Hurricane Irma Diary part 3

If you missed the earlier parts and want to read them, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

From the back porch, we could actually see across the big open field behind us (it’s a community park) and see lights on. None of the homes around us had light, but about a quarter mile away or a little more, the community there had power!

There was a curfew in place, and since both Full Sail University (where I teach) and Oviedo High School (where Brett attends HS) were closed, we just hung out at the house. We didn’t really have anywhere to go.

Tuesday was hot, and so Brett and I hopped in the truck to go get gas and maybe a burger. I wasn’t sure how long I’d need to run the generator and I didn’t want to lose the contents of the freezer and fridge. With the generator going, at least we could dive in to the contents some. If it wasn’t sandwiches, I grilled what we ate.

Tuesday night was so hot it was miserable. So much that I got our box fan and sucked some of the power from the generator to run it hitting me and Brett (I was on a mattress in the living room floor, Brett on the couch beside me). Neither one of us got much sleep, and going outside really didn’t do us much good, either.

Power began to flicker on and off on Wednesday. It’d come on and we’d cheer…wait a few minutes…then it’d go off. Faked me pretty good once as I even unhooked the generator…then it went back off.

It finally came back on to stay around 6pm, one hour shy of a full three days.

OHS had gone ahead and cancelled school for the rest of the week…as did Full Sail. So Brett and I filled the rest of our week playing games. We still didn’t really have anywhere to go…so we didn’t go.

Probably a bit of a letdown for part 3, I guess, but really, the “exciting” part was during the build-up and the actual storm itself.

Next week I’m going to rant about Free Speech! Yeah…I got worked up a little.

 

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Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale on some of my work!

I decided to a Black Friday – Cyber Monday sale on a few things. If you’ve been wishing you could try something out that I’ve written, now is the time!

Obviously, TINY is the new one. Regularly $6 each, you can get both issues for $7.50 (plus shipping). If you’re a digital fan, you can get them for .99cents each, or $1.98 for both of them!

Next are the graphic novels KREY and DEMON’S TAILS. Regularly $15 each, you can get both of these for $7.50 each (plus shipping). Once again, If you’re a digital fan, you can get them for .99cents each!

While my Switchblade mini-series isn’t available digitally (yet—I’m working on that!), I’m working through the last sets to make way for the collection. You can get all three issues for the paltry sum of $1!

Lastly, if prose is more your thing, you can pick up the print copy of my novel Buying Time for $5, or digitally for .99cents!

Simply follow the link to my online store, find the above mentioned titles and select them. When the pop-up window comes up, you’ll see “select an option.” That’s when you’ll see the BLACK FRIDAY deals!

Don’t delay! The print copies make GREAT Christmas gifts! I’ll even sign them to make your gift complete!

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Hurricane Irma Diary part 2

The roof started to leak on my comics!

Brett wants snacks

Got the comics away fro the windows!

So, I’d expected the power to go off somewhere around 1-3am Monday morning, but not 7pm Sunday night. That actually made me a little more worried (I hadn’t been that worried) thinking it might be worse than anticipated.

The roof was leaking early in the storm, right on top of my comics—so I moved every single box of them away from the leak and from the windows. Yeah, most of them are bagged…but not all of them. So I wanted to move them just to be safe. Plus…comics!

(video: since the power would be out for a while, Brett wants snacks!)

My truck up next to the front windows

One mistake I made was not having a portable radio. I had a couple of flashlights, but I had no idea what was going on—I couldn’t just on weather.com to see! So—since I don’t have a cellphone—Brett spent time on his cellphone back and forth with BJ. She had gone to Mississippi to be with her dad who was about to have surgery and was monitoring it all from afar. She’d try to send us screenshots of the radar down here, but connections were very spotty for Brett.

BJ stayed up as long as she could…but I needed to hear that radio! So, because I was still a little afraid of something coming through the front window, I went outside and pulled my truck up right next to the house. I figured it something hit my truck, it’s old and I could get insurance to cover most of it. If something came through the window, it wasn’t just “stuff,” Brett and I were both in there!

