Friday, December 21, 2007

Traders, Raiders and Pirates

When we saw Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest I got an itch to play a pirate game. I found Sea Rats! It looked interesting but I wanted the ability to build my own ship and work with wind.

I have since looked at several other games and for Christmas we bought all the Pirates movies and Pirates the game. None of the games I've seen take wind into account. That means no tacking, wearing or gaining the weather gauge. You might as well be playing a WWII naval battle.

The result is that I wrote my own rules. I combined several rules I have seen from pirate and other games. I call the game Traders, Raiders and Pirates (TRP). The rules are here in this post.

These rules have not been play tested, but you are welcome to try and let me know how they worked. I'm still trying to figure out what to do for a map board and ship models (may use the cardboard models that come from the Pirate game).

[EDIT: The original rules have been removed from this post and replaced by new rules on the following post]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poll - Organizer

Our last poll, "What Should We Call the Day After Thanksgiving?" only got two votes (one of them mine) so I'll just have to call it Retail Friday from now on.

Our new poll is about organizers.

How do you organize your day; how do you plan your life?

I use a Palm based PDA (Palm TX) and I'm quite happy with it. For Christmas, I'm going to get a keyboard for it and an FM transmitter. The FM transmitter will let me use my TX as an MP3 player in the car.

I actually use my PDA everyday. I use it for work in several ways. I use it to organize my daily personal schedule, to do list and contacts. I also use it for writing and I have songs on it.

I recently purchased for my eldest Propette a Franklin day planner. She uses it constantly.

Mrs. Prop (my wife) uses loose paper on a writing pad for her planning.

Mrs. Prop (my mom) uses a pocket calendar (last I checked).

What do you use?

Monday, December 10, 2007

What is an FRG?

I have become involved in the Family Readiness Group for the Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade. This is the unit from which I retired in May.

A portion of the Headquarters of the 108th Sustainment Brigade has been mobilized and will very shortly be deployed to Iraq. That is really why I volunteered to help out. I felt a little guilty that it would have been me to go if I had stayed in a few more months. Also I know that my family got no support while I was deployed in Afghanistan. I wanted to correct that.

In fact, when I volunteered to help in anyway they needed, they volunteered me as the Group Leader (a rather intense job with orders and a letter of appointment). I'll do my best and anyone I know that wants to help will be welcomed warmly.

But, what is an FRG (Family Readiness Group) and what do they do?

Well, in theory, every unit should always have an FRG. it should be the official support for families of service members, both in the Regular Army and in the Reserves (the Army Reserves and the National Guard are both, and collectively, refered to as the Reserves). In practice it is more common to see an FRG started up for a unit deploying and not continuing much after they get back.

In units based in rural communities I have seen a very close knit family organization, but that was because most of the members of the unit were literally family.

In units without this natural support it can be very important for the FRG to function well.

FRGs provide a clearing house for information for service families. They also provide a source of mental and spiritual support. We have monthly informational and social meetings planned for the year that the unit will be deployed. We are also building a "Phone Tree" so that each family will get a call at least once a month from someone who has information and is ready to provide support (or at least get a request for support started in the right direction).

Deployments can be as hard, or harder on families as on the service members themselves. Support an FRG if you can. For more information about the HHC, 108 SB FRG, drop me a line at

An FRG in action.
Santa Claus this year is letting his reindeer have a rest, arriving at his appointed rounds in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Here, he stops at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane, Wash. Operation Spokane Heroes hosted the holiday party for Families of deployed servicemembers, who met Santa, rode a carousel and had pizza. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Jocelyn A. Ford)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Love is Higher than the Faet

Part Two of the Courtship of Princess Gelachien

Prince Audie went home to the kingdom of Slojia after Princess Gelachien of Ontia refused to let him court her. When he arrived at the castle his father, King Trordar could see right away that Gelachien had sent him away. Trordar was very very angry.

He had lost the Battle of the Whombae River to Gelachien and was forced to sign the Treaty of the Great Bridge. A few years later he lost Southern Slojia to Prince Lang’s father who made himself King Lagan I. After that he lost the western shore of the Thirae River to Feren’s father, King Ferris I. This last insult was too much for Trordar and he decided to take revenge.

Trordar called for his generals and started to make plans to attack Ontia. Audie spoke up and reminded him that the Treaty of the Great Bridge did not allow him to attack Ontia.

“We must get revenge against this Princess!” Trordar roared. “She’s not even a real princess; they just made her princess to make me lose Ontia.” He slammed his great fist on the table and sat down to think.

“West Iurnia! That’s it. If it’s Prince Feren that she wants then we will make his kingdom pay. Make plans to invade West Iurnia.”

Meanwhile, Princess Gelachien waited for a reply from Feren. She had invited him to a picnic so that she could tell him that she was sorry for testing him and to try to start courting him. She would walk back and forth on top of the walls of her castle in the capital city of Liitownyn. Sometimes she would walk with her wizard, Shorfly or sometimes with the Prime Minister, Melbur.

One cloudy day she was walking with Melbur. The ocean breeze blew her long dark hair in her eyes and she wiped it away.

“Why hasn’t he answered me Melbur?” She asked the old Prime Minister.

“I don’t know highness. I know you angered him with your test, but I would have thought that he would have calmed down by now. Maybe he isn’t the kind of man you want after all if he gets this angry and doesn’t forgive.”

“Maybe your right Melbur, but if he isn’t the one then who? Audie, Trev, Lang?”

“Well you did say that you liked the way Trev played piano.”

“Yes and he did tell such funny stories, but he was so short.”

“And you said that he was greedy.”

“Yes, but maybe he wouldn’t be so bad. He could buy me nice jewelry.” She laughed a little and spun around. Maybe Prince Trev wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe she could send him an invitation.

Just then Shorfly ran up the stairs and called to them. “Your highness, I have just received word that the army of Slojia and King Trordar is on the march.”

“Trordar is going to attack Ontia? Why?” Gelachien asked.

“No, Princess. He is attacking West Iurnia. He means to make Prince Feren pay for being chosen by you.”

“Oh dear. That’s why Feren hasn’t replied to my invitation. How strong is the army of Slojia?”

Melbur said, “They’re very strong. They’re much stronger than anything King Ferris can put together.”

“Then we must help them.” Gelachien said.

“But how princess?” Shorfly asked. “We can’t attack Slojia because of the Treaty of the Great Bridge. We can’t get to West Iurnia without crossing Slojia.”

“Yes we can. We could sail south past Slojia and Southern Slojia, but then we would have to sail again north into Oolpao Bay. No one has ever sailed that far without putting in to shore at some point. Surely they would see our ships and wait for us at any port we might try to put into.” Melbur said.

“There is another way.” Gelachien said. “We can go over the mountains.”

