Not Dead

Elysium Dreams & Mercurial Dreams audiobooks will release August 17, 2020. This is a notice to let everyone know I’m not dead. I have been in a funk for a few months… I have also found myself less stressed since unplugging from social media. I am working my fingers off to get Competitive Dreams ready for editing by the editors. Anyway, with my stress level a little lower, I just haven’t wanted to log into social media. This is nothing against my readers, I just find it less stressful to do everything via blog…

One of those Weeks

I contacted a friend who is good with computers on Tuesday to let him know we would not be doing the scheduled updates in August due to my computer disaster. He and I exchanged a dozen messages and then he dropped a nuclear bomb on me “Basically the updates you intended to do will fix your computer.” What the f*ck!?

He told me this as I was setting up the replacement I just bought. What do you mean the upgrades I had planned for August will fix my computer? “Well, if the screen is just not plugged in properly and that’s what it sounds like to me, then replacing the original SSD hard drive, which is the damaged one, will get your computer back up and running once the screen is properly plugged in.”

So, if I buy a replacement SSD drive for $100… I will have 2 computers? Great, I spent $1,000 to replace my computer for no reason other than it will be 3 weeks before the other one gets fixed… Insert a string of creative swear words here…

I feel like an idiot… My consolation is that my laptop is 6 years old and it’s a good idea to have a backup…. I will now use the new computer for work and the old computer for gaming and fun.

It has sorta been one of those weeks.

The New Computer

Saturday morning, Kelly finally won the war with my electronic devices when she pushed my laptop off the bed onto our hardwood floor while the lid was open. The first noticeable problem was the screen. The computer sounded like it booted, but my screen stayed black. I shut it all down and took it back to my office. I promptly attempted to boot it again… this time the screen worked, the hard drive made some strange noises and then the ear shattering blast of a critical error.

After another try it booted to the BIOS menu and I ran diagnostics… sure enough, hard drive damaged. And then my screen went black twice while diagnostics ran. By noon, I had the laptop open…

The cord connecting the screen to the computer “appeared” fine… but the screen comes and goes and of course, the BIOS scan found hard drive issues.

Needless to say, I panicked. I use specialized writing software and it has RAM requirements beyond the basic 8GB RAM. I’m in the middle of editing a novel… I can’t be without a laptop for months and the secondary laptop we have (Jason’s) is a basic model that doesn’t have the RAM requirements to run my writing software. And so I began laptop shopping… I decided some months ago when my Dell bit the dust this time, I’d switch to a Lenovo. I’ve had terrible luck with HP and Asus, so those weren’t options.

I hate the new trend of small hard drives in laptops. I know a lot of stuff is now “app” and therefore doesn’t require a lot of hard drive space, but writing software is still a program, not an app… as is QuickBooks. My 256GB hard drive isn’t big enough to hold Windows, QuickBooks, and writing software… That’s not counting the JPGs of book covers or the files of books. I require more than 512GBs of hard drive space. My 1 TB hard drive is about half full now… The only Lenovo I could find “off the shelf” ready to ship had hard drives of 512GBs or smaller and customizing it, said it would take 4-6 months to ship because there’s a microchip shortage.

I can probably limp my laptop along for a few days, maybe even a week. 4-6 months would be impossible. Also, I’m not spending $2,000 on a gaming laptop. I don’t need the graphics and sound enhancements included with gaming laptops like Alienware. It took a couple of hours, but I found another Dell on Amazon that has 32GBs RAM, a 516GB SSD, and a 2TB HDD for about a $1,000. It will be here Tuesday.

Now for the thing I despise. I hate changing laptops almost as much as moving all the physical shit in my house. I have to transfer all my files, all my old emails, all my bookmarks… and holy Hell… I have to install updates and patches and then I have to install all my software. Oh and since everything is now a “download” I have to find all my license keys in emails.

Which is what I’m doing now… Printing out license keys for all my specialized software programs. Oh and passwords, I need to scrounge up all my passwords because I’m going to need to log in to everything all over again… crap.

Also, I always “lose” something…. I have no idea how.

