Older Irrelevant Rants
Checking Facebook this morning, I always start with the “most recent” posts just to see what people are up to in the morning. After scanning for a few, I went back to the beginning and started counting. Of the first 50 posts, 47 were re-posts of something either political—federal and or state rants about politicians, rules, etc., or something else negative. There were only three of people just checking in and saying what they were up to at the start of the holiday weekend.
What I found particularly nerve wracking this morning was on one of the news blurbs of how suicides have sky rocketed during the pandemic. Sure, I understand people being stressed out during the stay-at-home, face masks, social distancing, etc., so that’s why we need to stay as positive as we can. Read your books, work puzzles, watch movies on TV, do like my neighbor and play your piano for hours on end, go for a walk, work in your garden, but for God’s sake, try to stay optimistic that this too will pass. Some day we’ll look back and say, “Wow! That was horrible, but I made it.”
Stay safe, be smart, and do something fun—even if it’s experimenting with your recipes trying to cook something “different.”
Yesterday the President’s personal valet tested positive for the Coronavirus. Today, one of the Vice President’s staffers tested positive. Now, that might be such a big deal if either the President or VP would wear a mask. However, neither of them thinks they should have to because they get tested every day.
Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but if I’m tested this morning and am OK, that doesn’t mean I can’t be infected by someone I am close to this afternoon. Both of these men have been to all kinds of public events and or businesses without their masks.
When the media shows their pictures, what kind of message does that send to the population as a whole? This morning after the VP’s staffer was shown positive, several of his aides were taken off a flight he was getting ready to leave on, but he and several others left for their original destination. Will they infect a new group of people?
Now, the thought that ran through my mind when I heard the news this morning is, what if both men get too sick to temporarily function in their rolls? That will leave Nancy Pelosi as acting President until one of them gets well enough to function again. How will the hardline Democrats and Republicans react to that one? Oh boy, I can see it all now. Won’t we get a lot accomplished?
“The ultimate demonstration of stupidity”
I’ve been grousing with myself for a week about saying anything about this, but poorer judgment won out, so here goes. Last week during the latest protest at the capital building here in Lansing where the majority were not adhering to social distancing, face masks, and many were openly carrying all kinds of weapons, I saw the photo several times of a lady right in the middle of the crowd with a little boy—maybe 4 or 5 years old—and pushing a baby carriage.
I could care less what your opinions are on whether the governor is a dictator or using science and mathematics along with common sense trying to stem the tide of this virus. Keep in mind the old cliché, ‘Opinions are like you-know-what, everyone has their own.’
When there is something so viral as Covid 19 out there where there is no cure or vaccination to fix it, why would you risk the lives of your tiny children? And, uh, did you have bullet proof vests on them like the congressmen were wearing inside the capital? Are you trying to make a point that you think it’s a hoax? Fine, risk your own life and take your own chances, but not those of your kids.
I read somewhere the other day that a number of people who participated in the protest about a month ago have come down with the virus. Truth or fake news? Don’t know, don’t care. Why would the story be printed by reliable sources if there was ‘nothing’ to it? However, I guess that doesn’t matter either. I’m sure her gut was telling her that it was all fake. I just hope her kids don’t die because of her stupidity.
“The ultimate way to spend the lockdown”
Bored with the stuff I had been reading, I started a new project. I decided to read all 13 of my literary masterpieces pretty much in order. I have finished all 11 novels and am now reading book one of the two short story books. I’ve been doing this, not as a look-in-the-mirror adoration thing, but to see if I could get motivated to start writing again. Since the pandemic, I’ve done nothing along those lines.
Now, the interesting thing in my mind is the fact that I have repeated certain scenes in a couple of different books. Obviously, that was unintentional, but it worked out that way. I’m sure that the vast majority of people who have read them all probably never noticed, but reading them all within a month or so, I did.
There’s a reason for that, I think. Like I’ve told anyone who ever asked, most of what happens in the books are keyed off of real-life memories. Like I’ve mentioned before, during my first 15 years of teaching, we didn’t have counselors in the middle school. Therefore, when a kid had something that was troubling him or her, they would go talk to one of their teachers. Since I had a pretty good relationship with most of my wrestlers, a lot of the things are stories they talked to me about. Some of them left a stronger impression than others and is probably why they were repeated. So, don’t blame me, blame those of you who were adolescents a half century ago.
