Wicked Game  Comments Off on Wickedness
Apr 152012

I finally finished reading the Hunger Games and loved it!  The pacing was just right.  It was slow enough that I could savor the story but fast enough to keep me interested in the plot and on the edge of my seat. Every page was vivid, adventure-filled, and packed with suspense. As you can guess by now, I hate having to wait for things to happen in a story.

I like to think that Wicked Game is the same way.  Reno, Zach, and Jonah are not spending a leisurely graduation vacation abroad doing nothing but relaxing.  They become embroiled in a competitive game against each other and, since it’s their last outing before settling into the “real world” they are all playing to win.  The pace is fast and the plot is gripping.  The pawns in the game have their own complicated lives and that doesn’t make things easy for Reno, Zach, and Jonah.

 Posted by at 8:15 pm

Grilled Cheese!

 Recipes  Comments Off on Grilled Cheese!
Apr 122012

I’ve just discovered from the folks at that today is a very day… Happy National Grilled Cheese Day!

From simple sandwiches served alongside plain tomato soup in school cafeterias to esoteric masterpieces created in high-end restaurants, the grilled cheese is ubiquitous in American cuisine.  There are endless recipes using every variety of bread and cheese.  Everyone I know has their particular favorite and they are pretty adamant about defending their version as “the best”.

And… in case you’re wondering, my basic grilled cheese is “the best”!  I will, however, admit that I like to experiment and try new recipes and there are many very good ones out there.

Alex’s Basic Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices white bread (I use Pepperidge Farms)
  • 3 slices American cheese (do not use cheese food or cheese product)
  • olive oil
  1. Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Assemble sandwich and place in frying pan.
  3. Cook until one side is golden brown.
  4. Using a spatula, lift sandwich out of pan, add another 2 tablespoons of oil.
  5. Flip sandwich and cook until second side is golden brown.
  6. Remove from pan and enjoy!!
 Posted by at 8:09 pm

Easter Traditions

 Musings  Comments Off on Easter Traditions
Apr 092012

Good morning everyone and happy Easter to all those that celebrate. We do not celebrate a religious Easter but enjoy some of the more secular traditions like coloring Easter eggs and eating a ham, which more popular in the United States than in the rest of the world.

In the past, meat was slaughtered in the fall.  Since there was no refrigeration, any fresh pork that wasn’t slated for consumption during the winter months, was cured for spring. The curing process takes a certain amount of time so, the first hams would start to be ready in spring and ham was a natural choice for Easter dinner.

I have colored Easter eggs every year since childhood.  My favorite was making swirled eggs.  Drops of an oil-based dye are put in a bowl of water and swirled to make interesting designs.  Since the color is oil based, it doesn’t dissolve. The eggs are dipped in the water and the color stick to them in a swirled pattern.

This method was never immensely popular in the US but my mother loved it and taught my sister and I. Eventually we ran out of color and couldn’t find any more in the stores so we had to stop. In the past few years, I’ve seen the method make a resurgence so I’ve stocked up on color again!

 Posted by at 7:28 pm


 Writing  Comments Off on Riptide
Apr 012012

Even though I like to relax on weekends, I’ve been busy working on Riptide!  Riptide is going to be the next book that I publish.  I have a lot of projects in the works right now but Riptide is the closest to being done.  It’s in the final edit!

Riptide is a compilation of my JoyBoy Island stories based on a lifeguard named Jason Phillip.  His last name was originally Phillips but, as I was developing the story, I also started playing Second Life.  The last name Phillip was available so I made a Jason Phillip and changed my character to match.  Phillips is more of a last name but Phillip is more unusual so I’m pleased.

Jason’s story encompasses five three to seven chaptered stories that relate how Jason and Bryce met and fell in love.  When I first started writing it, the story was supposed to be a stand-alone and it was barely seven pages long.  The book is currently over 700 pages long!  Somehow the story took on a life of its own.

 Posted by at 8:32 pm

Orange Allen Wrench

 Recipes  Comments Off on Orange Allen Wrench
Mar 262012

The Allen Wrench is a drink that appears in Wicked Game and gets Jonah in a little trouble.  The recipe appears in the Wicked Game Companion.  This is a tasty variation.  Enjoy!

Orange Allen Wrench


  • 1 oz. coconut rum
  • 1 oz. creme de banana
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple vodka
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit vodka
  • 4 oz. orange juice or orange pineapple juice


Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and then strain into a glass.

