Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Retrospect

Today is Christmas Eve Day and I am sitting at my desk watching the fine snow continue to fall. This morning was church and then my wife and I had an enjoyable lunch with friends at a local restaurant.

The snow started to fall while we were in church. We walked in and the ground was clear. We came out to a light coating of white and extremely slick roads and sidewalks. Uh, "extremely slick" is being very kind - I almost fell on my dignity as I headed for the car. As we drove to the restaurant, I decided - after attempting to stop - it was wiser to continue on through the yellow light. When the group broke up to head home, I decided to go "that extra mile" and see a house I thought we'd look at later if it truly piqued our interest. I slowed up to look at the home and then attempted to turn into a driveway to turn around. My wife kept telling me "Don't hit the telephone pole" like it was my goal in life. I didn't - repeat DIDN'T - want to hit the pole. In fact, I didn't even want to go off the blacktop driveway and into the yard... but, I did. Fortunately the gravel at the edge of the driveway and the first crops of grass stopped me and I only "trespassed" about 3 feet into the yard. With luck, the spring rains should wash away all the evidence.

While on the highway, cars were going faster than I wished to drive and some of them seemed to have difficulty remaining in their lane. I decided to take the back roads home with a lot less traffic. Of course, that didn't mean the roads were any better or safer.  Approaching my driveway at the outrageous speed of 15 mph... Yeah, I almost overshot the driveway, finally slip-sliding my way into my driveway which is gravel.  As one would expect, even it was slippery so there is this little wiggle in the tire tracks leading up to house.

I'm inside and have NO intention of going outside except to let the dog out. Our dog will go out, potty and immediately return to the house. We are watching (dog-sitting) our son's dog. It is spoiled rotten, and has been raised in a fenced yard. Why do I say spoiled? You have to be outside with her while she does her business. If I tie her to the chain - 30 ft with a pole out in the middle of yard - so she has plenty of running space - she will whine and bark to come back in, totally disregarding her business. But, wait, she remembers that she had to go potty and well, SURPRISE!  To avoid that surprise, I stand out there in the weather and wait for her to run off her excess energy and do her business. Sounds like a little wimpy dog, right? Wrong, this is a pit bull with muscles that exceed mine about 3 to 1, maybe 4 to 1. Plus, if she wasn't so damn lovable I'd just turn my back, but she's just a big lap dog who doesn't realize she isn't a lap dog. Maybe I should note at this time - the dog has decided turn about is fair play - if I leave the bathroom door open, she watches me. If I close the door, she patiently waits outside the door, sticking her nose as far under the door as possible. Personally, I don't think these moments should be shared, but...

I've digressed. And I usually do. Sorry.

Christmas. I remember as my kids got older, my parents and in-laws didn't seem as much "into" Christmas. I mean they shared a couple of gifts, but the Christmas morning hoopla was missing. Now, I have grandchildren and great grandchildren. The children are spread here and there with their in-laws spread even farther it seems. So, we had our "family" Christmas last weekend, 12/19, with all them present - all 28 of us in one house. Talk about chaos and fun. We even had 7 kids who are under the age of 3 to keep things hopping.

So, today my wife and I head to church and it is Christmas Eve Day... but, it doesn't feel like any other day of the week or year. I mean, tomorrow is Christmas and we'd probably just sleep in and finally, some time during the day, decide to open the gifts we bought each other. No hoopla. No whoop-de-doo-dah. The gifts? More likely useful items that either of us could have bought any other day - jammies, underwear, socks, gloves, etc. I could have bought my wife jewelry but I've done that over the years for special occasions, birthdays and other gift days. She has more jewelry than she will probably ever wear. Some I've even forgotten I've bought for her... let's just say, when she passes, the DILs and granddaughters will each probably receive a beautiful piece of jewelry to remember her.

Outside the snow is still falling. It is beautiful. The fine snow is dusting all the tree and bush branches.

So, tomorrow, my #2 son who is celebrating Christmas today with his 3 children, their spouses and children are like us. Nothing to get all excited about on Christmas Day.  They've invited us to join them for a day at the casino in Toledo. At first I hesitated but, again, it feels like any other day and it might be fun to do as something different. I mean, we could just sit at home... but, why?

