Category Archives: Info

Just information about the blog.


The View from Universal Studios as it was In 2003.

Looking at that pic, I can see how camera technology has advanced in sixteen years. It’s fuzzy! But, I digress.

When I say cover your productive tush, I mean have a plan for when your hard drive crashes, your computer gets dropped into an outhouse, somebody steals your laptop, you know, all that stuff that you read about ruining writers’ projects. Because, you know, there are things you can do. And to prove it, I shall tell you what some of those things are.

First, Back Up Everything!

There are a couple of ways to do backups. I use both of them. The first, older way is simply to buy an external hard disk and  plug it into your computer. Then, no matter what OS you use, you will find a handy-dandy backup routine already built in! Wowzers! I use Windows, and I’ve had excellent luck simply letting Windows decide what to back up. But, it’s up to you, you can decide what you do or don’t want backed up. If you do these backups regularly (Windows lets you do it on a continuous basis in the background) you will always have a copy of the latest saved version of every one of your files. So, after the dog eats your work, you buy a new laptop, plug in the external drive, and recover it all.

What is a backup, you say?

A backup is just a copy of a computer file (or a lot of them.) That’s it. It’s usually possible to use the backup copy directly, without even “recovering” it, but if you do that, you’re defeating the purpose of having an extra copy. So, first thing to do to recover from a disaster is to always make backups as  you go along.

The second way to make a backup is to use “Cloud Storage.” You probably don’t know that “the cloud” is just a term techies made up to indicate that the exact location of the data isn’t necessarily known, but it’s out there. (Technically, it may not even all be in one place, but it looks like it is.) Quite a few places will give you a certain amount of “cloud storage” for free. A big novel, I’m talking a humongous work, something to make War and Peace look like a pamphlet, is still an amazingly small computer file. Many, if not all, of these free cloud storage services will automatically back up your stuff to the cloud, and, again, you can tell the service what to back up. If you subscribe to Office 365, you get a terabyte of storage included. A terabyte is enough to store most of the Library of Congress’s contents on. No kidding. You only get at the most something like 50 gigabytes (probably a lot less) for free, but it will still be more than you’ll ever need to keep your projects on. If you use Windows with OneDrive (that’s what they call their cloud storage) you just keep everything in a folder by that name on your local drive, and whatever is in there is automatically backed up when  you connect to the Internet. Since I do subscribe to Office 365, I don’t have much experience with other cloud backup schemes, but I’m told that they are similar. Use whatever service you like (Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) but use one of them and use it all the time!

Save Your Work All the Time!

Yes, I said All the Time! I use Word. (In the old days, I was a WordPerfect user, but once everything went GUI (look it up) I switched because it is simple and easy. And, Word works on Mac and PC, and is free on handheld devices, so what the heck, huh?) Word includes the ability, if you use OneDrive at least, to continuously backup your document (book, silly) as you type. By using Word and OneDrive (and I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish the same thing) I always have a backup copy of my project, no matter what happens. Worst case scenario is that I lose a few lines of text. Seriously, that’s the worst that could happen. Barring that, Word can be set up save the document you are in at intervals as short as one minute. Could you afford to lose a minute’s work? Probably. Keep your project on a cloud drive, save as often as you can, and boy, howdy, you can’t lose your precious files if you want to.

(Okay, you could delete them.)

There you go: back-up your work, either to an external hard drive or to the cloud, and save your work as often as possible. You can take a few minutes just once to set all of that up, then you’ll never have to think about it again. Until disaster strikes, when you’ll be congratulating yourself for being smart enough to have done that.

Good writing, fellow scribes!


I have approved 81 comments so far. Well, that’s the total. If I approve one from a commenter, future ones from the same source don’t need approval. Thing is, I get more than 81 comments in a week. Not sure what the scam is, but it’s got to be a scam. Any comments that anyone but myself sees, though, is approved and safe. But I am curious as to what scam is being attempted. If anyone knows, could you drop me a comment below with that info? I’d appreciate it!

Computer Advice (Free!)

It’s Rocky; It’s a Coast; It’s Maine!

Written in response to some specific incidents. If you write with a computer (any electronic device) you should read this.

You may be reading this on a smartphone. You may be reading this on some sort of tablet (there are lots of them these days.) You may even be reading it on a desktop computer, which is what I produce this site with. No matter which device you use, you are, in fact, using a computer (yes, even if it’s an Apple product.) I am inspired to write this post because of several instances later where I’ve either advised, or had to, do a hard reboot on a device. (Most recently this desktop on which I write.)

