Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vacation Day Five: Midway

Today was the midpoint of my vacation. Four days left. It wasn't so
relaxing as the past four days have been. While I haven't been called
on by work yet, I have received some email that indicates there will
be issues I have to deal with when I return. Issues that should be
dealt with in my absence. Issues that shouldn't even be issues.

What was supposed to be just a relaxing, do nothing day turned out to
be speckled with a little work-related stress. Nothing major, but more
than a person wants to deal with while on vacation.

I spent the better part of the morning finishing book four in Dean
Koontz's Frankenstein saga (see review posted earlier), then ran out
for a much needed and much enjoyed haircut. I go to what I believe is
the best barber shop in Indiana -- Bob's Barber Shop on U.S. Highway
40 in Cumberland, just east of Indianapolis. I've written about it
before -- search it.

After my haircut I gave the lawn a much needed haircut. My weed eater
-- an actual Weed Eater brand trimmer -- is always a great source of
stress. But with some good inspirational music in my ears, all went

Since then, it's been just me and the kids, as their mother is out
with one of her friends, getting a little break of her own. We ran to
Redbox and picked up a Spongebob DVD and some ice cream, then had a
junk food movie night. Now, while I wait for my wife to arrive home,
it's time to start another book.

Tomorrow, maybe the Zoo, then camping out in the yard with my boy.

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Book Review - Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Lost Souls

I'm not what you would call an avid Dean Koontz fan. I don't buy a book because it has his name on it. But I do recognize him as one of the best in his genre today. What Stephen King once had and long ago lost, Dean Koontz still masters -- he is one of today's best at character development, and he proves that again in the fourth installment of his rendition of the "Frankenstein" saga.

I won't rehash either Mary Shelley's original or Koontz's update here. You can search the site or use the Book Review links in the sidebar for my reviews on the three previous "Frankenstein" offerings from Koontz.

In this latest entry to what will surely become a classic in it's own right, Frankenstein's monster, now known as Deucalion, outlives his creator -- killed in an epic battle of good versus evil in New Orleans. But the evil of Doctor Frankenstein a.k.a. Victor Helios lives on in clone form and has moved on to a small backwoods Montana town where he hopes to carry on the work of his predecessor.

With a new method, new technology, and a slightly new vision, the all new Victor Immaculate (or Victor Laben, as he now calls himself) is picking off the town in bite-size chunks. Little does he know that his first creation, his fifth wife (also his own creation), and the New Orleans Police Detectives who shut him down two years earlier, are all hot on his trail and working hard to ensure his failure once again.

Koontz comes through reliably with another page-turner, but left me unsatisfied in several ways. First, not enough Victor and not enough of the Monster. How can you have a Frankenstein book that doesn't center on Frankenstein?

Second, while the whole premise of Frankenstein and his Monster still living 200 years later is made quite believable by Koontz in the first three volumes, somehow the idea of him living on in his clone just doesn't sell well.

Third -- and this one troubled me the most -- with roughly a hundred pages left in the book, it was clear that the ending was nowhere in sight. While the first three volumes all leave room for the story to continue, they also give a sense of closure. In Frankenstein: Lost Souls, there is no closure. The books ends just as the story is truly beginning, and a couple of pages past the ending we learn that we have to wait nearly a year to find out what happens next. I like a cliffhanger as much as the next guy, but this one is ridiculous.

Either way, I can still enthusiastically recommend this as highly as the prior three volumes, but only if you can wait another year to get the ending.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

Vacation Day Four

A mostly relaxing vacation day today, as my time off nears the midway
point. We went to see "Toy Story 3," a good movie, but the 3-D effects
weren't worth the price of the glasses. Lots of great new movies
coming out later this year, though, including the next installment of

The kids got to play on their trampoline for the first time in two
years. Cassidy has no memory of ever playing on it before. Now that
the yard is fenced in I'm not worried about someone trying to steal it

No major plans for tomorrow yet. We'll be going to the Indianapolis
Zoo some time this week, and the kids and I will set up our tent and
camp out in the backyard one night.

Tonight, I'm just feeling sick from eating too much junk at the movie.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vacation Day Three

My vacation is now one-third over, and surprisingly I have not
received even one phone call from work yet. How nice.

Today was a bit less eventful. My boy and I smoothed out the dirt we
moved yesterday to fill in some uneven spots in the yard. Then we
brought in the new refrigerator and moved the old one out to the
garage. Though the old fridge had an icemaker in it we never hooked it
up after moving to Indy. Tonight I got to enjoy an icy glass of Coke

The rest of the day was spent setting up the kids monstrous trampoline
in the back yard. I took it down two years ago when someone tried to
steal it by hauling it out of the yard with a belt. That was so long
ago my daughter doesn't even remember jumping it. They didn't get to
try it out before the rain hit, but there's always tomorrow....

When we'll also be going to see "Toy Story 3" in 3-D, and hopefully
just enjoying a little R&R for the day.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vacation Day Two

Today was a very full day. The fence crew arrived before 8am to
install our awesome new fence (pictures on my Facebook page). After
walking the plan with them, the family and I headed out to some yard
sales while they got to work.

