Friday, August 19, 2016

2016 Writers' Police Academy - Thursday

I managed to get out of the house long before the sun even thought of making an appearance the morning we were to depart for Wisconsin. A quick stop to pick up a friend of mine, and we were off to the airport.

After about a half a day of travel, we arrived at our destination: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My first impression as we stepped out of the airport was that Green Bay was hot and wet. My Colorado body is not used to drinking its air.

We had a couple of hours of down time before the afternoon "welcome" activities began, so we curled up in a couple of chairs in the lobby and took a nap while we waited for our room to be made available. When gearing up for the WPA, it's important to get rest when you can, because once the festivities start it's balls to the wall.

The afternoon welcome session started off with Show and Tell. My friend and I braved the wall of humidity to go see the Sheriff's cool toys.

I'm not tall, but that door hinge was still 4" above my head!

Getting dressed for work

"Can we go work now, can we, can we, can we?"

SWAT gear was available for us to handle and ask questions about.
I don't know how the LEOs there work in all that gear (even just their every day uniform) with the heat and humidity. After an hour, I was done and I was only in jeans and a t-shirt.

I learned a couple of things from the evening announcements:
  • No videoing! Of course, that's been the rule from day one, so it wasn't a surprise.
  • The bus ride to the facility is ten minutes. Both ways. Yes, someone asked. Many, many times. Guess what? The bus ride next year is going to be ten minutes. Both ways.
  • I'm not sure we ever got a clear answer on what time the pool closes, but I looked it up and it's a 24-hour pool, so no worries.
  • The Goldberg brothers are hilarious. I didn't know who the comedy duo was at the time, but I knew I liked them from the first words spoken.
After evening announcements, there was a session on drones. Drones are more correctly called UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems) and are overseen by the FAA. Capt. Bill Bongle (ret.), talked to us about some of the FAA legalities, such as setting the max altitude at 400 feet. We also learned from an old case (Causby vs U.S. 1946) that 83 feet is the altitude that one can reasonably expect privacy.

There is a current case to keep an eye on, Boggs vs. Meredith, that is seeking to clarify aerial trespass. The issue is that Meredith shot down a UAV piloted by Boggs, which is a violation of a statute that makes it a felony to shoot down or damage an aircraft. Meredith argues that the drone flying over his property is a violation of privacy.

Capt. Bongle was kind enough to bring a variety of UAVs for us to see.

That's not a UFO that we're all looking at - it's a tiny UAV.

This little guy is a Blade Inductrix and retails for about $70 without the camera.

I should have added something for scale - this one is about the size of my thumbnail.
I fell in love with the itty bitty flying machine, and think I need one. The bigger ones are cool, but this miniaturized one is just adorable.

This one can be fitted with a FLIR (infrared) camera.

By the time the drone talk wrapped up, I was exhausted. It had been a very long day and we still had two full days of fun to go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Question for Readers

When choosing a new book to read, do you read the reviews? Amazon seems to have the most prolific reviews and a lot of authors depend on them.

As a reader, which type of review do you prefer?

One that summarizes the entire book?

Or one that is more along the lines of "I liked it, and here's why"?

I know what my preference is, which is reflected in the reviews I've left. I do try to leave a review for 90% of the books I read - either on Goodreads or Amazon (usually both) - as an author I know how important they are.

I am interested - which type of review do you prefer and why?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Writers' Police Academy 2016

Only a few days before I head off to WPA! This year, I've got a friend and fellow author joining me. I'm unbelievably excited to get to share this event with her and I think she'll have a great experience.

WPA has been described as "Disneyland for writers" and that's about as accurate a description as any. We'll spend almost three days absorbing everything we can from experts in: bioterrorism; law enforcement; fire; EMS; forensic psychology; and crime lab/processing.

I can't wait! If you want to keep up in real-time, follow me on Twitter (@CSWilson_Author), Instagram (@authorcswilson), or Facebook (@AuthorCSWilson). I'll do my best to post every chance I get.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 14: My Life in 7 Years

Well, seven years from now Jay and I will have just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

My eldest will be in his thirties.

The horses will be teenagers (and well-broke, I hope).

While I'd love to have our own property and a house we built, I'm not sure of the reality of that. It's a good thing that L.E. loves us and we love her.

I'll probably still be stuck working at a job at which I'm good, but not at all appreciated. I'll probably still be waiting on a raise since my last one was in July, 2011 and the company is in no hurry to do anything about it.

Or, maybe I'll have won the PowerBall and I will have turned into one hell of a philanthropist. That would be okay. Set the kids up with a touch of money, travel with the hubby and the horses, volunteer, and give money to worthy charities. Pat Striker, move over!

Day 13: My Commute To/From Work

I have the best commute. I wasn't crazy about moving out of my hometown, but Jay convinced me to give it a try. His argument was that the scenery on the way into town was amazing. He was right.

