Author Archive

Challenger ready…

Posted in Uncategorized on 08 October 2014 by Micheal


Waves away the dust in his face and shines the dim flashlight into the darkness.

“Good lord.  It’s been awhile,” he says, gingerly walking into the space, brushing aside cobwebs as he goes.  “Who knew the Internet could collect so much dust and cobwebs in a year and a half?”


BAH!  It’s actually been nearly a year and a half since my last post.  That’s not acceptable.  NaNoWriMo is coming up in a few weeks.  The 30 Character Challenge probably is, too.  I should really do some house cleaning.  This place is a mess.

Every now and again I like to take up some sort of challenge to try to spark my creativity.  So when I got the email from Jeff Goins talking about a blogging challenge, I thought “hmm…I have a blog.  I could use a challenge.  I’ll do it!”   I then proceeded to wait until the last minute to fully sign up and read the first challenge.  Heck, the thing started today and I hadn’t seen the first challenge until about twenty minutes ago.  It’s going to be a long twenty one days.

So what’s the first challenge?  Update the About Me page.  Jeff gave some great advice on what should be included and I reviewed what I had.  Overall, I think it had all the basic points he outlined, but I wasn’t happy with the structure.  I’m still not, but, hey, the challenge is about improving, right?  So have a look around and let me know in the comments what you like and don’t like, or what I should add/remove*.

Thanks for stopping by!



*am I the only IT guy who writes “add/remove” and automatically wants to add “programs” after it?  I am, aren’t I?

Donations and giveaways…

Posted in Uncategorized on 04 June 2013 by Micheal

“I could die.”

“You’re not going to die.”

“But I could.  I haven’t been on a bike in a decade.”

“Yeah, you’re probably going to die.”

That was the conversation I had back in 2008 before doing my first MS150 ride.  For those unfamiliar, the MS150 is 150 mile bicycle ride that starts in Proctor, MN, just outside of Duluth, on a Saturday in June and ends the next evening somewhere in the Twin Cities metro area, usually at the top of what feels like a small mountain.  The ride raises awareness of MS and proceeds go to benefit the MS Society of MN.  This year’s ride is this Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 June, 2013 and will be my sixth year riding.

I’m still not sure I won’t die.  🙂

In years past, I have bombarded my friends and family with constant Facebook messages pleading for donations for weeks or months before the event.  I’m not doing that this year.  I decided to do something just a little different.  First, on 14 June, I’m going to draw names of two donors, each of whom will receive a Target gift card as a thank you for supporting me and, more importantly, the cause.  Secondly, I’m giving you the opportunity to decide something personal; whether or not I shave before the event.

You see, over the winter I generally let my beard grow out and I think I’ve let it go for a bit longer than I generally do.  As a result, it’s gotten rather long.  Not quite Duck Dynasty long, but certainly longer than I’m used to.  Normally I would shave it down to a goatee prior to this ride, but I’ve gotten so many comments on it that I’m going to leave it up to y’all.  Make a donation and leave the comment “Shave it” or “Keep it.”  Whichever has the most money attached to it by 0700 (7 AM) on Friday, 7 June, is what I’ll do.

You can donate at:

Thanks in advance for your support!





30 Characters Challenge, Complete

Posted in Creativity with tags , on 30 November 2012 by Micheal

Sorry for the LONG post.  Here’s number 6-30

First, the last one  from this year’s #NaNoWriMo story:

Sarah Johnson

Sarah is Mark’s wife and co-caretaker of The Reverend’s farm. She grew up with the two of them and probably knows more about what happened with The Reverend than Mark does, simply because she was more persistent in dragging it out of him. Sarah worries about the both of them, considering them both to be family.

Sarah is wonderful wife and mother. The farm is a somewhat agrarian setup, meant to be self sufficient. As such, there are jobs to be done that don’t take her too far from the house. The children are still relatively young and during the school months are gone during the day, but she directs them in household chores and tending to the animals. She also manages processing milk from the cows and, as odd as it sounds to most outsiders, churning butter. She also organizes and keeps the house clean and makes sure meals are prepared for everyone. The Reverend has warned Mark that should he ever take Sarah for granted he will give him a beat down of Biblical proportions.

Sara is 5’6”, roughly 135 pounds. She has curly light brown hair with blonde highlights that is starting to show a little grey. She prefers more traditional attire and is usually found in a long, solid color dress with an apron.

The next twenty one are from an as yet drawn out webcomic.


Chuck is the type of man who has a lot of internal turmoil. In his early years, life had pulled the football out from underneath him a few too many times. The result being a knot of anger, depression, internalized rage, and asocial tendencies. This left him only one clear career path: Tech Support.

Chuck is trained in several forms of martial arts, having sought out training with a true master with whom he spent a good five years after college. He knows a hundred ways to kill a person, but his weapon of choice is always his sarcastic wit. His role as Team Lead at Total Bastard Technical Support fortunately keeps him from interacting with customers more than absolutely necessary. His unique skills however, has prompted his employers to give him an “off the books” role in charge of “light” corporate espionage. To date, this role has not required any killings, but Chuck is holding out hope.

Chuck is 5’9” tall, 185 pounds. He has medium length dark hair, green eyes, and grows a long goatee and a mustache that hangs in a short “fu manchu” like style, that he keeps threatening to wax and curl up in a handlebar whenever someone hassles him on it. He is most often found in light combat boots under his utility kilt and printed t-shirt. Technically, there is no part of this that is allowed by the dress code at his office, but no one has questioned him on it since the disappearance of the one HR rep who tried.

Imagine if Charlie Brown, after a childhood of Lucy pulling the football away and making him fall on his ass and never having a proper baseball game or Christmas tree and being less popular than his dog grew up and took all that frustration and funnelled into the the only job that would have it: technical support. And does it all wearing a kilt. That’s Chuck.

