Monthly Archives: May 2013

Talented Writers – SHANNON BROWN

I am lucky. I get to meet talented people who share my love of writing. Over the next few weeks, you will get to meet several. The first is Ms. Shannon Brown.

At the age of 8, Shannon wrote The Year Santa Forgot Christmas, a story that won acclaim from her third grade class and teacher. By the age of ten she had moved on to become the editor and chief, art director, and sole writer for Meow, a lifestyle magazine for cats. (Sadly no copies are known to exist.)

Normally you won’t find me reading Young Adult. I won a copy of Shannon’s most recent work, Rock’n’Roll in Locker Seventeen. Because I know Shannon and have heard her read parts of an upcoming book, I had to read it. Think Storage Wars meets Elvis Presley but funny and with major motion picture possibilities. It is a funny novel about a teen who discovers a missing rock star.

Cover_Rock_Small

What would happen if you discovered what really happened to the world’s most famous missing rock star? In 1964 Ricky Stevenson had it all. He was riding the top of the charts, he had fame, fortune, and more, but then one day he vanished. Thirty years later the truth is discovered by a 17 year old boy. Where has Ricky been and why? All will be revealed when you read Rock’n’Roll in Locker Seventeen.

Shannon has three other novels in the works. She is completing a prequel tentatively called After the Music and a sequel, Facing the Music. She is also working on a stand-alone novel called Parlor Tricked.

Her other interests include digital photography, reading, graphic design, listening to music, watching movies, playing video games, trying to figure out how to turn her cats into the next viral web sensations, and spending too much time surfing the web looking at other peoples pets. Shannon lives in Dublin, California and graduated from Chico State University.

Shannon has had previous works published in the Las Positas Anthology, The California Writers Club Tri Valley Anthology, and the Saturday Salon Literary Harvest.

My autographed copy of Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen is tucked safely away. If you want your own copy you will find it available as an e-book or paperback from Amazon and other retailers.

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/RocknRollInLockerSeventeen

Twitter – @lockerseventeen

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Donate Blood or Platelets

I am not a big fan of the Red Cross.

I am a tremendous fan of the Red Cross Blood Donation Program. My wife is one of those who have cards for donating regularly for twenty, maybe thirty years. I was a sporadic donor until I learned about Platelet Donation. I never have to make an appointment, they call me. Unlike whole blood you can give every few weeks. I get calls that almost always begin with, “Mr. Cramer we have a desperate need for AB+ at Children’s Hospital. Can you come in….”

Platelet
These two men are platelet donors.

Here is some information about platelet donation:

“During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day.

A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.

Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

One platelet donation can be worth from 12 to 18 whole blood donations.”

Here is a link to the Red Cross – http://goo.gl/VQgV2

Think about donating. Ask about donating platelets.

If you decide to donate platelets, they will test you. If you qualify, plan on spending three hours or more. They have Netflix so you can watch the movie of your choice.

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15 Things I’d Like To Ban From Contemporary Crime Fiction – Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist currently living in St. Kilda, Australia. Below is a posting from his blog I found interesting and want to share. For the complete article click on http://adrianmckinty.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to Sunday, May 12, 2013.

untitled

15 Things I’d Like To Ban From Contemporary Crime Fiction

Crime fiction has gotten very dull lately hasn’t it? I should know because I get inundated with galleys and review copies and most of them are beyond tedious, without a spark of wit or a well turned phrase in any of them. And the cliches, Jesus the cliches. And the violence. Especially violence towards women and children…It’s almost impossible to read some of this stuff and it makes me wonder how and why these authors ended up writing it. Were they pressured by editors or a feeling that this is what the market demands? I wonder if they ever get embarrassed. I know I get ashamed when I find myself falling into cliche or hacky situations or when the dialogue sounds tinny and false. I’m guilty, I’ll admit it, but I can’t be the only one, can I?

