Life

Suspiciously like a carrot on a stick

My four year old Nook has made it very clear that it’s time to get a new ereader.  I don’t want a Kindle so long as it refuses to support the .epub format, so I took to the Internet to figure out what the best e-ink ereader is, and I discovered that there’s an overwhelming consensus right now that it’s the Kobo Aura One.

And not only do all the reviewers love the Aura One, but it also works really well for me: I’ve been getting my ebooks from Kobo for a while, and also, since Kobo and Overdrive are owned by the same parent company, the Aura One comes with Overdrive integration, so you can borrow library books right from the device.

Sweet! I already know exactly what I want for Christmas.

So on 10 October I went to Kobo’s website to see how much it would cost meLisa and the kids, who are totally the ones who will be buying my Christmas present.  Out of Stock, the site told me.  Will be in stock on 14 October.

Fair enough.  Waited till 14 October, went back to the site, still got the same message.  So I waited till the next day and went back again.  Out of Stock.  Will be in stock on 19 October.

Hmmm.

19 October, same message.  Can you guess what it said by 20 October?

Out of Stock.  Will be in stock on 1 November.

I googled to see what the situation is, but I couldn’t find any mention of there being an Aura One shortage in the USA.  There was a shortage in Canada in September, but judging by Best Buy Canada, that’s been solidly resolved.  (Best Buy USA doesn’t stock the Aura One; in fact, it doesn’t seem that any US retailers do.  Best Buy Canada won’t ship to the US.  Chapters apparently will ship to the US, with the caveat that I’m responsible for “any duties or taxes”.  I don’t think there should be any duties, since we’re both part of NAFTA, but taxes might be a different deal.)

So, guys, I have a question.  Do we know for certain that the Aura One is in fact a thing? For realsies?  Has anyone seen one?

I

Bullseye

Today is World Thinking Day for the global Girl Scout/Girl Guides movement, and what that means in practical terms is that, during my six-year-old’s Daisy troop meeting last night, several of the parents got drafted into making swap items for the girls to swap with other Girl Scout troops at the event all the local troops are attending tonight.  (The girls themselves couldn’t make the swap items because, firstly, they were busy making Valentine’s Day crafts, and perhaps somewhat more importantly, the swap items involved melting poker chips on a grill and then drilling a hole through them with a power drill.)

The chips had already been melted when we got there, into flat metal discs; so now, they needed someone to drill a hole through the centre of each one, through which yarn would then be strung and tied into a loop.  (The end result is rather cute.)  The other two or three mums there immediately volunteered to do the threading and tying, so since clearly none of them wanted to operate the drill, I figured that I as the only male there should step up and volunteer for that job.

I want to be clear here: this was a really easy, unchallenging drill job.  Each plastic piece just needed to be held firmly in place and have a small hole drilled through its centre.  What happened next is due entirely to my own incompetence.

Reader, on my third plastic disc, I power-drilled a hole straight into the palm of my hand.  Specifically, into the fleshy bit right below my index finger.

It hurt (it still hurts now), but it didn’t go deep enough to cut into sinew or bone.  It just bled.  And boy did it bleed.  I could not get it to close.  It soaked through the band-aid pretty quickly, and blood just kept streaming down my fingers.  Also I felt incredibly foolish and just wanted us to stop talking about it while I kept on drilling (as I insisted on doing), but all the mums were exceptionally freaked out by it and kept asking if I was all right.

(As Lisa said when I told her later how dumb I felt and that I really just wanted everyone to stop talking about it, “Honey, they all have husbands.  They expect you to be that dumb.”)

Anyway, the upshot of this story is that a hundred or so plastic discs now have holes drilled in them, almost none of them have blood stains on, and I’m now completely up to date with my tetanus shots.

I

Family history

My mother visited last week, and since it’s the first time we’ve seen each other since she went to my grandfather’s funeral, she brought with her some of his effects.

Amongst other things, there’s a number of mementos from his service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.  I was really excited by all this; I dedicated A Traitor’s Loyalty to my grandad specifically because it was his stories of his wartime experience that first got me interested in the topic.

I’ll start with the photographs.  There’s one of my grandfather and the men with whom he did the flight engineer’s training course in the summer of 1943.  There’s another of him with three comrades, only his head has been torn off; the note on the back says that his head can be found in my grandmother’s gold locket.  (I love it so much.)

