I Published A Book, Kinda


I’m officially a published author. Kinda. I did write a book and it was published and sold. Of course, it was sold to me. Still…

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally tell you about my secret gift I made my wife for Christmas. I wrote her a book on software called Blurb Booksmart and had it printed at blurb.com. The above photo is the cover of the book I created.

The book was about 22 pages long, and alternated full pages of a photograph with text on the opposite site. The book starts with “There once was a Mommy, who married a Maddy, and Along came a bundle of joy.”

Here are some screen grabs of the book. The nice thing about creating the book is you can preview it online.




There’s much more to the book, but I thought I’d just post this as a bit of a sample. I was pretty proud of the results, to tell you the truth. I usually don’t get very creative with Christmas gifts, but I was happy I did this time.

Maybe some day I’ll even be published for real. Nah.

Adventures With Fountain Pens


One of the gifts I received from my parents this Christmas was a fountain pen. Specifically the LAMY AL-Star. You can see it in the picture above. It is a lovely pen. Really it is. It almost ruined my carpet, however. Also, I’m a bonehead.

The problem was that the thing didn’t come with instructions at all. I know a pen isn’t supposed to be complicated, but the little ink cartridge it came with was a bit confusing. It really wasn’t obvious which was the cartridge was to go in the pen.

I tried one way, and it fit but no ink came out. So, I flipped it and inserted it into the pen. Unfortunately there were now holes in both ends. Ink came out. Well, it gushed out really. It gushed like blood out of a severed artery. Not that I would know what that would look like. Moving on…

Luckily I got the pen to the sink without it dripping on anything important. Of course, the entire contents of the ink cartridge were lost.

I was able to write a bit with the ink that had already welled up in the tip. I have to say it wrote very smoothly, much nicer than the cheap Bic fountain pens of my youth. I’ll have to pick up a bottle of ink to replace the ink I lost (the pen came with a “converter” you can use to use bottled ink). I hear Noodlers ink is pretty good.

That was the excitement for the day. I had a lot of fun with my wife and daughter. I got to help cut out outfits for the “dress up puppies” (my wife did most of it, though). Towards the end of the night, my daughter got a pillow off the couch, stood in front of the TV, and pretended to play Wii Fit. Sigh. I wish I could afford to buy a Wii for us all to play. Ah well.


As my daughter told us as we were taking down the decorations last night, Christmas is over. I can’t help but feel a little depressed. After all the Christmas specials, all the Christmas songs my daughter has sung, and all the presents she has opened, it’s hard not to miss it all.

So, I walked the ole tree out to the curb last night. It was a good tree. A happy tree. It barely dropped a needle on the ground until I moved it from its’ spot (then it dropped a ton!). Still, it had been up for a month and it was time to go. The last thing I needed was a house fire.

The nice thing is I still have a week to go on my break from work. We may get paid a little less working for a university, but at least we get decent sized vacations.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do some writing while on break. I really should finish up my novel I wrote in November. We’ll see, I suppose.

Anyhow, anyone else feeling a bit blue?

Am I Fit, Yet?

We spent the majority of Friday playing Wii Fit at my parent’s house. We had a great time, but I know I’m gonna be sore tomorrow. I think I ran five miles today. The worst part (not really) is my pregnant wife beat us all in running. Our excuse is that she ran in college, so she had an advantage.

Nintendo Wii? I love it. It was so much fun for everybody, not just gamers. They took a huge risk making such a revolutionary game system, but it sure has paid off for Nintendo. I gotta get one for myself 🙂

Twas the Night Before Christmas

We’re traveling today, so we did our Christmas presents to each other this morning. The top secret gift for my wife went well. I’ll share more about it later. Let’s just say I’m now a published author (self-published, but still).

In the meantime, here is a Christmas special I liked when I was younger. Enjoy. Even a miracle needs a hand.

Free Range Chickens

As you may know, I’m one of those people who have one of those e-book reader thingies. I have the Sony Reader (thanks Mom and Dad). Yeah, I still like having a real book. Still, you do get used to reading on an electronic device. Honestly.

Anyway, I was skimming the Sony ebook store the other day, and came across some excellent books Random House is giving away for free. One of these books is by an author named Simon Rich and is titled Free-Range Chickens. It’s only 176 pages but it is an excellent book. I read it in a day. I never do that.

Basically, the book is a collection of funny anecdotes by the author, who I’m extremely jealous of. The guy has been published in the New Yorker, has published two books, and writes for Saturday Night Live. Oh, and he was born in 1984!

