Monday, February 26, 2007

Bird Follies

At the golf course yesterday, some of the birds decided to put on a little show for us.

First we had a snowy egret dancing the Hokey Pokey:

"You put your left foot in..."

"You take your left foot out..."

"You put your left foot in,

And you shake it all about."

"You do the Hokey Pokey, and you turn yourself about..."

"That's what it's all about!"

"Check out this moon-walk!
I can really strut my stuff with these yellow dancing shoes on!"

"Hmph," said the red-tailed hawk. "I'm not impressed with that.
Hey, cardinal! Let's see your Kim jong-Il impersonation. You know... This guy"

Cardinal replied, "Okay. How's this?"

"If you don't pay me billions, I'll keep firing missiles!"

The hawk said, "Not bad, Card. You're a real card! (Heh, heh.)
Now show us Don King."


"Hey! You with the camera! What are YOU lookin' at! Huh?

Get lost, Bozo"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Buzzard on the moon

Carol's camera at work at our golf course today. . .

Pretty slick, huh?

(I started to call this post "Buzzard Moon," but for obvious reasons decided not to.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

We have a NEW RECORD!

Some quick background:

I began querying for a new agent for my novel in January, 2006. (My orginal agent and I parted ways on excellent terms the previous fall. I still email him occasionally.)

I sent letters and emails to agencies, depending on their preferences as indicated on their web sites or in various trade listings. One agent holds the record for the fastest response. I emailed him one evening and had a reply in about 15 minutes. I thanked him for his speed, commenting that he was working late (it was after 10 pm in New York). He replied again, saying this was his normal routine.

Too bad he didn't want to sign up my project! I like his work ethic.

On the other end of the spectrum, I still have about 8-10 queries out there for which I've received no response at all. I'm not including emails, because often the agency will tell you that "no response = no interest." No, I'm talking about letters sent via snail mail. WITH a stamped, self-addressed envelope for a reply.

Miss Snark says that almost all agencies, no matter how bad they think your writing is, or how busy they are, will eventually return those SASEs with some kind of response. Before today, the last one I received was back in September, five months after I'd mailed my query. That length of delay tickled me enough that I sent them a quick email thanking them for replying and telling them that I laughed when I saw the envelope in the mail.

Well, today another reply came in. This one from an agency I'd queried on March 23, 2006. It took them 11 full months to send me my own stamped envelope back!

That's the new record (for me). But I've heard of even longer delays in responding.

One more tidbit about this response (and notice I'm carefully NOT identifying the agent!) . . .
The returned SASE was empty.

BUT, handwritten on the back was, "Thanks, but not for us. (Name of agency). 02/20/07"

Hey, I consider myself fortunate. I got an actual handwritten reply. Usually it's just an unsigned, undated form letter or little card stuck in the envelope.

And they even sealed the envelope. Wow!

Friday, February 23, 2007


(These were emailed to me by an old Navy flying buddy of mine. Some I had heard before, some not. Hey, this was easier than coming up with my own topic to post about!)

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.

An old pilot is one who can remember when flying was dangerous and sex was safe.

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.

If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage/classic helicopter fly-ins.

Death is just nature's way of telling you to watch your airspeed.

Real planes use only a single stick to fly. This is why bulldozers & helicopters -- in that order -- need two.

There are only three things the copilot should ever say:
1. Nice landing, Sir.
2. I'll buy the first round.
3. I'll take the ugly one.

As a pilot, only two bad things can happen to you:
a. One day you will walk out to the aircraft knowing that it is your last flight.
b. One day you will walk out to the aircraft not knowing that it is your last flight.

There are Rules and there are Laws. The Rules are made by men who think that they know better how to fly your airplane than you. Laws (of Physics) were made by the Great One. You can, and sometimes should, suspend the Rules, but you can never suspend the Laws.

About Rules:

a. The rules are a good place to hide if you don't have a better idea and the talent to execute it.

b. If you deviate from a rule, it must be a flawless performance. (e.g., if you fly under a bridge, don't hit the bridge.)