The desktop story is that I clicked on a mail that looked like it was from the USPS. Delivery problems, it said. Okay, that happens. But instead of an email I got a loud message about how someone has used my ip address without my knowledge to access a site with dangerous malware on it, and now my computer is “locked up” because of that. Now, first of all, nobody can ever know whether you or a hacker used your ip address without your knowledge. What are they, mind readers? Second, the technical term is not “locked up.” What happens is that your computer is locked, and you are “locked out.” And thirdly, they wouldn’t put a phone number in the warning page. There were updates pending, so what the heck, I ignored the warnings from the loud page and restarted. My computer updated, but the loud page didn’t go away. So I did a “hard reboot,” aka a “cold reboot,” and everything is fine. Fancy that. Now, if you’ve never been an IT person, you might not even know what a “cold reboot” is. I mean, you turn your device off and on all the time, I’m sure. But you still have times when the thing seems slow, messed up, won’t run your favorite app, won’t even make a call sometimes. I speak from experience. A hard, or cold reboot will cure all of these ailments in any computer.

What is a hard, cold reboot? If you have a desktop without a battery you can easily demonstrate one. Just reach around behind the big box wherein the mystery that is your computer resides. Pull out the power cord, carefully so as not to damage it, and then wait thirty seconds, and then plug the cord back in. Poof! A computer has billions of teeny circuits that, taken together, represent everything the computer can do. Each teeny circuit (I’m talking electron microscope teeny here) is either on or off. When the computer is first turned on, it sets each teeny circuit to “off.” That makes a clean working area for what follows, which will first be your operating system, then whatever apps you decide to run. Starting clean like that means that your programs will all run optimally, you know, as near to perfectly as possible. You should do it once in a while even if you don’t have trouble, as a way to prevent trouble from cropping up.

But what if you have a battery in your device. My desktop, for example, is in fact a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 plugged into a docking station. It acts just like a desktop; I’m using a large format monitor, plus a real keyboard (bliss) and a mouse. Easy-peasy to use, but tricky to cold reboot. For many tablets, the trick to hard (cold) reboot is to hold down the power button until the device turns on again. Huh? Well, it’s on when you start. Press the power button and ignore the screen messages. After a bit your device will turn off. If you keep holding the power button down, the device will turn on again shortly. If it doesn’t start back up in thirty seconds, let go of the power button, then press it again. In fact, if you accidentally let go of the power button after the device is off, that’s okay too. Just press the power button (for a few seconds, usually) until your device restarts.

I’ve had Motorola phones that cold rebooted just like that. My Samsung requires me to hold down both the power button and the volume down button at the same time. Something similar works with every tablet and smartphone with a battery. With phones, especially, it’s a good idea to do that cold reboot every couple of days. I do it before I go out driving for Lyft or Uber, as their driver apps are veritable resource hogs. (I mean that they use up a lot of memory, processing time, network bandwidth, and battery. It’s the memory that causes problems, so a cold reboot makes sure the app has all that it needs.)

There you go: my public service announcement for the quarter, uh, half, uh, year? Whatever. Cold boot your device every so often. You’ll be glad you did.

Miss Me?

Where I Attended High School

The picture was taken last year during my 50th High School Class Reunion. Time flies when you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, doesn’t it? I didn’t know it at the time, but I was receiving an education superior to the norm. But I still doubt that this teacher could map genes while I wait. I’m not that patient.

Anyway, this may be the first time you’ve been able to read one of my posts in a long time. A few people have, somehow, but I’m not sure how they got in here. It seems that somehow I deleted the index.php file in the root directory of this site. A rather dumb thing to do, as it simply results in a “forbidden” message when you try to connect. Even if you’re me, as it turns out. I’ve been having to log in before getting here. Took me months to figure that out. There are several web sites in the same root directory, so instead of the start page for a web site, index.php is a script that sends a request to the appropriate subdirectory. I actually wrote that script, and it even works, so there’s a rare thing for you right there.

Anyhow, feel free to go back through the posts to catch up. You can search “writing” if you want to see my Wednesday posts, or just scroll back through time like a stoner stuck in reverse. Your choice. Then, from this point on, you will be able to keep up with my posts by simply visiting this site once again (it’s the default landing point at Or, subscribe, if you wish. Who knows? You might like it!

