There’s a Big Difference Between Being My Dad and My Father


I did a lot of thinking about my biological father growing up.  The things I saw him do and heard him say.  I accepted his proclivity towards violence as the basis of his existence.  He was a certifiably unstable person who left me with the biggest emotional mess to trudge through growing up.  My biological father was not the voice of reason or strength.  He commanded by threats and hostility.  The greatest gift he gave me was dying.  I have outlived his age, and for this I am grateful, but the heart of this blog is not with him.

It lies in what came after, and that was being adopted by one of the greatest set of parents from the Midwest.  They have been the most patient, loving, and understanding throughout my years, child and adult.  They recognized my uniqueness and allowed it to blossom.  My dad accepted me for all my noticeable flaws, and never left my side when I thought he would.  He took the time to teach me what life was about and allowed me to learn lessons as only one can do by her own.  He gave me the birds and bees talk during  a car ride so he is a man of many talents.


I usually send a humorous card for Father’s Day.  This year was different.  I sent him a much more serious card that pulled out, reiterating the fact how much I loved him and what he had done for me.  He text me, thanks for the card, and that was it.  He won’t ramble on if he doesn’t have too, and doesn’t feel the need to respond right away if he is busy.  Our differences are the basis of our relationship.  The similarities fill in the rest.

Referring to my biological father as a relation is for formality reasons only.  The word father is a distant word to me because of him.  The word dad has a better feel.  My adoptive dad is who I recognize each year.  He is the one who will continue to get my respect.  While DNA is important, it doesn’t do any good if you can’t live up to its potential.  My father fell way short of the mark.  My dad actually crossed the finish line, and this is why I give a big nod to him. I wouldn’t be here without him, and thanks to all the dads out there who have been there for their children and are still there long after they grow up.



If the dinosaurs only knew how popular they have become today.

I managed to get a day off during the week to take care of my iPhone camera that went bust.  Good thing for Apple Care, right?  While I was waiting for it to be fixed, I walked around the mall looking at different things.  One of my favorite stores to browse is Papyrus, a greeting card store, that has other items to buy.  I decided not to buy anymore greeting cards.  I already have three boxes.  My eyes definitely spotted the Father’s Day display table although these bad boys will not be going to my dad.  They will be sitting with my collection of mugs longer than they should before I use them.


I wanted to be an archeologist at one point in my life.  I’m glad that desire ended.  I tend to have patience most of the time, but there’s a lot needed during excavations.  There’s also a lot of bones in a dinosaur skeleton as paleontology is on a similar playing field.  I’m not sure if my skills or tenacity would carry me through to the end.  A person would really need to be excited, and my excitement these days only goes so far as picking up these mugs to admire their coolness.


I included some good old biology in case you forgot what you learned in school a long time ago.  I wouldn’t mind reading some books about the variation of dinosaurs, and there certainly is plenty to last me for a while.   I’m curious to know after some research what I will decide to be my favorite or maybe top five or ten dinosaurs.   It will probably be included in a future blog, but in the meantime, I will rejoice as one more day until the weekend although I work on Saturday.


Three Steps to Prioritizing Your Writing

A Writer's Path

by Monique Hall

When I sat down to write this blog entry, it was going to have a different title. I started listing all the reasons why it’s been nine months since my last post, why I failed to cling on to the enthusiastic optimism I found at last year’s RWA conference and why I have not achieved even a tiny portion of the goals I set for myself.

And then I hit the delete key because I’m sick of listening to my own excuses, so why on earth would I want to bore you with them all. We all have shit going on and I need to get over myself. We both know it.

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change the way you go writing tips

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Coloring Around… Whatever!!!

I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping weird hours this weekend due to sinus headaches (thanks to allergies) and achy muscles (thanks to jogging harder this week).  I’ve done more coloring of one of my new designs and playing around with my watermark logo than my intended writing.   I say whatever even though I’m straying a little bit, okay actually quite a bit.  I still would like to make my logo a little more creative, but that can come later.  Here are a few of my old designs/colorings, and if you want to see more go here to colorings.

IMG_7115 copyDesign7 copyDesign2 copyIMG_6988



Who Knew Pumping Gas Could be So Complicated?!

I’ll be the first to admit when I buy gas at a station, I like to fill it up to the top. I read several articles online and the consensus seems to be this: topping off is not the way to go. It does several bad things, and the most important one in my book of hurting the environment. If gas spills onto the ground, the harm comes from vapors releasing into the air. Most people agree it isn’t good to inhale gasoline directly or indirectly. When is the last time you huffed gasoline? Hopefully, never. It also may damage your car’s vapor recovery system. One of the perks of living in California is the smog test especially when your car is an older model such as mine. People operate better breathing clean air so I will have to forgo topping off from now on so I don’t contribute to the Earth’s demise.


