Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rediscovering old joys.

Towards the end of September, I took a week off. No writing, no jobs around the house, no doing things I "needed" to do.

Occasionally there was a pang of guilt over not accomplishing anything, but those pangs were really pretty small. I called it "Practicing For Retirement."

I rediscovered the joy of flying an antique airplane in which the third wheel is at the rear of the plane rather than in the front. On a beautiful cloudless Friday after lunch, the Taylorcraft was pulled out of the hangar, hand-propped and taken to the skies of north Texas. No particular destination, just flying low and slow a thousand feet above the ground waving at the farmers harvesting their fields.

We'd had some rain not too long ago, so the fields and vegetation were green and lush--rare for this part of Texas this time of year.

The temperature was perfect on the ground and even better a thousand feet up. The nice thing about old antique airplanes is that there is a lot of air that leaks in. This is generally, however, not considered a neat thing or a beneficial thing while flying in the winter.

Even nicer was that a cold front had just moved through and the air was stable and smooth, as evidenced by the picture I took of the instrument panel. It's not often you'll see the vertical speed indicator (VSI) in the neutral position (not climbing nor descending) and the ball & needle centered.

That, I felt, was definitely picture worthy.

Another thing I like about the Taylorcraft is that while we have an intercom in it, I like flying without
the headsets on. Because our airport is under the edge of Class bravo airspace (DFW), radios are handy things to have in airplanes. However, we can easily take off and remain well under the bravo airspace and never need to communicate with anyone, which is how I prefer to fly such heavier-than-air machines.

We do have a small radio on the instrument panel that runs off a small rechargeable battery should we need it. Otherwise, I prefer to fly with no headsets.

Sooner or later, you do have to return to civilization and the following picture was taken on the left downwind for runway 32 back at the home airpatch.

The next day, Saturday, my beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders played the TCU Horned Frogs in Lubbock.

It was, without doubt, the most exciting, awesome college football game I have ever witnessed. We lost, but when our young wet-behind-the-ears program plays the number three team in the nation down to zero on the game clock and the game still wasn't over because everyone in the country watching knew that Tech could score from anywhere on the field, that's college football.

I make mention in my novels how much two of the main characters enjoy watching college football on Saturday afternoons. These past few weeks have reminded me just how much I enjoy it.

Sunday, we had the End Of The World Red Moon Of Doom Eclipse occur and I was ready. Not necessarily for the end of the world, but for the eclipse. Another afternoon of exercising the fabric and steel of the Taylorcraft followed by an excellent chicken friend steak dinner at a mom & pop diner just up the highway from the airpatch was completed by a relaxing evening of photographing the eclipse.

Sitting on the tailgate of my pickup truck at the end of a taxiway at our airpatch, I fiddled with my Canon EOS digital SLR and a long lens, the tripod and the remote cable release. Once again, I was reminded how much I enjoy photography. I made a note to myself to slow down and start enjoying these things again by doing more of them.

I finished the vacation week off by rediscovering another old joy, and that is the fun I have making BBQ. A trip to the grocery store and meat market resulted in my big upright cabinet smoker being filled with brisket, ribs and sausage. What we didn't eat that evening (most of it) got vacuum sealed and put in the deep freeze.

The last full day of my vacation started off at 0700 watching our adopted daughter work a new horse she'd recently brought home. Beautiful gray mare quarterhorse, but she's a green horse with a cold back. She needs some work, but if there is anyone on this planet who can--and will--get it done, it's our youngest. She has a connection and a way with horses that I haven't seen since my late paternal grandfather was alive and still working horses and mules.

And as I'm writing and posting this, I'm embarking on another few weeks off, but these next weeks will have a sprinkling of responsibility in them, of which will be included the continued progress on my upcoming next two books. Because like everything above, writing is still a joy as well.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

When neglect meets pontification.

That seems to be the formula for my very essence as of the past few years.

Scatterbrained is more like what my wife calls it.

The last time I updated the site, I was working with the oldest girl on wheelgun shooting. The work is over. She gets it. Good. I know, I know--we can always get better. Trust me, she is.

This summer she received her Texas Concealed Handgun License in the mail and with it, an eye-opener to the responsibilities that come with carrying a firearm every day.

Now on to the youngest. In between playing with our one-year-old granddaughter, who is the apple of her grandpa's eye, we've been spending time at the range getting her mom ready for her CHL. My goal is to have her completed and license in hand by end of the year.

Her schedule, however, is a bit more hectic and we have trouble coordinating with my schedule quite often, but we will get there.

Getting their CHLs was the birthday present we gave both our adopted girls this year. I simply could not think of a better investment or more appropriate gift.

As far as writing goes. . .

I've begun work on the third novel that features Dillon Cole, Cam Carter and Jake Devreau. It is tentatively titled Oaths & Lies and I'm pushing for a mid/late summer (2016) release. It will have an involved plot much like False Gods while containing even more action than Above Reproach.

I think I'll leave it right there and not say any more.