“Now the virus is political?”
OMG, now the Coronavirus is a political issue? I can’t believe that the President and governors are fighting over who is in charge and responsible for opening up the states again. Why aren’t they both working together to cure this thing, find a medication that works, and a vaccination? And what about making sure there are adequate supplies and testing equipment?
I bet those people’s families who have loved ones’ bodies stored in the refrigerated trucks in New York could give a crap less whose ego gets stoked when this thing is finally over. I know I won’t.
Worrying right now about who is to blame is useless. Learn from past mistakes for when a new crisis evolves, and just solve the problem!
“Life is so exciting right now”
Today is day 12 of total self-quarantine. What an exciting time it is. I start out the day checking emails, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. just to see if any of you sent me a pile of money. Then, after that I have my delicious breakfast of Raisin Bran and toast. Then, I read every article in the State Journal even if I did see it on one of the news programs last night. Got your blood flowing yet? What a way to start the day!
It only gets better from there. After I wake up from dozing off while reading the paper, I go and ride my stationary bike for a half hour. At least I’m getting some exercise. On a couple of day when it was reasonably warm and the sun was out, I actually went for a walk. The excitement heightens when a person walking towards me and I zig and zag deciding which one of us is going to cross the street to keep current on our social distancing.
Now, I know this is old school big time, but over the weekend, I opened the garage door and started the car and let it run for a few minutes to make sure the battery stayed charged. There was a time back in the day if you didn’t start your car for a week, the battery ran out of juice and you had to jump start it.
If nothing else, I’ve caught up on some reading. I finally finished “A Very Stable Genius” which was too long and a bit repetitive and two issues of “Writer’s Digest” which I had been procrastinating on. Haven’t done any writing—guess I haven’t had the time with my busy schedule.
So, after watching 3-4 hours of Corona Virus news casts on TV and a couple of naps, so goes my extremely exciting day. I hope yours is at least close to being as exhilarating as mine.
This morning the owner of my locally owned and operated breakfast hangout put out a notice on Facebook that they were closing permanently. Between two locations, they have been open for over 20 years. Now they’re gone. How many other family owned businesses will we lose forever?
At noon today the governor issued a stay-at-home order for the state. You can leave your house for groceries, prescriptions, gas, medical reasons, takeout dining, and that’s about it. If your business isn’t considered essential to the welfare of the population, you are closed. The order goes through April 13th. Unless extended. Who knows what will happen?
I couldn’t believe the number of kids on the beaches celebrating Spring break. I wonder how many of them will contact the virus, take it home, and end up killing off their elderly parents and grandparents? Wouldn’t you love to be the parent of the one kid they interviewed who “might” have had a beer or two too many who commented that he could care less about the virus, he was going to party. Those are his exact words, but that was the message.
Like you’ve heard about a million times now, stay home, keep your distance from other people, and wash you hands about three-hundred times a day.
“So, what do we do part 2?”
My normal breakfast hangout is always closed on Monday, so I go to one of the chain restaurants that is always busy, but I like their food. When I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered if they were even open. I only saw two other cars in there.
I walked into the place and asked if they were open, and they welcomed me with open arms. My waitress told me about the latest. All restaurants and bars in Michigan are closing today at three except for takeout service. Yipes! So much for my breakfast and dinner ritual.
Yesterday I went to the store to get in my walk for the day and on a whim bought up something like 10 turkey pot pies and 18 frozen chicken sandwiches. So, when I left the restaurant, I stopped by the supermarket and loaded up on enough stuff where I should be good for a month.
I called the cardio gym and asked them if they were open. He told me that as of that moment, they were. But, no guarantees for how much longer. The hospital itself if essentially closed to visitors. I chatted with him for a minute and asked for his honest opinion, should I go to the gym or stay home and ride my stationary bike? Sort of on the sneaky side, he suggested I stay home, ride my stationary bike, and go for a walk in the fresh air.
