some warm ups and stretches before you start. The great thing about a game like this is that you have fun, and don’t even notice you’re up exercising, but it still has the same effect on your body. I went a little overboard on 18 rounds of golf once and ended up in screaming back agony for three days, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

            Second, there’s a wrist strap that secures the controller to your wrist. Use it. There have been confirmed reports of broken TV screens and even injuries. You do not want to tell the workers in the ER that you broke your nose playing Wii tennis. Imagine the danger of trying to put stitches in while laughing uncontrollably.

            Go by my house, and look at that broken picture window. Yep.

            (Actually, the picture window was broken by a cat – but that’s even more embarrassing than saying it was done with a videogame controller.)

            There’s also a protective sleeve that goes around the remote, kind of a Wii condom. A Wiidom. Use it to, um, prevent accidents. You don’t have to discuss it.

            Clear the room of anything that might be tripped over. Because you will. Well, I did.

            Finally, if you’re playing as a pair make sure you’re far enough away from each other to avoid a serious impact, ‘cause she’ll never let you live it down and demand not only a special ibuprofen delivery, but backrubs, sympathy, constant attention, and assistance in cleaning out her snake tank. Not that I’m thinking of anyone in particular, and I’d like to mention once again how very sorry I am.

            I just never thought of doubles tennis as a contact sport. Especially in my living room.

I'm number 9! I'm number 9!

Storm Chaser is in the top 10 on Whiskey Creek Press's list of releases!

I assume that's partially because I recently ordered 15 more print copies; I've autographed and sold 60 myself, in the month and a half since it was released. Still, while I don't know the average sales figures for WCP titles, and I don't know the accuracy of the Amazon numbers I've dug up, it's reason for hope that I'm doing okay.

So .... sequel? I'm on the edge, here ...

Meanwhile, if you haven't checked out Storm Chaser, you can order it through the publisher, for Kindle on, or directly from me, all through my website:

Emily has also posted links to some reviews there.

Thanks God for the Patriot Guard Riders ....

Putting the hammer down ... on my hand

While I'm making slow progress on taking down my chimney,
at least so far it's been just a Band-Aid/ibuprofen job. I was using just a
large hammer and chisels in an attempt to be more controlled, what with being
thirty feet in the air and all, which was too slow but still worked -- until
the chimney liner started cracking at its first seam. Getting the top three
feet of chimney liner down in one piece was an adventure, but I didn't want
shattered ceramic shards all over the lawn ... I could describe what I did, but
you'd all just lecture me. In any case, that's been the most dangerous part so

However, I just brought home a sledgehammer, so that could change.

Author Holds Monopoly on Outdoors Book Signing

I apologize if you have to click to see the photos; I've been trying to get them to attach properly for two days of hellish glitching.
 Image heavy! Some photos taken by me, but if you see me actually in the picture I'd bet it was taken by Emily.

                Planning something outside is always a dangerous prospect, especially in the Midwest. My fiancée and I have discussed having our wedding at the Gene Stratton Porter Memorial site, where I once attended a beautiful wedding in perfect weather. Of course, I usually avoid weddings, and I’m still holding out the hopes that we could phone ours in from a tropical beach. The world’s first ever teleconferenced wedding? Why not?

The point is, I don’t have a lot of weddings to compare that one to, but we were outdoors, in a beautiful garden, and no one got pooped on by a bird (Or any other animal). What else can you ask for?

Still, when planning an outdoor event in Indiana you have to be prepared for everything, including treating guests for frostbite or heat exhaustion – sometimes on the same day. So, while having two writers get married near the former home of Noble County’s most famous author may seem romantic, it has its hazards. In keeping with the stormy nature of my first novel, I wonder if we’d have to post spotters in case waterspouts bear down on us across Sylvan Lake.

You could argue that having a book signing outside would be even more hazardous – one little shower, and your inventory is ruined. Still, I’d hoped to be the first author ever to hold an outside book signing.

A quick internet search revealed that other people have, indeed, held outdoor book signings. But I’ll bet none of them did it while a giant monopoly game went on in front of them.

Someone approached me with the idea of doing my first signing at, appropriately, the First Friday event in July. Albion has activities around the courthouse square through most of the year on – wait for it – the first Friday of every month. I begged off at first, because while I ordered books, they weren’t to arrive for 3-4 weeks. When they got here two weeks ahead of time I’d run out of excuses that didn’t include the term “broiling under a hot sun”, so I signed on.

The view from my area as one of the Monopoly games gets underway at "Go". The folks to the left are from a bakery here in town, and as the afternoon went on had to send to the shop for more baked goods to sell. The lemon shake-up/snow cone people were in the opposite direction, beside the old police booth that, naturally, served as the Monopoly "Jail".

