“Back to Normal”
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned this ton of Kindle version give-aways at Amazon—close to 250 in a three day period. Still have no clue what happened there and probably never will. Oh well, doesn’t matter. In the meantime, things have gone back to normal where 1-10 people are downloading the freebie per week.
Like I mentioned before, some people think I’m nuts for giving away copies when I could just as well be selling them. I don’t see it that way. I have 13 books out there, so that means I can give away each book one weekend apiece every three months.
The way I see it, if a complete stranger downloads one and likes it, he or she is apt to look me up on Amazon and see what else is available. I know I have had numerous sales using that tactic because suddenly a couple of related books (mainly the trilogies) will sell and they haven’t even been advertised for a couple of months—to say nothing about the fact they might be five or six years old.
My main goal is to have people read and enjoy. If that happens, I’m happy. So, if you haven’t downloaded all 13, start paying attention and do a different one weekly. Besides, the more of you who do push my ratings up on Amazon and the books show up better. So there! Get busy. Read…
“Oh, Boy! What’s Next?”
There’s an article in the local paper this morning suggesting hiring school teachers to drive the buses because some of the companies hired to do it are just not working out.
Surprise! Surprise! Back in the day, local people who were parents, grandparents, or people who had a vested interest in the school and its success drove the busses—not complete strangers.
I remember the head of our bus driving crew worked there for years with very few issues. Being a small town, he personally knew and hired each and every driver.
However, since money is always an issue, it suddenly became cheaper for some schools to hire companies to handle student transportation.
Just in the past few months, I’ve read about all kinds of issues—drivers drunk and all over the road and having accidents with kids calling 911 for help, pedophiles trying to take advantage of the kids, dropping kids off at the wrong place – this happened to one of my own great-grand kids when he was in the first grade.
There was also an incident recently of a bus driver getting mad at an elementary aged kid for some stupid reason and kicking him off the bus a mile or two away from his home. I read on FB this morning of one parent who no longer allows her children to ride the school bus because of all the issues in her district. She is not alone. I’ve heard of this several times in the past year.
So, now the answer is to get those teachers who have three hours of papers to correct when they get home to use up four or five more hours of their day driving the buses?
I guess my biggest question is, do we use those teachers who are now “packing” for protection purposes against school shootings, or the ones who choose not to? Ah, questions!
“Something Weird is Going On”
Something weird happened this past weekend. For some time now, I have been giving away a Kindle copy of one of my books at Amazon every weekend running from Thursday through Monday.
I do this for a number of reasons. Naturally, one is advertising. I have picked up a number of readers of my literary masterpieces doing this. People read one of the free ones and get interested. Then they spend $2.99 and buy another one and read it. Probably the biggest reason is I like to have people read them and hopefully enjoy the experience—and maybe tell a friend.
When I do this, I normally give away 5-10 copies a week—sometimes more, sometimes less.
When I mention it a couple of times on Facebook, more are downloaded. Well, this weekend I put Sometimes Home Ain’t “Home Sweet Home” out there and never mentioned it on FB.
Thursday and Friday the count was zero. Then, something happened. Between Saturday and early this morning (Monday) 210 copies have been taken as well as over 200 pages read on Kindle Prime where people can download a book for awhile and read it, and then it goes back.
So, what is going on? Obviously, some group is reading it—the question is who and why? Is it a college writing class studying YA literature? Is it a high-school English teacher’s class assignment? Who knows.
The bad part is, I’ll never know. Amazon doesn’t disclose who or where the purchases and downloads come from. My only hope is that all the copies are read and enjoyed. In the meantime, I can just scratch my head and wonder what is going on.
John Grisham, look out here I come.
“NFL Refereeing is Getting Suspicious”
The Lions lost their game against the Packers last night under what I consider some real suspicious circumstances.
There were five or six calls made in the last quarter that were flat-out wrong. The Lions had led the entire game at Green bay, but it was getting close. Granted, the Lions had kicked something like five field goals instead of scoring TDs, or it wouldn’t have even been close.
Anyway, television replays showed multiple referee screw ups. It was so bad, even the announcers were complaining.
One of the linemen was charged with grabbing a face mask twice, when he didn’t either time. The second one essentially resulted in an eventual GB touchdown instead of the ball going over to the Lions.
Another big one was when a Lion receiver was grabbed around the arm and chest by the opponent which cost us a huge gain. This time there was no pass interference call. That was almost as bad as a pass interference called against the Lions when the Packer receiver slipped in the grass and just fell down.
There were other very questionable calls—most happening in the 4th quarter after Green bay had closed the gap.
My question becomes, are the referees that bad and untrained for the position, or is there something shady going on? If players have been getting paid under the table to go to certain schools, who’s to say the refs aren’t pocketing a little money to make it possible for certain teams to win when the opportunity arises?
“You’ve Got to be Kidding”
An eight year old girl was not allowed to have her school picture taken because she had red dye in her hair.
Yes, you read it right. A school in Michigan denied a beautiful, well dressed eight-year old third grader to have her school picture taken because she had red dye on top. A picture was shown of her, and her hair was styled nicely with a top notch and some streaks of red in it. Big deal!
According to school policy, hair styles have to be conservative and in natural tones or pictures are not permitted. Of course, she was allowed back in class for the day with that horribly disruptive hair style. Have the idiots who are running that school even looked around at what people are doing with their hair these days? I see females of all ages from 8 to 80 with dyed streaks in their hair. I’ve even seen some men with green, yellow, and red overtones. Who cares?