“Go over the Ianduid Mountains? But that would mean that we would have to either go over Mount Faet or go around north of it. That would mean going into Urth land. That is far too dangerous.” Shorfly said.

“But it is possible.” Gelachien smiled.

“Yes, it’s possible, but it would take too long. We could never march our army over the mountains and get to West Iurnia in time to help.” Melbur said.

“We’ll only take the cavalry. Assemble the troops; we’ll leave first thing in the morning.” She ran to the steps with her dress flowing behind her.

In the morning Princess Gelachien rode out in front of her cavalry on a great white horse in shiny steel armor encrusted with pink quartz, emeralds and diamonds.

“I have sent a message by crow to King Ferris and Prince Feren that you are coming to help.” Shorfly said when he walked up to see them off.

“Good.” Gelachien said.

“If you don’t mind my saying so highness, that is very fancy armor you are wearing. Don’t you think it’s a bit much?”

Gelachien smiled. “The jewels can be removed. If we run into any Urts maybe we can pay them off.” She laughed, threw a cloak over her armor and was off.

The horse soldiers of Ontia were not very many, but they were very good. They rode west from Liitownyn on good roads leading off to the mountains rising in front of the new sun.

They rode all day through fields of wheat and corn. By nightfall they just reached the foothills of the Ianduid mountain range. They made camp and slept a good night under a star-filled sky. They woke before dawn and ate their breakfast cold in the saddle.

The second day brought them up into the forests that covered the mountains like a blanket. It was quiet and cool under the trees while the sun dappled down. The road was steep but well marked. They made good time and rode until after dark.

Quietly they made camp, putting up tents and starting fires. Their supper was light and quick. Before going to bed Gelachien met with her General, Skor over a map.

“General Skor, we are here, right?” The princess pointed to a place on the map. The General came around the table and looked closely.

“Yes. Tomorrow we will turn southeast and follow the ridge. Does your highness wish to pass Mount Oeng on the North or South side?”

“We must pass to the north. If we passed to the south we would be too close to Slojia.”

“As you wish highness. I know a good road just here.” He showed her on the map.

“Good. We must go as fast as we can. We can’t waste any time.”

General Skor said nothing.

“What is bothering you General?” Gelachien asked.

“How will we get around Mount Faet? Both the North Slope and the south slope are impossible to pass. The only road goes far to the south and right into Slojia. We could try to find a road to the north, but that would take us into Urth. Who knows what trouble we will find there and how long it will take?”

Gelachien placed her hand on his thick strong hand. “We will find a way General. We must.”

The meeting ended and they all went to sleep. They woke in the morning before sunrise again. They again ate a cold breakfast as they rode their horses along the ridge of the mountains.

High up on the mountain ridge they were in pine forests that rose thick and green all around them. They smell was strong and sweet.

Just before the sun set on them again they caught their first sight of the great mountain Faet. It looked like just a small white cone above the green pines. General Skor rode up beside the princess.

“Tomorrow we will reach the mountain.” He said. “Do you have a plan highness?”

“If we can’t go around it we will have to go over it.” She said with her eyes up and her lips tight.

“Over it highness? Do you have magic that you are not telling me about?” He asked.

“We will see tomorrow General. I will not let a mountain stand in my way.” She looked him straight in the eye and he could ask her no more questions.

They made camp. It was so late that they didn’t have time to cook dinner. They ate it cold. Everyone felt that time was running away from them. They were all eager to reach West Iurnia, but no one was as eager as Gelachien herself. She sat up all night in her tent. She barely slept.

They left as soon as it was light. They kept traveling through pine forests. Sometimes they would go over the top of a smaller mountain and the peak would be bare of trees. The grassy spots on the tops of the mountains were called balds. Whenever they rode into one they could see Mount Faet growing ahead of them. The closer they got the taller steeper and rockier it got. It looked like it would fill up the sky and they would never get around it.

Princess Gelachien never looked up at it. She rode hard, looking always ahead at the road. Everyone was afraid to talk to her and she rode in silence.

Before night fell they came to a fork in the road. To their right was a wide, clear path. It led down into Slojia and around the mountain. To the left was a thin, over-grown path barely wide enough for one horse to pass. It led into Urth and presumably around the mountain. To the side of that trail was a worn sign that showed a skull and bones warning travelers. Not one of the troopers knew of anyone who had traveled the northern path. They had never even heard of anyone using that path.

There was no path that led right up to the mountain. Princess Gelachien looked over the trees at the giant mountain right in front of them. They all looked up also. They could see the wind whipping snow off the rocky peak. They could hear the wind screaming and rocks falling in the wind. They could feel the cold air falling from the great height and they could smell the snow.

The trees were thinner here. Gelachien took a deep breath and spurred her horse straight on. She weaved her way past a few trees before General Skor caught her.

“Your highness. Perhaps we should wait and try in the morning. It is late and we wont be able to get very far tonight anyway.”

“We must move on General. Prince Feren needs us.”

“Yes highness, but perhaps we can send scouts ahead to find the best path. The troops are tired and need a hot meal tonight. We make every effort in the morning, but please let them rest tonight.” He placed his large hand on hers. She sighed again and nodded.

General Skor took volunteers to send forward to be scouts. The rest set up camp and made a small supper. Gelachien went to her tent and stared at the map.

Later the General brought her a plate of stew and told her that they scouts had come back with news that there was no way over the mountain. She ignored the food. “General, there must be a way over this mountain.”

“There is a saying highness. ‘The Faet is cloaked in white because she is a bride who has never known the touch of a man.’”

Gelachien smiled. “That is a good warning that comes a little late to help us get to Feren.”

“Well, the warning is late because I only learned it recently. One of our troopers told me and he told me something else about this mountain. She isn’t really a mountain.”

“Isn’t really a mountain? What do you mean?”

“She is a wizardess bride whose groom left her at the altar.”

“No. She was enchanted?”

“Yes. The story is that she fell in love with a great hunter named Noki here in the mountains. He loved her as well, but he didn’t want to leave his forests and mountains. She swore that she would stay with him in his mountains if he would agree to marry her. He did agree and they were to be married here among the pines, but at the last minute he became frightened and leapt into the sky. He became the star Noki that we can see right above the peak of the mountain. Faet became very angry and very sad. She had sworn to live in his mountains so here she had to stay. She became the mountain and is ever after reaching for the star so she can at last be with her love.”

“That is very sad. Does it help us?” Gelachien asked.

“I don’t know.” The General said. The princess smiled at him.

“Thank you. Maybe that will help me think of something. Good night General.”

He left her in her tent alone. He slept little that night and in the morning, before the sun rose, he went to look for her in her tent. She was not there.

Quickly he got his horse and began to ride, but before he got too deep into the woods he met the princess riding back toward camp.

“Are you alright your highness?” He asked her.

