Saturday, February 28, 2009


There's a place that we've driven by dozens of times in Edwardsburg, Michigan called Lunker's. It's a sprawling building with a revolving fish sign. I'd heard that it was a fisherman's shop, but today we stopped there for the first time. Oh, my.

To say that it was a fisherman's shop would be an understatement of colossal proportions. It was the largest outdoorsman's store I've seen outside of Cabela's, and that's saying something. Not only did they have fishing gear, but the largest selection of camping gear within 100 miles. They have hunting equipment as well, including guns. They have canoes, kayaks, tents, and every conceivable piece of equipment you would need for the outdoors. And the kicker is, the place is only about ten miles from my house.

My buddy Eric and I went there for dinner tonight, too, as they have a restaurant called the Angler's Inn. I had the seafood platter, with scrod, Mahi, clams, crab claws, and shrimp. The Mahi was bar none, by far the best fish I have ever tasted. It was grilled over wood chips, because the smokey flavor that it held was just to die for. Eric had a one-pound hamburger that was as big as his head. I tried a bite, and it was sensational too. He had to quarter it to even be able to pick it up. Sorry for the blurry images. I took them with my cell phone.

I brought home a Mahi dinner for Magi and she loved it too. She also got a bonus of Mackinac Island Fudge cheesecake. I think we may have a new favorite restaurant. If you live near us, check it out!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Didn't Stay at a Holiday Inn Express...

...because today I got a heck of a surprise, and liked it! I took on a new job after school three weeks ago, and expected most of the pay from the contract to be disbursed on the back end of our summer checks. Instead, today I received retro pay as if I was supposed to have been receiving it all along and they just didn't get around to paying me until this week. Nothing like receiving half your salary up front for a job you've barely started, especially when you thought it wasn't going to come through until mid-June!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paradigm Shift

I have been a gamer for half my life, literally. For 22 years I have been a fan of role-playing games, computer games, and board games. I met my wife while playing an online role-playing game, so it's been very important to me.

Something has changed in me. After years of sedentary living, I have not-so-suddenly become an outdoorsman again. Last year, we went camping and I bought a bicycle. I buy my clothes at Cabela's. I yearn to get back outside and enjoy nature. But it's not just a sudden interest in doing things outdoors that has made me feel this way. The feeling came over me yesterday when my friend Rob was asking me when the gaming convention Gen Con was being held. I quickly replied with the dates because I am planning on going camping while attending. I've been to Gen Con many times and enjoyed myself every time. But suddenly I was thinking that all in all, I don't even know what I would do at the convention. I really don't plan on participating in any games while there. There may be a few interesting products to read, like the Wild Cards books that Mutants & Masterminds have begun to publish. But other than that, I have no plans at all beyond camping and going out to lunch with my friends at the various high quality restaurants in Indianapolis. What would I do for four days of a convention? I'll still go, because I want to be with my friends and do stuff with them, but the gaming part just holds no interest for me.

My last face-to-face gaming experience was really weird. We played a Mutants & Masterminds campaign that I thought went really well for an inital 12-run campaign, which got extended by circumstance to 13 runs, and then...nothing. No word, no hint at when or even if we'd ever play it again. I sent the gamemaster an email complimenting him on the game and received no reply. I guess that chapter in my life is closed. No one seems to want to run a game that I play in, so maybe it's me. So it goes.

I've been playing City of Heroes for almost five years now, and last night I unregistered my account. I went in to play for an hour with my buddies, and I just could not take the monotony of the game itself. Chatting was fun, but when the conversation turned to what the game developers have been doing to improve the game, my eyes glassed over and I tuned most of it out. I'd rather talk about just about anything than the game itself. To me it has just become a vehicle to maintain contact with my friends, which I don't want to lose, but I don't see the game as any fun at all any longer.