Seamus Ravensfeather

Seamus is a good friend and coworker of Chuck. They met when Chuck first came to work at Total Bastard Technical Support and became fast friends, looking out for one another when needed.

Seamus is of Native American and Irish heritage, which gives him straight, black hair that falls below his shoulders (but is generally tied back) coupled with a fair skin tone. This, coupled with his penchant for dark clothing, often gets him mistaken for one of those “nouveau Goth” folks he despises (after all, “the Goths were violent barbarians that were the scourge of Europe, not whiny emo bitches with black lipstick.”). Standing at six feet tall and weighing around 130 pounds soaking wet (author’s note: we’re pretty certain a good ten pounds of that comes from the trench coat and assorted gadgets on his person), doesn’t help the misconception much.

Seamus is an art geek, which tends to get on Chuck’s nerves on occasion. He has been known to have internal debates about what font was used on a restaurant menu or advertising sign, as well as to correct people who misidentify shades of colors. He is, however, incredibly talented with genius level intelligence.

Brew Meister

Remember that guy in college who could drink everyone under the table at the party and still ace the physics test at 0800 the next day? That’s Brew. College was where he got his nickname after he started brewing his own beer in his dorm room. Rumor has it that he started constructing his own mini-still (ala Hawkeye Pierce from MASH), but was cut short by an RA who caught wind of the endeavor and made it clear that such activity would get him kicked out of the dorm and probably expelled.

Brew is generally jovial fellow, slow to anger, quick with a joke or clever quip. He’s friendly to just about everyone he meets, sometimes to his own detriment as it’s often taken as flirting by the women at the bar, which doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend. The rare times when he’s a bit surly come when he finds his mug empty.

Brew has a self described “Buddha Body”, most likely a result of years of consumption of beer and wings. Don’t let his shape and demeanor fool you, though. He is a student of martial arts and, although he’s had little formal training, can hold his own in a fight. His best fighting style? Drunken Master, of course. He is as tall as Chuck, give or take an inch, and spends part of his summer serving beer and laughs to patrons at the local renaissance festival.

The Software Support Siren

Siren is, in fact, a siren. Contrary to popular belief, not all sirens are mermaids (though it would appear that all mermaids are sirens). She represents the complaint department at Total Bastard. A blonde siren, the most common type, her voice both sooths and sways a healthy majority of the human male population, as well as a small percentage of the female population. As such, she almost universally well liked by the men at Total Bastard whilst distrusted by nearly the same percentage of the women.

Siren is the only non-management employee to have her own office at Total Bastard. This is, of course, so that everyone else isn’t distracted by her voice. When she leave the office and is talking to someone in a hallway or break room, it often results in a small following of men tripping over themselves to help her or just be close to her. She spends most of her day in solitude, taking calls escalated from other coworkers who often take bets on how long she’ll have to talk to a customer to get them to forget why they were upset.

Siren and Chuck are good friends, partly because Chuck is one of the rare people immune to her call (he is also mostly immune to the call of the less common brunette siren, but is completely unable to resist the call of the, thankfully, incredibly rare redheaded siren). They serve as outlets for one another’s workplace frustrations, often venting to one another via instant message or over lunch.

Aurora and Penumbra (Rory and Penny)

Aurora and Penumbra, or Rory and Penny as they are often called, are Chuck’s conscious, the proverbial “angel” and “devil” on his shoulders, though you’d be hard pressed to tell which is which as their morality seems to encompass shades of grey rather than straight black and white. It is not uncommon for Rory to encourage Chuck to do something “bad” whilst Penny tries to dissuade him, or vice versa. Often times they will switch sides in the same issue or, if Chuck takes too long to act, decide to simply gang up on him and both take the same side of the issue.

The women are sisters and may actually be fraternal twins. They are almost identical except in the features that would normally denote their purpose as Chuck’s conscious; Rory has wings that are reminiscent of a bat (or, as Chuck points out, a succubus) and is often dressed in modest clothes, whilst Penny has white, feathered wings, representative of a dove or angel and is most often dressed in more revealing attire. Both sisters wear roses intertwined in a chain. Chuck believes the women to be figments of his imagination and bases this on the fact that their physical appearance, perhaps without the wings, is a very close approximation to his ideal woman (red hair, bright face, piercing green eyes, comforting smile, hourglass figure, etc).

Tarah (pronounced TAR-ah)

Tarah is the “resident redhead”. She is Chuck’s long-time friend and on-again off-again roommate. Something of a modern hippie and “wanderer”, she travels often and lives with Chuck for brief periods of time between travels. She lives mostly off of odd jobs and the kindness of others. This was part of the reason she and Chuck didn’t work as a couple, as she was far too much of a free spirit and he needed someone more grounded.

Tarah is a semi-professional photographer. She travels the country in a bus that has been converted to an RV, taking photos of interesting places and selling the prints online and at hippy gatherings and arts/crafts fairs.

Tarah is 5’3 and “height-weight proportionate”. She has wavy, naturally red hair that falls below her shoulders. Although she will occasionally “dress up”, she is most commonly found in jeans, a loose-fitting top, and comfortable shoes.


Sera is Chuck’s sister and sometime nemesis (nemesister?). She started out life as a blonde and sometime after puberty her hair naturally darkened. Chuck contends that she was seduced to the dark side and became an apprentice of a Sith or Dark Lord, or possibly a Disney villain sometime in her teens. Although she claims that her antagonism of Chuck is purely accidental, Chuck is dubious of this.

