The way I work is scattered and kind of chaotic. I work on one project until I hit a wall and then I skip to another project.
If you look at the picture above, the column to the left is the list of books I'm currently writing, minus Robby The R-Word, which is about to send out initial hard copy proofs to reviewers and me.
Because I'm kind of scattered.
And by the way, the program you're looking at there is my WriteEverywhere platform, which I coded earlier this summer. so far it's great.
When I was 10 years old, I had one of the best memories with my dad - he and I took an old stand-up Victrola record player he had inherited from someone and painstakingly restored it, stripping decades of black paint by hand, carefully sanding out dings and dents, and then staining and sealing the wood back to its original factory condition.
As a reward for how hard I worked, Dad gave the hand-cranked record player to me, and I proudly displayed it in my room from that day until the day I left for college.
Shortly after I left for college, my dad and mother got divorced, and Dad took the Victrola with him for safekeeping while I was young and wild, which I think was a pretty smart move.
My relationship with my father over the years has been complicated. We disagree on more things than we agree on, and I still have a lot of scars over how I was treated as a child, he I think, had scars over how I basically left home and never looked back.
Last Saturday morning, my dad died.
His new family apparently was pretty upset with me for some things I had said about Dad, but that just shows they didn't understand our relationship, because that was an ongoing dialog between him and me. They set the funeral for Monday, just two days after he died, and when my 82-year-old aunt, who raised my dad, called my dad's step-son to ask if it could be pushed back a day or two to accommodate out-of-state people who wanted to come pay their respects, he called her "everything but white" and used so many f-bombs on her that she lost count. And then he threatened to "punch her out" if she didn't settle down and do what he said.
He was furious over how I had spoken about my dad, and some ugly things I had said about his sister after she rudely confronted me and inserted herself into my final moments with my dad.
They made it clear that I wasn't welcome at the funeral, and that my wife (who had done nothing) would be barred from entering.
Today, my sister went to my dad's house to retrieve a few sentimental items that my dad had specifically asked to be passed on to his children. I didn't ask for anything, but I kind of expected that the Victrola, which was given to me 37 years ago, might make its way back to me, and I was happy about it, because it was a memento of one of the few good moments I had of my childhood with him.
Nope. My dad's wife put her foot down. The Victrola was in her office, and she just hadn't had time to go through the stuff in her office, so it would stay. I don't know what's to "go through," since it's just a big hunk of wood with a non-functioning hand-crank turntable. The fact is, despite my dad's explicit instructions, she had no intention of letting me have my Victrola, the one I worked so hard on, the one that represented in physical form the memory of one of the very few good times of my childhood.
I had already instructed my sister to not make a big deal out of it, because I figured they were going to pull a stunt like this, and frankly, I'm not very interested in engaging in a lot of drama.
So to my dad's widow, Roselyn Wright, keep the Victrola. Seriously. I hope it makes you feel good and you enjoy it the rest of your life. I lived this long without it, I'll be fine. To her family, DeWayne Eddington and Jamie Eddington Clinton, I hope you never have to face negative consequences for how you treated my dad's grieving family because of a petty disagreement with me, and I'm sure you're glad you'll never have to hear from me again for any reason. May your life be full of peace, joy and satisfied minds.
I will still have one of my few happy childhood memories, with or without the object that personified it. I'd rather you have it and have peace now.
I recently put a weather widget on the front of my news sites. It essentially tells what the weather is right now. Well, that data have to come from somewhere, and I was using a service called World Weather Online, which offered free and some low-cost plans with limits on how many times they could be accessed per day.
My limit was 40,000 views per day.
Well, my main news site, MuskogeeNOW.com, surpassed that before midday.
So my readers were presented with a long string of error messages essentially telling them they couldn't view the weather because the company providing the data needed more money.
So I thought about upgrading and even sent the service a message to that effect, but while I waited for them to respond, I started researching alternatives.
Apparently the National Weather Service provides an XML-based feed of current weather conditions and a reasonable forecast into the future. But the data are MESSY:
It took me about 12 hours to figure out what data went with what time and date. It's a VERY complicated process, but I finally figured it out and devised a program that would display the current weather and the forecast without limits on how many times it could be accessed.
But my sites get a LOT of traffic, and I didn't want the Weather Service throttling the data later, so I decided to cache the feeds. Five minutes for the current weather (it's a small feed) and an hour for the forecast (forecasts don't change that often). So now, the first time someone hits my site, my site gets the data from the National Weather Service and saves that data to the local server. Then, until the time limits pass, every time someone else hits the site, they see that saved data, which speeds up page loading (something World Weather Online was frustrating me over anyway).
So yeah, long story short: if you bake your own solution, be prepared to dig in like a tick for a few hours.
I may provide my solution for free download to people at some point, but I still have some kinks to work out.
I was going to do a funny post on the pole vaulter whose "pole" was too big and knocked down the bar he was trying to vault at the Olympics (I mean, he may have lost the medal, but there will be no greater pickup line in the future than, "Yes, I was on track to get a gold medal at the Olympics, but my penis was just too huge and knocked the bar down as I was trying to vault it"), but then I ran across this video of Donald Trump supporters trying to explain how he was going to make America great again.
Spoiler: It's by keeping Mexicans out, which will save us from terrorism, because all brown people look alike.
Reality TV is truly bringing us to the apocalypse, and I say that as an unabashed fan.