So, what it boils down to, I’m in hibernation status until further notice. Hopefully, with everything that’s been done to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus which started with the sports world shutting down all Spring tournaments and sports, this too will pass and we won’t end up as another Italy or China.
“So, what do we do?”
The Corona virus is leaving me in a quandary. I have changed my life style to some extent. I have decided to avoid crowds as much as possible, not shake hands, (Elbow bumps work fine) and spend more time at home hibernating in the house. I’ve been getting a lot more reading done.
However, I refuse to live my life in fear. I went out to breakfast this morning alone at my favorite hangout because my usual Friday friends texted me last night that they were going to avoid restaurants until this whole thing blows over. I certainly understand their concerns and told them so, but I’m not to completely shut down my way of life.
While I was at the restaurant this morning, the owner sat down with me a minute and chatted. I had asked her if business had tanked the past week or so. She said it was definitely down, but they were doing everything possible to keep open. They had done a major renovation a few months ago and are paying $1,100 a month on that and had to keep going.
She told me they wipe down the door handles to everything several times a day, and they even put a sign on the door asking people to wash their hands in the bathroom when they enter the restaurant. People watcher that I am, I was there for an hour and a half, and I’m the only one who actually read the sign and did it. When the owner’s son put the sign up yesterday, he showed it to me and asked if I thought it was offensive. I told him no, I hoped people followed the request.
I understand shutting down the schools, sporting events, (No Big 10 BB tournament is going to kill me), parades, even a two-year-old’s birthday party, but some things I’m not going to do. I am not going to desert family owned businesses out of fear. I just hope we all survive this thing physically and financially. (I checked my mutual funds this morning. Ouch! The kid’s inheritance is tanking big time.)
I could get very used to spending the winters like I have the past few weeks here in FL. Staying with relatives who spoil me rotten is the best part. The second best part is the weather. We have averaged 40-50 degrees warmer than you poor souls up there in Michigan. Would you believe we’ve had the air conditioning on almost every day?
Another nice thing about this gated community I’m hanging out in is they have a cardio gym a 12 minute walk away from the house. I have gone down there every day since I’ve been here. I have the 50 minute workout routine, so add the stretches, and two-way walk, I’m getting in a heck of a lot more exercise that I do when I’m home. Good grief! At this rate, I’ll last forever. Poor world…
The only bad part is, I have been doing zero writing. I’ve been fighting writer’s block for a couple of months now, and the world hasn’t even come to an end. So, I guess it’s no big deal. Maybe when I get back home I’ll get back in the groove, or maybe not. We’ll see.
“Tigers and More”
I went to another Detroit Tiger game yesterday, and the end results were the same—they lost. At least the score was close. They only lost by one run. When we went on the 24th, they lost 8-1. I know, I know, these games are made up of mostly minor-leaguers trying to find on the roster, but so far, I haven’t been too impressed.
You wouldn’t believe the traffic and the way people drive. We’ve seen the aftermath of several accidents. One yesterday had three ambulances and they were working on some guy at the side of the road in the grass. He was flat on the ground and the paramedics were hovered all around him. Didn’t look good.
The drivers are nuts. Speeding, tail gaiting, cutting in and out of lanes, yhou name it. We were tailing along behind a pickup truck yesterday where the driver was either drunk, on drugs, texting, or all of the above. Traffic is three lanes, bumper to bumper, and he is weaving back and forth in and out of his lane. He almost sideswiped one car until the almost victim laid on his horn, and the idiot pulled over.
What doesn’t help the traffic too much is the constant closing of lanes making four merge into three. I know you Michiganders aren’t going to understand this concept, but there is so much road rebuilding and construction of new roads, bridges, etc it really disrupts traffic. The roads that are being worked on are better than anything you’ll see in MI. The closest thing I’ve seen to a rough road is one that had been scraped to make the next layer of asphalt stick to it better I guess. They were finishing up the left lane, and this was the next to be paved again. Smooth roads? Hard for Michiganders to visualize.
