Category Archives: Conspiracies Out To Get Me

Natural selection: Survival of the rudest

Humans may be the most evil animals on Earth, but raccoons surely are a close second.

Certainly they are the most inconsiderate animals on Earth.

Right bastards, they are, raccoons.

Whoa, Ian, what’s with the raccoon hate? What, you ask, have these cute, cuddly-looking little bandits ever done to you?

Plenty. They’ve had it in for me from day one, and you’re a naive fool to see them as anything but the thieving, conniving bastards that they are. To wit:

  • As a small child, a raccoon mauled our beloved family pet, a soft, cuddly, and thoroughly un-maul-worthy bunny rabbit.
  • Frequently while camping, raccoons have raided my campsite, stealing the heavy food I packed in. And, surprisingly, all the beer. Though I haven’t ruled out my campmates on that.
  • On one camping trip, the raccoons broke into my car and stole all the Blake Shelton CDs that somehow found themselves, against all odds, in my car. They left all the classical music CDs untouched.
  • A few months ago, a domestic dispute between two raccoons unfolded on my roof. Loudly. At two in the morning.
  • Regularly while driving at twilight, I see raccoons skulking about the street corner storm drains, a shifty glint in their eyes. Clearly up to no good.

As I said, the most inconsiderate animals on Earth.

Which brings to me last weekend, when they went from inconsiderate to just f*cking with me.

About six months ago, my beloved kiddos, playing in the backyard, decided that throwing toys on the roof and then asking big, gullible ol’ Daddy to get them was the bestest, funnest game in the world.

Teenage Mutant Smug Turtle, more like

This crime fighter doesn’t inspire confidence.

It took me about three rounds of this sport to catch on, at which point I flatly refused to go back up and fetch their latest volley, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doll, a plush stuffed animal that shouted TMNT catchphrases when flung against hard surfaces.

Such as the ground and roofs with slate shingles.

So up it stayed on the roof, through sun and rain and wind. My refusal to recover it instantly converted this into their favorite toy. The kiddos still cry themselves to sleep at night, mourning the loss of that toy and cursing not just my name, but the date of my birth.

Which I find ironic, given if their curses against my birth had any weight or power, there would be no them to curse me.

Time travel has its paradoxes, and so too, it turns out, does black magic.

I’ve attempted to explain to them the dangerous lack of logic in such a curse, in case it turns out they do have magical powers, but apparently six-year olds aren’t that good at understanding where babies come from or how their Daddy’s genetics contributed greatly to who they are.

And as they are still six, I have no enthusiasm for the birds and the bees conversation yet because I know, when I make the Missus give it to them, I will bear the brunt of her irritation at making her do it.

So the kiddos, not understanding, just wail anew and spit at me.


(I will say, the spitting is an improvement over their pre-potty training days, when they found less pleasant things close at hand to fling at me when expressing their disdain.)

But speaking of bastards, back to the raccoons.

Last Sunday, I retired to bed early. I’d recently been tasked to hire an engineer at work, and the lovely recruiter scheduled an 8am phone screen with the latest candidate.

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. If the sun wasn’t essential for all life on Earth, I would have it snuffed out just to sleep in an extra five minutes. This is how I feel about getting up early, let alone being well-rested when I rise.

So I not only had to be at work at the normal start time, but I had to be sharp and pleasant and ready to talk to potential talent.


Greatest (British) American hero

Hence the retiring early, despite the Missus’ entreaties to finish watching Agent Carter with her on the DVR. I’d sat through the first hour, quite enjoying the episode, but it was one of those ‘two hour events’ networks often put on to generate excitement about a program, and I simply could not stay up another hour.

I left my poor Missus, wailing and gnashing her teeth at my absence from her side as she watched the second hour without me, and went to bed.

Except shortly after closing my eyes, I heard something in the crawlspace above my bed.

Well, possibly in the crawlspace. Or possibly on the roof.

It’s surprisingly hard to tell, when lying half-asleep in the dark, whether the thump thumps you hear above you are on the roof, in the crawlspace, or maybe the result of some Lovecraftian beast walking upside down on the ceiling directly above you.

I am not a morning person because the night terrors that arise from my twisted, dark imagination keep me up at night.

I am a morning person out of necessity.

I struggled awake. I threw on the lights. I reached for the cricket bat next to my bed.

Nothing on the ceiling, thank the Old Ones.

Still some thump thumps, though.

I went outside, still clutching that cricket bat, and checked the roof as best I could in my PJs, bare feet, and with no ladder.

Nothing, which told me a truly shifty bastard was at work.

Naturally, my thoughts went immediately to raccoons.

I went back to bed, light left on, and tried to doze off. All was silent and right with the world.

At first.

But then the thump thump again. Only this time, something new:

The Thing On The Roof (henceforth known as TTOTR): Thump Thump “Cowabunga!” Thump thump
Me: WFT?
TTOTR: Thump thump “Totally awesome, dudes!” Thump thump
Me: OMFG! The neighborhood teenage hooligans are playing on my roof, and they brought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doll with them! I mean action figure, I added, knowing they’d correct me as such had they heard my thoughts. Such are the teenage hooligans in my neighborhood – smug.
TTOTR: Thump thump “Cowabunga” thump thump I taunt you with my spooky ambiguity thump thump

I abandoned raccoons for teenage hooligans because come on, what raccoon plays with toys on a stranger’s roof in the middle of the night? It defies all logic.

I rose again from bed, blearly-eyed and more than a little put out. This time I went to the backyard, where a ladder leans against one wall of the house, left over from that game, many months ago, of Daddy Fetch From the Roof.

I climbed the ladder, and because I was tired and I couldn’t find a proper flashlight, used my cell phone for illumination.

Let me just say, when attempting to see something in the dark from far enough away that you have time to successfully climb down a ladder and flee in case said thing decides to charge you, a cell phone light is not sufficient.

This thought is the very one that went through my head as I alighted that ladder. It was not a comforting thought.

Made all the moreso by the fact that I couldn’t climb the ladder, hold my cell phone, and hold a cricket bat at the same time.

I felt naked.

Yes, my PJs are slight and flimsy (and mostly see-through), but I’ve never felt naked in them before.