The Christmases I remember from my youth are no more. Families are no longer just living a few miles from each other. Work schedules even force employees to work on Christmas. I remember in our town, each Sunday everything was closed except ONE gas station and ONE drug store - and those stores took turns rotating as to who would be open. Come Christmas there wasn't anything open except the police, fire department and hospitals - and I think they were running skeletal crews so everyone could have part of the day with their families.  Oh, and maybe the local Chinese restaurant was open. In my small mid-America "village" there was no Oriental restaurants back then.

If my #3 son was still an EMT on the fire department, he'd be working today and tomorrow, a 4 hour shift. My #4 son needs to go in and make sure the furnace is going at the steel mill. My #1 and #2 sons had to work yesterday (Saturday) and of course, will be back to work on Tuesday. My #2 grandson needs to be at work Christmas night to start the week and his wife needs to handle a shift at the local carryout. My #1 granddaughter will do a shift today at the hospital and a partial shift tomorrow for Christmas.

Someone told me they had a choice - they could tell their employers they wouldn't work those days. I think the employer response was simple: Work or don't bother coming back. Today there are too many people wanting good jobs, even mediocre ones, to demand too much.

It would be nice to go back to the Christmases of the 50s where children believed in Santa until at least the 3rd or 4th grade. Where families got together - grandparents, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered together to celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

[SIGH] Today it is all about how many and how expensive the gifts are. Several years ago my #2 granddaughter and wife were talking about Christmas. My wife told her one year she got a new doll and a few homemade clothes from her parents and grandparents. My granddaughter hugged my wife and said "I'm so sorry, grandma. You deserved more." Today's kids seem to get so many presents they don't know which one to play with first. I remember getting new pajamas, a shirt, a collection of classic books, and a Lionel O-Gage train set that I needed to share with my brother. My hanging sock had an orange, peanuts in the shell, a candy cane and a small toy stuffed down in it. That was the Christmas just before my 9th birthday (circa 55?) and was one of the best - I loved that train set. There were no other family members. Why? My parents moved to NW Ohio in 1953 from Iowa where my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived. We were alone with no nearby family.

Wow. I guess my parents were some of the originals who started to separate the nucleus family. I never thought of it that way until this very moment.

I was taught in high school that the nucleus family started to breakup in the early-mid-50s. I didn't see or understand what it was about.

The nucleus family. Back then there were neutrons, electrons and protons to make up the family. Over the years those have disappeared and there is barely the nucleus left - who can honestly say they sit down to a family meal at the table each night?  TV trays in front of the boob-tube don't count.

It's still snowing. Some things don't change. We'll have a White Christmas this year.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hiding Christmas

I raised four sons and as soon as the oldest one realized that Christmas presents were already in the house prior to Christmas, the game was on. With four boys ranging in age from 10 to 1, my wife and I decided we needed a better hiding place than the closet of the home office or spare bedroom.

By the time the youngest was ready to start the holiday search, the eldest was a teenager with a vivid imagination of where mom and dad would stuff a present... attic, basement, garage, the dark recesses of seldom used areas. It was a test of wits and I wanted to win.

We used suitcases, parent's underwear drawer, file boxes with fake names like "Dad's military" or "Grandma's Doilies" to keep the boys from rummaging through them. I even used my bowling bag as a hiding spot... uh, this one so my wife wouldn't find her present! I guess a golf bag could work, too, if you golfed. LOL.

Of course, as the younger boys getting older, so did the older boys. Move ahead six years. The four boys are now 16, 15, 9, and 7.

I'd like to say the older boys had matured and we only had to hide things from the younger two. Unfortunately, it is Christmas and even the oldest child can quickly revert to their youth. Our eldest was the sneaky kind. We discovered he had mastered the art of repackaging. That's right. He would open the present carefully, see what it was, then reseal it so none (mainly mom and dad) had no idea he had tampered with the gift. We thought he'd outgrown that trick but his wife caught him red-handed one year, so... As I said earlier, no matter the age, one reverts to their childhood all too quickly.