Then I realized there might not be enough books left over. How was I to know someone would want my signature and not be a bank teller? I ordered fifteen more copies, confident in the knowledge that there was absolutely no way they’d arrive in time, and thus began the single most stressful week of my life since my divorce was finalized.

What do you need for a book signing? Well, books. Also, a table and chairs, although many authors claim the best method is to get up and stand in front of their signing table. Also needed was, in my case, a canopy. But that was okay, I already had one that I’d loaned to my daughter. Couldn’t be anything else, right?

So wrong.

I started researching, and discovered that, apparently, authors need to have treats to lure people in, like cheese on a trap. Apparently the trap is your book, ready to spring shut on the reader’s imagination. Say, I like that – I’ll use that again later.

Emily, in addition to being so smart that she set up my web site and so dumb that she agreed to marry me, makes the best no-bake cookies in the history of cookiedom, and in my next book, Cookies From A to Z, I’ll prove that. (Yeah, like I’d write a cookbook. I once burned a pot of water.) Treat problem solved.

As the week went by, new needs kept cropping up, begging to cut into my profit margin. A plastic tote to carry the books; new pens, because my old pens came in a set of twelve for a dollar, which is apparently beneath an Author; an easel to hold a poster-sized version of my book cover; a poster-sized version of my book cover.

Hello, how are ya, buy my book -- please be impressed by all the work other people did to make me look good.

Then the news started coming in. Something ate my canopy. Emily’s no-bake cookies didn’t set. They were still delicious, but had to be scooped up with a spoon like some wonderful chocolate-oatmeal soup, and can you imagine the brown fingerprints all over my books? Then there was the weather forecast, which varied between “too hot to fish” and “let’s experiment with lightning bolts”.
Here’s the crazy part: As I sat there for three hours, giant Monopoly pieces kept marching by while a guy who looked exactly like the Moneybags character from the game hurried from place to place, yelling into a loudspeaker. 

Excuse me, Mr. Moneybags -- could you spare $14.95?

The sidewalk around the Noble County Courthouse square was divided into a board – its name changed to Albionopoly – with each square sponsored by local businesses and organizations. (No one wanted the Income Tax square.) It took dozens of people to put this thing together, but everyone had a blast playing the “fast” version of Albionopoly. One team would go by with a scale model house representing our old Southside Grocery store; then we’d see an anvil, a horse (a real horse) accompanied by a cowboy and Indian, and a Wolf pack (I believe their last name is Wolf; they bought a copy of the book). My favorite was probably the giant screw, so huge it looked like it had been commissioned by the federal government to hold the debt together.


Notice how well the natives and settlers are getting along ... even cleaning up after the pony.

This is what makes small town living so great.
As for me, it all came together. I got a loaner canopy, we made more cookies, the weather was close to perfect for this time of year, and the extra 15 copies arrived just three days before the signing. It turned out I wouldn’t have run out anyway, but I’d never get anything done without the incentive of worrying needlessly.
How’d I do? Well, I’ve just ordered 15 more, and at some future time collectors may find that the most valuable copies of my first book are the ones that don’t have a signature on them.
If there’s a lesson to be learned, maybe it’s this: Don’t be afraid to try something different. If it rains on your parade … write a book about it.

My gosh, what kind of costume is this? Oh, wait -- it's my brother. Kidding, Jeff! But the book must be for Cathy.

Another Year Older and ...

Well, I’ve been able to remove the chimney cap and the first few layers of brick, suffering nothing more than a few scraps, sore muscles, and a broken knuckle or two. Getting to it requires climbing on ladder, working my way across a roof and then back across another, then balancing on a roof ladder about thirty feet in the air, so I say anything that doesn’t require hospitalization is a win.

I’m still not sure how to take down the inside chimney liner, which appears as solid as the day it was put in and it possibly made of the same stuff in Wolverine’s claws. I’m using something about the size of Thor’s hammer, which simply bounces off the liner.

Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes! Charis made me a nice dinner and Emily gave me a copy of The Annotated Wizard of Oz, which I’ve been lusting after since first seeing it a few years ago. My vacation was something of a bust from a fun standpoint, but I survived my first book signing and we’ve sold almost 60 print copies of Storm Chaser in addition to whatever’s going out through the publisher … a good start.

Will Summer Chimney Demolition Lead to Fall?

I've been on vacation for the last couple of weeks, thus my inability to check up on my friends lists as I usually try to do. It's been a working vacation, almost entirely taken up by selling, promoting, and distributing Storm Chaser ... which needs to do well as a first novel if I want to move on to bigger things. I'm happy to say it's gotten four five-star reviews at, and I've signed something like 55 print copies so far.