Two other projects in the works, one of which I'm trying to finish for release by Christmas. It is the collection of short stories from back in the late 90's and early 2000's written around the antics and adventures of our Doberman Pinscher and German Shepherd. I'm working to have Tales From The Dogs' Side ready for publication by mid-November and will keep readers posted via my Facebook page (JD Kinman) and my Twitter account (@JDKinman)

The flying machine is down as I type this--waiting on installation of the new Garmin 530 gps and navcom stack. Hoping it will be done by end of month in time to fly to Lubbock for the annual South Plains Fair.

Updates to come in between bouts of neglect and putting things off.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Roots from the air

I love to fly, as evidenced by the more than occasional image of such on my Facebook page, this blog and elsewhere. And when the light and conditions are right, I also enjoy snapping pictures from inside the cockpit.

Now, if I was a real aerial photographer, I would be flying with the doors off and maybe have a co-pilot so I could use my fancy digital Canon SLR and maybe a few different cool lenses. But instead, I enjoy documenting the trip or experience from altitudes ranging from a thousand or so feet MSL (that's flyboy speak for how high you are, barometrically, from sea level) on upwards to just under 10,000' MSL.

On a recent trip back to Lubbock to see my folks, my return flight the next day was mid-afternoon and I had a great tailwind plus some great light to work with. The near-thirty knot tailwind helped shave off about twenty to thirty minutes of actual flying time, and the near perfect light conditions helped me get some neat shots of the West Texas landscape between Lubbock and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

This is about forty or so nautical miles due east of Lubbock. You can see the flat, manicured fields at the top of the photo and just how quickly the land can suddenly contrast with itself. The weather can also change just that quickly as well.

 I'm still undecided on wind energy for individuals as it seems extremely cost-prohibitive for most of us commoners. But for the large energy companies, something must be there because I'm seeing a lot more wind farms popping up between Fort Worth, the Red River and westward all the way out to Big Spring, the Permian Basin and off the Caprock east of Lubbock. Of course, there is no shortage of wind out there, either.

I did some oil patch work, briefly, one summer when I was in college at Texas Tech. You know what was fun about it? Nothing. Hard, dangerous, muscle-numbing work. In the picture below, if one didn't know better, you'd think you were seeing a new housing development what with all the nice little roads and plots you see. Instead, those are what we called pump jacks, and each one is pumping West Texas crude up from the ground.

Here's a bit closer look at the layout of this particular oil field. I saw at least a dozen of these just in the two hours it took me to fly from Lubbock to Fort Worth. Someone up in Washington needs to tell OPEC to kiss our Lone Star ass.

This is pretty rugged country. I've seen an awful lot of it from the back of a quarter horse--which in most areas, is the only way you can see much of it. Yet, it has its own unique and inherent beauty and truly epitomizes West Texas.

More contrasting landscapes. Lot of salt flats where the small creeks and rivers run.

I actually circled the plane around this particular landscape to get this shot. It's a good illustration of how nature works via heavy rainfall and rapid runoff. The result is controlled erosion and ever-deepening canyons on the low end with pretty fair grazing land on the high end.

Water always takes the path of least resistance, yet still maintains its erosive effect. In another million years, there will be a couple of oxbow lakes down below.

West Texas gets very little respect from Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston. But I guess city-bred folks have always looked at country-bred folks that way. It used to bother me, especially when I got back from the military and was going to college. Now over three decades later, I'm not bothered in the least. I know where my roots are.

Here's an author I'm really enjoying.

Meet Mark Dawson.

I found Mr. Dawson by way of a promotion that landed Sword of God onto my Kindle. As I got into the book, it was reading more and more like a certain novel from David Morrell, another author I thoroughly enjoy and whose (paper and ink) books are a permanent part of my library.

Mr. Dawson's character, John Milton, is interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which is that he is an ex-Special Air Services veteran. The British SAS are as good as they get and in Sword of God, how SAS troops think, act, react, plan and prepare are dealt with quite nicely. Mr. Dawson takes some literary license here and there with Milton's exploits and abilities, but fiction is meant to be enjoyed and the very word "fiction" itself grants us writers a tremendous amount of leeway in how much we might want to bend and stretch facts, or in some writers' cases, just flat make them up.

Fiction is meant to be enjoyed, to be true theater of the mind and for us to use our own wondrous imagination to picture the scenery and the characters and to place our own visions of how they look, how they sound, how they talk, how they move.

I judge fiction by how much it keeps me from doing the things I really need to do because I've got my nose buried in my book or Kindle instead of in my Macbook writing my own next book or column or blog post. Or, I judge it by how many times I have to tell my wife "Just another couple of minutes" as I read another couple of pages while she is tap-dancing at the door to the garage because she's ready to go eat.

I've been late for a few meals with my wife since discovering Mark Dawson's John Milton series. I'm looking forward to his Beatrix Rose series, but I need to get some of my own projects off the back burner first.

Check out Mr. Dawson's books. He's a prolific writer who is easy and thoroughly enjoyable to read.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Need pizza? Go with a brand that takes care of their employees.