There’s two pictures of him with his flight crew: one taken right after the conclusion of an “operational flight”, with them still in their flight gear, and this more formal one, in which my grandfather is second from the right in the front row:

photo 2

And a photo of his whole squadron from May 1945, commemorating the German surrender.  He’s second from right in the fourth row back:

photo 1

There’s also a number of newspaper clippings, wherein my grandfather has carefully cropped news photos of Halifax bombers, the specific type of bomber he crewed.  (That’s a Halifax his squadron are adorning in the picture just above.)  For me these are particularly fascinating because of the little snippets of news report on their reverse side.  One from October 1945 has half the headline and lede from a story that appears to be about a debate over how much of a voice “the dominions” (at that time, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) should receive in the Allied Powers’ peacemaking process.  Another has the first two, contextless sentences of a news story: Before the war, the precise location of Casablanca was probably known to few Britons except the bright lad who was top in geography.  Now it is almost as familiar a name as Brighton or Birmingham, though it would perhaps be difficult to say whether Winston Churchill or Humphrey Bogart is chiefly responsible for this improvement in our education.

And there’s his log book, wherein he had to record all his flying hours.  Every mission he flew is in here, from his first on 20 August 1943 (the only description of the mission is “circuits and bumps (dual)”) through to December 1945, with a break between May and September 1945, during which he was “posted to Dallarchy, Morayshire, Scotland” for “lectures on flying against the Japanese”, in preparation after the German surrender for his redeployment to the Pacific theatre.  Each flight lists the pilot, the specific aircraft, and the nature of the mission:

photo 3

photo 4

By December 1945 he’d been posted to a meteorological squadron—essentially busywork while he awaited his turn to get demobilised and discharged, and as such his records become sketchier.  But he does record a couple of flights he took as a civilian after the war, such as when he took my uncle with him aboard an aircraft listed as “Comet Dove” and flew as “Passenger” in September 1957.  (I love it so much.)

And my mother brought a small packet of medals, which she had assumed were my grandfather’s campaign medals.  One of them indeed was his, a service pin for No. 58 Squadron, but I realised pretty quickly that the others couldn’t be—because they weren’t from the Second World War, but rather from the First.

They were at first puzzling, because they were inscribed as belonging to “Gnr. A. Massey RFA“.  The obvious assumption would be that these belonged to my great-grandfather, my grandfather’s father.  (My mother’s maiden name is Massey.)  But my great-grandfather wasn’t “A.”, he was “John”.  My uncle recollected that John Massey’s middle initial was A., so there was a hypothesis that perhaps he had enlisted in the Army using his middle name.  I’ll admit I was unconvinced by that and thought it was more likely these medals belonged to a different male relative, perhaps one who had been killed during the war and whose medals had passed to John Massey, then to my grandfather Alf.

But! Whoever this mysterious Gunner A. Massey was, his service number was inscribed on the medals, which I figured out only when I researched the medals online.  (I had seen the number on one of the medals but hadn’t realised it was his service number because it’s only five digits long.  I figured it was an individual number for the medal or something.  I mean, all the numbers by which we’re identified today, does it seem at all reasonable to you that an army serial number would only need to be five digits long?  I’m guessing that in A. Massey’s case it’s a reflection of the fact that when he enlisted in August 1914, the British Army was an organisation with fewer than a hundred thousand members.)

Anyhow, I figured the service number would make A. Massey a fairly easily searchable individual, so I set out to find what I could about him.  And I should pause right here and say a big thank you to Kris, because most of what I’m about to say isn’t stuff I found at all, but rather stuff that she did.  I would still be entirely in the dark if it weren’t for her, and I’m really grateful.

One thing I learnt yesterday: the service records of only forty per cent of the British Army’s First World War soldiers are still extant.  The other sixty per cent were destroyed by a German bomb in September 1940.  But I also learnt that his service number belonged to a soldier who served in the British Army during the war under the name Alfred Massey (my grandfather’s name, though my grandfather wasn’t born until the 1920s).  His medal card gives a “qualifying date” of 16 August 1914, which I think is the date he enlisted in the British Army but might possibly be the date he arrived with his unit in France or Belgium.  Either way, his involvement in the war began very very shortly after Britain’s declaration of war against Germany on 4 August.

Kris then discovered that Alfred Massey married my great-grandmother in Sunderland in 1915, at which point we knew that either Alfred Massey was my great-grandfather John or else my great-grandmother had a weird habit of marrying Massey men from Sunderland.  It was when I saw Alfred Massey’s entry in the 1911 census that it all made sense.