Sera is strong willed and is often unwilling to admit mistakes. She has been known to plow forward toward a goal, regardless of harm to herself or others. It generally works out in the end, however. A constant fight between her and Chuck is her romantic fixation on his friends, dating back to grade school. Unfortunately, this fixation also extends to friends, and boyfriends, of her friends. Despite their problems with one another, Sera and Chuck are fiercely loyal to one another.

Sera stands 5’6” and weighs around 120 pounds. She prefers a short bob cut to her brown hair, though hates that it tends to curl at that length and will no longer stay straight as it did when she was a child.


Brutus is a high school friend of Chuck. Well “friend” is a loose term. He was the captain of the football team at Chuck’s high school and part of the reason Chuck rode the bench for two years. Although relatively civil to one another, Brutus has a personality that Chuck finds abrasive, despite Brutus’s good intentions.

Brutus never really left high school. In his mind, he’s still at the top of the food chain and never tires of sharing stories from his glory days, despite having graduated from business school with an IT Management degree. He is incredibly competitive and comes across as overbearing in most cases. He lacks social graces which would normally help him fit in better with geeks like Chuck, Seamus, and Brew, but as a Jock, he tends to be at the loud, obnoxious end of the lack of social graces scale, rather than the quiet, reserved end where you find most geeks.

Brutus has a fairly typical football lineman build. He is about 6’1”, 230 pounds with medium brown, poorly kept hair and three days growth of facial hair. Even in an ill-fitting suit and tie, Chuck only sees him in his football jersey.


Marcy is an old friend of Chuck, their relationship dating back to grade school. The two had not spoken in nearly twelve years from the middle of their senior year in high school until they were force to meet again when Marcy became a contractor for a project at Total Bastard. The tension for the first few weeks of that contract boiled over into a near fist fight as the two finally stopped tip-toeing around the unresolved issues from their past.

Marcy is a relatively non-descript person. She stands 5’2” with short cropped dark hair and dark rimmed glasses over her most noticeable physical asset. She has a small frame with tone muscles and very little body fat. She is most often described as “tomboyish”, a term she loathes only slightly less than “butch”. She has a small heart tattoo on her wrist with the word “sir” written in it.


“Wheels” met Chuck on the cycling trails in town years ago. His bike had broken down and he was having a supremely bad day when she rode up and helped him with repairs. Chuck bought her lunch at a nearby coffee shop as a thank you and an apology for his attitude and they became quick friends. When a bad encounter with a car left her with minimal use of her legs a few years later, Chuck was by her side in the hospital and supported her as much as he could. She would eventually move to a wheelchair almost full time and trade in her two-wheeled bike for a hand-bike. Her and Chuck will still occasionally ride the trails together, though something has changed between them that is unclear to Chuck.

“Wheels” is a nickname Chuck gave her after she moved to a wheelchair. She had often referred to Chuck as “Legs” due to his kilt, and this was his revenge. She appears good natured about it, but it is unclear if she finds offense in it.

When standing, “Wheels” is about 5’7” tall. Her weight fluctuates, but she maintains a healthy and attractive figure. She has straight hair that flows down to the middle of her back and changes color depending on her mood and the whim of her stylist.

The Cowboy

The Cowboy is a supervisor at Total Bastard. He’s a laid back kind of guy and although he was born, raised, and has always lived within a metro or suburban area, fancies himself a country boy. As such, he will commonly be found wearing slightly distressed jeans, a western style shirt, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. Although not the most effective supervisor in existence, he is easily favored over some of the other management in the company, primarily because of his pleasant demeanor and respect for employees. His management style is about adequate for the task, so there are rarely complaints. His big weakness is that he likes to have a lot of fun during off hours and will tend to overindulge when entertaining clients.

One of the most notable things about The Cowboy is that he is exceptionally tall. So much so that unless he is seated, even Seamus, has to look nearly straight up to look at his face. Often times his face is completely lost in the fluorescent lights of the office.


“Bob” is a different kind of recurring character. Turnover at Total Bastard is about the highest you can get in any industry, much less IT. As a result, the staff refuses to learn anyone’s names until they’ve made it at least six months. All new hires are referred to as “Bob” until that time. Although the argument has been made that this increases turnover due to people being offended that staff will not remember their name, this argument was debunked when Seamus took it upon himself to not only learn the real name of every “Bob” for six months, but also to actively socialize with them and turnover didn’t change at all.


Frank is the sole full time African American person on the team. He is often referred to as “Token” by the South Park fans on the team because of this. He’s also often given a hard time because, despite being 6’3” and physically fit, he’s never played sports, other than the random pickup game of football or basketball with his friends. By his own admission, he’s generally not good at those things. He also claims to be “the only black man on the planet with no rhythm.”

Frank was a USMC Reserve Officer who is thankful that his unit was never called up to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. He spends his two weekends a month and two weeks a year helping train reservists on deploying communications equipment or, as he puts it, “running cable through tubes.”

Frank is happily married and a father of two girls.

“The Boss”

Ironically, The Boss is far more stereotypical than he’d like. He’s one part Louie De Palma, one part Pointy Haired Boss, and two parts Dave Nelson. He’s not as well liked or respected as The Cowboy, but he doesn’t necessarily care, either. He’s there to do a job and that may not necessarily be the job everyone thinks it should be. He is best known for sitting in his office fiddling whilst the department burned (well, okay, he was ripping CDs whilst a bunch of stuff “blew up”).

“The Boss” is about 5’7”, 190, with something of a pear shaped face, broad nose and a hairstyle that he’s held onto since the late 80’s.