I was really excited about the new Champions Online game coming out this spring, but now I just can't see myself spending time on that when there is so little time available to me to spend with my family and on the big project I've been working on. Time is at such a premium that I'd rather spend it actually making something. I've been relearning some of my artistic skills so that I can be a more direct contributor to the art on my book. One of my colleagues, who has published a book series, told me that a publisher will hire an artist for me if they like the idea. I really don't want to do that. I want to have more control than that. Even if I have to self-publish, I want the book to look better than the other, similarly formatted books from the educational publishers out there. My niece has been doing some art for me, but she's very busy with her college education and I don't want to add to her already full plate right now. This is something I want to pursue during retirement anyway, and there's no reason to hold off on it now. Hey, that's what I'll do during Gen Con. I'll hang out in Artists' Alley and pick up some pointers on art technique!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How do you Spell Relief?

I spell it b-a-s-e-b-a-l-l. I've been having a down couple of days where I snap at stuff that shouldn't even bother me. Maybe you've seen it in my writing here. When I just don't feel it, I can't fake it. But just when I thought I was going to have another cranky bad day, the Detroit Tigers played and won their first spring training game and brought me right out of it. Ordinarily by this time of year, I'm seriously jonesing (and I don't mean Todd) for some baseball. I usually shave my beard off when spring training starts. For some reason I just wasn't feeling it this year. I don't know why, but I just wasn't looking forward to the season as I have in years past. Pitchers and catchers reported, and it just didn't click. I used to be a big contributor on the Detroit Tigers message board with almost 2,000 posts, but didn't even visit after the season ended.

All that changed today when I saw that the Tigers had their first spring training game and that it was going to be on XM satellite radio. I tuned in to channel 184 at 1:05 and felt happiness flood right back into my life! Even while at work I will keep my radio on, turned down low enough that the kids can't hear it and watch the display, which keeps track of the score, inning, and the number of outs. To hear the voices of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price brought me out of my funk faster than you can say Magglio Ordonez. I think it's definitely time for a roadtrip to get Sera her new Tigers outfit for this year!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

I spent part of each period today dispelling the myth that Mardi Gras is a bunch of drunken people showing their various body parts to get beads. To be sure, you can see that if you want to but the smell of urine and vomit comes with it on Bourbon Street. I didn't find it to be worth the price, ten years ago. I much preferred the family-oriented Mardi Gras with parades and floats and families gathering along the streets to see the free show. I also enjoyed the gumbo, jambalaya, and king cake that went along with it. I'd love to be down there tonight in New Orleans!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sera says..."Play Ball!"

Sera's ready for baseball season and so am I. This is from a year ago, and I think it's time to see if the outfit will still fit her!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Superhero Sundays, Part 6

Here is a piece I did for my short-lived Crescent City roleplaying campaign back in 2000. The art style was based on Batman the Animated Series, and I think I pulled it off for the most part, but the arm carrying the tuning fork needs some work. I called this guy Symphonic, using the backward treble clef to make the "S" symbol. I have no idea what he was going to do, but I do know he was going to commit music-based crimes. I'll still use him someday, but I'm going to redraw him when I do. It was inked by Richard Maurizio.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tagged Again

I got tagged by Edige23 with the following rules:

1.Go to your pictures folder and open the sixth one.

2.Post the sixth picture.

3.Tag six people

Here it is. Since my first pictures folder is the one I use for my storing my blog images and they've already been used, I thought it was only fair to use the next folder instead. This is the 27th picture I took with my 35 mm Canon Rebel XT 8 megapixel SLR camera. I took it on May 14, 2005 at Covaleski Regional Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. I was taking pictures at a South Bend Silverhawks game. I think (but I'm way not sure) that this is Mark Reynolds, who now plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Man, I'm ready for baseball season.

Michael, KC, Martin, Magi, Troy, and Theresa, you're next.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stuff to Do

I have a few things to do this weekend. First, I need to start a new blog. There is a growing list of math teacher blogs and I want to contribute my two cents and change. This isn't the place to really do that, since most of my friends probably do not care about math teaching, at least as much as I do, and I don't want to bore you. I am also going to use it for the development of my book project. I am ready to start putting out images and ideas to get them out in public before someone else does them first.

