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Books Read – February 2023


  • Attention Management – Maura Nevel Thomas
  • Deadliest Enemy – Michael T Osterholm & Mark  Olshaker 
  • A Grief Observed – CS Lewis 


  • It Would Be Night in Caracas – Karina Sainz  Borgo
  • Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendra Blake

Long-Form Journalism

  • The History of Bourbon (audiobook) – Ken Abala (Great Courses) 

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Christmas in a Strange Place (Orig Pub 12/23/2011)

Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge – Christmas in a Strange Place

“She won’t mind if you wake her.” Bodecia leaned against the bulkhead. Foxin tilted his head to the left and returned her study. One hand splayed across the glass of the cryo-unit.

“Why would I bother her when she programmed the damned thing herself?” His hand stroked the glass. “You’re here after all. It’s not like I’m alone.”

The former general huffed out a laugh. “Foxin, I’m not human. I can pretend, but I don’t feel the way a human does. If you need her for your ceremony tonight, wake her up. She’s a Romantic. She’ll understand.” He needed someone to share the night with, someone who would feel something about it or offer her own traditions. Bodecia had none of that. Sentimentality was not something her initial programming included.

“That’s part of the problem.” He sighed. He crossed the room to stand in front of her and meet her eyes. They were of a height, though his gymnast’s build was slightly larger than hers. He gestured toward the cryo-unit where Captain Starr rested. “She’ll think it means something. Even if she is still officially mourning.” His hand strayed to the widower’s mark on his temple. It was a small rectangle, about an inch long and half an inch wide. “I have doubts that I count as much more human than you are anyway.”

If she weren’t an AI, she might have winced at the bleakness of his tone. Foxin was human, though he had experimental accelerated healing. She’d never seen anything to match it, but not even Captain Starr had managed to get the entire story from him. The tone of voice decided her. She would stay with him to be sure he didn’t give into the frustrations of being the lone human awake on the ship. The ship would alert her to any obstacles. She followed him to the corner of the cargo hold he’d claimed for his own. His bedroll lay in the deepest part of the corner. A small display of shiny objects from the ports they’d visited for refueling decorated a dark green cargo box. They glittered in the diffused blue light.

Foxin pushed his dark brown bangs behind his ears. A small gold ring pierced one lobe. The Bi’Ho thief she’d worked with during the War had kept one too. “What does the ring mean?”

“Oh, my coming of age and contributing to the creche. Nothing much.” He shrugged.

She filed the information away for when Starr asked her about it. “What are you doing?”

He smiled, but didn’t answer. His hands moved quickly to assemble a small metal table. The light of the cargo hold seemed to be swallowed by the black finish. A large pot of what smelled like cinnamon tea was warming on a heat-pad. “Will you join me, General?” He made a sweeping motion to the other side of the small table.

“Of course.” She settled on the floor, mirroring his position. “So long as you explain.”

Foxin inclined his head. “Our Lady of Chaos rules our lives, but she does not exist alone. On this night we celebrate the birth of her consort, Order.” He placed a small clay dish of clear liquid on the table. The smell was sharp. A showman’s flick of his wrist made a flame appear between his fingers. The liquid ignited with a soft whump.

“On Earth Prime, we are told, this day coincides with the returning of the light and the lengthening of the days. The rebirth of the sun. No matter how far we travel between the stars, we must always remember to welcome the return of the light.” He carefully poured two half-cups of tea. No, she realized, it was something sweeter, headier. He offered her one of the delicate jade tea cups with a small bow. She gave him a commander’s nod as she accepted.

Holding his own cup he met her black and green eyes evenly. Very few people managed to do that. “With mulberry wine we celebrate the birth of light and the start of a new year. What is your wish for the coming year?” His voice held the cadence of ritual.

She considered. “May we successfully reach Earth Prime with our cargo and ship intact.”

“A noble wish.”

“And what do you wish for, Foxin?”

He studied his wine. “May the Lady see fit to guide my enemy into my hands and free me from my quest.”

Bodecia inclined her head. She copied Foxin as he put one palm under the cup and tipped the entire contents into his mouth. He set the cup on the table next to the fire. “Okay. Now let me get some real mugs and we’ll sit by the fire and you can tell me stories of battles I should be too young to remember.”

“And you will tell me stories of heists gone right and I will tuck you in when the wine finally hits.”


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Books to Read January 2022

The Accidental Guerrilla – David Kilcullen

The Anatomy of Courage – Lord Moran

Echoes of Gallipoli – Terry Kinloch

Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher & William Ury

An Intimate History of Killing – Joanna Bourke

The Rommel Papers – Ed. by BH Liddle Hart

The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver

Think! – Edward de Bono

Weapons of Myth Destruction – Cathy O’Neil 

The Death of Jane Lawrence – Caitlyn Starling

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Filling the Kettle

There is an electric kettle in the office breakroom. I don’t use it every day. (Luckily, I can still work from home once in a while.) But I always make sure it’s got at least a liter of water in it. (Yes, I’m American. Yes, I know what a liter is. Deal.)

There’s a reason. I want the other people in the office to do the same, so I model the behavior. 

