28 June, 2017

Side Step...Six Years Gone

(Perhaps I should not have written this, but I am going to post it.  Remembering this is all the more hard, as I am no longer in radio, and the chances of a return have closed to me, through no one's fault but my own.  I am not going to lie, writing this and remembering all that comes with this made me sad and fight tears the whole way.)

     I have tried and failed to avoid thinking about this grim anniversary.  It was six years ago tonight that I did my last on air shift at 90.5 WDUQ.  In this moment, I find it hard to believe it has been six years since it happened.
      It was not my last air shift by choice.  The station, owned by Duquesne University, had been sold in January of 2011.  The sale was finalized, and the new owner (WYEP) set to take over on 30-June.  The new ownership had decided to do away with the DUQ format, consisting of news and jazz, which had the effect of making a large junk of the staff unnecessary.  I was one of those people losing their job, being a board op and part time on air host.
     There are many other side lights to the whole sale of the station affair.  I am going to spare all of you from them.  I am still bitter about a good bit of it, to the point that I still will not set foot on Duquesne's campus.  Instead, with the help of Facebook and my own memory, I am going to just relate a few things from that night.  
     It is tough remembering that night.  I was a wreck and then some going in.  The drive to the station that night (I worked from 11pm to 2am on Monday and Tuesday nights for a number of years.) was one I never wanted to make.  I remember several things from that night still:

      Taking a few phone calls from listeners thanking me for being there, and DUQ for being there to bring them jazz and news.

      One call in particular I made a note of:  From a gentleman who thanked me for being there for him all the nights he lived in the backwoods of Beaver County and helping him get through the night.

     Drinking a 24 ounce regular coffee the first hour on air.

     Drinking a 720ml bottle of Lindemann's Lambic during the second hour on air.

     Learning that combining those two drinks in the same two hour stretch was rough.

    Ending the air shift to the sounds of 'Amazing Grace' as I signed off for the last time.

     Somehow managing not to cry until I was totally done at 2:06:30am

     Even sitting here now, I can still feel the emotions of it all, which is probably why I find it hard to fathom it has been six years.  It was the end of an era, which I sadly got to see first hand.  It was also very frightening to me, as I was certain it was going to be the end of me being a DJ, or even in radio.  I worked with fantastic and talented people, and all of that was being uprooted.

     The list could go on forever, but I will spare you all from that too.  I miss those days, and I miss being in radio would be a fair summary.

     I am pasting a post I made back on 22-July-2011, 'Letter from a Listener'.  It too sums up a great many things:

   (I had wanted to share this before now, but between running away for the 4th and coming back all depressed, I had just not had the heart.  Since coming back on July 4th, Life has been very surreal for me, as this is the first time I have not been in radio for 14 years...nor at DUQ for 13..)

     As many of you know, I worked at what was 90.5 WDUQ, Pittsburgh's News...Jazz...NPR station for 13 years.  I started there when I was in college, thanks to the help of another friend who was working at DUQ and going to Duquesne.  I have so many fond memories, and that includes the time I got stuck in the elevator at the Des Places building we used to be in.

     Back on June 30th, Bob Studebaker, who I worked with, forwarded me the following message.  I wanted to share it with everyone, as it made me cry when I read it.  It is a touching tribute not to me, but to what DUQ brought to this city, region, and the lives of so many.

Bob,

Could you do me a favor, and tell John Lasanich that I think he's one of the "unsung heros" on the staff?

He's so unsung, he's not even listed. And he must not be allowed to answer the phone,'cause I can never get him at the studio.

If Tony's "the Voice," and you're "the Professor,"then John has got to be "the DJ."  With his simple, direct style,he must spin more music/hour than anyone else, and on his shift - jazz's natural "magic hours" -
it's just the time when it's the music we want to hear.

He's been much appreciated at our house. We'll miss him. Wish him all the best from us. Hope we have the pleasure of finding him "on the air," again soon.

~ Larry

    

30 January, 2017

Side Step...Iranian Missile Test

     I have done my level best to stay out of the current 'Implosion of America' (As some might call it.) or the 'Rebirth of America' (As others might see it.).  I am a moderate by teaching and temperament, so I can see things from both sides.  Combine that with my view of things and the world, and I am a moderate.  Because of my stance, I abhor political talk most of the time, while still keeping an eye on what is happening.
     However, there are some things I can not avoid.  In this case, it involves a country called Iran.  More specifically, it involves a recent action of Iran.  The following are several links to this story:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4173342/Iran-tests-ballistic-missile-violation-resolution.html

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/30/iran-conducts-ballistic-missile-test-us-officials-say.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/iran-missile-test_us_588f943ce4b0c90efeff138f

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-tested-medium-range-ballistic-missile-u-official-193831854.html

     Hopefully you, dear reader, have read through one, if not all these links.  A simple summary of them is this:

     Iran has test fired a medium range ballistic missile.  This is possibly in violation of the UN resolution about their atomic activity and aims.

     I am not a fan of the UN agreement about Iran's atomic program.  When I first learned about it, even before the announcement about the secret clauses, the deal did not seem to me to actually do anything to curb any atomic weapons ambitions Iran has.  This is my simple opinion on this, and I know some may disagree.
     The reason I am writing about this is because, violation or not, this little development is disturbing.  In the article from the Daily Mail, we find the following:

"Under the UN resolution approving the nuclear deal that was made in 2015, Iran is 'called upon' to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years."

"Critics of the deal have said the language is ambiguous and does not make compliance obligatory, while Tehran says the missiles it has tested are not specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads."

     Disregarding the legality of enforcement, and possibly what might actually constitute an offense under the UN resolution, there are two reasons I find this disturbing.
     First, the statement of "while Tehran says the missiles it has tested are not specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads."  Generally speaking, there are only two reasons you deploy ballistic missiles in this day and age.  One reason is to deliver tactical (Although these are mainly via cruise missile) and/or strategic atomic weapons.  The other is in an ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) system to defend against ballistic missiles.  The only example I can think of is the Patriot system developed by the United States.  
     Second, even if the statement about these missiles being "not specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads" is true, they still have another military use.  Going back to the Second World War, the Nazi German military used both cruise (V-1) and ballistic (V-2) missiles.  Both of these were used against Great Britain and the port of Antwerp.  Most of us are familiar with the use of the V-1 and V-2 on London as a terror weapon.  The V-2 was also used against the British rail system with some success in crippling railroad operations.  In the case of Antwerp, the V-2 was used to damage the port, an important part of the Allied supply chain sustaining the drive into Germany.
     For something a little more recent, fast forward to the 1980s and the Iran-Iraq War.  Both sides used Scud missiles as long range artillery and for attacks on cities as a terror weapon.
     