“Too Much Friction”
The Democrats had their last debate before Super Tuesday last night. There is one thing in particular that bothers me. They spend too much time cutting each other down. Instead of saying something like, “This is what needs to be done, and this is how I’m going to do it,” They are throwing too many barbs at one another.
I never admit in public to being a die-hard liberal or conservative—and I don’t talk politics with strangers. I tend to be pretty much in the middle. Both parties have things I can buy in to. Both have points that I don’t think are realistic. That’s why I would like to hear not only their positions on the issues, but how they plan to do it.
I suppose some of it could be useful if you’re saying, “ Senator X and I both want health care with pre-existing conditions for all, but I don’t agree with his way of financing it. It’s not practical. This is how I think it should be done.”
Oh well, we have a long time before either party’s conventions so a lot can happen between now and then—hopefully. We pretty much know who the Republican candidate will be, I just don’t want to hate the Democratic candidate because of all of the trash talking and negativity. I’d like to cast my vote for whomever has the best program, not who was the biggest BS artist.
For those of you who missed it on FB, I witnessed something this week most Michiganders probably never see. I’m staying at Lake Wales, FL for three weeks, and the place is aptly named. The area is full of lakes, ponds, and waterways.
Early Wednesday afternoon I was walking down the side of the road. I had just finished my daily cardio workout at the gym, so I was taking my time and enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.
As I ambled past a large pond which is attached to several other ponds and a rather good sized lake, a 10-12 foot alligator rose up out of the water right at shore line, fighting with a fish that had to be 2-3 feet long. Being maybe 12 feet from the action, I stopped and watched as did three or four cars.
When the gator managed to get a good grip on the fish, he chomped his jaws and you could hear the bones snap, crackle, and pop. Immediately, the prey stopped flailing. Then the gator lifted his head straight up into the air, opened his mouth wide, and swallowed the fish in one gulp.
Now, did I even think to take my phone out of my pocket while all of this was going on and video the event? Of course not--not until a half hour later. By then, I’m afraid it was a little too late.
“I Don’t Want to wish you Michiganders any bad luck, but…”
Tuesday morning I’m out of here for three weeks so you can have your roller-coaster Michigan weather all to yourselves. I’m headed to FL where I hopefully won’t have to worry whether or not I have gas in my snowblower or not. So there!
While I’m there, I might even get into the mood to continue on with my latest literary masterpiece du jour that I have been ignoring. Like, I mean, I did have to pack and get my income taxes off to my tax man—and no, Stephen King doesn’t have to worry about me showing him up this year: maybe next year.
Which brings up another point, how come none of you have been writing reviews on the latest trilogy—I Can and I Will—Tell Me Why—and Finding Closure? Did you get the book, read it, and then throw it in the corner without sending that review to Amazon? Shame be upon you! There are a bunch of you out there who have the books either in paperback or in Kindle, so let’s get busy. Just to be clear, you people who have them on your Nook are not excused. Get busy with your reviews too.
“I Can’t Believe How Stupid People are When it Comes to Driving on Ice and Snow”
My neighborhood in west Lansing is essentially a triangle with two main streets on the northern and southern edge running ‘kinda’ east and west. Then there are multiple side streets running mostly north and south between the two. (Which, incidentally is irrelevant to the rant.)
Near the west end of the southern main street is a moderate S curve. During the summer people drive it in one of two ways, either slowing down and hugging the right edge of the road so when cars suddenly appear coming from the other way, they don’t run them off the road. Or, the other method is to drive a straight line through the S and hope nobody is coming from the other direction.
Needless to say, too many people never slow down. I mean, like, that extra five seconds is pretty crucial. Anyway, the speeding part always becomes more relevant in the winter. There is one spot on the S where cars slide off the road every year and drop down a decline and then have to be towed out. Hopefully, their insurance doesn’t cover their towing fees.
I would hate to be the owner of the one particular home where it usually happens because his curbside mail box gets taken out at least once a year. This year, they have been lucky. When the car blew out of control two weeks ago, it missed the box by just about a foot. I happened to go by as the tow truck was hauling him out. Couldn’t help but smile. Sucker!
