Ducks: Not Just for Rednecks Anymore

Trust me, the title is deceiving. Today’s post does have to do with writing. More specifically it has to do with storytelling. You know the ones. The stories told around the campfire if you’re a camping type of family. The fuel for holiday get-together discussions, you know… if you actually like your family get-togethers. For our family, there are a few. Ironically very few that dive into the fantastical. At least as far as I’m concerned.

Our tale for today centers around the launch of season three of Duck Dynasty on A&E. Not because I’ve been watching this show for three years, but more due to my father making us watch the show at one of our recent holiday gatherings. He doesn’t see the irony in it as the rest of us have been giving him duck related merchandise for decades. We truly believe that the duck is my father’s spirit guide.

The start of it happened when at a national convention for the JayCees, a group my father has been a member of since his early days. Otherwise known as before I was born. Yes, that long ago. But this is a more recent tale. While at this convention in California, they went on a day trip around town and passed through Chinatown. Seeing a duck – head and all – roast and hanging in the window, my father picked one up with a couple cans of sardines and they placed it on a tray with the sardines ringing the duck. As a joke.

Now what happened didn’t surprise me, but it threw him for a loop. The people in the hospitality room where they plated and presented the duck ate it. All of it. And its little sardines, too. That began my father’s road as “the duck guy.” But it wasn’t the final nail in the deal. That came later.

While spending his time as the facilities manager for a number of buildings around the county, there was a large remodeling project going on. This project threatened to displace a nest of ducks that had taken refuge in the bushes around the city-county building. Downtown Madison is on the isthmus between two large lakes, so it isn’t as odd as it sounds that these ducks took roost here.

With the growing concern for the safety and well-being of the water fowl friends on the block, my father’s hand was forced and he had to put out an update about the ducks. So he typed up a full length email about the duck nest and what their plans were to make sure the creatures were safe during the construction. Without getting into to much of the tech behind it, let’s just say he did that year’s version of a “send to all” on the network. For the county system. All buildings around the county. Remember that.

Now for my author friends, blogger friends or really anyone who has learned a system for typing, what vowel is on the keyboard next to the U? Once you’ve answered this, you will have an idea about the punch line of the story. So it took him all of a couple of minutes after sending before he noticed he had sent out a mass email about the “dick nest” on the block. In the time it took for him to remove the email and work on retyping it he tells me he saw a couple dozen replies. Every one of them with some smart assed comment asking where they could find that nest.

Now I’m pretty sure I’m safe on this one as the statute of limitations is past. Also the story made it into the humor section of the local paper. Also, I was the helpful one that pointed out to my father that it could have been worse. I simply told him to look at his keyboard and notice what consonant was next to the D on it.

So was born the tradition of getting my father duck related gifts at every birthday, Christmas, etc. I mean we even bought him a rubber ducky floating tea infuser. He doesn’t drink tea. My mother does though.

And even though it was fitting that Duck Dynasty (one of his current favorite shows) was opening a new season on his birthday, we had plans to go downtown and see a band with a club member in it for a potential show at Festa Italia this year. We did however give him a Steampunk Duck book (kids book) from TeslaCon this year and a copy of the Duck Commander Family book. If they had them in stock, we likely would have also gotten him an Uncle Si bobblehead.

Storytelling isn’t just the common day version of the oral tradition. It isn’t the only thing that I feel brings families together and keeps our relationships strong. It’s also the tradition of gift giving. Nobody ever knows what to get my father. He’s 71 years old now. Needs (though needs as gifts isn’t a thing for me) are not an issue. We have created a tradition we can all have fun with. And he has a host of things in his office (my childhood bedroom) that reminds him of his family and the celebrations over the years.

For me it is a collection of gift cards, which are special in their own way. I’ve gotten Barnes & Noble cards, which allow me to keep my Nook stocked with books. With me now doing reviews and blurbs that’s not as much an issue, but some day I will likely need to replace the device itself. I’ve seen iTunes cards to stock up my collection of music for the playlists I make for each novel. And the most recent was a gift card to the local coffee shop that I go to most mornings for writing before work. It’s probably like the second one Patrick has ever given out, but it tells me that they know me and listen to what I am doing and support me in it.

Even if it is a gift card, the thought and the intent behind it is the real gift. It’s the same energy that infuses a good story that can be shared for years to come. At least those family type stories. Monsters, Magic and Maulings… well, that’s an entire other situation.

Signs You’re Getting Old

So yesterday was my birthday. Well, technically it was mine and my son’s. When he was young it meant parties at Chuck E Cheese because they served beer, had skee ball and also had a huge kids play area. Now he is of drinking age, which means our party options are a lot more open. And honestly a lot less party.

Leading up to the day was interesting. It started off with me forgetting that our birthday was this week. So Monday night I was considering what to make for cupcakes… and promptly ran out of time/energy to bake. In my defense our dog picked Sunday night to do his first trips up the stairs in seven or eight months. Kept me up all damn night. (He is 15 years old and doesn’t do stairs well any more.) My wife then asked me what I wanted for my birthday. She had been at her national trade show the entire last week and so hadn’t done anything about birthdays yet.

Here it is. The first sign you’re getting old. Someone asks what you want for your birthday and you reply with, “I don’t know.” You’re at a point in your life when there is stuff out there that would be cool, but nothing that grabs you like a particular toy did back during your single digit aged birthdays. Also at this point in my life I have to look at when I would use/need a particular item and where I would put it. For me most gifts my family give me are gift cards to load my Nook with novels. A card for the coffee shop I do my writing in (as I was given last night), or gift cards for music with which to fill my story-writing playlists with. Most of the gifts virtual, the rest consumable.

