What I did NOT do on my summer vacation

I read recently that writers should occasionally take time off from writing, so when I went on vacation from my full time job I also avoided anything writing related, for almost two weeks.

It was miserable.

Apparently my wife is correct that I don’t know how to relax … more to the point, you don’t need as much time off if you love what you’re doing. So I’m going to hit the promotion again for Hoosier Hysterical, then do some revising and resubmitting, then start on a new story—not all this week, of course. Next vacation, I’ll take a laptop with me. Um, again.

How I Moved My Summer Vacation

"If you really want to find out who your friends are, ask them to help you move."

I don't know who said that, but truer words were never spoken. However, you have to amend that statement when you're going to help your in-laws move. If you like your in-laws, as I do, the question is pretty much the same. If you don't, well ... it's like making a political statement on Facebook: You need to decide in advance how much grief you're willing to go through.

There's a twist in this particular tale. About two days after my in-laws closed on a house, the mobile home they were living in was hit by a car. No, the home wasn't mobile at the time. They say the driver hydroplaned—which I find odd because it wasn't raining at the time—then slid through a utility pole and turned the front bedroom into a drive-through. And isn't that the next big thing in mobile homes? First they can travel, now you can just drive into the bedroom and voila--combination garage! Leave the car in there when you move it, and save on gas mileage.

The result: They had to get moved a bit faster than planned. For one thing, the bedroom was now about the width of a bathtub. For another, it had huge holes in the former walls ... and this is southeast Missouri, where the mosquitos can punch through walls without the help. And finally, the electricity had to be cut off in the home. See above about southeast Missouri—in July.

It took six people total, averaging three or four at any one time, two days to make the move. They rented a truck, and that makes things way easier, although maybe we should have rented some people. About 50% of us had chronic back issues, but that wasn't as much an issue as the fact that it was southeast Missouri. In July.

See, here's the difference between that area and where I live, in northeast Indiana. Hoosier weather gets just as hot and humid ... from time to time. It seems like our heat waves last forever, but in reality they rarely go more than a few days. (Last week excepted.) Down there the humidity pops up to 114% in May, and the temperature doesn't drop below 90 until October. Yes, the humidity's actually more than 100%. It’s a head-scratcher, or maybe that’s the mosquitos.

Their winters are wonderful. I mean, compared to Indiana.

So that led to a few bumps along the way, such as my difficulty in seeing because the lenses on my glasses melted off. Going into that trailer was like sticking your head into the stove to see how the all-day Thanksgiving turkey is doing. Leaving the trailer was like going into the kitchen where the turkey's been cooking all day.

It was so hot they had to open the fire hydrants to let steam out.

It was so hot even the politicians stopped talking.

It was so hot we had to put the beverage coolers into cooler coolers.

It was hot, I tell ya'.

None of this bothered the mosquitos a bit. The first day we soaked in bug spray, which actually cooled us down until later, when it started boiling off our skin. But I was wearing jeans at first, and when I got the bright idea to try shorts an hour later, I forgot to reapply. By the end of the day, my legs looked like an overhead photo of a heavily shelled World War I battleground. I couldn't get more bites touring a donut factory.

What I'm saying, basically, is that we didn't have much fun.

And yet, in the end, it was worth it. The in-laws have a nice little place now, and we visited with some friends, and once the moving part was over we even got to do some traveling. There's something to be said for helping people out. If I could, I'd go back down there and embrace the whole community with a great big, loving cloud of DDT.

It would still be hot, though.

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A walk in the (wet) woods

I decided to go for an epic long hike, so I hit the furthest reaches of Pokagon today, where it started raining ... then raining harder ... Then the trees stopped protecting me. Well, I'm just not that motivated.  I did make it three miles, since I was a mile from the car when the hard rain started ... 

Then, in true Murphy's Law fashion, 5 minutes after I reached the car the rain completely stopped. The good news is, Bae's blanket is in the car, so now I know what it's like to be completely covered in wet dog hair.

Oz and ends

I made a purchase at Barnes and Noble in Fort Wayne, and this is the bag it came in. They really know their customers!

