Submission Transmitted

Just submitted a very short story to the literary journal called The First Line. This issue's first line: "I came of age in a time of no heroes."

Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand (Fred Vargas)

Leaning his shoulder against the dark basement wall, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg stood contemplating the enormous central heating boiler which had suddenly stopped working, two days before.

Knight Moves (Walter Jon Williams)

I have a little story that I made up, and I'll tell it to you if you don't read that much into it.

20 on 20: 0ish

And so it starts with a fork in the road. I didn't want this to be about decision-making and how difficult it can be to choose options, but here we are at the east end of California 20 and already I am uncertain how to decide.

"This isn't the place to begin." My imaginary great uncle stands at the stop sign near the salt house. "There's at least a mile up that way." Great Uncle Leadbelly points up the road under the bridge.

"That's the on-ramp to I-80," I say. "I don't think that should count."

"There is still a double-yellow line along a portion of that roadway," Prasad points out. He is as imaginary as my great uncle. "Surely, that is the definition of a two-lane highway."

"This sign up here says West 20. It doesn't say you can turn left onto East 20." The kid whose name I can't remember has walked up the other fork. We all gather near the sign and nod our heads. It's true. There is only one sign.

"Awful lot of blacktop without a name, then," Great Uncle grumbles. "In my day, we called that a road."

The three start squabbling like chickens and I am really beginning to doubt the wisdom of this road trip. I leave them to it and scramble up the hillside alongside the ramp. The view is spectacular up here in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We're down the road from Donner Pass, but the peaks are lovely.

"What are you doing?" Prasad has scrambled up beside me. "You're going to hurt yourself."

"No, I'm safe. Worry about yourself."

"You keep insisting I'm not real," he says. "It follows, then, that I am invincible."

"Geez, don't give that notion to Great Uncle Leadbelly."

"What is that?"

"That is Spaulding Lake. It's pretty low. Usually, it's much bluer."

"Are we going there?"

"Sadly, we are not going to Spaulding Lake." I wonder where Annabel Lee is. I look around, sigh, and climb back down.

"When I was with Augustus," I hear Great Uncle Leadbelly pontificating, "we built better roads than this."

"You were never with Augustus," I say.

"Well, Octavian, whoever."

We walk back toward the car, where Bertie is crouched down looking at something on the ground. He growls a little as we come close.

"This is my idea," he says. "Nobody steal it."

We stare at the ground. "Nobody wants your trash," says the kid with no name.

"It's going to be a fortune. It's a goldmine, I tell you."

"How do you figure?" I don't want to ask, but I do anyway.

"You know how a big box of that cereal you like costs less per ounce than the medium sized box? And then the smaller box is even more money per ounce? And then, if you buy a single serving package, it's an astronomical per-ounce price? Imagine what it would add up to if you paid for every single bite. That's what this is."

I stare down at the road and shake my head. "If we're ever going to get to the sea, we need to get a move on."

And it is that easily that it is decided. We're not going to start at the fork in the road.

We're starting at the spoon.

20 on 20 is a series of photographs taken at (approximately) 20 mile intervals traveling east to west on California 20.


I'm not usually one for reposting lots of gifs, but things are a bit stressful here and this is something that I just want to stare at all day and giggle:

Find more Ordinary Batman Adventures.


OK, Internet, help me make a decision here.

I've been trying to find a new place to live, and I've narrowed it down to two places. Which should I pick?


This is the house and its view:

Albion is on the coast north of San Francisco in Mendocino County. This meets my dream of living on a cliff overlooking the sea and making home improvement the way I work out my mid-life crisis.

  • Ocean right out window
  • Away from it all
  • Might be fun to fix up
  • The price is right
  • Closest airport is named after Charles M Schulz
  • Nice park at river/inlet less than 2 miles away for kayak launching
  • It's on a road that shares a name with half my favorite duo

  • Coastal Commission might be hard to deal with in fixing up (and it must be fixed up)
  • Would like to be closer to an airport. Although Alaskan Air flies through Santa Rosa, nothing else does. SMF is probably 4 hours away.
  • Would like to be closer to civilization. It's pretty far from everywhere. There's not a nice pub or cafe or something to walk to and hang out.


This is the view from three blocks from the house:

Cayucos is a small beach town on the Central Coast. This meets my dream of being a total beach bum.

  • Full beach is only three blocks away
  • Located in town, where there are restaurants and bars, a nice one overlooking the beach
  • Closest airport is closer -- San Luis Obispo is about 30 minutes, with two major carriers (still no Southwest) and both San Jose and Bob Hope are about 3 hours away (worse than NC, but better than the first option)
  • There are places to walk and to bike. It's flatter and there are shoulders, I'm sure I could bike to Morro Bay easily and maybe even as far as Hearst Castle
  • Cayucos is named after a kayak-like boat

  • Would like to be on the ocean. Not available here (right now).
  • Would like a detached home. Prices are higher here. To afford a place, I'm likely going to have to bid on a townhouse
  • Would like to be closer to airports. This is still not a great distance for airports. (I do travel quite a bit, even in my new role.
  • Would like a place I could play with and have visitors. The townhouse I'm looking at is small and I probably can't make it bigger

Those are off the top of my head. Will continue to think of other pluses and deltas. If you have any knowledge of these areas or somewhere else on the coast, leave a comment in the comments. Or if you have an opinion at all. Or even if you just want to say 'hi'.

The polls are open.

After Life (Rhian Ellis)

First I had to get his body into the boat.