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"Shorts, Outtakes and Rants"

Every so often I post a short story, usually to fill out a week since I like to start new stories on Monday. Very often these are outtakes from previous books that didn't make the final cut. Others are purpose-written short stories. And, every now and then I may post some commentary of some sort or other. This is just a catchall section for all of these, in no particular order; additions will be irregular.

Photo Essays

Macrodactyl Dreams can lead to some interesting places, but this one was a little different than most. What would it be like to fly on a pterodactyl's back. Could it even be done? Where and how? This article includes some interesting pictures that weren't shown when this was first posted on the forum. First posted May 2016

Kids and Robots The FIRST Robotics Challenge is an increasingly popular event that brings the thrill of competition to technologically-oriented high school kids. First posted March 2016

Creating Photos Sometimes when the desire to write has gone away for a while, I'll spend some time creating photos. It can just be fun to create an "impossible" photo -- something that never existed in the first place, or something that happened where no one was around to take the photo. I'm going to share a couple of recent ones with you, and will give you links to high resolution versions suitable for computer backdrops. First posted March 2015

California Dreaming For various reasons my wife and I don't take very many vacations, but in the summer of 2014 we decided we had to get out and go somewhere. Having relatives and friends in northern California and Oregon made for good reasons to consider a visit there. There's a lot of things to see, and knowing that we might not make it out there again, we decided to cover a lot of ground and at least be able to say we'd seen places we'd often wanted to see. First posted November 2014

Bullring Days Cover Photo Expedition On September 16, 2011 Kathy and I took off for the Fairgrounds at Lima, OH, to catch the last Antique Auto Racing Association meet of the year. It was the last chance I would have before the publication of Bullring Days to get cover photos of the kind of cars featured in the first book of the series. I shot a potload of photos, and am only going to put a handful of them up here. I learned a lot, and one of the things I learned is just how much I got right in writing the series. These are extremely cool old cars, and owned and not too seriously raced by some extremely cool guys. First posted March 2012

Big Guy in the Grand Canyon I took a trip down the Grand Canyon in 2003; this is the trip report that I posted on another (now defunct) website. Several scenes and stories in several books have their start here. Many photos! First posted August 2010

Mostly reposted from the Spearfish Lake Tales Message Board

A tough way to start the week Our cats are fun most of the time. They enjoy playing, and there's nothing that takes away a mild depression better than having a cat hop up in your lap demanding to be petted and getting a purr as a result. First posted March 2017

Tiny house, big problems I'm not against tiny houses. In fact, in their place, I think they're cool. But they are not for everybody, and that's true of a lot of such things you can see on TV. First posted January 2017

One Christmas back in grandfather's time When I was quite small my grandparents had a booklet that was a holiday giveaway from a local lumber company. It was dated 1953, and was titled something like "One Christmas Back in Grandfather's Time." It had many colored line drawings that really gave me a feel of the old days. First posted December 2016

The day we almost sank the duck It so happens that this week is the fortieth anniversary of the first story I ever did for the paper I now own. That it was one of the most memorable stories -- at least in terms of telling a story about them -- that I've ever covered in over thirty years off and on in the newspaper business just adds to the flavor. First posted August 2016

Garage Sale Blues I came in this morning all primed to write a column about my garage sale frustrations, most of which revolve around a china cabinet that my wife just had to have but is much too big for the place she wants to put it. First posted August 2016

Dark Skies My wife and I were driving home from a car race Friday evening. "It sure would be a good night to go out and look at the stars, wouldn't it?" she asked as we were getting close to home. First posted July 2016

Flapper Centennial A hundred years ago the nation, and to a lesser extent, the world, was in the midst of a revolution the likes of which had never been seen before. It was unexpected, it was shocking, it came quickly, and it planted the seeds for what we see today. First posted June 2016

The Drew Crew The thing I find interesting and admirable about Nancy Drew is how much of a role model she's been for young girls for most of a century. Especially in her early period she was a beautiful, brave, classy, sharp-tongued, independent teenager, who drove her blue roadster fast, flew planes, solved confusing mysteries but maintained her femininity. First posted April 2016

Remembering the Polekitty My wife and I have always had cats. Simply speaking, we like having pets around, and our experience has been that cats take less maintenance and looking after than dogs. First posted February 2016

Warm Solstice to you This is the day that the sun turns around in the sky and starts its trek back northwards toward summer, or at least so it seems to those who are thinking in earthbound terms. First posted December 2015

The Legend Lives On This week it's been forty years since the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in a "witch of November" storm on Lake Superior, leaving behind a legend that echoes on down to us today. First posted November 2015

Costume Fun It's getting to be the time of year for ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties, of trick or treating, candy, and costumes. First posted October 2015

8Ncredible Just a little 8N with a flathead mill, but it'll whomp a John Deere like it's standing still . . . First posted October 2015

What Goes Around . . . The tale of a young man with two crashed race cars -- and a good family and good friends. First posted September 2015

Dress in '65 When writing a period piece it's important to get the details right, if for no more reason than to help the reader with willing suspension of disbelief. First posted August 2015