Second, I need to work on my web presence. I have a account that has a few of my pictures up but I want to have more. I have dozens if not hundreds of pictures to add. I want to get some of my photographs up there, too. I need to get my eBay store restocked, too. I have some 50,000 comics that need to be sold and they're not selling themselves.

Just as I have written in my blog every day (some days I am more prolific than others, but I'm working 11 hour days and working out for an hour every morning, so time is limited) I think I want to try to discipline myself to draw something every day, too. Cory Walker, co-creator of Invincible, does this every day on his blog and I really enjoy seeing what he comes up with. Mike Wieringo used to do this every other day and I lived for what he did. Now that I have a scanner again, I can get my stuff online in a matter of five minutes.

I also want to read...just to sit down and read for a couple of hours. I just picked up three trade paperbacks of X-Men First Class, the newly-created adventures of the original five X-Men when they first formed the team. I got an oversized tabloid edition of the first four issues at Target last year and really liked them.

I need to watch tonight's episode of "Dollhouse" tomorrow morning while I ride my bike (I should be in the 290s by next week, down from a high of 340 last summer, by the way). I hope the second episode is better than the pilot. I like Joss Whedon, but the pilot left me a little flat. This whole exercising while watching TV thing has just been wonderful.

I need to get some dishes done, make pancakes for Sera's breakfast tomorrow, and cook on the grill. We got ground beef on sale at our butcher shop today, and I want to make the most of it.

You know, when all is said and done I really have a great life! Let's see what I can get done.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Snyderville Justice

Gotta love it! For context, see this post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There are Days...

...and then there are days. When you come home feeling good about losing another five pounds in the past two weeks, and then your daughter kicks you in the privates...twice in ten minutes...and then you discover that an error that TurboTax (not the operator) made last year is going to cost you $2500, which really amounts to another kick in the privates, you just don't feel like writing a blog post. But discipline makes you do it. At least I have my job and family and I lost five more pounds!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Aunt May Needs Life Alert!

Stan, if you're really still writing this, you need to avoid this. What's next, "Where's the beef?"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Now We're Cooking with Gas!

Last November, we ran out of gas for the grill and just let it go. I've had problems with frozen gas lines before, and wanted to avoid that with my new grill. Well, we've had some warm weather recently, and I felt the primal need for food cooked over a fire. So off I went to get a new tank of gas on Friday morning, and never looked back. This weekend we have eaten hamburgers and barbeque chicken sandwiches for lunch, but I was particularly pleased with dinner last night. We had ribeye steaks, Yukon Gold potatoes, and grilled asparagus. I have a steel grill bowl, and just brushed EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on the asparagus and placed the bowl over the fire. The asparagus absorbed a lot of the smokey flavor from the steak, and had just enough crispness to avoid being overcooked.

Speaking of EVOO, on Thursday night we had dinner at Carrabba's Italian Grill, and I was inspired by my appetizer to try something new. I picked up some bruschetta relish (tomato, red onion, garlic, and basil) and brushed hamburger buns with the olive oil and toasted them on the upper level of the grill. I spread mozzarella cheese on the burgers and covered them with the relish, and presto! We had Bruschetta Burgers.

Are you hungry yet?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Superhero Sundays, Part 5

This is one of my very favorite pieces that I've had inked. I drew this picture of Starfire at a time when I had thought to use it as a sample to try to sell commissioned artwork online. I only did the pencils, and then thought that it was too good just to bury in a folder somewhere. So I contacted Drew Geraci, who was the inker of Nightwing over Greg Land's pencils and I owned an original page from that book. He said that he normally wouldn't ink over an amateur, but he liked what I had done enough to agree to do it. He also put it up on his website (at the bottom of this page), so that was quite an honor for me!