This week somebody else couldn’t be bothered to slow down and wiped out the mailbox and ended up about twenty to thirty feet into the person’s yard. Poor guy, I bet his beer was just as cold that he was racing home to two hours earlier and a $1,000 richer than it would have been if he’d slowed down and taken the curve sanely—wasting a whole 15 seconds.
“Politics and Facebook”
Two days ago I opened up Facebook and scrolled for a while. Not believing what I was seeing, I went back to the beginning and started counting. Of the first twenty entries, sixteen were political. Now, these weren’t just people giving their opinions, they were Photoshopped lies that people repost time after time.
The thing that most amazes me is the fact that people will believe anything. Then, to top it off, they repost it as if it were the Gospel truth. Doesn’t anyone ever check the source of all the BS they put out there? I don’t think so.
I know some people “really” well who believe in the conspiracy theory of everything. If the concept is outrageous and totally unprovable, they believe it. So, when it comes to current politics, if somebody makes a list of what one candidate or the other “supposedly” spewed out or did, they believe it.
Of course, I blame a lot of it on the 24-hour, 7 day a week news stations. They have to cover something around the clock so they bring in all kinds of people who tell you what they “think,” not necessarily what the truth is.
Ah, back to the day when the six o’clock news came on for a half hour to an hour and reported just the basic facts and not a ton of different opinions about what might have happened. Just think, the next election will be over in a short few months, and then we can start all over again—one way or the other.
“Ah, Robo Calls: I love ‘um”
Yesterday was a new one. I was watching a basketball game on TV when the telephone rang. The name and number always show up on screen. Most of the time it gives the name “Anonymous” and some telephone number. Sometimes they’ll actually put a name on it. Well, as I said, yesterday was different. The name and telephone number on screen was mine. What a dilemma! Do I answer it or wait to see if I leave myself a message?
I decided to wait, but darn! I didn’t leave myself a message. When I do answer obvious Robo calls, I normally answer with “Sheriff’s Department, fraud division.” The guys from Bangladesh who want to consolidate my credit cards usually hang up. Of course, the recordings just start talking so I hang up on them.
When I’m really bored and in the “mood,” I answer with “CIA Assassination Squad. Where would you like us to dispose of your body? We always recommend the Dead Sea.” Again, I either get hung up on or a recording which is not fair. I think we should discuss their body disposal. Seems right to me. If they are going to try to waste my time, I might as well waste theirs.
If I’m in my office and Anonymous calls, I punch the button on the printer’s fax machine and let that squeal in their ears. Like, one does have to have some fun.
By the way, if you ever do answer them, make sure you never answer “Yes” if they ask you a question at the beginning. Supposedly, that’s something they record and use it to hack you big time.
“Hummmm! I Wonder”
Interesting. I went to the dentist last week for my semi-annual cleaning and the dentist who checked me over discovered a cavity. My regular dentist has just recently sold the practice but apparently still works two days a week. However, he wasn’t around last week. He’s taking a break.
Anyway, I had a completely different dentist whom I had never met do the final check after the cleaning. I kept getting a strange vibe about the guy. I got the feeling that he was getting carried away looking for something to do where he could make a buck. I’m probably being unfair, but that was my impression. Anyway, he found a cavity that needed attention and the sooner the better.
Today I went in for my appointment to get the cavity taken care of and a different dentist came in and was going to fix it. He checked it over, looked at the x-rays, compared them with last year’s x-rays, and declared there was nothing wrong with the tooth and did nothing to it—much to my disappointment. I love to have my teeth drilled on so much.
To make a long story short, I grabbed my coat and left. I’ll see them again in six months when it’s time for my next cleaning—unless I decide to find a new dentist.
“Ah, Thy Name is Oblivious”
As an inveterate people watcher, I get my jollies watching people in stores and crowded places. Three days a week I go to the Cardio Gym across from the hospital, and then two to three times a week I go to Sam’s Club to get in my cardio walk. That’s where I get an eyeful.
This past Thursday was a perfect example. I passed three carts in the aisles where ladies’ purses sat in the cart unattended. The owners of two of the purses were at least thirty feet from their cart. The owner of the third purse was no where in sight. When I see those, I always have the urge to hid the purse under the various packages in the person’s cart, but since stores are loaded with cameras, I’d probably end up in jail.