In today’s world when so many third graders are reading below grade level that they are threatening to make them repeat third grade if they aren’t up to par would seem like a much more important issue than the color streaks in their hair.
And what about the importance of tornado, fire, and active shooter drills? I was talking to a high school girl over the weekend (Different school district) who said that when they have active shooter drills, their classroom doors open outwards and don’t lock from the inside, so they pile desks in front of the doors and have a football player or some other large, designated boy stand off to the side and hold on to the handle to try to prevent someone from the outside from being able to pull the door open.
It might be just me, but it would seem like schools might have issues more important to be concerned with than color streaks in an third grader’s hair.
“Why do some things pop into your head?”
I was rifling through a desk drawer the other day and ran across a book of short stories that I had completely forgotten about. The title of it is “Spirits Rising” written back in 2013.
They are paranormal ghost stories of places and events in Michigan. Okay, how is this for irony? The first story dealt with the Bath school disaster back in 1927. Why is this ironic? At the end of my last Irrelevant Rant, I mentioned a neighbor of mine when I was growing up in Lansing who was a survivor of that bombing, who I suspect was suffering from PTSD.
Anyway, one of the stories in the book mentions Al Capone and how he had numerous hiding places in and around the Lansing area—Lake Lansing, Round Lake, and others.
While I was reading this, another story that I heard during my childhood popped into my head. As the story went, the Purple Gang from Detroit, a bunch of vicious and murderous bootleggers in the 1920s during Prohibition had a secret hideout in Williamston in the upper stories of what is now either Tavern 109 or the store right on the corner.
Now, is this true? I have no idea. My family originated in Williamston, and I think it was my grandfather who told me the story. I have been trying to find something to substantiate the tale with no luck. Anyone else ever hear this story?
“Some People are born Dumber than a Box of Rocks”
Sometimes I wonder if some people are innately stupid, or did they work hard to develop the trait. What I’m ranting about now are these idiots who are calling in the fake bomb threats.
Last week a local school district closed the whole district for a day since someone called in a bomb threat on the high school. To insure everyone’s safety they closed everything until they could double check everything. A couple of days ago there was a threat on a major building at MSU—once again unwarranted.
As reported in the Sept. 7th. Issue of the Lansing State Journal there has been “…a wave of bomb threats prompted lockdowns at schools and hospitals across several counties.” Many of these have been in northern portions of the state.
Why would you do that? Are you so mentally and emotionally sick or stupid that you think it’s funny? Are you that starved for attention? Does it make you feel powerful or superior in some sick way because you can screw up a bunch of people’s lives?
In the 1920s the most devastating school bombing occurred in Bath, Michigan. Thirty-eight children were killed, eight adults, and there were over fifty-eight injured. This was done by a crazy former school board member who had been defeated for reelection and was angry because of school taxes.
When I was just a little kid, an older lady lived across the street from me who had lost a leg in that bombing during her childhood. She didn’t have a prosthetic leg, she used crutches. She would leave in the morning for work and return at night. She never spoke to anyone. Her window drapes were closed 24/7. She was for all practical purposes a hermit. I’m thinking PTSD at minimum.
Now, do you sickies out there who call in the threats for whatever reason think something like that is funny, makes you a big-shot, or whatever? Well, guess what, you’re (Expletive deleted.)
“Independent Writers Have Needs Too”
Since most of us independent writers are not exactly in the same recognition category as the Grishams, Clancys, and J. K. Rowlings of the writing world, we don’t get “quite” the free advertising and/or sales and royalties as those dudes. Therefore, it would help tremendously if those of you who read our stuff would go on line—primarily at Amazon—and put in a good word for us.
Writing a review is easy. You find the book at Amazon.com, look for the review section, click on it, scroll down, and find the place that says, “Would you like to review this book?” Then, all you have to do is say yes, click on the 5th star, and then say all kinds of wonderful things about the book and how it should be made into a movie. Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating just a tad, but reviews do help. They help push the book up the food chain in the search engine.
Anytime I buy a book from someone I actually know, I always try to write a review. It doesn’t take that long, and it does help. Obviously, I don’t bother doing for the big names. If they have two-thousand reviews, mine won’t make one bit of difference.
The same story goes with the Kindle freebies I put out there every weekend on Amazon. I average giving away over 100 free downloads a month, and VERY few of those people ever write a review. That is, with the exception of one 94 year-old reader who does review the books she reads. Go figure!
Now, on a slightly different topic, a couple of weeks ago when Finding Closure went live at Amazon, I advertised the fact on Facebook just to let people know it was finally available because I do have a number of faithful customers out there. Within 24 hours, I had over 20 people send me a private message saying they had ordered theirs.
Guess what. According to Amazon, only one person actually did during that time period. Now, that doesn’t mean they didn’t order them on line from Barnes and Noble or Schuler’s or one of the other places where they are available, because I never get a count from them—just a little addition to my bank account at the end of the month.
“A World Full of Hate”
I have a hard time accepting our world today which is so full of hatred. It’s like, so who am I going to hate today—somebody from a different country, someone with a different skin color, or someone practicing a different religion or political viewpoint?