Named for an obscure character on an even more obscure TV show, Elvis is Chuck’s ferret. He is a sable colored ferret and measures roughly 15 inches in length and weighs less than two pounds. Like most ferrets, he sleeps a lot, but when awake is a bundle of energy who hates being in his cage and will often make quite a racket banging on his food dish, or shaking the cage for someone to let him out. He seems to be content travelling in the pocket (or sporran, if appropriate) of Chuck’s kilt. He is a natural explorer and, unlike most of his breed, not much of a kleptomaniac, preferring to observe, taste, or chew, rather than steal and hide.


Everyone’s pretty certain that “Russ” is somehow short for “Walrus”. Russ has a face much like Wilfred Brimley and a moustache that rivals that of Jamie Hyneman. At fifty, he is the oldest member of the Total Bastard team. He’s also reached the “I don’t really give a fuck” stage of his life and this displays in the way he interacts with coworkers. He is a competent technician, but may not be 100 percent up on “new fangled technology”. He occasionally needs to hand off cases because the terminology escapes him, causing a communication problem with the callers.

Russ is about 5’5” tall, 180 pounds. He is most often found wearing pants that fit almost perfectly and are held up by suspenders over t-shirt or button down flannel shirt.


The sole redheaded woman to have worked at Total Bastard, she was hard for Chuck not to notice. The two of them worked together for a short time before Katlin took a job offer with another company. They have remained in loose contact, getting together occasionally for a beer and to catch up on each other’s lives. Katlin is another free spirit, being described as a cross between Tarah and Marcy; resembling Tarah in spirit and Marcy in her tomboyish nature (and hatred of that term).

Katlin is about 5’3” and carries a little extra weight around her midsection. Her frame is a bit larger than one would expect for her size and this, coupled with larger breasts and a preference for baggy clothes makes her appear far more “boxy” than she is. She is a fan of Asian culture and Star Wars geek.


Doc is a survivalist that Chuck meets on a trip to Arizona. He lives in the desert with his wife in a remote, off-grid location. After an accident on the trip, Chuck wakes up in the couple’s home, mildly confused as to what had brought him there.

Doc stands about 5’10”, but tends to slouch down to about 5’8”. He is thin, but fit, with a small frame that makes him seem deceptively frail. He keeps his head shaved and tends to wear clothes practical for working around a homestead, repairing equipment and tending to crops and animals.


Dixie is Doc’s wife. The two are somewhat ironically named, as Dixie is a Northern girl, born and raised, and she is more adept in emergency medical care than Doc. When Chuck wakes up in their house, Dixie is the first person he sees and is greeted with a warm smile and pleasant tone in her voice.

Dixie stands at 5’7” tall. She has broad shoulders and a solid build as well as a no-nonsense attitude. She is a good complement to Doc. She also wears practical clothes and likely does not own a skirt or a dress. She has long, dirty blond hair that she generally keeps braided.


Lin is an Asian American woman in her early twenties who starts work at Total Bastard. She is a proficient technician and initially hits it off with all the other employees, including Chuck. After awhile, though, there are a few oddities that occur that make Chuck suspicious.

Lin stands 5’6” and has long, straight, black hair that appears almost blue in the light. She keeps it tied back in a high pony tail, sometimes opting for a tight bun. She has dark eyes, fair complexion, and angular features. She has a trim build and is one of the few women in the office who prefers to wear skirts and dresses and generally opts for more tradition Asian designs.


“Ginny”, as she is known, is Seamus’ sister and Chuck’s source of knowledge for all things ferret related. In the time that the two have known each other, Ginny has had at one time or another two dozen of the fuzzies in her life. She has helped take care of Elvis when Chuck is away and has given advice on finding the perfect vet to keep Elvis healthy.

When it comes to physical appearance, the long, dark, straight hair and light skin tone are about the only two attributes Ginny shares with her brother. She stands barely 5’2” and is full figured. She also prefers brighter colored clothes and generally conveys a much happier demeanor than her brother.

To complete the list, three characters from last year’s never written NaNoWriMo entry, a zombie novel:

Faith Healer

An enigmatic young traveling preacher who encounters the Zombie Slayer before the Uprising. He is relatively mysterious, as his first appearance is at the Sunday morning service at the future Zombie Slayer’s church. Found by the regular pastor at a revival nearby, he’s asked to come to the church and give a guest sermon. Through the course of the short sermon, he assists the congregation in allowing the Spirit to bring them to song and dance in the church. As everyone else is dancing and singing, he focuses in on the future Zombie Slayer and is drawn to her in her wheelchair. He asks the Spirit to heal her and as everyone is focused on her being able to stand, walk, and dance, he slips quietly out the door.

Zombie Slayer

Paralyzed from the waist down in an accident that killed her mother, she was bound to a wheelchair from age ten until meeting the guest pastor six years later. She would live with her father for another six years, through most of her college years. The uprising would cut short her senior year. It’s unclear what happened to her father, but as she is traveling without him, it can be assumed that he was lost in one of the initial conflicts with the undead. Deeply spiritual, she looks at the uprising as part of the end times and prays for understanding on what is happening and why some people have survived and others have not. She finds this to be the most spiritually confusing part of life after the uprising.

Sidecar sidekick

The Zombie Slayer is in the companionship of a younger woman, possibly in her late teens. She is unprepared for life evading zombies and the slayer has valid concerns that she may actually get them killed if she can’t learn to be more careful. The slayer is very protective of her sidekick, however, leading to the belief that she is either very special to her or that there is a reason that she is protecting her and traveling with her. Although nervous around firearms, she has become somewhat proficient with them. As she is new to firearms, she tends toward smaller, easier to handle weapons.

