Thursday, July 30, 2015


I think I'm done here, at least for now.

If you were paying any attention to me here, look for me on Tumblr.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Update - June 2015

I struggle to update my blog. The last... seven weeks have been a crazy roller coaster of supershitstorm and awesomesauceexplosion. I feel like I'm still all broken inside, but it is amazing the ideas one has after being forced to lay on their back for... hours, that turned into days, that turned into weeks, that turned into omgwtfhelp. My house guests are gone, I'm back in town, and I feel like I absolutely have to get back out of town again soon.

I need to get back to Idaho. For a couple days. Maybe three.

Uroboros Saga Book 5 is off to my awesome proof reading peeps. They don't know it yet, but I'm arranging special surprises for each of those dutiful folks. Maybe signed copies of all five books, an elite nerd bag from my prestigious collection, or a totally banal gift card from Amazon. Something. I'm super grateful for the support I've gotten from everyone helping me produce my work.

My dev buddy and totally platonic life partner, Livestrom, has finally worked out the kinks for save/load for our game project, Earth Inclusive. I'm going back through the gigantic (it's really big) GDD and trying to find all the wrinkles and apply a heavy creative iron to it all. I'm excited to actually be able to play the game, just a little, and have my zero progress auto save. Nerd glee by the bucket.

I'm finally starting to feel well enough for some bike rides, the new house is slowly getting all it's broken fixed, and my psyche is slowly getting back to hard iron and angry.

Oh, and I've begun to actually look at my Dreams & Echoes project again. It's a huge thing I made back in 2009 and 2010. Huge. I need to turn it all into a gigantic neo-romantic post-apocalyptic epic that robs the reader of thirty hours to just read and attempt to comprehend the contents. The principle text is pretty great, but the story doesn't flow, has a million holes, and a ton of great dialogue I don't even want to touch.

Part of me wants to fix it, edit it, make a cover for it, and get it totally ready to go and then burn the manuscript and delete every file and image associated with it. It sounds really black and meaningless, but that's how I feel about it right now. Given the state I was in writing all that stuff, going back and fixing it feels like the last stage in a really long period of healing. Maybe, if I do the thing, I won't want to burn it?

Can't wait to find out. No edit, and publish in 3 2 1

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Aftermath, Part 2

I feel diminished.

My heart hasn't gone completely to stone, but it is amazing how much good can get cancelled out by so little bad. The altruism I was raised to harbor in my being is gone. I write this not to complain, or bemoan the situation, but to reflect upon it. I want to be able to remember these feelings should they leave me, use them as inspiration for works, or simply to dispel complacency.

For everything that happened, I am not stronger. Every time sit to write, the scars on my hands remind me of what happened that day, and for days thereafter. We so rarely are given a real means to remember the calamity. It is like the fates don't trust me to remember, and that I need to recall these things daily.

We always see the sum of ourselves, before great calamity, as being something hopelessly unequal to our current state. Still, we try to keep score, a karmic tally to see when things can be normal again. We think we should be past it, ready to move on, just as soon as everything falls back into place. We think that if we can just get even, it'll be like whatever happened, never happened.

It's preached that we should be the change we'd like to see in the world, but what if kindness, altruism, charity, and trust are just liabilities you can't emotionally afford? Some probably just shut themselves in, a few lash out, and most just try to feel nothing at all. Being me, I want to use these sensations in my writing, channel it all into some dark literary journey.

I want to feel it all in ways I can describe later, even if I can't be rational about it now. Maybe it is my own way of coping, but I like to think it is just the measure of any good writer to remember these things. It is hard to impart to others a thing you have never known.

So, I leave this here as a trigger. If I am ever too content or too happy to write something believably, I'll have this to remind me, and my scars.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Escaping Caustic Relatives

If I’m in a room with two people, one has a story about cutting off a caustic relative. Depending on the stage of familial dismissal, the story takes a different form. I have had to give it all a lot of thought recently, and as I began to write those thoughts down, I realized they may be of use to someone else.


First comes the fear, that “oh shit” moment when you realize one of your family members is a danger to your freedom, mental health, or physical safety. You know you need to get clear of them, but you’re worried about what they’ll do, how they’ll react, and when, or where, they will lash out. Likely, the caustic relative has engaged in all sorts of chicanery to hold you emotionally hostage and mess with your agency. If they can’t hurt you directly, they seek a proxy, or directly hurt someone you care about. The need for attention and to be acknowledged is relentless for people like this.