Less than six months ago I happened to meet a man from the south in a restaurant/bar who grew up when the southern schools were being integrated. He was a very good friend of the person I was visiting. For the life of me, I have no idea how we ever got onto the topic. Anyway, according to him, there were only a handful of African American kids in the school he attended, and they were all being paid to go there. Obviously, I have no clue if that were true or not.
Anyway, as his story continued, he claimed that four of the young men dragged him out behind the school and beat the living crap out of him. As I was essentially in a listening mode, hoping to see the topic change, I didn’t ask him why. What had he done or said to make them take out their venom on him? Then he looked me in the eye and snarled, “ I hate N…s!” That’s when I asked my friend if it wasn’t time to leave. I’d heard enough of that. I’ve had friends of every race and religion for as long as I can remember.
A couple of years ago, I was talking to a neighbor kitty-corner across the back fence for the first time. I had never talked to him before or after that day. Suddenly, he started ranting about the lady living immediately behind me at the time. She had a same-sex partner and he couldn’t handle it. I facetiously told him I had made a deal with her. If she promised not to look into my bedroom windows, I wouldn’t look into hers. He stormed off, and within a week his house had a for-sale sign on it. Good riddance.
How many mass shootings have we had in this country in the past few years because of hate and ignorance? Three or four have been thwarted this past week because people are finally speaking up and reporting the hateful diatribes the culprits are putting on mass media. It seems like the most powerful reasons to hate someone today is a combination of immigration and religion.
Good grief! I guess my only thought is, how many of us are Native Americans by heritage?
“The World Has Changed”
There have been a lot of changes in the world during my lifetime—many I am not exactly happy with. Yesterday I witnessed two examples.
I live on a corner lot with a fence running up the length of my backyard facing the side street. I was pulling weeds close to the fence when a young lad came strolling down the street walking his dog. I’m guessing the boy was thirteen. I watched him as he approached where I was at the fence. His eyes kept darting in my direction without turning his head. When he was right in front of me, I waved and said, “Hi.” He turned his head to the left, away from me, wiggled the leash, and picked up his speed.
Now, I know all about “Stranger Danger” and all of that, but I’ll never get used to it. I was on the other side of a five foot fence, and there was no way I could vault the fence, catch him, or harm him in any way. And, yes, I do understand the “Never talk to strangers” concept, but that doesn’t mean I like it. After dealing with kids for 35 years in various classrooms, I guess I look at the ketchup bottle differently.
I mentioned one time about a discussion I was having with my millennial grandson who firmly believes if you don’t see things his way, you’re just plain wrong and ignorant. That was the time I took a ketchup bottle off the table in restaurant, set it in front of him and told him to tell me exactly what he saw. After he described the front of the bottle, I looked at him with a pained expression and told him he was wrong. That bottle doesn’t say Heinz Tomato Ketchup, it says Nutrition facts: Calories 20 per each 1 tbsp serving, total fat 0, cholesterol 0 meg., etc.
It didn’t take him long to get my point—we were looking at the same bottle from different perspectives.
Which brings me to the second example I mentioned above. I walked into the Mom and Pop Restaurant I hang out at last night right ahead of another couple with a little boy whom I would guess at 18 months to two years. That family sat directly in front of me. Dad was wearing blue jeans, a grungy looking tee shirt, and a 45 caliber pistol. His shirt was not tucked in, so it could have covered and maybe hidden his weapon, but he had slipped the shirt inside of the holster so everyone could see he was packing, and he could get to it quickly without the shirt covering it or interfering with his quick-draw.
Other than that, he seemed like a really nice guy. He talked softly, joked with his wife and son, took the little boy to the restroom twice—holding his hand to and from on both trips. As I watched, I couldn’t help continuing to ask myself Why? What’s he afraid of in a neighborhood restaurant like that? So, I guess we have to bring out the Ketchup bottle again and try to remember there other sides to look at besides the one I’m staring at.
That doesn’t mean I like it. I don’t necessarily consider people who don’t think like me just plain wrong and ignorant, I just wish the world hadn’t changed so much in my lifetime.
A couple of days ago made for an interesting day. Comcast went down about 7:30 in the morning right after an accident out on West Grand River here in Lansing. I originally learned about it when I went to my morning restaurant hangout, and they told us we had to pay for cash because their Internet was down—which included all of their credit card transactions. They had checked and the original report was that it would be open by noon.
Well, it went on all day and the entire northwest end of Lansing serviced by Comcast had no Internet, email, television, or home phone service. My grandson told me he called Comcast three times during the day. The first time they told him they expected it back on around 11:30. The second time he called, they told him later in the afternoon. The next time, they essentially said they were working on it and it would be up as soon as they could get it fixed.
Well, sometime between 9:00 and 9:15 that night everything came back on line—TV, Internet, email, and telephone. I watched the news that night and the next day. There was not one word ever mentioned about it. Nothing was ever reported in the paper either.
I went to the barber shop around noon two days later and asked if they had heard anything. The rumor they heard was that Miss Dig (The company that checks for buried wires before any digging or construction in allowed) screwed up and some construction project trashed the wiring. So, who knows what “really” happened?
Granted, this is irrelevant in comparison to the thousands who lost power this week because of the storms, but the lack of communication on the issue makes one suspicious. With all the BS about foreign interference and hacking in our communication systems, you’d think something would have been reported when a large area covered by a company as big as Comcast lost coverage for 14 hours.