     I am not expert, or military tactician for that matter.  I am giving my opinion and a little look into history for reference.  I know that countries like Iran and North Korea like to rattle sabers, and do it often.  It is disquieting to me, given the current situation in the United States.  I also find it interesting that Iranians conducted this latest test on Sunday, 29-January, with the French Foreign Minister coming in to the country, and just before Jordan's King Abdullah arrives to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

     As always, I encourage a rational debate, and any information I do not have.  Please feel free to comment or send me a message.

05 July, 2016

Side Step...John's mountain of old computers

(I am doing this as a writing exercise to get my brain back into writing mode.  With the fun of the last roughly three weeks, I have not been focused on writing.  I am also doing this for a laugh.  Or perhaps this will prove something else.  Hmmm....)

     Once upon a time, my brother and I jokingly said we ran Ancient Technologies Inc.  We had amassed all kinds of ancient computer gear from various places, but we just took in whatever came our way.  Sometimes we parceled out the stuff we got in the spirit of reuse and recycling.  Sometimes we used it to power and fix the odds and ends we had.  And sometimes, we were the last stop and the item(s) in question went straight to the trash.
     I will admit to the following:  My favourite home computer system was the Commodore Amiga.  It was a fun system, was ahead of its time, and it was a solid video platform.  My third computer was an Amiga I got from an old friend who had upgraded.  The reason I mention this will be apparent as you read further.
     I was doing some cleaning recently, and took stock of the amount of old hardware I have at the house.  To some of you, this list is going to mean little.  To others, it may be a trip down memory lane.  For others, you may be speed dialing the loony bin.
     So here goes, a list

     Commodore 64C (The Amiga looking case version.  This was the second home computer we owned, after a Texas Instruments 99-4/A.  I bought it off a friend and pounded out some stores and articles for the Pittsburgh Commodore Users Group on it.)

     Commodore Amiga 500 (I had let my original A500 go to someone along the way.  This one belongs to a friend I just talked to.)

     (3) Commodore Amiga 2000 (A friend salvaged these for me.)

     (3) Commodore Amiga 4000 (Bought two of these and can not remember where I got the third.)

     (2) Commodore Amiga 1200 (Bought both of these)

     It had been my intention to work on all of these, and then sell them back into the Amiga community.  Sadly, my skill with the touchy hardware of these beasts is not good any more.

     But wait...there is more!

     Tandy TL 1000 (This was the first PC I ever owned.  It has a fully configured Renegade BBS setup on it.  I bought it off a friend, and got a discount for taking the printer.  I think the printer is in orbit somewhere.)

     486 DX2 50 [I think] in a Data-Stor case  (I actually had two of these, but sold one for a song and a dance, and more Amiga stuff.  A friend got me this eons ago.  If memory serves, the hard drive had OS/2 installed on it by me.)

     HP Pavilion a530n (One of my brother's old computers, it was the last one I used that ran Windows.  I switched it over to Linux before retiring it.)

     eMachine T6410  (Another one given to me.)

     A Franken-machine powered by a quad core AMD processor  (This was the last edit machine I used for video editing and it was built by a friend.  Much like the Monolith or Darth Vader, it is large and very black.  I may turn it into my home PC replacing what I am using now.)

     Dell Latitude D600  (This one was bought off eBay.  The only thing that ever went wrong with it is it decided to eat batteries.  It still runs, but running Linux of course.)

     sMacintosh Powerbook G4  (This was given to me courtesy of a friend.  I actually use it, as it is running Debian, which is a Linux operating system.)

     I know, I have too much old computer stuff.  Some of the items on this list will get sold at some point.  Some will get given to a good home if needed.  Some might wind up recycled.  And some are never ever going anywhere.  I am a sentimental type.
     I did not just write this for practise to get back into writing.  For some of us, this may be a trip down memory lane.  A trip to a time when there was choice in computers, operating systems and really fast boot times.  A trip to the days of beating a keyboard more than a mouse. For rest of you, I am certain you have come to the conclusion I am just nuts.
     Feel free to share any good old stories of old computers you may still have.  And if anyone has a working Apple IIgs they want to get rid of, let me know. :-)

01 June, 2016

On the New Frontier...Sweeping Streets

(Sometimes ideas for stories come from songs.  For this story, Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" was the inspiration.  As I have said many times in this Life, it is good to have a plan.  Better yet, Colonel Hannibal Smith's great saying:  I love it when a plan comes together.  It has been a while since I have written anything new, so this may be a bit rough.)




