Monday, July 25, 2011

The Office of Second Chances now on Kindle

In 2008, I wrote a story inspired by TVTropes.org (WARNING: this site will suck your life away if you let it).  Specifically, I postulated that if the world is always in danger and the odds are always against the heroes, then sooner or later probability will win.  As the world is still around, there must be something at work to defeat probability, or at least reload the last save point.  Hence, "The Office of Second Chances."

It was a fun little story, and I sent it off to Coach's Midnight Diner, where it was published in the 2009 anthology Coach's Midnight Diner: The Back From The Dead Edition. I strongly believe that the story still has some life to it, and I've been considering other places it might thrive since the rights returned to me a while ago.  One possibility is an audio edition, but I really don't have the acting ability to do it justice.  And there are very few places that will publish reprints.  So ultimately I stole an idea from my wife.  She's decided that once her story rights return to her, she'll put them up as ebooks on Kindle. She's kind of annoyed that I did it before she did.

So "The Office of Second Chances" is now online at Amazon.  Here's a small taste:
World-threatening dangers are a fact of life. Most people can’t accept that, so they tell themselves it isn’t true and then make up stories about it. None of the details of those stories are right, but they do reflect the greater truth that there is always something threatening the world, and always a need for a hero to save it. Where they get it wrong is in thinking that the hero always succeeds. In real life, sometimes the plucky comic relief isn’t plucky enough, the wise old mentor isn’t that wise, the cryptic clues are too cryptic, or the ragtag band of heroes just can’t manage to overcome their differences. For whatever reason, there are times when the heroes don’t have what it takes to save the world.
When that happens, the world gets destroyed. Six thousand, seven hundred, and twelve times at last count. That’s why the Office of Second Chances exists. When things go wrong in the World Saving Department, they fix them.

 You can download it to your Kindle (or free Kindle app) for $0.99.  Just follow the link to your right.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blog upgrade

I've finally gotten around to adding Bio and Writings pages to this blog.  I'd put it off because I had a feeling it was going to be painful to integrate this blog and my hosted site, and I wasn't wrong.  But they're now online, and links appear at the top of each page.  There's not much there now, aside from links to my published works and the all important Brief History of Donald, but I'll be adding more as time goes by.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Presidential suite

In case anyone's wondering what's in a Presidential Suite at a hotel, I can now say that it's about the equivalent of a nice apartment (minus the kitchen). There's a living room with couches, chairs, a television, and a grand piano. A dining room with table and chairs and a sink. A bedroom with a king sized bed and a television. Two bathrooms, the larger with separate shower and bathtub, two sinks, and a bidet. A kitchenette with a microwave. And humongous mirrors everywhere.

The real question, of course, is how I ended up in the Presidential Suite. I haven't yet figured that one out.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Keychain LED knives

There are some things I think everyone should have with them at all times.  A cellphone is a common one.  I personally like to have a multitool, but not everyone wants to carry that.  What I consider absolutely essential, though, is a flashlight and a knife of some sort.  That's why I like having a keychain flashlight/pocketknife combination.  Since I keep it on my keychain, I can be sure that I'll remember to take it with me, as long as I don't forget my keys.  I have a Buck Metro LED which I find very useful.  Unfortunately, it appears to be discontinued, though I'm not sure why.  It has an LED and a knife, along with a very sturdy "ring" to hook onto a keychain.

Recently, I bought another flashlight/knife combo, ostensibly for my wife.  She doesn't really see the need to carry it around though, so mostly it sits in our key basket, on the second set of car keys which she rarely needs.  It's a Victorinox Tech Signature Lite, and it's pretty nice.  Since she's not using it, I've considered swapping out my old knife for it, but before deciding to do so, I'd need to do a side-by-side comparison.  I figured I'd do that here.

Size: While they're both small, but the Buck knife is definitely bigger, made more to fit comfortably in the hand than in the pocket.  The Victorinox is small, the same size as their classic keychain knife, and is thus more comfortable.  Advantage: Victorinox

Blade: While the Victorinox blade is slightly longer, the Buck blade is wider and sturdier.  It also locks into position, and has a grip that makes it easy to open with one hand.  Unfortunately, it's a little bit too easy to open.  While I've never had it come all the way open in my pocket, I've had it come partially open.  Still, I have to say I prefer the Buck one.  Advantage: Buck

Flashlight: Both of them have a bright, white LED.  Either one works well for navigating in dark places.  The Victorinox has a protruding button, while the Buck has a recessed one.  Both have features to prevent the flashlight from coming on in your pocket and staying on until the battery drains (a common failing with keychain flashlights).  Victorinox solves the issue by having a button that must be held down to remain on, while Buck's clicks on, but automatically shuts down after three minutes.  I've never noticed the Buck accidentally turning on in any case.  Either one works.  Advantage: Tie

Ring: Victorinox has the standard, small wire keychain ring, the type that I find very annoying because they commonly bend out of shape and fail in their function of holding the knife and the key ring together.  In contrast, the Buck has a solid metal ring, the type you couldn't bend without a metal press.  It's also well positioned, opposite both the knife and the flashlight, while the Victorinox ring is opposite the flashlight but on the same side the knife opens, making the knife a bit awkward to use while on the keyring.  Advantage: Buck by a long ways

Other tools:  "What other tools?" is all you can say for the Buck.  There's nothing but the knife and flashlight.  It does it well, but that's all.  By contrast, the Victorinox managed to cram in most of the other things you might need in your pocket: a nail file with screw driver, scissors (probably the single most needed tool), and even a pen.  Advantage: Victorinox by default, but it deserves it anyway.

Side by Side of the two knives.

Verdict: So what's the verdict?  I love my Buck, and it has a lot of advantages.  But after working things through here, I think I'll try out the Victorinox for a week, and see how I feel about it.  There are a number of things I dislike about it, but there's enough good there that I think I should at least try it out.

Update: My wife has reclaimed the Victorinox, cutting the experiment short.  It seemed to work pretty well while it lasted.  I'll be keeping the Buck for now, but if I ever need to replace it, I now know a good alternative.