But, I digress, hiding became much more sophisticated with each year since we were now dealing with older children who walked the edge of adulthood. In other words, they finally had a brain. LOL.

Here are a few places that many people overlook as a hiding place.

1. Depending on weight and whether you have a suspended ceiling. A-ha! You put that together. Presents like shirts, skirts, slacks, pajamas or very light-weight toys can be strategically placed on cross-bars here and there above your heads. Children (and many adults) don't usually think a place above their head in clear view as a hiding spot.

2. If you still have a water bed, sometimes the manufacturer will place a small drawer at the foot, several, to save money, just placed a plain or decorative board across the foot of the bed. Yes, you have drawers on the sides, but many water beds have a small empty well that can be used to hide several items, large and small. Again, a child seldom thinks of this space... did you?

3. Continuing on bedroom furniture. Does your dresser have legs? No? I'm willing to bet that it then has a false bottom. With a little straining, you should be able to slide it out from the wall on one side and discover an opening to which you can slide in a present. We hid a couple of huge train sets under the wife's dresser.

4. And don't forget dad's big valet drawer and/or closet. Yes, sir, that hefty stack of drawers probably has a false bottom, too.  Again, another hiding place.

5. Of course, this also holds true for any large furniture pieces in the house - think dining hutch, a desk, end table, display case, grandfather clock, etc.

Caveat: If you're using the ideas of 3 - 5, remember, brush out the slide marks on the carpet in front!

6. Our first year in the Washington, DC area, we rented a townhouse and in the one bedroom, it had two huge double-slide doors. You know, the type with the vents down the front. If the gift is small (thin) enough, using a small, almost invisible hook to hold the item, place it high up on the back side so when the door is opened, it hides the item between the two sections. You might be able to place a thicker item if you know your children (or spouse) isn't going to push the doors ALL the way open.

7.  In our home, the hot water heater is enclosed in its own private little closet. When nobody was around, I installed a small shelf. Yes, I had my own personal hidey-hole that nobody knew about. I mean, WHO looks in the hot-water heater closet? It was a safe spot until my wife decided it would be the perfect spot to store her extension rod for her "spider killer." After that, it was still a safe child-proof hiding place.

8. This hiding place is extremely dependent on size. After the tree has been decorated and it is several days down the road, a small, discreetly wrapped in dark green package can be placed deep within the boughs of the tree, live or artificial. My wife's set of diamond earrings set in the tree from December 1st until Christmas. It was a lot of fun making her "hunt" for that gift in the tree.

Now I've not included many of the more obvious ones - basement, tool bench, attic, garage, car trunk and such. Of course, the space above the car in the garage is often overlooked. Still, a lot of the aforementioned places can be ransacked by those in search of their Christmas presents. In fact, I was thinking of using the attic in one of our houses when I discovered it was already in use by my youngest son as a "clubhouse" for him and his friends. The access was in his bedroom and thereby he considered that just an extension of his space. Yeah, attics are gamey, at best.

Now, we've used item #3, #4, and #5 for hiding things Christmas presents repeatedly. One year we told the boys they had been bad and well, we just weren't going to buy them any toys. The boys called our bluff on Christmas presents. They had searched everywhere except the sacred territory of our bedroom and was sure it was all hidden in our room. We allowed them to search the room, smug, knowing they wouldn't find anything. We had finished our shopping. And, as expected, they didn't find anything. Talk about four boys being good for the remaining time until Christmas - all of them hoping Santa would get them something, anything. I know, we're mean.

The funny thing about hiding place #6 - the bedroom was the one for the two youngest boys who were 10 and 12 at that time. They never discovered the presents hiding there. Of course, they weren't quite as serious about finding the presents as their older brothers.

Hopefully, you have found a new hiding place. If you have a good hiding place, share it with me. I'm always on the outlook for a new place.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Trying Something New

I've been writing this blog for several years, always trying to "capture" an essence of what I wanted to say, but always failing in the completion.  Okay, not a total failure, but I've always felt my blogs were somewhat lackluster. Yes, occasionally I would have one that stood out, glistening in the sunlight, but more often than not, most of the posts were either drab, boring updates or some rant. Again, maybe more rants than updates.

