Do you like yourself a rip-roaring novel now and then? Then may I suggest you get yourself right on over to Amazon and check out Shiver on the Sky
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
If you’ve got a Kindle, the book is just $.99 on Amazon. Whether or not you have a Kindle, you can read the book free with only one small catch.
I’ll get back to that free-book offer in a second.
Shiver is a “contemporary fantasy detective novel.” Its author, David Young, is a regular reader and occasional commentor here at Living Freedom. But I wouldn’t recommend the book just because of that. I started reading it yesterday afternoon (a day after he put it on Amazon) and I’m hooked.
Unfortunately Shiver is also an example of what fiction writers have to go through with mainstream publishers these days. David shopped the book around without getting so much as a nibble, mostly because his work didn’t fit neatly into any standard genre.
Then an editor at Baen — good house for this type of story! — took an interest. She asked for some changes, which David happily made. But when he went back with the alterations: “Oh, she doesn’t work here any more and nobody else remembers anything about it.”
That sounds flaky, but sadly it’s typical. Used to be that editors were advocates for writers. A good editor helped good writers become better ones. Great editors advocated for “their” new talents even when their first efforts weren’t commercially successful. Now? It’s a revolving door for editors and all publishers want is the next teen vampire novel or the next 50 Shades of Gray.
Somebody like David with something unusual to offer has to go it alone. (Which, thank the Internet, he can. And, as he says in good freedomista style, “The self-publishing thing feels better than asking permission anyway.”)
He’s not quite going it alone, though!
This is where you — and those free copies — come in.
David is offering free e-copies to people who will promise to review the book on Amazon. He didn’t even specify that it had to be a favorable review, though if the rest of the book is as good as what I’ve seen so far, I expect most will be.
So grab yourself a copy. Whether you buy one on Amazon or take David’s free-book offer, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I’d call it a page turner if the darned thing actually had pages. :-)
If you like this one, you might also want to know he’s got another coming out in a few months: Pagan Sex. Yes, Pagan Sex. I have no clue what that one’s about, but he’s definitely got himself an … er, interesting title.
It’s an old .22 single-action plinker probably not worth a gunsmith’s fee. That morning I met someone who claimed to be a gunsmith and he was such an ass & irritated me so much I finally tore into the thing myself. It was either fix it or get one of these. Which I really don’t need.
Maybe I didn’t really have to tear it down into such itty-bitty pieces; I don’t know. This hoogie-ma-jigger here turned out to be the whole problem.
Instead of turning the cylinder (its job), it was keeping the cylinder from turning. It also kept me from being able to remove the cylinder to see what it was hanging up on. Taking the gun apart was educational. Putting the hammer and trigger back together was like getting a Ph.D. in cussing. But I did it. Works now. Pretty proud of me.
Then the back fence and the tree came down. Somebody else did the work. I just helped with the Heaping Up of Things. That and shouting, “OMG!” at the most hair-raising moments. I’m sure he found that helpful.
Monday I went to the beach. I laugh at your assumptions about bikinis and sunlit basking. This is a scary gray beach where you see sights like this.
And where you find the unexpected sitting on the sand (the chair, not the dog).
The place made me feel like writing ghost stories. If ever there was a haunted beach, it’s this one.
Ava carried our picnic lunch on the walk out. After we ate cold chicken breast and veggies, I removed her backpack and leash and she did zoomies like a crazed puppy the entire mile back to the car.
Yesterday I commenced the Official Organizing of Stuff (the ostensible purpose of this entire week’s break). I began with guns, ammo, and gear. It took all day.
Not because I have so many guns, mind you, though I’m sure I have enough to make some guy in Boston think I’m a dangerous, paranoid weirdo.
If I were really a sufficiently paranoid weirdo, I’d take better care of these things. The reason it took all day was that it took at least half the day to find everything. Much of the other half was taken up re-labeling mystery boxes and cleaning guns that have lain neglected at the backs of closets ever since I moved back from the desert two years ago.
You do not leave guns unprotected in random places in the NorthWET. They rust. Fortunately, only a few were affected and those not too badly. A.G.’s WD-40 trick took care of that little problem. (And not to worry, I used WD-40 only on the exteriors. Despite the miraculous wonderfulness of WD-40 — it being one of the four fundamental forces keeping the universe intact and functioning — I know it’s a Foul Sin Against Nature to apply it to gunworks.)
