Midian Ranch Blog

This is the web log for Midian Ranch, an isolated homestead in rural Nevada. It is owned by Jason and Tina Walters, whom are also its regular posters. This blog is exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of our friends, family, and colleagues.

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Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Friday, August 25, 2006

August 18th,19th,20th, and 21st

I am honestly not certain whether this weekend was pleasantly unproductive or unpleasantly productive. Perhaps it was a confusing mixture of the two. Tina, Snap, and I managed to get out of the Bay Area early enough on Friday to arrive out at the ranch at 11:30 - or "beer thirty" as my better half charmingly calls it. The next morning I wrote for a few hours before installing some library shelving and working on Tina’s office for a bit. Then I set up a somewhat crude exterior kill switch for the ranch house. I have no idea whether it meets code or not but I doubt that it matters, as code doesn’t apply to 12-volt off grid systems.

Earlier in the week I’d impulse purchased a cheapo $300 generator from Kragen as a temporary replacement for the Uptown’s broken one. I didn’t exactly have high hopes for it, but when I unboxed the sucker my jaw dropped: the damn thing is nice! It’s also quiet as hell, which it s a definite improvement over its clang-and-bang predecessor. I think that I’m going to relegate the old generator to backup and construction site duty after I repair it and use this new one Uptown from here on out.

On Sunday morning I went over to Dog Ranch, borrowed Ron’s forklift, and brought it back over while Tina got a bunch of UPS labeling stuff printed out in her office. Then we spent a few hours getting the warehouse ready for the massive, I say MASSIVE shipment of books coming in by TransWorld in the morning (more on this later). Then a series of guests began to arrive: Steve Stammers stopped by, followed by Bill and Novella who were passing through on their way down from Idaho. Then Ron and Dahlia stopped by for a mellow dinner on our "front lawn." I got a bit drunk and said a few off-color things which nobody seemed to mind too much - so, basically, a normal evening at Midian Ranch.

The next morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast, and went Downtown to meet both TransWorld and Roadway at the warehouse. TransWorld is our Reno based courier service. They were scheduled to bring in four pallets of freshly printed Hero books (Ultimate Skill and Sidekick, respectively) for immediate turnaround via UPS later in the day. Roadway is GenCon’s trucking company. We had them scheduled to bring in two pallets of material from the convention. Both are usually quite prompt and professional.

But not this time.

After about an hour of waiting past the scheduled drop off time, we went back to the ranch house to use the phone. First we called Roadway, who explained to us that they only drop off in the Gerlach area on Wednesdays and Thursdays. No big deal - the convention materials could certainly wait. They could have mentioned this policy to us when we set up the drop, off but no actual harm done. Then we called TransWorld, who explained to us that their driver for our area had quit without warning. There would be no TransWorld service to the area until they hired another driver. This was DEFINITELY a problem. These two titles needed to get to the distributors yesterday, and attending GenCon had already delayed our shipping them.

After listening to a tirade of profanity from big T that would have sent sailors running out of a Barbary Coast brothel, we decided to go into Reno and make a mad dash for the TransWorld loading dock after meeting the 4 PM UPS driver (that way we could ship out some other books to the distributors before shutting things down). The dash was indeed mad, with a lot of cursing and yelling back and forth as we ran around the ranch locking up. It was also pointless: TransWorld shut down before we could get there (it’s an 1 ½ hour drive). Still, the story has a happy ending. We had a nice dinner at Black Rock Pizza in Sparks, a restaurant whose gimmick is (amusingly enough) naming things after landmarks near our home. As the owner of a good portion of the old Barker spread I was tempted to order the Barker Creek Bucacci, but Tina was in the mood for pizza so I went with that instead. A few happy moments later our old friend Chris Karma joined us for dinner. Besides being an excellent conversationalist, Chris is also a generous host: he let us stay at his place Monday evening so we could be at TransWorld’s loading dock at 7:00 AM to turn around Ultimate Skill and Sidekick ASAP.

Which we did.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

July 29th, 39th, and 31st

There is a powerful mystique behind the image of the cowboy. To many Americans he’s a mythical figure: a lone horseman living close to the land, tending to the herds of large, often dangerous cattle that many of us depend upon for our sustenance. The cowboy is a man of few words, possessed by brooding, elemental emotions that are only expressed through desperate actions or passionate moments with the only woman he will ever love. He’s loyal, trustworthy, and independent. Though a pacifist by temperament, he’s also a terrible (though often reluctant) warrior when he has to be. In short, on those rare occasions when an American pauses to consider his ideal – the man that he would be if he only could - those of us who have not been utterly poisoned by the well of urbanity envision “cowboy” without a second thought.

Well, another word for cowboy is “ranch hand” - and a day as a ranch hand generally scrapes a bit of the luster off of this myth. Very few people longingly envision a new life as a ranch hand - even though that is what the vast majority of cowboy (and girls) both were and are. To further my education (and in trade for a day using their Bobcat) I spent a dust soaked day working on Dog Ranch. Let me be the first to tell you, Ron and Dahlia Cole work hard on their place. The Cole’s great love of animals inspires them to Herculean heights of labor. On this particular day we worked toward making life easier for Ron’s horses by clearing a field and repairing a stall. All of which is conceptually simple yet difficult in execution.

After being treated to an extraordinarily tasty meal by Dahlia, I drove the ranch’s bobcat back to Midian for a day of work on Sunday. I cleared a new pad for a future building (or shipping containers – I’m not certain which I’m going to buy yet), cut firebreaks here and there, filled in some holes that have been left by previous endeavors, and worked on my gravel pit. THAT project is going to take some time. I need maybe a week of uninterrupted labor to get it right. Well, soon now - very soon indeed.

On Monday 1400 copies of the first book ever to have solely my name on the cover arrived at the Midian warehouse for reshipping. Physically You Gotta Have Character came out even better than I thought it would. It’s a nice looking volume. The preorders weren’t quite what I had hoped for, though: only around 450 copies. Darren Watts (the editor of Hero Games) thinks that there will be another two or three hundred ordered by the distributors in the near future for various reasons, which certainly makes me happy. Also I hope to sell another 40 or 50 copies myself at GenCon Indy in a few weeks, which should leave just a few hundred plus overages in the warehouse to be trickled out by direct order or sold at conventions over the next few years. All of which is exactly what I hoped for.

A lifelong dream of mine has now been accomplished. Who can ask the good Lord for more than that?