   
     Walking down the street, Perry Wilson stopped before a block of buildings.  He surveyed the debris and damage to them, noting that only the storefront seemed to have suffered.  He opened the door to the storefront and entered, emerging with a broom, shovel and large waste bin.  He waved to the troops and people passing by, as he set to work cleaning up.  Recent events, he mused, had rather made a mess of things.
     Stopping a moment, Perry looked about and spotted the shattered remains of a large holoscreen.  Once the voice piece of the Consolidated Government, it lay destroyed as a sign of the people's rebellion.  He smiled as he looked at it, counting himself lucky as he thought of some of the damage he had seen on his way into the city.  His block of buildings had escaped serious damage, as had some of the others on the street.  Smiling at the slight irony of this fact, he resumed working on cleaning up.
     In the background he could hear a broadcast from the portable voice receiver he placed in a shattered window.  Most of the events the newscaster read were familiar, but a few new details straggled through.  Tossing debris into the waste bin, Perry pictured a pair of relics of his great-grandfather's time:  an ink pen and a sheet of note paper.  Continuing his work, he took notes in his mind of the details of what was known.  After a few minutes, his mental paper held a list of captured officials from the former regime.  One name he noted with interest stood out by its absence from the list:
     Supreme Chancellor Anderson Waverlis, leader of the Consolidated Government, Supreme Commander of the Military Command and a multitude of other titles.
     Arguably as well, the most hated and feared man in the entirety of the solar system. 
      Perry waved to a passing group of troops from the Citizen's Parliament.  It had taken 12 years, but the people had finally managed to overthrow the oppressive rule of Waverlis and his government.  The list of crimes, Perry reflected, committed by the Consolidated Government was almost unspeakable.  Despite all the other captures of members of the government, Waverlis had managed to avoid capture in the ten days since the rebellion had secured victory.  The popular rumor Perry heard is that Waverlis had committed suicide, and his inner circle had tossed the body in a vat of acid.  Perry smiled at that one, knowing that the real answer would be different.     
     Perry looked up as a man shouted a hello, intruding on his musings. Meeting him a little away from his building entrance, he stopped to tell Perry, “Good day. Have you heard any news on Waverlis?”
      Perry simply shook his head. “Latest capture is Grand Marshall Stelie. Found him trying to get off Earth to the colony on Triton.”
      The man nodded, pleased at this news. After Waverlis, Grand Marshall La'el Stelie was the most hated man in the Consolidated Government. His list of crimes was unspeakable, with conservative estimates of millions of deaths on his hands. As the Minister of Medicine and Public Health, many horrible experiments were conducted under his order, mostly on rebels and dissidents. The man before Perry echoed his thoughts, saying, “He'll burn soon enough for his evil alright. Sad it took so long to get to this.”
     Perry nodded as the man took his leave.  He watched more troops and people, some of them cleaning the streets and buildings as he was.  Turning to the task at hand, he managed to get the sidewalk before his block of buildings cleared.  Satisfied for the moment, Perry stepped into the street in order to assess the front of the block of buildings.  Taking a mental note of the number of windows and burn marks, he crossed back to the storefront.
     A family of five passed Perry, and he smiled at them.  They passed him a flag of the recently proclaimed Solar Federation, and he handed them a few credits in return.  Deciding to hang it over the lone intact window, he managed to get it straight in a couple of minutes.  Satisfied with this addition, he spotted a message.  Noting the source, he replied in bemusement.  Grabbing a chair, Perry decided to take a break from cleaning and sit.
     Perry sat outside, relaxing and using a tablet to construct an order for repairs with a contractor.  He found it amusing that despite the chaos of the rebellion, some things continued to work.  Time passed, as he finally got the order in, expecting a reply date sometime in the weeks range.  Doubtless, Perry considered, that everyone and anyone who could work in construction was bombarded with requests.
     Trumpet fanfare intruded on Perry's thoughts, coming from the portable voice receiver.  He walked to it, turning up the volume as the excited voice spoke.
     "Special Bulletin:  Roughly one hour ago, near the town of Sigel, Pennsylvania, North American Zone,  Andrew Waverlis, the head of the deposed Consolidated Government was captured.  Parliamentary forces received information as to the location of Waverlis from an anonymous source.  DNA and record verification confirm the identity of the person as that of Waverlis.  The detachment commander reported that Waverlis tried his utmost to convince them that he was just a stand in for the dictator-"
     Perry smiled, hearing the roaring cheers and shouts from all over the city.  He waved at people nearby who danced in the streets, around the rubble.  He walked back in the store front and dusted off a bottle of ale, opening it as he returned outside.  The newscast was still streaming, but he paid little mind of it.  He watched the people and listened, thinking of the intense planning that had gotten Waverlis away from immediate capture.  He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that life would settle down to a quiet normal from this point.
     Perry smiled in his thoughts, as he picked up the broom and looked at the street.  Life was certainly going to be different, especially since he was sweeping the streets he used to own.

21 May, 2016

On the New Frontier...Remembering the Leaves Falling

(This story I wrote years ago, in an inspiration I got from a Gilbert and Sullivan musical I worked on when I was doing theatre work.  I had high hopes that this story would get published and tried shopping it around.  Countless rewrites later, it never went anywhere.  Here it is.  Feel free to comment on it to your leisure.)



     Walking out of a production studio at the radio station I felt prepared. I smiled in simple amazement that three years of 'Simple Advice for Complex Living' was behind me. For some who enjoyed helping others, I mused happily, this was living the dream. Lost in my thoughts over this, I watched the staff rush to the windows. Puzzled, I joined them, looking over the downtown area. Ias I did a shimmering cloud rolled into view.
      Vaguely conscious of the voices resounding around me, I stared as the shimmering cloud moved. A frown formed as I noted people running in all directions. Shaking my head, I tried to dislodge a rising sense of panic. Spotting the afternoon news anchor, I pulled her away from the window saying, “Beth, broadcast NOW!”
      Watching her dash into the air studio, I faced the rest of the staff. Forcing calm into my voice I said, “Alright everyone, lets get any info we can.”
      Everyone scattered, leaving me along at the windows. Astounded, I saw the cloud in every direction. I pulled out my cell phone to check the time. Minutes passed, the sight before me holding me captive. I turned, determined to find information amidst the seeming chaos of the staff working. I dodged scurrying staff as I headed into the nearest studio. Hammering away at the computer, I waited impatiently for web pages to load. As the first page struggled to load, sound intruded on my racing thoughts.
      “It's here! Run!”
      Moving to the open doorway, I watched as the staff fled towards the emergency stairs. I stared, then turned my head in the opposite direction. Frown resurfacing, I tried vainly to reason why the staff tore off in panic. Engaged in this preoccupation, I flinched as the lights flickered. Instinct moved me at that moment to hide behind the door. Willing my thoughts to empty, I held a breath in anticipation. Through the crack of the open door, shimmering air moved past me.
      Minutes passed before I dared peek from my hiding place. Creeping out, I scanned the hallway for a sign of anything. Sprinting down the hall, I skidded to a stop in the air studio. Attempting to broadcast, I discovered the transmitter was offline. Nothing I tried resolved the problem and only added to my sense of worry. Giving up, I turned and cautiously exited the building, intent on reaching my truck.
      Making the trip in record time, I squealed tire on the way out. Concentrating on driving, I only vaguely pondered this sudden event.

