Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

To the pantheon that includes Guglielmo Marconi, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, we now add Steve Jobs. Our condolences go to his family, his friends and associates, and to the world that he, like those before him, changed profoundly for the better.

Further, in acknowledgment of the butterfly effect, belated thanks go to his then-unmarried mother, student Joanne Schieble, who decided to carry her unplanned baby to term and put him up for adoption rather than seek an (illegal at the time) abortion.

Where would our world have been had Steve Jobs not been born?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting closer

I just received word from JournalStone Publishing that The Pentacle Pendant is available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble. The pre-order link is at

A mid-October release date is planned. Right in time for Halloween.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slide and Glide

Eighth and I (or Eye) is the home of Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. All Marines who report for duty in the Ceremonial Guard are hand-picked by their superiors for this coveted assignment based upon their proficiency in close-order drill, their "squared-away" appearance, and their overall intelligence and motivation. In addition to their presumed qualification to secure a Top Secret White House security clearance.

Back in the day we began our tour in the Training Platoon, where we learned ceremonial marching ("Your first step is a sliding half step, so that your caps"—we called them gourds—"don't dip. So you glide into the march."); how to execute the manual of arms by sliding the rifle around our bodies, rather than using the clunky manual we learned in boot camp; how to modify our dress blues to look sharper than sharp.

There were three ceremonial platoons plus the silent drill team. Each ceremonial platoon would spend four weeks in D.C. and then rotate to the President's retreat, Camp David, for two more. The six-week cycle was ideal: four weeks of spit and polish as ceremonial guards, two weeks of the most serious guard duty stateside.

Marines are famous for their esprit de corps, and 8th & I Marines are no different. We periodically hold summertime reunions in the D.C. area and get to see as spectators the parades we only saw as participants. During our 2000 reunion, we (as usual) regaled each other with "sea stories" of our time at the Barracks and at David (which we called "The Hill"), and I realized that once told, those stories simply vanished into the air. And when we were gone, they would be lost forever.

So I approached the officers of our reunion association with the idea of compiling a memory book, with contributions from all who wished to share their stories; thus, "Slide and Glide" was born. Marines from Pearl Harbor days up to the present sent their anecdotes to me. I edited them for clarity, added some stories of my own, and 35 pages later, we had a book.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get stories from George C. "Patton" Scott, one of our own, who served in 1946-48 and passed away in 1999. He knew even then that he would one day be "a goddam great actor."

The book is available in PDF format from

Semper fi.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'll be some body when I'm gone

That's the title of an op-ed I sent to our local newspaper (Harrisburg, PA Patriot News) a year or so ago and which the editorial board sat on for months, not knowing exactly what to do with it. But finally the opinion piece found itself printed in a Sunday edition.

The original title was the heading of this post. The title given by the paper suggests that the good folks at the Patriot News might not have gotten the pun. Or my sense of humor.

Some people currently practicing medicine have sincerely thanked me (in advance) for my gift; I just hope I don't have to make good on it too soon.

Anyway, here's the link (and yes, funeral is misspelled but not by me):

Monday, August 15, 2011

Flying: it's not just for the birds

My boyhood hero was Superman. In fact, at the age of five, having seen the drawings of Superman in the comic books, I realized how he was able to fly. You simply pulled the air with one cupped hand and pushed it with the opposite foot; then you alternated. I remember tying a dishtowel around my neck and testing my theory. Fortunately, my test bed was the porch steps, not the porch roof.

Nineteen years later I continued my yearning to fly like the Man of Steel by taking skydiving lessons. After five jumps, I realized that I was more interested in flying a plane than flying my body, and I earned a private pilot's license. Five hundred hours later I hung up my ticket to concentrate on other venues. (For example, my wife and I sold our home, bought a 42-foot yacht, and lived aboard for three years before returning to the land.)

As a then- and current member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, I contributed an article to the Never Again section of the monthly magazine. It found its way to the online edition:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

As a boy ...

... in the 1950s, I used to entertain the neighborhood children by retelling them horror stories from my favorite E.C. comic books, Tales from the Crypt and its two siblings. The kids loved them, but their mothers didn't: every now and then, my own mother would get a phone call begging her to tell me to stop—because their darlings were too frightened to go to sleep at night. Mom told me about the calls but didn't tell me to stop. Other parents' kids, and their lack of control over them, weren't her problem. Bless you, Mom.

As a middle school teacher, I got each year off to a gleefully good start by reading my students a scary story from a horror anthology. Now retired, I have time to create my own speculative fiction. Three novelettes are currently under contract at Gypsy Shadow Publishing (, and a novel entitled The Pentacle Pendant is due for fall release from JournalStone Publishing (

The Gypsy Shadow site won't have info on me until the first novelette is issued. JournalStone's has a page with my bio and a picture of the cover art for The Pentacle Pendant minus the graphics.  Visit

I'll post more info as more info comes in.