Then, the anger comes. You’ll be angry at the caustic relative and yourself. After all the blame games, second thoughts, self-doubt, and eventual acceptance, none of that will matter. You can’t do anything to change the past, only work toward a better tomorrow, and the day after that. Your sleep will be disturbed for a while, your rituals disturbed, and your life altered in ways you did not expect.

Finally, indifference or acceptance sets in. It is not easy acknowledging that, for your own well-being, you need to avoid someone for the foreseeable future. You will have to carefully obfuscate your movements, online presence, and other activities to make sure you do not have contact with the caustic relative.  

Staying Safe

With caustic relatives capable of doing you physical harm, take no chances. Get an alarm system with a panic button hooked up to police dispatch, reinforced entry doors, a firearm you are comfortable using, or a big dog that loves you. If your lease is up, move somewhere else, and do what you have to in limiting the number of people knowing where that is. Be vigilant, and have your head on a swivel. It’s never just another day walking to your car in the morning when someone wants to hurt you.

If a caustic relative comes to do you harm, get somewhere safe, and call the police.

Emotional violence is more complex.

For example, I have been threatened with surveillance, and having my privacy violated. Basically, the caustic relative told me I was being watched and that if I did something they did not like, they would know, and unspecified consequences would follow. It might be an empty threat, born of their own impotence, or they may actually have a means to keep track of you.  

Blocking on social media, email, smartphone, changing passwords, and removing any access to your life from the caustic relative is important. Even after all that, you should probably limit geographically tagging your movements online via review services and similar. You leave more of a trace online than anywhere, and limiting your exposure is important.

Also, limit what you disclose to anyone that may still be talking to the caustic relative. That part sucks, because they are often unwittingly disclosing information to that end. Having a frank conversation with people choosing to still interact with the caustic relation is probably the best way to head that off. If a caustic relative can get at you through a proxy, they will absolutely do it.

The Aftermath

Navigating the landscape of family drama in the wake of familial dismissal is difficult. There is no advice for this. You may get to watch your share of abuse get appropriated to others still choosing to interact with the caustic relative. Just because you have removed yourself from the equation does not mean the mathematics behind the abuse ceases to be. Malignant mental illness, substance abuse, or whatever created the caustic relative will continue to drive them in your absence.

It helps me to remember that I’m not a trained clinical psychologist, substance abuse counselor, or similar. I don’t have the tools, or resources, to grapple with whatever created most caustic relatives, and I can’t force them to seek help. Everyone copes in their own way, and clearly I intellectualize and write to that end.

Most caustic relatives are driven by a profound desire to be acknowledged, feel important, and the illusion of power to put salve on their own general impotence. They took it for granted, that because you were family, you’d always be there to kick around, and be controlled. You departing that situation is a cold reality they are not equipped to deal with in a healthy way.

They might threaten to harm themselves, others, or find a new way to hurt you. Often, they will go after whatever it is that gives you the most security. That might be your job, a spouse, or your reputation. Identifying where you are vulnerable and installing safeguards is not just important for your peace of mind, but will speed the moment when the caustic relative’s behavior will hopefully terminate.


Caustic relatives will adopt tactics to lure you back. Gifts, and other gestures, a kind fa├žade, or other subterfuge will get employed if bullying you won’t work. The more cunning your caustic relation, the more subtle the tactic that will be employed. Falling for this means that they can quickly return to their old patterns, and you’ll have to start all over, and try to remove them from your life, again. This effectively resets the clock until they terminate their original behavior.

Any tactic that actually works, allowing the caustic relation to gain access to you again, will be the starting point next time. They’ll likely skip escalation and go straight for what they know. That means that the longer you hold out the second or third time around, the more dire and extreme they will become. Something worked last time, they just need to start there and work their way up.

Building a ritual of avoidance will be necessary, and in building any ritual there must be rational thought. Departing your emotions to grapple with a caustic relation is key, because those are the primary weapons they’ll try to use against you. Checking with mutual relations and friends to make certain they are not going to show up where you do, and conducting reconnaissance to that end is tiring. I try to keep it in perspective, knowing that contact with a caustic relation will cost far more emotional resources than keeping my ritual.

Identifying Caustic Relatives

If a relative does you physical harm, call the Police. Don’t even fuck around with this, get the cops involved, file charges, and document the act. Get an order of protection, and make yourself as safe as possible.

If a relative does you mental or emotional harm, this is harder to identify. I have seen all sorts of emotional violence perpetrated by caustic relatives, some more insidious and harmful than others. Simply, caustic relatives will try to erode your identity, personal agency, and devalue you so that you’re easier to control.

Every caustic relative I have known has two or more of these archetypes they assume depending on the circumstances. Regular people engage in this nonsense as well, but your caustic relative probably uses these archetypes constantly, possessing no other way to interact with others.