Another one that was a bit nerve wracking this week was when I passed a cart with a maybe 1-2-year-old toddler standing up in an otherwise unattended cart. I took a hold of the child by his arm and casually mentioned in my somewhat louder and gruffer than normal school-teacher voice, “Hey there, little guy, you really should sit down. If you fell, that cement floor would hurt awfully badly.” Fortunately, Mom, who was only a half aisle away came racing up and scooped junior up in her arms, thanking me profusely. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have to.
Another form of obliviousness I find in the stores are the people who park their carts in the middle of the aisle so you can’t get around them without asking them “politely” if you could get around them. Of course, it is kind of fun to ram their cart and push it out of the way and then watch their dirty looks. I mentioned that one to someone earlier today, and they told me about a shouting match that ensued between and old man and younger woman. He moved her cart, and she had a conniption fit over it. The person telling me the story thought the lady was going to smack the guy.
So, those of you who are totally oblivious to your surroundings, keep in mind some old duffer is watching and making fun of you behind your back.
Voila! I didn’t need a 12 or 16-year-old to fix my computer problem, I needed an old duffer who knows about as much about computers as I do these days.
Just to refresh your memory, I got a new computer and wanted to use the cloud so I could work on the same document from either my office computer, or the lap top that I leave on the kitchen counter or drag into the living room, plop it on my lap, and work on one of my literary masterpieces such as “Irrelevant Rants” while watching one of my favorite Detroit professional sporting teams get clobbered.
Anyway, the cloud was not syncing between the two computers—much to my chagrin. Who knows how many hours I put in trying to make the &^%$ thing work? I’ve been playing with this in all my spare time for two weeks to no avail.
Well, I whined about my problem to this really old guy—one of my kids, and he decided to come over and take a look. We played with it for four hours when he suddenly had an inspiration. He said, “I’m going to see if I can uninstall it and then reinstall it and see what happens. Ta da! It worked perfectly. The One Drives (Cloud) are now synced on both computers and all is well and good.
Lesson for the day—we don’t always need juveniles—delinquent or otherwise to figure out our modern-day multimedia problems. Sometimes even “old” guys can figure out what to do.
And now, back to book 1—Mat Rats, which might get done in 2020 after all.
OK, So I was Wrong. I Guess I Need a 12 Year Old”
Life was so much easier back in the old days before senility set in. Believe it or not, there was a time when I actually knew what was going on with computers. Not any more. So, here’s the problem du jour.
Since I have two computers, I decided I really wanted to use the cloud so I could bounce back and forth between the computers while working on a document. For instance, I’m “kind of” in the middle of book 14 and there are times when I get a brilliant idea and want to run out to the computer in the kitchen and make a quick change without going down to my office.
Also, in about a month I will be sneaking off to FL for three weeks and want to be able to work on whatever while I’m gone. For instance, can you even fathom going three whole weeks without an updated Irrelevant Rant? Horrors!
So, both computers were set up with the cloud and all worked great for about a week. Then, out of nowhere, the two decided not to sync with each other. They have the same files, but they don’t update. When I add something to “Irrelevant Rants” for instance, it saves on my office computer’s One Drive (Cloud) just fine, but it doesn’t sync to the computer’s One Drive in the kitchen.
Naturally, the “Kid” who will be 7 on Feb. 29th (The fact he claims he’ll be 28 is irrelevant) and set this up for me has gone back to the state of Washington and can’t help—especially since he’s been ignoring my emails😊 So, I checked with Tony-2 the sixteen-year old adolescent dreamer or entrepreneur I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Tony-2 had no clue. So, either I find a 12-year-old who knows what he’s doing or shell out the big bucks and get some pro to come in and bail me out. Of course, if one of you happen to know what I’m doing wrong, you could email me at [email protected] and help the old duffer out.
“I Need to Borrow a Sixteen-Year-Old”
Santa was way too good to me this year. Along with a ton of other great stuff, I ended up with a new computer and a total of three screens. Well, I’ve figured out the screen configurations, but then comes the problem. I’m saving everything to the cloud instead of the hard drive so I can work off multiple computers without having to use flash drives.