      Leaping from my truck, I hurriedly entered my house. Gratified to find nothing amiss, I began throwing items into packs, boxes, anything on hand that could carry something. Panting from my frantic efforts, I stopped and drew in a breath of a summer night's air. As I stood, a sound reached my ears. Focusing, singing surged through the air and my surprise. Listening, not a recognizable word registered, yet human voices unmistakably sang.
      My mind cycled and cycled over this development. My rampaging thoughts produced nothing beyond ever more insane theory. Holding a hand to my head, I forced myself back inside. Wild thoughts echoing with every step, I locked every window and door. Sleep claimed me hours after crawling into bed, banked by countless images.
      Waking six hours later, I bolted from bed. Heading straight for the shower, I set a record for quick and cold showers. Dressing hastily, I sat at my computer. Seeing the Internet functioned, I commenced searching for news on last night's event.
      A short study of news provided me with some facts. The visitors (Labeled 'Fey People' by most of the news outlets.) arrived simultaneously across the globe. Panic naturally ensued at their spectacular arrival. As governments around the world struggled to cope with a frightened populace, the Fey People delivered a simple message:
      People of this planet named Earth, we greet you in peace and harmony. Our arrival, despite the chaos caused, is peaceful. We strive to join with you, people of this Earth. To join with you, desiring to provide happiness in all endeavors. Shortly shall we meet with the leaders of your world to prove the truth of our words.
      Continuing my search, I located statements from various governments. Each basically stressed co-operation and calm. A message from the president provided a similar theme, adding that people could remain home and await word from the government. A few minutes longer of searching provided no other information or relief to my mind.
      Leaning back, I felt my mind process these details. Having written, read and watched enough science fiction, I realized this easily fit one of the first contact scenarios. The classic plot line of aliens offering friendship, only wanting to kill/conquer/plunder in the end. Laughing at myself for this thought, I halted my ever troublesome mind. Ascribing human psychology to aliens involved a level of madness beyond my imagination. Rising from my seat, I focused my energy on a practical task. No mention of a curfew or a state of emergency figured into anything I read, so I reasoned it should be safe enough to head to work.
      Well, I thought darkly, that is the going theory.

      Arriving in town after an uneventful drive, I parked in the garage nearest the station. Exiting the truck, I impulsively strolled to the edge and peered at the street below. People moved about in the normal manner followed by shimmering air. Baffled by this, I noted that each individual seemingly conversed with said shimmering air. Watching this interplay for several movements, I forced myself to walk to the radio station. Walking to my small office, each staff member I passed also was attended by shimmering air. I checked around myself only to find nothing hovering about me.
      Sitting at my desk, I pushed aside any further thought. Rapidly sifting through email, a smile slowly spread across my face. Tonight's show, I reflected, could be one for the record books. Perhaps, I thought joyfully, others might need help like never before.
      Indeed, that night's show turned in a performance for the books: The lowest caller turn out ever. The next 15 nights each set a new record for lowest calls. Trying countless tricks, nothing seemed to change the downswing I faced. Each night continued draining and frustrating me.
      Tapping my desk, a presence in the doorway intruded upon my darkening mood. Glancing up, the figure of the station's general manager confirmed my depressed frame of mind. Wearily I said, “Hello Amanda.”
      Amanda's green eyes spoke sympathy as she said, “John, I would like to see you in my office.”
      Sighing, I looked at her, then once more about my barren office. Finding my voice, I spoke quietly. “No need for a talk my dear. Simply hand over the envelope behind your back.”
      A sad smile formed on her face as she strode into the office. I rose, accepting my termination paperwork. Shaking her hand, I placed my keys in her palm. I grabbed my hat and began to leave the office. Sensing she wanted to say something, I spared her the trouble, “No need to worry my dear. I have been here a long time. I will continue to be here for a long time.”
      Leaving her there, I stiffly marched down the emergency stairs and to the street. Walking slowly, my depression deepened with each footfall. Finally reaching my truck, I drove home in the blackest of moods.

      Finding myself in a heap on the living room floor, I rose slowly. Wincing in pain, I deduced that a large quantity of Belgian ale was to blame for my poor choice in sleeping positions. I grabbed my cell phone, noting with amusement that it was dead. Moving slowly, I plugged it in to get a charge. I spent the next hour answering a variety of messages.  Satisfied, I occupied myself with random tasks. Finishing a long list of things, I felt the need for a distraction. I called my friend Maria for a drink and food.
      Dinner passed uneventfully as Maria and I hardly spoke. Maria seemed distracted, although I barely registered the fact. I found myself completely disturbed by the lack of noise from the fairly crowded restaurant. Every person (Maria included.) seemed entwined with shimmering air.
      Days passed before realization halted me cold. Carrying a load of laundry, depression gripped me. Try as I might, I could not recall the last time I spoke to anyone. Dropping the laundry, depression mounted, prompting a frantic search of my memory for any occurrence like this. With a resounding no echoing in my mind, I spurred myself to action. Leaving message with abandon, I waited for people to respond. As the minutes stretched into hours then days, I fell deeper into a dark mood. Finally, with the days mocking me, I hopped in my truck and sped away from my house.
      Parking at the spot by the lake, I hoisted myself onto the bed of the truck. Squinting into the sun setting over the lake, I allowed my thoughts free reign. No matter the turns my mind traveled, all thought turned to the same subject.
      Every individual I encountered radiated happiness. Concurrently, every person was attended by a Fey person. Somehow in all this, I seemed immune, never a Fey person in attendance of me. Trying for all I was worth, the mechanics of those facts escaped me.
      Time and thought passed, the sun sinking below the horizon. I watched the colors fade for a few moments. Directing my gaze aloft, I waited for the stars to appear. One by one a star flickered in the darkening sky, prompting a slight smile from me. Sound intruded upon my musing, causing me to pivot off my perch. Standing, I spotted a group of nine figures moving through the nearby trees. Their appearance struck me, glowing faintly with wings fluttering slightly. I vaguely realized this marked the first time I actually saw any Fey People.
      Moving quietly, I followed the group, intent on observing them. Perhaps, the hopeful thought sprang through my mind, I might learn something useful. Managing to keep the group in sight, I avoided tripping in the darkness. Studying them, my mind analyzed the Fey People. Their abrupt disappearance brought me up short. Disappointed, I produced my flashlight, picking my way back to the truck. I mulled over the brief period of observation with most of it amounting to nothing. One item stood out to me.
      Why did the one female Fey person display sadness?