Enter FYI's hit show, Married at First Sight, which experiments with arranged marriages. The premise of the show is a panel of experts carefully vet arrays of singles and then select mates for three couples, who meet their future spouses on their wedding days.
The show then follows the newly-married couples for six weeks, through the ups and downs of adjusting to marrying someone they just met.
And if that description sounds awesome, you have no idea. Because the "experts" SUCK at picking mates for people, which makes the show compelling viewing in every way.
We are only on the second season of viewing, but it's amazing how bad these mental health professionals are at picking mates for people. One couple was hot and heavy the minute they met, but when the reality of his uber-neediness and her latent batshit-craziness surfaced, it was like watching Jeffrey Dahmer pretend to be straight and not cannibalistic.
Another couple is a self-centered metrosexual douchenozzle who marries a ghetto girl and immediately likes her dress, then her. But he's a scuzzbucket, so they start having problems right off the bat too.
And the third couple live 80 miles apart and the wife is completely turned off by the looks of her new husband, freaking out and saying "what the hell did I get myself into?"
The couples have to stay married for six months, at which time the show will pay for their divorce attorneys if they need one.
And here's my bet for season two: ALL THREE COUPLES will get divorce attorneys. Mark my words. Man, it's fun to watch other people's drama!
Last weekend, we went to Memphis, Tennessee, my hometown, to visit my dad, who is possibly dying from the after-effects of lung cancer treatment.
After I visited with my dad, we went to his sister's house, where my two surviving aunts and some of my cousins were gathered.
We're not a close family, so we don't often get chances to visit, which made it nice. My cousins Lisa, Monique and Michelle - who are my aunt Tina's daughters - were there, and because we're close in age, I've always been closer to Monique and Michelle than any of my other relatives. In fact, when I was in college, Monique and I lived together briefly in a tiny, off-campus loft apartment.
Monique, who I haven't seen for ten years, started recounting the story of living with me. Back in those days, I was obsessed with guitar and becoming the best player I possibly could.
"The thing that freaked me out," she said, "was when he got bored, he took one of his guitars and put the strings on backwards so he could teach himself to play left-handed."
I had completely forgotten about that until she mentioned it, but it's interesting to me to hear my past told from someone else's perspective. After we left, I started trying to remember, and my right hand automatically formed itself into the shapes of the chords effortlessly. Muscle memory, I guess.
Anyway, it was great to see my cousins and aunts while I was there.
Long before Donald Trump got into politics, I knew him as the guy from "The Art of the Deal," a largely fictional book (according to its author) that portrayed Trump as a masterful businessman and real estate mogul.
At the time, he was married to Ivana Trump, a Czech-born model with a notable Germanic accent that became the target of impersonators because of its thickness.
In 1990, several years after "The Art of the Deal" made Trump an international name, Ivana filed for divorce. And the New York Daily News published the best headline I have ever seen — something I routinely told copy editors I was training through the years:
The headline is perfect on so many levels, because it says so much in only three words. It tells you who said it. Ivana. It tells you who she's talking about, because "better deal" deftly refers to "The Art of the Deal," the work that made Donald Trump so famous. It tells you what's going on: she's filing for divorce, because she wants a better deal. It references her famous accent by changing "I want a" to "Ivana," which is also her name.
If you're not familiar with programming, skip this post. But I'm making an events calendar for my news sites, and I've always used HTML tables to accomplish what I'm going for, which looks like this:
Believe it or not, that's pretty hard to do.
So here's the PHP that generates the calendar:
And it produces an output that looks something like this:
Of course, that looks horrible, so now I use CSS to style the output to represent something more like what we expect a calendar to look like.
Here's the CSS:
If you're following closely, you'll see a little JQuery script I wrote in there to handle when users click on a date in the calendar. The advantage of that is now I can call my calendar from another script, and depending on what context the calendar is in, I can have it do multiple things, like fill a calendar date into a form field, or pull up a date's events from the calendar, etc.
So there it is.
So my dad is out of his head. Really, he's always been kind of a jerk - abusive, racist, homophobic, misogynist, closed-minded and hateful - but it has gotten much worse in the last decade or so.
When my two older siblings and I were children, my dad was frequently abusive, both verbally and physically. They say I got the worst of it, because face it, I'm a smartass. But that doesn't justify an adult hitting a child.
Anyway, in the last several years, he's become completely unbearable, and no one wants to talk to him anymore. So I crept on his Facebook and found the following stuff. Warning: extremely evil and graphic language:
"Why are you watching Maximum Overdrive," you might ask.
Because, other than reading Cujo, there are very few other ways to see the mind of master author Stephen King strung out on cocaine.
King wrote the base story for the movie, Trucks, and then he wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. When asked why he didn't direct any movies after Maximum Overdrive, King stated simply: "did you watch Maximum Overdrive?"
I remember hating it in the late 80s when it came out, but I haven't seen it since then, and I've come to appreciate its camp. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Bart Simpson, plays a nagging newlywed wife, and Emilio Esteves, Charlie Sheen's older brother, plays a surly ex-con who works as a short-order cook at a roadside gas station in North Carolina when a mysterious comet passes earth and all the machines in the world start attacking humans.
This movie is so 1980s, it practically comes with shoulder pads and acid-washed jeans.
More importantly, it makes it absolutely clear that even the most brilliant minds - like that of Stephen King - wash out when they're drugged out.
OK. Back to the movie. On an unrelated note, gotta get me one of these:
Just think about the possibilities: here