Not having cupcakes to bring in, I stopped by the neighborhood bakery near the stadium and grabbed donuts. After resisting the urge to walk around with the box like Dexter (fueled by not many office doors being open yet) I sat down and sent an email saying why there were donuts in the mailroom. Not many of the people I work with know that I bake, or that I specialize in cupcakes so there was no need to explain why kosher donuts instead of cupcakes.

For me, the next sign you’re getting old is how much it means to hear from people. I checked Facebook once in a while and any time there was a beep on my phone about a direct message. By the time I had seen any reply to my office email on donuts, there were dozens of notifications from people posting wishing me a happy birthday. Some in their own, unique way.  One of the most unique ways was “Happy anniversary of the first time you were pooped on.” Some of these people I haven’t seen in decades. More than a few I have never met face-to-face (not such an unusual thing in this electronic age). For me there is something about someone taking a moment of their time while on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network to wish me a happy birthday. I guess what I mean is that it is an old person’s thing to consider your life in connections and not material things.

Then again, that may just be me.

And even though my “official” celebration is a week and a half out at the next Burgers Beers and Beatdowns for the next UFC pay per view, I wanted to do a thank you to each and every one of you that took a moment to brighten my day. Us old folks need that now and again. Now get off of my lawn, ya damn kids! *shakes cane* 😉

Burgers, Beers and Beatdowns… and Birthdays

79 Baby Gorilla FightSo there is no UFC pay-per-view fight in January, but two in February. Or, as it is called in Casa de Zombie, Birthday Month. Seriously, there are at least four family birthdays that month. But for the purposes of this exercise we’ll focus on the mid-month. My son and I were born on the same day and we are the two (of three total people at Casa de Zombie) with the February birthdays. This means the Burgers Beers and Beatdowns is definitely happening, we just have to choose which one. I plan on posting to the “Facebook Machines” to get the feelings of the usual attendees, but I figured I would also post it here to get everyone’s opinion.

This of course assumes you have an opinion on the MMA fights put on by UFC and the women’s divisions they have started.

The choices are between…

UFC 156 – Aldo vs. Edgar (Feb 2)

Top card is a featherweight fight. Aldo is a striker, where Edgar is an ex-wrestler with more of a ground game. Complete with the dual heads of cauliflower on the sides of his head like he’s from Alderaan. Looks like a standard 145 pound fight.


  • The ticket looks to have only a half dozen listed so far.
  • Not a strong fan of either Aldo or Edgar


  • Rashad Evans fights Antonio Nogueira in the undercard
  • Alistair Overeem fights Antonio Silva in the undercard

UFC 157 – Rousey vs. Cartmouche (Feb 23)

Top card is the first title fight in the women’s ranks. A bantam weight fight between Ronda Rousey (a well-balanced striker and submission fighter) and Liz Cartmouche (a similarly skilled fighter). Looks to be an interesting fight between two equally skilled fighters, not to mention a historical one. Also, I’m interested to see Rousey fight live.


  • Only 4 undercard fights listed
  • Most fights are feather weight and lower


  • Dan Henderson fighting Lyoto Machida in the undercard
  • Chad Mendes fighting Manny Gamburyan in the undercard
  • a couple of strong ground game/submission fights


I’m leaning towards the Rousey fight on the 23rd. Neither of the fights land on or near our actual birthday. By the strength of the ticket I am more interested in the later fight. I am open to debate to change in either direction.

Either way, I will be talking to my son to see what he’d like to see on our menu. Black and Blues will be there no matter what – tradition and all. Instead of cupcakes, we’ll likely see a cake of some sort in there.


Day 10 Nano – Go Nanos, It’s Your Birthday…

Okay, not really all nanos. In an e-mail to one of the Nanowrimo Authors featured on the site, I stated I would likely be in a haze on November 10th so I wished her an early happy birthday. Ironically I ran into a friend who reminded me what day it was.

If you are lost by a very vague introduction, then you are not alone. The author I am speaking of is Cylithria Dubois who was featured in a Q&A on the main page of Nanowrimo. If you did not read the feature on her, you really should – it is an inspiring read. If you are looking at a word count that leaves something to be desired and you are starting to lose hope, read about what she overcame to make a win in Nanowrimo. And if you are local to Madison, make your way out to a write-in and I will kick your butt into gear Public Authorin’ style as good as any Gunnery Sergeant! You will make that word count!

But this blog is about more than just Cylithria and her win during last year’s Nanowrimo. It is about more than just keeping yourself motivated to write and meet that goal. It is about this young marine and every soldier like her. For those of you unfamiliar with the tradition, all marines share this day as their birthday.

I am sacrificing some of my Public Authorin’ time to write this entry to wish Cylithria and every other marine out there that reads this a heartfelt birthday wish. For each and every one of those marines (not to mention members of all branches of our armed forces) I want to thank you all for your involvement in ensuring my ability to sit in this coffee shop, drink way to much coffee and write a novel that may or may not see publication. I appreciate all of you and everything you do for us.

In ending, happy birthday. Now all of you give me one of those marine yell so I can hear you all out there. And any of you marines that are Nanos, I will see y’all at the finish line!