 Posted by at 5:58 pm

Southern Cross 2

 Travel  Comments Off on Southern Cross 2
Mar 222012

Because I live in the Northern hemisphere and I grew up listening to the song by Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Southern Cross has always held mystique for me.  For people that are serious astronomers or star-gazers, it’s not that spectacular.  It’s a fairly small constellation in a sky filled with bigger and more glorious stars.

What makes the Southern Cross cool though is that it’s used to find the South Pole!  This is somewhat important if, let’s say, you’re living several hundred years ago and it’s your job to point the captain of the ship in the right direction so you can get to where you need to go before your food (and alcohol) run out.  Nowadays we have GPS.

All you have to do is draw a line from the top of cross, Gamma Crucis the orange one, through Alpha Crucis, the bottom star, and keep going about four times the length of the cross.  Then drop straight down to the horizon.  Violà, the South Pole!  How cool is that?  There are more accurate and complicated ways using other stars and angles and lines but this way is close enough.

Anyone else out there seen the Southern Cross?

 Posted by at 6:45 pm

Southern Cross 1

 Travel  Comments Off on Southern Cross 1
Mar 192012

I’ve been doing some research on the Southern Cross for another piece that I’m writing and decided that it’s something pretty cool to talk about.  I recently saw the Southern Cross in Patagonia and I saw it for the first time in Antarctica this November!

Depending on where you are and what season it is, the Cross is either right side up or upside down.  That was a fairly hard concept for me to grasp.  I can get that stars rotate around above my head but the fact that it was truly upside down was shocking.  In Antarctica, I saw it upside down.

To find the Southern Cross, first you have to locate the pointer stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri.  These two are very bright and easy to find much as Venus and Polaris are pretty easy to see in the northern sky.  If you draw a line starting from Alpha Centauri through Beta Centauri and keep going to the right, you’ll hit the top star of the Southern Cross.

The Cross consists of four stars, Alpha Crucis, on the bottom, Beta Crucis (or Mimosa), on the left closest to the pointer stars, Delta Crucis, on the right, and Gamma Crucis, at the top, which , unlike the other three, has an orange tint.

Southern Cross

The Southern Cross from

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Mar 132012

I’ve been following this trial closely.  The jury begins deliberating after today’s closing arguments.  In a nutshell, Dharun Ravi is accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, who later killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

I find the defense strategy of saying that Ravi was worried about his belongings being stolen or that he was just acting immaturely to be utterly ridiculous.  While those things may be true, it’s clearly indicative of a bias.

I highly doubt that Ravi would have been concerned if his roommate were having a female guest over.  Would he have tweeted about Clementi spending time with his girlfriend?  Would he have tried to organize a “viewing party” if the encounter were heterosexual?  I think NOT.

There is no excuse for what Ravi did except bias.  If we remove all genders from the equation, one person doing that to another is wrong by all definitions.  I hope the jury finds him guilty of everything with which he’s charged.  There is no room for bias in today’s world.


 Posted by at 10:09 pm


 Musings  Comments Off on WI-HDSA Re-Prom
Mar 042012

This past Saturday, my partner and I attended a prom in support of Huntington’s Disease.  It was a lot of fun.  We both wore identical tuxes with different color bow ties.  Mine was pink, his was purple.  I will freely admit that I am a horrible dancer but managed not to step on any toes or feet last night.  No one needed qualified medical help because of me!

Huntington’s Disease is a genetic disorder where nerve cells slowly degenerate.  Because of the slow progression of the disease, families’ lives are affected for decades and the emotional toll can be staggering.

The prom was organized by my friend at the gym, Shana Martin.  She is very active in the Wisconsin chapter of HDSA.  Her mother has HD but was brought out to the event by a special bus.  I had the honor of meeting her.  It was the first date she and her husband had been on in over ten years.  Truly a special evening for all who attended!


My friends, Shana Martin and Peter Verstegen, at the Re-Prom

My friends, Shana Martin and Peter Verstegen, at the Re-Prom


 Posted by at 5:23 pm

Blog 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything

 Authors, Musings  Comments Off on Blog 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything
Feb 292012

Since this is Blog 42, I will dedicate it to a book and its author who have influenced both me and my friends even though I have never read the book.  I sheepishly admit that I was never able to get through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by British writer Douglas Adams although a great majority of my friends love and quote it.

In the novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings insist on having the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, which was specially built for said purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42.

When I don’t know the answer to a question, I answer 42 because it isthe Ultimate Answer!

Deception Island

 Posted by at 6:18 pm