"Happy 4th. of July"
Today is the 4th. Of July—Independence Day. I hope people spend some time thinking about what the day is really all about. It’s not about partying, getting drunk, high, watching parades and shooting off fireworks, It’s about celebrating intellectually the fact that our country became an independent nation—one that could take care of itself and didn’t need to be dictated to by tyrants, foreign countries, and people who didn’t know and understand our own problems, needs, and issues—much less how to fix them. Happy birthday to the United States of America. May we prosper forever!
“Finished at Last”
Well, it’s been close to three years, but the I Can and I Will: Tell Me Why: Finding Closure trilogy is finished, published, and ready to go. Obviously, the first two have been in print for one-two years, but as of yesterday, Finding Closure was finally available in both paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon.
It’s really strange how it all works. I’ve been hustling trying to get the last one done, just because I’ve been working on it for over a year and it had gotten close. The strange part is, I have no clue what I’m going to do next. Maybe I’ll just spend my time reading for a while and see if any brainstorms pop up.
I’ve been reading a book on WW11 which is approximately 1000 pages long. I’m sure I can a “few” days working through that one. I mean, let’s face it, I’m already up to page 82 and have only been working on it for about three days. Uh, it’s not one of those fast reads.
Anyway, the trilogy is done, and I’m looking forward to my next project—whatever it is.
“Miracles Do Happen”
Hopefully, those who have access to the Lansing State Journal read the front page article on Tuesday about the nine-year-old boy who was hit by a mini-van in December. The list of injuries that child suffered is devastating—multiple broken bones, punctured lung, internal bleeding, a hold in the heart, etc. etc. The list goes on and on.
Within an hour the child was in surgery at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing with several surgical teams all working on him at once. As they opened him up to drain his belly filled with blood, his heart stopped. Now, get this, the doctors massaged his heart by hand for twenty minutes before it took over and started beating on its own. After surgery, he was not expected to survive the night.
He did. Because of the work of the medical staff, the prayers of parents, relatives, and friends, and the toughness of the young man, today he is in full recovery—still in physical and speech therapy, but otherwise, a happy and active ten-year-old.
This whole story moved me immensely. Not just because of the story of the miraculous saving of a life and full recovery, but also the fact that he is the grandson of one of my former students from way-back-when. Continue your healing, young man, and live a long, happy, and prosperous life.
“Love My Robo Calls”
As of noon, I’ve had eight Robo Calls on the house phone this morning.
Being the crotchety old dude that I am, I haven’t answered a one of them. Surprise! Surprise! None of them have left a message either.
Six of the eight were from “Anonymous.” I can’t imagine why anyone would ignore one of those.
What I sometimes find interesting is when I don’t answer Anonymous, within five minutes I get another call from Gretchichina Macintoshiia with an 896 area code or some other real familiar name and area code.
Now, when I’m in the "mood," I have two ways I answer them:
“Sheriff’s Department—fraud division“ or my other favorite, “CIA Assassination Squad. What is YOUR name?”
If a live person is on the other end of the line, I get this five second pause and then a sudden click in the ear as they hang up on me.
If it’s one of those normally recorded calls, I get some guy with a foreign accent introducing himself as Peggy from Microsoft, Social Security, or wherever. Then, I get to hang up on them.
I keep seeing these news blurbs saying they are working on ways to nip this pain in the keister in the bud. Right! I’ll believe that’s going to happen when Mexico hands over $50 billion for the wall. In other words, don’t hold your breath.
“Your last taste of Finding Closure before publication”
After learning about his estranged abusive father’s death from his own son, Jayden’s suspicions led to a couple of opportunities to run a couple of different DNA checks to verify his parentage. Finding Closure (Book 3 of the I Can and I Will: Tell Me Why series) begins when the first test is returned from the forensics lab at the university where Jayden works. The results only provide answers to part of the mystery. After discussing options with his wife, adoptive mom, brother, wife, and kids, it is decided he wants to do further testing.
By then, Jayden’s biological mother had developed dementia and wasn’t a whole lot of help—however, over a short period of time she repeated the same basic story line on three different occasions. The details were always different, but one aspect remained the same—a tale indicating potential child trafficking. Since a pattern was developing, Jayden and his family decided to try a top-of-the-line commercial DNA analysis.
Barely believable results occurred. As the family pondered their next move, an email arrived from Florida from a complete stranger who claimed he had also taken the same test. Naturally, the first question that came to Jayden’s mind was the legitimacy of the information. Was it a scam? Had someone in some way hacked the records? In order to find closure, he had to contact the man and find out whatever information possible.
“Caught in the Act”
Had a strange situation happen last night. I was sitting on my sofa which faces the front window, watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory, when I saw a young lad—9-11 years old riding his bike down the street. I have a big chair in front of the window so by habit, I watch people as they disappear behind the chair and then reappear on the other side. This boy didn’t. My first thought was, we’re on a hill, so I hope he didn’t hit one of our pot holes, lose his balance, and fall.
He hadn’t. He’d dropped his bike right across the street on the curb, run up to the house across the street, grabbed two packages off of their front porch, and was racing up the street. Before I could get out the door, he’d dropped them behind a pole and was running back to his bike. I bellowed at him with my best school-teacher’s snarl to go get those packages and take them back. He did. He ran back, grabbed them, raced up the street and threw them on the neighbor’s porch before jumping on his bike and pedaling away from here as fast as he could. I didn’t quite understand his response when I “casually” mentioned what someone should do to the seat of his pants as he rode off.
