Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Things That Irk Me, And....

I've touched on crossword puzzles before, and this morning I came across a recurring item that, well, irks me.  The clue was, "antlered animal," and the alloted space had room for four letters.  "Deer!" I thought and wrote it in.  Later as I did down portion of the puzzle it turned out the correct entry was "elks."  Now it might be a regional thing, an incorrect usage thing passed on through generations, but I've always understood the plural of "elk" to be "elk," just like the plural of "deer" and "moose" is "deer" and "moose." There is a deer/moose/elk in the meadow.  There are thirteen deer/moose/elk in the meadow.  "Elks" to me is a miswritten possessive, "elk's" or perhaps reference to a benevolent order, the Elks.  Anyway, I'll continue to think "deer" when confronted with similar clues and space for four letters.

As well in today's paper, a letter in the daily advice columm praised the availability of audio books and how having and listening to them could ease the frustration of a long traffic jam filled commute.  I'm sure it has helped this individual out and has made his/her daily drive more relaxing.  But I wonder if it's possible to become so entranced by the story that one becomes distracted?  Could someone be so much into the story they miss a turn or worse yet fail to notice a car stopped or slowing in front of them?  Or is it more akin to listening to music, the news, or talk radio of somekind while driving?

Sunset from late last month!

More next time!
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

What's Up? Part II.

Yesterday I watched the second game of the Seattle Dragons of the newly reconstituted XFL.  Better results this time... they won, and all in all it was a good game.  They played at home, in Century-Link stadium, the Seahawks (of the NFL) home field.  Pretty good crowd, too, and I've heard the biggest so far in the XFL's short history.  Lots of support from the crowd, which is always good.  One thing I like about the XFL games so far is they take a little less time to play.  The game yesterday was over in a little under three hours, while with an NFL game you can expect to watch for nearly three and a half hours.

Since Coco came to live with us a couple of years ago, he and I have gone out to walk nearly everyday.  He looks forward to it and just about drags me out the door, except now he doesn't actually want to walk any distance.  He'll spend a lot of time snooping around, doing his thing, marking territory, but he doesn't want to go more than a couple houses either side of ours.  I guess he figures that's his territory and it's hard to get him to go past that.  Now and then I insist, and once we get to and turn the corner, he's fine, but I hate to force him if he doesn't want to.  But I figure it's good for both of us and will keep trying.  Maybe as it warms up this spring he'll feel more like getting away from the immediate area.  Sometimes I'm thinking that if he doesn't want to walk I should just go do so myself.  I probably need the exercise more than him.

Speaking of which, a couple of years ago I mentioned that I was trying to avoid being a couch potato... being retired and no longer working.  I talked about walking with Coco and using a couple sets of weights I have, plus a roller wheel to try and stave off melting into a blob of protoplasm.  I did really well at it for a while but somehow lost the drive.  I've been trying to do a little bit here lately, even if it's doing a set of curls or something while watching TV.  I've managed to keep at it for the past week and I'm hoping to continue on.

Yesterday finished reading The 5th Horseman by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.  Good story in the modern sense.  Multiple story lines, multiple POVs.  Right to the point, with no frills, but interesting and one that was hard to put down.  I did notice another, perhaps unique use of chapters.  The story was made up of about 140 chapters, each about 2 pages long.  It's not the way I would do it and use chapters, but it seemed to work here.  So far, my Stone Island Sea Stories have averaged 25 chapters per book, with each being about eleven pages in published format.  I guess it all depends on how the author views chapters and how s/he uses them.  I've seen some books with chapters like mine, anywhere from twenty or so up to forty.  I seen some with just a handful of really long chapters, and some where chapter length can vary from a single word to dozens of pages.

Most of the time there is a connection, a continuity from chapter to chapter to keep the story flowing, but at times, the so called chapters or sections are nearly complete stories in and of themselves.  This is noticeable in two of Forester's Hornblower books.  Mr.Midshipman Hornblower is, in my opinion, a collection of eleven short stories.  It's possible to read each as a complete, self-contained tale.  There is an overarching story but it isn't really necessary to read them in order.  Reference to past stories is minimal.  Likewise, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies is a collection of five novelettes or perhaps novelas.  Again there is a continuing story but each section is complete within itself.  Interesting that the first and last books in the series take this approach while the ones in between follow a more traditional use of chapters.  In one, the first one written, known either as Beat To Quarters or The Happy Return, the book is also broken into Parts, with both Parts and Chapters being named.  I think it's because of this I decided to name chapters in my work.