Of course, I had forgotten all about the kiddos’ little game and the toy left up there as I ascended that ladder. I just knew that something very wrong was happening on my roof, and while I really, really had no desire to see what exactly that wrong was, the only way to get some sleep was to investigate.

I don’t do my best thinking when I’m tired.

Fortunately, in moving the ladder into position, I’d made a lot of grunting, groaning, and “Ow!”ing sounds. This, apparently, alerted the bastard raccoon on the roof that I was coming.

I was back to raccoons at this point because once my head cleared the eave and saw no living creature there, I knew only a raccoon could have slipped off so stealthily.

Almost like a ninja.

Teenage hooligans tend to make a lot more noise disembarking my roof in a hurry.

I speak from experience on that count…

The only thing to greet me, as I tottered on the top rung of my ladder, surveying my roof, was the now silent and dismembered TMNT doll.

This battle goes to you, raccoon, but the war goes on.

As is natural in these situations, I paused for a moment in order to tweet about it. I then scraped the remains off the roof, carried them into the kiddos’ room, and with a scream fit to reanimate a thoroughly dead-due-to-mauling toy, woke them so they might see the logical conclusion of fun had at Daddy’s expense.

I explained, as my father once explained to me while I lay sick in bed one morning, that a raccoon had mauled their precious, beloved companion.

There was much crying and wailing after this. Mostly from the Missus, who was not happy that I had awakened the kiddos in the middle of the night and distressed them so.

But they were out of school for the whole week and didn’t need to get up early like I did.

Why should I be the only one to suffer?

I am living proof that humans are the most evil animals on the planet. At least when they’re really, really tired.

No doubt the kiddos will carry on that tradition when, years from now and despite my protests to the contrary, they decide it’s time to unplug Daddy from life support.

Holy Disemboweled Ninja Turtles, Batman, the shingles on this roof look, well, OK, actually!

In case you thought I made this whole horrifying story up…

Yes, I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. It hasn’t just been raccoons depriving me of sleep and leaving me too stressed out and exhausted to post.
I had pretty much given up on life, and by extension, this blog, but then the raccoons came, and their outrageous disregard for common decency fired me up again. Gave me the will to live. Endowed within me a newfound zest for life (or at least revenge…).



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Based on my example, they probably think we’re lazy too.

Not up for the usual blog entry today, so instead I give you this little gem:

The Swiss think we’re idiots. And by “we’re” I mean Americans.

It wasn't until I turned fourteen that I figured out the corkscrew was for wine bottles and not nose-picking. Explains all those looks I got on camping trips.

Then again, I saw this and was still stupid enough to buy the knife.

They’re wrong, of course. In reality, poor implementations of autocorrect are responsible for our lackluster image abroad.

Shame on you, Steve Jobs. Shame on you.



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Why being a best-selling author is overrated and you should be relieved – RELIEVED – not to be one

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned to come to terms with a lot of things.

Not being an astronaut.

Not being an airline pilot.

I think in this dream, I forgot to use conditioner. The hair is long and glorious, but smacks of a hint of stringy.

This image from my dreams shows me wearing my astronaut jumpsuit just before boarding my rocket ship, crewed by the Swedish Bikini Team, who are all PhDs in Astrophysics, making me look like an idiot. As usual.

Not having the sort of comely locks of hair that make women go all atwitter when they see me, especially when I flip that glorious, glorious mane.

Not even having the sort of hair that you can grow long without it looking all oily and stringy.

These were hard truths to accept.

But perhaps the hardest truth to swallow was not becoming a best-selling author.

Yes, I had dreams. The dreams every author has:

Dreams of fabulous wealth.

Of being recognized wherever I went.

Of hobnobbing with celebrities.

Adored by fans the world over.

A subject of special interest to the beady-eyed lizard people who secretly run the world.

Alas, none of this was to come to pass.

(Except those bastard lizard people. They’re watching me. They’re watching me now. They’re always watching me.)

But, as with all childish things, I came to terms with it.

OK, I didn’t.

I am still deeply bitter that I am not the first best-selling author who flew his own plane to the launchpad before blasting off to his home on the moon, a crowd of beautiful women in the wake of his wind-swept, waist-long hair.

Instead, I had to find a way to cope.

Let me tell ya, compared to having your dreams come true, coping sucks.

But what other choice do you have?

In order to get past my crushing disappointment, I looked for the silver lining.

How does one go about this silver lining finding?

Simple. Imagine you had what you wanted.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say I am a world-renowned, best-selling author.

Hey, you in the back! No snickering!

What would happen if I had attained this lofty goal?

First off, I’d be fawned over by devoted fans.

Many of them male, no doubt, but a certain sizable percentage would indubitably be young, attractive women.

Women half my age plus seven years, give or take.

This leads to problems. Because I know myself, and I know that all that love and adoration would go to my head.

Very quickly.

Especially when bestowed by beautiful young women half my age plus seven years, give or take.

Not so much with the men half my age plus seven years.

They, paradoxically, would be no threat to my marriage whatsoever.

Who knew?

Inevitably, I leave my wonderful wife, who I don’t deserve, and kids, who I will blame for the divorce, because that’s the kind of jerk dad I become once famous and vain.

And start dating a woman half my age plus seven years, who I meet at a convention celebrating the iconic movie series based on my best-selling novels.

Now I’m not attracted to dummies, so eventually this shrewd woman will get me to marry her, sans a prenup.

The wedding announcement has consequences. Primarily, it shatters the uneasy cease-fire between the ex-Missus and I.

The ex-Missus will engage in a bitter alimony and custody suit, making me a tabloid target and generally causing me a great deal of grief.

My kids will come to spit derisively when they speak my name, on those rare occasions they deign to acknowledge my existence.

My new marriage will be seemingly fun at first, but quickly descend into a living hell.

And why wouldn’t it?

The neo-Missus will suddenly realize that the middle-aged man who leaves his first middle-aged wife is likely to do the same to the second wife when she attains middle-agedom.

She will spend the next few years feverishly hoping I’ll age out of my sex drive before she hits her forties.

That fear will fester within her, eventually driving her towards a torrid affair with a man half my age plus zero.

Also, full-on, murderous hatred towards me.