A Blast From the Past If you are of a certain generation, the Beach Boys represent something of a common denominator, a universal touchstone that everyone can identify with. First posted August 2015

Popular Culture The older I get, the more I find that I'm increasingly out of touch with popular culture -- and the less it bothers me. First posted June 2015

Sisyphian Green After many rants on this subject in this space over the years, I suppose it's not news that I hate winter. First posted May 2015

Forgotten Anniversaries I spend a fair amout of time following the national news, mostly on the Internet, and then mostly because I can pick and choose which stories interest me. First posted May 2015

Oldies But Goodies Just because something is new doesn't mean it's better, and that's especially true of some airplanes. First posted March 2015

Mischief The world doesn't have much space left for originals like H.W. Tilman, one of the last of the "heroic era" explorers. First posted January 2015

Cowboy Music Sometimes my research drives my daughter nuts, and playing old cowboy songs did a pretty good job of it. First posted November 2014

Recalculating Someone recently gave my wife a GPS system. She's used it a little, but I haven't very much, since I rarely drive anywhere these days when I don't know where I'm going because I've been there before. First posted October 2014

Losing Football I hate to tell you this, but sooner or later we're going to lose football. In saying this, I don't mean losing a football game. I mean lose football as a sport, both on the local and national level. First posted September 2014

Someone Ought To Be Ashamed Most of us don't communicate by handwriting as much as we used to. "Use it or lose it" comes into play. First posted July 2014

A Blast From The Past A friend is looking for a new home that meets several specific criteria, one of which includes space for a large horse. It so happens that one of the houses she was interested in happened to be the one I was more or less brought up in -- my grandparents' house, in fact. First posted May 2014

STENDEC and Good Night No real trace of the missing Malaysian 370 Boeing 777 has turned up, despite a huge effort in the Indian Ocean west of Australia. There is intense media coverage, and the disappearance of the airliner is still full of mystery -- and it may well remain that way for some time. First posted March 2014

Carbon Fiber Ships and Iron Men When the news came out last week that authorities suspect that the missing airliner, Malaysian 370, was believed to be down in the southern Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, the first thought that came to mind was, "Wow! That's Pete Goss country!" First posted March 2014

Hospital Blues Suffice to say there's a good reason why I don't care to have much to do with hospitals. Fortunately, I've been able to avoid it happening very often but I fear that as I grow older I may not be able to avoid it as much as I have in the past. First posted September 2013

Better Than Robert Unfortunately, my wife likes to listen to public radio, and not the kind of public radio stations that play a lot of classical music, either. Sometimes the news feature stories are mildly interesting but I'd rather not hear them. First posted August 2013

What Hath God Wrought? Rest in peace, Samuel F. B. Morse. Your invention served us well, and was the first true conqueror of time and distance. First posted June 2013

Change Isn't Always Good The long-venerated institution of the American barbershop is dying and nobody seems to notice it or mourn the passing. First posted February 2013

1958 Friends Setting a story in 1958 means that I want it to sound like it's 1958, and getting the details right turned into part of the fun. First posted November 2012

The Eagle of the Sea The USS Constitution, the world's oldest warship still in commission, got to sail for seventeen minutes on Sunday, the first time it had been under sail in thirteen years. First posted August 2012

Guarding the Bird Feeders AM I was awakened by my wife, who has an earlier schedule than I do. She was upset: "I've had a tough time with the raccoon in the bird feeders again," she complained. "I wish you'd take a gun and shoot it." First posted June 2012

Story Comments

Stopping at the Redlite The Redlite Ranch Bordello was one of the more unexpected but thought provoking things that happened to me in the development of the Spearfish Lake universe. It's provided some different perspectives on the roles of men and women, and more than a few lessons. Revised to be added as an "Author's Note" to Magic Carpet's new online version. First posted November 2009, Revised December 2011

Common Prologue to the Bradford Exiles I've been asked why the series is called "The Bradford Exiles." To tell the truth, it took me a couple of stories to realize that this was the unifying theme. First posted November 2009


One Last Chance This snippet is a story I started one day but never made up my mind where the story was going. I can't help but think that this crotchety old coot must have had some kind of a story to tell, though. Posted April 2017

The Outlanding Originally with Busted Axle Road, this story was cut because it didn't really contribute to the story. First posted May 2008

The Lone Ranger Originally in Dawnwalker, this was cut because it took the story someplace where I didn't really want to go. But, when I decided to put a short story together in epub and mobi for cheap online sales to attract attention, this was the first place I looked. I'd gotten some criticism from a former competitive swimmer about some of the scenes, and we worked together to get it more factually correct. First posted January 2009, Revised December 2011

The Sewer Pipe Originally with Dawnwalker, this scene was cut because it didn't really contribute to the story. I still think it's a pretty neat idea, though. First posted January 2009

The Temptation Reverend Noah Whittaker gets asked to do a slightly unusual favor for an old friend. I wrote several different openings to Canyon Fires before I managed to come up with one I liked. This one didn't make the cut for timing reasons, but I still like it. First posted December 2011

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