Not sure if we'll have more snow this year, but there is still plenty of time for it.  Just ordered a wheeled show shovel that should make clearing the walks and driveway a little easier.  I will be able to angle the blade to one side or the other and just "plow" it to the edge, rather than having to scoop and throw it.  Should make the job go faster and will also be a little easier on me.  If we don't get more snow this year, I'll have it for next.

that's about it for now.  More next time!

Coco enjoying last month's snow!
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

What's Up?

For me, not a lot, to be sure.
Yesterday I watched the first game of the new XFL, which pitted the Seattle Dragons against the D. C. Defenders.  Naturally I was rooting for Seattle, coached by the Seahawks first ever starting quarterback, Jim Zorn.  It was a good game but the Dragons ended up losing.  I understand they are thought to be the underdog in most games scheduled for the year.

The game itself has a few changes from the NFL to make it interesting, at least in my opinion.  Kick offs are different, largely in an attempt to preserve that aspect of the game, but to also limit or eliminate many of the injuries that occur during those evolutions.  There is no kicked point after a touchdown, but teams can elect to run an after scoring play from any of three different yard lines, with more points being awarded for the longer plays.  If they run the play from the two yard line, it's one point, from the five, two points, and from the ten, three points.  There are some changes in timing during the majority of the game and as well some changes in timing for the final two minutes of the half and the game.

So yeah, I'm a little bit excited about this new pro football league and I hope it goes well.  At the same time I looking forward to this years baseball season getting underway.  Spring training for pitchers and catchers starts soon and before we know it, the actual season will be underway.  With games for one's favorite team being played nearly everyday it'll give me an excuse for not getting things done... or so I like to tell myself.

Just finished up with the February issue of the REAR ENGINE REVIEW, the newsletter for the Inland Northwest Corvair Club.  It's gone out by e-mail to club members, other Corvair Clubs, Corvair and other automotive enthusiasts, family, friends, former classmates, or anyone I think might want to see it.  I'd tell you to visit the Inland Northwest Corvair Club web-site if you want to see it, but the club's web-master has had some health issues over the past several months and doesn't seem to post them anymore.  (I've linked it, just in case you want to visit anyway.)

I needed some filler material in the newsletter to I included the following bit about the number of guns aboard ships during the age of sail.
The Numbers Game During the Age of Sail

                During the Age of Sail, warships were ranked and identified by the number of guns they carried, but ships rarely carried the number of guns noted by their official rate.  Certain types or sizes of guns, or guns in certain locations did not count, and the general practice was to equip a vessel with as many weapons as possible.
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           Logically, a larger vessel, with a larger crew, and more and larger guns should be the victor, but what happened when opponents were evenly matched?  Then the deciding factor was often which crew was better trained and more experienced.  USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon were close to evenly matched in terms of armament.  Shannon's crew had been together for years, her captain placed a great deal of emphasis on gunnery, and even provided additional powder for practice from his own funds.  While he had had success earlier in the War Of 1812, James Lawrence had just assumed command of Chesapeake.  Many of her crew were also newly reported aboard.  Thus when she sailed from Boston on June 1, 1813, to accept the British challenge, it was with a crew and captain that had never operated together.  This lack of experience resulted in a British victory after just a few minutes of battle.

More next time,
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

One Space or Two...

Elsewhere on the internet there is occasionally snippets of discussion concerning the old time honored practice of providing two spaces after a period (full stop) or other sentence ending punctuation.  Most people who took a typing class were taught to do so, and for many of us, the habit persists.  However, the current trend seems to be that that extra space is unneeded and perhaps even unwanted.

As I got into writing and began learning about standard format and various practices, I got the impression that one should double space after a period.  This goes with the idea I gathered, whether right or wrong, that a manuscript composed on a computer or other word  processing device should as closely as possible, resemble one constructed on a typewriter.  And since it is the practice to double space after a period when using a typewriter, it should also be done when using a computer.  Thus, I have always and continue to include two spaces after a period or other sentence ending punctuation in my manuscripts and indeed in most things I write.  I also understand that that little bit of extra room afford by the second space can come in handy for one editing by hand on paper.  Only once have I ever changed to a single space in those locations and that was to meet specific requirements of an agency or publisher I was submitting my work to.  (And if I'm on Twitter, I'll use only one space because of the limited number of characters allowed.)