The ideal pilot is the perfect blend of discipline and aggressiveness.

The medical profession is the natural enemy of the aviation profession.

Ever notice that the only experts who decree that the age of the pilot is over are people who have never flown anything? Also, in spite of the intensity of their feelings that the pilot's day is over, I know of no expert who has volunteered to be a passenger in a non-piloted aircraft.

Before each flight, make sure that your bladder is empty and your fuel tanks are full.

He who demands everything that his aircraft can give him is a pilot; he who demands one iota more is a fool.

There are certain aircraft sounds that can only be heard at night.

The aircraft limits are only there in case there is another flight by that particular aircraft. If subsequent flights do not appear likely, there are no limits.

Flying is a great way of life for men who want to feel like boys, but not for those who still are.

Flying is a hard way to earn an easy living.

Forget all that stuff about lift, gravity, thrust and drag. An airplane flies because of money. If God had meant man to fly, He'd have given him more money.

If black boxes survive air crashes -- why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?

If the Wright brothers were alive today, Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs. --- President, DELTA Airlines

In the Alaska bush, I'd rather have a two-hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.

It's not that all airplane pilots are good-looking. Just that good-looking people seem more capable of flying airplanes. Or so seasoned observers contend. A matter of self-confidence? No doubt, no doubt.

I've flown in both pilot seats, can someone tell me why the other one is always occupied by an idiot?

Son, you're going to have to make up your mind about growing up and becoming a pilot. You can't do both.

There are only two types of aircraft -- fighters and targets.

You define a good flight by negatives: you didn't get hijacked, you didn't crash, you didn't throw up, you weren't late, you weren't nauseated by the food. So you're grateful .

You know they invented wheelbarrows to teach FAA inspectors to walk on their hind legs.

New FAA Motto: We're not happy 'till you're not happy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


In my post of two days ago I mantioned Al Gore in a mocking tone.

You remember him, don't you? He's the former veep who actually won the presidential election, but due to hanging chads in Florida and our current president's brother being governor there at the time, he was dened his rightful place in history.

(I still don't understand why they were hanging those guys named Chad. The must have committed some heinous crime, huh?)

You know, the guy who invented the internet?

Yeah, him. Well, his invention would not allow me to post yesterday, since evidently I angered him/it. And right now I'm not holding out too much hope for tomorrow's post either, since I'm mocking again tonight. We'll see.

Between Al and the "C" (and no, I don't mean either one of the "C"lintons!), I may be in real trouble.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I think spring has indeed sprung in my part of the world.


Well, blogging about the weather is boring and inane, so it has nothing to do with the weather. Besides, most everybody thinks the daytime temps are getting warmer only because of global warming, right? I mean, that's all you read about in the paper or hear about on the news. Gotta be global warming. Yeah. Right.

And no, despite the appearance of robins on the golf course, I do not take that as a sign of spring's approach. As Karyn pointed out last time I mentioned this, those robins COULD still be on their way south.

And no, the lengthing time between sunrise and sunset has nothing to do with it. I mean, THAT's probably caused by the hole in the ozone layer, or Al Gore, or something.

(Sorry. I usually refuse to get political in my blog because I'm guaranteed to offend somebody. But then, I usually manage to offend some anyway, so...)

No. None of those. The clue about spring springing was found just across the street from me, in the yard of my neighbor. When I came home from work today he was out there with his garden tiller working the soil!

In fact, he had just completed tilling his entire vegetable garden and was putting the tiller away. Tomorrow I imagine he'll start his early planting.

Guess I'll have to fire up the lawn mower and start cutting down the spring growth of weeds in the back yard.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Birds on our golf course yesterday

Yes, carol was busy between shots and STILL managed to shoot an 84.

I was NOT busy between shots and managed to shoot quite a bit higher than 84.

Clearly I need a hobby to occupy my mind between golf shots. Or something. A new swing, and a modicum of talent might help.

The robin below was watching my first shot from the tee as it sailed right and out of bounds...

Then it watched my SECOND tee shot heading out-of-bounds to the left.

