This will be my last post of 2011. All in all, it has been an enjoyable year, though as any Taoist can tell you, it's almost impossible to stay on top for a year, and there have been a few speed bumps, but that's okay. We're all still here, we have what we need, with maybe a little speck extra, so who's to complain? I've dealt with a few car problems, a health scare, and needed to replace a couple of major appliances, but we got past all that, and we're all here, safe, warm, and fed; life is good! I don't make New Year's Resolutions; never have, never will. They just set you up for failure, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy. All I try to do, and you can call it a resolution if you want, is try to do well for myself and my family, and right by those I impact, as I always try to do at all times. If you can live up to that, you'll find you don't need a list of formalized resolutions.
I anticipate making some changes to the blog for the new year. Again, call these resolutions if you want. I've been hacking away here for nine months, and as is always the case with initial endeavors, some things have turned out well, and others, not so much. I plan to drop Tales of my Kids from the rotation here. You haven't seen much of that in any case, but Bonnie is covering it in some detail in Across the Years, and our daughter, Nine, posts her own recollections, among other things at The Spinster Aunt, so I'm just triplicating information better passed on elsewhere. That isn't to say I won't post an occasional anecdote if I feel the need, but it won't be in the regular rotation next year. Another thing I promise to lighten up on is controversy. I understand that you can't have a footprint on the web without being controversial, and that's fine, but this is not a political blog, and I'm not doing it to rattle cages. I may not be able to avoid controversy entirely, but there is no need to court it with articles purporting to tell you what effect video games will have on your kids, for example. I have experience, and I have opinions, but I don't have any special knowledge or insight, and there is no particular reason for me to be muddying the waters... not that that particular water could get any muddier... The news feed will go, unless someone really likes it, and says so, and I'm going to change the visitor map. The music may get changed more regularly; details, those, but site improvement, nonetheless.
I will periodically weed out my recommended sites for you to visit. The start of a new year seems like an appropriate time for a performance review. I don't just recommend a site as an entertaining stop because I know the URL. Every site that went on my list was added because something about them "grabbed" me in terms of content and production. A couple of old friends are on the dime right now, and whether they stay or go depends on what I hear from them in the next week or so.
That's what I'm taking out, so what, you may ask, will I be putting in? Well, I plan to take more trips around this beautiful region I live in, and document them for your enjoyment. People from all over the world spend thousands of dollars to come here for a week. I live here. I own a camera, a fairly new digital model that I'm becoming more proficient with every day. It is, quite simply, selfish of me to go out to relax, and not share the experience with you who make this particular hobby possible, or at least enjoyable. Over on the now-defunct family blog, The Tyler Gang, I talked of a regular feature called The Other San Diego, which would look at the stuff the tourists miss. I even did a couple of posts, but I let it get buried. I intend to bring it over here for your edification. I'll look at spots to visit, casual dining, off the main track events, and generally try to give you a feel for what it's like to be a permanent resident in a tourist Mecca.
Television. I have a strange technique for watching television which I'll share over the coming months, along with stories, reviews, and fun facts about things I've been watching. Movies will be covered in similar fashion. Games I've been playing. Books. All will be given the treatment. I'll talk about why I like the things I do, from Ass Kicking Women to a well-drawn Villain. I'll even share a favorite recipe from time to time. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it, and come back for more.
Speaking of coming back, the chatboard will be putting in a renewed appearance, and I hope someone will get around to using it; yes, Axeman, you know who you are. It's a great way to drop me a quick text message about whatever's on your mind. And rest assured, if you do, I will reply, most usually within a couple of hours, tops!
The Hideout's tagline from day one has been, "Good. Clean. Fun." I have gone to great lengths to keep it clean. I flatter myself that it is good. All of these changes should go a long way toward amping up the fun.