Over the years I’ve managed to end up with multiple files of each and every document. For instance, I’ve found six different files of “Irrelevant Rants” containing six different dates. So, what I’m trying to do is find the newest docs, get them all in one folder, and delete the older versions.
Should be a no brainer, right? Wrong! The final editions of the thirteen books are no biggie. They are all the same. Somehow, I’ve managed to end up with something like four or five WIP (Works in Progress) folders. There are a couple hundred files in each one with all kinds of different dates. How all of this happened, I really have no clue except it has to be at least partially due to working on a lot of files on two different computers and having to move the things around on flash drives.
When I get the latest version of EVERYTHING in the appropriate place on the Cloud drive, and all the excess deleted, it should be a piece of cake. Since Christmas I’ve probably put in ten hours and have barely made a dent in what I’ve got to do. Ohhhhh, I need a genius teenager.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, happy whatever it is you celebrate and whenever you do it.
My primary holiday wish this year is that people could get off the far left and right fringes and come together for the betterment of the country. I don’t think we need to be name calling and belittling each other even though those of you who don’t agree with me are nuts:-)
Seriously, I’m concerned where we are headed for as a nation. For the past eleven years when one unnamed politician made the comment that it was the number one goal of his party to make sure that the new president would not be reelected, neither party has worked together for the betterment of the country. It’s been politics first, country second—at least that’s the way I see it. Hopefully, in the coming year let’s wish for both parties to moderate their views and try to work together a bit. After all, the good ole US of A comes before anyone’s ego.
In the meantime, let’s finish off 2019 with smiles on our faces and optimism for a better 2020.
Some Things We Don’t Want to Know are the $$$ We’ve Wasted
Over the weekend, I was looking for some peppermint oil that I thought I still had stuffed in the cupboard. I use it every year when I make chocolate, almond bark for Christmas and figured I should make sure I was prepared.
For some reason or the other, I looked at the expiration date on something on the spice rack—2014. Ooops! So, I started checking things out. Every single bottle and container in there was supposed to be used by 2017 or earlier. Some of the stuff even went back as 2012 or had no date on it at all. One five pound sack of flower that had never been opened was dated 2016.
To make all of this worse, I didn’t even know what half the stuff was or what it was used for. Sure, the chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, garlic salt & powder, and nutmeg I knew. However, turmeric, saffron, cumin, basil, caraway, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc??? I had no clue.
Two hours later, I had the cupboards and refrigerator pretty much empty. Being the good trooper I am, I emptied all of the containers so I could recycle them. Have any idea what a pain it is to try to clean out some of that crap? I even found one half empty jar of raspberry jam that had set up like a rock and did not want to come out of the container. I won!
The bottom line is, I do not want to know how much money I threw away over those couple of hours. On a positive note, there are a lot of waitresses and waiters out there who know me pretty well. Oh, one more thing. I do have to go out and buy a new bottle of peppermint oil.
So, when’s the last time you checked the dates on all the junk in your cupboards and frig?
Adolescent Dreamer or Unique Entrepreneur?
Tony-2 is a real-live 16 year-old young man with a dream. That is not his real name, but it's what I call him. (He knows why, and you don’t need to.)
Tony-2 works as a busboy in a restaurant and has many jobs—cleaning and setting up tables, pouring coffee, wiping up spills, and more. Sometimes when it’s not too busy, he even has a brief minute to chat. That’s where I come in. After 35 years of teaching middle and high school, I like to talk with the kids.
One day I asked him what his plans were once he graduated from high school. Did he plan to attend a trade school, go to college, or what? What he told me kind of threw me off guard for a short while.
He said that he wanted to become a barber, and his best friend wanted to open a shoe store. So, they planned to open a combined barber shop and shoe store. My initial thought was, Oh boy! If only I could be 16 again and live in a fantasy world.
However, the more I thought about it, the more intriguing the idea became. For instance, I have two people in my own family who are complete shoe nuts. They are a father-son combination so it’s obviously a genetic quirk. The ten-year-old probably has thirty pairs of shoes and doesn’t bat an eye when you mention the fact that the new ones he wants this week costs over $200. His father’s shoe collection runs into the hundreds.
