Sunday, April 29, 2012

Less Than A Week To Go Now

Yes, my Book Signing for No Brother of Mine is now within a week of actually happening (next Sunday afternoon), and that's very exciting. But something that I've waited most of my life for is even closer to reality!

In just 5 days, The Avengers film debuts, and Vicki and I already have our tickets! We'll be watching it in 3D, with reserved seating, and I can hardly wait. If you'd told me when I was 10 years old that someday there'd be a big-budget Avengers movie that would feature Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk, and that it was getting very enthusiastic reviews from comic fans who got to see it early, I probably wouldn't have believed it. And yet here we are.

Pretty much counting down hours now...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Brother Of Mine Is In The House!

(Yes, it's true: I'm enjoying coming up with blog titles that play off the name of my new novel.)

The anxiously-awaited two boxes of books arrived today, and we now have 60+ copies of No Brother of Mine in the basement, just waiting for new homes. The plan is to hold a Book Signing Party here on the afternoon of Sunday, May 6th, for precisely that purpose. I sent out a mass e-mail this afternoon with details on the party, so if you didn't get one I likely don't have a valid e-mail address for you. Feel free to contact me, though, and we can correct that situation.

So now that we're just over a week away from the publication of No Brother of Mine, I'm starting to get excited at the prospect. Early drafts of it have only been read by a handful of people so far, but they've all been enthusiastic in their reactions to it. Julie had perhaps the most succinct assessment: "It's a really good book." Naturally, I'm inclined to agree with Cooper's mom in this case. And I hope that, once you've got your copy and have had a chance to read it, you'll do likewise!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Excellent Resolution To The Prisoner's Dilemma

I love the way this guy resolved his prisoner's dilemma at the end of the UK show, Golden Balls: watch and see if you can predict what he does (Vicki and I both did, independently)!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tammy Up Over

Our Down Under girl is now in Ontario for a few days, as part of a trip back to the northern hemisphere for a friend's wedding in Turks and Caicos next weekend. She promptly caught the flu after arriving in Toronto on Friday, and is only now feeling well enough to come this way for a short visit. It's always something with that girl when she travels!

She's due here in a couple of hours, having decided to drive herself after we offered to go get here. We haven't seen her in about 5 or 6 months, so it should be quite the reunion.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dark Matter: Fact Or Fiction?

This is crazy! Just when we were all starting to believe in dark matter, recent investigations are throwing doubts up as to its very existence. Wacky!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Agile 101 Session Is Behind Us

I did what must have been about my 6th or 7th Agile 101 session of 2012 today, and the last one I have scheduled (for now). It was definitely a challenging group this time, but most of them seemed to be fairly happy with the workshop by the end of the day, based on the feedback results:

Presentation portion: 8.6 out of 10
Hands-on activity: 8.9 out of 10
Overall effectiveness: 8.9 out of 10

Not quite up to the levels of the last session we did or possibly even the one before that (depending upon how you measure things), but still very good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Brother Of Mine Is In Hand!

After taking a week to print (usually a 1- or 2-day operation), my print draft copy of No Brother of Mine practically flew here, arriving about 24 hours after it finished printing! I've checked it over, made a few small changes, and placed the big order. I'm hoping there won't be further printing delays, but we'll see.

Current plan is to have a Book Launch event here at the house, with friend Susan helping out on the hosting end. Our tentative date right now is the afternoon of Sunday, May 6th; however, I'll firm that up soon and send an e-mail out to all interested parties, once we know for sure that the big order is on its way to us. I hope we can get a good turnout for the Book Launch, as that always makes it a special event.

We're nearly to the finish line on this project, which is exciting news, indeed!