Today I want to try something different. In addition to my usual mundane update and/or rant, I want to add personal items about me.

Why, you ask? Because I want you to know me, the guy who puts this all together. Sure, everyone knows I write and I cook and I have a wife, kids and grandkids. But... do you really know me?

First, my updates. I've been busy the last few weeks doing edits for my writing clients. I really enjoy doing them because I get to be on the cutting edge of what is new coming out. Plus, I feel I am giving back to the writing community, teaching others how to improve their skills as writers.

If all goes well, once more I'll be teaching a class at Terra State Community College in Fremont, OH. This one will be a shorter class, about three weeks. It is about using dialog for characterization. I'm hoping the students find it useful and helpful.

My garden is coming to harvest.  I have nine (9) tomato plants with a couple of plants of several different varieties. I tried something different this year rather than the same old types as I have grown in the past.  The most unusual one was the Jersey Devil, a 'Roma-type' tomato. Here's a picture of them growing and another with my hand around one still growing to ripeness.

Notice their length? And inside is basically all meat with just a few seeds.  Great for salsa, stewed tomatoes and purees.

This is my wife's first batch of salsa for 2017. There wasn't quite enough to make 8 pints so Yours Truly got to do a little QC that night.  And I wiped out what was left of the tortilla chips.  My wife went to the store and bought two big bags so I won't run out. She has since canned 6 qts of stewed tomatoes, another 11 pts of salsa and 8 pts of tomato juice. She looked at the garden and made the following comment. "[heavy sigh] And this is only the start of the season."

I should mention she also canned 9 qts of dill pickles, 8 pts of banana peppers and I have a couple heads of cabbage - to which I will make a lot of egg rolls for the freezer. There is a bevy of green peppers and I'll be making my infamous freezer green pepper casseroles for the winter.

In addition to all this canning, we're also camping. I finally got the RV toilet repaired. It became a fiasco with always something to stymie me as I attempted the project. Let's just say, after several months (this started the fall of 2016) we were finally able to go camping, and camping we did. Almost a month of camping. A week with friends, a week alone, a week with granddaughters and another week alone. Sure, it was only for a few days each week... being honest, the first week was five nights, the week alone was four nights, the one with the granddaughters was three nights since we had other activities planned and the last week was another four nighter.  We prefer to camp during the week to avoid the weekend chaos and cramped camping.  With school just around the corner, camping is going to be mostly seniors until the nights get too cold. Me? I enjoy those brisk nights, sitting around the campfire, enjoying the fall in all its glorious colors. Having been involved with Scouting since I was 10 yrs old, I have no issue camping when the snow flies and have done it several times - in a tent, no less!

Oh, before I forget. I actually got back to writing my own stuff again. Last night I was able to put just a hair over 1000 words to my followup Amish novel - The New York Voice.  It will still need some heavy-handed editing, but I'm thrilled to be writing, again.

Now, for the new stuff.  Here goes...

My favorite color ever since I was a little kid, let's say at least a half century ago... plus a tad more, was red. I love red. But, I've matured a lot since I was a grade school kid and my colors have changed. Not really. I still love red but it is so brash. I've learned I also love green, especially the deep forest greens. And I enjoy a good shade of blue. My wife has taught me to embrace shades of purple, more so the violet shades she enjoys.

One of my granddaughters wanted to make me something special for my birthday and asked my favorite color. I tried to explain my hesitancy to blurt out the color red, instead telling her I liked all the colors of the rainbow.  She made me key chain fob. It was very colorful with red being the main color, but she did a great job blending in all the other colors and not make it look like a rainbow but have almost every color of the rainbow in it.

As with my choice in colors, my music choices are even more eclectic. One cannot point at me and say 'There goes a rock and roll man' or 'He's really into classical music.' Me? I roll with the waves of the ocean and my music is about as varied as the waves of the seas. To get you started, here's one of my favorite music groups, Brulé performing 'Spirit Horses.'