A Tale of Two Movies

We got to see two movies on my vacation, and both are from reboots of established franchises:

Emily and I both came in to Ghostbusters with mixed feeling, considering all the negative feedback that's been going on. Some of it was from people who had not yet seen the movie, and I automatically disregard that. Some of it was from people who thought the new movie was a feminist propaganda piece, and who knows? Maybe it was meant that way. But if I stayed away from every movie pushing a left wing agenda, I'd sure have a lot more time to read.

No, I go to movies to be entertained, and in that Ghostbusters delivered in spades. It was certainly the second best of the three movies (sorry, you just can't beat the original), and while there are logical inconsistencies here and there, hey--it's a movie about ghosts. I wasn't looking for logic.

My only real problem is that I see no reason why it had to be a reboot, instead of a sequel. While the story could have been better, and for me the fight scene at the end seemed a bit too much, the movie was saved by its actors. The four lady Ghostbusters were great, but two people stole every scene they were in: Kate McKinnon's a riot as a nuclear engineer who seems to have spent too much time in her devices energy fields, and Chris Hemsworth ... well, he plays a dumb blonde who's hired as a secretary just for his looks, and you can see how that raised some conservation. But he's so friggin' hilarious in every single scene that I just don't care.

My score: Entertainment value, 4 M&Ms out of 4. The good brown ones, that make you think they're more chocolatey than they are.
Oscar potential: 2 M&Ms out of 4. Maybe for some kind of effects or something ... the Oscars aren't kind to comedies, anyway.

Then there's Star Trek Beyond, the third Star Trek movie since the reboot in which Star Trek and Star Wars had a baby. In this edition the Enterprise is attacked by a cloud of TIE fighter and the crew is stranded on the surface of Endor ...

Actually, this time around, for the first time since the reboot, the movie makers seem to have figured something out: Even though Spock would be super-cool with a lightsaber, Star Trek is supposed to be a bit more cerebral and a bit less ... laser blasters. It's more Star Trekkie, although it would be nice if the editors would cut way down on fast cuts. Am I getting older? Yes.

But there are two ways to judge a Star Trek movie: as a movie, or as Star Trek. You have to remember that this started out as a TV series, and it's not so easy going from the small to the big screen. Some of the worst of the series' movies may have, with some cutting, made much better episodes. As Star Trek this was better, complete with nice character moments and shout-outs to the universe's past, but there are plenty of things for hard core fans to not like. (starships on a planetary surface, for instance.) So from a standpoint of the franchise, Beyond was good, but not great.

As a space opera movie, it was great--a slam-bam mix of speed, phaser blasts, and stuff exploding. Oh, and there's some deep thinky stuff too, which actually brings us back to it being Star Trekkie again. The acting and effects were great, and while I'd prefer at least a bit more attempt to match the established science of the original shows, hey--sometimes the original shows didn't, either.

My score: Entertainment value, 4 M&Ms out of 4. Maybe not the brown ones, but still. With Ghostbusters I went in with low expectations, while with Star Trek I'd heard nothing but great things, so that may have painted my reaction.
Oscar potential: 2 M&Ms out of 4. Oscar doesn't like SF much, either.

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Weather related

(Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be promoting Hoosier Hysterical, but a guy's gotta get exercise!) The storms that have been blowing through dropped a tree across trail 2, near Snow Lake at Pokagon State Park.

Another northeast Indiana recreational area

Adding how far I walked before runkeeper glitched, I hiked just under 3 miles on a moderate trail at Trine State Recreation Area. It's my first time here, so I didn't realize most of it was meadow and swamp land, in full sun ... It's over 90, so maybe I should have stopped at half a mile. But I drank two bottles of water on the way, and now I'm hitting the PowerAid.

People to do, things to see

I’ll be going more or less “radio silent” for a while due to stuff, and things of that nature. There’ll be a full report when I return … although hopefully I’ll have time to go through e-mails from time to time along the way.

It’s probably not a good moment for me to pause in promoting a new book, so maybe I’ll find time to sneak back now and again. On the other hand, I could use a break from the internet hubbub, and what better time for that than summertime?

No particular reason--I just liked the picture.