      Standing outside my cabin, I breathed in the fall air. Smoking, I watched the leaves fall, mind empty. I finished my cigarette in a blank state, then moved inside. Mind still void, my stomach decided to remind me of the need for food. Rattling about the kitchen I set to making something to stop the rumbling from my stomach.
      Once I finished eating, I checked the stoves heating the cabin. Engaged in this activity, my eye caught the calendar. My ever present depression resurfaced, as I noted three months had passed since the world turned upside down. Sighing, I faced away, sitting in my battered armchair. Lighting a cigarette, my thoughts returned to the subject of my life. I frowned, trying yet again to fathom why I seemed unaffected by the Fey People. In my travels I had checked countless people. Each, I discovered, was attended by a Fey person and blissfully happy. I shook my head as the same question haunted me:
      Why did I appear to be the only unaffected person?
      No answer sprang forth for the question as always. I blew smoke at the ceiling, trying to drift my thoughts with them. My attention focused on the propane light overhead. Memory surfaced, reminding me I needed to contact the store responsible for filling my propane tank. The delivery approached a week late, forcing me to use an emergency tank to run the lights, stove and water heater.
      Making a decision, I rose and grabbed my field jacket. Locking up, I head to the truck and drove off. I drove down the highway, my destination a 24 hour gas station. I pondered if anything was required, as I bought another tank of propane. This mundane line of thought occupied me, neatly allowing me to ignore everyone near me. A sudden desire for pudding prompted me in the direction of another store. Being unfamiliar with this store, I wandered about in a vain search.
      Dodging packs of scampering children I finally located an employee. “Excuse me,” I said politely, “I am in search of pudding.”
      The employee looked blankly through me. My patience followed my fading smile. Irritated after waiting, I said in pure annoyance, “ I know you got the bloody Fey hanging about, but I am asking for a small measure of assistance.”
      The man stared a moment longer. I spun, disgusted when he finally spoke. “Aisle 6.”
      Stalking off, I located the aisle and pudding. I strolled about the store, trying to plan for any other sudden cravings. Avoiding kids and heaps of stock liberally strewn about, I finally checked out. .
Driving the scenic route, I crawled past a serious hole in the road. I sighed in sadness, realizing the hole was far worse than two months ago. Finally past the mess, I kicked up my speed. Smoking, I kept a wary eye out for deer all the way back.
      Reaching the cabin, my mind returned to my situation. Unloading the tank and the pudding, I pondered the happiness of everyone with the Fey People. Per usual, disenchantment followed my musing. Sighing in depressed frustration, I stood outside and smoked. A light breeze rustled the trees in the darkness. Finishing the cigarette, I decided on attempting sleep.

      I awoke early, finding the covers all over the floor. Blinking, I stumbled my way to a cold shower. Surviving that episode, I reviewed the task of the moment: Finding out why the propane delivery was missed. Dressing, I set my determination to bake. Grabbing smokes, I set off for the short trip to the local general store.
      Reaching the store, I managed a triple take. Alarmingly, the outside of the store bore the marks of what could have been cannon fire. I stared as my serious disbelief carried the day. Seeing the door open, I cautiously headed to it. Pausing, I drew a breath, hoping a bear was not within.
      The inside of the store appeared in disarray. Still worried a bear caused this trashing, I poked about. Avoiding boxes and items, I turned to the front counter. Tapping the bell, I cast a glance about the store. Patience expiring rapidly, I slammed the bell repeatedly. With no response, I carefully searched the chaos around me.
      A noise from a back room spun me about. Walking to the doorway, I saw a man inside talking to the air. Exasperated, I spoke angrily. “I, perchance, wonder if I could speak to you about a missed propane delivery?”
      The man focused a distracted smile on me. Feeling my fingers flex, I forced myself to remain in one spot. Anger mounting at his almost non-response, I fought off the yell forming inside me. Huffing, I settled on practicing an old parlor trick on my companion of the moment: Glaring a hole through him.
      “Oh, “ his sudden outburst snapped my concentration, “do you require something?”
      Seething beyond anything possible, I said coldly, “With whom do I speak about a missed propane delivery?”
      The man's face reformed into the distracted smile. Shaking my head, I fought the urge to lash out and strike him. Just as steam certainly issued from my eyes, he spoke in almost a mutter, waving at the air.
      “Oh no worries, no worries. The Fey attend to all...all.”
      Pivoting, I exited the store disgusted beyond measure. In my anger, I slammed a fist against the door frame. Pain shot through me, occupying my mind as I raced away. Before reaching the cabin, depression reasserted itself. Gripped firmly by it, I opened the door and fell on the ground, crying and screaming.
      I lay there for untold minutes, crying freely at my shattered life. Nothing made sense anymore in this world. Lacking any purpose, the feeling of being lost intensified. Tears finally expended, I rose shakily and entered the cabin. Reaching the fridge I pulled out a bottle of Belgian ale.
      Sitting in the armchair, I commenced drinking and smoking with abandon. My thoughts raged, unable to focus. For some unfathomable reason, images of the past three months flashed before my eyes. I laughed sadly at this choice in memory. Even in the darkness of my emotions my mind still attempted analytical reason.
      Draining the bottle, I rose and grabbed another. Turning from opening the bottle, I caught my reflection in the mirror over the mantle. I studied my face, seeing all the telltale signs of fatigue and crying. Welcoming any distraction, I continued my study of the reflection in the mirror. A nagging sensation gripped me in the midst of my preoccupation.
      My reflection frowned, turning into a slight smile as realized how silly I looked. The smile faded as thoughts solidified. The images poring through my mind, far from merely random, held a definite purpose. My reflection squinted, focus coming at this revelation. Puzzled, my surroundings melted away and the nagging sensation strengthened.
      “Humanity will never die, as its precarious balance of good and evil drives it.”
      I jumped to the sound of my voice. Mystified, I struggled to ascertain why that quote found voice. The quote (Formed from a science fiction story I read years ago.) helped form a cornerstone of my belief. The story involved a letter written to the future generations of humanity from a near immortal human. In it he described why mankind would continue living and growing, based on its constant struggle and drive of good versus evil.
      My red eyes widened. Pieces fell into an order. The images and thoughts wove into a pattern. I quickly finished the bottle in my hand, then grabbed another. Cracking it open, I drew a long drag of ale. A weight lifted, depression and sadness replaced with a sense of purpose. Thinking at full speed, perhaps even understanding was reaching me.
      Humanity, removed of the need to fight, was decomposing before me. Pondering this in the mix, I pulled another bottle of ale. Drinking, I sat, pulling a cigarette and lighting it. Blowing smoke at the ceiling, I felt the alcohol and nicotine filter through me. Closing my eyes, I felt my thoughts ramp up on what I reasoned.
      Doubt surfaced. In no conceivable fashion could I possibly be the only one immune to the enchanting happiness of the Fey people. No reason existed where I could possibly be the only one seeing the disillusion of mankind. Mind streaming for all its worth, I reviewed every last thought on my revelation.
      My considered review ended with my hands shaking. Uncertain if the cause was alcohol and nicotine overdose, I sat back. Blowing smoke at the ceiling, I contemplated the deepening horror of my theory. I lit another cigarette, polishing off the ale in my search for comfort. A question formed, demanding an answer.
      Who was I to play god with the happiness of anyone, saying nothing of the entire planet?
      Following hard on the heels of that, another question presented itself. I started another cigarette, forced into the most serious contemplation of my existence. Logic, I mused grimly, would provide no comfort or assistance in this truly humanistic dilemma. Facing the second question, I knew I would try, no matter the answer.
      Was there truthfully anything I could do?