In the end, I’m a cuckolded fifty-something year old who ends up murdered by his neo-Missus with a padded toilet seat.

It is not a pretty crime scene.

But before that, the stress and strain of my failing marriage and constant media attention, not to mention all the internet trolls leaving comments on my blog, takes its toll on my creativity.

My post neo-Missus books open to more and more bad reviews and fewer and fewer sales.

The movie franchise is destroyed by a sequel directed by Joel Schumacher (a pox upon his house), and now my books serve as the punchline in darkly unfunny jokes.

By the time of my undignified death, I am a penniless, unloved, forgotten literary footnote, a ‘Who was that guy who wrote that one good book and then sucked for the rest of his life?’ question asked during trivia contests at bars.

The answer to that question is, invariably, ‘There was a good book?’

By being a miserable failure as a writer, I avoid all that.

And there’s the silver lining.

So in all honesty, I’m probably better off not being a bestseller.


But a man can dream, can’t he?

1 Comment

Posted by on 3 December 2014 in Angst, Conspiracies Out To Get Me, Life, Writing


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A Practical Guide to Dealing with Government Surveillance

Worried the government is watching you?

Wondering what you can do about it?

Should do about it?

Well, first off, don’t let those friendly Feds intimidate you.

They’re just ordinary working Joes like you and me.

Except they have guns and can get all into your business.

But other than that, really nice folk.

Sure, I was a bit surprised when the NSA agents pounded on my door at 3am this past Saturday, sternly informing me it would be best for all involved if I didn’t publish this blog post.

Surprised and impressed. I hadn’t written this yet, or even planned it, and still they knew.

They knew…

But I wasn’t intimidated.  Inconvenienced by the need to change my underwear? Yes.

But intimidated? No, sir.

The first thing to accept, if you ever hope to cope with being under the extrajudicial microscope, is that you aren’t going to beat the government.

They have the Terrorist card, see? They play that one, and they can do just about anything they want.

So once you’re in Uncle Sam’s crosshairs, you better hope you’re wearing your best, sharpest bulletproof vest.

You know, the one that goes so nicely with your foil top hat.

If Auntie Samantha has decided to keep a worried eye on you, get used to the unwanted gaze.

She isn’t shy, and that gaze ain’t going nowhere.

That said, you can still have fun.*

So achieve acceptance as quickly as possible, find a clean pair of tighty whiteys, and look for the positive.

For no matter how tarnished it may be, there is a silver lining.

There is at least one civil servant, and more likely several, for whom you are the center of the universe.

Think about that.

Relish in the thought of all those tax dollars being spent on you.


Makes you feel kinda special, doesn’t it?

And just because you’re being shadowed by CIA spooks doesn’t mean you can’t have a joke or two at their expense.

They’ll love it. All the three-letter acronym agencies of the government are famous for their highly developed senses of humor.

Here’s what I recommend, to keep those spies on their toes and a spring in their step:

When you go for a walk, always bring along a piece of chalk.

I do.

I like to stop in front of a light pole, or a utility closet on a street corner, or the entrance to a pedestrian underpass, and draw an inconspicuous mark with the chalk.

The local anti-gang squad here refers to me as “The Russian” because of my trademark scythe and hammer drawings.

Pro tip: if your mark is in paint, the cops can beat you and then arrest you on graffiti charges.

If it’s in chalk, they can only beat you.

And then call in the Feds, who arrest you on espionage charges and makes you do a perp walk on the steps of the Hall of Justice.

Boy, that was a laugh a minute!

(I wasn’t kidding about wearing your best, sharpest bulletproof vest. There are a lot of press photographers at those perp walks.)

Assuming you don’t get taken down by a division of rogue cops after leaving your mark, you can smile as you walk off, secure in the knowledge that someone just got tasked to watch that spot and photograph everyone who walks by it.


Which is why I always leave three marks on my walks.

Any more than that, and they begin to suspect you’re trolling them.

And if, unlike me, you’re in prime physical shape, why not give that FBI tail a workout?

You know, long, meandering walks (often called ‘bracing’) punctuated with sudden, all-out sprints.

Nothing gets the old Federale heart a pumping like the belief that the subversive you’re following is trying to shake you.

Or better yet, run up to said agent and, while hugging her, slip a note with some random numbers on it into her pocket.

Now she’s got extra paperwork to fill out, and she’s under a cloud of suspicion too.

Share the love!

I also recommend saving your household garbage and trash.

The nastier, the better.

If you’ve got young children, save those poopy diapers.

Each day, before you go out of the house, stuff some of that nasty refuse in a nondescript, brown paper bag.

Hug the bag tight while you walk.

Better yet, hold it under your coat.

If you own a trench coat, wear it.

A trench coat totally seals the deal.

Then, when you reach a public trashcan (maybe next to that underpass entrance?), look around furtively before dropping the bag, gingerly, into the waste receptacle.

Those government bastards won’t just get their hands dirty; they’ll tie up a lab for weeks analyzing the contents of that bag.

On second thought, if you don’t want to get arrested on a weapons charge, better not use the dirty diapers.

For those of you less inclined towards physical activity and open spaces, you don’t have to go outside and get all sweaty if you want to mess with ’em. You can do it from your own home!

(Don’t do this from the office.)

(Seriously, don’t.)

(You will lose your job.)

(Took me three times to learn that lesson!)

When you’re surfing the web, browse Amazon for biohazard suits.

The supple fabric breathes, allowing me to breathe. Which is way better than that plastic bag I was using before.

I wear this because I am a Science ninja! Also, the mask is surprisingly comfortable.

Don’t buy one – the good ones are expensive (…I’ve heard…) – just make sure your browser cookies are turned on and…linger over the different models of protection against biological and radiological weapons.

Believe me, that gag’s a real gas.

I also highly recommend posting random messages on Craigslist, to give those poor saps at the NSA sniffing your network traffic something to ponder:

Danish Red cow seeks Vespa motor scooter to ponder this truth: the owls are not what they seem.

You could also encrypt all your emails, but let’s face it, the NSA cracked PGP years ago.

These are but a few of the things you can do to lighten the mood and break the tension when you’re suspected of being a dissident or worse.