Prometheus Viral Just Adds To My Already-High Anticipation

I love how we get stuff like this now, really whetting your appetite for an upcoming movie by providing background that isn't simply clips from the film that give away everything that's going to happen in it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tivo Vs SARA

We have a Tivo box in our house because I worked one day over the Christmas break, 7 or 8 years ago. We were doing something with Tivo at that time and they requested that we support them over that holiday period, and those of us who agreed to were given both the box and a lifetime subscription to the service. Vicki has loved it ever since I brought it home, not the least of which because of its knack for finding interesting things to record that she ends up enjoying.

Anyway, last night's episode of Mad Men wasn't watched by us "in real time" as it usually would be because Julie was over and the 3 of us were talking our way through the Freakonomics movie that we streamed on Netflix. I wasn't concerned, though, as I knew that SARA (our Rogers box) would record each showing of it. And it did: there were 3 copies of it waiting for us tonight when we sat down to watch it.

Unfortunately, it seems that the show before it on AMC, The Killing, ran long, forcing Mad Men to start (and end) late. Despite having 3 different recordings, we didn't have the final couple minutes of the episode. Quite frustrating!

But then we remembered that the Tivo box always records Mad Men upstairs, which is how we saw Season 4 after I got into it last year. So off Vicki went to check, and sure enough: there it was (once only), with adjusted start time so that it got the entire episode!

And there it was: the difference between a first class PVR box and... well, SARA. Now I know enough about the cable industry to realize that problems like this often boil down to the upstream data provider's accuracy and timeliness, rather than the software or hardware on the box. But somehow Tivo always seems to get it right, whereas Rogers just doesn't.

Problem Solved?

Less than an hour after my online chat with someone at Lulu and tweeting "@Luludotcom Surprised I had to start an online chat with Lulu support to find out printer problems are causing delays. #BetterWays2TellFolks", I got an e-mail telling me that my book had printed and was being shipped. Probably a coincidence, but it sure felt like all my complaining had had some effect!

Now I'm just waiting for the parcel to arrive so I can check out how the cover looks (along with the rest of it) and then prepare the big order.

Problems At Lulu

I had an online chat with someone in the support area of Lulu this morning, and they're saying that there's a problem with the printers that's causing delays. I figured something had to be up, as it's now been a week since I ordered the print draft copy of No Brother of Mine and it still hasn't printed.

This is particularly worrisome because it's never happened before, and my pessimistic mind immediately begins considering more dire possibilities within Lulu that "There's an issue with the printers causing delays" would be the natural cover story for. I hope it's nothing like that, but...

Anyway, until I get further word on this, the release schedule for my second novel is in a bit of a holding pattern. :-(

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tennessee Takes A Big Step Backward

Stories like this always make me stop and wonder, "Are we really in the 21st Century?" Because I swear sometimes it feels like the 19th...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back From Vacation Part 2

In Part 1, I covered the first four days of our trip to Orlando with niece Peggy and her kids, Natasha & Bruce.

After another quiet day following Universal Studios, we headed to Disney World. I'll admit right upfront that I'm not the biggest Disney fan on the planet, or probably even in the Top 1,000,000,000 of that category. My impression from previous journeys to the Florida theme park when Tammy was a kid was that it was crowded, overhyped and underwhelming. I'd say this year's experience didn't do much to change that opinion.

Of course, Disney World's really supposed to be for the kids, and the two we had with us seemed to enjoy it well enough. We went on Splash Mountain a couple of times (once with a 45-minute wait, and once with a FastPass that allowed us to bypass the line and get right on), Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Manor, a paddleboat ride, and Space Mountain. I do like how clean they manage to keep the place, but that's about all it had going for it as far as I was concerned. It was a scorching hot day when we were there, and yet we still managed to spend about 8 hours there, which I thought was impressive.

We followed that up with another pool-day, and then used our last full day in Orlando to visit a Dave & Baxter's arcade for Natasha's 17th birthday (one day early). All of us were blown away by the selection of games there, as they had just about every variety imaginable. Vicki and Peggy were even referring to it as "Las Vegas for kids", which seemed like an apt description. Several hours of fun there were followed by dinner out at a fancy Italian restaurant, and then it was home to pack up for the drive home.