Then this same robin expressed its opinion of my golf skill (below) by mooning me!

Obnoxious bird! But instead of FLIPPING it a bird of my own (as I was SO tempted to do), I merely invoked a curse upon it, saying, "May the bluebird of happiness drop a bomb on you as it flies over!"

Then, to my surprise, the said bluebird appeared.

It eyed me. Then it eyed the robin.

Just when I thought it might obey my curse, it turned around and mooned me! I was REALLY beginning to feel like Rodney Dangerfield!

The snowy egret (below) was trying to catch a fish for dinner when my NEXT errant shot landed beside it in the water hazard. It quickly departed for Carol's side of the fairway, feeling much safer there.

A kingbird stopped briefly to watch the action, but soon departed when my next shot bounced off the trunk of the tree it was sitting in.

Determined to get at least ONE birdie, I went for the green in two on a par five, skulled the ball along the ground, and JUST ABOUT got my birdie (killing a robin on the ground). The robin ducked, formed an evil expression on its face, flew up to me, landed on my golf bag, cocked its head, looked me right in the eye and said...

No, this is a family blog. I won't tell you what it said. But this is what it LOOKED like.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Back in the routine

I think we've had our four weeks of winter here in South Texas. We're heading into spring.

Yesterday, by way of example, was a terrific day for golf. Temps in the mid 60s, bright sunshine, and the fairways were fast and dry. Some hardier souls were playing in shorts and tee shirts. I might have joined them except for the 20+mph wind.

Robins were everywhere. And no, Karyn, I don't think those red-breasted guys were headed south into Mexico. I think they were migrating back northward to herald spring to all you folks farther "up" the map.

So, my point is (there's a point here?) that Kirsten, when she recovers from her vacation trip to London (England, not Ontario) and the continent, might want to consider a golf vacation -- WITH dad, of course -- to someplace farther "down" the map. Before that nice, fluid, balanced golf swing atrophies and she has to start all over again when the robins finally make it up to Rochester.

When is that, normally? About mid-July?

Finally, I had quite a few comments (and an email or two) about my horrible pun in the previous post (a moray). I apologize to those of you who experienced nausea and/or pain, including, I might add, my wife Carol. I bow to those of you who laughed or applauded.

To the rest I say, "What's the matter? Didn't GET it?" (Ha!)

Friday, February 16, 2007

That's amore?

I've seen a lot of Valentines Day posts this week by the folks on my blogroll. And others.

In fact, this evening I went to m. e ellis' blog to catch up on her recent nuttiness and found some ditties that made me snicker a bit.

For example:

"Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty and so is your head."

What? You didn't think that was funny? Ah well, to each his own, they say.

But then Badabing's Badaboom made a comment about the pictures I posted here a few days ago of the big elk. He said that one of them was mooning me. (True. Look for yourself)

That (mention of the moon) put me in mind of another famous love song whose title I used for this post:

"When the moon hits your eye,
Like a big pizza pie,
That's amore."

To which I always add my own creation of a second verse:

"When you swim in the sea,
And an eel bites your knee,
That's a Moray!"

What? You don't think that's funny either?

Well, you must be in a bad mood, then. Come back when you're feeling better.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good point, Christina . . .

(With reference to her comment in yesterday's post.)

As my regular readers now know, each year on our annual family ski trip we have a tradition of driving back into Denver on Friday after a week of skiing, checking in to a motel, cleaning up, and then having supper at one particular Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant.

We know one of the waitresses there, and make sure to sit at her table every time we visit. Her name is Katie. She has become, over the last 5 years or so, a good friend of the family. She treats us like royalty, and the restuarant manager comes to greet us personally and thank us for our regular patronage. Regular as clockwork -- once a year! (Part of the reason is probably the fact that we eat and drink like pigs, run up a big bill, and leave Katie a HUGE tip. Believe me, it's worth it!)

Last year Katie and my daughter Amy conspired to set up a surprise birthday party for me, complete with balloons and decorations, and Katie even bought me a gift!