Then I got to thinking. Those two would love a place like that. So, where would a store like that even work? Would it fit in a mall? I don’t think so—mainly chain store customers. Besides, in another ten years there probably won’t be any. What about a shop in a place like downtown Lansing? I don’t like that idea either. It would get lost in the maze.
Then I thought of Old Town. Perfect! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Lansing area, Old Town is a refurbished section in North Lansing. Most of the businesses are as unique as the neighborhood atmosphere. I’ve often heard it referred to as the cultural and creative district of Lansing. I think most of the shops are individually owned without the clutter of a mass of national chain stores. Not only that, but the place offers a lot of entertainment.
So, why wouldn’t a one-of-a-kind place like a combined barbershop and shoe store fit in there perfectly? I’m betting the ten-year-old mentioned above could get his bright red double-width Mohawk trimmed and find at least two pair of shoes he “needed” within a half hour’s time.
So, Tony-2, there’s your business plan. In a year and a half, you’ll graduate from high school. Then, if this is still your dream, go to Barber’s College, and then you and your buddy can go for it! Good luck!
“Do I Really Want to do This?
I dug a book out of the archives that I wrote 35-40 years ago and never published. I’ve been typing, editing, and making changes as I’ve been putting it on the computer. (Originally written on a manual typewriter) My intent is to update it from its original to current times.
Essentially, it’s about a seventh grade boy who gets cut from the basketball team and then goes out for wrestling. Naturally, all is going to work out well for the kid in the end. The problem is, getting him there. Good grief! I can’t even settle on the title. I have the original—which one of my writing groups doesn’t like because it gives away what is going to happen at the end of the first three chapters. I have a version of the one they suggested, which in my mind, would not attract one twelve-year-old in the world.
Naturally, there are all kinds of other issues. Originally the main character told the story from the 12 year-old point of view. Well, I’ve changed that. I want the same character telling the story, but reminiscing back an unspecified number of years. That means a total re-write as I go.
Another big issue is the last chapter I just finished was almost 100% narrative with almost zero dialogue. Why is this a problem? Probably the biggest mantra for writers today is to “Show, don't tell.” Narrative is essentially telling—which means, I will have to rewrite the entire chapter again and “show” what is going on.
The way I see it, if I continue and complete this thing, it’s probably going to take a total of two years—especially at the rate I’m going. Oh well, I’ll keep plugging away at it until I either finish it or go Ctrl, Alt, Delete.
Back in September I mentioned running across a book called “Spirits Rising” that deals with paranormal ghost stories here in Michigan. Reading them brought back a memory from my childhood. I had a very eerie event happen to me when I was about 12 years old.
My best friend’s family at the time had a cottage at Bear Lake. That summer I was invited up to the cottage for two weeks. We spent most of our time swimming in the lake and screwing around like most 12 year-olds. One night three of us (There was a kid from Chicago our age whose grandparents had a cottage three doors down from us) decided to go skinny dipping. We got so loud someone thought there was a problem and called the police. Needless to say, things got a little embarrassing as my friend’s mother brought all three of us out towels to cover up in and race back into the house. Can you believe it? The cop laughed at us. Hrumph!
Anyway, to get to the main point of the story, one day the three of us walked to town. That’s where it got spooky. I knew the town like the back of my hand. I remember telling my friends about a barber shop right around one of the corners. Sure enough, there was. I recognized every store in the town. Not only that, a number of older people I saw – including the barber looked familiar. I couldn’t put a name with any of them, but I was sure I knew them.
The next summer the three of us met up at Bear Lake again, and when we went to town I still had the same spooky feeling that I knew the place and had lived there. I have intentionally never gone back there again. Those two visits are the only times in my memory that I’ve ever had an experience like that.
However, the curiosity has never left me. I think I have at least ten books on the paranormal on my Kindle that I had completely forgotten about. I think most of them were probably free because they are pretty short. Anyway, I’ve been reading them all again since finding “Spirits Rising” just because…
“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…