I listened to the radio some on and off, running back and forth to the truck, and Brett and I pretty much spent the rest of the night watching the storm. We’d stand out front and watch, then go to the back porch. We actually didn’t stay on the back long because, well, the sound back there was pretty scary, especially later. It’d come up a really strong wind and I thought the trees were gonna come over on us—so we stayed off the back porch. Oddly, we really didn’t get that much rain after the initial rainfall, it was mostly just high winds. Water never went over the entire street in front of the house like I expected it to. It’s done that before during really heavy rains. I tried to take some video from the front porch—and I’ll put it here, but you can’t see much when it’s dark.

Once the sun came up and we knew the worst was over, I got the generator going to keep the refrigerator and freezer going…Then the power came back on, so I shut the generator off. Cranked the AC up and got the house cooled down…then the power went off again. But it was cool enough that we hit the sack. I can’t be sure of the time (remember, no power), but probably around 10ish.

We both slept a good bit of daylight hours. The house was still cool because it was overcast and very windy. When we got up, we started putting the house back in order. We ate our sandwiches on the back porch (no trees fell! Yay!) And that’s when we noticed some fences down across the street.
(Never tried to include any videos before–hope they work)

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Hurricane Irma Diary part 1

So, I decided to write a bit about my hurricane experience. I know that it’s been two months, but never having been through a hurricane but having been through an earthquake (a major one—I’ll talk about that later), I thought I’d just make notes, for me if for no other reason.

Keep in mind, I live in the Orlando area and we weren’t hit near as hard as many of the folks to the south and west of us. So nothing you’ll read here can even compare to what many of them—and then later (and a different hurricane), Puerto Rico.

The positive thing about hurricanes today is that you can see them coming days in advance. After it hit the islands, we decided it would probably be a thing of concern. BJ (the wife) left to go spend a few weeks taking care of her dad who was having a surgery, so it was just me and Brett. All predictions showed it hitting us in the early morning hours of Monday, Sept 11. (Ugh, what a day to pick, right?)

Freezer is loaded with water/ice!

On Wednesday, Sept 6, after class, I had decided to stop and pick up some supplies and fill up the gas tank. I first stopped at CostCo, which is right by Full Sail. No water! And the gas line was crazy stupid, so I figured that far out, I’ll just get gas and such elsewhere—surely there would be more shipments, right?

I chilled on Thursday and watched the news as thousands of people clogged the roads trying to get out of Florida. Stories of people sitting on the roads for hours not moving, people running out of gas in North Florida…and then into Georgia made me decide to just stay put. We’re inland and not in a low area prone to flooding. Figured we’d lose power a bit, probably at the height of the storm in the wee morning hours, and figured I would have to keep an eye on the trees.

Friday I made the rounds to the grocery stores. I’ve never seen stores so bare in all my life. It looked like videos I’d seen of grocery stores in Russia! I managed to snag a few cans of Vienna Sausage, some bread, and some gas. No water, still.

Table wedged up against the window in the living room.

Went back out on Saturday looking for a few other things (we like potted meat—so sue me!)…was surprised at how many places had already closed up shop. None of my neighbors, many who have been here for quite a few years, had boarded up or anything. Cool.

Sunday, I spent the day filling all plastic containers in the house with filtered tap water; we filled up milk jugs, coke bottles, etc., putting a lot of the smaller plastics in the freezer to try to make sure we’d keep the food in the freezer frozen. Then I peeked outside. Uh-oh. Quite a few of my neighbors had suddenly boarded up their windows.

So I started shuffling things around in the house, getting books away from windows and away from the known leaky spot in the house. I propped closet doors against the windows…just in case.

And then the power went out at 7pm.

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Catch-up con report

Brittany, Chris Ulm, and me at SDCC2017

I haven’t done a con report since MegaCon, and that was back in June. So this will be a catch-up Con report!