You know, I used to be an okay artist. I think I'll try drawing more!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Jeans

For the first time in my life, I have had to go to the store to buy smaller clothes. I bought a new pair of jeans yesterday, four inches smaller in the waist than the ones I wore last week. I'm loving the results of this new exercise and diet program!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fail Blog

I've really been enjoying Fail Blog. It basically takes irony to a whole new level. I've thought about submitting this photo from the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Hall of Central Harmony is made possible by American Express!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wonder Woman Animated DVD

This looks really good. Out on March 3:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Bank Left Behind

This is great! The banks don't like accountability being placed on them by the US government. Hey, now if we could make it so that they have to improve their holdings by 5% every year until the full amount is paid back in 2014, they'll be like public schools. Oh, and if they fail in any one of 29 categories that the government puts forth, they'll be labeled a failing bank, in danger of being taken over by the government, too. Their bosses will be replaced, they'll be completely restaffed or closed altogether! Sweet! Oh, wait. What? That won't happen? Well, how's that fair? Education hasn't been led to the brink of collapse. Student performance isn't the worst it's been since the Great Depression. Something's wrong here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I had an extraordinarily bad afternoon dealing with incompetent people. What saved my evening was my daughter, who felt the need to shave like daddy does. Many mornings she has watched me perform this ritual, and she uses the "T" from her bathtub alphabet set as her razor. She calls it her knife, since I cut the whiskers off with mine.

I'm pretty sure Sera will be bright enough to be able to do payroll when she's old enough. Too bad I'll be retired by then.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I work in Elkhart, the focus of so many national stories today. Yes, the economy is terrible. Yes, people are losing their jobs by the hundreds. But what I just absolutely fail to understand is how my students don't get that in four years they will be competing with all of the unemployed workers for jobs. They don't get that it is imperative for them to do the best they can right the hell now so that they can get a leg up and help their struggling families. What is it about being 14 that makes graduation seem a million years in the future? I saw the writing on the wall that I needed to take care of college myself when I was that age, and I knew that I didn't want to live in a trailer for my whole life. Where is the sense of urgency?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Superhero Sundays, Part 4--Freebird!

Last week I wrote about Bill Reinhold's inking of my character, North Hawk. This week I have my buddy Doug's character, Freebird. Freebird was the daughter of one of the Aegis campaign's darker characters, Apocalypse, who was a pretty stereotypical Vietnam veteran martial artist. Freebird was a martial artist as well, but also had mutant telekinetic powers to go with it. I took this sketch to the Chicago Comicon with the intention of having it inked, and asked Doug who he'd like to do it. Doug was a big fan of the Badger as well, and when he saw what Bill had done for me on a yet-as-unposted sketch, he asked for the same treatment.

Whenever this character would show up, her presence would invariably invite the chant for the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, hence the exclamation point behind her name in the picture.

Good grief, 1991 was long time ago!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A-Rod Allegedly took Steroids. So What?

I'm getting tired of this idiotic argument that somehow the record books and the game of baseball are tainted because some players took performance-enhancing drugs, especially steroids. THIS ISN'T NEW!

Players have been taking amphetamines and gulping coffee and everything else under the sun for DECADES. They have surgeries that didn't exist 120 years ago to extend their careers, too. Good grief, can we move on, please?

The Big Loser

Well, I've been losing weight since Christmas Eve, when my tooth pain flared up and I could barely eat for two weeks. After the tooth was taken care of, I started watching carefully what I eat and exercising each day (except Sunday). So far, I've dropped about 20 pounds or so. I'm down to just over 300, which seems like more than it is until you realize that I'm 6'4" tall. It's not just weight that I've lost, though. It's inches too. I can no longer wear the jeans I've been wearing for the past year. They literally fell off me on Friday when I dressed for casual day at school. Today while shopping, I had to keep pulling them up, and when I tried to tighten my belt, I discovered that I was already on the tightest notch. Inspired by this and my wife's comment that my shirt looked empty, I went upstairs and tried on some older clothes that hadn't fit in a long time. I'm proud to say that I have lost an entire shirt size!