“Yes. I was just leaving a wedding present for the bride.” She smiled and showed her armor to him. All of the jewels had been removed.

“Do you think she will accept your present and let us pass?” He asked as they rode back.

“I hope so. Get the men ready incase she does.”

They packed up as quickly as they could. Midway through packing a deep, low rumbling began.

“What’s that?” Some of the men asked, but no one knew for sure.

It grew louder and soon the ground was shaking like an earthquake. The birds flew off and the animals ran. The horses were scared and had to be held by the men. The trees shook and snow slipped down off the mountain. When the quake stopped they all looked up and what they saw surprised and pleased them.

The mountain looked like it was leaning to the left and there on the right was a clear flat path for them to follow.

“She has decided to let us pass!” The General shouted. “Quickly now, we must ride.”

They threw what was left of their gear in their bags and rode faster than they ever had before.

The path was broad enough for them all to ride shoulder to shoulder. They left no one behind. When they were halfway across they heard the rumbling again.

“It’s starting again!”

“She’s shifting back!”

“Ride, ride as fast as you can!” They shouted and they did. They all rode as fast as they could. By the time the mountain shifted back to the way she was standing before they had all made it clear to the other side.

They waited on the path on the other side of Mount Faet to let their horses rest.

“Well, you did it highness. Now we will surely make it to West Iurnia in time.”

“Well, Faet understands love.” Gelachien sighed and waved to the mountain. “We ride again as soon as the horses are rested.”

And they did.

We Don't Want No More Black Friday

Just about a week ago we had what is rapidly becoming known as Black Friday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the USA. Thanksgiving in the US is the fourth Thursday of November and typically employers give the Friday following off as well. I heard on a local radio station (WLIT in Chicago, FM 93.9) that 78% of Americans do not have to work that day.

I don’t like the term Black Friday. To me “black” indicates bad or dark and worrisome. That’s not a feeling I want to engender on the first day of the Christmas season, the day when I start putting up decorations and start tolerating the Christmas decorations that have already been in stores since before Halloween.

The current usage is supposed to be positive and is as follows from

“The origin of Black Friday comes from the shift to profitability during the
holiday season. Black Friday was when retailers went from being unprofitable, or
"in the red," to being profitable, or "in the black", at a time when accounting
records were kept by hand and red indicated loss and black profit.”

According to Wikipedia, the phrase is older and originally refered to the traffic snars created between the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and increased number of shoppers on Friday. That makes more sense to me.

Let's look at all the "Black" days in history. Black Monday was a stockmarket crash in 1987. Black Tuesday in 1929 was the start of the Great Depression. It was actually preceded by Black Thursday the week before and then a Black Monday. England has had several Black Mondays and a Black Wednesday. Scotland and Lebanon have Black Saturdays. Black Sunday was the beginning of the Dust Bowl in 1935.

So you see, “Black” has dark, forbidding overtones and an ominous history.

I want to find a new phrase for the day after Thanksgiving. Won’t you help me? Please respond to this week’s poll.


Poll #1 Results - What You Want Illini6 to Be

The results are in. I have a few points I want to make after I give you the raw data.

Here it is in popularity order:

Military and Deployment Issues = 9 (69%)
Inner Prop's Inner Thoughts = 6 (46%)
Inner Prop's Family Life = 6 (46%)
Anthropology = 6 (46%)
Inner Prop Writing Exclusively = 5 (38%)
Rugby = 5 (38%)
Scouting = 5 (38%)
ConCultures and ConLangs = 4 (30%)
Exercise Log and Discussion = 4 (30%)

Thirteen people voted, with the last one sneaking in a vote for Anthropology on the last day. Not one topic got no votes at all.

I need to say that I have created a blog specifically for family issues of the Inner Prop. It is called Flowers of Mundelein. So that is out of the running.

I reserve the right, as the blog owner to lock in a subject. Since the original purpose of this blog was and is to share my writing I am going to continue to do that. I think it didn't get more votes because it said "Exclusively." Next time I will watch my wording better.

Clearly the voters want Military and Deployment issues discussed here. I will certainly do that.

The next top vote-getters were Anthropology and Inner Prop's Inner Thoughts. I will keep those and try to expand my Anthropology and Archaeology discussions.

I will also keep Rugby and Scouting in, but limit the discussion of them.

I will go ahead and drop Exercise discussion (never really started that) and Conlang / ConCultures off the blog for the most part. I'll keep ConLang / ConCulture in if it partains to a specific story, but not on its own.

With this list in mind I propose a new schedule (that I will try to stick with):

Monday is Fiction Day
Tuesday is Guest Star Day
Wednesday is Anything Can Happen Day
Thursday is Anthropology Day
Friday is Military / Deployement Day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Joke Attempt Number 1

I wrote a joke and I thought I would throw it against the wall here to see if it would stick.

Molly and Peggy were gossiping over the backyard fence.

"I heard your Pat was out drinking last night and really tied one on," Peggy said.

Molly rolled her eyes, "Let me tell you. I told him that if he was going to stay out he had to call me, so he was at the Blue Shamrock and tried to find a phone."

"They have pay toilets there, don't they?"

"Yes and Pat walked into one thinking it was a pay phone."

"Oh, no."

"Oh yes, and that ain't the worst of it."

"It gets worse?"

"He tried to reverse the charges."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Link in the Chain

I've added another link in my "Prop Friends" link section on the right side of the blog.

This one is to CSM Medina's website. The CSM is the Command Sergeant Major for the portion of my old unit (108th Sustainment Brigade) that's being deployed to Iraq.

He is keeping a daily log and has loads of photos up there. It should be a great site for first hand knowledge about what it is like for soldiers in Iraq in the coming months.

That's him in the photo here. I guess he was in the last triathalon here in Chicago. I don't mind the swimming and biking, but I hate running. That's one of the best parts about being retired, no more running.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

3000 Visit Illini6!

This past week Illini6 received our 3000th visitor! This is terrific. I firmly believe that the more we get visitors the more people will share and the more visitors we will get.

I want everybody everywhere to read Illin6 so I’m glad you came and I hope you brought a friend.

The map is from Sitemeter and it shows just where in the world the last 100 visitors were sitting with their computers when they decided to virtually visit Illini6.

We’ve had visitors from:
All over the US including Alaska, Hawaii and Canada (I know it’s not part of the US, I’m just kidding please don’t be offended)
Korea, Japan and China;
Auckland, New Zealand, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia
Germany, Ireland and England;
Argentina, Chile and Brazil;
And even from Cape Verde in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

If I missed anybody, my apologizes.

So where you from, do you come here often? Before you look around and read lots of stuff, why don’t you leave a quick comment and let us know where you are and why you came.