No, I am not Native American, but, even as a young lad playing "Cowboy and Indians" - yes, I'm THAT old - my younger brother always had to be the cowboy with the guns which left me the Indian. As I got older I was drawn to the American Indian mystique and enjoyed doing beading and recreating Indian headdresses. I even learned, at the "ripe" age of 15 some words of the Indians who lived in the NW Ohio area - the Delaware aka the Lenni Lenape or just plain, Lenape. 

Anyway, to give you a little more insight to me, here's another piece of music I enjoy.

Now, so you totally understand what I mean by the words "I enjoy" or "love" this music. I have these songs on my computer and have had them on my computer for decades for some of them. I listen to them repeatedly - and I do mean repeatedly. I may play a song over and over - as many as a dozen or more times - before moving on to the next song. Some of my music has transferred across as many as ten different computers and laptops over time. Probably more. I kept my music list on all - and I mean ALL - my computers... even at work. My play list is now about four (4) hours long and I keep adding to it as new songs come along or I find a digital copy of an old song I just have to have.

If you have a favorite piece of music, share it with me. Maybe we'll find a common ground.

In future blogs we'll discuss my favorite foods, share some recipes, more music, what I enjoy reading and whatever I feel is necessary for you to know me, Bob Nailor - the guy, the husband, the father, the grandfather and great-grandfather, the writer, the traveler, the gardener, and more.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

So Tired Of It...

Who really cares?  I mean, are there people out there who need to know this information and, if they don't, their lives are incomplete?

That's right, I'm about to rant.

Do I really need to know all about Brooke Shield's wrinkle erase cream?

Do I really need to discover Megyn Kelley's little off-show OR on-show secrets?

Do I even need to know what pill Mark Cuban is taking? Or why? OMG!

OR why one of the Kardashians is having a rough go of it? I know, life is so mean to millionaires.

Everyone is screaming their Internet is slow, it takes too long to load this video or that video. Really? You're going to watch a video about what pill Mark Cuban is taking so you can order it? If you want the pill, does it really matter if Mark Cuban is taking it? Does his decision decide yours?

If we could get rid of all the stupid SPAM - not the canned meat type - that is cluttering our networks, just think how much faster the Internet would be.

I'm a 70+ married white male with four children, ten grandchildren and currently, five great-grandchildren.

The last thing I need in my inbox is...

  1. A secret date with some cougar. I'm not looking for a 80 to 90 year old woman.
  2. A secret date with somebody's wife.  I have my wife, why do I want somebody else's?
  3. A prestigious position within the Business Women's Society or some such crap. I'm a guy!
  4. Seeing naked photos of supposed "nearby" women who need to be satisfied.
  5. To save $1500 on a walk-in tub. If I'm saving $1500, the tub is too expensive.
  6. Be involved with a Zuckerberg venture and/or Facebook.
  7. Discover ways to enhance my manhood. At this point in my life... does it matter?
  8. Anything about Gwen Stephani and/or Blake Shelton. What they do is their business.
  9. Any of the new diet pills and/or weight-loss fads. I'm fat; I'm happy - so leave me alone.
  10. I don't need medicinal anything - drugs or pills. I'm 70+, I've learned to cope so far without it.
  11. A total stranger's hoo-ha. Imagine my shock with the email that read "You Want This?" and when the email came up, it was a close-up shot of some woman's vagina. One of my grandchildren could have went to my computer and seen that since I leave me computer on 24/7 and usually have my email up, running during that time.
  12. An opportunity to send somebody $5k so I can get $150 million to assist in a transaction from Africa (or Europe, South America, Far East) of an extremely wealthy spouse of a slain official.
  13. And the list goes on and on.
Just think, if just the above type emails didn't clog the Internet, we could all probably run on a 56K modem - no, not really. I'm kidding. BUT, we'd all see things happen a lot faster.


ISP (that's your Internet Service Provider) wouldn't need to attempt to go through all the email coming to your email box and attempt to eliminate as much as possible before sending it on through to you.  I know, I have my own domain and establish SPAM rules to eliminate a lot of email for my domain(s) I handle. You won't believe all the stuff that still manages to get through.

Spammers are smart.  They use things like "Bootilicious," Booty Licious," "Bootie Licious," Booty-Licious," Bootie.Licious," and the list goes on and on with variations.  Oh, and they also attempt this method "BoOtY LiCiOuS."  And, yes, variations on it, too.