The Cheerleader – Relatives of this type will use gatherings meant to put the focus on you to push their own agenda or engage in some form of self-aggrandizement. They will arrive with people you did not invite, add events designed to showcase their abilities, or otherwise act to monopolize the attention of attendees. If you have any thunder, caustic relatives of this type will try to steal it.

The Critic - It does not matter what your goals are, they will not be happy to see you pursuing anything that might grant you more independence. They will be superficially be glad you’re trying for a better job, heading to college, or preparing for a trip. However, they’ll tell you that it’ll probably be useless, temporary, or that you could be doing something better… if you’d only just listen to them.

The Matchmaker - They will attempt to manipulate your relationships with other people. This is particularly the case if you have a protective spouse or family member actively preventing the caustic family member full access to you. Caustic relatives trying to meddle in your marriage are the most dangerous as they want access to your most important relationship and a primary source of your agency and security.

The Handler - If a relative constantly uses a proxy to deal with you when disagreements occur, this is a red flag. Only people up to bad things limit their personal liability in this way. For example, if you find yourself constantly dealing with your caustic relative’s beleaguered spouse when things go wrong, that’s a bad sign. People that lack empathy, or a conscience, will often assign someone the role of emotional proxy. The most dangerous caustic relatives will manipulate several people into handling crisis situations, they likely created, for them.

The Lawyer – These are relatives that try to get what they want through binding verbal agreements, while implying you are not trustworthy. If you have to swear an oath, which “they’ll hold you to”, in resolving even simple issues, this is a giant red flag. People who use lies and subterfuge to conduct their affairs only feel safe if they assume everyone else is doing the same thing. The most malignant caustic relatives use this tactic to erode your sense of worth, suggesting you are not trustworthy, and need supervision they will happily provide.

The Bully – Relatives that hold their achievements as better than yours, their choices superior, or resort to name calling when they don’t get their way. They’ll try to devalue you through overt verbal violence, attacking your choices, appearance, and anything they have identified as important to you. You’re easier to control if you think you’re worthless. A relative that delights in using a demeaning nickname for you as short form for showing their displeasure, is a bully.

The Consultant – Your relative tries to step in, deeming yourself and/or spouse insufficient to keep you safe. These people freak out if you don’t answer your phone when they call, or respond to their text messages within a few minutes. They’ll want access to your property, computer, and similar, all in the name of keeping you safe. They’ll want to know who you talk to, recommend you stop talking to certain friends, and try to manipulate your social calendar.

The Shaman – Relatives of this type often speak for the opinions of the deceased, God, and/or claim to bear the standard of tradition for the family. Your dead Uncle Bob (God rest his soul) would be so angry right now if he could see how you are not doing what this relative wants. God, Jesus, or some other mythical being does not want you to have your own agency or life. You need to grow up and devote yourself to whatever thing the relative thinks you should be doing. Also, everyone in the family going back to colonial times has been doing the thing, and if you are not doing the thing, you are not a “real” member of the family.

The Leech – These relatives are helpless. They need help, and nothing less than all your time and resources will be required to keep them just this side of disaster. You are the only one that can help them, and no one else loves them the way you do. If you are not there to help them avoid even the simplest calamity, you’re a selfish monster, irresponsible, and should be ashamed of yourself.

The Double Agent – These relatives go through your drawers, attempt to get you to disclose personal information, and will sit at your computer and check your browsing history while you get another burrito. They derive power and satisfaction from knowing things about you that are none of their business. Even if they never use this information to embarrass or control (rare), they still have an unhealthy need to feel power over you.

The Accountant – These relatives keep a strict accounting of what you have done for them lately. They will compare you to others, recounting what they have done for them, and be sure to point out what you haven’t.  These reprobates deal in a sort of imaginary relationship capital that they use to get what they want. They will place conditions on attending gatherings, and negotiate terms when sharing in expenses and other endeavors. With people like this it is always give and take. You give. They take.

The Samaritan – Relatives of this type seem to always be doing things for you, even when you don’t want them to. They have assigned themselves the role of caregiver. They are uniquely suited to solve problems within the family, for reasons they will happily tell you about over and over again. If you don’t strictly adhere to their proposed solution, you’ll be called selfish. If you don’t want to part with your possessions or time for the cause, you’re greedy. If you don’t want to be part of the mob in their latest misguided interventionist adventure, you’re immature, and need to grow up.

The Bankroller – This relative has money, and uses it as social capital to manipulate you. They’ll gleefully cosign on loans, lend you money, and straight up buy you things. Because they have spent money on you, have a stake in your agency, and own some piece of you. If you are not on their side in argument, or complicit in their nonsense, watch out. They will mess with you to the extent that they have compromised your fiscal agency.  

