Over And Out

It’s the end of the line today. I’ve reached a decision. The name of Jim Winter will be no more.

I know. I just shocked the four of you who still read tJim Winterhis blog. So what’s going on?

I no longer have time to maintain two identities as a writer and worry about my day-job career and attempt to start a new business. I’ve talked about getting pulled in too many directions at once before. But with writing science fiction as “Dick,” it’s one more direction that’s exerted an even greater pull than it did before I graduated college last month.

So who is the Dick Bachman to my Steve King? Well, in reality, Jim Winter is the Richard Bachman name. I just never told many people for the last 15 years. My real name is TS Hottle. Why did I go by Jim Winter?

Hey, I thought I was going to be the next Dennis Lehane and didn’t want to get mobbed in Kroger. G’wan. Ask me how well that worked out. But hey, it worked for Lee Child. I knew him for about four years before I found out his real name. (It’s Jon Stewart. Now you know why he’s leaving The Daily Show.)

So I suppose that leaves a few things hanging.

What about Nick Kepler?

Nick is pretty much done. I said as much when Gypsy’s Kiss was released. I wanted to move on.

Will your books remain available?

Yes. They will. Those books have made me a good $2-3 a month for some time now, and I would never kill a source of steady income. I do plan to redo the print books to fix some formatting issues. (Apparently, some of you thought the text change near the end of Road Rules was a mistake. No, that was on purpose, but no one seems to have realized that.)

What about Holland Bay?

Holland Bay remains a novel I am very proud of. I worked hard on it, and I don’t want to see it just gather dust in a drawer for the rest of my life. Eventually, I will release it. Whether it will be as Jim Winter or some other name remains to be seen. And I sent it to a publisher. If they pull the trigger, we’ll figure it out then.

Will you release anymore material?

I have some shorts, some of which appeared here, that I will probably release in the next few months. I also still want to release The Kepler Omnibus. But the science fiction work has an ambitious schedule that I have to stick to in order to build an audience. I also have two more posts over at Sleuthsayers to finish before I call it a pen name. Hey, I’m a believer in giving notice, even if there are days I almost don’t go back to work.

So where is this… TS Hottle you speak of?

Glad you asked that. He…  Er, um, I… can be found here pontificating on science fiction and indie pubbing and IT and beer and… It’s kinda like this blog, only not as ranty. (Hmm… Ranty. Now I know what I’m posting next week.) I am working on a series called The Compact Universe about a not-so-Trekkish future for humanity. If you’d like to get the latest on this, you can subscribe to the newsletter. Do it by June 7 (Holy crap! That’s Sunday!) and you can have the first episode free of The First One’s Free, a novella that serves as the series first season. (See what I did there? I named the first novella The First One’s Free, serialized it, and made the first episode free. Get it? Huh? OK, you had to be there.)

So come on over. It’s still me. I’m just not carrying a fake ID anymore, and I’d love to bring some of you along for this wicked ride I’m going to be on.

What about this blog?

I’ll leave it up for a while. For starters, the last two times I moved or killed a blog, someone cybersquatted on the domain and used it for… I’m not really sure what they used it for. Besides, people have found things here interesting. I may take it down eventually, when it no longer matters.

Social media will start going dark eventually. It’s hard to maintain two Twitter accounts, two Facebook pages, and still have time to neglect all the other social media I don’t like and don’t pay attention to.

So you’ve given up?

15 years. If that’s not your definition of patience, I’m very, very confused.

Winter’s Final Screw You

Dali's Persistence of Memory

Photo by ahisget, used under Creative Commons

No, not Jim Winter’s final screw you. I mean winter, the season. Snow and single-digit temps in March? Are you kidding me?

Then there’s the switch to Daylight Savings. Frankly, I wish they would just leave it on Daylight Savings. It’s not worth the extra hour of sleep in the fall since you lose it in the spring anyway.

Supposedly, there’s a move afoot to divide the continental US into two time zones and do away with the time change. I really wish this would gain some traction. For starters, I loathe Standard Time. By the time I get home from work between Thanksgiving and Groundhog Day, it’s dark. WTF?

I know a lot of people don’t like getting up in the dark. But you’re going to work? Who cares? I’d rather have my long evenings. I just feel more motivated.

And this year, with the polar vortex taking one last swipe at the country before winter gives way to spring, I’m just ready for the dark part of the year to end.

February: The Longest Month

Blizzard

(C) Game Freak2600, used under GNU Free Documentation License

For a month that’s only 28 or 29 days long, depending on the year, February has to be the longest month in this hemisphere. If it’s not snowing in my part of the country, temperatures warm to the point where it’d be nice outside if all that snow we’d get didn’t come down as rain.