Hind sight: as a nine-eleven year old, riding a nice bike and wearing a shiny helmet, what was he doing? Did he think it was a big joke? Did he have an older accomplice who would be tracing his steps picking up the packages in their car? Was he an actual thief? Should I have run out and grabbed his bike and locked it up until his parents came back with him to pick it up so he could tell them the story? Who knows what the right thing to do was?
As it is, I did report it to the non-emergency number at the police department and put it on our neighborhood watch site on Facebook. One lady responded that she and her husband were out for a walk and spotted a busted open package behind a bush. They took it back to the home it was addressed to. Apparently, the neighbor’s house wasn’t his first gig of the day.
For all intents-and-purposes, Finding Closure is done. I will be sending it to my editor this afternoon for one final look through, and then we go through the publishing route.
Books one and two of the series: I Can and I Will and Tell Me Why bring up a lot of unanswered questions for a number of people. Jay had suffered through an extremely abusive childhood and ran away from home, moving in with his best friend and his mother. He never went back home.
When he married years later and had two sons of his own, he never shared any of his past with them. When Jay’s boys heard of a grandfather’s passing, whom they never knew existed, it opened a whole can of worms for the family. Teens being teens, they wouldn’t let it rest. They wanted answers.
With their research, they found a grandmother they never knew existed. One thing leads to another, and Jay starts having a number of questions himself.
Three DNA tests later—two at Jay’s university and one at a commercial company, a lot more answers are provided to the questions. However, these tests also create more questions and concerns—which are all resolved in Finding Closure.
“Chocoholics, this one is for you”
Just looked this up to slip on my doctor’s Facebook page. The basic idea is, chocolate is a vegetable since it comes from the cacao bean, and we all know beans are vegetables: Ergo, chocolate is "very" healthy.
Cacao bean is the dried and fully fermented fatty bean of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. They are the basis of chocolate, as well as many Mesoamerican foods such as mole sauce and tejate
See? You learn something every day.
Now, since we've already established the fact that chocolate is a vegetable, you can all drool over my disgustingly healthy snack for tonight--frozen chocolate Moosetracks Yogurt, covered with whole almonds (unsalted), and slathered with warmed up chocolate syrup. See, not only healthy, but practically Vegan.
“Writing really isn’t for Sissies.”
Finding Closure, book 3 in the latest trilogy, is getting close to completion. However… I have completely written or rewritten chapter one three times now.
I had the original version done when I decided I needed some more back story if the thing was going to make any sense to a new reader. So, I rewrote the thing and added a page and a half of back story.
Then, after I had my editor go through the first half of the book, I rewrote the first chapter again, changing the back story from narrative to dialogue.
Then, I took the chapter to one of my writing groups and they thought there was a bit of overkill in it. So, I redid it again, tightening things up and eliminating everything but what is absolutely necessary.
In a couple of weeks I will take the revised version to my other writer’s group to get their input. You know what’s going to happen? Chapter one will probably get rewritten again. For those of you who are not familiar with the process, the first few pages of a novel are the most important part. You only have a short window to “hook” the reader. If you can’t do that, forget it.
In the meantime, I’m on chapter two of rewriting Mat Rats, a book I wrote about a bunch of wrestlers some forty years ago and never published. Wish me luck on that chore.
I was rummaging through the archives yesterday and ran across a book I wrote probably 35 years ago back in old Portable 3 after school and during my plan period on an old manual typewriter—whiteout and all. Mat Rats is a story about one of my old wrestlers who thought he was going to be a star basketball player. Well, being the scrawny little guy that he was, it didn’t work out. Which was a good thing, because he ended up as a state champion wrestler in high school.
The main character, Jerry Thomas (Only a ‘slight’ takeoff on his real name) is told by him and his struggles with himself, his family, who were primarily basketball players, and various opponents. Jerry had been born with a dominant twin sister, and that added to his emotional stress—plus the fact that he was going through puberty when all of this was happening.
Sneakily, back in the day, I made numerous copies of this thing on the school mimeograph machine and sent it off to various publishers with the appropriate SASE (Self addressed stamped envelope) so they could send it back months later with their “Sorry, but…” letters. So, what am I going to do about this? I’m going to retype it on the computer, make Jerry the father of a couple of young wrestlers, and have him tell them the story. Then, I’ll publish it at Amazon and send “Jerry” a copy.
“Sparty, You’re Gonna be the Death of Me Yet”
Good grief! Why can’t you just win by twenty points or more and get it over with? The game last night was nerve wracking, to say the least. It’s a wonder I didn’t have a heart attack. Back and forth, back and forth the game went. When the final buzzer went off, State had beaten Duke by one. Whew!
Our guys came to play the game, and they did. Of course, that game should have been for the national championship. The dolts that set up the brackets had them all done before the final tournaments had been settled. Michigan State won both a share of the Big Ten Championship and the Big Ten Tournament. They should have been a number one seed in a different bracket from Duke.
One last blurb on the subject, I saw where one of the sports reporting agencies were bemoaning the Duke loss because that was the end of their ability to extol on the virtues of Zion. Hey, the kid is great, but he isn’t what the whole national tournament is all about. Just for the record, they were getting some big time flak for that comment last night, and it wasn’t all from just State fans. Go Green!
“Living in Fear or Looking for a Fight?”
