Mad Jack Churchill: A real Life “Highlander” (like the movie, not the SUV)

Seriously, about halfway through I started laughing and just didn’t stop. His strategy for capturing German soldiers is like something from a Monty Python skit … except it worked!

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Yay! I finished a novel! Now what?

So the title basically sums it up. I feel like the dog that caught the car.

Thursday, October 12, 2017, I finished a novel I’d started planning in early July and begun writing on July 31, 2017.

Actually, this was my 2016 NaNoWriMo attempt. I “succeeded” in the flimsiest and most technical manner: I wrote 50,000 words, but they were spread across two stories, most of them were unusable, and neither story ever got finished.

So, Friday I didn’t do much writing, except think of a couple of small points that really needed to be added or clarified. Saturday morning I added those.

Then, I sort of stumbled around for most a week, trying to plan a second novel before NaNoWriMo came around November 1.

It had taken me a whole month to plan this novel, and it had already been partially planned and even partially written.

I have only half that time to plan the next novel, from scratch.

And I was all out of ideas. I was starting to get stressed. But then, on Thursday, October 19, a conversation with my wife just cracked everything open.

Yesterday, I got the lead character and what she wants, her motivation. I got the rough shape of the conflict, and part of the setting (my novels tend to involve a lot of travel, so there will be several settings).

I really feel like I can write this story, that it will hold my attention to the end, and, aiming I do my part, that other people will actually enjoy reading it.

I guess you just can’t force these things. But you can relax, read, look at cool pictures of fascinating places, listen to music you love,walk around outdoors, and let things brew.

You’ll be stuck until you’re not, and it will seem like a magic breakthrough, but it was really a result of feeding your mind, giving yourself silence to create, and taking the pressure off.

Darth Enjoyed the Eclipse

And so did we. I hope my little one remembers it (she’s 4 and 1/2). I know I will.

She spent most of the time decorating a shrub with sticks and leaves from other plants … the number of students and staff she convened to help or at least watch while she did it was pretty impressive, honestly.

But every few minutes she would get the glasses and look at the eclipse for a few seconds. then she’d go back to playing.

I alternated between watching it and passing the glasses around so the students could see it. Good times.

I got a few.shots, but nothing epic.

A Question from My Daughter

So my 3 year old asked me what the “no smoking” sign in our hotel room meant.

I said,  “Some grown ups have a bad habit of smoking cigarettes – they’re little paper sticks filled with tobacco. You light one end on fire and put the other in your mouth. It’s about as healthy as it sounds.”

That satisfied (or baffled) her, and she moved onto the next question. A 3 year old has no shortage of questions. 

I took a picture of the sign. She is responsible for turning it and the water bottle upside down.

And for turning our lives upside down, but in the best possible way.

Woof! I Caught the Car. Now What? 


This is a Pine64 single board computer with a 7″ touchscreen and a Playbox case.

I sponsored the Kickstarter back in January. The Pine64 board came almost on time, but some of the peripherals were delayed, and I didn’t want to start until I had everything.  I think the last component arrived in August. 

But this term has been crazy busy, so the Pine64 and friends sat in their bubble mailers.

On the last day of work this year, I stayed up until almost 3 am assembling the Pine64, installing the operating system, and troubleshooting it until it worked.

It really wasn’t a hard build,  but it was my first project of the kind: my first mobile or laptop build (though I’ve built desktops and done some minor laptop repairs and upgrades).

I am proud to have done it, but honestly, I’m not sure what to do with it now that it’s finished. 

The Playbox case is neither durable nor protective enough to use as a real tablet. A large gap exposes the Pine64 to all manner of dirt and debris. 

The instructions say to secure the battery in place with masking tape. Really? I jammed it into place with a taped portion of bubble mailer, but still.

C4 Labs recently released a better case that might make the Pine64 usable as a tablet.

I could add a hard drive and turn it into an over the air DVR. But we don’t watch anything over the air anyway. 

It has the power to be a media station,  but we have smart tv and a Fire Stick already.

So, um, a project for the sake of a project?

Any ideas?

Movies You Must See: The original HIGHLANDER

Although it’s been overshadowed by a stream of crummy sequels, an awful animated series, and a quite good in its own way TV show, the original 1986 Highlander starring Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, and Sean Connery deserves a serious watch.

It’s the first movie I’d seen about immortals that really addressed the issues that come with being immortal. The central love story between Connor and Heather, is poignant, moving, and powerful.

And although it does hew to the myth of redemptive violence, it does at least show Connor’s disillusionment with violence, his understanding that war – even a clan skirmish – is pain, loss, and suffering.

Even for an immortal.

Although his body heals from all wounds, he carries the scars from violence with him into the present day.

But that isn’t to say that the film is all grim. The dialogue is frequently witty, especially when Connor speaks with some of the less cultured police investigators. And of course Sean Connery is Sean Connery.

There’s a real operatic feel to many of the scenes between the immortals, especially when Clancy Brown’s Kurgan is involved.

And while Highlander is still a product of its times, its gender roles are pretty progressive for a mid-80’s action film. Brenda and Heather are both much more than just damsels or trophies.

I don’t want to say too much, since Highlander is so much better the less you know about it going in, but please, give it a watch. It is well worth your time, and one of the best movies to come out of the 1980’s.