There is also debate on what constitutes topping off. I would say it means continuing to pump gas when it automatically disconnects and stops dispensing gas into your tank. Sure, I often give another go so it can read an odd number on how many dollars I spend. I’m not fond of even numbers. Don’t ask me why. I really don’t know. It’s just the way I operate. Call it superstition. So how does a person really know the pump is dispensing gas or not?  I learned gas pumps have a vapor recovery system, meaning that excess gas can end up being drawn back into the storage tanks. I can’t say for sure if this is true, but do know when I pump another 50 cents or one dollar that gas does drip out of the nozzle when removing it. I do the familiar shaking of it to get the last drop, and put it back into its resting place on its holder. Because I am not confident I’m getting all my money’s worth now, I will have to forgo topping off so I don’t lose out on that 50 cents or one dollar.  That’s a lot of gumballs I could buy.


The last consequence of topping off is the possibility of damaging your car. This happens because gas in the carbon filter system causes it to run poorly. Don’t ask me where this is because I have no idea nor do I care too much where it sits under the hood. I’m sure that I will care if something happens to my car because of too much topping off.  It overall can damage your car engine, and we all know that’s no good.  My time effective self thinks by putting in extra gas will prevent me from having to go the gas station as often. Really? How much does a dollar’s worth of gas get you these days? I equally play with fire on a near empty tank, praying and hoping my car doesn’t run out of gas on my way home on a Friday night after work. That gas light sure is an eyesore as you are winding down a road.  I wonder if that damages your car too.


I dislike filling up my gas tank and leaving to find the needle not on the full line.  I read a few people saying putting a nickel more of gas into your tank doesn’t hurt anything. How about 50 cents? How about a dollar? I don’t put in any more than a dollar. I’m curious to what others do with their gas tanks. What drives me to the ultimate decision of not topping off the next time I get gas is as much environmental as personal.  My carpal tunnel is thanking me already.  I’m so excited to not spend that extra one dollar on my next visit to the gas station.



Movie Recommendation: Bottle Shock

This has spoilers so stop reading if you do not want to know the ending of this movie.

bottle shock

Director: Randall Miller
Screenwriters: Jody Savin, Randall Miller, and Ross Schwartz
Story: Ross Schwartz, Lannette Pabon, Jody Savin, Randall Miller
I saw this in the theater, which I’m sure was a limited release since it was an independent movie. This movie had enough substance behind it to keep my attention. The story was intriguing especially since I can find a good handful of things to drink besides wine. The mark of a good script.
The film hinges on a character/actual person named Steven Spurrier. He is played by Alan Rickman who captures the essence of being a struggling wine shop owner in Paris. He flies to Napa Valley, California to find suitable wines for his Judgement of Paris contest, hoping it increases foot traffic in his store.
He brings back a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena, which will be competing against the best wines France offers. The Parisian taste testers choose the wine from Napa Valley as the winner, thus putting California on the map. The rest is history as they say, sort of.
Steven Spurrier held another Judgment of Paris in 2006 where another California wine won again. He was not fond of this movie although I thought it was overall enjoyable. It isn’t a movie that would have won any Oscars, but it was decent enough to support.
The supporting cast is Bull Pullman and Chris Pine playing the father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett, Eliza Dushku as Joe, Dennis Farina as Cantavale, Hal B. Klein as Shenky, and Freddy Rodríguez as Gustavo Brambila.  The choice of viewing it is up to you as always, but can you really beat Alan Rickman doing the thing he does best: great acting.

Oops, Didn’t Mean to do That!

I’ve been on an exercise and eating better kick the last few weeks except one day I pigged out on some Terra chips.  It’s a good thing life recycles itself every day.  I hope everyone is busy living his or her life.  I know I am so cheers to another week and weekend.