But I am hardly the epitome of imaginative or creative. I’m sure you can come up with far better suggestions.

In fact, I’d love to hear your ideas. Feel free to share them here in the comments.

Let’s make subversive activity funny again.

* All of this assumes, of course, that you have nothing to hide.


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Think of the children! (Instead of ignoring them in favor of social media)

Walking past the kiddos’ room one recent evening, I heard crying.

“Daddy,” my son said, when he was still sobbing twenty minutes later so I relented and went in, “I don’t want to grow up, because if I do, I won’t be able to fit in your lap any more.”

I asked him to repeat that, because all I heard after “because if I do” was “I couldn’t be a Toys R Us kid.”

After he repeated himself, I sat down, forming a lap, and patted him over.

“Don’t worry,” I said as he plopped down on my legs, cutting off all circulation. “As you grow, I’ll just eat lots and lots of food so I get bigger.”

My son considered these words for a moment, and then burst into a new round of tears. “But Daddy,” he objected, “if you get bigger, you’ll break the house!”

This. My son fearing I’ll expand beyond the capacity of my house walls due to overeating.

This is why I have given up on social media.

Or at least dialed it way, way back.

Now a lot of folks who are going off-line or getting off the grid these days whine and drone on and on about corporate snooping and unconstitutional government surveillance.

Well, they can keep their tin foil hats. Those things are not my style.

And they’re utterly ineffective against government mind control rays.

If you want to properly shield your brain, you need to go lead or gold foil. Which is expensive and uncomfortable.

Not to mention, it gets you strange looks walking down the street.

(And mugged, more often than not, when it comes to the gold foil hats.)

But for me, social media had become an addiction that distracted me from family time and writing/editing time.

Also, work time, but that was more of a benefit than a disadvantage, in my view.

So, over the recent holiday weekend, I quit the internet cold turkey.

Just for the weekend, mind you, as an experiment to see how I fared. I’m not crazy.

The results?

The biggest benefit was that, with the mobile data setting on my phone off, my battery life went way up. Like 10% improvement up.

I know. Impressive.

The secondary benefit was I became aware of this strange, seemingly-but-actually-not intangible aura surrounding me.

The Missus, upon my commenting on this dawning awareness, snorted and said it was called ‘reality’.

I like reality. There are people and places and things that I can actually touch, feel, taste, and smell.

OK, the smell aspect isn’t always a winner, especially with kiddos still in diapers, but overall, a very worthwhile experience. Especially kissing. It feels way nicer to kiss real lips than displayed lips during a Skype session.

Last but not least, I must point out that during my 72 hours of disconnect, I didn’t miss the internet.

Considering how obsessive I am when it comes to checking for likes on Facebook, retweets on twitter, and visits on my blog, this came as quite a surprise.

How much of a surprise?

Well, usually when writing a blog post, I pause six or seven times during the writing to see if any of my other posts have gotten a hit since I last checked.

This post? Haven’t checked once.

Well, more than once.

Or twice.

The point is, I’m getting better. I’ve proven to myself that I don’t need it as much as I need things like food, water, and oxygen.

Even though it used to feel like I did need it, and in this order of priority:

  • Internet access
  • Oxygen
  • Ice cream
  • Soda
  • Food
  • Water
  • Hot baths with scented candles and Tangerine Dream playing in the background

The long weekend is over now, and obviously, since this blog entry exists, I have not given up on the internet entirely.

But I have scaled way back.

And in doing so, I’ve found I have more time and, more importantly, more patience around my family, friends, and coworkers.

(Since my boss told me I had to develop more patience over my probationary period, this is a double win for me!)

No longer do I view these ‘reality’ interactions as annoying but apparently mandatory distractions from being on-line and getting the latest status updates on people I’ve never met.

You know what else I did with this additional free time?

I  got back to editing my next book, Balloons of the Apocalypse. The sequel I’d originally planned to release this May, but which sat ignored on my computer for months. Why?

Because after I’d gritted my teeth through my work day, and then endured the dull agony of family time, I only had enough energy for one more thing. And when forced to choose between my indie writing career and on-line friends’ social updates, I chose the latter.

The latter plus watching that video of a wombat improbably attired in a Speedo wrestling with, and then eating, a python wearing a fedora.

I miss that video. It is awesome, but I’ve lost the link. Anyone have it?

But I digress. The point is, until completing this off-line experiment, I had no idea the former option, or any non-social media option, for that matter, was even a viable choice.

Turns out it is a viable choice.

The more you know.

You’re welcome.

Need a breakdown to decide if quitting social media is for you? Happy to oblige, because I’m a public service kinda guy.

Pros of internet and social media

  • That guy you follow on twitter because he’s a writer too? See exactly what he had for lunch today
  • Find out the horoscope for Libra even though you aren’t a Libra, or believe in horoscopes, because that very nice lady in Cleveland, Ohio (or so her profile claims) shares hers. Every. Day.
  • Discover the dinosaur-murdering truth about Steven Spielberg (that a-hole!)
  • Develop a deep and abiding hatred for family and friends because they are constantly interrupting your attempts to catch up on Facebook
  • Have a faceless, uncaring government build a detailed dossier on you based on where you surf, what you post, and what you buy, solely so they can predict your every behaviour, and when democracy is overthrown, know exactly where to send the shock troops to arrest you
  • Have a faceless, uncaring corporation build a detailed dossier on you based on where you surf, what you post, and what you buy so that they can make money off you without compensating you. Also, so they can predict when someone in your household is pregnant and send you coupons for baby formula. Actually, that one might be kinda handy…
  • The warm, cozy, but totally unwarranted belief that every time you tweet a link to buy your book on Amazon, it’s clicked on by thousands of eager fans-to-be. Or hundreds. Or even one

Cons of internet and social media

  • Incensed hatred of anyone, especially young children, who want you to forsake the internet in order to meet their social interaction needs
  • Lower productivity
  • Can cause Repetitive Motion Injuries and/or flare-ups
  • If a lot of the people you follow are female writers of a certain age, they have this thing called Beefcake Friday, where they barrage your feed with unwanted pictures of muscular, shirtless, well-oiled men, often fire fighters, which, coupled with the lower productivity already mentioned above, makes you feel even more inadequate as a man. Also, wouldn’t being slathered in oil make a fire fighter more flammable? Is that wise?
  • Cancer

I’ve done the math, and I didn’t even need a calculator! I will be doing a lot less internetting going forward. Which is good news for my family, coworkers, and anyone waiting for my next book.