In case you ever need to know, a toothbrush and a slightly dull fileting knife will get dog hair out of shotgun mechanisms. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t recommend that method for your $6,000 engraved Italian sporting clays gun, but it works in a pinch.
I realize this all sounds terrible, as if I’ve been some sort of sloven, letting my gear get so foul it can only be scraped clean with a knife. But trust me, most of the gear was well stored and in good shape despite my best efforts to neglect it and lose track of it. And I’m joking about the knife. Mostly.
I wrapped up with the Glock and my brother’s old Cub Scout .22 that I somehow inherited.
The Organizing of Stuff is a nasty job because you have to make a huge mess hauling things out, sorting, and cleaning them before you actually get anywhere. So there you are, trying to solve casual, but mostly hidden, disorganization by creating total chaos from one end of your life to the other. Ugh.
But it feels good when it’s done.
Well, except for those “what on earth is this?” items and those “I thought I had that but where could I possibly have put it?” items. And worst of all the “I don’t dare throw this out, but where the heck am I going to put it?” items.
This coming week looks like a nice, long pause between rounds of deadlines. So I’m taking time off.
I hesitate to do it because I have this terrible fear that all you lovely readers will stampede to somebody else’s blog if I miss more than a few days and never return.
Yeah, I know better. If you’ve put up with me so far, I have faith you’ll put up with me a week from now. Besides, even in my absence, there will probably be conversations going on in the comment sections. And there are always Amazon links in need of clicking. (Yeah, shameless plug. Sorry.)
In any case, every time I say that blogging will be “lite,” that’s exactly when I get inspired to write something brilliantinsightfuldevastatingly witty else. So who knows? Possibly I’ll even get a chance to prep and advance-schedule a few blog entries to magically appear.
Mostly, I’m going to stick around the house and perform serious Organizing of Stuff. Not just preparedness stuff, as I wrote about the other day. But stuff-stuff. After two years of constant construction chaos, I want everything finally neat and in its place for the cabin-fever months ahead.
I’ll also be working with a yard guy to take down old fencing, remove a nasty-looking tree, and lay the groundwork for as large a veggie, chicken, and (maybe) bee area as my tiny property will hold.
But I might also go wild & crazy and take Ava out to the ocean. There’s an interesting beach within day-trip distance, but I haven’t gone there since returning to the NorthWET. It’s about time.
Sorry for the sorta funky picture, but it’s what I’ve got. Better yet, it was taken yesterday at a vet’s office, where Sweetie the deaf heeler — now Sweet Georgia Brown — was declared heartworm free! at her three-month post-treatment checkup.
Reports Linda, her foster-care coordinator:
Her 3-month test was negative! She weighs 44.4 lb. and was a good girl w/ the vet. She’s so pretty and sweet – Foster Dad Ted has a new forever dog, Doc – mixed breed about 5 years old and she and Doc have become fast friends – Ted says they play constantly. Yesterday in the vet’s office some folks came in w/ a Large Black Dog – indeterminate breed and mostly puppy – he and Sweetie were trying hard to play, I saw no indication of uncertainty or aggression on her side – just curious and interested in meeting/playing.
She’s doing well for the most part – still nippy with strangers, but that is something that can easily be dealt with with an educated owner who is willing to work with a trainer.
Yay! And thank you to all who helped bring Sweetie to the NorthWET and funded her heartworm treatment and her care.
I’m not sure what the plan is for finding a permanent home for Sweetie-Georgia. Everybody has been half hoping her foster dads would keep her. But it would also be a good thing if she went to an ACD-knowledgeable home with folks who’d work on that nipping problem. Linda also thinks she could be a happy little agility dog. Because of her deafness, she could never be a herder, but she still has the instincts.
ACD people in Oregon or Washington … anybody interested?
Occasionally, there is justice of a sort after a puppycide. But no real justice until the cops know they’ll have to pay personally. Otherwise, it’s just more of the usual from thugs, cowards, and incompetents.
No, not the molecule. Last I heard that needed no saving. I’m talking about the nerdy magnetic executive toy. The fedgov is trying to ban it because … erm, people might feed it to their children?
The company has repeatedly challenged Scott Wolfson, communications director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to debate Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker live on TV. Mr. Wolfson having ignored the challenge, Zucker is now offering to defeat Wolfson in an arm-wrestling contest. (H/T S)
And speaking of the (many) reasons not to give trust or power to police … if the eye-witness account is true (something that might be confirmed by a necropsy on the dead dog), this cop should never walk among civilized beings again. This really deserves a blog post of its own, but I couldn’t stand to write it. Beware: this makes the standard cop-puppycide case look loving by comparison. (H/T Wendy McElroy)
Here’s some clever expansion on the “week-in-a-bucket” preparedness idea that BusyPoorDad brought to the comments the other day. This is month-in-a-bucket from bare bones to high end. (Thank you, Chief Instructor!)