Had an interesting thing I observed recently. I was walking Sam’s Club as I typically do on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays—opposite of my Monday, Wednesday, Friday gym days. Anyway, being the inveterate people watcher that I am, I happened to notice this man, woman, and son, walking ahead of me. The boy was probably in the vicinity of 15-16. The first thing I noticed was that all three were burly and obese. Normally, I don’t notice those things much less make any judgments, but with all three of them appearing the same, I did. As I was looking at them, I also noticed that Dad was openly packing.
I know, I’m old and senile and don’t totally understand or care about all the modern BS and concerns regarding gun rights. I also know all about the Second Amendment—so don’t nag me about that. What, however, went through my mind at the time had nothing to do with any of that. What I was pondering was, why would a father feel the need to sport a gun while accompanying his family on a shopping trip? Does he live in fear? Does he think he’s a stud? Is he looking for a fight? Has he convinced himself that he’s “protecting” his family? Obviously, I’ll never know, and I really don’t care. I just found the observation leaving me with a number of questions.
“Betsy Bungles Again”
Well, America’s delightful Secretary of Education has done it again. She, a person who never attended a public school or allowed any of her children to, has made another bad choice when it comes to public education. She wants to ban funding to Special Olympics—a godsend to disabled children.
The decision to do that apparently is related to the administration’s desire to cut overall educational funding for the third year in a row. I know, as a retire public school teacher I’m biased. However, I really do think public education is a lot more important than a wall.
If nothing else, the proposal just might help politicians from both sides of the aisle to work together for a change. As of right now, people from both sides are saying the proposal is “unbelievable” and “outrageous.” Work together Congress and make sure this proposal dies a quick death.
“Basketball Cheers and Woes”
Michigan State shared the league championship with Purdue and won the Big Ten Tourney outright—defeating Michigan for the third time in two weeks. So, what does the NCAA tournament choosers do? They pick MI ahead of State in the tournament. Both are number two seeds, but MI was picked higher. How does that work?
And, how about Purdue? They shared the Big 10 championship with MSU, and they get a number three seed in the tourney. Just goes to show, if you don’t belong to the SEC, you’re nobody. Also shows the committee had made up it’s mind on their choices before the tournaments were even done—probably “knowing” that beating a major team three times in a year a near impossibility.
So, the next trick will be to forget the bracketologists or proctologists—whatever they are and beat the Maize and Blue for the National Championship. Go Green!
“Experiment du Jour”
I have decided to try something new along the marketing/advertising genre. Every weekend for twelve weeks I am going to give away one of the Kindle eBook versions. This weekend it’s Taming Little Ike. The time line goes from Friday through Tuesday. Next weekend it will be Damey and Grandpa Tutor.
The other thing I’m trying is to drop the price on all the eBooks from $4.99 to $2.99 just to see what happens. Sales have been pretty flat lately so maybe this will stir up a new market. I know certain people check books out in various price ranges. Let’s face it, spending a whole three bucks on a new read won’t cripple most people’s budgets.
Why am I doing this? Exposure, pure and simple. Personally, I could care less about the royalties. After spending a year or so on each book, I’d be more than happy to have people read them and maybe even enjoy them.
Of course, I’d love it if people would actually put up a review on Amazon. The more reviews, the better it is for marketing purposes. So, there you go. Grab a free book or spend your life savings of $2.99 and buy one. Read it and then review it.
I must be really getting old and senile. I seem to fight more and more with writer’s block than ever before.
Almost always, something has just popped up and given me an idea for a story. One day when I walked out of Meijers a young man was lying on the ground in handcuffs with a cop standing over him. He looked up at me and made eye contact, and Voila! I had a short story where the kid turned out to be innocent.
One day I was looking out my front window at the house across the street that was for sale, and the whole scenario for Damey and Grandpa Tutor evolved. That eventually led to the next book, Damey and the Z-Team.
Lately, nothing has happened or happened to hit me as something I could create a story out of. Nothing, that is, except for the weird poem I created for the sole reason to playfully pick on some writer friends of mine who specialize in poetry. (See below)
So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I have done a ton of reading this year so far. Right now I’m on book 18 for the year. Of course, maybe the fact that twelve of them are my own literary masterpieces that I wanted to re-read, it might not be a legitimate count. However, according to me, it is, and I’m sticking to it.
Webcoo is the newest rage in poetry. The premise is simple—26 lines in alphabetical order starting with A and ending in Z. The syllable count goes—8,6,4,2,4,6,8 for the first three stanzas. For the fourth, it’s 8,6,4,6,8. The rhyme scheme is AABCBDD except for the fourth which is AABCC. Try it and see if you can make it work.
In “Daddy’s Decree” the storyline is simple—Alex has screwed up once too often, and Daddy has dropped the hammer. Will it last?
Alex cannot come home again
Because of all his sin!
Can he recant?
Eve hates my rant
For it makes Al bitter.
Gonna be a long, cold winter.
How will he handle ice and blight?
I hope he dresses right
Just to keep warm.
Look how we mourn,
Mom Eve smothers the lad
Nix on sympathy from dad
Only time will tell if it works.
Panic will start with jerks.
Quaint ain’t his deal.
Should I get real?
Tell me I will not cave
Until butt freeze makes him behave.
Vanity tells me, let him be
Will he live in a tree?
X-out my son?
You tell him, Eve, come back.