What I’ve been up to

My latest harvest. Not quite two pounds of the best honey I’ve ever tasted

So, yeah, there’s keeping bees. Since I collected that sweet stuff, it’s gotten too hot to even open a hive to look in on my workers. They’re flying out and back again, laden with nectar and pollen, so I’m not worried. In about six weeks I’ll take another look. If I’m right, I’ll get about double that from  two of my three hives. (#3 is new this year, so they get a bye.) That’s one thing.

Another thing has been “supervising” the guys installing our new flooring, which looks mahvelous, by the way. There were two of them, and they worked long hours for four days in a row to level our awful floors and install some waterproof laminate that wood’s own mom wouldn’t know wasn’t wood. That killed last week.

The week before that, well, see my previous post. Not the one from OddGodfrey, you silly, mine.

Today I drove 200 miles to our place outside Ash Fork Arizona to collect rent from tenants living in our old place outside of Ash Fork Arizona, and to check on the damage from a recent awful storm. For the tenants, the score is storm 2, them zip, as it took out their mini fridge and water heater. So, I’m shopping for a new water heater for my tenants, if you have one extra lying about. For our own place, we have some serious erosion problems, and three of my security cameras now have bad power supplies. Swell. And, when I got there, I discovered that I’d left the water on to the swamp cooler, which drained our cistern, so I had no water. Double swell.

And, besides that, I’m in the middle of revising my YA, and drafting my new Middle Grader, which, yes, I have been doing daily since returning from Denver. Phew. No real point this week, just wanted to vent a bit. Thank you for reading it.

A Few Words About Portuguese

Reading It is the Easy Part
Reading It is the Easy Part

When I was about seven, I think, my sister came up one day and said “uno y uno son dos.” She was studying Spanish, and decided, rightly so I imagine, that teaching somebody else was a great way to learn. I’ve been able to stumble badly in Spanish for years. Lately I’ve even been able to have some rudimentary conversations about normal topics (no “Norte America es un continente” for me bro!) Looking at the Portuguese carved into the Cabo da Roca monument, you’d think that it was a lot like Spanish. Well, you’d be wrong.

They’re both Romance languages. And some words are the same as they are in Spanish. Some look the same but aren’t, and some aren’t even close. Take chicken, for instance. The cooked kind. It’s “carne do frago.” What the heck is a frago? In old Iberian Celtic, it’s a chicken. Try asking for “carne do frago,” heck call it “de frago” in Spanish and all you’ll get is a blank look. ‘Cause, yeah, what the heck is a frago?

Pronunciation is very different as well. Take the word “banana.” in Spanish it’s “una banana” or “un banano.” Yes, banano. Dunno why. And “banana” is all long ah sounds, too. In Portuguese, it is “uma banana.” Go ahead and say that, just like you think it would sound if you saw that phrase lying around. You said “banana” like it was English, didn’t you? You know you did. And, here’s the thing, you were correct! Since almost forever, Portugal and Britain (first England) have been allies through thick and thin. After all, their chief rivals back in the days of good old imperialistic expansion were Spain and France. Oooo, they hated those guys! And I think that a lot of English habits rubbed off on the Portuguese. (I know that tea, as enjoyed traditionally in England, came from Portugal, so why not things going the other way?) Not only bananas, but other habits of pronunciation occur in both English and Portuguese. For example, Portuguese has a lot of susurration in it (look it up) and they leave off the sound of many final syllables. Here’s an example of a word that illustrates several of my points. I refer to the word, “pronto.”

Hey, you know that word! It means quickly, right? Uh, sure, in Spanish, and all you have to do is make both of those ‘o’s sound long and you’ve got it. We use it in English, at least in America, where we pronounce it like it was English, sort of like “prahnto.” Get it? Two things about that word in Portuguese. It doesn’t mean “quickly,” and it’s pronounced like the American version, less the final syllable. You know our word font? Sure, so you can pronounce pront, which is how a Portuguese pronounces the word “pronto,” which means “ready.” “Tens pronto?” Means “are you ready?” Tens, the word for “you are” if “you” is a friend, is pronounced, oh, heck, how do you think? You got all this? Tens pronto? Good.

Portuguese isn’t a difficult language, despite what people say. The verbs follow mostly Spanish conventions and the nouns mostly follow the French way of syntax. It is it’s own language, and that’s all. It seems to me that Portugal gets short shrift when Americans think of Europe. It’s really a very nice country. The least foreign feeling foreign country I’ve ever visited, and I include Canada. That may be good or bad, but it’s the case either way.