Thanks everybody!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fiction Monday Update

I did NOT get any writing done this past, long weekend. I need to edit a mystery story I'm working on called "The Pizza Delivery Boy." When I get it done, I'm going to submit it to some high paying magazines.

I have a short story called "Lest Too Light Winning Makes the Prize Light" submitted to an e-zine called AlienQ. The story is a SF story modeled after Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World and William Shakespeare's play The Tempest.

The story is set in a future where dozens of artificial worlds have been built in the solar system and many of them have genetically engineered people in them. The protagonist is a Major from a world that uses genetic engineering to divide people into castes. He is sent with his Regiment to provide military aid to a world populated by people who have engineered themselves so that they can fly.

I guess that Cthulhu Kitty was a good luck charm afterall. I'm being published in a Christmas cat anthology. Whortleberry Press is doing the anthology called Cats Around the Christmas Tree and my story was accepted. If you go there now you can order a copy in time for Christmas.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to Everybody Everywhere!

We had Thanksgiving here in the Prop estate with my in-laws yesterday.

I had to wait until it happened, but I am happy to report that the folks from the 108th Sustainment Brigade who are deploying to Iraq soon have a pass for the holidays. I think they are home for the most part.

When I was deployed to Afghanistan I was LUCKY enough to get a two week leave at Christmas time. I was in Afghanistan for Thanksgiving and so was Major John.
I got to thinking about all those service members who are not home for the holidays.

Sometimes it can be hard, but if the service members are inside their bases on a holiday it can be quite festive.

This is a photo from last Thanksgiving in Iraq.

There is a tradition in the military that during holidays the higher ranking members serve the common soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Notice the two star general serving.

And if that isn't a high enough rank try this from Bahgdad in '03:
I was very thankful to be the ranking officer serving my family this year and I am thankful for all those who Serve so that I may serve.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WKRP Turkey Drop Payoff

DO NOT Watch this video until you have watched the one below.

This is the ultimate Thanksgiving quote of all time, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

WKRP Turkey Drop

Oh the humanity!

Christmas has Rudolph, Frosty, George Bailey, Christmas Story and Scrooge; Easter has Peter Cottontail but this is all we have for Thanksgiving. I think it stacks up with those other greats.

I'm going to have a very special post tomorrow hopefully. So Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Boys of St. Leonard's

This is a mystery series idea.

St. Leonard of Noblac is the patron saint against burglars and robbers (St. Nicholas of Myra, later became St. Nicholas or Santa Claus is also a patron against criminals or for the innocent). St. Leonard's is the very expensive and exclusive Catholic dorm at the University of North Central Illinois.

A black college student, Clovis O'Malley, on an academic scholarship finds that his roommate is an old football rival. The other boy, Nicholas Noblac, was known as "The Widowmaker" because of his ferocious hits in blocking and ball carrying (as a full back).

The Widowmaker contracted AIDS while giving CPR to someone. The victim and his lover are putting the boy through school because he doesn't play football anymore and lost his scholarship. He is an Eagle Scout and an "All American Boy."

The boys do detective work to earn a few extra bucks. They complement each others' abilities.

Clovis is a natural genius and slightly sheltered, but being African-American he sees things from that perspective. His father was a cop, but also worked as a security guard and a truck driver. He was a strict RC. His father was an Irish cop in Chicago and his mother was from Haiti. His mother was a stay at home mom and quite strict. Her parents were a nurse and a very successful studio musician for Chess Records in Chicago. Their grandparents were all born slaves and moved north during or right after the Civil War.

Nicholas was reared by his grandfather, as his parents were killed when he was about ten. His grandfather was lenient and he was left to fend for himself most of the time. He is smart, but has more street smarts and is a little harder, while being nearly a saint (not tempted by any vice).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Inner Prop's Original Fiction found on Illini 6

This is a description of the original fiction you will find on this blog. See the links section on the sidebar for links to the stories and all the chapters.

The novels only have four sample chapters each.

Seekretya - My 2010 NaNoWriMo winner.  I only posted one chapter because I think it really needs a lot of work.  This is a fantasy novel set in the magical land of Seekretya.  It includes young human heroes, young love, mature love, magic, magical people, wars, kidnaping, escapes, flying machines, dragons and steam trains.

Guya Principal - This is a novel I wrote and completed in November 2006 for the NaNoWriMo. It is a comedy, sci-fi, fantasy story about a giant blob of dark matter that becomes self-aware and decides to remake itself in the image of the Earth, with parts of the Earth for good measure.

"Epiphany" - A non-SF, non-Fantasy, non-Mystery, non-Horror short story.

"Surf's Down" - A mystery short story from the The Larch and The Ash universe. I wanted to write a complete story with the main character from those novels. Try her out.

"Princess Gelachien Decides to Marry" - One of a triple short story set in the Fantasy universe of Ontia. This story stands alone, but fits tightly into the trilogy.

"Love is Higher than the Faet" - Part Two of the Courtship of Princess Gelachien.

"Bellwether's Asteroid" - Major John's favorite. This is a horror short story in the H. P. Lovecraft vein. It is a little long and so probably not readily publishable by normal standards. I like it a lot too.

"Pseudo-Football" - A comedy SF short story. This was written as part of a contest. I didn't win, but the challenge was to write about aliens and football. Europeans will recognize that the football to which I'm refering here is soccer. This is in a Douglas Adams sort of style.

"At the Front Gate" - A short story I did for an Erma Bombeck contest. It isn't strictly fiction as it is based on some real life events, but they were slightly fictionalized. I didn't win this contest either, not even honorable mention. This isn't sour grapes, but I never found Erma Bombeck funny either.

Reach Out - My 2005 NaNoWriMo novel. This too is complete. It is a YA space opera.

"Won't Get Fooled Again" - A short story that was originally written for a contest (I didn't win). It is a horror story set in the "Bellwether's Asteroid" universe.

"Empire Beyond Mars" - This is an attempt to write a space opera serial. I only completed part of one episode.

"Faun-O-Matic" - This was a contest story that did win. It is a sci-fi story.

"Wreck of the Vasco da Gamma" - On the way home from Afghanistan I challenged my friends to a writing contest based on the brand of cigars we were smoking. I was the only one who completed this sci-fi story EDIT: I have been reminded that Major John of Miserable Donuts did also complete his story, maybe we can encourage him to post it here.(including a space chantey). I wrote it entirely on the plane.

"Release the Super-Strong Crazed Genetically-Engineered Sloths!" - A comedy SF story I started writing. At the time I was asking the readers what they wanted to see as a regular serial. This didn't get any votes that I remember. It was based on suggestions from a random writing suggestion web site called Seventh Sanctum.

