Monthly Archives: February 2011

Terry Pratchett’s Alzheimer’s Speech

Terry Pratchett’s Alzheimer’s Speech in Full

“Soon after I told the world (about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis) my website fell over and my PA had to spend the evening negotiating more bandwidth.

I had more than 60,000 messages within the first few hours.

Most of them were readers and well-wishers.

Some of them wanted to sell me snake oil and I’m not necessarily going to dismiss all of these, as I have never found a rusty snake.”

Terry Pratchett is one of the most talented writers of our time.  A satirist known for his Discworld series and for GOOD OMENS, co-written with Neil Gaiman, the creations he crafts are extremely entertaining and humorous.  Personally, I just discovered his work not long ago.  I don’t know what rock I have been living under, but I am glad I’ve finally seen the light.

Neil Gaiman may have given Mr. Pratchett the ultimate writer compliment in his comments on working with Terry Prachett on GOOD OMENS.

“Terry is that rarity, the kind of author who likes Writing, not Having Written, or Being a Writer, but the actual sitting there and making things up in front of a screen. At the time we met, he was still working as a press officer for the South Western Electricity board.  He wrote four hundred words a night, every night: it was the only way for him to keep a real job and still write books.  One night, a year later, he finished a novel, with a hundred words still to go, so he put a piece of paper into his typewriter, and wrote a hundred words of the next novel.”

It is a cruel fate with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  No matter how prolific Mr. Pratchett can be, there will still be a wonderful tale trapped in his brain without synaptic release for all of us to enjoy.

Thank you, Sir Terry Pratchett, for all you have done and all you will do.  Keep pushing forward.

Humor in the face of tragic news. Hope over despair.  Courage over fear.  And (which would make Hemingway proud), grace under pressure.  Class.

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The Viking Laws

I don’t really know for sure who wrote the Viking Laws.  In fact, I cannot even recollect where I originally ran into them, but I am grateful to have found them. There almost has to be some fantastic legend that goes along with their origin. A great wisdom flows through, around and into the Viking Laws, no matter where their origin lies.

The Viking Laws work very well as a road map in a football strength & conditioning environment.  The attack mode and human weapon philosophy required to prepare one to physically, mentally and emotionally compete is mapped out in the Viking Laws.

Believe me, there is a lot to be learned in these 138 words.

THE VIKING LAWS

1. BE BRAVE AND AGGRESSIVE

  • BE DIRECT
  • GRAB ALL OPPORTUNITIES
  • USE VARYING METHODS OF ATTACK
  • BE VERSATILE AND AGILE
  • ATTACK ONE TARGET AT A TIME
  • DON’T PLAN EVERYTHING IN DETAIL
  • USE TOP QUALITY WEAPONS

2. BE PREPARED

  • KEEP WEAPONS IN GOOD CONDITION
  • KEEP IN SHAPE
  • FIND GOOD BATTLE COMRADES
  • AGREE ON IMPORTANT POINTS
  • CHOOSE ONE CHIEF

3. BE A GOOD MERCHANT

  • FIND OUT WHAT THE MARKET NEEDS
  • DON’T PROMISE WHAT YOU CANNOT DELIVER
  • DON’T DEMAND OVERPAYMENT
  • ARRANGE THINGS SO THAT YOU CAN RETURN

4. KEEP THE CAMP IN ORDER

  • KEEP THINGS TIDY AND ORGANIZED
  • ARRANGE ENJOYABLE ACTIVITIES WHICH STRENGTHEN THE GROUP
  • MAKE SURE EVERYBODY DOES USEFUL WORK
  • CONSULT ALL MEMBERS OF THE GROUP FOR ADVICE

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Bugs in the Arroyo by Steven Gould

Rest Day Read (SR-75)

Bugs in the Arroyo by Steven Gould

(chapter excerpt from his forthcoming novel, 7th SIGMA. Release July 2011)

“Bugs care about three things, near as Kimball could figure. They loved metal. That’s what they’re after, what they’re made of, what they ate to turn into even more bugs.

You don’t want to have an artificial joint in the Territory. Ditto for metal fillings.

In preference over metal, though, they go after electro-magnetic radiation. This means they love radio and really, any of the humming frequencies caused by current flowing through conductors.

Forget computers, radios, cell phones, generators, and—remember fillings and crowns?—well, a pacemaker, an imbedded insulin pump, a vagal stimulator brings them quicker.

But there is one thing that brings them even faster than all of those, that makes them swarm.