In 1911, Alfred Massey was sixteen and living at home with his parents—including his father, John.  So it would seem that my great-grandfather John Alfred Massey went by the name Alfred as a young man, when his dad was John, but then later on, after he had a son of his own named Alfred and after his father had presumably passed on, he became John.

There was also some additional family detail Kris found that I had no knowledge of and am so pleased to have, but I won’t go into it here, because I want to finally take a moment to talk about the actual medals themselves.

photo(5)

What you’re seeing there, from left to right, are the 1914 Star (or Mons Star), the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal, also known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.  The British War Medal and the (British version of the) Allied Victory Medal were, broadly speaking, awarded to anyone who served in British uniform overseas during the First World War; about six million of each were issued.  The 1914 Star, however, was rather more restrictive:

This bronze medal award was authorized by King George V in April 1917 for those who had served in France or Belgium between 5th August 1914 to midnight on 22nd November 1914 inclusive. The award was open to officers and men of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces, doctors and nurses as well as Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Navy Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who served ashore with the Royal Naval Division in France or Belgium.

. . .

It should be remembered that recipients of this medal were responsible for assisting the French to hold back the German army while new recruits could be trained and equipped. Collectively, they fully deserve a great deal of honour for their part in the first sixteen weeks of the Great War. This included the battle of Mons, the retreat to the Seine, the battles of Le Cateau, the Marne, the Aisne and the first battle of Ypres. There were approximately 378,000 1914 Stars issued.

So this essentially means that Gnr. Alfred Massey was part of the initial British Expeditionary Force, the Old Contemptibles, so named because of the Kaiser’s (possibly apocryphal) order of 19 August 1914 to “exterminate the treacherous English and walk over General French‘s contemptible little army”.  (Spoiler: the German army found itself unable to carry out such an order.)

I had no idea of any of this.

(I should note that my great-grandfather’s Mons Star does not bear the additional clasp indicating that he actually came under enemy fire during the 5 August-22 November period; apparently slightly fewer than half the Mons Stars do.)

So! I know a lot more about my family history now than I did two days ago.  And I’ve got a new bunch of family heirlooms to tuck away and hopefully someday to be able to teach my own kids just how precious they are.

I opened this post by mentioning that I dedicated my first novel to my grandad.  Somehow when the novel got reissued last year, the dedication didn’t get included in the new edition, something I didn’t realise until my grandad’s death at the end of the year.  So I’ll close by repeating it here:

For my grandfather, Alf Massey (RAF 1940-1946), who first introduced me to British spies, the Second World War, and so many other elements that make up this story.

I

The state of A Traitor’s Loyalty

Hey guys

To let you know, the publisher for A Traitor’s Loyalty went out of business at the end of last year, after having problems for a while, which means that the e-ditions are no longer available from websites.  The sites still show physical copies of the book available, which represent the remainder stock still in the warehouse, though they won’t be there long and how likely orders for them are to be filled remains an open question.

The book will be coming back into print, in electronic and physical editions.  That should happen shortly, though I don’t have an exact timetable.  Anyone who’s interested in knowing when the book will be available again should let me know.

Thanks, guys

I

Girl and the secret world of crossing guards

Girl and I go up to Boy’s school twice a day, when we drop him off in the mornings and pick him up again in the afternoons, so as far as she’s concerned, the crossing guard is always monitoring the intersection at the school car park.  The first time it snowed this past winter, on a Sunday morning, we took her out for a walk, and our route ended up taking us to the school.  She expressed confusion and dismay that the crossing guard wasn’t there.

She had the same reaction this past Friday when we went up there around lunchtime, to eat lunch with Boy on his birthday.  “Hey!” she exclaimed as we crossed the deserted intersection onto school grounds.  “Where’d the crossing guard go?”

“It’s not time for the crossing guard to be here,” I said.  “Probably she went home.”

“Yeah!” she agreed.  (She’s in the habit, if you provide her with information, of acting like she is the one informing you.)  “She’s at home with all the other crossing guards!”

Then this morning, we had two crossing guards at the school entrance–one standing on the corner, supervising, while a trainee directed traffic from the centre of the intersection.  Some time after we dropped Boy off and returned home, Girl came up to me.  “There were two crossing guards today,” she told me.  “They love each other!  And they’re girls!”

I gently corrected both of these assumptions.  (The trainee crossing guard had, in fact, been a dude.)  A short time later, Girl came up to me again.

“There were two crossing guards!  One’s a girl, and one’s a boy.  They’re friends.  Just like Mum and Dad.  And they have baby crossing guards!”