I’ve ranted this rant before. Many times over the years. But … hey, it’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to. If you’re looking for Profound Wisdom today instead of minor babblings, I’ve got just the guy for you …
You want to get on my bad side? Put me on an email list without asking.
Want to make it worse? Use open cc.
For years, when people would do this, I’d quickly tell them, “Don’t do that. Now take my name off your list.”
But I got tired of the inevitable responses, of which there were (and still are) exactly two: 1) “Your a PHONY. I thought you believed in learning the TRUTH!!!!!! You don’t DESERVE my information!!!!” or 2) Well, how else am I supposed to do it? What’s bcc? I never heard of that. If you want me to use that, you should tell me how …
So for a while, instead of going through that routine, I started directing all such mail straight into Trash. Unfortunately, that meant I’d still occasionally see it while doing mailbox maintenance.
There are two kinds of people who thrust us, all unwilling, onto open cc lists. There’s Aunt Mamie (we all have one) who sends cute cat pictures, chain letters, urban legends, and glurge about angels delivering blessings to adorable, usually fatally ill, children. The other is The Sage, who is Inspired to Bestow His (very own) Profound Wisdom Upon The Little People in the form of unsolicited commentary.
Until this afternoon the mail of one such was landing in my Trash box regularly. He was just a neocon blowhard, but every word was written as if it was THE Word. You know? He did not merely speak, he Proclaimed.
More annoying yet, he even has a pretentious email address. I won’t use his real name, but his addy calls him “JoeBlowAuthor.”
Now writers do not call themselves “author” except in rare and limited circumstances. If a publisher asks us to write a bio-blurb (yes, we frequently write our own), we’re pretty much obliged to say things like, “Claire Wolfe, author of Penguins of the Arizona Desert …”
Otherwise, forget it. We’re writers. We write. We no more go around styling ourselves Authors than film directors go around introducing themselves as auteurs.
But I digress.
A couple months ago, MrAuthor wrote something that got members of the cc list fired up and they did what people on cc lists do; they started filling up everybody else’s email boxes with flag-waving “reply alls.” (It’s a measure of this guy’s impact that it took years of being on his list before something he said finally drew that kind of reaction.)
I belatedly wrote and told HisAuthorness that open cc was Not Good, that I’d never asked to be on his list in the first place, and please take me off.
In response, he started using bcc (I admit, without whining). But kept me on the list.
I gritted my teeth and kept cleaning out the Trash.
Until this morning when the email that landed there said something to this effect: “We should nuke Iran. In fact, we should nuke all the Muslims or anybody else who gives us trouble. In fact, if we had nuked Korea and nuked Vietnam back in the day, the whole world would respect us so much now that they’d be bowing down to the the U.S. and we wouldn’t have all this trouble and it would Save The Lives of Patriotic Americans.”
I wrote back: “Take me off your mailing list.”
He wrote back: “And you (sic) email address is????”
Grrrr. I eventually got him to figure that out.
He ultimately removed my name, concluding, “Sorry to see you go as I had always thought you enjoyed reading the original views of others.”
I think that’s the polite way of saying, “Your a PHONY!” But at least the JoeBlowAuthor phase of my life is over.
Now, if I could just kill off the last of those glurge-dripping angels …
Couple of weeks ago, I blogged about security cameras. Rather, I blogged to ask about them because I know nothing. I got some very good info, including the chance to look through the “eyes” of several security cameras. (Thank you, S and D — and D, I just love the doormat that says “Leave.”)
MJR, who knows a thing or three about security systems, posted a link to a company called 2MCCTV.
Somebody at 2MCCTV was watching their Web traffic. That quick, I heard from a friendly 2MCCTV rep named Clint Henderson, offering guest blogging. Who am I to turn down an offer to do my work for me? Especially when I might also learn something.
I asked Clint a few questions, and here are his answers:
Q: Until recently, I’d have thought of security camera systems as being only for rich people, businesses, or perhaps homeowners with high-crime problems. Suddenly it seems that lots of ordinary homeowners and renters are getting them. Who is your typical customer and why are they buying your equipment?