I got to thinking about it during my despair, this will be my 5th laptop in 18 years. I can’t decide if this is a good record or not… I bought the laptop Kelly broke in the spring of 2015 and had reached the point it was going to require a RAM upgrade as well as a hard drive update (the now damaged laptop had 2 hard drives one SSD OS hard drive and one HDD hard drive for actual storage). Considering I average 10 hours a day, 7 days a week working on my laptop, I think I get pretty decent use out of them….

Anyway, I’ll be down most of this week getting the new laptop prepared for use. PS: if Kelly could destroy all our phones and tablets, she would. She does not approve of us using electronic devices when she’s around.

And finally, all this comes on the heels of mass destruction. July 9th a tornado hit my in-laws’ campground where our camper sits. Several of the campers were flipped over. Luckily, ours was not flipped. However, wind and hail damaged our slide out and we have some interior weather damage. I’m waiting for the insurance adjustor to schedule the appointment to come look at it… My frantic laptop purchase was done while I waited for J to get off work so we could go see the damage in person for the first time.

Kelly & Electronics

Our dog Kelly does not like attention be taken away from her and put on an electronic device… whether that’s a phone, tablet, or laptop she considers them all evil. It’s part of the reason I don’t bring my laptop out of my office except in my bag.

This morning, I brought my laptop upstairs to do something and it was sitting on my bed when Kelly promptly pushed it off. Now the screen won’t come on. I don’t know if it’s irreparable or not but I am really dreading having to buy a new laptop. We’ll find out tomorrow.

The Most Dreaded Weekend of the Year

I have been preparing for this weekend for about a month. I’ve needed to arrange my office to allow a twin size air mattress to be blown up and placed on the floor (next couch I buy for my office will be a sofa bed). I’ve put snacks for me and treats for Lola in there along with a can of dog food in case she gets really hungry. I can significantly deaden noise in my office, making it an ideal place for Lola to hang out when it storms or like this weekend when there will be a ton of fireworks.

Interestingly, we’ve had plenty of practice the last two weeks; it stormed 11 days out of the last 14… we’ve received more than 20 inches of rain in that time. This week it stormed every day except today, tomorrow, and Sunday… the days I would welcome more rainfall. Then again, even a mild sprinkle of rain at this point causes flooding where I live because we’ve had so much.

I am hoping by Monday to have Movement in the Shadows published (NN4). However, with the fireworks, it may take a few extra days. It turns out Lola enjoys the sound of Hugh Frazier’s voice (the actor) and for the last two weeks we have been working our way through all the Poirot audiobooks. In my office, I have an exhaust fan, as well as a box fan… I can turn both of those on and accompany it with an audiobook and soothe Lola even through the worst weather. Tonight and tomorrow night; we’ll test it all against the cacophony created by fireworks. As she’s gotten older, she’s become more skittish with loud noises. I’ve packed her anxiety rescue meds into my office as well.

And this afternoon, I will finish loading all the necessary things in my office for Lola and I to hunker down for the weekend. I really wish, her and Kelly would use a puppy pad. I’ve tried several times over the last year to convince them to use them…. and they refuse. They would rather hold it until their bladders explode. I have a package of them and I’ll put one down tonight, but I suspect Lola will sniff it and then glare at it with contempt as she’s done every time I’ve put one down. We take these precautions because panic can cause cardiac arrest in dogs.

And so, if you live in the US… I wish you a happy holiday! Remain safe and if you have a dog like Lola make sure to give them some extra snuggles this weekend.

Online League Darts

Jason has been playing league online for a few years now. But with the pandemic and quarantines and lockdowns, online darts grew in popularity. In May, we were told there would be an online Mixed Doubles league this summer if we wanted to play… online from my house reduces some of the problems I’ve had playing darts: finding a comfortable place to sit between rounds. Bar chairs just aren’t comfortable, but my living room is.

And so, we signed up. It started June 16th. I am the “least best” player in league… but at least I’m playing and I am having a great time. I did better this week than last week, I am slowly remembering how to throw… considering it’s been close to 4 years since I played league and 3 years since I played a tournament…. it’s a relearning process. Also, I never practiced much at home and playing from our basement has been an adjustment.