Now I'm going to disappear from the internet even more, almost entirely for the next week. My vacation is almost over, and Emily and I need some real R&R time before I got back to work and she starts preparing for college. Naturally I'll check my e-mails every day, unless we get a chance to make some day trips, but otherwise I'll be back sometime just after my birthday on the 14th. I hope to get a few non-writing/internet chores done in addition to going out for some fun. And then there's that pesky chimney that needs to be dealt with ...


            I expect this will be the last column of mine you ever read.

            (Which reminds me – I need to fill out a will.)

            No, I’m not quitting – why would I do that? I’m getting paid for a writing gig. On the contrary, it’s something much less dramatic: I believe I’m going to die. Not only that, but I’m going to die in one of those ways that’s both tragic and that will make people giggle, when they start thinking about it.

            I’m going to fall off my own roof.

            I suspect the ground will break my fall.

            You see, not long after I bought my house, someone pointed out to me that there appeared to have been some patch work done to my chimney. I didn’t think that was a problem; I mean, patching means it’s fixed, right? I get patched up every time I work with tools, and so far I’ve healed very nicely, with minimum scarring.

            A few years after moving in, the chimney bricks about two-thirds of the way up started flaking off. Just peeling away in pieces, as if I was taking apart a block of damp ramen. Which reminds me, what should I have as a last meal?

            I’m thinking prime rib, Mountain Dew, moose tracks ice cream … and for dessert, a solid block of milk chocolate. Maybe a pound. Not worried about the diet at that point.

            Isn’t there a story in the Bible about how the Hebrew slaves were forced to make bricks without straw? Maybe these were some of those bricks, imported from Egypt. Maybe the straw was supposed to hold them together, over time.

            So the bricks started flaking off, and at about the same time my roof started leaking. This was the beginning of my long experience with do-it-yourself home repair work, in which I learned that I was one of those people for whom renting was invented. After a long struggle and some hundred pounds of roofing tar, I contacted a roofer who was very happy to take my money, thankyouverymuch. Not only that, he even threw in concrete patching material, which he smeared over the deteriorating bricks.

            “This will only last a few years,” he warned me.

            Like the rubber roofing he used on the flat part of my home, the patching held up for almost twenty years. That’s not too shabby. Or maybe it is, what do I know? In any case, when the roof started leaking again I took that as a hint that I should check out the chimney.

            I remember looking at it and saying … well, I can’t really tell you what I said. Later, at the hardware store, I stood before the big rack of stuff, closed my eyes, and pointed at two things at random. “Give me a gallon of that and a can of that,” I said. “And some whiskey.”

            The guy just raised his eyebrow. “I’m confused. Are you fighting Godzilla, or raising the dead? ‘Cause this combination could do either.”

            It turns out one of the items sealed stuff, and the other killed insects. If you’ve ever seen what happens when a spider crawls on me while I’m at the tip of a ladder, you understand why that’s important.

            After treating the roof, the chimney, the ladder, and my clothes with a liberal dose of both chemicals, I closed everything up for the winter and held my breath. I often hold my breath during winter. Passing out makes it go faster.

            The roof didn’t leak. Not at all, not even a little, not for a whole month. But what the heck – there are advantages to having running water in your kitchen, even if it’s over the kitchen table, although the showers were too cold.

            This spring I came out to look at the chimney, specifically the bricks that had started flaking off twenty years ago.

            They were gone.

            Nothing there but a big hole, right through to the chimney liner, as big around as my head on the day I signed my book contract. What’s worse, the bricks below that point, all the way down to ground level, have now started flaking away.

            Here’s the fun part: One section of chimney stayed whole, seemingly as new as the day it was built, with bricks solid and mortar strong. It was the four or five feet that stuck up from the peaked roof, maybe twenty-five feet in the air. The very top. Hovering there in the open air, unsupported by anything, including the rest of the chimney. Just waiting.

            For me.

            The chimney has to come down, before it goes down by itself in the wrong direction and I get an instant skylight. I could hire someone … nope, just checked my wallet – I can’t. It’s going to be me way up there on a 130 or so year old roof, knocking bricks, one at a time, off a 130 or so year old chimney imported from Egypt.

            So when I say I don’t expect to survive, I’m not kidding.

            It’s not that easy, making out a will. I think I want to give the house to my fiancée. Sorry, babe. Maybe there’ll be some old Confederate money under the bricks, or more likely the Lost Ark of the Covenant. It’s all yours.

            Editor’s Note: All Printing and Publication will be taking applications for humor columnists, to keep on file – just in case.

column - Diet: The Word Closest to "Die"

My first book signing went well -- I sold 15 copies of Storm Chaser, the weather was cooler then expected while the rain stayed just to the west, and between chatting with readers and family I was able to watch Albion's imagination at work, as life-size pieces of the Albionopoly board went by on the courthouse square. I'll have some photos up later, but meanwhile, time to turn to the dark side of my life: the dietary side:


            This is a difficult column for me to write, about a frightening – no, terrifying – subject.