      Evening arrived, giving me pause. Satisfied as possible, I looked about my cabin once more. Smiling faintly, I lit a solitary candle, Placing it carefully on the mantle, I strolled outside. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes, willing my thoughts away. I focused every ounce of mental energy on a single thought.
      Timeless moments passed. Sensing a presence, my eyes popped open. Two feet before me stood a blonde Fey woman. Appraising her, I noted her expression, sad as I always had seen before. Drawing a breath, I steeled myself to speak.
      “I know, “I detected the barest of tremors as I spoke, “you understand me.” A slight nod confirmed my guess as I continued. “As such, you know precisely why I called you forth.”
      Pausing, I looked deep in her gray eyes. “I understand, “I spoke as calmly as possible, “your purpose, your basic intent. Perhaps on this planet you would find few who agree more.” Uncertainty gripped me. I forced out my next words. “As much as I wish perpetual happiness for all, a factor never entered into account.”
      Waiting, I studied the Fey woman. She simply stood with wings lightly fluttering. Pressing on through uncertainty, I said, “Mankind represents a fighting, driving, questioning species. While striving for good, a balance with evil needs maintained. Mankind, for all its faults, “I spread my hands open to encompass all, “requires a drive, a focus to fight for.”
      Standing there in the fading sunlight, I looked at my alien Fey of the moment. Struck by her beauty and sadness, my doubts grew. So easy, I thought suddenly, to give up, to stop my restless fighting. So easy to give myself over to the happiness, never knowing, soaking in bliss.
      “You never could. Your conscience's forgiveness and peace would escape you eternally.”
      I jumped at the soft and melodic sound of that voice. The Fey locked eyes with mine, a shadow of a smile on her face. Simply nodding, my acceptance of her flowed between us. After a few more seconds, she spoke again.
      “Our kind strove truly to provide happiness to your peoples. Your races differ from others we encountered on thousands of worlds.”
      Holding her gaze, I explained. “Humanity walks a precarious path. History and philosophy, everything rife with signs of that journey.” I feel silent in dread at the question I asked last.
      “Does a way back exist?”
      She looked intently in my eyes. Sadness tinged her tone. “A way back exists.”
      Watching her wings flutter lightly, her answer and tone confirmed a suspicion about the potential price. I opened my mind and focused on a lone thought. Her expression transformed, as I voiced the thought with a minimum of emotion. “Acknowledge and accept I do. Reason dictated a cost.”
      My beautiful alien companion nodded. She opened her mouth to speak, but I held out a hand to stop her. Smiling sadly, I spoke the last words of my life. “No further words my dear. I always said I would gladly exchange my life in order to give someone...anyone...a chance at another five minutes of living.”
      Taking one more breath of the fall air, I closed my eyes. Waiting, I felt the brush of lips against mine.

      Warm grass and ground pressed against my cheek. Scrambling to my feet, I looked about me in astonishment. In defiance of logic, I found myself outside my home in summer. I pulled my cell phone from my pocket, checking the date and adding to my disbelief. My phone told me it was the day after the Fey People arrived. Turning, I opened the truck and checked several radio stations. All carried normal programming.
      Smiling, I felt sadness and happiness tug at me, a tear flowing down my cheek. Understanding of the price I would pay washed over me. I watched the tear fall and land on a blade of grass. I turned my head, searching. For a fleeting moment, I caught sight of her, floating and dancing on the wind. I bowed to her, watching her smiling form fade into the late afternoon haze. Smiling and crying, I entered my house, content in the knowledge and memory of the occurrences that were, but were not anymore.

13 May, 2012

Informative Purposes...List of Stories Published with Links

     I decided to make a list of my stories that are published up to this point.  Each story will have a link to it, in case you want to read it, bookmark it, or throw things at me.  I figured this would be easier for people to find them, as opposed to fighting through the timeline on Facebook to find my random postings.

     In no particular order:

Would You Say I Do? - http://www.short-story.me/science-fiction-stories/353-would-you-say-i-do.html


How Exactly Do I Get Out of Here? - http://www.short-story.me/fantasy-stories/438-how-exactly-do-i-get-out-of-here.html

Now, Where is the Off Switch? - http://www.digitaldragonmagazine.net/lasanich-nowwhereistheoffswitch.php

Now What Does that Button Do? - http://www.digitaldragonmagazine.net/lasanich-nowwhatdoesthat.php

Why Didn't They Clean that Up? - http://www.staticmovement.com/whydidnttheycleanthatup.htm

One Last Day - This is the only story that is not online anywhere.  Sadly, the magazine it was published in folded as well.  I will repost it to blog once I see if it is accepted to an anthology or not.

     And that does it for now.  I am back to working on new stuff and have a couple more stories out for submissions.

07 April, 2012

Side Step...You Haven't Been on an Airplane in How Long?

     (In January I took a trip to California for some video work for a friend.  I was working on two separate shoots, basically riding shotgun with the production team, helping to organise, do odds and ends.  It was a lot of fun, although I will say that Cali drivers are by far the worst I have ever seen.  I lost count of the number of times I was nearly involved in, or the cause of a wreck on the highways and roads.  The following is my thoughts from flying, something I had not done for about 21 years prior to this point.)