These days there seems to be a push to convince us old fashioned folks that two spaces after a period is wrong and that we shouldn't do it.  They say computers and modern fonts elimate the need, but even with a modern proportional font, I like that little bit of extra space between sentences.  And as nearly as I can figure out, that was why the practice originally started.  Typewriters are non-proportional, alloting the same amount of line space to an "I", an "l" or a "j" as to a "W" an "M", or an "X."  Overall that made words appear oddly proportioned and even with a period, the gap between words at the end of a sentence and the beginnings of the next may have been difficult to distinguish.  Hence the use of two spaces to better emphasize the full stop and the beginning to the next sentence.

In published works it's common to only use one space, but honestly, there are times where to me the two sentences look a bit crowded.  I've also heard that publishers/printers use a single space in order to save paper.  Of course cost is a big concern and if they can print the book using 350 pages instead of 351, they are going to do so.  And if they can save that page by including a single space after every period, they will do so.

Last night I got to wondering how much is saved in the typical book by using a single space after a period or other sentence ending punctuation.  I went through a book by a well known contemporary author and on a random selection of pages, counted the number of places where there could have been two spaces after a period.  I came up with an average of sixteen places per page.  I went through one of my books a while ago and looked at 6 random pages. each fully covered with text.  Again these averaged out to sixteen places where the printer could have used two spaces per page.  That would add something like, "sixteen places," about what is quoted, to each page.

Manuscript for the third Stone Island Sea Story open to a random page.  You probably can't see it, but there are two spaces after each period or other sentence ending punctuation.

What I realized and found interesting, however, is that much of the time, these extra spaces could be asborbed at the tail end of each paragraph, where the line is incomplete and there is room for more text before going to the next line, next paragraph.  And we should remember that in most published formats, chapters often end part way down the page, and that page is left blank, with the next chapter starting on the next page.  That new chapter often starts well down the page, with a lot of blank page existing between the end of one chapter and the next.

So I'm now wondering if that push to use only a single space between sentences really save any pages at all.  The book I happened to look at first is written in many, many, very short chapters.  I believe more pages are used here because of a chapter ending halfway down the last page and the next starting a third of the way down the next, rather than the use of two spaces after a period.  Its quite possible that a particular page might bleed over to the next when using two spaces, but that will be negated at the end of the chapter, the end of the next paragraph, or the end of the next page.

I will continue to add two spaces after a period or other sentence ending punctuation, and wonder if printers and publishers shouldn't consider it in order to make their products a bit easier to read.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Story Excerpt

Hi Everyone,
It's been a while since I've posted an excerpt from the first Stone Island Sea Story, Beyond the Ocean's Edge.  Today I'm continuing with posting something from each chapter.  This comes from Chapter 15.  Pierce, the passengers and crew of Island Expedition have arrived at and begun settling in on the mysterious long lost island they've set out to find.  Today, they have word of a strange craft approaching the island...

             As eight bells sounded, Pierce again went aboard His Britannic Majesty’s Schooner.  He exchanged formalities and a few pleasantries with Andrews, who now had the watch, and went below to his cabin.  He fetched his best glass, returned to the deck, and immediately climbed the main shrouds.
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            The strange craft passed smartly along the schooner’s port side.
            One of the hands detailed to grease the forward carronade’s elevating screw observed, “No doubt, Jack!  Gotta be them noble savages we been hearin’ about.”
            “Aye, Tom. But noble?” answered his mate.
            As the comment was made, the individual on the chair turned slightly and looked directly at the schooner.  His face remained blank and he resumed his forward gaze.
            Pierce glared.  “Belay that, I say!  You will keep your opinions to yourselves.  Report for duty with tomorrow’s watch on deck!”         
            “Aye aye, sir!”  They were embarrassed at being overheard by their captain, and most assuredly dismayed that they would have another day’s duty before any liberty was granted.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Writing and Publishing Advice

I wrote this back in the spring of 2013, right after I'd been the guest at a neighboring writers group meeting.  With some of the questions and discussions I see going on on Twitter and elsewhere on-line, I thought this might be appropriate to put out there again.
Writing and Publishing Information