In July I did the Orlando Collect-A-Con in Altemonte Springs. It was a fun show and I’m already planning a return there for next year! Also in July, I went out to San Diego Comic Con for the second year in a row (thanks to my buddies at Ka-Blam!). I got to see many old pals, including my former boss and Malibu Editor-in-Chief, Chris Ulm!

Steven Butler, Barry Gregory, me, John Crowther

I was no sooner back from SDCC when my other old pal, Steven Butler was in town for a convention in Tampa. I rode out there with old pal Barry Gregory and we were joined by new pal John Crowther for a fun dinner and lively chat!

In early August, Jeff Whiting and I made the long trip up to Pikeville, KY for the inaugural Pikeville ComicCon. We had a blast. What an awesome first show it was. Got the chance to meet a lot of new people there. Got my fingers crossed for an invite back to the second one—yes, it was that cool of a show!

Stephen Rosys, Jeff Whiting, Cody Barker, Todd Goodman, Mike W. Belcher, Me, Aiden Belcher

In late August, I went to the Orlando Infinity Con. This was my second time to be there and this is one of the closest ones to my home, so it’s very easy to do.

I had planned to do the Lake Collect-A-Con in October, a show I’ve done before and look forward to doing again, but my band chaperone mishap the day before (you can read about it here if you missed it) kept me from attending. Yes, I basically laid around the house and moaned all day. If you don’t believe me, ask BJ. I’ve been to LCAC twice, and I’m looking forward to making the third one next year.

I had help a few weeks later, though, as Brett supplied the muscle to get me in the door at Emerald City Comic Fest, another inaugural show. This one, too, was very good. One thing I really liked about it was that admission was free! Not sure how the show managed to pull that off, but the free admission got a whole host of folks in, some comic fans and some just curious to see what all the noise was about. Met some new folks, but had the chance to catch up with Dave again, who always brings me something to sign when he comes to a show I’m at. I think I’ve signed more books for Dave than any other single person. He brings me books I’ve forgotten I worked on!

Barry Gregory, John Crowther, me!

Another fun thing about ECCF is that The Geeky Mom set up right beside me! (that’s BJ, for those of you with raised eyebrows right now!)

Central Florida is a great place to be if you like comics, comic conventions, and meeting comic creators!

Coming up, I’ll be at Smashcon on November 18th and unless I can work out a show for early December (trying to, but it may not happen), that’ll be my last show for the year.

 

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Trials of a band chaperone

This post is not for the weak at heart. It will contain gruesome images of my skint (yep, and that’s how we SAY it down South!) knee and me moaning in pain on the floor! Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

My skint knee. It actually looked worse than it was!

One of the joys of having a high school student in the band is acting as band chaperone. For those who might not know (I didn’t), it’s exactly what you might expect—and so much more. It’s a combination chaperone and heavy metal band roadie!

The chaperone part is yeah—just watching them and making sure they don’t do things they’re not supposed to do; like slip off under the bleachers and start necking (oh come on—you’re not THAT far removed from high school that you don’t remember that!). The roadie part is moving stuff from here to there. Most of the heavy stuff is handled by the “equipment crew,” a bunch of dads who really just assist the students who do most of the grunt work themselves. Sometimes, though, chaperones have to kick in, particularly with our really large pit. No, not the race car pit, but the music kind (no, I didn’t know either): it consists mostly of xylophones, but there’s a full trap drum set, a gong, keyboards, and other such stuff. It’s not as easy to push that stuff through the grass/sand as you might think—I’ve done it.

This is what I’m talking about–how the coolers are loaded on a dolly…full of water!

Anyway, the whole point this blog is that at a recent competition I was lugging water around (it was terribly hot that day) on a dolly (heard some folks refer to it as a “hand cart,” but there’s not much “cart-y” about it!); two round containers FULL of water (meaning, heavy), lugged around on the dolly.