Thanks to a couple of clever detours engineered by navigator Vicki, and the fact that we were driving on Saturday and Sunday of Easter Weekend, we had a much, much nicer time getting home. We probably spent at least three hours less driving time, and really the only downside over the two days was Bruce not feeling well and throwing up several times in the back seat. His mom was always quick with the sickness bag, but we still all felt extremely bad for the little guy.

Eventually, though, we were all home again! I'd driven just over 2,000 kms in the two days, so I was happy to let Vicki do the honours for the final short leg, from Peggy's house to ours.

The next day we retrieved Lucy from her "vacation home" at Julie's, shown here checking out one of her three housemates. Julie kept Lucy safely tucked away from Coops and Finley most of the time that we were gone, but would occasionally let them interact under her watchful eye. Julie actually got some quality Lucy-time over that period, which is more than she's ever gotten in all the dozens of visits she's paid to our home.

And that was our 2012 Orlando trip!

Monday, April 09, 2012

No Brother Of Mine Is At The Printer!

(I think that's technically true: I don't believe I have a brother at the printer right now.)

I ordered my print draft copy of No Brother of Mine from Lulu tonight, so I should have it to check over within a week or so. Once I'm sure it's good to go, I'll place the big order. Right now I've got around 30 pre-orders, so I'll likely print twice that number initially. I'll provide more details on when and how it'll be available once we get a little closer to having copies in hand.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Back From Vacation Part 1

Vicki and I are now back back from a 10-day vacation in Orlando with our wonderful niece Peggy and her two great kids, Natasha and Bruce. What follows is the first part of our travelogue, the rest of which I'll complete later in the week.

Here are Peggy and 16-year-old Natasha early on during the drive down there, little suspecting just how grueling the trip's going to turn out to be. We encountered the worst traffic I've ever seen on an Interstate, as we spent 3 hours late that first night traveling 20 miles on I-75 from Kentucky into Tennessee. Apparently there'd been a rock slide a week or two earlier, and that had caused them to shut down several lanes. It was an absolute nightmare, as it happened on a stretch with no exits, meaning that we were stuck and couldn't get to a motel with vacancies (since tens of thousands of fellow travelers were caught in the same mess) until around 2:00 a.m.! Not a great start to our vacation, unfortunately.

The next day was better, although we still hit several significant slowdowns. Then, to top that off, Bruce and I were chasing each other on the grass at a rest stop, and I stepped on what looked like a pile of red dirt. Immediately, I began to feel itching and stinging in my sandaled feet, and stopped to pull the footwear off. Apparently it had been a hill of fire ants I'd stumbled into, and I had about a dozen stings or bites to prove it! Vicki came to the rescue with some sort of ointment, and the pain went away pretty quickly. Eventually we got to Orlando, and were in our house-for-the-week by around 11:00. Yay!

We took our first full day in Florida to recover, and spent most of it in or near the backyard pool. Then it was time to head out for our first adventure: to Universal Studios! The place has changed completely since the last time Vicki, Tammy and I were there (probably back in the 90s). It's now two parks (U.S. and Islands of Adventure), and most of the attractions are new.

We started off with two that we knew, though: Terminator 2 (in 3D) and the Horror Make-up Show. Both were excellent, and much as we'd remembered them. Then we visited the Simpsons ride, an updated version of the old Earthquake setup (now called Masters of Mayhem: Disaster!), Men in Black, Twister, the Woody Woodpecker rollercoaster (as it was small enough Bruce could go on it) and the big Red Rocket coaster that only I was big enough and brave enough to go on.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

No Brother Of Mine Pre-order Reminder

If you haven't pre-ordered a copy of No Brother of Mine yet, but would like one, please let me know ASAP. I'm hoping to place the big order sometime next week, if all the stars line up. Tammy has 4 chapters to go, as far as editing is concerned, so we'll see how she makes out.