The Monster – Caustic relatives of this type are your best friend, stalwart ally, and confidant until you do something they don’t like. The monster side of these relatives will resort to intimidation, loud vocal outbursts, and the actual use of, or the threat of, physical violence. These relatives will destroy your property, try to intimidate your spouse/friends/coworkers, and threaten you with all kinds of things. They will regularly give you only one more chance to shape up, before they cut you off. They are unpredictable, dangerous, and have few limits when it comes to their behavior, unless you do exactly what they say.

If I forgot any, go ahead and drop them in the comments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Aftermath, Part 1

(Hopefully, there is no part 2.)

I haven’t done what I usually do when I’m confronted with adversity.

Often, I will write. Just fill pages until whatever it is that bothers me is just ink starkly strewn about a few dozen pages. Slightly less often, I’ll ride my bike. This is a great stress reliever. At the bottom of the list is consumption. Donuts, books, video games, and everything else I love.

There was no time, and I hurt too badly for any of it. If it hadn’t been for a couple of close friends, the whole affair would have been tremendously difficult. I’m reminded of the movie “The Brave One”, where a woman gets mugged, has a difficult time going outdoors, and eventually turns into a vigilante to get control. Thankfully, I have a digital copy, so I can watch it, unlike virtually every other movie I once owned.

I didn’t waste any energy being angry, wondering where my things were, or fantasizing about what I would do if I caught the thieves. I don’t care about the things, and while insurance won’t cover all of it, it’ll cover some. We lost our wedding tape, but we still have our wedding album, and our memories.

It is tragic to lose things that represent your passions and your fond memories. When they are not difficult to replace, they are impossible. What’s worse, is the paranoia that we’d rebuild her collection, and just get robbed again. It isn’t rational, or statistically probable, it just simply is.

I pity the burglars. We live just at the edge where a culture war will likely begin over the next few years. To walk out my door and look left, you’d see trendy eating places, the Donut Whole, newly minted breweries, and other attractions. To look right, you see a rapidly deteriorating neighborhood with a few people who own their homes and holding on. I didn’t know I’d bought a house on the front lines.

I’ve been given permission by several people to blame my realtor, the property inspector, the seller, God, and everyone else for not warning me about the various problems with my home, and the location. The police officer who came to take the report did all that, and his absolute best to scare the crap out of my wife, something she did not need. In the wake of that, everywhere I went, the common folks in Wichita sympathized with me.

There is hope in Wichita.

The plumber who came to snake the sewer line believed that “knowledge was power”, and that because someone helped him once, he had an obligation to pay it forward. When he couldn’t fix the problem on the first visit, I could tell he was disappointed. His brother and law, a master plumber, and his wife and friends came out the next day. I’m trying to put together a review for their Google+ page without it sounding too sappy.

For all their efforts, regardless of the outcome, they returned to me some of my faith in people. Even the property inspector was sympathetic, news of my plight having traveled to his ears somehow. It served to shift my fractured perception of the people of Wichita back into focus.

They weren’t the only ones that helped me out today. There are good people here.

It will take a lot to offset the calamity of the last week. There will need to be many friendly interactions, new friends made, and just plain old time passing before normalcy can be invited back into our lives.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week From Hell

My week started innocently enough. My game dev partner and I played some classic D&D arcade on Steam. Did a full day’s work and packed some things. On Tuesday, I went for a bike ride, and found a neat twenty mile loop.

Wednesday, a friend of mine decided to ride that loop again. Two blocks in, my front tire blows and nearly puts me down. I took my bike into the local shop and had it fixed, and we resumed the ride. After twenty miles and two blocks from the new house, the front tire goes again, but I’m going fast this time. I go over the handle bars. Bike is all messed up, and I’m hurt pretty badly.

I sleep on a red blanket so I don’t ruin the sheets.

Thursday, we have a U-Haul trailer and it’s time to move. I bandage up my mangled hands and put on the softest pants I own over my battered legs. We move all the heavy things. Half way through, I feel something go in my chest and I roll around on the ground in pain. The fractured ribs (I didn’t realize I had), turned into broken ones.

I get a call. My grandmother being put on hospice care.

Friday, we wake up to no hot water, and no one can come out to fix it for four days. Family coming to help us finish moving are delayed, and my car breaks down, twice. They have to keep my car over the weekend. My friend and I try to get the laundry facilities set up, but we can’t find a dryer cord long enough. No laundry until I can round one up.