This is exciting to me on several levels. First of all, I feel healthier, with more energy than I've had in some time. Second, I know it's sustainable. It really isn't that hard to get on my bike in the morning and watch DVR-recorded shows from the night before. I've also learned enough about cooking over the past 20 years that I know how to prepare food that I both like and are not bad for me. Third, if I can get down to a 2XL shirt size, which I haven't worn since around 1993, I can save all kinds of money on clothes, not to mention the fact that it opens a world of possibilities because more types of clothes are available in that size. I'd really like to be able to wear a comic book t-shirt to a convention or a Tigers jersey that doesn't look like a hot air balloon to Comerica Park. It's also going to be easier to get camping gear, because 300 pounds seems to be the magic number as far as capacity for camp chairs, loungers, and bed frames.

I'm not sure what my ultimate goal will be. I've seen several sources that say that 210 pounds is the ideal weight for a large-framed man at my height. I've got bad news for these sources. I was 210 pounds when I graduated from high school and I was rail-thin. I think I'll just stick to the 2XL shirt size as my goal, no matter what the scale says.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Speaking of Draconian...

This is the funniest thing I've read all week. Dave Campbell used to write "The Velvet Marauder," as well as "Dave's Long Box." Great stuff.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


In response to President Obama's proposed cap of $500,000 salaries for executives of companies receiving tax-funded bailout moneys, according to the New York Times:

"That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, (emphasis mine) particularly if there is no bonus,” said James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates, a compensation consulting firm. “And you know these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend.”

Mr. Reda said only a handful of big companies pay chief executives and
other senior executives $500,000 or less in total compensation. He said such
limits will make it hard for the companies to recruit and keep executives, most
of whom could earn more money at other firms.

“It would be really tough to get people to staff” companies that are forced to impose these limits, he said.

“I don’t think this will work.”

Welcome to education...only divide your salary by 10, you poor baby. How will you ever manage to get by on only $500,000 per year of taxpayer money? I never complain about my salary, but I won't stand by and watch someone complain about making ten times my salary!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Quote of the Day

We were working today on ISTEP (Indiana's high-stakes test) preparation and were discussing the upcoming cookie-cutter recipe for teaching that we will be required to use, and I said, "Where will the chefs come from when we are all forced to cook at McDonald's?"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Door-to-Door Salesmen

Who knew they still existed? A guy who was selling a $2,000 vacuum cleaner come to our house tonight. I let him clean a room and then Sera had to go to bed.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superhero Sundays, Part 3

This week's edition of Superhero Sundays features my pencils with inks by Bill Reinhold. Bill was one of my favorite artists back in the 80s on The Badger. When I first got back into comics in 1983-1984, I attended a comic book convention in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Badger #9 was a giveaway. I liked it so much that I hunted down the rest of the series at the show. When I had the opportunity to meet Bill, I found that he was just as nice a guy as he was talented. I have several sketches done by him as well as more inked by him.

The sketch (click to enlarge) is of my Champions character North Hawk. North Hawk was a member of a warrior race of bird people who resided deep in the forests in the upper peninsula of Michigan. He was transplanted to the Pacific Northwest (the setting of the game) and he was a whole lot of fun to play. He was part Hawkman, part Wolverine, and part Worf from Star Trek the Next Generation. I do a reasonable Worf impression, and I was always in grim, stoic character while playing this guy. He used tribal weapons made of fossilized stone on his hands. On his right hand, he used a stone cestus, and he wielded stone talons on his left. His belt buckle was a sharpened throwing weapon. And just to prove to the civilized world that he wasn't a savage, he carried a 9 mm Browning Hi-Power in a shoulder holster. I have very fond memories of playing this character!