But it’s very bad news for my oncologist. My poor, poor oncologist.


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Lovemaking secrets of the Hurricane Spin Mop

So the other night I was flipping through the channel guide on my TV and one channel was showing something called “Lovemaking Secrets.”

I was intrigued.

This is not to say that I have anything to learn in bed.

Quite the contrary. I’m always teaching the Missus new stuff.

How do I know?

I ask her. We’re very big on communication.

Me: “Hey baby, did I teach you anything new this time?”

The Missus: (every time) “Yeah. Self-reliance.”

So I must be pretty good, right?


But never one to assume he has reached his full potential, I decided to take a peek at this exclusive content on something called the BUYIT2 channel.

Worse case, I’d be laughing at their entry-level lessons, right?

Turns out it was an infomercial for the Hurricane Spin Mop.

I admit, I was confused.

“What could I possibly learn about being a good lover from a spin mop ad?” I asked aloud.

In the other room, I heard a “Ha!” from the Missus.

See? Ridiculous to think I could learn anything from a cleaning appliance ad.

But curiosity (and something about the tone of that laugh) got the best of me and I decided to watch.

First, they started mopping the floor.

Makes sense, clean the floor before being intimate on it. As expected, pretty basic.

Not necessarily comfortable, but basic.

And in this case, the floor could really use the mopping. Ick.

Then the presenter took the head of the mop and shoved it into a narrow bucket.

Ah ha, I get where you’re going there, I thought, chuckling to myself knowingly.

Just how fast is the head supposed to spin? Is the amount of lubricant directly proportional to RPM?

This demonstration proved to be too clinical for me. And confusing. And disconcerting.

Then she pulled the mop out, the head spinning rapidly as it exited.

Hmm. OK. This is…new.

Now they had lost me.

Evidently, there are some features and capabilities of my anatomy that I haven’t sussed out yet.

know they never talked about this spinning in Sex Ed, and my parents certainly never mentioned it to me.

You’d think something like that would definitely make ‘The Talk.’

Unfortunately, the ad was long on metaphors and short on concrete explanation. When I asked the Missus about it, she just laughed.

That’s when I knew I’d blown it – clearly this phenomena is something obvious that everyone knows already.

So as amazing as it sounds, it turns out I do still have a few things to learn about lovemaking.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m a better person for knowing I have more to know.

So now I’m going to do some google searches on the subject of spinning…well, this is a family friendly blog, so, you know. Spinning those thingies.

As written explanations may not be clear enough, I better do an image search, to make sure I get a full understanding.

Afterward, I think I’ll teach the Missus some more ‘self-reliance,’ whatever she means by that. I’m already pretty good at it.


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Working together, we can end the scourge of Vivid Imagination Syndrome

Imagination is a curse.

What’s that, you ask? Did the indie author just call imagination a curse? Isn’t a vivid imagination a writer’s bread and butter?

Sure it is. But bread comes in a variety of types, and butter is perishable.

Sometimes imagination is a slice of warm sourdough dripping with whipped butter, taking me on an amazing journey that I’ll be forever grateful for and eager to relive.

Mmm, warm buttered sourdough…

And sometimes it’s chunky rancid butter spackled onto a stale Dutch crunch roll, curdling my tongue and leaving bloody gouges on the roof of my mouth.

Gouges that take several days to heal, and then I have to deal with that annoying flap of dead skin until it finally falls off.


A vivid imagination is all roses and scented oils when I get something good.

When the perfect plot twist manifests.

When the ideal line of dialog materializes from nowhere.

When a new character comes to life and demands, demands to be written on the page.

But then, then I see a penny on my car seat.

What do the non-writers, or the ‘mundanes’ as I like to call them, think when they see a coin?

I’ll tell you. They think, “Huh, that penny must have fallen out of my pocket.”

What does someone afflicted with VIS, or Vivid Imagination Syndrome, think?

I’ll tell you. And in this particular case, since it actually happened, I can tell you in iron clad detail:

Don't touch it! Concentrated evil! Nasty stuff!

This is the moment the shiny, glowing-with-radioactive-energy penny dropped.

Huh, someone broke into my car and left a penny on the seat.

But they were careful to hide the fact of the break-in, leaving the windows and locks intact. How did they do that?

And why? Why so careful to hide their criminal trespass?

It must be a trap!

Is that penny radioactive? Are they trying to kill me with buttock cancer?

And who? Who would want to kill little ol’ me, a beloved indie author with almost no readership?

The Missus? Is she trying to kill me? She does have a key to the car. But we’re happy.

Or are we?

Maybe it’s a government organization. They have the resources to break into a car undetected. But why me?

Is it because I’m destined to save the world, become a world-renowned hero who parlays that fame and recognition into the Presidency of the United States? And they, whoever they are, want to prevent that?


If not that, could it be my involvement with that shadowy writers’ collective, [REDACTED]?

Or is it [REDACTED] because they finally found out I’m working undercover for [ALSO REDACTED]?

Or is this whole radioactive butt-cancer penny just a red herring to distract me from a car bomb wired to the ignition?

This thought process goes on long enough for the Missus to call me and ask where the hell I am and why I’m taking so long to get home.

Aha! So it is the Missus!

Do you have any idea how long it takes to remove all four tires from your car, inspect the wheel wells, put all four tires back on, check the engine compartment and under the seats for bombs, and then safely dispose of a possibly radioactive penny?

Not as long as you’d think – I’ve gotten plenty of practice and keep tongs, a lead-lined bag, and a penny-holding rack in the trunk for just this sort of emergency.

The rack because you can’t let radioactive pennies get too close to each other – they may achieve critical mass.

And that’s just what I need, a smoking lump of drippy, radioactive copper (and zinc if the penny was made after 1981) in the back of my car.

This is the curse of imagination. Time lost inspecting cars and the like for traps, and money spent on tongs and lead-lined bags that, if I’m really honest with myself, I probably don’t need.