It’s said that one inch of rain equals ten inches of snow, which would make this February the wettest month in recent memory. This is the month that makes the climate change debate so confusing. If the Earth is getting warmer, why the f*** are we getting buried? Of course, the science behind all that is much more complicated that “If it’s warmer, we shouldn’t have subzero temps in, say, Kentucky.” A warmer Earth means whackier weather, and I’m sure you’ll agree the last twenty years have been pretty whacky.

But it’s not just that. Just as August is usually the hottest month of summer after two months of the northern pole pointed at the sun rather than away from it, the reverse is true of February. By December 21, winter solstice, the North Pole is pointed as far from the sun as it will get. And it stays in the dark until…  Well… February, when we start seeing signs of the spring equinox. So for two months, the northern hemisphere has not been getting as much sunlight, the pole is completely in the dark, and that dreaded polar vortex gets wider and wider until…

February. By then, we’re so sick of the cold and the dark that we torture small rodents by dragging them out of their holes early in the morning, and pretend they can tell us the weather. Said rodents, a groundhog likely named for your locality – Punxutawney Phil, Cleveland Chuck, etc. – would probably like it if we would all leave them alone. Instead, we focus all our rage on these animals that, most of the year, we barely realize exist. Yes, it’s Punxy Phil’s fault that Boston has ten feet of snow or that Cincinnati was actually colder than the North Pole this past week. It has nothing to do with the fact that neither Bostonians nor Cincinnatians do not live in Florida.

As I write this on Sunday morning, I’m looking at weather.com’s 10-day forecast. Granted, anything over three days is subject to radical change, but mysteriously, on March 1, the temperature is predicted to rise to 41 degrees. There’s snow in the forecast, but it looks as though next week, it’ll melt.

I would rejoice over a warm February, but the same year Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed New Orleans, we had a warm February. Cincinnati was a mudhole from Groundhog Day until St. Patrick’s Day. And by St. Patty’s Day, I really needed a beer.

The last thing I can’t figure out is why Valentine’s Day and Black History Month are in February. It’s cold. It’s dark. More often than not, it’s dangerous outside. Why not move them to August? Sure, it’s hot, but I’m more inclined to go somewhere in 90-degree heat than I am through the snow. I’d be more inclined to go to a black history event when I don’t have to bundle up, and let’s be honest. You can justify being already naked in hot weather. Win-win on Valentine’s Day.

You’re reading this on February 25. The best thing I can say about that is February ends in three days.

Thank God for small miracles.

It’s 2015: No Whining

No whiningHey, you know what bugged me about 2014? People whined too much. They kept saying the sky is falling. It was all the Koch Brothers’ fault and Obama’s fault and the one percent and immigrants and gays and Christians and atheists.

Get a grip.

The world isn’t anywhere near as bad off as we keep getting told. Violence is actually down. Fatal diseases are actually down. No, seriously. Despite the most idiotic efforts by Jenny McCarthy (Hint: Jenny is not a doctor.), polio is nearly extinct. India still has isolated pockets of the same disease that likely wrecked FDR’s legs. Guess what’s ranking really high on India’s to-do list.

Currently, there are only two cross-border wars. The Ukraine and Russia, and ISIS in the Middle East. Those are a couple of scary yawners. Oh, and Ebola? Still raging in Liberia, but only Liberia. More people have been married to me than have died of Ebola in the United States.

There are people with a stake in keeping you scared. Go watch Fox News or CNN or, what the hell, MSNBC. They’re sort of a news network. The message is the same. You’re gonna die! You’re gonna die! Republicans/Obama/ISIS/some disease you will never, ever get/the police and/or black people will kill you! Wanna know why they keep hitting that drum beat? Is their some grandiose conspiracy to keep the populace scared and docile?

Nope.

The secret is Applebee’s. And Volkswagen. And Samsung. And Tampax. That’s right. Scared people watch the news a lot. When a lot of people watch the news, advertisers get warm fuzzy feelings and write the news networks bigger checks to pimp their wares in 30-second chunks. And here’s the worst part: Fox, MSNBC, and CNN have twenty-four hours of airtime to fill.

Here’s a modest proposal. Start watching the news in half hour chunks. Really, do you need to listen to Sean Hannity whine for an hour or two every night? He’s a cowardice peddler. All pundits are cowardice peddlers. Remember, they have to keep you good and frightened so you stay tuned and catch those ads for Budweiser. Just watch the news for 30 minutes a day, like Cronkite used to deliver it. Call bullshit when they get sensational. How many of the problems in Ferguson, Missouri were the fault of the police or the protesters? Quite a bit. Guess who else shares some of the blame? That’s right, 24-hour news beating the drum to stoke your outrage and make you scared and keep you glued to the TV.