As it has been stated in the past, it is difficult to make something totally idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.

I remember the good ol' days (he sighs) when I could be on the phone and send an email to the person on the other end and almost instantly they'd say "Got it!"  Now, with all the way-stations and spam filters in place, it can take upwards of twenty minutes to get that same email.  The sending ISP will check the mail for viruses and attempt to ascertain that it is not spam, and depending on the route taken, a couple of other places will also test the email for viruses and spam.

The sad part, if you put into your email, say to a client or customer, the following sentence:

Yes, I said it was FREE!

That sentence alone could flag it as spam. You capitalized the word "free" which for some spam filters, is a flag to be counted.  If your email letter gets too many flags, it is considered spam and goes into the spam box and the world may never see it.

The truly sad aspect of spam - real mail may get stopped and tossed away while the crappy spam email comes through, totally unscathed.

Some spam filters look at the content size and if the flags count up... but the text size is large, it is allowed through.  Hence the emails of spam now filled with useless garbled blurbage at the end. It gets the text count up to offset the flag count. As I said, idiots are so ingenious.

What can be done? Really - nothing.  Like my friend who despises the canned meat known as SPAM, even if you ignore it, it still remains on the store shelves, indicating that somebody somewhere is buying it.

I guess the same is true for all the other spam - out there in the great web of cyberspace, somebody is clicking on the link to discover the "truth" about Brooke Shield's wrinkle cream... or wanting to enhance the size of his manhood.

We all have our dreams... I dream of an Internet without spam.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, June 12, 2017


And I don't mean the type in a can... although I am somewhat partial to that treat, especially when camping. That, and canned corned beef - not corned beef hash which looks like dog food. But, I digress.

SPAM by any other name is usually called junk mail, be it electronic or snail delivery.

Sometimes spam is fun... as I will show you later on in this post.

BUT, first, my issues.

I just received an email that promised to lower my weight by three dress sizes. In fairness, my email address of "lore" does leave some ambiguity to my true sex, but if it was me, I'd lean more toward a male name versus it being a female name. Needless to say, my wife would have a raised eyebrow if I were to go down three dress sizes since that would demand a whole new wardrobe for me.

Before going too much further, I should admit I have more than one email address. I have several. Some are used strictly for junk email where I've gone to pages that are giving something away but demand your email address to sign up for their "discreet or seldom used" emails.  By stating "discreet" I was not inferring to any porn site - I meant, they promise not to bombard me with a bazillion emails.  Yeah, right.

I have an email with "bob" as the contact.  Now, just offhandedly, I would think most people would consider that name to be a male. Although, it could be a shortened "bobbie" for a girl, but...

Anyway, as "bob" I was offered an exclusive opportunity to join other young female executives into a very prestigious organization. I've received this email repeatedly over the days, weeks, months and yes, even years. Finally, in desperation, I replied. I was formal. I was polite. I was to the point. I wanted to know, since I'd been especially selected by a committee to join this elite group, exactly how my membership in said organization would appear, being that I'm a retired, non-executive male. Would this be an honorary degree or title? Would I be allowed to speak at engagements as "one of the girls" when they had said meetings. Of course, the fact I am over 70, male, and retired, I wasn't exactly sure how I would interact as a forceful, young female executive on her way up the corporate ladder. I was sure my insight to hair style, tasteful clothing, proper makeup and office mindset would or could be somewhat skewed.

Since my offer to accept the application and join the organization, I received ONE direct email stating the offer was designed to be general and my name would be removed from the mailing list. Since then I can honestly state, offers to join those esteemed females of the business world has lessened.

Several of my email addresses have received offerings to enhance my sexual experience. Some seem to have an idea that I might be a male and need either sexual enhancements, either in actual physical dimensions or heightened sexual enjoyment. They get deleted.  Still, I did get a couple that thought I might be female and needed a way to expand my sexual knowledge and/or heighten the pivotal moment's experience by making it last longer. I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to reply to that particular email. I really worry it might be a "snagger" - somebody who spams and hopes for replies to validate a "real" email address.