However, even though I am ranked #24 out of 24 players… our team is 2nd due to my partner (J). The most important part though, isn’t my ranking or our team ranking though. I am having fun! I forgot how much I enjoyed playing. I am so grateful our friend put together this online league or I probably wouldn’t be playing again.

In sad news, I think I’m going to have to get checked for carpal tunnel. This week, I have found typing like normal, makes my forearm hurt from wrist to elbow along with some tingling and numbness in my fingers and hand. Editing includes rewriting and rewording sentences and every day this week, I have spent the first 3 or 4 hours of the day editing Competitive Dreams and by lunch time, my forearm hurts and swells a bit and I end up wearing a brace for the next 3 or 4 hours… after being braced and not used for several hours it feels better until the next day.

This has really slowed down my editing. I am working to remove “passive sentences” as well as cut down on the number of “was”, “were”, “had”, etc in my writing as well as dealing with a timeline issue in Competitive Dreams. I intended to get through editing by July 1, but I had fallen behind due to a 4 day migraine earlier this month which caused me to miss 6 days of work (the day before it hit, I was rather unproductive) and I felt like crap the day after it departed.

Unfortunately, if this is carpal tunnel syndrome and not something related to the CRPS, I’m not sure what we are going to do about it. Carpal tunnel syndrome involves the median nerve and I think with a neurological disease surgery involving the sheath around the main nerve of my arm/hand is a truly terrible idea.

Tortured Dreams

The Tortured Dreams ebook should update for everyone soon. I uploaded the revised edition on 18 June to all retailers.

Beta readers should check tomorrow for the beta copy of Movement in the Shadows. You will have until July 2, 2021 to return suggested edits to me.

I have been significantly more productive since I stopped logging on to social media. It has also made me less accessible, which in some ways is a good thing. Shortly before I stopped getting on Facebook, I got a message about my lack of understanding of angels and how God is missing from the Nephilim Narratives. This is true, a modern day “god” does not exist in the series. Because like all my novels, the series is fiction and I have taken some creative licenses while writing them.

I continue to edit on Competitive Dreams which has a timeline issue. I am hoping to get Competitive Dreams (which will publish at Halloween) to the first editor in 2 weeks or less.

In The News

Last week, as I scrolled through the Apple News app on my phone, a headline caught my attention: Vatican Hopes to Train 400 New Exorcists in 2021. I can’t tell you if it was a CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC, or NY Times article. After reading the headline all I could think was it had to be The Onion or one of the other spoof news agencies and I checked for that… It wasn’t so I read the article because how can you not?

The gist of the article: The Vatican claims demonic possession has risen steadily since 2018 and they don’t have enough exorcists as a result and estimate they need to train 400 new exorcists in 2021 to keep up with growth.

Interestingly, the majority of these newly trained exorcists are destined for the US, Canada, and Mexico because Catholics in these three countries are experiencing the fastest and largest increase in demonic possessions. The article further stated the pandemic increased the rate of demonic possession making 2020 a very busy year for exorcists.

When I was practicing Catholicism in the 1990s, no one ever mentioned exorcism to me. I’d seen the movie The Exorcist and read the book, so I knew it happened, but it wasn’t talked about and my local priest frowned and tutted me when I asked if he were a trained exorcist. The subject was treated as if demonic possession were an archaic ritual. Catechism would have been a hell of a lot more interesting if it had included lectures on demonic possession.

Anyway, 30 years later… demonic possession is no longer a deep dirty secret: I went searching for the source of the article (it was BBC) and found over a dozen articles on Catholic exorcists and demonic possession on assorted news sites just in the last 3 years. That triggered a thought, is demonic possession on the rise because it’s lost it’s stigma enough that the Vatican encourages priests and cardinals to give interviews talking about it? Or is it on the rise because possession is becoming easier?