Short Story: A Nightly Encounter

As the sun began its vanishing act, the moon became a sliver with its true radiance obscured behind a cloud. It was on this night I managed to catch a glimpse of his being before he retreated into the darkness. His posture was menacing as the black opal dangling from a chain around his neck.
I waited patiently for him to speak. There was no choice. My life depended on it.
“Not everyone flies, and not everyone floats. I do not know what will happen until the very end. You might do neither or you might do both. That will ultimately be up to you.”
I felt a shock in my head when he said this. It started at my left temple and zigzagged its way to the right. I had heard he could be persuasive in a way that left you wanting more. I wondered how long I could resist his temptations.
I could hardly see anything in front of me, and when my ears registered the ambient noises, I wasn’t certain what was making the sound. He had put me in a dizzy haze. I was sure of it, but my ears perked up when he finally spoke.
“Do not take my silence as a form of approval.” He uttered from deep within, like a dog giving a warning growl. “Despite what you believe to know about me, there is nothing accurate about any of it.”
I constructed an image of his likeness as he became quiet again. He was an equal opportunist with his weight distribution. He did not favor the left over the right leg. His elongated fingers, manicured and durable, were often covered by stylish black leather gloves. There were a few times he allowed nature to touch them, but this was only when he was alone. He was born into an aristocratic family, and given a fitting name of Arthur, Theodore, or Samuel, or maybe he had parents a little more daring and bestowed the name of Magnus to him. He did not like people referring to him by his name. I was in process of determining his facial features when he spoke, his voice echoing.
“I could be by your side before you know I’m even there. Would you be fine begging for your life if it came to it? I imagine you want the night to unfold differently. Where you don’t have to crawl on your hands and knees to freedom. Where the little decency stored in your bones is not used against you.”
His words rattled me, sending a chill from the base of my neck to the place where my trousers sat on my waist. His authority loomed over me like an invisible shadow. He had cast his net, and caught his prize. I felt helpless much like the first time I had misjudged.
“Why should I give you any courtesy when you don’t play by the rules with the life you currently have?”
A twig broke in the distance.
“It is time for something a little more playful, do you not agree?”
I remained silent.
“Do you not agree, Nicholas?”
It was my turn to speak, but nothing came out of my mouth.
“You give me an answer as if you never matriculated from a respectable university.”
“My, my apologies.”
“It makes me wonder if the only course of action is to extinguish you now. It appears destroying the misery you feel inside would be a blessing for you.”
“I feel no misery.”
“Be that as it may, I don’t see any reason to allow you to live.” He seemed closer now. “Unless, of course, you want to try your hand at persuasion.”
“Then, by all means, proceed, Mr. Nicholas Hatcher. But, time is wasting, and patience may very well be a thing of the past.”
“Should I face a certain way?”
“Tick tock, Nicholas. Tick tock.”
“Yes, sorry. I’ll begin again.” I swallowed, but the large cotton ball in my throat remained. “I… I… might not have the same riches as some of my friends, but I have never harbored ill will toward any of them. Sure, there were times I might’ve wished to have what they had, but everybody does this. My children are fed a good breakfast in the morning, and they don’t go to bed hungry at night. My wife is most pleased. I would do anything for them.”
“Yes, anything.”
“Including sacrificing yourself for their well-being?”
“I would.”
“There are always dangers in this.”
“If I protect them, nothing else matters.”
“But you served your interests first not too long ago.”
“That’s not true.”
“I saw you lying with unkempt girls when you should have been home.”
“That was before the children were born.”
“But you were still committed.”
“I was younger then.”
“What would you do if I told you little Nicholas Jr. and his dear sister do not have much longer to live? That the plague will bring them pain they wished never came knocking? Would you believe me? Or, would you carry on with your life, not heeding my warning?”
“I would need proof.”
“The stamp of authenticity.”
“It’s only fair.”
“But life is not fair. You know this. And, I would not give you the benefit of seeing it on a declaration because I know things.”
“I’ve changed.”
His fingers wrapped around my neck in a fierce grip, pushing me against a tree effortlessly, and yet he allowed me to breathe. I’m certain he knew the correct amount of pressure to use on my chest in order not to kill me. I felt the bark digging into my back at all the right places. His face was mostly obscured by his hat and how he positioned his head. I saw his mouth and nothing more. His lips seemed to be the color of maroon.
“You cannot bring back the dead.” He methodically brought his other hand to my face, and covered my eyes. “Horribly, you sent an innocent man to his death. He will breathe no more like I have decided you will breathe no more.” I remained in his grasp, for what seemed forever, when he released me.
My body crumpled to the ground. I had no feeling in my legs. It was as if he drained all my energy. My arms were useless. I couldn’t lift them into the air. I could only muster a shallow inhale and then exhale.
“If you let me explain,” barely whispering, “you will know I tell the truth.”
“A liar in front of me.”
“I saw what you did to him.” His voice became guttural to the point I thought a part of his physiology might have changed. “You are not the one dictating the rules. You are not the one who gives orders. And your insignificant brain seems not to understand that soon you will find yourself in a grand finale.
“Just tell me what you want.”
He flung me against the same tree, pine needles stabbing my flesh when I landed face first. I scrambled onto my knees, and removed the needles sticking out of my palms. “If I’ve lost all chances of living, just kill me already!” My anger increased substantially. “Don’t think I don’t know you’ve been following me since that night. I know you have weaknesses too even though you claim to have none.” I had clearly misspoken. It was one thing to accept your impending death. It is something completely different to invite death, knowing there was the chance of further brutality.
I waited for him to extinguish my life. I waited and waited. He never showed himself to me again that night. I am not certain why. Hundreds of reasons entered my mind of why he departed, but not one correlated to the actual truth.
I needed to get home to my family, but my body was so weak from my ordeal. I was certain my arm was broken. My eyes closed, and I fell asleep, my hand intercepting the pine needles from touching my face. I dreamed of him watching me from far away.
The next morning I was greeted by insistent chirping of birds. The sunlight filtered through the tree tops. It warmed my face as I looked upward. I felt for my glasses. They weren’t there. I could hardly see as I stumbled away. I hadn’t comprehended my predicament until I returned to civilization. There it was in my grasp. I locked my eyes on the blurry black opal with the chain limply hanging from it.
“Damned curses.”
Revenge would be coming another night, and when he made his grand appearance, I would be ready.