           Yesterday I was privileged to speak at a meeting of the Idaho Writer’s League, Coeur d’Alene chapter.  After my presentation I was asked a number of questions about writing and publishing, which I hopefully answered satisfactorily.  Still I get the impression that many expect someone with even a smattering of experience to explain all the ins and outs of the writing and publishing world during a short presentation and an even shorter question and answer session.  It is simply not possible to do so.
           The field is so vast and varied that those associated with it for years are still learning about it.  I’ve spent the better part of the last decade trying to understand the publishing industry, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know half of it.  Learning about publishing is an ongoing and long term evolution.  One cannot expect to learn it all in a single session.
           At the same time, the advent of the computer, the web, and the internet places a great deal of information and knowledge at our fingertips.  It is easy to go on line and find out how we are supposedly supposed to format our manuscripts or how to write successful query letters.  There is so much information available that the average person can be overwhelmed if not confused by conflicting advice and dissimilar information.
           An individual looking for information about writing and publishing should do so with caution.  Visit and evaluate several sources before choosing the one that seems right to you.  Ask yourself questions as you look at what the various advice givers tell you.  Does the blogger or columnist simply state that that is how it is, or does he (she) explain a little of the reason behind the advice?  Does the advice make sense?  Does information about standard format mention there are different standards for book length manuscripts, short stories, professional papers, and news articles?  Or are these various categories of writing lumped together with a one size fits all attitude?
           Realize that everything you read isn’t necessarily industry wide.  Often, agencies and publishers want certain things in submissions and hopefully they’ll mention those in their guidelines.  If you are submitting to that agency or publisher, by all means follow those rules and provide them with what they want.  Just because they want the slug line on the left, the page number on the right, and require the submission to be printed in Calibri doesn’t mean that is industry standard and all agencies and publishers will want it that way.  (Most would prefer the page number to be a part of the left positioned slug line, and that you use Times Roman or Courier.)  Even though there are standards, the industry is large enough that many variations and personal preferences exist.
           Once you have found a source of advice you trust, stick with it, but, don’t be afraid to question it.  If something confuses you, ask if you can.  If you are continuously hearing information contrary to what your advice giver is telling you, mention it politely.  He (she) may be able to explain the difference.  You may not only clear things up in your mind, but you might help clarify things for others who rely upon this individual for guidance through the publishing world.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Shirt Sleeve Weather?

It's warmed up considerably over the past few days.  Most of the time it's been raining, so in my mind it's so called, "nasty weather."  Snow is gone from the roads and streets, and is fast melting off other areas.  Houses across the street, which face to the north have more left than we do.  Those yards stay in the shade most of the day and the snow doesn't melt as fast.  It's nice to not have to shovel, but honestly I miss the pristine, icey beauty of a snow covered land scape.  And it's just not to look at.  If I have the proper clothing, I enjoy being out in it.  That might be a hold over from my early childhood in Alaska.  As I remember my folks telling it, they'd bundle me up and I'd go traipse around in the snow by the hour, even when it was well below zero.

Last night's sunset.  Still some snow on the ground, but it's fast disappearing.

Other things around here are getting back to normal.  Eva had spent a couple weeks in the Philippines and came back Wednesday.  Should have been Tuesday, but that was some confusion as to when her flight left over there.  Needless to say, I got a little worried when she didn't call for me to go get her at the airport at the specified/scheduled time.  I think by now she's finally getting over the jet lag incurred on the trip.  Coco is really glad she's back.  For the first couple of days, when it was about time she'd normally come home from work, he'd just stop and stare at the back door as if he were expecting her to walk in.

Coco and Eva, Halloween of 2018.

I'm sure Stormie is glad she's back as well, but she didn't seem to notice quite as much.  Just her usual self, chatting away from atop her cage.  And the three of us seemed to do okay during Eva's absence,  At least the house is still standing and somewhat livable.
That's it for today.  More next time.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Snow Hiatus

Today is the third day in which I've not had to go out and shovel.  It did snow a little Saturday but it didn't amount to much and most of what fell melted and blended in with what remains.  Yesterday was semi-clear and warm as is today.  Well warm enough to be above freezing by a good bit.  Noticed that the street, which, although plowed, was a layer of compact snow, turned to slush and got chewed up by passing vehicles.  Even the little path I've got into the back for Coco softened a little and then froze as the night came on.  Really slick now and it's fun watching him try to navigate it.