In my most recent novel, False Gods, I wrote of small and medium-sized businesses taking care of their employees in order to generate brand loyalty and increased loyalty from customers.

During the years I worked in the advertising agency world, I dealt directly with two different pizza chains--Pizza Hut and Dominos. The latter didn't last long at the first agency I worked at. It was difficult to effectively advertise a product that tasted like cardboard crap. For the record, Domino's has completely revamped their business from top to bottom and especially in the kitchen. I order from them now and then and their product is vastly better than the stuff they used to deliver to us at Texas Tech University back in the early 80's.

Pizza Hut, while making a better product, loses out on a key area involving employees.

Most pizza chains that have delivery have a "no guns" policy. Most pizza chains also deliver in areas that can often be risky for the driver carrying several pizzas and $20 to $50 worth of cash. Crackheads will rob you and slit your throat for five bucks.

Pizza Hut has had instances of delivery drivers being robbed and the driver pulling out a legally owned firearm for which they have a concealed handgun license and using it to defend their life. . .  and being summarily fired for that.

In suburban Atlanta, a Papa John's driver had a similar experience. She was robbed, pulled out her own gun and shot the thug in the face before escaping.

Papa John's did not fire her. Instead, they are reassigning her job duties to be inside the store while she recuperates from the experience. The company was quick to point out that their policy regarding firearms/weapons has not changed, but the fact remains that this woman is not being fired for defending her life.

I salute Papa Johns and while I rarely order from the big chains (we prefer the locally-owned pizza places), when we do, rest assured Papa Johns will be the first and only number we call.

Well done, Papa Johns. Well done.

Monday, January 12, 2015

There's something about wheelguns and girls.

Late last week I had the pleasure of taking our oldest adopted daughter to the range to do some shooting. The past two outings had found her enamored with our Model 19 Combat Master with the 2 1/2" barrel--one of my favorite firearms.

Now it is one of Bre's as well.

But why stop at just one favorite shootin' iron? This past outing had her discovering the Smith & Wesson Model 686, which is my favorite firearm of all that we own. I've now been informed that there may have to be a few additions made to the will for when the time comes that I'm at that big hangar and shooting range in Heaven where guns never run out of ammo and never need cleaning.

Next outing will likely bring yet a new firearm for her to explore.

And then probably a new addition to the will.

I should've gone to law school.

Monday, January 5, 2015

No rest because I'm no longer weary.

"No rest for the weary" seems to be a popular mantra and in fact, I have used it myself on more than one occasion.

As I've written in earlier posts, 2013 was a challenging year for a variety of reasons, chief among them were battling health issues that had me hospitalized far more than I ever have been before and working feverishly (no pun intended, really) to finish my second novel, False Gods.

 I survived and I finished the book. It launched in late December and sales have been steady and brisk.

So what's next?

There are three projects in the works presently. One is a collection of short stories concerning me and the Doberman and German Shepherd we had during our years in Kansas City and Dallas. These writing originated shortly after the internet (better known back then as the worldwide web, or just "the web") was in its infancy. Dog World magazine had a forum for its readers and on it, you were able to post remarks and carry on discussions. The old format was way different from the typical discussion forums you see today and it made for some interesting interactions between participants at times.

I had jokingly written a short post in which I gave voice to our Doberman and then our German Shepherd. To my surprise, I had about eighty response posts to it, all liking it (except for the snooty SOB I was giving a bit of hell to via the voice of my two beloved German dogs).

So I wrote another one. It got about two-hundred favorable replies and responses.

In between writing "new and improved" and "save ten cents" while working in the ad agency, I word-doodled around with my two dogs, occasionally added my wife into the adventures, and basically spun some Texas-sized tall tales and yarns with the dogs. We had them turning their dog house into a time machine and then talking me into traveling back in time to Germany to have a beer with Louis Dobermann. When our Doberman got neutered, we took a trip to a store in Hollywood, California (where else?) that sold fake testicles.

 A reader from back during those times found most of what I'd written and tracked me down via my first novel, Above Reproach, to my Facebook page. I now have a goodly collection of the stuff from back then and am presently adding to it and embellishing it and making sure it is absolutely politically incorrect.

It will be a short paperback book full of nothing but fun for anyone who's ever owned a dog or been owned by a dog.

The other two books I'm working on are quite different. One is the pilot book for a series I'm developing. The other is a follow up, or sequel if you will, to both Above Reproach and False Gods. It is taking a ton of research and my publication target date is summer of 2016. No firm title for it yet.

The pilot for a series will be entitled The Pride. The essence of it and the series will be what happens when justice is not served by those elected to and hired for the purpose of representing the People when wrongdoings have been committed against them. I'm working for a publication and release date for late fall of this year (2015).

I have a few other non-writing projects in the fire as well, our first granddaughter, a new rating I'm working on for my flying, and a few other things that require some time.

Weary? Who has time to be weary?

Looking forward to an active and fulfilling year and I hope you are as well.