Zesty, Al dives into his sack
“And My Project Du Jour”
Is anyone besides me sick and tired of this winter? Like, I went south for three weeks just to avoid its wrath, and it’s still here after my return. Not only that, but the forecast for the foreseeable future is same—snow, cold, wind, freezing rain, ad nauseam.
If nothing else, I did finish my little project of reading all of my own literary masterpieces in order and as quickly as possible. It turned out to be quite an eye opening experience.
Some of it I mentioned in last week’s “Rant.” Reading them brought back a lot of memories since all of them have “Kinda” been based on real-life things I’ve experienced over the past hundred or so years—give-or-take a couple here and there.
Naturally, they weren’t all things I experienced, but maybe heard of.
During my first ten years in the middle school, we didn’t have counselors so I heard a lot from kids who wanted to talk and unload. Some of the stuff I read in journals or heard about. And, some of it—thinking of a certain pitchfork incident—happened on the home front.
One short story about a kid passing out after giving a speech and then landing head first into a trash can was completely fiction except for the fact that the incident happened.
Writing twelve books has been fun. The imagination has stayed alive.
“A New Twist to the Book Project Du Jour”
Almost done with my project of reading all of my books in order before I move on to something new. Currently I’m on book eleven.
Since I’m hanging out in FL for a couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of reading time and no responsibilities or “jobs” that had to be done. As a result, I’ve been able to read just about one book a day.
Since I’ve been having fun reading them, I’ve decided to spread the charm—just a little. I’ve set up a Kindle Freebie for them.
The way it works is, every weekend—Friday through Tuesday one of them will be available at Amazon for free.
Today ends the freebie for Sometimes Home Ain’t “Home Sweet Home.” Tomorrow starts As Life Goes On for five days.
Hopefully a bunch of people will download the freebies and actually read them. A professional marketing manager told me one time that only ten percent of the people who download them will actually read them.
Personally, I’d rather give a book away and have someone read it than have someone buy a copy and not read it. That’s just me.
"Ooops Screwed Up"
I started this project a short time ago of reading all of my literary masterpieces in order.
Ooops! I’m finding some things out about myself while reading through the list of books. I have used some of the same scenarios more than once in different books.
For example, one of my wrestlers back-in-the day was extremely intelligent. When we were having classroom discussions, he wanted to answer every question. When I would only call on him once during some classes, he pouted. I was not being fair. After all, it was “His” class too. Naturally, when nobody else could answer a question, I would call on him
I have also used a massage situation twice that I know of at this point. That’s where the main character is taken for a massage by his parent/guardian and falls asleep on the table. I saw that happen once at my massage parlor and stole the idea. Didn’t realize I’d used it twice—in a couple of different books written maybe four years apart.
Oh well, I’ll try to remember some of this stuff in the future. Maybe I should re-read all of my literary masterpieces every couple of years.
Over the past century or so I have written sixteen books—twelve which have been published. Actually, you might say thirteen because one I published with some fly-by-night company that didn’t follow through with any of its promises.
So, I simply un-published it and completely rewrote it and published it again under a different name. Three I never published, but did steal scenarios and scenes out of them for the other twelve.
That brings me to my latest project. I want to re-read each and every one of them. My favorite has always been Sometimes Home Ain’t ‘Home Sweet Home’ so I read that one first.
I was surprised as to how many things I’d forgotten in the book—including a couple of things at the conclusion. What I really found stupid was the fact that I kind of got choked up during the last two chapters. I mean, like, let’s face it—the darned thing is fiction and I wrote it. Oh well.
Now I’ve gone back to the ghost trilogy. I started As Life Goes On yesterday afternoon. Hummm. Found a couple of typos that shouldn’t be in there. Guess I didn’t do enough careful editing back in those days.
So, with a wind chill of -29 at one in the afternoon, can anyone think of a better project to work on?
“Radical Facebook Postings”
I see more and more people posting radical Facebook postings than ever before. I could care less if you’re liberal, conservative, in the middle, or wherever you stand. But, have you even considered who might be looking at your posts and judging you—good or bad? Are you setting yourself up?
A person whom I have known for a long, long time and consider a friend posted something this past week indicating that if the President happened to be impeached, the Civil War would look like a picnic.
My concern is that those people out there watching and listening “could” pick up on a post like that and consider him a terrorist of some kind.
Now, I’m pretty darned sure he isn’t, he just re-posted something that sounded cool to him. However, if the FBI or some radical left or right wing activist happened to pick up on that, how would they react?
Would the authorities suddenly key in on each and every one of his posts and start judging him accordingly?
Would the radical left view him as an enemy and cause him some harm? Could the radical right decide to recruit him to get involved in some kind of violence? Who knows what will happen.
I hear people say, “We don’t have any privacy anymore.” We haven’t had “privacy” in over 60 years that I know of. Back in 1958 I was stationed in Turkey when we had giant planes filled with electronics flying up and down the Black Sea 50 miles off the coast of Russia capturing and translating every message within 300 miles of the border. We also had the U-2 flying daily over Russia videotaping everything. Now we have satellites spying on everyone.
Do you think that just because you’re not a nationally known person that nobody is watching your posts? If so, ask the three wannabe ISIS recruits who were arrested in Lansing this week and are facing 50 years to life in prison. Granted, that’s an extreme example because they really did want to kill people, BUT does that mean nobody is paying any attention to your posts? Good Luck!
“MLK Day Brings Back Memories”
Growing up as a kid in Lansing, I was totally oblivious to racism. I had friends in school of all colors. My parents did as well.