I want other people in the office to leave water in the kettle so that I don’t have to fill it on the days when I’m feeling dragged out and just want my tea to start steeping. 

I also know that if I get my tea steeping, I will have time to fill the kettle to the 1 L mark and put it back on the base well before the tea is ready to drink. But I will have accomplished the step of “making the tea” that required there to be water in the kettle. 

Let’s follow this into the realm of creativity. My kettle has been dry for a few months now. Writing has been hard and keeping up with a blog was not going to happen. 


Because I took a job that required all of my emotion, worry, and care to maintain. I was in that job for three months and it was already stressing me out, using up my mental health resources. I realized that I was heading head-first into burnout. 

Because I hadn’t been hired to do actual counseling, and suicide interventions, and triage. I’d been hired to check in on people once a month and make sure that they were taking their meds and making progress on their goals. 

But that isn’t what I ended up doing. I ended up being a life-line for people who needed real therapy, but couldn’t afford the plans with the real therapists. I didn’t mind the conversations with the CEOs and creatives who needed someone to help with hacks. I didn’t mind the stoner who needed to talk about limits and making a new start with her relationships. But the woman who wanted to die and needed me to make a safety plan with her? That was not what I wanted. 

Keep in mind. I have a MA in Psychology. I am a trained, but not licensed counselor. I have the skills to do the job and I’m ACE at it. 

It just kills me. 

It drained my kettle to the point where I was barely able to scrape up enough creative energy to start a craft kit that came with everything I needed. (We don’t talk about WiPs or UFOs.) 

It’s taken a few months away from that job and the application of just, doing nothing productive, and reading a damned book once in a while to start to refill that jug. 

Just the other night I got a new story idea. That hasn’t happened in ages. I’ve been picking and prodding at old projects in hope, but a new story idea. That’s hope. Even if it never goes anywhere.

My kettle is filling up again. And maybe it will actually hit the minimum fill line and I’ll be able to get back to work at the things I love. 

Pour the water.

Fill the kettle.

Drink the tea. 

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Why I Wear a Poppy

Poppy field with sunset from

We are more than a century away from the War to End All Wars. And yet, we have continued to fight.

That means that we have veterans all around us. My grandfather was in WWII. My father was in Vietnam. My coworkers were in Afghanistan and Iraq. And others fought the Cold War.

I wear the poppy to support them. To remember them. And to remember that there are those still fighting.

I also wear the poppy to remember those who are fighting the secondary battles of PTSD, depression, or physical therapy. These are our veterans and they deserve our support.

And everything should read this once a year: In Flanders Field

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Books Read May 2021


  • Red Queen – Christina Henry
  • Day Shift – Charlaine Harris


  • It’s All Absolutely Fine – Ruby Elliot

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No update today. Allergies are trying to kill me. But look, I kept the streak going.

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Books to Read December 2020

Chokehold – David Moody

Genius Squad – Catherine Jinks

Little Creeping Things – Chelsea Ichaso

Riot Baby – Tochi Onyebuchi

Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past – Sarah H. Parcak

Profit First – Mike Michalowicz

Playing to Win – AG Lafley & Roger L Martin

Measure What Matters – John Doerr

How Brands Grow – Byron Sharp

Middlegame – Seanan McGuire

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Writing from Prompts #5 Creep (Orig Pub 3/30/2014)

Ellen slipped down the holly festooned stairs. The wooden treads had only one creak which she deftly avoided. Her nightgown brushed along the edge of the holly, catching occasionally on a leaf. The lights were out, except for one candle in the window to guide the Mary and Joseph to a safe place.

She crept through the front room back toward the cozier family room. There, in the corner of the room was her target, the stocking with the little puppy on the front of it. It was smaller than the others by just about one inch, which really wasn’t fair. The cookies and milk they’d left out for santa were eaten, and there was a chocolate santa left on the plate.

She smiled at the sight. That was for Petey. She was too old for that sort of thing now. She was almost eleven after all. Petey was just five. The tree wasn’t lit because Mommy was afraid of fires, but the ornaments glittered in the moonlight. The draft from the fireplace made the ornaments twist and send sparkles across the room. She smiled as one of the lights bounced off of the spangles on her stocking.

Sticking out of the top of it was a rolled up puzzle book. A doll peeked out from the edge. Ellen longed to run over to it, but she had one mission tonight.

She stepped in front of the fireplace and up onto the hearth. She looked at the blue stocking with the puppy. Her mother’s stocking was always almost empty. That just wasn’t right. She looked down at the bottle in her hand. She’d saved up her allowance for over three months for it. She tucked the perfume into Mommy’s stocking, then stepped down carefully.

She was about to creep up the stairs when she noticed the man by the tree. His beard was white and his suit was red. He smiled at her and winked. Then, he crossed the room and stepped up onto the hearth. He nodded at her once, then he turned in place and was gone in an instant.

She gaped at the empty hearth. Then, a slow smile crossed her face. She slipped up the stairs and back into bed. Santa was proud of her.


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eBay sales: 1 plush, 1 action figure, 1 wig, 1 book, cookie cutters

#MilWordy Update: 96,263 words (3205 words/day to complete)

#NaNoWriMo Update: 12,236 words (4721 words/day to complete)

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