No, I'm NOT going to re-tell that story now or re-show you the pictures. Go back in my archives to early February, 2006, and you'll find it all!

Anyway, last Friday we all trooped in, were led to our reserved table, and (as usual) were gawked at by many of the patrons.


Well, we were all wearing our matching Earle family ski sweaters, of course! It's part of the tradition. Plus we were all greeting and hugging Katie.

(How often do you see seven people wearing matching clothes walk into a restaurant, hug the waitress, and then sit at their reserved table? Huh? How often? NEVER, right? Right.)

Two ladies at a table beside ours watched all this going on and, apparently having had enough wine to lose her inhibitions, one caught Carol's arm and asked, "Why are you all wearing similar sweaters?"

Well, it's a legitmate question. I'm sure the other nearby patrons all WANTED to ask, but only this one lady had the nerve to do so.

Carol very sweetly explained that we were all part of a family, and we went skiing in Colorado one week out of each year, and then came to this restaurant for our last supper together before going our separate ways. When asked, she told them that we gathered there from Texas, Chicago, and Tampa, pointing as she explained to the members who hailed from each of those spots.

The incredulous lady then asked, "Where did you find these sweaters?"

We (not Carol, in all modesty) told her, pointing at Carol, "SHE made each of them . . . by HAND!"

The ladies looked at each other, mouths gaping, and the one who had been nervy enough to ask said (oudly enough to be heard across the room), "I want to be a member of that family!"

Stand in line, lady. Stand in line.

(Scroll down just a bit to see the sweaters.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random ski trip shots

First, for all of you who remember one of our traditions, here is the requisite shot of most of our family/party in our lovingly hand-made-by-Carol, matching ski sweaters. (Feeling jealous, Tina?) The only ones missing are my grandson Trevor (sick) and his dad who was babysitting.

That sexy, good-looking (modest) guy in the middle is me. Well, okay, from left to right you see Son-in-law Tom, daughter (Tom's wife) Amy, Carol, (ahem) me, daughter Christina, unofficially adopted daughter Misty, and Misty's husband Lou (with the beard).

Here is grandson Trevor all decked out in his new snow suit riding on the sled we bought for him. This was BEFORE he came down with the stomach virus. He's from Tampa, and isn't quite sure about this white stuff all around him.

In this shot, we have Amy, Christina and Tom riding up the mountain in a chair lift right ahead of me and Carol. This was BEFORE Tom fell and cracked a rib! (He's still smiling here.)

Here we have the view from the very top of the mountain, looking north down into the valley in which lie the towns of Fraser and Granby, Colorado. Note all the bare rock and dirt up here where the wind blows the snow off the mountaintop.

And finally, here is the same view zoomed in a bit. From this point you can ski non-stop all the way to the base, covering over 7 miles of trails and a total vertical descent of 3060 feet.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Driving vs. Flying

People at work are frequently amazed that Carol and I drive to Winter Park each year for our ski trip rather than flying.

I actually enjoy the drive.

We borrow audio books from the library (formerly “Books On Tape,” but now they’re on CDs) to listen to and help pass the time. I find I can keep up with the plot and characters, notice the author’s techniques of dialogue, description, point of view changes and scene shifts, and evaluate the effectiveness of those techniques. All while watching the scenery and keeping an eye out for wildlife or wild traffic.

We were both delighted with two of the books, both by authors I’d never heard of.

The first was “Gone for Good” by Harlan Coben. Sparkling dialogue, excellent descriptions, good action and suspense, amazing twists of plot (a few I saw coming, most I didn’t). I highly recommend this book. It ought to be a page-turner, and is written with much more skill than I possess.

The second book was just as good, but in a very different way. Titled “The Blue Last” by Martha Grimes (British) this murder mystery was set in modern London and its environs. Replete with typical desert-dry British humor, the plot tied a very recent murder to events during the Blitz of World War II. Some characters and events that seemed significant turned out not to be, or significant in a different way than you’d guess. But unlike some stories, the fact didn’t irritate the reader. Ms. Grimes is another very skilled writer, and worth a read if you enjoy mysteries.