I

And as a housecrasher, he has really poor manners

We’ve just moved. We closed on a house last weekend, and we moved all our stuff over this weekend.  It’s a local move, but it’s a move from a two-bedroom flat to a three-bedroom house, so we’re very happy with it.

Today, in addition to Moving Day, was also Girl’s third birthday.

And it was the first match of the new season for Boy’s soccer team.  In fact, the movers were still bringing stuff into our house when it was time to leave for the match, so Lisa took him on her own while Girl and I hung out at the house.  After the movers finished and left, it was just the two of us.  She was in the basement watching TV while I was doing a little unpacking on one of the upper levels.

She came running up to me.  “There’s an alligator downstairs!  Dad, there’s an alligator downstairs!”

Of course my immediate assumption was that she was playing pretend, but I gave her a second glance when I realised how genuinely frightened she looked.  “Can you show me where the alligator is?” I asked.

She looked at me like I was a moron.  “No.”

So I headed down to the basement.  And stopped at the top of the stairs, when I saw a little guy who looked very much like this on the bottom step.  Her alligator.

I went to get a couple of cups to trap and release the thing, but it had vanished by the time I got back–presumably into the AC vent that’s right next to where it was scurrying around.  So I told Girl it had gone, but she wouldn’t return to the basement without me holding her hand.  My luck, she’ll be the one who finds it again in three days.

I’d actually seen one of these lizards (very possibly the same one) crawling across our front doorstep last night, and I took note of it because I’ve lived on the banks of the Potomac River for eight years now, and this was the first time I’ve seen a lizard like that around here.  Like a little, creepy-crawly piece of Florida running around my yard.

I

Turning Chick-fil-A into something good

There used to be two businesses we refused to frequent because I felt skeevy giving them my money.  One was Chick-fil-A; the other was Walmart.  But then there came a time when I found something out about the place we went instead of Walmart, and I realised something.  I came to think I couldn’t object to shopping at one place for its objectionable practices or support of objectionable causes if I wasn’t prepared to check into each and every place I frequented to make sure they weren’t doing anything I objected to.  So for some time now, we’ve occasionally shopped at Walmart or eaten at Chick-fil-A.

Of course, for the past week or so, we’ve again foregone Chick-fil-A.  But I’ve not been able to help feeling like that doesn’t really mean anything.  Chick-fil-A’s certainly not aware of the loss of the ten dollars they’d have made off us on Saturday, when we drove past one right as we wanted lunch on our way back from the Liverpool-Tottenham match in Baltimore.  And that would probably have been the only time in July or August that we visited them.  I just can’t shake the feeling that a personal boycott doesn’t actually hurt either Chick-fil-A or the hateful organisations that they support, and it doesn’t actually help the cause of gay rights that all our outrage is supposed to be in support of.  It seems to me that it’s more about making myself feel smug and feel like I’ve helped a cause when actually, really, I haven’t.

But obviously, just doing nothing isn’t acceptable either.  If a personal boycott feels like it accomplishes nothing, then simply continuing to patronise Chick-fil-A is actively hurting the people that Chick-fil-A makes its donations to hurt.

I crunched some numbers.  Chick-fil-A took in $4.1 billion last year.  The year before that, they donated $2 million to seven organisations that Business Insider describes as “anti-gay”.  Now, I’m not going to dispute that pretty much all the organisations on this list hold noxious positions on equality and civil rights when we’re talking about the rights in question being exercised with people whose sexuality they don’t like.  But the lion’s share of the money is going places like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the National Christian Foundation, organisations for whom anti-gay campaigning isn’t really at all a major focus of what they do.  I don’t think that makes those organisations okay, but I do think we need to make a distinction between them and pure hate groups such as the Family Research Council, whose sole concern is hating gays and who received a thousand bucks from Chick-fil-A in 2010.

If our family of four swing by Chick-fil-A and spend sixteen dollars, therefore, we’re spending about four-fifths of a penny toward those seven organisations, and about .0004 cents toward the Family Research Council.  If we eat there, say, six times a year (probably a lot for us), we’ve contributed about two and a half cents and .0024 cents respectively.

So here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to make a ten-dollar donation to a gay rights group; we don’t know which one yet.  And if, at any point in a calendar year, we eat at Chick-fil-A, then come the New Year, we’re going to make another ten dollar donation.  Is ten dollars a lot?  Not in the grand scheme of things, no.  But when it comes to this family, Chick-fil-A is going to be responsible for orders of magnitude more money going to gay rights than toward hate.