Plus the Missus is usually pretty steamed by the time I get back home.

Is it because I’m late, or because the assassination attempt failed?

And this affliction is not limited to pennies on car seats. Oh no.

When I sat down at the communal computer to write this post, I noticed the seat was warm.

Was it because the Missus had just been using the computer? Or is it because the seat is slowly irradiating my bum?

If they find my body with a shrunken, mostly missing ass, you know what happened.


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Writer’s Block – A Simple How To Guide To Creating It

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” they say.

“Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” they say.

“You have to make the time to write,” they say.

While I’d love to be living in they’s fictional world of Writopia, where time is elastic, the voice recognition is flawlessly accurate, and my responsibilities are mere suggestions, I am stuck here on Earth.

And it ain’t so easy down here in the world populated by reality and stuff.

They think writer’s block is just some abstract excuse for lazy writers to not write.

They are idiots. At best, well-meaning but naive idiots. At worst, insidious two-faced liars setting us up to fail.

Either way, I say they can kiss my posterior.

You’re not convinced, are you? You still see truth in those trite passages they feel compelled to share with us, don’t you?

You probably still put out cookies for Santa, alfalfa for the Easter Bunny, and think jury duty is a worthy civic duty.

Do yourself and your bank account a favor – don’t stockpile the alfalfa any more. It won’t change anything come Easter morning.

Want proof? Fine. I’ll give you proof.

Proof that I’m not just some lazy writer who hasn’t gotten around to writing because of intense personal apathy and a subconscious loathing of words.

Like Prometheus, I bring down to you the fire that is known as writer’s block.

Be warned. If you follow the simple steps I list below, you will get burned.

Oh yes, burned. Burned with the intensity of a thousand diaper rashes. All. Happening. At. Once!

Ian M. Dudley’s Surefire Recipe for Writer’s Block

(serves a family of four, best served with a lot of red wine)

One full-time day job
One or more kids, to taste
Requirement to potty train said kid or kids
One spouse or significant other
One house (or rental property) requiring constant upkeep
Optional: one or more medical conditions that impact free time or writing ability (tendonitis, extensive pending dental work, severe diaper rash, etc.)

Get up early to do some writing. Dress first, so you can get the maximum amount of writing before bolting out the door. Get interrupted by kiddo(s) waking now, demanding hugs and soaked in their own (you hope) urine. Put kiddo(s) on potty, find kiddo(s) clean clothes, make toast or something to stop incessant whining of kiddo(s) about being hungry.

Notice when kiddo(s) hugged you, your clothes also became soaked in (hopefully their) urine. Change into new outfit, noting that you just put on the last non-urine soaked shirt / pants / dress / sweats / whatever you own. Realize that dealing with kiddo(s) and clothes change has put you behind schedule. Skip breakfast to get to full-time day job only marginally late.

Skip lunch in order to write. Psych! Lunchtime meeting called because that was the only hour everyone still had available on their calendars.  Due to lack of breakfast, expend ludicrous amount of energy in not being snarky towards superior who called meeting. Eat crappy lunch that is served. Act nonchalant when some attendees ask if anyone else can smell urine.

If you have special dietary needs (e.g., vegetarian), quiver in rage at discovery that food offered is not compatible with your requirements.

If you have a nut allergy, seriously consider eating one of the PB&J sandwiches offered, just to end the misery.

Spend next hour dealing with stomach upset / constipation / food poisoning / allergic reaction that arises as a result of consuming sub-par lunch that was served.

Leave full-time day job early just this once. Yeah, right! Stay until daily 5pm meeting finally wraps up. Spend next hour and a half in traffic. Two blocks from home, glare at cause of traffic bottleneck: Critical Mass protest rally in middle of intersection. Then hit every remaining red light (there will be at least three in those final two blocks, including one construction site where traffic is slowed so they can install a traffic light).

Throw open front door of home and recharge soul in the gleeful hugs and greetings provided by spouse / significant other and kiddo(s). Just kidding! Spouse / significant other, having spent entire day with kiddo(s), has a not-even-remotely-concealed homicidal glint in eyes. Kiddo(s) greeting entails making you scream in pain (running full tilt into the family jewels is one example that comes to mind…from personal experience).

Fervently hope kiddo(s)-caused injury leaves you sterile.

Enter house and head straight for den / mancave / study to get some writing in before dinner. Oh, wait. There’s a mini lake in the kitchen, the result of the dishwasher exploding. Slip in said water, land on buttocks. Pass out from pain, allowing cold soapy water to soak into your (last set of clean) clothes. Come to, calm down spouse / significant other worried about your loss of consciousness, clean up mess. Then stare at disassembled dishwasher for ten minutes before ordering a new one online.

Check bank balance to see if you can afford new appliance. Take slow, deep breaths and an aspirin to try to quell the chest pains this triggers.

This also serves to remind you why you haven’t quit your day job.

Help spouse / significant other feed the kiddo(s). Endure tirade of “This is not my favorite / not what I want / yucky!” that follows. Scold, beg, cajole, and bribe kiddo(s) to eat at least one bite, and when this is accomplished deceive yourself into thinking it is a victory.

It is not a victory.

Eat your dinner – the cold, congealed remnants of the meal kiddo(s) refused to eat. Experience surge of dissatisfaction about said meal in addition to a complete lack of feeling full. Open and eat an entire bag of potato chips to compensate, then perceive yourself as fat and bloated for the rest of the evening. This is mitigated slightly by fact of kiddo(s) periodically snatching a chip out of your hands.

Try to hide write in den / mancave / study, but spouse / significant other’s howls of anguish at dealing with kiddo(s) for even one minute more force you to return. Endure/contain kiddo(s) while spouse / significant other hides in den / mancave / study not writing.

(Oh the irony.)

For each kiddo in the household, there will be at least three potty accidents, with a minimum of one involving solid waste that is only solid when using a very loose definition of the word. Hold back tears / vomit as you work through these trials.

At bedtime, put kiddo(s) to bed. Read favorite story to kiddo(s). When requested, stop and repeat favorite passages. Ad nauseum. When done, ignore pleas to not leave kiddo(s) alone in the dark.