And, while listening to these excellent tales, I saw herds of antelope in New Mexico, two huge bull elk in Colorado, and managed to avoid sliding on ice patches that claimed other hapless drivers whose cars were embedded in snow banks on the side of I-25.

What? You want pictures of the elk?

Okay. Here's one . . .

Here's one...

And here they are together...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jig

Yes, we're back home.

It was a wonderful trip, overall, despite one broken rib (not me -- one of my sons-in-law), a stomach virus (not me -- my grandson and his parent; see Christina's blog for the story when she gets around to posting it), and various bruises (not me -- other party members).

I will admit to suffering some aches and sore muscles, but that's about it. All five days of skiing were warm (high in the low 30s) but there was plenty of packed powder base to ski on, and we did get about 2 inches of new powder on Thursday.

I have much to tell, but not today. Why? Because it's late, and we drove for two days to get home and then unpacked the car and just started the process of getting things all put away and going through the mail, and so on. Not to mention finding time to read up on all of YOUR posts for the past week!

So, suffice to say the trip, though not without a down-side, was deemed an overall success by just about everyone.

Oh, and Kenju? I DID order the lobster ravioli at Macaroni Grill as you suggested. Divine!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Great skiing!

Yes, Steve (and others), we arrived on schedule and are having a great time!

There aren't enough minutes in the day to find time to update this blog adequately while we're here, so you're getting an inadequate update.

Many more details will be provided next week. . .

. . . AFTER I get caught up with all the stuff that's building up at home and at work while I've been gone.

Part of my problem is lack of internet access in our quarters, so to get online I have to go elsewhere. A pain.

Oh, and I'm tremendously gratified by all the votes and comments on my first chapter in the contest. Please read the posts below if you don't know about it. Most of you (I think -- I don't have access to know WHO has voted, or what their vote was!) have already been there. Thank you again!

Gotta go. Tomorrow is our last day to ski, but then it's off to Denver and our traditional "last dinner" together at Macaroni Grill.

Hope you are all well. I'll check in and get caught up with your blogs next week.

Friday, February 02, 2007

But NOT on a jet plane

All our bags are packed, we're ready to go.
The van is loaded outside our door.
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye...

We're leavin'...

Colorado beckons, the slopes have over 100 inches of base with packed powder on top, and we're on out way in the morning.

I'll check back and update you when I can.


(Thanks again, from the heart, for looking at, voting and/or commenting on my first chapter.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You're the greatest!

Those of you who saw yesterday's post, followed the link, read my first chapter, commented and voted, at least.

The rest of you are okay.

I guess.

Kidding aside, thank you for the wonderful response. My goal was not to win the contest (unrealistic), but just to have as many folks as possible see what I've written and indicate whether or not they'd like to read more.

If you haven't yet voted, please go back and give me a 10!

Yes, that's an unabashed attempt to get high points. But think about it, this isn't really a contest about how good the writing is; it's about points. I'd just like to get enough points to have a second chapter go up. You see, initially this isn't a "writing" contest, it's a popularity contest! Heck, the email from TELLS the writer to notify all your friends and family and have them go, read, and vote.

It's supposed to be "American Idol." The audience doesn't necessarily vote for the best singer, but for somebody they like, feel empathy for, and so on.

I'm amused by many of the comments, which are attempts to critique the writing but seem to be from folks who don't understand. Not just my story, but other first chapters as well. The "judging" is a bit unrealistic, unless the title gives you a clue, because you don't know the genre, you haven't read the liner notes, and you have no idea if you should expect a sweet love story or an action-packed Sci-fi fantasy paranormal vampire book.

Only after the top 10 or 20 vote-getters are selected and the first three chapters are posted will this become a contest of how well-written the novels are. Then the votes should be based on style, and craft, and polish, and hook, and characterization, and voice, and conflict, and all those things.

So, this is a fun exercise. And your willingness to participate is heart-warming.

Thank you!

My blog-readers truly are the BEST!