30 Character Challenge (1-5)

Posted in Creativity with tags , on 22 November 2012 by Micheal

I decided to do the 30 Characters Challenge this year.  Unfortunately, I was a little late in registering and found registration to be closed, so this is kind of “unofficial”.  I’ve been lax in posting, so with only a few days left, I’m going to post multiple characters per day to get caught up.  I’m writing character descriptions, though I may attempt to pull out my sketchbook later on.  As always, feedback is welcome

Here’s the first batch from the novel I’m attempting to write for NaNoWriMo:

The Reverend

The Reverend is a preacher in his late thirties who ministers to the traveler/nomad sub-culture, specifically to those traveling by motorcycle. An avid rider himself, he travels throughout the United States most of the year, sharing the Word of God with those in need of it. A student of world religions, he serves as chaplain to all those in need, regardless of their faith.

Standing at 5’10” 200 pounds, the reverend is not an overly imposing figure. Rarely is he in need of physical prowess, preferring to turn the other cheek. Most of his face is covered by a thick dark beard, peppered with gray. He is most likely to be found in jeans and a t-shirt when out in public. His riding attire includes simple boots, a brown leather jacket with a “lone wolf – no club” patch on the back, and a chaplain pin on the collar, and a brown leather vest with patches representing his faith, position, and status as a “lone wolf” not belonging to any club. Over the years, he’s collected pins and patches from those he’s served, their gifts to him in thanks. When preaching as part of his ministry, a green pastoral shirt replaces the vest. A simple white cassock robe with green stole is worn for formal ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

The reverend is haunted by dreams of his past. Featured prominently are his wife and daughter. Few people know the full story of what happened to them and the reverend never speaks of them. He is voluntarily celibate. Most days he can be described as brooding. He is quiet and keeps to himself and although not intentionally aloof or unapproachable, he is generally left alone by those who don’t know him, except on the occasions where it appears the Lord has brought him to a place where someone needs his counsel. In these times, a different side of him comes out as he comes alive and speaks in a lively and compelling manner.



Annie is a Lone Wolf biker and a nomad who makes her living trafficking guns and illicit goods amongst the 1% clubs. In her mid thirties, she has been on the road for nearly two decades, having left home with her brother on the back of his Harley when she was sixteen. She learned how to ride and the rules of the road from him before a falling out between them found her acquiring her own bike and going their separate ways.

Although she has slept with men when it has been advantageous for her, Annie identifies as a lesbian. She will openly state that she has no use for men, and works hard to prove, if only to herself, that she can do everything on her own. She rarely speaks of her past, but shows the battle scars of a hard lived life. Although she stands at 5’3” with 130 pounds distributed evenly on a solid frame, she presents a relatively imposing image, able to stand her ground with men twice her size.

Annie’s last contact with her brother was at Christmas three years ago. She had tentatively agreed to meet him for dinner to observe the holiday. He had recently been stopped from committing suicide by a minister who counseled him and showed him the path to Christ. Being newly “born again”, her brother was over-zealous in his faith and lacking a full understanding of the Word. As such, he’d bought into the homosexuality as sin argument and used the dinner as a chance to condemn his sister and urge her to repent and change her ways. What followed would fracture the last remains of their relationship and land her brother in jail (her, too, if she hadn’t fled the scene before officers could arrive). Neither keeps in touch with the other now, but, seeing him as the cause of the problem, Annie sought out the preacher who “saved” her brother to, as she put it, “thank him properly.” Perhaps ironically, she now has a better relationship with The Reverend, than with her brother, though even that is always on unsteady ground.



Cinnamon, known as “Cindy” to those around her, ran away from home at fifteen, spending the next five years living on the streets, begging for change and learning to fend for herself. She had become proficient at picking pockets was when her life took a very dramatic turn. She made the mistake of picking the pocket of a full patch member of the Devil’s Rejects, an outlaw motorcycle club, who didn’t take kindly to having someone steal from him. When the chapter president found them, Cindy had been brutally beaten and was near death. He put her under his protection, which spared her life, but made her his property. She was branded “Slave” and used in any way he saw fit. Cindy was tentatively traded to Annie in a deal for some hard to acquire black market weaponry but is classified as “stolen property” by the club until the deal is complete. There is a reward for her return.

Annie is 5’1” and roughly 120 pounds. She has a relatively small frame and curvy figure. Her deep red hair falls over her shoulders when not bound up away from her face. In her mid twenties, Cindy has been on her own for over a decade and has had no contact with her family. Her time with the Rejects has left her mentally and emotionally broken, something that shows in her defeated posture, vacant gaze, and long, sad expression. Although quiet most of the time, the emotional damage will bring her to outbursts at otherwise insignificant events. Her riding attire includes a t-shirt and tight fitting blue jeans with black boots. Over the shirt she normally wears a black vest with the words “Property of Devil’s Rejects” emblazoned on the back in club colors. This is currently hidden away and has been replaced by a black leather jacket that is one size too large and bears no insignia.



Bulldog is an old friend of the Reverend. They met on the road years ago in a time when both of them had walked away from Christ and united over that commonality. When they first met, Bulldog had recently divorced his wife and had developed many bad habits, including heavy alcohol and light drug use. He ran away from his spouse and his children at the same time he was running from God. A quick learner, Bulldog aquired a great many skills on the road. He can fix just about anything mechanical, is handy with a needle and thread (both on clothing and on flesh), has the skills to treat most injuries and ailments better than your average EMT, and makes the best campfire chili you’ll ever taste. His is an avid cyclist, both of the leather and spandex varieties.

Bulldog came back to Christ about eight years after meeting the Reverend. The two had been out of contact for awhile, each struggling on their own with personal issues. Bulldog had known of the Reverend’s own return and subsequent ordination, and this may have been the cause for the lack of contact. When Bulldog committed a cardinal sin amongst bikers and rode away from a bar having consumed enough alcohol to inebriate three men and crashed his ride as a result, the hospital had found the Reverend’s number in his wallet and called him. Although it meant racing across three states, he was at Bulldog’s bedside twenty four hours later, praying over his comatose body. He didn’t leave his side for more than a few minutes until Bulldog woke up. When he did, both men wept and caught up on each other’s lives.