One last nod to politics: I have closed virtually every post with the words, "Now get out there and live life like you mean it!" That's good advice. You only get this life, and to waste it sitting around being worried about things you can't control is foolish at best. But there are more important things to consider right now. Until this country that I love, with all its warts and blackheads, is pulled back from the brink, and put back on track, I will close with instructions on how to fix it: Throw the bastards out! That's right. I'm not trying to be controversial by way of convincing you to change your political convictions; by all means, hold on tightly to what you believe in. No, what I'm suggesting is that you reboot the whole concept of belonging to one party or the other, because they are no longer distinguishable from one another. Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, every politician of the 21st Century enters the arena for one reason: To fatten his wallet at the expense of yours. Case in point: Me. Events of the last six months have made me ashamed to admit that I've been a staunch Republican for most of my adult life. I finally gave up and voted for Obama because I couldn't take any more of what was happening to my country. Obama ran on the notion that he had a plan to fix the economy. Maybe he did. We'll never know, because the same bunch of octogenarian, ten-plus term Republican congressmen who drove this country into the ground in the first place has risen up en masse to block everything Obama has tried to do. You needn't look any farther back than this summer's debt ceiling fight, or December's attempt to extend the payroll tax cuts to see the same old gang of Republicans willing to drive this country into Third-World status before they'll allow Obama to "attack" people who harvest, on an annual basis, a level of wealth that would provide a comfortable living for ten thousand families... EACH! And what is their definition of "attack?" That would be to make them pay their fair share. For the love of whatever God you recognize, how many Americans, on the left and right, have to freeze, starve, or die of untreated diseases in alleys before they decide enough is enough? Well, the solution is simple: The first term is when they learn how to line their own pockets; the second term is when they get serious about doing it. If none of the miserable bastards ever gets a second term, problem solved. Throw the bastards out! There should be no such thing in the United States of America as a Career Politician; leave that stuff to Cuba and North Korea. It seems to work for them; I gotta say, it ain't going so good here.
All right, that was my political rant for the year, and as it's the only one I intend to allow myself, I made it a good one!
Long-time followers will also be aware that I have written five novels. None of them were of suitable quality to be sold into the market. That's all right. I enjoyed the experience, both of writing, and having conversations with publishing professionals. I would write more, but I'm 63 years old. It takes a year to write a novel, and most of that year is spent in seclusion developing characters and plotlines, and I don't know how many years I may have left. I don't want to steal that kind of time from those who love me, and enjoy my company. I do still enjoy the creative process, and have considered the short story as an alternative, as well as being teased by a notion to dabble in the fascinating world of alternate time lines. Now hold that thought.
Dystopian Wars paints the alternate history with a broad brush stroke, and leaves the player to fill in the details of his own little corner of the world. Chops' little corner of the world is Ireland. The official history devotes six words to the Irish conflict: "Great Britain invaded and conquered Ireland." "Not so fast," says Chops. "That may be what was released for public consumption, but it's hardly likely that a nation of world famous brawlers went down so easily." He then undertook the project of fleshing out a whole backstory of what really happened in that conflict, a story ferreted out by one Shackleford Banks, a journalist of some repute, defying the best efforts of the British War Office to suppress it. We have of late been involved in some extensive talks which appear to be leading to two parallel series of short stories, his concerning Banks at 40, dodging a steampunk James Bond to bring the truth to the world, and mine focusing on Banks at 20, fresh out of school, and developing the character that will drive him into this crusade for truth in later life. Think Sherlock Holmes works for a newspaper, and you'll have an idea. We are discussing having the series run on The Irish Navy, and could start by the middle of January. We're pretty much certain they're going to run somewhere, so watch both sites for updates.
Heard around the tree:
A guy bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas. After hearing about this extravagant gift, a friend of his said, "I thought she wanted one of those sporty four-wheel-drive vehicles."
"She did," he replied, "but where was I going to find a fake Jeep?"
Okay, that should be enough to keep you going for a while. I'm going to spread my posts out a bit next year, maybe doing three a month instead of four; preparation is eating up a disproportionate amount of my leisure time! See you next year. And, one last time, get out there and live life like you mean it!