1. Clever serial killers
2. Stupid serial killers
3. Child Murderers
4. Serial Rapists
5. Everything from Scandinavia
6. Torture Porn
7. Working class stereotypes
8. Architects
9. Gallery owners
10. Books with recipes
11. Detectives baffled by basic scientific facts/mathematics
12. Detectives who solve crimes with magic or fairy dust (Lizbeth Sallander, the BBC’s Sherlock etc.)
13. Detectives who solve crimes with cats
14. Cops who haven’t heard of Ernest Hemingway or other basic elements of contemporary culture (this is an extension of #7 above).
15. Super villains. I’ll explain this one. There’s an entirely fallacious belief out there that gets repeated all the time (I heard JJ Abrams repeating it on TV not ten minutes ago) that a hero is only as good as the villain is bad. The hero is supposedly ‘defined by the villain.’ This is utter nonsense. In a well made narrative you don’t even need a villain or a decent McGuffin you just need a good story and fascinating characters. JJ Abrams worships at the throne of Spielberg but he should remember that the shark in Jaws only appeared on screen for about two minutes and its Spielberg’s best movie. And sometimes the most interesting part of the journey is the voyage the hero takes inside his own head. Nach innen geht der Geheimnisvolle Weg, as Novalis said. “Inward goes the way full of mystery.” You know?

Of course with a good story, good dialogue and good characters you can break all the rules above and have yourself a terrific book. But still…you know what I’m talking about… and if you have your own ideas about things you’d like to ban or cliches you’d like to kill please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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11th Annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run

Four weeks from today Jim Kennemore and I will be back in Ely, Nevada. We will be on our way to Marseilles, Illinois. Saturday, June 15, 2013 is the 11th Annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run. The run is to honor our fallen heroes and to support our troops. Visit the web site at http://ilmotorcyclefreedomrun.org/

Illinois Wall

The Wall

The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial is located in Marseilles, Illinois. The names of the soldiers killed in action during the previous year are etched into the granite slabs right after Memorial Day, and those soldiers and their families and friends are honored at the annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run on the third weekend in June. The ILMFR supports the Wall, and the etching of the names, with donations from supporters all over the county.

If any of you care to join Jim and I, just let one of us know. We’ll take a northern route so we can stop in Montana and visit SLPD & HPD retirees, Patrick and April Erskine.

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August 12, 2012 – Ely, Nevada to Dublin

The last day of this Great Ride was not a lot of fun, especially the last two hundred miles. Earlier I mentioned “bug bites” and how much they itched. They didn’t go away, daily a few more appeared. I called Kaiser hoping for a prescription. “No Mr. Cramer, we can’t do that. This could be a serious allergic reaction and you must be seen soon.” They scheduled an appointment for the next day. 550 miles made for a long last day as I headed home.

Now for some good news, no rain, no hail, no wind, and no blowing sand. Crossing from Utah into Nevada, a memory from another ride returned. A few years ago as we approached the Utah state line and a gas station, Larry Eade and I were running on fumes. Ahead of us JAK did not stop.

Welcome to Utah

In the background is a blue sign with “Next Services 83 Miles”. JAK had no more fuel than Larry or I. He didn’t stop. We pulled in to the pumps. JAK came back a few minutes later to inquire why we had stopped.

Two signs stuck in my mind during this ride, the one above and one on I-70 a few miles from Green River. “Next Services 100 Miles”. With a range of 135 miles on the Ultra, I pay attention to signs like these.

Leaving Ely

Leaving Ely: The Loneliest Road in America

US 50 West Bound

This is indicative of the 259 miles from Ely to Fallon. I made it in exactly 4 hours, an average of 65 MPH. During those four hours, I made two gas and water stops, and twice for photo ops. I might have exceeded the speed limit once or twice.

About half way across Nevada I passed a woman riding a bicycle with camping bags. My thought, She must be one tough lady. Wow! Minutes later, I saw a herd of wild horses grazing alongside the roadway.

About a half hour from Fallon, Nevada a van stopped in my lane and a motorcycle stopped in the oncoming lane. As I rapidly decelerated my first thought was; Oh my God, there’s an accident, I hope it isn’t a biker. It wasn’t.

US 50 Steer

It’s a steer. I didn’t take another shot. It came at me and the Ultra. I jumped on and rode away.

A tradition is lunch at Jerry’s Restaurant in Fallon. They were so busy I had to sit at the counter where I downed two iced teas before ordering. I saw the biggest and best looking open faced chili cheese burger ever. It was smothered in onions. I want that chili cheese burger! Regrettably, I thought of Larry Eade and what he would say to “Gravy Boy.” I ordered a chef salad.

From Ely to Fallon the temperature hovered around 90. Leaving Fallon it shot up to over a 100 and stayed there.