The Larch - This is an excerpt from a mystery book I started. The original idea was for it to be a comedy, but as I read it I felt that it was more interesting and weird than funny. The murder weapon is a tree (the titular Larch) and the main sleuth is a transsexual police detective on the Chicago Police Department. The same sleuth also appears in "Surf's Down" with her ex-wife and in The Ash. The idea for the title came from the Monty Python sketch, How to Recognize Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way.

The Ash - The planned sequel to The Larch. I was having trouble with some of the mechanics of The Larch and thought that I could figure them out by writing "Surf's Down" and starting The Ash. In this book our heroine has left the CPD after solving the Larch case. She meets a very interesting multimillionare who lives on a beautiful river barge. There is no love interest in this story, but has she found a partner for her mystery solving future?

The Barfight on Simplicity Genoid - This was for a contest on Mirable Visu. I lost. I love the crew, I love the feel of the story, I want to write another story with them but I don't know where they go next.

Renovations and a Bouquet

I'm making a few more improvements in this blog. I'm going to put a section on the side with links for all the short stories and novel excerpts on the blog so they are easier to find.

I have also started a blog called Flowers of Mundelein. This new blog will be specifically and solely about family issues for me and the propettes. I've also put the link on the sidebar with the other links.

This should be more than enough for the folks who said they want to see more family material on this blog. Because it will be on that blog, it will not be here. I think this blog will be busy enough.
That's me on the far right in the blue btw.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What Makes an Expert?

My Dad used to always say, “This is what an expert is: ex is the unknown factor and a spert is a drip under pressure.”

I’ve been doing research to improve this blog and I’ve been looking at other people’s blogs. They all seem to know so much.

I give a run down on the topics I put on the poll to see how I stack up as an “expert” in these topics:

· WRITING FICTION - While I have been studying this topic more fervently in the last twenty years than any other (except maybe Excel) I hesitate to claim to be an expert since I have made a grand total of $10 on my writing. It’s all about the art though, right.

· DEPLOYMENT – I am an expert on Illinois Army National Guard Deployment to Afghanistan 2004-2005. That is a fairly limited topic (understatement). I don’t know how many people would really be interested or how many articles I could really get out of that. However I am currently the Family Readiness Group leader for the 108th Sustainment Brigade who are being deployed to Iraq soon. I will have a pretty good insight to what those soldiers and their families are going through.

· RUGBY - I do consider myself to be one of the most knowledgeable people that I know in this topic. I could easily become THE font of knowledge about the subject in the Chicago Area Rugby Football Union (CARFU), but first I want to watch the DVDs I have of the recent RWC. I want to watch them as if they are live and I don’t want the end to be spoiled. Give me a couple of months and I am right there.

· SCOUTING - I am an Eagle Scout and I was a District Executive for four years in the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. I was an active scouter from age eight until age twenty eight. Trouble is, I’ve been out of the BSA all those years. I’ve been involved with the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) for the past six years, but I’m no expert there.

· ANTHROPOLOGY - I thought, “I have a BA in Anthropology, maybe I can write about Anthropology” but there are some really intense Anthropology and Archaeology blogs out there, and some of them are amateurs. I don’t know if I could add anything useful.

Then I remembered that part of the reason I wanted to study Anthropology is because I wanted to be an expert on Native Americans for our Boy Scout troop. I wanted to make the costumes we used in ceremonies and the actions of the actors more authentic. But I recently found out that there is already a blog about Scouting and Native Americans. It may be all anyone needs on the subject. Maybe I’m a little too late on this topic.

· CONCULTURES AND CONLANGS – ConCultures means Constructed Cultures. These are made up cultures and peoples. They are a combination of anthropology and fiction and I feel I have at least a good background in both of these. ConLang means Constructed Languages. I wrote a previous post on this subject. It goes hand in hand with ConCultures, but I have had less training in linguistics.

· MICROSOFT EXCEL. This wasn’t one of the choices in the poll, but I am definitely at expert level on Excel. In fact I would go so far as to say, if there is anyone out there reading this that is having a problem with Excel they can send me an email at and I will help them.

So I guess I do have some expertise in some subjects. I’ve been thinking of taking the approach of the original Mickey Mouse Club and have a different theme each day. The MMC had the following schedule:

· Monday is Fun with Music
· Tuesday is Guest Star Day
· Wednesday is Anything Can Happen Day
· Thursday is Circus
· Friday is Talent Round-up

I could go with:

· Monday is Fiction Day
· Tuesday is Guest Star Day
· Wednesday is Anything Can Happen Day
· Thursday is Rugby Day
· Friday is ConCulture Day.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Study of Blog

I'm studying right now to learn what I can about blogging so that this will be a great blog.

It may seem a bit like learning how to ride after the barn door was left open, but I figure better late than never.

I'm reading the following books:

1. The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood. This book was published in '02 so it may not be up to date enough.

2. No One Cares What You Had For Lunch, 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason. This book looks good and was written in '07.

3. Blogwild! : a guide for small business blogging by Andy Wibbels. I might want to make some money blogging someday. I didn't think it was possible, but I just saw a poll recently and 30% of people who answered made something like $15000 on their blogs in Oct 07. Wow.

4. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Web Page and Blog by Paul McFedries. This one has a CD, wow. I like the Complete Idiots stuff so I may find this useful, and it's from '07 too.

5. The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon. This is an audio book of the first Hardy boys mystery. It isn't a blog book, but I am listening to it.

A couple of things I'm considering are:

1. A separate blog for home front issues (supporting the 108th Sustainment Brigade, see my vigil candle at right). It might be called "Victory Garden" ("homefront" is already taken).

2. A separate blog for family matters. I would give each of my Props a code name and only talk about things that had already (but recently) happened. Basically I'd be using the same OPSEC that I would in the military. It would be called "The Flowers of Mundelein."

3. "Papa Stories" a blog about, what else? This may be a great way to record and share all those wonderful stories. It would also keep a certain brother Prop of mine from claiming them as his own. I would also interject factual information about the history surrounding the story. For example I could talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil War when presenting, "The Night of the Purple Fog."

Any thoughts? Any book recommendations? Do you like my photo at right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Congratulations, Explanations, Rejuvenation and Reevaluation

First off, many people may have come here by Googling "Illini" since the football team's outstanding, upset win last Saturday over Ohio State. I know I would be confused if I landed here and found this site when I was looking for football.

Let me say, welcome anyway and hope you stay. Let me also say congratulations to the team. I don't follow college football much. It is too complicated and I only went to one game while I was at Illinois (because ROTC required that I go and sell soda for a fundraiser). I was busy on Saturday afternoons with the other, original form of football, RUGBY.

That said, this is not an American Football site, nor is it a fan site for Fighting Illini teams per se.

This brings me to the real topic of today's post, Reevaluation and Rejuvenation.

I saw a show on History International the other night called "Band of Bloggers." It was about bloggers in Iraq and it made me think about my blog.