Coco and I usually go out, supposedly for a walk in late morning.  While I'd like to see us go around the block and perhaps up the street and around the neighboring block... put some distance on the day, he'd rather just nose around the front yard and up and down the street a little.  I think he likes the colder weather as it can be hard to get him to come back in.  If it's raining, he won't even want to go out, and I almost have to force him to go out back to do his business.  But he likes going out on the leash, wearing his sweater and getting a chance to visit any neighbors that might be out and about.

Still a lot of snow in yards and piled up where it got shovelled, but there are a lot of bare spots as well.  Main roads and streets are bare and walks that have been shovelled regularly are clear as well.  Biggest problem now is overnight when we drop below freezing and everything that melted during the day refreezes.

No new or recent pics, so here's this one looking up the street to the east, past the front windows of the house.  It was taken last Monday.

Hoping everyone has a good week!
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Happy Birthday!

I realize it's a couple days late, but,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to eglantine_br
Hope you have many more!

A photo of a picture of USS Constitution drawn by a friend of my Grandparents back when the ship toured the US and was in Washington's Puget Sound.  It's probably one of those things that got me interested in the Age of Sail.
Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Still Acting Like Winter

It's warmed up some since the last time I posted.  Some areas have melted and then again froze, but the snow fall seems to be less and less each day.  Just enough last evening to shovel again today.

Last night around 8pm, and a gentle snow fall.  This is a view along the east side of the house, looking towards the street.  Coco is out for necessities, and enjoying a romp in the snow.

Interesting to note how involved or not involved folks around the neighborhood are when it comes to keeping sidewalks and driveways cleared off.  You can see some who will be out several times a day.  Everytime it snows even a quarter of an inch they feel like they need to clear it off.  Others, like me try to get out and shovel or otherwise clear the snow once a day or so.  Others do it less frequently, and some don't even bother.  I shovelled today for the eighth day in a row, but our neighbors, the ones we share a driveway with haven't bothered.  They're younger and probably more fit than I am, so I can't see doing it for them.  If it were the proverbial little old ladie with arthritis and a cane, I might, out of the goodness of my heart, have shovelled a couple of times at least.  As it is, I've been keeping the entire lower end of the driveway cleaned out.... from the street and across the sidewalk.  And I've cleared off our half of the drive way, including the shared center track.  All they would need to do there is one shovel width up the farside tire track that is theirs.  It's still grass in between and their car has kept that down somewhat.  Farther up, the driveway splits/separates and I've only done our portion.  But their front walk and the side walk across the front of their house has never been done... except when the neighbor on the other side of us has had his snow blower out and has done both sides of the street from corner to corner.

Amazes me to see the attitude and expectations people have regarding how the city plows and cleans off the streets.  And in my opinion the city has done a great job of it.  Our street has been plowed once, maybe twice, and in most places is still covered, but it is compacted and not that bad for driving, although it might be a little slippery.  Some people seem to expect it to be plowed down to bare pavement.  On the other hand, I can remember years past where the city (and county, and State) would start plowing the main roads, get them as clear as possible, but before they could get to the side streets, the residential areas, it would snow again and they'd start over on the main roads.  Pretty soon the side streets would be so deep that people were getting stuck on the side streets, not because they were slippery, but because the snow was just too deep.  Or they would finally get around to plowing residential areas after the streets were at least packed down and accessible for most, and after people had shovelled out parking spaces, access to driveways, and so on.  Then people would get mad because they'd have to go out and shovel out the berm the snow plows left behind.  And if it's old compacted, just about turned to ice snow that can be a very difficult chore.  Now a lot of the plows are equipped with gates that the driver can close off while passing a driveway.  That way there is no or very little berm to be removed by hand.

Coco's playing lap dog. Yeah, that's my foot on the right of the pic. Taken last night.

So today is supposed o remain fairly cool, right at freezing, depending on one's source of weather information.  Then it's supposed to warm up a bit and if we get any precipitaion it's likely to be as rain.

So here I am, just rattling along with some thoughts on winter and snow removal.  Once the mailman comes and Coco gets to see him, I need to do my usual Friday run around town.  I check mail for the Corvair Club and for Spokane Authors.  If anyone in either group has sent in/paid dues, I'll go to the respective Credit Union to deposit it.  I also stop by the local supermarket to get my Lotto ticket, a bit o wine and some beer for the coming week.

Happy Friday Everybody!  Have a great weekend and a good week next week!