I hit the only truly bad road of the entire trip as I crossed into California. The road became bumpy and in need of serious “Road Repair”. The last 200 miles were by far the worst, worse even than the rain and hail. Those were adventures, and the hail was certainly a new experience. I found the California highways dangerous and unpleasant.

At home, I found my missing boots on a stool. Handy so I wouldn’t forget to pack them. Oh, well, my sneakers got a good workout. I quickly changed into a bathing suit and jumped into the pool.

I put 4278 miles on the Ultra over thirteen days.

I hope you have gotten a wee bit of pleasure from my ramblings. Thank you all being such a great audience.

Four weeks from today I will be back in Ely, Nevada. Jim “JAK” Kennemore and I will be on our way to Marseilles, Illinois.

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Hail Causes Mini Flash Flood – Monticello, Utah to Ely, Nevada

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since I got caught in the open by this high desert hail storm.

Blog Hail

The day before was filled with change, this day with challenges.

The morning started out harmless enough. I walked to a family owned restaurant hoping for oatmeal and fruit, senior price of course. Even though it was past the opening time, it was closed. There was a handwritten note taped inside the glass door. “Sorry, we’re closed.” Down the street was J & B’s Hamburgers.

What the heck, I’ll give it a try. They didn’t have oatmeal, nor did they have a senior price. Bacon, eggs, and pancakes it was. It tasted good with two giant pancakes on a second plate. I could only eat one.

My plan to visit the Arches went awry as soon as I pulled out on US 191. Tired, I decided to skip the Arches. I don’t think eleven days in the saddle had anything to do with it.

Within minutes, a D.E.E.R. appeared. With that omen, I should have been forewarned.

US 191 took me through beautiful country, red rock formations, canyons, and some greenery. The remaining 90 miles were filled with vistas that artists dream about.

My buddy Paul Wallace likes Moab for mountain biking. I can see why. The town is small, attractive, touristy, and bicycle positive. Unlike most towns on this trip, there were no “Bikers Welcome” signs. They didn’t get any of my money.

Reaching Green River, Utah, I realized that this was where JAK had suggested we deviate from our plan last year, and take US 191 north to Jackson Hole. It was an outstanding decision with fantastic scenery. The lower half is different, all desert, but just as spectacular. I recommend either segment for a great ride. Next month, June 2013, JAK and I are riding to a Veterans Memorial Run in Marseilles, Illinois. We might take this route.

Leaving Green River I took I-70 to Salina, Utah. It was hot and dry. That changed. Storms were brewing west and north. Rain chimneys were visible. Shortly after noon, a chimney materialized dead ahead. I kept going and got rained on for about a minute. With the temperature hovering around 100º, the rain cooled me off. Dry in minutes, I narrowly missed a second chimney. I was in for more than rain.

I had nowhere to pull off when it started to rain. Ouch, this stuff hurts, it isn’t rain it’s hail. So much for finding a safe place to pull over, I stopped as fast as possible. The Ultra was not quite off the interstate. I didn’t care. I scrambled off and ran to some small trees for shelter. The hail stones came in two sizes, some the diameter of a dime, most that of a nickel.

Beaten and drenched, I ran to the bike, unlocked a saddle bag, grabbed my coat and ran back. There was no way I could have gotten the pants on. Several cars stopped on the other side of the four-lane interstate. After I got my coat on, I heard a horn honking. A minivan with California plates stopped and the passenger doors opened. A woman in the front shouted; “Get in, Get in.” Still wearing my helmet I jumped in and closed the door. She said; “Does this happen very often?”

“I don’t know. I’m from California like you.”

She said in unaccented English; “Actually we are from Belgium. They are warning of flash floods.”

When I ran under the trees, the ground was dry except for falling hail stones. When I ran to the van, my sneakers were under swift moving water.

Blog Hail.2

The trees didn’t afford much protection. This picture was taken minutes after the hail stopped falling. In the short break between hail and the subsequent rain, I got into my foul weather gear. I had one question, Where are my boots?
Two more cars and a motorcycle stopped to inquire if I was okay. None had been in the hail storm; it was pretty well confined to a small area, my head.

* * *
Continuing on, it started raining heavily. I won’t say it was a cloud burst, but darn close. I could not find any shelter. I put on the 4-Way flashers and slowed to 30 MPH on the 70 MPH Interstate. Motorcycle helmets don’t have windshield wipers and my vision sucked. The cars passing me were all doing over sixty. To say I was stressed is putting it mildly.