Bulldog never talked about what he experienced when he was near death, but whatever happened changed him. He gave up drinking and drugs and was eventually baptized by the Reverend. He began working with a ministry serving his community, providing for the poor and the homeless. He and the Reverend are in contact often and get together when they can.

Bulldog stands tall and lean at 6’1′, 165 pounds. He shaves his remaining hair on a regular basis, but will occasionally allow his facial hair to grow for a day or two, into a rough grey stubble. Having reconciled with his wife (shortly after reconciling with Christ), he probably dresses better than he might on his own, usually found in jeans and shirts you don’t find at Wal-mart. When hassled about the extravagance, he insists that they’re purchased from second hand stores or received as gifts. He has a warm, welcoming smile that is infectious and makes the shelter and soup kitchen where he’s usually found far more pleasant.


Mark Johnson

Mark is another old friend of the Reverend’s. He’s technically a tenant farmer on property owned by the Reverend’s ministry. He maintains the grounds and buildings and is charge of coordinating and directing the workers on the property in exchange for rent and a small salary. Along with his wife and three children, he occupies the main house on the property. There hasn’t been a piece of machinery built that Mark can’t fix, or at least jerry rig to get working long enough to get the job done.

Mark and his wife may know the Reverend better than anyone. They all grew up together and they were both part of his wedding party and were privy to the events leading up to his falling out with God. They’re a little fuzzy on the details of his return, mostly because it occurred whilst he was on the road and they know of it only through his stories. Mark is fiercely loyal to the Reverend, fearing that one day there will be another falling out and being entirely unwilling to let his friend go through Hell alone.

A stereotypical farm boy, Mark stands about 5’11”, 200 pounds of near solid muscle. His broad shoulders and muscular chest and arms, coupled with a foul glare that he can call at will across his normally friendly face got the Reverend out of more than one tough scrape when he’d fallen into his dark period. Clean shaven, he tops the look off with dirty blond hair that is kept neat, but “floppy”. He’s most often seen in denim overalls and a button down, long sleeve work shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms and a t-shirt underneath.

A New Dawn

Posted in Character Development, Emotions, Faith on 01 August 2012 by Micheal

It was an early morning today.  I woke up on time for a change and had no need to rush to get things done.  This afforded me the opportunity to sit on the patio and watch the sun rise.  I sat there, taking in the sights and sounds of the early morning, listening to crickets chirp and the occasional bird song.  A train passed through down the way and I heard the occasional car pass by, taking someone to work, no doubt.

I sat there and just enjoyed it.  I thanked God for the day and that a new month had come.  I thought about how different watching the sun rise is to watching it set.  How the sky starts getting brighter in a crescendo long before you an see the sun above the trees, almost as if we need to be eased into the light, but there was never a moment where the light just flashed on before me.  By contrast, when last I watched the sun set, there was a clear moment when all went dark, like someone had flipped a switch.

In those moments, as I sat silently, drinking my orange juice (this story would seem better with coffee, but I don’t keep that stuff in the house…), I felt somewhat impatient, like I wanted the sun to rise faster or that I had things to do.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and let that thought go.  I asked for the strength to do what I need to do and the will to take the first steps.  I need to spend more time staying still.

I want this to be a month of change, a month where I get moving on all those things I need to do.  A month of preparation for the unknown.

Regardless of anything, it should be an interesting month.

How many more

Posted in Uncategorized on 12 July 2012 by Micheal

Have you ever seen Schindler’s List?  There’s a scene, near the end, where he’s lamenting not doing more and starts talking about how many more he could have saved if he’d had more money or wasted less money.  He starts referencing  his possessions and musing aloud in a rushed, increasingly panicked voice about how he could have saved more by sacrificing the things he had and becoming very animated as another character tries to calm him and get him to look at how many he had saved and what impact that would have.  In a movie full of powerful imagery, it is the scene that stands out for me, nearly twenty years later.  I may not remember it perfectly, but I remember the emotion with which it was acted and that it brought to me.  It was the point where the audience and the character came to the realization of just how huge the numerous small things he’d done really were, and you felt the pain in him at the realization that his own desires had hindered him from doing even more.

There are days when I know I have not done enough, if I’ve even done anything, and my soul reenacts this scene with all that I possess, my Empire of Dirt, and I feel paralyzed.  I think of all the things I could do to save my corner of the world, but I can’t take action.  I can’t move.  I can’t think.  I can’t create.  I can’t act.  How many more could I have saved?  How many lives is this worth?

This is where I am now.  It’s not surprising, considering July often brings a depression paralysis for me, being the month that contains the day I lost my mom, the day I lost my cousin, and the day where I’m reminded I’m one year closer to my own death.  I am often scattered, sullen, easily distracted, and prone to random outbursts of sadness during this time of year.

This year feels different.  There’s something not quite right, but I can’t quite figure it out.

I can’t help but feel that it’s because I’m not doing what I should be doing.  Not only because I’m unsure of how to get there, but because the paralysis keeps me from doing the little things that I know to do.  I can’t walk down the path because my foot is frozen over it and I can’t take that first step.

It’s going to be a long month.

“Whoever saves a life, saves the world entire.”

In the quiet moments

Posted in Creativity, Faith, Prose and Poetry on 02 April 2012 by Micheal

I’ve been trying to jump start my creativity lately and the most difficult part has been actually putting things in a form where other people can see them, since I haven’t mastered telepathy yet.  This came to me on my way to work on 9 March 2012 and I made certain to type it out as soon as I got to a computer.  I put it away, intending to review it later before posting.  The next day I received a phone call from my sister informing me that my biological father had passed away.  Needless to say, sometimes creativity and a blog have to suffer in order to comfort people who are suffering. 