Jealousy aside, I so recommend this book to anybody who likes to laugh. Check out this excerpt from Free-Range Chickens:

A conversation between the people who hid in my closet every night when I was seven

freddy krueger: When do you guys want to kill him?

murderer from the six o’clock news: How about right now?

dead uncle whose body i saw at an open casket funeral: I say we do it when he gets up to pee. You know, when he’s walking down the hallway, in the dark.

freddy krueger: What if he doesn’t get up?

murderer: He’ll get up. Look at how he’s squirming. It’s only a matter of time.

dead uncle: Man, I cannot wait to kill this kid.

murderer: Same here.

freddy krueger: I’ve wanted to kill him ever since he saw my movie.

dead uncle: Hey, do you guys remember that night-light Simon used to have?

murderer: Man, that thing scared the heck out of me.

freddy krueger: It’s a good thing his mom got rid of it. Now there’s nothing to stop us from killing him. (Everyone nods in agreement.)

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, sorry I’m late. I was busy scheduling an appointment with Simon, to give him shots. freddy krueger: No problem.

(Freddy Krueger and Dr. Murphy do their secret handshake.)

murderer: It’s getting kind of crowded in here. Chucky, can you move over?

chucky: I’m over as far as I can get.

murderer: I need more space than you’re giving me. I’m a lot bigger than you.

chucky: Are you calling me short?

dr. murphy: Hey, guys, relax, all right? We’re all here for the same reason: to kill and possibly eat Simon.

murderer: (Sighs.) You’re right. I’m sorry.

chucky: Yeah . . . me too. I kind of lost perspective.

dr. murphy: It’s okay. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

dead uncle: Hey, it looks like he’s getting up! Wait a minute . . . where’s he going?

chucky: I think he’s running into his mom’s room!

dead uncle: Maybe we should follow him?

chucky: Are you insane? I’m not facing that kid’s mother. That woman is terrifying!

murderer: Seriously, there is no way I’m going in there.

freddy krueger: (Sighs.) I guess tonight’s a bust. Let’s try tomorrow, okay? Same time, same place.

So yeah, I got to read this book for free. I think it works from a publisher’s perspective as well. I had never heard of this author, and now I know about him. I’ll probably check out his other books and probably books he writes in the future. Everybody wins!

So, have any of you read Free-Range Chickens?



I had a pretty solid weekend this past weekend. I am thankful for that. I needed that. Now onto the stories.

Saturday morning we needed to send a gift to our friends. Unfortunately, the Post Office closed at noon. At 11:40 or so my wife finished up wrapping and packaging the gifts and I rushed out the door to go to the post office. In my head I gave myself about a ten percent chance of actually getting there on time. I only live about five minutes from the post office, but it had snowed the night before and I knew there would be very little parking available.

That’s what happened. I wound up parking a few blocks from the Post Office and sprinting my way there, hoping to arrive in time. I got there about five minutes before noon, and there was a line of fifteen or so people, waiting until the last minute just like myself. I called my wife for further instructions, and she told me to wait it out, even if it would take a while. I’m glad I did.

There was something comforting standing in that line in the Post Office (which is a grand old building, built in the 1930s I believe), the weekend before Christmas with my neighbors. I didn’t know anybody in line, but some knew each other and it was interesting listening to their conversations. One lady in front of me was writing her Christmas cards while standing in line. When the line moved away from the little table she started to try to write without the table but I told her I would let her back in line and she could just write at the table (here’s me patting myself on the back).

In all, I was only in line for about fifteen minutes. At noon, they locked the doors and didn’t let anybody in. They did, however, let all of us who were in line do our Post Office errands. I thought that was nice of them.

Saturday night we did the train line. At the top of this post is a photograph of the train we rode in. We had a great time. The train was heated, and they even provided blankets. The best part for my daughter, however, was the arrival on the train of Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and a Gingerbread Man.

My daughter told me she like seeing Santa the best. I noticed the Gingerbread Man tried the hardest of the characters to entertain us. I think that’s because of those mentioned, it would definitely be hardest for the Gingerbread Man to be memorable. It’s difficult to compete with a guy who brings toys, a Reindeer that saved Christmas, and a talking Snowman, after all.

Sunday I installed a ceiling fan in my daughter’s bedroom. That, I believe, completes all the projects we have for that. It’s a very pink and yellow room now. I’ll have to share some pictures sometime.