Book Recommendation: The Cuckoo’s Egg

cuckoo's egg

I had recommended this book before in a previous blog before I even finished it, but I don’t think I had shared it on my Facebook or LinkedIn page at the time so here it goes again. This is one of those books where you don’t judge a book by its cover or subject matter. I find espionage a highly interesting phenomenon, but computer espionage? Come on? How interesting could it really be? It sounds rather boring. I’m sure it is in most cases, but it is quite interesting when you have the right person writing about it.


Cliff Stoll infuses the right amount of factual information with his own personal quirks and hesitancy. You will see this when he is dealing with the FBI, CIA, and NSA. His lifestyle of sewing quilts and making homemade milkshakes when he was not being a systems administrator was in direct contradiction to the later relationships he formed with the “spooks.” You couldn’t have picked a more unique person to unravel this story piece by piece even if you tried. It is a page turner, and I mean this sincerely. You will doubly enjoy it if you are into non-fiction thriller/mystery.


Stoll doesn’t mince his words, but still you know he has a kind heart within him. He comments on certain things that seem unrelated to the hacker, but it does serve a purpose in the long run. This book is as relevant as ever given our current political times. I won’t spoil the ending, but I wasn’t too surprised that certain things happened the way they did. This was as much a cat and mouse game as it was a catalyst for things to come in the computer world and in his own personal life. I will conclude with the message of fixing the smaller problems is usually adequate, but sometimes it isn’t, and when it isn’t enough, watch out because who knows what will appear.

Want to Read The Cuckoo’s Egg? Great! Click here!


Movie Recommendation: Away We Go

Produced: Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon, and Marc Turtletaub
Directed: Sam Mendes
Written: Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida


This is a dramedy directed by Sam Mendes. The person responsible for directing the hit movies American Beauty and Road to Perdition. Away We Go is the journey of a married couple, waiting for their first child to be born. Their original plan of living close to his parents is spoiled when they surprise Burt (Jon Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) of moving out of the country. This is when Burt and Verona decide to go on the road in search of the best place to raise their child. Along the way, they observe differing parenting styles of family and friends, and come to an understanding of what kind of parents they want to be. They also finally discover where they want to set down their roots. This film has a good supporting cast and the most recognizable names of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janey, and Josh Hamilton. While this didn’t have the widespread reach like American Beauty, it is well worth the watch if you desire a lighthearted movie with the right amount of serious moments.

Movie Recommendation: Argo

Produced: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov
Directed: Ben Affleck
Written: Chris Terrio, Tony Mendez, Joshuah Bearman


I saw this in the theater when it came out in 2012. Argo was the kind of film that really had you at the edge of your seat even if you were aware of the end result. It is about a CIA operative, Tony Mendez, who plans the rescue of six United States embassy staff from Iran in early 1980s. He is portrayed by Ben Affleck, and convincingly I might add. This was the perfect role for him. The success of this mission is dependent upon the assistance of Hollywood and cooperation from Canada. Mendez goes through the motions of setting up a production company with a green lit script, fake crew members, and as you probably guessed it, the location of Iran.  You watch to see if the six will survive this mission with Mendez leading them hopefully to safety.  I’m pretty sure you can guess which way it went, but in case you don’t or don’t want to know ahead of time, I won’t say anything else except watch this film. You won’t be disappointed especially if you are into historical dramas and/or should I say Ben Affleck.


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