I do remember one night when I was in high school walking home from a local ball park through the middle of what was considered a very “bad” section.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a voice screamed at me—“Larry, what the &^%$ are you doing walking down here all by yourself?” This large, well known in school, athletic, and black friend of mine then proceeded to walk with me to what was considered a “safe” area—chewing me out all the way.
Incidentally, we are still friends. I see him monthly when a group of us from Lansing Eastern get together for lunch.
In August, after graduating from HS in June, I joined the USAF. After 12 weeks of basic and another 21 weeks in weather school, I was sent to North Carolina.
On my first weekend break, three of us went to town—one from NY, one from NJ, and me from MI. They had been there for a while. After fooling around town for a bit, we needed to hit a bathroom.
That’s when the shock really hit. At the back of the store we went into, there were two men’s restrooms.
Over one read WHITE, and over the other read COLORED. Between the two doors were two drinking fountains, each displaying the same signs.
I looked at my NY friend who had been there for a year. He merely shrugged and said, “That’s the way it is. Welcome to the South.”
I think of these two incidents every MLK day. I wish I didn’t. I wish it hadn’t been.
In the very near future, I plan to head out to Florida and VA Beach for close to three weeks. I’m sure it’s one of my nerdy idiosyncrasies, but I never advertise the times when I’m out of town.
I’m pretty sure that no one who is reading this or checking out Facebook is patiently waiting for me to leave the house unguarded so they can break in and steal all of my spare paper towels, but then, you never know.
Flipping the coin, I always enjoy seeing pictures of the travel adventures of all my FB friends as they journey all over the world. Some of the images they share are totally awesome.
Plus, it’s always fun to see shots of everyone and their kids/grandkids at places like Disneyland, Mt. Rainier, Mammoth Cave, or wherever—even if their homes are left totally unguarded and/or protected.
To me, the logical alternative is to wait until you get back, and then say, “Hey, look at what we just did.” However, that’s just me.
“Gossip of the Week”
Well, I’ve already blown my New Year’s Resolution of reading a book a week. Here it is, the 16th, and I’m only a quarter of the way through book two. Of course, the fact that the thing is a gazillion pages long doesn’t help much.
Besides, I’ve been working on two other projects that are taking some time. Let’s start with the income tax.
Been pumping the figures into my financial program that sorts everything and comes up with figures—you know, medical=$1,289,654; Book royalties=$1.29 for paperbacks and .87 for Kindle EBooks.
I guess I’m not going to get rich on last year’s royalties. (You people haven’t been reading enough of my literary masterpieces.)
The thing, however, that’s taking up the most time is my latest work in progress (WIP).
It’s book 3 of the I Can and I Will & Tell Me Why group. I don’t even have a working title for it yet. And, the only thing I’m going to tell you about it for right now is that Jayden, the main character, discovers his own death certificate.
How would you like to do that?
"A Book a Week"
Hey, I’m setting a record. So far my new year’s resolution has lasted a whole week.
I want to try to read fifty books this year. I started out with the idea of a book a week, but then figured some are longer than others, so I’ll settle for fifty. Finished up book one on the list last night.
After years of reading pretty much nothing but fiction, I’ve pretty much gravitated to non-fiction the past year.
The book I just finished is called The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. Like most current day NF writers, I’d never heard of the guy. Someone or something recommended this book so I checked it out.
The primary emphasis of the book was the departmental transitions, or lack of, between the Obama and Trump administrations. It made a lot of comparisons between what was expected and what actually happened.
There was a great deal of discussion regarding department heads and their qualifications for their new jobs. One of the things I found particularly interesting was the discussion that the Dept. of Commerce really has very little to do with commerce. It’s a compilation of a number of other things.
The last section was of particular interest to me. It dealt with the US Weather Bureau and how much data it had preserved, and how little of it had ever been analyzed. The author talked about some of the analysis that exists regarding tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.
Since I spent four years in that field in the USAF – just a couple of years ago, I was somewhat awed about what can actually be done today compared to “back in the day.”
Two points he made I found a bit weird were terms such as “Climate Change” are verboten. Also, how much of the analyzable data has suddenly disappeared and is no longer available.
The book seems to jump back and forth a little—maybe it needed a better editor. However, I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a little non-fiction enlightenment.
Seems to me we’ve fought long enough over the wall, and it’s time to re-open the government agencies that are closed or not getting paid.
I think there are some rather dangerous ramifications possible with people like the TSA agents not getting paid and calling in sick. Like, why should they work when they might never get any money for it?
As one of them said, what are they going to do? If they file for unemployment benefits, they’ll be recollected from them when and if this thing is ever settled peacefully.
Let's face it, what do the millionaires who are running the show really care about the common man working paycheck to paycheck to pay his or her bills?
You’ll never convince me they really give a rip one way or the other. Each side has their own “principles” that they are going to stand on, and they won’t budge.
Wonder if any of those clowns have ever considered actually sitting down together and coming up with a solution for border security that might work—like maybe more border agents, cameras, and a bunch of drones flying 24-7 keeping an eye on areas where illegals tend to sneak over.
Let’s face it, if you build a 20 foot wall, someone will build a 21 foot ladder—or tunnel under the thing. Of course, my biggest concern is that Canada will build a wall across our entire northern border to keep out the American thugs, rapists, and criminals and make the US pay for it. Now, that might really get expensive.