In Salina I went straight to the world famous Mom’s Café. The building was constructed in the 1890s. The café has been in continuous operation since 1926. When I finished eating, the rain had stopped, the temperature ninety plus. Once again off with the hot foul weather gear.

It remained hot until I got into Nevada, the rain chimneys getting darker and closer by the minute.

For two hours I fought winds strong enough to push the Ultra across the roadway, a tad scary. The area was desert with blowing sand. In one stretch the sand blew handlebar high across my path. It hurt like the dickens.

Blog Hail 3

I continued for a few miles after I took this picture. I pulled over and geared up. Five minutes later I was in the rain. It rained the forty miles into Ely, Nevada. Of course, as I parked in front of the Motel 6 the rain stopped.

I knew if I went downtown to eat, it would rain again, I ordered pizza. “It won’t be long.” After an hour I called. “The delivery man will be back soon and you’re up next.” How reassuring. Another hour passed before my cold pizza and warm soda arrived.

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Mesa Verde National Monument – A Biker’s View

Approaching Mesa Verde National Monument, I noticed a very steep road cut into the face of a high mountain. This is the road into the park. Road Repair season ensured that new pavement covered the 23 miles to Cliff Palace. About fifteen miles was “almost” smooth with fresh tar and gravel.

Not this biker’s favorite!

Despite the construction, the ride from the park entrance to the Visitor Center is scenic with sufficient turn-outs for the tourist to enjoy and photograph the panoramic vistas.

There was a long queue for tour tickets. A volunteer talked about Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House cliff dwellings. His photo album presented shots of multiple ladders, of crossing an open rock face, and crawling through a tunnel. This got my attention. For starters, I’m afraid of heights, especially ledges, and the knee replacement dislikes weight on it. We asked him for details. He showed close-ups of the rock face. There is a safety wire to hold on to.

Okay, I can do that.

Then he showed photographs of a 32 foot ladder one must climb to enter the dwelling.

Okay, there are people older than me doing the climb.

Next he pointed out a 12 feet long tunnel carved through stone.

Maybe I can drag my right leg.

The tunnel is narrower than my shoulders, and parts of my body tend to be large. If I didn’t have to worry about my knee, I think I could squeeze through. The volunteer suggests; “You might want to try Cliff Palace.”

Mesa 1

I check Cliff Palace, no rock face, no tunnel, and the longest ladder was only 10 feet long.

This is for me.

I bought a ticket for Cliff Palace. I didn’t notice 5 ladders and a 100 foot vertical climb to exit the cliff dwelling.

Oh well, live and learn.

Spending four hours in the park, I only saw Cliff Palace. If I can get back here, I will stay in the lodge and spend two or three days exploring.

Mesa 2

The oval pit above is a Kiva. All 23 Kivas of Cliff Palace were perfectly round until just a few years ago. Several have changed dramatically. Without going into detail, it has to do with water and foundations deteriorating. Recently the park lost 80% of its trees to fire. Without the trees to use and hold the water, it seeps into the ground and undermines the dwellings.

Mesa 3

When I climbed out, it took me ten minutes to get my breath back.

Mesa Fire Damage

This gives one an idea of the magnitude of the fire damage.

When I started out of the park, it began to drizzle. Ten miles from the park exit, I decided to follow some sage advice that JAK had imparted when considering the prospect of rain several years ago. “If in doubt, suit up.” I pulled to the side of the road and dug out my foul weather gear. George Bob (GB) had paid me another visit. My boots were nowhere to be found, leaving me outfitted for a blizzard but wearing sneakers. Thanks GB!

I continued down the mountain. After no more than a quarter mile, there was a clap of thunder followed by a cloud burst. Five miles down the road, right at the apex of a curve posted “15 MPH” was a mud slide.

Oh what a joy.

The minute I exited the park the rain stopped. Within 20 minutes it was 100 degrees. The good thing was that my sneakers dried out. It was 50 miles before I stopped at a Ute Indian casino for gas. I changed out of my foul weather gear, now a sweat box. I chugged some water and put the rain gear away.

As miserable and as dangerous the ride from Mesa Verde to the highway was the sheer grandeur of the cave dwellings made it worthwhile. An added benefit was checking off one more item on my Bucket List.

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