Right. I have episodes of Gotham to catch up on. No seriously. I need maybe two minutes to know that the police and black citizens in a Midwestern town aren’t getting along and have some issues to resolve. I’d kind of like to know how the stock market did and maybe if there’s something else I need to know about, good or bad.

“So, Jim, you say we’re scared and whine too much on Facebook. What do you expect us to do about it?”

Do? You haven’t been doing anything. Volunteer any? Invent something? Do you even go out and socialize at all? Or are you one of those losers who go “I hate people.”

Yeah, if I spent all my time on Facebook, I’d be praying for an asteroid hit. A big one, bigger one than the one that killed the dinosaurs. But I don’t. I write. I volunteer when I can. And you know what? I actually shut off the laptop once in awhile. Sometimes, I work on beefing up my development skills. Why? Maybe I want to invent the next Twitter or Cars.com. But I can’t do that by complaining that whatever that is doesn’t exist.

It’s 2015, people. Nothing’s going to get better or, more importantly, nothing great will happen posting incoherent rage in social media.

The Year In Rearview

2014 was either a giant suckfest or a decent year, depending on who you are and what bullshit on Facebook you believe. Here is a look back.

JANUARY

Chris Christie prematurely ends his 2016 campaign for president by causing traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge.

Vladimir Putin tests his super-villain skills by annexing the Crimean Peninsula. The Ukraine does not approve.

FEBRUARY

Jay Leno officially retires, handing off The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon. This time, NBC manages not to screw over Conan O’Brien… Um… Wait…

MARCH

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappears. I keep having visions of a smoke monster.

APRIL

Nigerian girls are kidnapped by an extremist group. Ann Coulter takes this opportunity to prove what an utter failure she is as a human being.

MAY

A US Army sergeant is successful brought home from Afghanistan after being held prisoner by the Taliban. Congressional Republicans blame Obama.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling learns that being a billionaire does not excuse one from being a racist douchebag.

JUNE

The World Cup begins. Radio pundits suspect American interest in soccer is a gateway to socialism.

JULY

LeBron James returns to Cleveland. Yea?

Germany scores a Brazillion goals against Brazil in the World Cup.

Russia, or maybe the Ukraine, accidentally shoot down Malaysian Flight 17. Vladimir Putin is singled out for an atomic wedgie when leaders meet for a G8 summit in Australia.

AUGUST

A white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shoots an unarmed black man. The police department is ordered to stand down and let the state police handle things when the local police do stupid things like harass camera crews and try to confiscate smart phones. Yeah. That’ll really calm down the population.

SEPTEMBER

Sorry, ladies, but George Clooney is off he market.

Scotland decides to remain in the UK. Doctor Who, on the other hand, decides to be Scottish. Much Scottish ale is consumed.

ISIS attempts to take over the Middle East. Apparently, they forgot that Turkey is a member of NATO.

OCTOBER

The number of deaths from Ebola in the US skyrockets to match the number of people who have been married to Kim Kardashian. Never mind that bubonic plague still outpaces Ebola in America.

NOVEMBER

America gives the Senate to the Republican Party. Which apparently makes Obama’s job easier.

Officer Darren Wilson is not indicted, setting off a wave of protests.

DECEMBER

Kim Jong Un screws with Sony Pictures. Barack Obama screws with Kim’s Internet.

Repost: A Very Kenwood Christmas

My first Christmas in Cincinnati found me doing my first ever Christmas Eve shopping dash.  I ended up at Kenwood Towne Center, the mall nearest the then-inlaws’ place.  Big mistake.  In looking for a parking place, I wound up in a standoff with another guy waiting for the same parking space to open.

I stared.  He stared.  Somewhere nearby, a car stereo blared the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Finally, the car pulled out and away.  It was on.

Or was it?

Before I or my nemesis could get our feet off our respective brakes, two women in expensive sedans whipped around us and shot into the same parking space.  Or tried to.

As Michio Kaku will explain on his many television appearances, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  What a waste of a Lexus and a BMW.

My nemesis and I got out, looked at each other, then watched the two vicious ladies cuss each other out.  One of these ladies was a eucharistic minister at my church at the time.

“You know,” I said to my nemesis, “it’s really not a bad day to walk.”

“I’m parking over by the Kroger,” he said.

“I’ll join you.”

Half the Kroger lot was empty.  Nemesis and I parked without incident or conflict.

I suspect the two ladies got lumps of coal in their stockings.