In the ink well

Dog Ear

May 12, 2016

An unholy experiment (DOG EAR)

he screw was a half inch long, wickedly sharp and corkscrew-twisted. Tossed without thought into a truck bed, it had rattled out as the wheels bounced across the uneven railroad crossing. And there it had lain, piercingly sharp, until I’d wheeled along on the bike on my way to work. Somehow the passage of the front tire set it to dancing, it binged butt-first against the concrete just in time for the trailing tire to strike it dead on. Bang! A reverberating shock shuddered my frame as I rode over it again and again, the tip of the screw hitting […]
May 5, 2016

Understated (DOG EAR)

eople say that when anything happens to me, everyone knows about it. My kidney stone got more word-of-mouth (mostly my mouth) coverage than had it been a meteor burning its way towards a doomed Earth (and knowing my luck, it would be cloudy that last night so my telescope would be useless). But I digress. The point is that I’m a storyteller. Incidents are epics. Events are miniseries. Granted, I’m not like some (using a cartoony voice when straw-manning some person who has annoyed me in a later recount). I keep my stories honest. I just don’t keep them short. […]
April 28, 2016

Blogs (DOG EAR)

y buddy Steve is an interesting guy. Retired and funny, he descended like an angel into our train club with his electronics knowledge at exactly the right moment in our sectional layout effort. Instead of some kludgy half-thought-out-effort (since we didn’t have any sort of plan, I think that description qualifies), he came up with a bulletproof system that is one of the selling points of our sectional layout. Every show, one of us ends up sweeping back the skirts to show off what’s below track level (to model railroaders, that’s just as important as what’s on top). As the […]
April 21, 2016

Floatation Devices (DOG EAR)

o I gotta wonder where this phrase came from. “Floatation Device” Think about it. Someone was tasked with writing copy. He might have been a tech writer or just an engineer. Whatever. Planes were probably mandated at some point to carry these things (like anyone could survive a 300mph water landing and then bob in the water and not go hypothermic before help arrived (Ah, the Hudson landing, you might say. From pictures, it looks like everyone just stood on the wings with their shoes filled with water). I don’t know if they ever actually got used. But this guy […]
April 14, 2016

Spring Cleaning! (DOG EAR)

n The Name of the Wind, the magical university library sprawls across dusty space and time, it’s indexing part of a constant war between librarian factions. Some systems would be by title, some by subject, some by magical context. Bureaucratic wars are fought – indexes are burned, and the library, it ends up as a massively confusing collection of books. I was facing a similar problem with my own Library of Alexander. When I started doing reviews five or so years back, I was just blogging about things I was reading. I’d let my website sort them out, just popping […]
April 7, 2016

A verbal plea (DOG EAR)

kay, so not so much writing as communicating and identifying a new (or somewhat old) trend. I recently watched an impassioned message by comedian Sarah Silverman on Facebook. She’s making the pitch for Bernie Sanders. Yeah, I like her and I like Bernie – I voted for one of them recently, not sure which. This issue here is not political, though. It’s toastmastersical. I noticed, as I watched the video through, that the stream breaks and breaks and breaks, as if they shot it a number of times and pieced something together. To me (with my boomer viewpoint) this appears […]
March 31, 2016

The Adventure Begins (DOG EAR)

otta make this vague – too much real-world tie in here. But there is a point to be made. Sometimes things happen, especially between the individual and the group. Wars begin over a slight between princes. Men are called into the dusty street to slap leather over a quip. The course of lives change over the smallest of things. Without being specific, such a thing recently happened between myself and a group and I didn’t see it coming, I hated it when it happened, burned in shame the entire evening, and lay in bed the entire night thinking of what […]
March 24, 2016

Johnny Pulpseed (DOG EAR)

edia comes at us pretty fast these days. Where people in the “old days” (such as the 40s) might have a newspaper, the radio, and billboards, now we have full internet streaming, pop ups, on-demand movies and TV, all through our phones (well, your phones. I don’t do that). It’s understandable that we can get behind. I was that way with my Model Railroader magazines. I had about 6-8 of them sitting beside my bed still in their wrappers. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read them. No, I did. But I just didn’t have time. Between the stars, […]
March 17, 2016

Wet Shoes (DOG EAR)

verybody thinks that writing is about sitting behind a huge desk with a scholarly air, sliding paper into a typewriter and rattling off clever prose. I’ve said this before. And I’ve told you it isn’t. Another story of wretched writing! So we had a model train operation session at the club the other night. I mentioned this on the train blog HERE, but really, it comes down to me to get everything ready, from cleaning track to setting up the dispatcher computer to getting jobs finalized. It was raining so our attendance was down, and we were packed with guests, […]
March 10, 2016

Near miss at 40,000 feet! (DOG EAR)

found myself off a quiet little street in noisy big Delhi last week, inside a nookish bookshop. I was looking for a fashion magazine for a friend, not thinking I’d find something for myself. But there on the shelf was a  used copy of Gods of War, Indian sci-fi by Ashok Banker. The woman shop owner was letting her daughter (she must have been all of twelve, cute-as-a-button, and giving us bold loud Yankees sidelong glances) work the transaction. She counted my change back very precisely, unlike the stores stateside where they just dump it into your palm, unable to […]