My Resolutions for 2012

We park down the street from a gym. Every January the lot fills quickly, but by February usage drops back down to normal. You can almost see the puddles of dissolved resolutions. I prefer failing to improve myself several times over the course of year. I also know that, resolution or not, an activity I don’t enjoy won’t become part of my routine.

A year is a good chunk of time, though. Long enough that a review seems to be in order. In no particular order then, I present my retroactive resolutions for 2012.

Blog
I have a tendency to start a lot of projects and abandon all or most them. Tales of the Atomic Zombie began in the start of March, and I’ve posted at least once a week ever since.

This is the bar, folks. Making regular blog posts is an accomplishment.

Comics
I spent some time this year on restarting my comic company. One issue is currently being colored for publication next year, and I’ve started writing another. I attended a convention in order to gather ideas for how to pitch digital works in a physical venue.

Not a failure, but hardly a success.

Writing
One of the purposes of this blog was to get me writing again. I started two stories and finished one them, which I sold! (More on that later, when I have links to share.) Additionally, I entered a small contest and won it (tied, really), giving me a column in a publication next year. (Again, more later.)

This resolution was an unqualified success, upon which I hope to build.

Weight
I spent the last year and a half regaining most of the 80 pounds I’d lost. Fortunately I’ve stayed about ten pounds shy of regaining it all. So, there’s some room for improvement is what I’m saying.

Pretty much a big ol’ fail.

Music
I released two songs this year, and I’m pretty happy about both of them. One is even in iTunes, Amazon, and other digital markets. For the second year in a row, I failed to release anything for Christmas.

So, really a mixed bag.

Career
I got a promotion and spent the majority of the work year trying to not screw up. I didn’t screw up, but I didn’t exactly distinguish myself either.

Kind of a minor plus, overall.

Housework
I just put the flannel sheets on yesterday. My studio and library are starting to attract reality show film crews.

Major fail.

Some things turned out better than I dared hope, others sort of muddled along as usual, and a few went very poorly indeed. That just means I keep trying!

Happy New Year, folks. Keep safe, and remember that resolutions aren’t just for booze o’clock at the end of the calendar year. Keep the desire to do better in your heart all through the year, even you only take it out for inspection every once in a while.

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Gah! Spider Puppets!

You may remember that spiders are my natural predator. You may also recall that above all else I fear signs of intelligence in the leggy bastards. News of communities of spiders cooperating when food was plentiful convinced me that the end was near.

Well, according to this article on Wired, we now have evidence of spiders that put on puppet shows! They make spider puppets out of bits of debris and wiggle them. Why? It may be to mislead predatory birds, but they won’t know unless someone sits and watches enough spider puppet shows to prove out the theory.

Spider. Puppet. Shows.

I can’t even.

Choose the Dream In Which You Live

I sat in the waiting room of the dentists’ office, my eyes closed against the commotion from the other patients. Jolly holiday music wafted over me from speakers I never bothered to find. My eyes opened in response to the sound of the office door. Before me I could see CNN on the TV. The tech called a different patient. I read the closed caption on CNN’s coverage of a Newtown fireman talking about receiving 26 wreaths at the station house. Somewhere Bing Crosby dreamed of a White Christmas.

It was a little after 3:00 PM on Monday, December 17. I realized that three worlds mixed uncomfortably around me.

The first world came in over the speakers. It was a happy world, where people went on sleigh rides and gave each other presents. There was snow and romance, and the biggest troubles could be handled by taking them to Santa Claus.

The second world was the silent horror of the television. Unrelenting fear and misery, projecting over us — always questioning our safety.

In between lay the third world. This was where we sat. It wasn’t eternally cheery. It wasn’t constant anguish. It had a bit of each, but only rarely. Mostly it was a lot of anticipation of one or the other. We could focus on the good fantasy or the bad fantasy and live to see them realized.

They never would be real, though. Not really. You could live that way and be always disappointed or distraught, but they still wouldn’t be real. Better, you can live for the moments in between. Learn to enjoy every sandwich. It’s easier to bear the bad times, if you don’t count only the very best times as good.

Then the door opened for me, and I went back to get a filling in a wisdom tooth.

Weapon of Foamy Destruction

Although an atheist I am a fervent practitioner of secular Christmas, so I like the opportunity to help spread some cheer. My office participates in Adopt-A-Family, which provides gifts for local families in need, and I always help out with that. Tags are put up for desired items: cash, gift certificates, grooming supplies, and maybe some fun things like a toy or kids’ movie.

This year I selected a tag for a Nerf gun and ammo. I stopped at Meijer on my drive home and gazed in wonder at the Nerf aisle. Such an array of spongy doom! Most of the awesome guns required batteries, which I thought would be needlessly cruel. I didn’t want to give a gift that would require a continuous stream of money to operate. With a little digging I found a nice, battery-free revolver.