I am intrigued by paranormal and preternatural possibilities, but I lack belief. This is complicated by the fact that I don’t believe mankind needs a nemesis such as “the Devil” and “demons;” people are capable of great evil without assistance. For example, my best friend and I were discussing what history taught us about Nazi atrocities recently. Now, we were discussing basic middle school and high school classes, not the information learned in college classes. I remember the atmosphere experiments because the “research” helped NASA and the Navy understand what happened to the body in a zero gravity environment as well as the bottom of the ocean where the weight of several atmospheres crush down on objects. I also remember hearing of the experiments where the testicles of men and boys in the concentration camps were sliced off and “kept warm” to see how long testicles continued to produce sperm and if they could be surgically reattached if kept alive. I remember these things because concentration camp hospitals did not use anesthesia for any of their experiments and I remember thinking “my god, these people were awake when these things were done!” Hitler and his minions didn’t require the council of demons to encourage them to commit evil acts on their captives.

In comparison the tortures of demons are quaint and unimaginative. Of course a lack of need does not prove a lack of existence. Humans do not require mosquitoes and yet they exist, therefore demons might exist even though humans don’t require them to be evil. But I have digressed a great deal.

Any time the Vatican announces it requires more exorcists to keep up with possession cases, it piques my interest. There are implications of possession that go beyond the philosophical discussions on the existence of demons. The US experiences copious amounts of gun violence, so at what point does someone shoot up a nightclub full of people and claim they were demonically possessed and end up sentenced to 15 years for multiple murder? Or at what point do we revert back to thinking someone is demonically possessed due to severe mental illness, and fail to get them treatment? As a general rule, modern day exorcists are trained to identify symptoms of mental illness according to the Indiana priest who performed the most recent newsworthy exorcism. But mental illness is not always “straightforward” or “typical” and the manifestation of symptoms can run from “typical” to “excessively strange” resulting in misdiagnosis even by trained psychiatrists with decades of experience. This means some patients will get labeled demonically possessed simply because priests are rarely trained practicing psychiatrists.

A Complaint

Yesterday was hot in Missouri. We went to the campground. It was the sort of hot that made sweat instantly begin to pour out of your skin and your clothes are damp within moments.

I didn’t know my glasses and sweat were incompatible. I sweated so much my nose is raw from where the glasses slipped down my nose and had to be pushed back into place repeatedly.

That never once happened with my sunglasses. I didn’t know chaffing due to my glasses would happen. I considered not wearing them today to give my nose time to heal, because there is a scabby sore on each side of the bridge where the skin wore off. But I can’t see shit without them.

Today, I am finding the spots annoying. I’ve noticed as I age I sweat more (both in quantity and frequency). Neither of these things were covered in 9th grade health class. I feel like it should have been, I mean these are things people should know and be prepared for… I’ve never been a “big” sweat producer, I can remember when I was a kid and even as a teen, I could be outside in 100 degree heat for hours and not even have damp hair when I went inside. Now that I’m 40 that has changed. Yesterday, even in the camper with air conditioning my hair grew damp and I’ve already mentioned the nose chaffing.

Sweating was like sunburns: things that happened to other people when I was young. Now that I’ve been on birth control for 30 years, I get sunburns. I sort of wondering if the gallons of sweat I now produce every summer is also medication related.

I have always been heat tolerant, more so than cold. Give me a 100 degree day over a 40 degree one anytime. But in the last 4 years, I have started noticing I get hot faster, have a harder time cooling down, and even get “heat sick” when I’m outside in the heat for long. Two years ago I realized the “heat sick” became worse if I took a pain pill while outside.

I know direct sunlight breaks me out in hives these days and I’ve been told it’s phototoxicity caused by birth control use (however hives are significantly less painful than ovarian cysts… so I will live with the hives and try to cover up better). I suspect the opiate I take to lower my nerve pain from CPRS is causing a decrease in my heat tolerance. Well, that and general aging.

But thinking back… my health class covered giving birth (scarred me for life to watch the video of a birth – thankfully, I already knew I didn’t want kids by then) and side effects of illegal drug use like Mush Mouth and extreme weight loss associated with stimulant use. But not once did my teacher say “after puberty, your hormones will continue to fluctuate sometimes drastic and erratic and sometimes gradually for and your body will continue to experience major changes as you age.” I believe that should have been an entire hour lecture: hormones & the rest of your life….

Okay now to work. I have to finish editing Competitive Dreams.