A: Our clientèle includes corporate and enterprise-level businesses as well as individual homeowners looking for complete security camera systems.
Our typical homeowner clients are middle-class, not overly wealthy, who are primarily using the equipment for live monitoring inside and outside their homes.
Many have recently been robbed. By buying a security system, they hope to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Other customers just like to know what’s going on at their home at all times.
Q: What is a realistic minimum cost for setting up a security-camera system in a typical home?
A: For a small 4-camera system, they typically start out at $500. That would include cameras, DVR recorder, and CCTV cables. This would of course not include the installation.
If you’ve looked around the web and seen these $150 pre-packaged systems on Amazon or eBay, remember that you get what you pay for. The quality is very low, but more than that, surveillance systems are not one size fits all. I would never recommend getting any sort of low-cost pre-packaged system, as you’d more than likely find yourself getting frustrated and look to something else anyway.
PRO TIP: You can lower your overall cost by using an old monitor you already have, instead of purchasing one included in a system.
Q: Backwoods Home people tend to be do-it-yourselfers and my readers tend to be tech-savvy. Is it reasonable for people to set up their own systems or do you think this should be done by a professional?
A. With a standard analog security surveillance system, running wire, mounting, and connecting cameras is very straight-forward. There are plenty of how-to guide videos on the internet (for example, here is a video on how to run wire by eHowTech). It is my belief that a person with any type of intermediate DIY skill-set would be able to figure it out. Here is a basic guide for powering your cctv equipment you may want to check out.
But like any DIY project, speak with a professional before committing yourself fully.
PRO TIP: Connectors are inexpensive, but rare. You won’t be able to find them at Home Depot or Wal-Mart, so make sure you order more than enough when buying your system.
Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of wireless (wifi) systems vs wired systems?
A. We almost always recommend getting a hard-wired system. Here are just some of the advantages of wireless security cameras:
Hard-wired systems have virtually no interference. With wireless security camera systems, there are always concerns with possible video signal interference.
Hard-wired CCTV surveillance systems will be less expensive. Granted, wireless cameras have come a long way, but you’ll still find yourself spending quite a bit more for them.
Hard-wired systems have extra features that most wireless cameras won’t have.
Hard-wired will have better resolution.
Hard-wired cameras will have a much longer range. For wireless, there are significant distance limitations.
The only advantage to wireless, literally, is that you do not have to run a wire.
One thing to remember is that the “wireless” part refers only to the video signal, the actual data transmission. The camera still needs to be powered electrically through a wire.
Q: Personally, I would like to have features like motion-detection, night vision, and sound capture (and not just when using Windows as a control system). I would also like motion-detection to be selective, so the camera wouldn’t be catching my dogs going in and out their doggie door. How possible is all this? And especially how possible is it on a budget?
A. For night vision, you want to get a camera with infrared LEDs. The LEDs emit an infrared light which is captured by the camera lens in black and white. Even the least expensive cameras can come with infrared LEDs.
Sound is best captured using a separate microphone component piece for the audio surveillance. They are not terribly expensive. Most DVRs support audio, but the number of channels is often limited. If you need more than one channel, select a CCTV DVR with the number of audio inputs you will require.
Motion detection is built-in for all standalone DVR recorders. Consider it a standard feature for all these systems. As far as blocking out the unwanted movement, it’s called standard “masking” and this feature also comes standard with pretty much all standalone DVRs. You just need to select which area on your screen that you want to mask. Another feature for the doggie door is sensitivity. Sensitivity settings control at what threshold a unit will be activated. For example, you can lower the sensitivity so that a bird flying across the screen would not be detected, but a man walking would be.
These features all come standard and shouldn’t affect your budget.
PRO TIP: Computer-based DVRs have far more functionality and features than standalone DVRs.
Q: Your website has a dizzying array of products, including more types of cameras than I knew existed. (I’m particularly fond of the hidden camera/alarm clock in the shape of a puppy.) What’s your best advice for helping people sort through all the choices without becoming completely confused?
Call us. This is paramount. It’s free to get our professional input.
Every case is unique and everyone’s application is going to be different than the next person’s.
The product is not most important. The application is. So you need a professional who can match the product with your unique application.
Speaking to the categories listed on our website, here’s a little navigational tip if you want to look around yourself: The most popular cameras are infrared bullet, infrared dome, vandal-proof dome, and PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom), especially at consumer level electronics. (Here’s a link to 2MCCTV’s main security camera page)