My wife’s treasured pet is sick, and depending on the verdict he may need surgery. He’s lost a lot of weight and he’s so small the anesthesia might kill him.
Sears calls, and our new appliances (stove and fridge), are delayed another ten days.

I have a panic attack, something that hasn’t happened in almost two years. I’m in a public place, full of people when it happens.

Saturday, I go into the doctor to have my ribs looked at. They fit me for a neat brace, and I get some stickers. I waited too long to go in, and now I hurt pretty badly. Between that and moving a bunch of heavy things, I turned a couple weeks of recovery into a couple of months. No bike rides until I am healed.

I take a freezing cold shower. My wife, while in the basement, finds water where it should not be. The sewer line is blocked.

Sunday, the home warranty people misunderstood my wife on the phone. Service to clear the main line so we can use the toilets probably won’t happen until Monday.

Some good things happened this week, but they are living in the total shadow of everything else. I’m blogging about this so if I ever think I’m having a bad week again, I can gain some perspective.

Edit: Oh, and then Sunday evening while we were out with friends, someone kicked in a panel on our front door, let themselves in, and stole our Xbox, TV, DVDs, Video Games, and Wedding Video. I guess the week from hell isn't over yet. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yezz 4.7 Billy Phone

I’ve been giving the Yezz 4.7 Billy phone a try for the past day while traveling to Portland. I was in the Microsoft Store downtown when it caught my eye. The form factor is pretty striking, feeling like an iPod Touch in your hand, maybe even lighter.

The screen and touch input is good. I like the simple circle and dot haptic buttons at the bottom and the very minimal branding on the back. This is definitely made and marketed for people who once carried a Nokia and find there is nothing to buy now. With a better camera, screen, and LTE this could almost feel like a flagship phone for how thin and light it feels. 

It comes with a screen protector, three detachable backs, ear buds, manuals, charging cable, and wall plug. You won’t be looking for basic accessories when you pick this up for around $200. The replacement and coverage plan Microsoft offered was $100, almost half what the phone cost. If Microsoft is going to sell nothing but cheap phones they should probably adjust their marketing strategy with warranty plans.

Bad Stuff:

It does not play well with Microsoft’s Windows Phone app. You’ll be cruising directories to add or back up content on your phone.

Netflix doesn’t work on the phone as advertised. Audio Driver issue/error.

Instagram Beta does not work with the phone for some reason. My feed won’t load. I couldn’t find anything on Instagram’s site or the Internet that availed me of a fix or explanation.

It has the Windows Phone OS on it. Microsoft has largely abandoned the platform. The Browser, Email, Calendar, and Music apps are terrible or so lacking in functionality to make one wonder how Microsoft ever thought it was a good plan to release them. Microsoft has done nothing to improve them in years, and shows no sign of ever trying to breathe life into the platform. Proceed with caution.

May or may not be Windows 10 capable.

It’s a 3G Phone.

Good Stuff:

Dual Sim, and takes a micro SD card.

Tethering works well in spite of being on a slower network. This is a big deal because my supposedly faster, better, and more expensive LTE handsets struggle to perform this basic function. No idea why.

The form factor and hardware are compelling to say the least. This is a thin and light device.

Audio playback via Microsoft’s craptastic Music app is clear and unfettered! Until now, I’d yet to own a phone since my Motorolla Razor (ten years ago) that could play audio without skipping, garbling, or otherwise interrupting the experience in some way.

Other than Instagram, social media applications are smooth and load content quickly. My iPad struggles to do this.

It runs my first Indie Game. Heh.


I’m going to give some different games a try.

Not sure how it holds up on battery life. Being so thin, I suspect that it runs through the battery pretty quickly under my particular usage.

OneNote, Office, PDF Viewer, and productivity apps. I’m curious to see how it handles some business tasks.

I'll get some pictures of it beside some other phones for contrast.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Uroboros Saga Update - Feb 2015

Moments before writing this I was struggling to get the revised versions of Book 1 up on Amazon. It wasn't smooth, as the Kindle review feature wasn't working. Fortunately, everything seems okay on the Print Side. Should be able to order copies and see updates in a couple of days, hopefully.

Book 2 is likely ready to go. I'm still reviewing files, but I've got time while I wait to see the outcome with Book 1. I've ever updated a book interior or cover this way before. I think as long as I don't vary the format assigned the ISBN all will be well.

Book 3 is still getting kicked around both on my side and by the pixel pixies at Red Couch Creative. I need to alter some cover assets.

All the stuff for Book 4 has gone over to Red Couch Creative as of this morning. I think. Maybe. Elle might kick back the new cover asset for revision. We'll see.