The tag also specified extra ammo, so I looked at varying plastic bags filled with Nerf darts. Then I saw it, the most beautiful accessory I’d never imagined. It was a camo dart pouch (capacity of 100 darts!) that came with 50 darts. 50 camo darts! The packaging proclaimed this would be a boon to “your stealthiest missions”, and I immediately pictured a kid creeping down the street in full forest camo brandishing a bright orange Nerf revolver. Sneaky!

My smile was wide enough to threaten the structural integrity of my jaw.

Having accomplished my own stealthy mission, I set about raiding the movies on discount. This activity accounts for roughly 98% of my Meijer shopping.

As the cashier rang up my purchases, she suddenly asked to see my ID. She claimed it was because one the movies I was buying had an R rating, but I know that was just a cover. I’m pretty sure that super-stealthy dart pouch landed me on some ATF watch list. It’ll probably be worse for me if I explain it was for a minor.

Judge Not, Nor Jury Either

After freaking out for several months about my impending jury duty, it of course became a non-event. I showed up shortly after 8:00 AM, slightly delayed by the metal in my belt, and had chosen an aisle chair by the 8:15 reporting time. Of the four scheduled trials one had ended in a settlement, two had the defendents cop a plea, and one defendent (perhaps having seen us) opted for a bench trial. According to my Twitter timestamps, we were all let go around 10:30.

Of course, “let go” drastically oversimplifies the process. We were called up, one at a time, to return our badges and collect our pay cards. Then we stood in line at a custom ATM that read the cards and spat out — rather contemptuously — $17 for our inconvenience.

I had nearly made it back to my car (in a university parking lot half of a mile away), when the day again threatened to become legal. At a 4-way stop I witnessed a driver run the stop sign and smack the rear of another car.

The offending driver pulled up next to me and stormed out of her car, barking about lawyers and such. She asked me if I’d seen what happened, and I warily admitted that I had. Then the driver of the other car came over, and the woman who’d caused the accident started yelling at her.

“You had a stop sign!” she roared.

The women who’d been run into goggled at this and simply retorted “So did you.”

There was an awkward moment as the first woman stared at the sign she’d blown through.

“Oh God,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

At that the two started to sort things out rationally. Relieved that my testimony would not be needed after all, I quietly slipped away.

Having dodged the jury box and the witness stand, my only remaining goal for the day was to stay clear of the defense table.

Grounds for Dismissal

In the kitchenette nearest my “office” there is a note about how to make office coffee. One part of the note specifies that “3/4” cup of grounds should be used. I don’t drink this weak sauce, so I don’t know how long it’s been since this measurement was amended to “0.75”.

Joking about this seemingly pointless edit, I was informed of the sad necessity for it. Someone had managed to misread “3/4” and used 3-4 cups instead.

My first thought was that whoever did that was probably the same jerk that’s been throwing trash into the recycle bin. My second was that I missed out on the best coffee we’ll likely ever have here.

Trial by Trial

My jury summons is for next week, and my thoughts of late have centered on the trial I sat on the last time I answered a summons.

It was the first summons I’d had to answer; every time previously had been for courts where my parents lived while I’d been away at college. Everyone had assured me that all I’d have to do would be to read a book for a while. In the unlikely event I wound up on a jury, I was told, it would be some minor suit that would be settled as soon as the opening statements were over.

Instead, for three days I heard testimony about a murder over hurt pride. The whole thing was upsetting, and not just because of the stupid waste of lives.

We all know that TV is filled with lies, but sometimes we just don’t want to believe it. In reality judges are unengaged, lawyers are inarticulate, police lose evidence, and there is no moment that makes the case irrefutable. There’s just a parade of witnesses that aren’t allowed to say much and twelve people trying to make sense of it.

So I’m really hoping that this time I just get to sit and read for a while. The plot would undoubtedly be better.

Thing for Which I Was Unprepared

I walked into the restroom at work, and it took a moment for my brain to process the scene. There was a workman in the middle of the room crouched over the urinal, which lay on the tile.

It felt like I’d caught him doing something unseemly. I laughed nervously. He laughed apologetically.

I fled.

Surely there’s a warning sign for such occasions.

Godzilla, He Smashes World-Destroying Robots From Space

A few months ago, Nate Higley announced that he was accepting commission work. It took me all of about 4 milliseconds to decide I wanted a drawing of Godzilla fighting Kronos. To my delight, he was already familiar with the “Ravager of Planets” so I didn’t have to explain the whole giant-box-robot thing.

Showa Era Godzilla v Kronos, by Nate Higley

Showa Era Godzilla v Kronos, by Nate Higley

Nate chose to make Kronos lighter for balance, and he added a ‘rivet’ motif from poster art because boxes just aren’t that interesting. 😀

Now I want Toho to acquire the rights so we can see this battle on film!