This blog will be two years old next January and I've had less than three thousand visitors in that time. I'd like to get more traffic, regular commenters and basically an audience for my writing (my fiction or my blogging or both).

In the past two years the blog has changed emphasis a couple of times and none of those changes seemed to garner any more traffic.

This has been over a month of one of the most steady times I have had for daily postings in the history of Illini6. This means that I have the commitment and the drive right now to make a change for the better.

I want to take a more systematic approach this time to evaluate the shape, image and content of this blog. I have requested blogging books from the library, and I have taken the plunge to redesign the look of the blog. I hope you like it.

A new feature available through Blogger is the poll on the upper left. I intend to use the poll quite often now so that is one definite change.

Please take the poll and let me know what you are interested in seeing and participating in on this blog. You can choose more than one thing.

Let's make this an entertaining and informative place to visit.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Veterans' Day and Thank You

Before midnight it was Veterans' Day (I'm on 3rd shift now and my days are kinda mixed up).

I can't get a good salute together in my head, but I really had to post something today.

I am a veteran myself, so is my father and my brother. I have another brother who will soon become a vet. My maternal grandfather was a WWII vet and so was his brother-in-law.

I cannot express the gratitude I feel at the sacrifice, bravery and patriotism that all vets and their spouses and families went through and continue to go through.

This is the oath I took:

I (insert name), having been appointed a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God. [emphasis mine].

Thank you Veterans, God bless you all.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

She Does Have a Test Today. That Wasn't BS.

"It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school."

Today is High School entrance exam day for Number One Daughter. Of course she was almost late because she had to do her hair, and make sure she had the right shirt, and "come on Dad, I can get up six minutes before I have to leave, why are you getting me up so early..."

It's a good thing she doesn't get test anxiety because her mother and I were nervous wrecks.

It is also dentist day. The younger two Propettes went to the dentist and Number Two Daughter may need braces. Great.

Later is a basketball game for Number One Daughter and a party for Number Two Daughter if she gets enough of her project done before hand.

Last night we went to see Les Mes with the Girl Scouts.

Thursday I spoke at a Veterans' Day assembly at the Propettes' school. It was really neat and they are making a DVD of the affair. I hope I can figure out how to cull some footage to show you all here. The panel included two WWII vets, a Viet Nam vet and lil' ole me. I was sure humbled when the WWII vets mentioned that they were in the Battle of the Bulge, and the VN vet said he was an FO.

After the Veterans' Day thing I ran to my old unit. They are preparing to go to Iraq and I volunteered to help (so of course they made me the leader of the Family Readiness Group). I should have a lot of info about Iraq and how it affects Illinois families coming this year (stay tuned). Thursday they had about five hours of briefings for the families so I went.

Then I raced back home to go to parent / teacher conferences.

Wow, no wonder I haven't blogged in a couple of days!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Four Lakes, IL

In the north of Lake County Illinois there is a quaint little town of three thousand, nestled between four lakes.

Ruby Lake is on the west, so named because from the bluffs the setting sun turns the waters deep red and gold. This is taken advantage of the half dozen Bed and Breakfasts that line the shores on Ruby Ring Road, which circles the lake.

To the south is the wide, clear Sapphire Lake. To the east is the tiny, tree-lined Emerald Lake in the shape of her namesake.

In the thirties Pearl Creek was dammed as part of the WPA. The dam created Pearl Lake, a sprawling, shallow bifurcated waterway surrounded by a newly created Pearl Lake State Park. The state park continued over the border to become a Wisconsin state park as well. The park was administered by a purpose built town named Pearl City.

It was at that point that the fate of little Four Lakes took a turn for the worse. Her electrical needs were met by the dam, but the new lake shut her off from any major roadway. The railroad already bypassed her and when the highway system expanded they went straight to the newly built town of Pearl City.
Now Four Lakes is a sleepy haven for those who seek distance without leaving the second most populated county in Illinois.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Today's Your Birthday!

November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day but someday it will be known worldwide as Inner Prop Day!

It's my birthday (or was before midnight). I'm 41.

My brother has recently added, "The farmer says you're old..." after Happy Birthday. I really feel the farmer (maybe Farmer Ted, shown at left) is right this time.

I feel old. I mean, I don't physically feel old, but up through 40 I could feel like I was still in my "30s" since the decade doesn't end until the 1st year of the next decade. This means that at 40 I could claim to be in my thirties as could someone 31. 31 isn't old by anyone's reconing.

Not so 41.

Well, at least next year I'll have the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Prop's Philosophy on "Religion"

I went to church today. I go to Greek Orthodox Church because my wife is Orthodox and her parents would never have let me marry her if we hadn't reared the kids as Orthodox.

Anyway, I went to church today armed with an article I found on the web about the differences between Roman Catholic (which I am) and Orthodox. It we written by an Orthodox person so it was generally, "Stupid Romans."

It got me to thinking about a general analogy I came up with years ago about religions. By "religions," I mean, organized or systemic belief systems and / or world-views (including religions and the scientific method).

My analogy is this: religion is to God and the ultimate Truth as maps are to the actual things they are mapping.

I am assuming there is an ultimate and immutable Truth. I am not assuming God or any sort of god.

There is a reality to the universe and all religions attempt to portray that universe. Some world views, like the scientific method, do not try to "get you somewhere" they just provide information, while some are trying to get you to heaven, Asgard, Nirvana, God etc.

Now, there are a lot of different types of maps, topographical, political, road, climatic, historical, bird migration etc. Each can portray a certain area in a different way, with different emphasis and different information. They may not look anything like each other, but they do not contradict each other and they may all be accurate and true.

There are even some maps that because of their purpose may be somewhat misleading. A "Strip Map" showing you the route to grandma's house may be completely out of scale so that the important turns and landmarks can be made more prominent.

The AAA map and the grandma's strip map may look totally different and may in fact contradict each other, but they could also both get you to grandma's house.

Apply the concept to religion here. Two religions may be contradictory, but still get you to God.

Just because the maps don't look like each other, and even if they disagree with each other doesn't mean, and isn't evidence that they are "wrong."

Just because religions don't agree doesn't mean one or both of them are "wrong."

On the other hand the maps (and religions) could be inaccurate or completely wrong. They could be wrong even if they agree with each other.

The bottom line is, a religion or world-view is only a map. It is not reality, just a representation.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cubicle Wizard

Hold that thought. Also hold these:

Cubicans, small brownie-like, helpful creatures of the night office.

Goulays: evil, kolboldesque creatures of the office that mess with your stuff at night.

Jiminy Cricket!

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves." - Eric Hoffer

Well, this post isn't a lie. I said I'd try to post based off quotes and here I am doing it.


Funny thing is, in the past, right here on ye olde bloge I've made resolutions and such and NOT followed through. I don't know why that is and I wonder if it has cost me readers.