It's hard to leave our little slice of paradise each morning, but knowing I get to come home to it each night makes it easier.

We live right off a dirt road, that when dry, is one of the best roads I've ever driven on. When saturated because of rain and snow, like today, is treacherous. Digger has mentioned more than once that Salome is much more of a bad ass car than most of the perfectly shiny 4x4 trucks that run around town. I tend to agree. My poor Salome will get a bath in June to get rid of the mud, and she'll stay mostly clean until September or so.

The morning drive in is spectacular, especially in the spring, when everything is fresh and blooming. The snow-capped mountains set my mind at ease about the potential for wild fires. The years when there is little to no snow visible are the years that scare me. The Rocky Mountains run in my full field of view from left to right and I consider myself blessed that I get to see them each morning.

Just off the highway, to the south, is a piece of property that I just love. I look forward to seeing it each morning, just as I descend the rolling hill by the dump. The property is lined on it's north side by trees, but there is one lone tree (Russian Olive, I think) smack dab in the middle of the property, standing sentinel over the growing crops. For some reason, I love that tree. It stands tall and proud by itself through all the seasons. On occasion, I've seen a hawk hanging out at the top of it, looking for dinner.

As I near the base of the hill and look up past that property, I can almost imagine that there are no houses beyond it. For just a second or two at 65 miles per hour, I can fantasize that urban sprawl isn't intruding. For a short period of time, all I see is the green crop, the sentinel tree, and the great snow-capped Rockies beyond. My heart gets very happy.

More and more houses appear as I get closer to the city and my heart breaks a little bit more every time I see new construction. The rural power company recently put in a huge solar farm and I was ecstatic when I realized that it was a solar farm and not another 100 houses. I'm constantly amazed at how many people city planners will cram into small spaces.

Farms that were "out in the middle of nowhere" are being surrounded by urban sprawl. The people come. They demand HOAs and covenants and rules and the next thing you know, there are no more family farms.

I'm no longer tense and angry when I cross I-25 into the city, but for the first two years I commuted back and forth, the minute I crossed into city traffic my blood pressure sky-rocketed and I became a road rager. I think the anger came mainly from seeing how much the city has changed from the small, agriculturally-based town into Boulder, North.

In fact, I was talking to a friend last night who spoke to someone who was touring "Ag" colleges and CSU was on his list. He came, took a look at CSU and immediately took it off his list - CSU is no longer an "Ag" college. It bills itself as one, but has lost its way, which breaks my heart.

The drive home calms me, soothes my soul. As much as I loved my hometown, there is next to nothing I recognize of it. It's gone and I'm beginning to come to terms with it.

I'm not a naturally poetic person, but living in our little slice of paradise is good for me. It truly does soothe my soul. Jay and I are so blessed to live where we do.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 12: A Phrase That Makes Me Laugh

"K, so" is a phrase I'm trying to erase from my vocabulary when I'm teaching. I find I use it a lot when trying to explain something. The thing is, it comes out sounding like "queso". You know, cheese.

I'll be lecturing along, explaining a concept and when I'm ready to move on, I just know I'm going to say, "K, so..." and I'm powerless to stop. I know that it comes out sounding like "queso", so then I think "cheese" and it completely derails my train of thought.

My students at first were confused when I'd say "K, so" and then start to giggle, but I finally let them in on my private joke and now just groan at me.

Hey, if I can't laugh at myself, I shouldn't be teaching :)

Day 11: My Current Relationship

This is a rather timely prompt, as our 7th anniversary is just a couple of days away.

I had to have some oral surgery done on the 10th, which just happened to be Jay's birthday and the dentist, hygienist, and I were talking. I mentioned it was his birthday and then mentioned that our anniversary was coming up on the 14th. They jokingly said, "seven years of wedded bliss, but how much time was not wedded bliss?"

That started me thinking - maybe five days? I mean, it's not like every day is a honeymoon, but for the most part, yeah, seven years of wedded bliss.

We just fit.

We're definitely not the have-to-fight-all-the-time-to-realize-how-much-we-love-each-other type of couple. I know there are a lot of people out there who believe that constant fighting and making up shows passion. I think that kind of "love" requires entirely too much energy to maintain and it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to full-on crazy and/or abuse.

We're also not the all-over-each-other-all-the-time couple. We love each other and support each other, but after that first kiss, we're not so much PDA-type people. We can be overly cutesy at times, but usually only at home. And, I will admit we talk in our own cutesy, short-hand way. But again, usually only at home.

We're more the we've-been-married-100-years-already kind of settled. I don't mean settled in a bad way, either. I mean, we're comfortable, content, and we each know who we are. I think that both of us being older (mid- to late-thirties) when we got married helped. I know who I am; he knows who he is and we accept each other. We don't need each other, but we damn sure  want each other and I think that counts for a whole lot.

Marrying Jay was the best decision I've made.