Go to den / mancave / study to write. Ha! As if! Return to room of kiddo(s) every two minutes due to ear-piercing, soul-shaking screams. Soothe kiddo(s), explaining that the curtains aren’t ghosts / carpet is not trying to eat kiddo(s) / you do not have time to read another story / you cannot go to sleep in room with kiddo(s). Start making up vigilante characters, such as the Spank Fairy, who slips into rooms after dark to spank noisy children.

Be prepared to die a little inside when this ploy triggers laughter instead of silence.

After eighth trip to room of kiddo(s), lock door from the outside and put in earplugs. Go to den / mancave / study to write. Curses! Foiled again! Spouse / significant other now demands quality time. Pour entire focus of your being into spouse / significant other.

After marriage / relationship is on less shaky ground and spouse / significant other’s sanity marginally restored, go to den / mancave / study to write. Not! It’s after 11pm, you’re exhausted, and you need to get up early to write tomorrow morning. Go to bed.

Grind teeth in fury when spouse / significant other immediately falls asleep, leaving you to struggle to nod off in the wake of your partner’s ferocious snoring. Finally drift off shortly before 2am.

This is me on a GOOD day!

So. Tired.

Awaken at 2am to screams of kiddo(s). Rush into room to find kiddo(s), PJs, bedding, and carpet soaked in (hopefully just) urine. Turn to tell spouse / significant other it’s their turn, but stop short when you see the cold dead glint in their eyes.

It doesn’t matter what the tally indicates – it is your turn.

When finished, crawl into bed and just before drifting off, realize you forgot to start a load of laundry. You’d cry as you load the washing machine, but you have neither the energy nor the hydration to pull it off at this point.

On your way back to bed and the sweet, sweet embrace of slumber, you step on a toy.

A sharp, pointy toy.

The pain is nothing compared to the agony of discovering you are completely out of wine.

Repeat every day, except weekends when kiddo(s) cling to you every waking moment while exhibiting a pathological need to pound on anything they think even vaguely resembles a keyboard. You think I’m exaggerating, but I have been interrupted eleven times in the last ten minutes by my children, asking for irritating things like food, drink, and love.

It’s almost as if I’m cursed.

If anyone out there still naively thinks they have a suggestion for how to cure this writer’s block (that does not involve me ending up in jail / death row), feel free to chime in. Keep in mind that with the cost of replacing a major appliance every night, I cannot afford a nanny, and for some reason the Missus has explicitly forbade me bringing in a young, voluptuous live-in au pair.

I bet the kiddos would love an au pair.


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Hello Sir. I Am Recently Ousted Nigerian Minister of Memes with Cash Moneys For You

So I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award. By friend and fellow blogger Kit Campbell, she of the light brown-haired alpaca poetry and devoid of hair marauding landsquid fame.

I don’t know if this nomination is a compliment, a pity nomination, or merely an attempt to prod me into updating this blog.

Given the chaos in my life lately, and the need for an ego boost, I will assume the first.

But deep down, whispers that dark voice in my head, you know it’s really the second.

My deep down dark voice can be such a jerk when not telling me, in an Austrian accent, to kill them all before it’s too late.

Yes, my deep down dark voice has an Austrian accent. And not the friendly, “Ah’ll be baaack” Arnie kinda accent.

Evidently there are rules to this Liebster thing, including the requirement I meme-spam ten other bloggers with nominations in order to stay in the running.

Well, I’m not gonna do that. I don’t care if it means I won’t win. Thing’s probably fixed anyway.

I’ve done some digging into the Liebster Award and the shadowy organization behind it. Turns out these people (if they’re even people) are into some pretty shady stuff.

Unspeakable, hateful stuff I can’t mention here without leaving you in a nightmare-fueled, fetal-positioned coma.

Please don't turn me into a carpet - I want to grow up and live on a mysterious tropical island that inspires a great TV show that has a suck-ass finale.

Baby albino panda cubs have one natural enemy: club-wielding baby seals.

The worst of the speakable stuff is their involvement in the albino panda rug trade.

It sickens me to think about all those baby albino pandas, selectively bred in albino panda cub mills (kept icy cold to increase the odds of albino births) and then clubbed to death when their fur is at its most sexually potent.

Seeing someone lie on it does even less for me than eating the hair-ball inducing mess.

Oh, you’re supposed to *lie* on them! Dammit.

I don’t care how many people make up the collective wisdom of China, albino panda furs have absolutely no impact on sexual stamina or prowess.

I should know. I’ve eaten enough of the damn hides right before a date, and have yet to be declared a sex god.

Usually those sessions end with disappointed grunts or, more often, unfulfilled sighs.

You’d think the Missus would be resigned to it by now.

On a related note – albino panda hides, and probably other Ursidae hides, not only will spoil your appetite right before a dinner date, but also do not help with halitosis.

But I will, as I swirl the chocolate milk in my snifter, answer Kit’s deep and probing questions.

I’ve got to give the identity thieves something to go on, right?

What is your favorite ’50s-’70s era television?

Favorite? You mean I have to choose between Star Trek, Doctor Who, The Prisoner, The Dukes of Hazzard, Mork and Mindy, and Knight Rider?

Man, that’s a hard question. I’m going to go with Sanford and Son.

When did you decide to start a blog?

Shortly before my first book came out. Conventional wisdom was that in addition to having a hit song about your book on Spotify, you need to have an active blog, twitter feed, tumblr queue, and facebook account so people will magically be drawn to your books.

Didn’t work. First, I’m a terrible singer and the song never took off. Plus, due to some initial poor tagging decisions on my part, this blog only draws people seeking pictures of Blake Shelton naked.

It’s a little disturbing how many countries harbor mentally disturbed fetishists hankering for a hunk of Blake.

Is this your first blog?

Yes. And based on the warning letters I keep getting from the UN referencing Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, it will likely be my last.

Unless I ever get the time to launch my Blake Shelton Naked Fan Art blog. But before that can happen, I need to learn not just how to draw, but how to draw the naked male figure.

In freaky deaky positions.

Oh, and how to draw Blake Shelton.


What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Are we including the zillion Magic Tree House books I’ve read to my kiddos? Because that would make it tricky.

Let’s limit it to the last four days. In a fit of insanity, I’ve read four books in that period.