What do you think?

Anyways, I was thinking that I could you this blog to record story ideas and such. I'm always jotting down notes on story ideas and maybe I could do it here and we could all discuss the merits of my brainstorms.

My first thought is based on my starting to read What Does a Martian Look Like by Jack Cohen and Ian Stuart. This book is making me think that I am just not smart enough to write SF. I am certainly smart enough to read and enjoy it, just not smart enough to contribute to the genre.

Maybe I should stick to fantasy, mystery and or horror.

The reason I've steered away from fantasy is Harry Potter. There are just too many fantasy books out there with authors and publishers trying to cash in on the Rowlings cow. I wanted to make SF fun and influential again. Maybe I can't, but maybe there's a teat out there for me on the fantasy bandwagon (mixed metaphor warning!)

Anyway, I just can't seem to get back to writing and I think I'm lying to myself. I don't think I have time, but maybe I'm just procrastinating and if I just prioritized writing higher then there would be time, and maybe if I just sent out my novels they'd be snatched up by publishers instantly, and mabye by the end of next year I'll be able to quit my night job and start writing full time.

Excuse me, my nose is growing again...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Goodbye Washoe

Tuesday the chimp, Washoe died. She was born in 1965 so she was about a year older than me. She was the first non-human to learn a human language (American Sign Language).

I have known about her for years and as an Anthropology major I knew that she (and the research done with her) was very influential.

She not only had a vocabulary of about 250 words, she taught other chimps to "speak" ASL. She also showed that non-humans can lie.

Since I had first heard of her so long ago I had assumed that she was long dead, but I am saddened to hear that she was alive and died of natural causes. I thought she was very cool.

Now that Cthulhu month (October) is over you are probably wondering if I will keep up with the regular posting here on Illini6. Well, I'm going to try. I am going to go back to posting a quote daily (or maybe nearly daily).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I've been waiting for an appropriate time to use this image, but I realized that I have run out of days in October. Well, here it is for all you cat people (and cat elder gods).

Happy Halloween. I'll post more photos later today with updates on my UFO and maybe even photos of my little Props in their costumes.

Here is a preview:

One more for good measure. Again, it's an image that I've wanted to post for a while. At the beginning of the month we had 80 degree weather and I thought this little beach image would be nice, but the weather turned before I got to use it (typical Chicagoland). Here it is anyway (don't pay attention to the slight nudity (Cthulhu likes to go commando anyway)).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ConCulture Concepts

This is a random Cthulhu image that I grabbed. I meant to use it on the 23rd of October, but I forgot that day. It is from a 2005 silent film about Cthulhu. I haven't seen the film, but I'd like to.

ConCulture is constructed culture, or a culture that is made up. Some folks do this as just a fun exercise. JRR Tolkien did a lot of his elf stuff just for his own amusement. I do find conculture stuff fun, but like Tolkien I'd like to use it in fiction.

Here are some ConCulture concepts I'd like to explore in my writing:

1. An aquatic based hobbitesque race. Their political system would be based on levels of waterways (creeks are subordinate to streams are subordinate to rivers etc.)

2. Magic based on calendar cycles. Days and times would be magical rather than people, things, or places. It is similar to Mesoamerican cultures concepts.

3. Slavery for convicted felons

4. Military based aristocracy. The culture's form of warfare would have to be heavily logistical in nature. I envision a culture that bases its citizenship on military service and military success on expansion of the empire. A successful soldier would have to be an effective leader, administrator, planner, diplomat and logistician. Before anyone could run for office (if it is democratic in nature) they would first have had to be a military governor or mayor in a conquered territory.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The F'Goeek Has Landed

I finally "finished" my new UFO (actually it's a ISO (identified sitting object) but it's meant to look like a flying saucer or a UFO).

This year I built it of 2x2s and cardboard. I think it looks better than last year and I hope it is more sturdy (in case hooligans decide to demolish it again). My plan is to disassemble it in a week or so and store it for next year (like my spider and web).

I'm going to add lights tomorrow and maybe anchor it better.

What do you think?

Here is a photo of all our Halloween decorations.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cthulhu May Have Lost Some Weight, But I Haven't

This image is really too skinny to be scary and not really how I envisioned the mighty C to be.

Anyway, I got on the scale today and I'm back up to 221. I had started my work out program at 240 and got down as far as 216 in the first 80 days. I did allow myself some junk food and a break to heal (disloacted collar bone, partially torn bicep etc.) but I was very disappointed to see that I had gained back 5 whole pounds.

I'm back on the horse, so to speak. I've started working out again and after today I'm rethinking salads.

So long french fries, I'll see you after 210lbs!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Prop Fhtagn

Today I got quite a bit of sleep, ironically. I had a 0630-0730 meeting (I work 2300 - 0700 now) and then a 1300-1500 meeting.

Well, Mrs. Prop was kind enough to take the day off. My morning meeting went, as expected, a tad long, but I got about three hours of sleep before I had to go to the next meeting.

It was rescheduled and they didn't tell me. I found out after I had come into work.

Thank the elder gods, because I managed to go home and get another three hours of sleep.

Wow, thanks to a snafu and my wife I got about 50% more sleep today, hurrah! Plus, I got brownie points for coming in at a time that is equivalant to the middle of the night for normal people.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scary Cthulhu

I tried for a scary Cthulhu today because it's raining and I feel that way. Besides, I don't think I'm going to have time to write a novel this November for NaNoWriMo.

That's trebly bad:

1. Practice makes perfect. I think I'm getting better and will get better with practice.

2. I have a tradition and I hate to break with tradition. I kind of like it, it's a challenge that is difficult, but I can and have done it. It gets harder in some ways each year, because I want to improve. It also gets easier each year.

3. Most importantly, I had a really good idea and it really needs telling, but if I don't have time to write it now, I may never get time to write it. If I don't write it then no one will. In fact, if I don't write it, no one CAN.

I may have to write some short stories using these characters to keep them alive while I wait for enough time to write their book.

I have told the basic premise to several people and they like it and can't wait to read the book. I won't torture you, dear reader that way, but I will tell you that the main character is a recently divorced, recently down-sized middle-aged man named Carrol Elderidge.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fund Raising (the dead) Day

Random Cthulhu image today, cuz I was rather busy.

I started the day working with my old Illinois Army National Guard unit. They are deploying soon and I volunteered to help with family support (called the Family Readiness Group or FRG).

When I got there today (the first time I actually went to anything or got any information about it) I was informed that I had volunteered to Lead the group. Well, I did say I'd do anything they needed.

As soon as that was over I had to run because I was late for our local GSUSA group's second annual spaghetti dinner. I did that until we had sold all the spaghetti and cleaned up. Then I went home, slept for about an hour and off to work for the night. Whew.