I

Tropical Storm Debby Downer

Tropical Storm Debby made landfall in Florida two weeks ago, coincidentally on the same day we were driving from Myrtle Beach, SC, to my mother’s home in the Sunshine State.  We stopped off in Brunswick, Georgia, on the way to watch the England-Italy match, then got to Gainesville around 7p.m.  We’d been periodically touching base with my mother, who’d lost power for a couple of hours but then got it back.  She’d also seen some major flooding on her street, though by the end of the afternoon it had receded enough that she could once again make out the road surface beneath the water.

By the time we got to Gainesville, we’d decided just to knock out the last three hours of the drive and get to my mother’s that night.  But that was right when we encountered Debby, and after Lisa had to wade through two inches of water just to cross the single lane of parking lot separating our car from the restaurant where we were eating dinner at Butler Plaza, we decided to get a hotel and finish our journey the following morning.  I was also, by that point, getting some disheartening (and somewhat terrifying) tweets from Pinellas County people on my Twitter feed.

So around noon the next day we crossed the Howard Frankland into Pinellas County.  The rain had mostly let up by then, but the wind was still impressive enough that the waves from the bay were breaking over the concrete barriers to spill onto the edge of the road.

My mother lives on a barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast.  The driveways across the street from her were completely submerged.  That afternoon, Lisa, Boy and I went down to the beach, a block away, to have a look.

The beach was gone.

I knew intellectually that tourist beaches are artificially maintained, that sand has to be brought in to keep them up.  But I’ve never before seen a beach simply wiped away by nature.  We passed by the band of tall grasses that marks the start of the beach, and then the earth fell away vertically–so that the grasses’ roots were exposed–with water lapping at its base.

The water was still strong and choppy.  I waded out a few steps, and even with it still just around my calves, I could clearly feel the undertow.  We went along the beach a little, but had to turn back because the wind was picking at the sand.  We could actually see ribbons of sand undulating through the air just above the ground–I managed to catch a little of it on the video.  That sand was cutting into our forearms and our calves, and the pain was excruciating.  And that was even with the sand blowing so lightly that it didn’t leave a single mark on us–something which surprised me when I examined myself, to be honest.  I can’t imagine what a fullfledged sandstorm must be like; I now fully understand the idea of people being caught in storms like that having all their flesh etched away, leaving only bone.

 

 

So, much more eventful than if we hadn’t gone on holiday. I mean, here in Virginia, all they dealt with while we were gone was a sudden, devastating derecho.

I

Where my book at?

A Traitor’s Loyalty’s listed publication date was 1 May.  As you’ll be aware if you’re one of the ones who preordered the book, that’s been delayed somewhat.  I’ve actually now heard from someone that she’s had an email from Amazon letting her know the book has failed to arrive in stock on time, and asking if she wants to wait, or if she’d rather they refund her money.

So, first point–yes, the book is absolutely still coming.  Those of you who were good enough to preorder, I thank you for your support and ask for your patience.

My publisher, Vantage Point Books, is shutting down.  Vantage Point’s parent, Vantage Press, had been a well-established vanity publisher–that is, a publisher whom authors pay to publish their books–since long before vanity publishing got rebranded as self-publishing.  They created Vantage Point last year as an effort to move into traditional, advance-paying publishing, where it’s the publisher who pays the author for the rights to publish their books.  For whatever reason, they’ve now decided they no longer want to continue that effort, so they’re discontinuing Vantage Point.

But the books already in production–that means A Traitor’s Loyalty–are still coming out as scheduled (or, apparently, a little behind schedule).  Last week I got the final proofs for the full cover and was told that it would take about ten days after I’d signed off on them for a finished book to be produced.  So I’m hoping that the book is shipping within a fortnight.

The news about Vantage Point does, unfortunately, mean that the second book on my deal with them has been cancelled.  That’s the book for which I’d written the first draft of The Zero Hour.  But I’m looking on the bright side–I’ve still got a book coming out, I’ve still got a professional publishing credit, and I also now have a first draft that I produced in record (for me) time that, once it’s been through revisions, will be ready to be shopped.

Hopefully the next time you see my name is on the front cover,

I

Two to the fifth

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Ian, with your birthday falling on a Saturday this year, and with it being only two weeks until the end of the Premier League season, it must have been great to get to spend all morning and early afternoon watching the football.

