“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…