Six hours later the fence was complete, with 40 or 50 piles of dirt
(from the post holes) waiting to be moved. That was how I spent the
next six hours, shoveling dirt into a wagon and moving it to fill in
uneven spots in the yard. Thankfully, my boy Jaden grabbed an extra
shovel and helped. He hung in with me to the very last shovelful -- an
amazing feat for someone not quite seven years old. The job would have
taken me past dark without his help, but more importantly, he kept me
motivated to get the job done.

I'm immensely proud of my boy. I have employees at work who don't work
half as hard as he did for half as long. After we were all done I sat
down at the table with the checkbook and said, "I go to work every day
and work hard to bring home a paycheck to pay all the bills. You
worked hard today, and here's your paycheck." I handed him a check for

That's a great kid I have, and tomorrow we're going to set up his
trampoline in the yard and have some good old-fashioned fun.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

One Down, Eight To Go

Vacation Day One is almost over. We filled up the kids pool and let
them splash around, set up the canopy swing in the backyard (getting
ready for our new fence tomorrow), and picked up our new (to us)
stainless steel refrigerator.

After spending half the morning tracking down the seller of our
refrigerator and looking for a truck, we finally rented a truck from
Home Depot that had a bed so high it was almost impossible to load and
unload. In fact, the refrigerator started to get away from us
unloading and it got a couple dents in the side and one of the door
handles. Now we're trying to find a new handle and figure out how to
get the dents out of the side (and no, Ding King does not work).

Tomorrow morning our yard will finally be fenced in (after 2-1/2
years). We'll probably hit some yard sales after the fence crew
arrives, then come home and set the kids trampoline up (I haven't put
it out since someone tried to steal it two years ago and I almost hit
it in the middle of the street). It'll be nice to let the kids and
dogs run free in the yard for a change.

As bad as the dings in the refrigerator may be, it's a lot less
stressful than going to work would have been. And to end the day on a
positive note, the Reds smashed the Indians 10 to 1.
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Vacation Day One

Nine glorious days of vacation begin today. We have a couple small
projects (a new refrigerator today, our fence being installed
tomorrow, setting up the kids trampoline) and a few small outings
(Indy Zoo, the Creation Museum) planned. Most importantly, no work for
nine days. Man have I needed this break!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Think I got this all set up, mobile blogging to multiple site at the same time.
post@posterous.com Mass mobile blogging?
Just set up mobile posting with Blogger from my phone. Now I can make short updates to my blog -- maybe a way to post more frequent snippets.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Customers - Who Needs 'Em?

If there is one thing I have learned in the past several months of
working in the Retail business, it's that customers are not worth the
hassle. Seriously.

I don't know if it's a result of the Obama era or what, but customers
have just become unmanageable. I won't try to play the same angle that
many in the business world play, talking up how great and wonderful
customers are and how we must go out of our way to "distinguish"
ourselves from the competition, blah blah blah.

Frankly, my life would be much simpler without customers. Sure, they
are the ones who pay the bills, but I just don't think that they're
worth it anymore. Each day in my business I encounter customers who
feel ENTITLED to something for nothing. Like they're doing me a favor
just by darkening my doorstep and I should GIVE them everything just
to keep them coming back. And when they don't get what they want
(goods or services free or steeply discounted) they think they can
call some pencil pusher in some far away office and get their way.

When did people forget that businesses providing them goods and/or
services are in businss to make a profit and that they can only stay
in business by making enough of a profit? If we weren't in business to
make a profit we'd change the sign over the door to Salvation Army or

I just don't get it anymore. I don't act like that when I'm on the
customer side of the transaction. Why do so many people feel like it's
okay to expect so much for so little?

Your comments are very welcome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

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Haven't Been 'Round Here Much Lately

Cincinnati RedsAs things have been incredibly hectic at work lately, and with other responsibilities I've taken on in our subdivision, I haven't been around here much lately.

One week ago I took on a new career challenge: same company, new position. The job will pay me a bit more money but will be quite challenging for a time. Challenges that will ultimately prove rewarding, I hope. It's also a nice break from the same old routine of the past six years.

On the homefront, I've been asked to be the Crime Prevention Coordinator of our subdivision. A position that the IMPD doesn't recognize because they have an officer that is supposed to fill that role for interested communities. That's probably for the best, though, as I'm afraid the increased demands at work will prevent me from being the best Crime guy I could be.

Additionally, our home A/C unit has gone out on us at the hottest (so far) time of the season. Not the way I would choose to spend $5000 if I had the option. But it has to be done, because I like to sleep without sticking to the bed.

As if all of that wasn't enough already, the other evening while working from home, the motherboard in my Sony Vaio gave up the ghost without warning. Man, I hate computers! I'm blogging right now from my Palm Lifedrive, which is currenty my primary means of accessing email, etc.

Anyway, it's likely to stay a bit quiet around here for a while. I'll make occassional posts as time permits (and when I have something worth saying), but there won't be many reviews or other commentary for a while. But don't give up ... all will be restored to normal eventually. Until then, I enjoy the best distraction a man from Cincinnati can hope for: a hard-charging first place Reds team.
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