A broken bug is to the territory what blood is to a shark pool. They come in numbers, they come fast, and they come with their coal-black nano snouts ready to eat through anything.”

They say a good writing does not just tell about the action, good writing shows the reader the action. GREAT writing drops the reader into the action, not only telling the reader it is raining, but making the reader feel the drops hit the face.  In BUGS IN THE ARROYO, I felt I was walking around the desert scene looking over Kimballs shoulder the entire time.  GREAT STORY, folks.  Please, give it a try.

I stumbled across Steven Gould’s BUGS IN THE ARROYO around the end of 2010 when I registered to win free ebooks of his novels in a Twitter contest.  I had known him as the author of JUMPER, but that was about the extent of my knowledge of Steven Gould.  After I registered, I went to his website, http://www.digitalnoir.com, roamed around and found a link to this story on TOR.com.  It is impressive to say the least and cranks up the anticipation for the July 2011 release of his novel, 7th SIGMA, from which this story is a chapter of.

Hope you enjoy!

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Whose name is written on YOUR foot?

Whose name is written on YOUR foot? by Coach Hays

I sat down in my man-chair.  It was comfortable. It was quiet. It was peaceful.  I was reading some Sherlock Holmes. Life was good.  In comes offspring #2, who plops down on the sofa and turns on the TV.  Toy Story followed by Toy Story 2.  I cough.  Then I loudly clear my throat, but to no avail.  And wanting to avoid an international incident requiring mediators and negotiators, I let the intrusion slide.   I ignored Offspring #2 and went back to reading.

But pretty soon…well, you all know what happened.  The giggling and laughing from the sofa caught my attention and before you know it, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is safely closed on the end table with me and Offspring #2 both laughing and reciting lines by heart.  (Admit it.  “Positive is positive and negative is negative!” is one of the greatest quotations ever recorded on the intricacies of battery polarity engineering and placement.)

Well, the following morning, in that magical mental place between the alarm ringing and full consciousness wrestling back the proper mental faculties, I had a thought flash into my head with the vivid mental image of Woody looking at the faded name of ANDY written on the bottom of his boot. ANDY.  The name that represents belonging to and being a part of.  ANDY. The name that gives Woody purpose.  Looks what happens to Woody in Toy Story 2 when the cleaner wipes those four letters off his boot.  He gives up trying to get back to Andy and the others. Gives up and floats away from all that is important to him.  When the name disappears, so does the very core of who he is.  Eventually, it takes a monumental effort by his friends to bring him back.

Then came the big question.  Whose name do I have written on the bottom of my foot in permanent marker?  Who do I choose belong to? Who do I choose to give myself up to?  What is the purpose, what is the driving force I stand on?  Is it a name to provide solid footing or is it one that will cause me to slip and fall?  I know now.  After some mistakes and some trial and error (see here), I now know.

God on the right foot.

Faith on the left.

Family on the toes.

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Snow, Shovel, Cold…Repeat

The weather has been fairly crappy in Kansas for this year 2011.  While shoveling out of the latest the other day, I felt that awesome feeling of ice formation in my beard.  Honestly, that is just a kick butt feeling even though it means it is butt cold outside.  When the ice crystal form on the beard, it always takes me away to one of my favorite stories, Jack London’s To Build a Fire.  I apologize for the re-run of the very first Rest Day Read, but I just had to do it to celebrate the cold.

Rest Day Read

Short Read #1 (SR-1)
Jack London’s To Build a Fire

Great winter tale on man’s struggle versus nature. This story almost always pops into my head whenever we get a good deep snow to shovel or a real cold snap. Probably one of the stories that really lit the spark on me becoming a reader.

I am sure I had some sort of learning disability as a kid. Probably still do (especially if you ask my people for their opinion). Today, I would probably be in several federally mandated sp. ed programs, but in bygone years at the CTK* they usually would send you down to a learning center, a.k.a storage room, to work with a volunteer doing some special lessons. Once, in 6th grade, I went down to the reading help session and was given a mimeographed copy of To Build a Fire. I sat down at a folding table placed between walls of textbooks boxes and ran my finger and eyes over the first line “Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey…”. Everything in the room disappeared. I found myself in the Yukon looking over the shoulder of the “new-comer” in his struggle for survival. I was transformed, the locked door to books kicked open, snapped from its hinges. Life would never be the same again.

* Christ The King Catholic School, Kansas City KS. The 1970’s LMC socio-economic landscape of the CTK forced the administrators, teachers and parents to develop a highly innovative, creative school environment. Looking back, it was a school way ahead of its time.

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