In the quiet moments
The times when moving from place to place
Alone with my own thoughts
You are there with me

You are there with me
Watching over me
Guiding me
Giving me hope

You are there, but so is it
It stalks me from the dark corners
Lurking in the shadows
Its gaze locked on me

In the quiet moments
When my guard is down
And my mind wanders
It takes its opportunity

It attacks with fury unrelenting
Deep cuts sting
My heart bleeds
My head throbs

I fight back
Try to shake it off
A lucky blow stuns the beast
I try to get away

You are there with me
But I feel forsaken
What have I done that you sit and watch
Rather than rescue me?

My respite is short lived
It attacks again
This time it is too much
I lay there sobbing

It begins to boast and prance about
It mocks me in my pain
No, not me, but you
I am but a tool for its mockery

You will not be mocked
Yet you do not intervene
It stops prancing and I can feel its grin bearing down on me
It grips me, suffocating me

It brings me close to death
My mind races with disjointed thoughts
Love lost
Things remembered

“You do not have because you have not asked”
It echoes through my mind
“You do not have because you have not asked”
Darkness begins to overtake me

Darkness begins to overtake me
I stare into the abyss
And feel it stare into me
Broken and battered, I cry out

I cry out “Lord, please save me!”
I close my eyes
When I open them again
It is gone and I am alone

I am alone, but you are there
Broken and battered, I live
By your grace, I live
I live because you live through me

Tomorrow it will return
It will come to torment me and mock you
Tomorrow I will be ready
I will wake each morning and put on your full armor

I am a child of the Most High
I will weather the storm, bend but never break
I am a warrior
I will fight for the heart of my king.

…Like My Dad Before Me, and His Before Him

Posted in Uncategorized on 11 February 2012 by Micheal

Note: I’ve struggled with how to write this in a way that would not offend women who might be in a similar situation.  The thing is that I can’t account for how a woman will feel about this topic and I imagine I would be more offensive by trying.  As a man, I can only speak to how I feel, from the male perspective.  I would love to hear the perspective of anyone who reads this.

A few days ago a beautiful little girl I know turned seven years old.  I couldn’t be there to celebrate it with her and that tore me up inside.  What really destroyed me, however, was that a woman who I thought understood my attachment to this little girl told me in no uncertain terms that she did not, dismissing my feelings in a way that left me, in a word, shattered.  The implication was that I could not be attached to this child in a father/daughter sort of way simply because her and I don’t share genes.  That somehow her biological father was better equipped to feel this way toward her because he contributed to her creation and I was being “silly” (my impression, not her word).

I’ve spent the last week meditating on this, praying about it, trying to put into words my feelings on this particular variety of bull pucky and I keep coming back to one question; how does any man bond with any child this way?

A friend of mine once told me that clan membership in Scotland is passed down from the mother.  The reasoning for this is simple; until the modern age, determining the maternal line of a child was easily verifiable (someone probably saw the child come out) but determining the paternal line was always based primarily on the word and virtue of the mother.  As such, it made sense that if a clan is going to accept a child, it should be the mother’s clan.

So the clan raised the child, right?  No, of course not.  The child’s father would accept the child as his own and love them and raise them as such.  A biological connection was, and still is, not as necessary as an emotional and psychological bond.  That bond is a vow, spoken or unspoken, to provide for, care for, love and protect that child with no expectations, a devotion of your life to put the child ahead of you, their needs above yours.  This is what it means to be a daddy and once that bond is created, no circumstance can end it in the heart of the man.

I didn’t ask to be a dad.  In fact, the responsibility terrified me.  It took me most of my adult life to get to a point where I was comfortable taking responsibility for myself, so I couldn’t imagine taking responsibility for someone else.  Then it changed.  Then a little girl called me “daddy” and changed my heart.  Suddenly everything changed.  I started thinking differently about everything.  I started looking at things differently.  I found myself concerned with how the media affects her.  I found myself wanting to make certain that she had questions answered properly.  I found myself wanting to make certain that she always knew she was loved because of who she is.  I may not have had a part in her conception, but I was ready to take responsibility for the person she would become.

Being a dad isn’t about biology.  I have said for years and will say to my dying day that any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.  This is a choice, and not one to be undertaken lightly.  When a child wants to start calling you “daddy”, that’s not something to allow frivolously.  It’s never something to do to get into the pants of the child’s mother or to make yourself feel good.  It carries a great deal of responsibility because that child has decided that you are someone special, that regardless of whether or not you contributed to their genetic makeup by inseminating an egg or carried them for nine months or nursed them from your bosom, you are someone important, someone they love and trust with their heart.  If you are the type of person who would take that lightly or use it for personal gain or transitory pleasure, then you are not a dad.  A man does not “play daddy”.  To do so is not only insulting to every man who has ever been called that, but risks hurting an innocent child and it is said that he who would harm a child would do better to tie a millstone to his neck and drown.  Any good person who has ever inadvertently hurt a child knows that the reason for this is because you will spend the rest of your life feeling like that millstone is weighing down your heart.  No, a man never “plays daddy” and to accuse a man of such is beyond hurtful and is dismissive of the ability of a man to feel deeply for someone and have the desire to care for someone for a lifetime.  There is a particular variety of boys (I won’t call them men) who will shirk responsibility for their children.  They will take off and run around with other women, possibly creating more children for whom they will not be a dad.  I despise the term “deadbeat dad” because such a thing can’t exist.  They are simply deadbeats.  The worst of these use the lack of easy confirmation of their contribution to the creation of a child to justify shirking their responsibility.  These are boys who will say, in so many words or not, “how do I even know it’s mine?” simultaneously disrespecting the child and the mother by saying that the child is not worthy of their love if they aren’t blood related and questioning the morality of the mother on multiple levels.  These people should never be called “dad” by anyone, ever.  Boys play with other people’s hearts.  Men commit their hearts to others.