The Trip Out:  21-January-2012
     As stated above, I had not flown in about 21 years.  I am mortally petrified of heights, among a few other things.  Because of that, I detest flying.  Besides my nervousness associated with doing the job at hand, the thought of flying set me up for a sleepless night.
     Because of this, you would think Mother nature might provide decent weather so I wouldn't have an added worry.
     NO!
     Instead, she provides a winter storm.  You know the kind:  Snow...sleet...both at the same freaking time.
    At this point, you can most likely guess my level of happiness.  Oh, and I forgot to mention a fact.  My esteemed friend who I was doing this job for had booked me an early flight.  A real early flight, on the order of a 5:45am departure.  Add my displeasure at this early of a start and you get a large numerical representation of my extreme lack of happiness.  The trip from home to the airport was made in good order and slow speed despite this.
      I spent a bit being confused by getting my ticket.  Turns out I could not read my reservation form, but I figured it out after 3 tries and a walk around the ticketing area.  I smoked one last cigarette in record time cursing the snow before facing up to entering the security area.  I made a joke with friends about receiving a full body cavity search as my 'prize' for not having flown in comparative eons.
     I walked to the first checkpoint and handed over my license and boarding pass/ticket/whatever the Hell that thing is.  I had purposefully picked a female TSA to go to, knowing it would be easier to be cheesy when I asked my almighty question.  Once she was done I said to her, "You are going to laugh when I tell you this, but I haven't flown in 21 years.  What do I need to do to get through with the least amount of pain?"  She did indeed laugh, and politely gave me some pointers.
     For those keeping score, no, I did not receive that full body cavity search in Pittsburgh.
     I reached the gate in a most uneventful fashion.  Staring out the windows, my dismay deepened at the sight of snow and sleet falling as thick as ever.  I spent most of the wait glaring out the window at the snow and sleet, heartily cursing Mother Nature.  I was thus engaged when the plane rolled up and we slid down one gate for boarding.
     The call for general boarding came, and as I moved to the jetway door, a girl asked me a question about her seat.  I answered it to the best of my meager knowledge.  It was then that she informed me this was her first time flying.  I chuckled lightly, asking her how old she was.  When she she told me she was 20, I laughed again and told her how long it had been since I had flown.  Because my voice carries, another lady overheard me making that very statement.  She said, "So you are the reason we have such wonderful weather."  I informed her that there was mostly likely a bet on this point somewhere.
     I am certain that most anyone reading this has flown in winter.  Therefore I will skip the description of the 'Wash n' Wax' process commonly known as deicing.  I found it amusing to watch, but that is just me.  About half an hour elapsed through this process, but we soon taxied out and took off.
     As we climbed for altitude, a worrisome thought appeared.  Knowing our takeoff at Pittsburgh was delayed by about 30 minutes, I wondered about the Houston airport and how I would make my connecting flight.  When Mike booked my flight, I only had a 56 minute window to start with at Houston.  This disturbing thought rattled in my head as we came out above the clouds to daylight breaking and a crescent moon.
     For anyone wondering, my stomach was fine.  Once again my cast iron constitution held.  I barely managed nauseous.
     Looking out the window, I found myself almost able to believe I was not flying.  In an odd twist, the sea came to mind.  I am also patiently terrified of water, so this connection made little sense to me.  In it's own way, it was amusing and comforting enough that I was able to nap briefly, despite my lingering fear about my connecting flight.

     Looking at the time upon arrival in Houston, I began to worry.  We had indeed lost those 30 minutes, which caused fret for me.  My mother and brother had gone to Utah by way of Houston a few months back.  The horror story they told me of the size of the airport and getting through it lodged firmly in my consciousness.  I talked to the young woman I had spoken briefly to upon boarding, and found she had only 10 minutes to find her connecting flight.  I sincerely hope she made it.
     At this point I must tell a point against myself.  I nearly forgot my carry on luggage, which had been stowed in a different area on the plane.  At the last possible moment I remembered it, and nabbed it.  Racing away from the scene of my near bout of stupidity, I heard the seconds tick by (Very) loudly in my head.  I had to stop and make sure I was proceeding down the right path.  Confirmation acquired, I boarded a tram for a quick trip to some other part of the large airport at Houston.  While running through the airport, I learned something.  It is rather undignified to attempt running with a huge laptop bag and dragging a small suitcase behind you.
     Thankfully, dignity is not something I subscribe to.  The subscription rate was too high, and the free gift sucked.
     I made the flight, being the last person to board.  The first plane I was on was a smaller jet, which I likened to a sardine can.  Now I found myself on a 737 with a bit more room, not to mention people.  Also on the 737 was little TV screens which you could buy programming for.  Annoyed by it flashing, I managed to turn off the contemptible little things.  While thus engaged, we made another uneventful takeoff.
     Climbing for altitude, I realised with morbid fascination why I had not been too unnerved with the height of the plane.  On the way to Houston, I never saw the ground.  The clouds obscured the ground quite well and stretched all the way to Houston.  Even on landing approach, I hardly saw the ground as the place was cloaked in fog.  Now as we made away from Houston, the skies cleared and I could see the ground.  This became fascinatingly unnerving for me.
     Staring at the ground as we headed towards California, I watched the vista change to desert.  I smiled in the midst of a calculation of damage I would incur from the height we were at.  I realised that I had never actually seen a desert before, except on TV.
     The flight to Cali was an uneventful one, excepting as we came in over the mountains for approach to the Orange County airport.  We bumped along pretty good which reminded me of driving on Pennsylvania's roads.  We rolled up to the terminal, the name of the airport prompting a snicker from me.  If you don't know why, I am not going to explain it.

The Trip Back:  26-January-2012
     I left California at a much more reasonable time, even though it would be pretty late when I got home.  I dropped off the rental and passed through airport security with no hassle.  Best of all, no full body cavity search at this airport either.  The only thing of note that occurred was me making a comment to the TSA agent about my name as it appears on my drivers license.  This prompted a chuckle from him as I went on my way. (And no, I am not telling you if you don't already know.)
     I decided to eat this time before getting on the plane.  On the trip out, I did not bother eating until I was in Cali and paid for it by being woozy and even more brain dead than normal.  Talking with my boss Mike, we had an amusing time making fun of people.  We also had an amusing time with why the fire alarm seemed to be going off.  I personally voted for them coming to take me away for my missed full body cavity search.
     Going from Cali to Houston passed supremely uneventfully.  The flight was not really bumpy, I was able to turn the screens off to stop annoying me, and the baby next to me did not scream hardly at all.  The only hiccup on this leg of the trip occurred after landing.  On our way to the gate, we were forced to sit, as the gate was not clear.  Once again I found myself sitting and watching time tick by with another short window to catch a flight.  After about a good 30 minutes, we pulled up and disembarked.
     Once again I found myself in Houston.  Once again I found myself doing a rapid march across the airport.  I felt like I was in some sort of repeat.  This time I managed to make it when they were calling general boarding.  I lucked out and had an extra seat to myself for the last leg of the journey so I spread out.  The only thing of note was the turbulence the whole way to Pittsburgh.  The woman sitting beside me did scare me a bit too, as I thought she might be ill.  Cast iron constitution or not, had she lost her lunch, I probably would have lost mine.
     As you can guess, arriving at Pittsburgh passed quietly.
     I know this portion of the narrative is short, but for some reason the flights home were far less interesting than those out.  I did write in a notebook on the flight to Pittsburgh in the turbulence.  All I can say for it is that my normally bad handwriting looked more like Sumerian cuneiform.  I am hoping that I will need to hire someone skilled in the art of translating ancient script to unlock what I was working on.