If you exclude the kiddos’ books.

I’m gonna go with Charles Stross’ The Fuller Memorandum, one of his Laundry Files novels. It’s British urban fantasy, sort of, like the Dreseden Files if Harry were an IT professional working for a spy agency that deals with Cthulhu.

They are awesome. I think one book won a Hugo.

Marvel or DC?

Huh? What does that mean? Did you mean do I marvel at the accomplishments of Thomas Edison and his amazing Direct Current?

Sorry, more of a Telsa fan.

Kirk or Picard?

Please. The answer is self-evident.

If a landsquid knocked on your door, would you give him a cookie?

Have you not read If You Give A Landsquid A Cookie? The consequences, they would be catastrophic. And not just for my home state.

Though I would understand if you haven’t read it. Apparently it went out of print…before the first edition even came out.


How does it make you feel that it is already October?

Happy. I love October.

The cool, grey skies.

The evening chill.

The thrumming impact of rain on the roof of my car as I am consigned by the Missus, yet again, to sleep in it after the albino panda fur once more fails me.

And, if I’m lucky, thunder and lightning.

Would you rather be attacked by ceiling turtles or a pack of telekinetic squirrels?

That’s a toughie. Couldn’t I be attacked by both instead, and then draw each to the attention of the other? Telekinetic squirrels are famously intolerant of turtles, and the turtles would take one look and think, “Oooh, squirrels. Where are the bird feeders they like to hang around and burgle? Bird seed is my second most favorite food, right after raw squirrel meat!”

But remind me to Scotch-guard my clothes first, so the blood comes off more easily.

If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?

A neo-steam pig. Domesticated, of course, and retired from the police force.

(They’re like greyhounds: once deemed unsuitable for their primary purpose – racing in the case of greyhounds, police brutality in the case of neo-steam pigs – they are euthanized if no one adopts them.

Which is just wrong. Unless the neo-steam pig is an IA rat. Then I say, bacon all around!


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For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee, mustache and goatee.

Today I announce the least sought after outcome from a game of Clue:

The Missus killed the mustache and goatee in the bathroom with an electric razor.

Oh sure, it wasn’t her hand that held the razor against my face and tore away my dear, treasured friends. But hers were the hands pulling the strings that lead to this sad act.

It all started a few months ago, when I stopped shaving.

Now many who know me would argue that given my utter inability to grow a proper beard, shaving is merely an act of wishful thinking, me play-acting at being all grown up and able to front thick, lustrous facial hair.

I can’t.

I freely admit this.

I can work up a good bristle after a few weeks, but even that is embarrassingly sparse.

But every few years, in a fit of deluded optimism and an over-developed sense of manliness (usually after partaking of too many Rocky Mountain oysters), I stop shaving in order to try, once more, to hide my weak chin.

It usually ends within a few weeks, when I have nothing to show for the effort except worried expressions from friends and coworkers who are wondering if I have some sort of skin disorder manifesting on my face.

Not so this time.

This time I endured the worried looks, and then, when the weeks passed into still more weeks, the derisive giggles and lopsided, poorly hidden grins every time someone saw me.

And then, when the still more weeks passed into months, something amazing happened.

Enough of my beard grew in that I could plausibly claim to have a goatee. And maybe, just maybe, if you squinted at my upper lip while passing me by at a sprint, a mustache.

Wasting no time, I began to stroke it thusly during meetings, usually immediately preceding a thoughtful comment or penetrating question asked by yours truly.

And lo, there was much rejoicing within the cramped confines of my ego.

Yes, there was gray hair, but still, it was a youthful goatee

The dearly departed: Had I waited an additional six months, the rest of the beard would probably have come in on my cheeks. Alas, it was not to be.

I was happy.

I felt manly.

I had attained completeness.

But the Missus, she was working against me the whole time.

Oh sure, at first she said nice things. And didn’t even giggle.


But then one night, as she rubbed her temples and complained yet again of her splitting headache, she asked that question so dreaded by any bearded man who has a spouse or significant other:

“As much as I’ve enjoyed dating the evil Ian, are you planning to keep that?”

Nothing so direct as, “Lose the beard or you’ll never get any ever again.” Now that I had a goatee and mustache, I was far too manly for such a tactic to work on me.

But the Missus, she is clever. With those little words, I began to have doubts.

Was there something wrong with my goatee?

Had she noticed what I always suspected about the mustache, that it was a mere wispy shadow of the thick, burly lip brow I imagined myself capable of?

If the Missus was willing to admit my facial hair fell short of her ideal be-bearded man, what about my other friends? Those who said it looked cool – were they just lying to spare my feelings?

And more importantly, were those really lice I saw climbing around in my goatee, or just a side effect of going off my meds for a month?

So, naturally, I was already in a fragile state this morning when one of my toddlers came up to me, no doubt at the Missus’ instigation, touched my mustache, then my goatee, and said, “Daddy, make that go away so you’ll be like the three of us.”

And by ‘three of us’, he mean himself, his brother, and his mother.

All three of whom have an alarmingly apparent lack of facial hair.

Actually, I worry about my sons. I don’t exactly have the ‘beard you can cut glass with’ gene, and assuming they get 50% of their facial hair genes from the Missus, they will be even less adept at growing the chin rug and cheeky carpet.

That thought keeps me up at night. The only way I can get to sleep is latching onto the hope that someday, within my kids’ lifetime, Science may perfect the beard transplant.

Until then, I will always fret.

But that comment, about being like them, was the nail in my beard’s coffin.

So, with a heavy heart, I poured myself a whiskey, my beard a last brandy snifter of Diet Tab, and then quietly, unassumingly, with nary a tear in my eye, made my way into the bathroom.

Yes, it was my heavy hand that raised the electric razor to my face, my quivering hand that shaved off the beloved, hard-fought for hairs, my shaking hand that lovingly gathered my fallen comrades into a warm, moist towel and buried them in the backyard.

But it was my puppet-master Missus pulling the strings.

I have to go now. The Missus has just informed me that her weeks-long splitting headache has finally lifted.

Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad about losing the beard. After all, it was awful itchy.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! Despite me being beardless, my books are still available!

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE, and a fine showcase for my artistic abilities!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)


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