Let me make something very clear.  I am a bastard.  Not in the “I’m going screw people over for my own gain” sense, but in the sense that my mother was not married to my biological father when I was conceived.  In fact, she never was.  He has a family with two children to whom I believe he has been a wonderful dad.  If you ever call him my dad, however, I will gently correct you the first time and will be less gentle in subsequent corrections of your error.  Why?  Because it’s an insult to the man to stepped up and created that bond with me.  The man who raised me and never treated me any differently than my brother, his biological son.  It’s an insult to his dad, who helped raise three girls who had no genetic connection to him.  In thirty six and a half years, my biological father has never been a dad to me, and that’s okay.  I have my dad and I love him very much.   He gave me a lot more than I could ever repay and can only hope to pass it along to someone else someday.

In the movie Courageous, the lead character at one point asks his group of men when they knew they were men.  I watched as they went around the table and only one of them gave a solid answer; he knew he was a man when his father told him he was the man of the house whilst he was away.  I thought about it for a few seconds and knew what my answer was;

On a day in late November of 2010 a beautiful little five year old girl called me daddy and I committed to fill that role to the best of my abilities for her for the rest of my days.  That was the day something changed deep in my heart.  That was the day I put aside childish things and became a man.  That was the day I became a dad, like my dad before me and his before him.   That is something that lives in my heart and kills me every day I am apart from that amazing little girl who changed my life forever.

My Christmas list…

Posted in Uncategorized on 19 December 2011 by Micheal

It’s that time of year when people are wondering what to get one another for Christmas.  Usually I don’t make lists, but this year I felt like it was important.  For those of you in panic mode knowing that there are five short shopping days before Christmas, here you go:


  1. Peace on Earth/Good will toward man.  I know, I know.  “Micheal, that’s far too much to ask.  There’s no way we can give you peace on Earth or good will toward man.”  Bullshit.  You don’t need to solve the Middle East problems or stop warring factions in Africa.  But I’ll bet you that you’re on the outs with someone.  I’ll bet you had an argument about something or they did something to hurt you.  Maybe your neighbor keeps letting his dog crap on your lawn.  Maybe you never got over your best friend sleeping with your boyfriend when you were sixteen.  These things eat away at you and affect the way you interact with others.  Take a bold step and forgive.  You don’t have to tell them you forgive them, but do it in your heart.  Send them a card.  Buy them a drink.    Remember that what you do resonates through the world.  Every act you take in your life affects someone else’s life, which in turn affects someone else’s
  2. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless.  I’m not saying that you should invite a homeless person to stay with you for the holidays.  I am betting, however, that you have a ton of clothes that you haven’t worn in a year.  Go donate them somewhere.  If you don’t have any place in your area, let me know and I’ll gladly take them to one of the dozens of collection facilities in my area.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Chances are one of your local churches is running something to give a good meal to the less fortunate in your neighborhood.  Or, the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider buying generic/store brand food where you wouldn’t have before and use the difference to buy extra for your local food bank.  If you’re feeling really giving, contact my friend and brother in Christ Pete Couper at  Breakthrough Ministries and help out in his mission to “Lead the homeless home.”
  3. Help me heal and comfort the sick.  This is where I get a little bit personal.  Most people who know me know that I do several charity events every year.  I walk in the Crohn’s/Colitis walk for my mom and aunt, the Race for the Cure and The 3 Day for the Cure for dear friends who have lost loved ones to Cancer, and ride in the MS150 in honor of friends who suffer.  These charities provide support in the search for cures for these diseases, financial and emotional support to those who suffer from them, and education and awareness on preventing, detecting, and dealing with them.  Each year I raise thousands of dollars for these charities because they are causes I believe in.   You can donate to the MS150 on my behalf here (edit 12/12/12: I haven’t registered for 2013 yet, so the donation link is defunct)  I have not yet registered for the other events yet, though I will be in the near future, so if you would like to donate, please contact me at galen_of_avalon at hotmail dot com (address broken up to avoid spam bots) and we’ll work something out.  Remember that these donations are tax deductible, so if you’re thinking ahead to tax time…
  4. Support me on my path.  This site is about my journey from the man I am to the man I want to be, the man I feel called to be.  I’ll detail this elsewhere on this site, but the basic issue is that my outward self does not reflect my inward self in the way it should and I aim to rectify that.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of clean up work involved in doing so, and a lot of building.  I am always satisfied with kind words, patience, and acceptance, but, to be honest, I won’t be above asking for your financial support.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be opening a Cafe Press store and putting up a donation link.  If you feel like giving to me, you can contact me at the email in point 3, but know that there is no possession I need, nothing I can hold in my hand that will make me happy, but building up an emergency fund, paying off debt and funding educational expenses, whilst covering the overhead of participating in the charity events I do (bicycle maintenance, walking shoes, etc.) are gifts that would mean infinitely more and will enable me to do more of what I need to do.   Make no mistake, I’m happy to do this on my own and would rather see you focus on the other points of this post.

Christmas is never about how much you give.  It’s not even about what you give.  It’s about giving from the heart, whether that’s a homemade sweater to keep a loved one warm, or an inexpensive soup cup set that reminds the recipient of the warmth of the love with which it was given (most treasured gift I ever got).  No one needs a big screen TV or a portable gaming system.  They need to know that they are loved and matter to someone, somewhere in the world.  Remember this on Christmas and the other 364 days of the year.