So I’d dragged this dolly to one place—it was the wrong place. I had to take it all the way back to where I had started. I hadn’t been there very long and it was time to go again. By this time, I’m beginning to get a bit tuckered out. As we head down a slight incline, I go to change the hand that’s pulling the cart (changing from right to left, but not sure that matters) and the cart begins to set up on me. Not a big deal, except it catches the back of my heel and I begin to fall forward…and bring the dolly with me, full water containers and all!

Immediately I felt more embarrassed than hurt, but it didn’t take long for me to realize blood was running down my leg and my arm hurt like crazy. They took me to first aid there at the competition where it was mostly band kids having issues with the heat (including Brett a little later). They looked at me, cleaned the knee a bit, and then suggested I get the arm x-rayed. I laid down in the floor while waiting to figure out how I’d get there (see the pic)…I’d ridden the bus with the band and didn’t have a vehicle.

Here I am, ice on my arm, trying my best not to moan!

A fellow chaperone had driven her vehicle and she took me and BJ to the local Urgent Care where they x-rayed my elbow to tell me it wasn’t broken and it was probably just a deep muscle bruise. But I’m telling you, it hurt like crazy.

In fact, I went to follow up with another x-ray on Wednesday (four days later) because I still had a lot of pain. Nope, still wasn’t broken; the doctor said it was probably just a deep bruise and—here it comes—I was old and didn’t heal as fast.

Three weeks later and my arm still experiences some pain if I move it the wrong way. I’m frequently being told by some of my more smart-mouthed friends “don’t move it that way, then.” Sometimes the pain is still sharp.

I still think I broke it…the x-rays just aren’t picked it up.

Old.

Hmph!

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Raising a girl-child and a boy-child

I’m the proud owner of both a girl child and a boy child—and they couldn’t be more different from each other if we had tried. (okay, okay, neither of them are actually a “child” anymore…just roll with it) Thing is, we didn’t do anything different with the two when they were babies.

I can remember before my girl child, my firstborn, arrived. We were in California at the time and were offered untold suggestions, hints, advice—all un-solicited—but all welcomed from veteran parents. Most of the advice was good as it was practical: avoid these foods, watch out for this diaper, be sure this happens before you leave the hospital. It came from the voice(s) of experience, and they were passing that “been there, done that” experience on to us.

One common thing we read, though—and we read a LOT—wasn’t about practical stuff, it was about how not to brainwash your kid. Okay, that’s not what they said, but it was essentially the meat of it. In a nutshell, the argument was that kids turn out the way they do because of the way we raise them. If we provide all gender neutral colors, etc., they won’t grow up like the “stereotype.” Whatever that means.

So, when my first—the girl child—came along, we did much of that: we avoided pink, and girly, froufrou stuff. Yeah—like that mattered. As soon as girl child was old enough to pick what she liked, she went pink. ALL pink! EVERYTHING was pink because that is what she wanted. We didn’t push it on her, she chose it!

She’s since moved on from pink, preferring the more subtle purple, but still…the whole point of this was that all those magazines and books we read about what to do when raising the girl-child were so much hooey. She was born with her unique personality and she wanted to do the things she wanted to do…and that was to be a pretty in pink princess. (she’s still my princess, but that’s another blog for another day)

My boy-child is a completely different story. Like his sister, he chose his own unique style, and gravitated towards blues. (today it is blacks and greys) When BJ re-decorated his room—without talking to him about it first (it was supposed to be a surprise from him, moving from his “little boy” bed to his “big boy” bed)—he was very blunt. She asked, “what do you think?” His response? “I don’t like it.” And yes, we’ve got it all on video.

Moral of the story? All the so-called child-rearing experts (the social ones, not the medical doctors—them, we love!) are full of so much hot air. Dress your kids the way you want to when they’re babies. Put them in dresses, or spots outfits—they’ll make their own choices when they’re old enough to figure it all out. God’s already got a plan for them, so when they DO make those choices…roll with it. It’s all good.

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