            I’m going on a diet.

            Worse than that, I’m actually participating in The Biggest Loser.

            No, no – not that Biggest Loser. I maintain my scorn of, and annoyance at, all those overly dramatic, overly competitive “reality” TV shows. Believe me, if somebody gets in my face and starts screaming at me there will be one of two reactions, neither what that person is expecting but one of them shaky from a legal standpoint. The best way to get me not to do something is to go all drill sergeant on me.

            My full time job is at a law enforcement agency, and it’s considered a good idea for people who have to chase down criminals to be in good shape. The problem is, most jobs in that area are largely sedentary – they require a lot of time sitting in a chair/seat, keeping an eye out, and/or doing paperwork. Every time a lawyer or Congressman sneezes another piece of paperwork gets added to the job description of emergency services personnel, and politicians seem to have a lot of allergies.

            The good news is, people in those jobs are usually competitive, so the idea was hatched to have them compete to see how much weight they would lose. The person who loses the largest percentage of body mass gets a chair, or a new keyboard, or something.

            The bad news is, I’m not competitive. From the first time I was chosen last on the playground and wandered off to read a book instead, I haven’t much cared who wins most competitions. You want proof? I’m a Cubs fan.

            I’m not one of those who chase down criminals. I’m a dispatcher: I send other people to chase down criminals. However, I’m also a volunteer firefighter, and for that job staying in shape is on the important side.

            Besides, it bothers me that I’m no longer thin. I grew up skinny – not slim, skinny. Slim people look good; skinny people look … skinny. I could eat anything. Chili. Candy for breakfast. Dirt off the ground, whatever.

            Then, on my 25th birthday, I woke up, got dressed, and noticed I couldn’t see my belt.

            Seriously, it happened overnight. “Hey – where’d my belt go? I remember putting it on …”

            Part of the problem is that I’d worked a factory job, which I left to take a position at the Noble County Jail. Cue report writing.

            At the factory we would weigh ourselves on the shipping scales, for no other reason than to brag about how thin we got hauling around axles and wheel parts in an un-air conditioned metal building. I routinely weighed 170 pounds.

            Then, one day, after three or four years in the jail and fifteen or so years in dispatch, I had an impulse to weigh myself again. 214 pounds, and that was after a long sleep and stark naked.

            Now, I’m not dumb enough to think I can get back to my early twenties weight. My days of buying jeans with a 32 inch waist are over, but seeing a two at the beginning of my weight had a powerful effect on me. When only a few weeks later the Biggest Loser thing came around, I jumped at the chance. Well, more like I lumbered at the chance.

            My official weight, fully clothed and after a full shift of snacking, was 219 pounds. My goal is to reach 190 pounds by the end of summer, to maintain that weight over the winter, and to get down to around 180 by the end of next summer.

            “But can’t you lose weight during the winter, Mark?”

            No. During winter I can barely keep myself from breaking into a convenience store and snacking myself into a season-long comatose state. If I can keep from gaining anything, it’ll be a miracle worthy of sainthood.

            But I have a shot at losing some over the summer, which I usually did until my metabolism decided I’d grown enough and shut down on me. In fact, for this competition I have two secret weapons, one of them summer related:

            The first is that I’m on vacation. We don’t have money for a long trip, so instead we’re staying home and have a whole list of jobs we want to accomplish and local things we want to do, all of which burn way more calories than sitting in dispatch. Not only that, but when I don’t have to stay up all night on the job I can cut down on my regular supply of Mountain Dew, a necessary caffeine source that also has more calories than an entire freezer at Dairy Queen.

            My first night back from vacation is my birthday, and I’m hoping my depressed state from worrying about age will suppress my appetite.

            My second secret weapon? My fiancée, who can smell a Snickers Bar from a mile away. Where I may get weak and go for the Moose Tracks ice cream, she’ll be wielding the whip, ready to beat me into dietary submission.

            I mean, she literally owns a whip. And whenever I walk by the refrigerator there she is, standing there, cracking that whip in the air. Then she fixes me some nice parsley and carrot soup and sends me out for a five mile walk.

            So yeah, I have high hopes that my plan will be effective in both reducing my weight and improving my health (they aren’t the same thing, after all). Next time you see me, I may be less of a man.

           Scary, isn’t it?

Fire Guts Pole Barn

What I did on my summer vacation? Well, I took some not-very-exciting photographs of a pole barn fire, because when things were really exciting I was a bit busy:
Metal doesn't burn; but it collapses onto burning material and causes problems in reaching the fire.