Side Step...Chance Conversations

     It has been a very long time since I have posted anything to this blog.  In the span of months since that last Side Step posting, a great deal has occurred.  In it all, I have managed to really lose my mind as opposed to just misplacing it like I do my keys.  I am not going to bore everyone with the full details.  However for three easy payments of 19.95 plus shipping and handling...
     In short, everything that has gone on has taken me away from one thing I love:  Writing.  I was trying to get stuff submitted and accepted in all these proceedings and had hit a wall.  Nothing was getting accepted, even a story I had high hopes for.  When added to everything else I was trying to fight through, the rejections started getting to me.
     For months I have found myself practically unable to write.  Ideas even refused to grace my mind for the longest time.  Fear welled up in me, and I thought maybe I would never write again.  That single thought scared me more than I can easily describe in anything less than an hour of your time.
     For the record, I do not believe in the concepts of Fate or Destiny.  Based on what I believe in this life, neither are practical, nor are they smart bets.  To me, life is a series of never ending chances and choices.  Everything interconnects in some fashion, and what happens from there depends on what one chooses to do or not do.  I have a theory about time that works in a similar fashion.
     Chance is something else entirely.  I actually find it refreshing that I see chance in almost any situation, no matter how hopeless.  I believe the quote comes from Spock of Star Trek, about 'there are always possibilities'.  I modified that to say: There are always possibilities.  You just have to look for them.
     Two chance conversations have set me back on course with my writing.  One was with my very good friend Paul.  In a rambling conversation while I was editing, he gave me a few valid points.  We were comparing our writing styles.  Paul is much more geared to the Sherlock Holmes method of things:  Logical discourse, testing of chains of reason, collection and collation of details.  When he writes, he is detail driven, down to in some cases very small pieces of how things work.
     I am more given to the John H. Watson approach.  I write quickly, details literally playing in my mind in full colour detail.  I am not nearly as detail driven, focusing on my characters and the situations they are in.  As for detailed science, I sucked at science in high school, and to this day can not be brought to understand physics.  Such discussions usually end with me screaming in agony. 
     There is nothing wrong in either approach.  I have seen both done and each holds its own.
     (And yes, I am a very large Sherlock Holmes fan.)
     When I started getting my pile of mounting rejections, I began to fear that maybe I was lacking too much detail.  My old 7th grade teacher (A man whose opinions I respect from my early days of writing and will always respect) summed up how I write quite well.  He told me that my beginning and endings are almost not there.  He also told me that when I get going, I do not waste words or time, and that I made good and real characters.
     In short, he told me to stick with how I did things.  Paul simply had to hit me over the head with the clue by 4 to remind me of it.
     Another chance conversation came last week.  I was talking to the sister of my friend I am working for.  She was talking about writing and publishing some stuff related to her work.  We had a conversation about it for a bit.  Afterwards I reviewed what I was thinking and realised that nothing much was actually holding me back from writing, except myself.
     Amazing what a chance conversation can do.  Or in this case, two of them.

     In due course, new stuff shall appear.  Also, a couple of my older stories will reappear as I take them out of submission circulation.  The next thing I write will be a bit of real Life.

22 July, 2011

Side Step...Letter from a Listener

     (I had wanted to share this before now, but between running away for the 4th and coming back all depressed, I had just not had the heart.  Since coming back on July 4th, Life has been very surreal for me, as this is the first time I have not been in radio for 14 years...nor at DUQ for 13..)

     As many of you know, I worked at what was 90.5 WDUQ, Pittsburgh's News...Jazz...NPR station for 13 years.  I started there when I was in college, thanks to the help of another friend who was working at DUQ and going to Duquesne.  I have so many fond memories, and that includes the time I got stuck in the elevator at the Des Places building we used to be in.

     Back on June 30th, Bob Studebaker, who I worked with, forwarded me the following message.  I wanted to share it with everyone, as it made me cry when I read it.  It is a touching tribute not to me, but to what DUQ brought to this city, region, and the lives of so many.

Bob,

Could you do me a favor, and tell John Lasanich that I think he's one of the "unsung heros" on the staff?

He's so unsung, he's not even listed. And he must not be allowed to answer the phone,'cause I can never get him at the studio.

If Tony's "the Voice," and you're "the Professor,"then John has got to be "the DJ."  With his simple, direct style,he must spin more music/hour than anyone else, and on his shift - jazz's natural "magic hours" -
it's just the time when it's the music we want to hear.

He's been much appreciated at our house. We'll miss him. Wish him all the best from us. Hope we have the pleasure of finding him "on the air," again soon.

~ Larry

16 June, 2011

Side Step...Updating the Universes

     I know that not much has been going on with my writing as of late.  For this I want to apologise to everyone.  I have been busy and moody, dealing with a host of Life's problems.  The biggest one had centered on my situation at the radio station I worked at for 13 years.  I was not sure what would happen after the sale actually happened.  The winds are shifting my sailboat as I now know my last night onair at 90.5 WDUQ is going to be the 28th into the 29th of June.  I am trying to find a radio gig somewhere in the area now.  I hope I hear something soon.

     In the last 45 days I also managed to totally trash my computer.  I lost everything, including all my stories.  It is taking some work, but things are getting recovered, so I will have all my current writing back.  I thought some of it would be lost to the echoes of time, but happily that is not the case.

     I have been struggling through a rewrite as well.  A story I have high hopes for has been frustrating me beyond the capacity to reason.  People gave me a variety of responses on it, all of them questioning my sanity and sentence structure.  Finally, I called on the ultimate authority in help:  My old English teacher.  I think he has set me right, it is just taking time.

     In short I am still here.  The factory of my imagination has been offline for a bit.  But with the wind changing directions and things finally resolving, I will be back to my usual.  New writing will appear soon.  I do have a story, 'One Last Day' due for publication in July, both online and in print.

     Now, to avoid those clowns in the clean white coats...