Well, no.  Saturday was my birthday, and there was indeed lots of Premier League football on, but I didn’t watch any of it.  You see, my sister and her husband will be moving into the area this summer, which means they need to go househunting.  And since it’s tough to househunt in Northern Virginia from their current location in America’s wangFlorida, she decided to send me househunting on Saturday morning instead.  I figured that’s a small price to pay for unlimited free babysitting anytime I want.

Finding Claire a house around here has also kickstarted our own discussions about buying a house ourselves.  Lisa has been saying for years that she wanted to buy a house, but I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that what she really wanted was to complain about how she wants to buy a house.  But she insists that’s not true–so we’re about to start looking in earnest.  I told her that if we do move, though, we need to replace our standard-def television with an HD model.  Not for an improved Media Experience, but because I was looking at the twenty-pound HD TV in our bedroom, and thinking how much easier it would be to move that than it will be the eighty-pound standard-def in the living room.  I don’t ever want to have to move that thing again.

So anyway.  We spent the morning househunting, then went home so I could receive my birthday presents.  Girl got me a pair of Cookie Monster boxer shorts with COOKIE LOVER printed across my arse.  Boy got me a Star Wars-themed edition of the board game Trouble that makes R2-D2 sound effects when you pop that bubble-thing that rolls the dice for you.  And Lisa got me an HD TV.

Yup.  A high-definition television.

And the best part was that it was free because she won it in a raffle.  Last weekend, we’d had our conversation about how I want to replace the eighty-pound standard-def TV with an HD model.  On Wednesday, Lisa spent all day playing in a golf tournament for work.  At the tournament, she got raffle ticked 204, but lost it somewhere.  Then one of her colleagues found ticket 200 on the ground, and gave it to her since she’d lost her proper ticket.  And ticket 200 won the grand prize, the HD TV.  All Lisa’s friends told her she shouldn’t tell me that she didn’t pay for it, as that would make it less special or something, I guess?  Whatever–they clearly don’t know either of us at all.  It being free makes it way more special than it could have been otherwise.

So then, since I’m a dad and since someone in the household–whether me or anyone else–had received a major piece of electronics as a gift, I spent the next hour hooking it up, before it was time to miss the last Premier League match of the day so that we could go to Boy’s soccer match.  Granted, four-a-side U-6 soccer isn’t quite Premier League football, but I suppose you can’t beat a match that has twelve goals in 32 minutes of play.  (Literally can’t beat it, as it finished a 6-6 draw.)

Then we headed to Best Buy, to pick up some HDMI cables and a Blu-Ray player.  The HD TV has only one composite hookup, meaning, as I reasonably explained to Lisa, that we can’t hook both the Wii and the DVD player up to it at the same time, so we’ve replaced the DVD player with a Blu-Ray player, which we can hook up to the new TV by one of its three HDMI ports.

I got back out to the car with all that stuff and found Lisa asleep in the driver’s seat and Boy asleep behind her, so rather than wake them, I got Girl out of the car and walked with her up the road to the used bookshop.  There I discovered that they’ve eliminated their Biography section in favour of an expansion of Romance, and I picked Lisa up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey (happy birthday to her).  Then we headed back to the car.

Where we discovered that Lisa had kept the air conditioning and the radio on the whole time she’d been asleep, so when she tried to start the car, the battery had died completely.  Lisa therefore popped the hood and stood next to the car, and, since she’s a woman, within two minutes someone had pulled up next to her asking if we needed a jump.  Actually, a startlingly good looking 25-year-old man in a gleaming silver BMW had pulled up next to her and asked if she needed a jump.

So we got the car going again, but we needed to drive around for a while rather than going home.  We therefore elected to drive down to Fredericksburg, 35 miles away; that way, we could go to either Sonic or Steak and Shake for dinner.  Actually, it was my birthday, so we stopped at both Sonic and Steak and Shake.  I also popped into the comic book shop next door to Sonic, as I always do, and looked at their selection of Doctor Who toys and t-shirts.  They had some nice stuff, as they always do, and it was exorbitantly priced, as it always is.  Particularly hard to resist was the Lego Cyberman playset, which Boy would have loved, but it was $80 for what was maybe a $30 Lego set (and that’s even accounting for the fact that Lego sets generally cost about half again what they’re worth to begin with).

And then we were home, and I was sticking HDMI cables into our new TV to connect it with the cable box and the Blu Ray player.  All in all, not the best birthday I’ve ever had, but a lively and eventful one.  And one that brought with a new HD television!  Followed by the discovery that the new HD television was free!  So in the end, I can’t complain.

I

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