Okay, then, I think it’s time to get back to our travelogue, don’t you?


Next Post in this Series

Previous Post in this Series

Goodbye to Bob Katt

This, from 2007:



Yo, Bob Katt here. I’m the latest addition to the household. Don’t be mistaken: I ain’t no Big Pussy. Nobody’s ever gonna dump me off of a boat and you can take that to the bank. If you want to see a bigger picture of my face, just click that little picture up top of the page. Be prepared to be awed by my visage. You been warned, human! [This no longer works.]

I’m not alone around here, unfortunately. There’s entirely too much competition for those food gathering oafs’ attention so far as I can see. Maybe I’ll do something about that some day. It ain’t like I gotta do anything alone: I got an enforcer name of Jabba the Hairball. Hey, you never heard of Paulie Walnuts? And you’re talkin’ like Jabba the Hairball can’t be much of name for an enforcer, aren’t you? Well, let me tell you, before I came along there was another cat here, still is here in fact, name of Elvira. She got hurt by some neighborhood stray and almost died. Jabba the Hairball it was which went after that stray and gave him a lesson he’ll never forget. Dead cats don’t forget nothin’, right? As soon as I can get one of these lazy humans around here off it’s fat butt I’ll get you a picture of my man Jabba. He’s got at least twenty-four toes, does Jabba. No kiddin’.

So anyway that dumb pink slob forgot and left his computer unlocked so I’m puttin’ up my own web page. I’m gonna slip this onto his blog too. That’ll teach him to be late with the food in the morning!



PS — I may post more stuff here and on his blog. Check back once in a while. Hey, you never know, right?

The purported author of that post died yesterday in the presence of his loving humans. He’d already lost a leg to cancer, causing me to call him “my favorite tripod.” Suddenly he couldn’t breathe without difficulty, so we took him to the vet. He had a huge tumor pressing on his lungs, and was looking forward to nothing but a short, miserable life. Damn but I hate this stuff! In any event, I, who he thought of as his mother, was scratching his ears and he was purring when the sedative was administered. Shortly after, he was relieved of all suffering. I’ll miss that cat, and that’s the truth!

Top o’ the Week to Ye


On the day this post is released, I’m on my way to Dublin. Thence on to Lisbon for five days, then back to Dubllin. Which is by way of saying that there will be no post at all next week. And maybe not much of one this week, but you be the judge.

We held a successful garage sale over the weekend. Made well over $300. $400 if the guy shows up to buy the pool table who said he’d do that. This is the beginning of phase one of unburdening ourselves of stuff, so that we might retire to a far away land (in Europe) in five to ten years. The nice thing about being a writer is that you can do that activity from virtually anywhere. (People have published books from prison.) Our trip to Portugal is primarily to investigate whether we’d like to move there when the time comes. In preparation, I have learned at least six or seven words of Portuguese. Know something odd? Portuguese has, apparently, interacted with English at some point in history. Want to say ‘banana’ in that language. The article is uma (’cause banana is feminine) but the word ‘banana’ is pronounced just like any hick American would pronounce it. As a student of language, I find this fascinating. Also, the most commonly used article meaning “of,” de, is pronounced dee or just d(schwa). Odd stuff, language, and those Lusitanians are apparently just crazy about theirs.

So, anyway, don’t look for a post next week, although if the opportunity arises I’ll post something. But do check my Facebook feed, if you follow it, because I’m sure I’ll find some pictures to put out there.

And, if you follow me, thank you and obrigado.

O prazer é meu!


The Bunker Hill Monument. The battle wasn't fought here, but the name sticks anyway.
The Bunker Hill Monument. The battle wasn’t fought here, but the name sticks anyway.

The picture above was taken in the Spring. That’s how it goes back where I grew up. Here in the desert, no so much, I think it hit ninety degrees yesterday. Hot stuff!

A short post just to say that I’m thinking of trying to write a picture book. My wife, of course, thinks that because I’m good with doggerel it would be easy. Actually, it’s just shy of being actual poetry. Sort of a novel in haiku if you will. But, it should be interesting. As a start, I’m going to read a mess of picture books to see what’s hot these days. Heck, if Pence’s pet rabbit can get a book (two if you count the parody from John Oliver) maybe there’s hope.

No other news. No advice. Enjoy your Spring!