BTW, here is the Distinctive Unit Insigna for my old unit. I like to think Sine Qua Non means:
Sine = wave

Qua = what

Non = none (duh)

Therefore it stands for, "What, no waves?" I add a silent "Dude" to the end.

In reality is means, "That, with which cannot be done" or, "You need this. "

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lovecraft Circus / Book Reviews

I know I promised book reviews, but I don't really have time today.

Let me just say that if you are from Chicago you will not like Mr. Konrath's books because of the many gaffs and mistakes in details about our fair city.

What I do like is the audio book, in fact that is the only reason I listened to the second book. There are two readers, a man and a woman who read the male and female parts respectively. You would swear that there are about ten actors though. They are that good. I love the man's south side accent (showcased when he reads the Herb Benedict parts).

Some of the mistakes I remember off the top of my head:

1. Chicago does not have smog. Smog is smoke and fog. Chicago has smoke certainly, but rarely fog and not the temperature inversion you need to combine the smoke and fog and cook them together. You can see the stars from Chicago, they are obscured by LIGHT POLLUTION, but not smog.

2. People in Chicago NEVER call a Pizza a "PIE."

3. People in Chicago don't even know what a Hogie is (or how to spell it), let alone would ever eat one. In Chicago you eat ITALIAN BEEF SAMMICHES.

4. Chicagoans would never refer to a "highway" in this way, "I 90 otherwise known as the Kennedy." They would say, "the Kennedy, otherwise known as I90." This is a minor one, but it just didn't ring true.

5. There is no 53rd Street in Evanston.

6. Gary, IN is not 40 minutes from Chicago. It is 25 miles from the Loop, but is just the width of Hammond, IN from Chicago's south-east side. Chicago goes all the way to the Indiana border down there. I suppose that the main character, Jack Daniels is Loop centric, but that's no reason to say that Gary is further than Joliet, IL or Lake Forest, IL.

7. In the Chicago Police Department the Detectives do not have graded ranks (ie. Detective 1, Detective 2, etc.)

8. In the CPD detectives operate out of Areas, not districts (though I do give the author credit for not putting the CPD in precincts) and belong to the Bureau of Investigations.
9. The CPD Bureau of Investigations is commanded by a Deputy Superintendent. Deputy Superintendents are sometimes referred to as Dep, but the Superintendent is never referred to as the "Super."

10. "Feebies" is a VERY derogatory term for the FBI agents and is rarely used if at all. It would be like using the "N" word often and in mixed company. You just don't do it.
11. Chicago cops wear STARS, not "badges." He got this wrong in the first book, Whiskey Sour, but sometimes got it right in Rusty Nail.
12. The biggest one of all, Evanston is not on Chicago's west side. I don't know how or why Joe Konrath decided to move the home of Northwestern University. I have to think that he did it consciously, because he thanks a dozen people in his acknowledgments. One of them had to know where Evanston is.

Okay, that was pretty much the meat of my review anyway. The audio books are worth it for the theatrics, but the books, though suspenseful and high tension, just don't have enough Chicago rightness about them.

I don't know how to let Mr. Konrath know about his slip-ups. Maybe you gentle readers can help.

I'll give you another Cthulhu image if you do...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random Cthulhu

Do you remember Bozo's Circus?

Da da da da da da da da da duh duh da DUM!

Aw, we'll have to try again, it's an elder god, erm I mean Don't-Care-Bear-ulhu.

Tomorrow I'll have a review of Joe Konrath's books: Whiskey Sour and Rusty Nail.

I should say, I'm going to point out da tings he got wrong about da cidy of broad shoulders my friend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Children First Indeed

Mrs. Prop is "out of town" (she's in Chicago and since we live in Mundelein, which isn't even in Cook county then technically she's out of town, even though we live in "Chicagoland" and she is really only 45 minutes to 6 hours away depending on rush hour).

That means that I took off of work to be with the little Props (hence the first image today) since we don't want them to be home alone while I'm at work (I really like the bloody handprints, that's a nice touch).

I have also been naughty. I was supposed to take this time on my own to edit my mystery story, write a new story and do prep work for my NaNoWriMo novel. Instead I've monkeyed around on the computer doing almost anything but.

This is me perusing the Necronomicon instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Nothing but trouble can come from this. Mark my words.

Oh, and I'm supposed to be working on Halloween decorations. I'm not one of those people who think Halloween is the second coming of Xomercial Xmas. No Xmasy lights and cutsie stuff like that. I have a giant spider and a house-hugging web (made of 1/4" nylon rope so it can't get away). The spider is up, but the web isn't yet (of course the spider goes up first so she can "spin" the web).

I'm also building a new UFO. My attempt last year was destroyed (probably aliens who didn't want it known exactly what their crafts look like).

Finally, I have been away from this blog (and Miserable Donuts) for several days. I know you gentle readers have been holding your breaths, thinking, "when will he return, is he alright, have dark cultists captured him, or Nayrlathotep?" That's why I'm regaling you with all these Cthulhuloid images today.

Fear not, well, okay fear, FEAR A LOT!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday Cthulhu

Tonight is SciFi Friday Night. It's also scout night.

How do these go together? Whell, when I was a young Boy Scout Dr. Who was on channel 11 on Sunday nights.

Now that I'm an older Girl Scout leader there is a new Dr. Who and he's on the SciFi channel on Friday nights.

All of this made me think about the movie for which today's Cthulhu image is a poster. Apparently a SILENT, black and white movie has recently been made based on HPL's short story "Call of Cthulhu." I'm going to try to find and see it.

Anyone out there know if it's out and where it can be found?

Giant Garden Gnomes of Doom

I showed this image to someone at work today. I was planning on using it for my wallpaper for October.

He said that that conical things in the middle ground looked like giant garden gnomes.

Drat! There goes my image of this. I can't look at it and think scary thoughts anymore, all I can see are harmless porcelain oddities.

That reminds me of the first time I actually saw The Shining. I was in college and I had a goofy friend that quoted the movie all the time (redrum, redrum). When I finally saw it myself I was laughing at all the reminders of my friend.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peeps Cthulhu

I found this elder sign made from old Peeps candies and thought it was pretty cool.

I'm feeling better today about my "writing career." I guess I won't give up on it.

Maybe the sugary candy evil made me do it.

Speaking of that, I've been eating junk again. I had ice cream yesterday (promised myself a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough when I ended my 90 day work out program). Today I had Nutella on a bagel, then another bagel with butter, then a quarter bag of Lite popcorn, but with Butter Buds. I also had a double quarter pounder with cheese, fries, a double cheeseburger and a Coke (yes a real Coke, not diet).

Funny that only the Nutella tasted as good as I remembered. Good thing I was planning on ending the eating madness after today anyway.