About "snaggers" - almost every email has at the bottom a little quip to state if you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here and you'll be removed or unsubscribed from the list. Again, YEAH. RIGHT. So many of those emails are valid email address collectors. Valid email addresses - you reply, validates your email as real - are worth their weight in gold... and I mean it. Even a digital email address does have some weight and become a great weapon or sales point.  You can sell 1000 emails for $1.00 but you can sell 100 validated emails for $100 - of course, I'm making up the values since I don't know the truth in what email addresses are worth, but I do know valid ones are very valuable. And, yes, one can buy email lists, and the validated email lists are extremely expensive.

I, at first, was clicking on those links to remove myself from that particular spam list. All it seemed to do was increase my junk email.  Years ago, before I had "wifi" on the road, I was camping for a week (5 days - Monday thru Friday) and when I got home, you should have seen my email "in" box.  BTW, I did have a limited spam filter working back then, too.  I will be honest - I had 3 email accounts at that time.  My "lore" address - which is my main account - had over 2700 emails in 5 days. The other two accounts had over 4000 emails between them. I spent a whole day deleting junk.  I was reminded of the scene from "Bruce Almighty" where Jim Carrey decides to just reply "yes" to all the prayer requests. I was considering just highlighting all the mail and hitting 'delete' but that meant I may lose some real mail. I stepped back from that idea and continued to delete each junk email, saving the good emails to read later.

As you read above with the executive women junk email, I had a little fun and I could have had a lot more.  Here's a couple of links to some great spam email interaction.  Enjoy.  (African gold transfer)  (Mandela diamond deal)

and this one shows how to handle "unsubscribe" tactics.

For me, I have and own several domains and therefore can have as many email addresses as I want. Of course, I also have other email addresses, too. Maintaining them does get a tad overwhelming, but they serve their purpose for me. The one "junk" email address I have is the easiest one to maintain. I go in, peruse who the email is from, select all, and hit delete. This process takes maybe a whole minute, maybe two minutes. As I said, it is my junk account and I don't usually want anything to do with the emails that come to it. My other email addresses take a little longer to work through the spam but...

As I munch on my Spam sandwich, I happily delete the spam from my main and other accounts.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pomp and Circumstance

It's that time of year again - when everyone somewhere is having a graduation party.

This year my wife's school honored those who graduated not only 50 years ago, but also those who graduated 75 years ago.  My wife was in the 50 year bracket... I'm not THAT old. LOL.

It was interesting to see the difference between graduation when I graduated back in 1965, my wife in 1967 and those who graduated today.  In fact, I was noticing a lot of differences regarding the many facets of the graduation.

Hats. Boards. Whatever you want to call them - those funny square things on your head with the tassel dangling to one side.  Back in the "olde" days, they were sacred, held with reverence, etc and yada, yada.  Today, they are marked up with phrases, pictures, bedazzled and anything else you can think of.  Today I saw phrases written in stark contrast pen, several collages of pictures, a few bejeweled and bedazzled with stones and glitter, a couple with flowers and one even had a couple of butterflies on it. To say "interesting" would be mild.

When I graduated, I briskly walked across the stage, shook hands while my other hand held the diploma, a quick smile to my parents who had their cameras ready and as I walked off the stage, I moved the tassel to the opposite side to denote my graduation.  Today?  No pictures allowed ... or should I say, no flashes allowed.  There was a professional photographer taking a picture of each student graduating, a posed picture. Once everyone had their diploma and everyone was back at their seat, one student came forward, faced the graduation group and in unison, they moved the tassel to the other side with a small amount of hooting and fanfare.

Processional. There was some decorum in the introduction of the graduating class as they marched into the auditorium and up onto the stage.  Of course, the high school (.less seniors) performed the rite of passage - Pomp and Circumstance.  Eh.  No critique.  The band also played the music for the now graduated seniors as the left the auditorium.  Oh, wait.  This was new.  The students, rather than walking straight down the aisle, walked across in front of the stage, criss-crossing with the opposite side and each of them met in the middle - they did a little "something" to make it unique.  Some did a double-slap high-5, others did a hug, some did a butt-bump, some shook hands. Each couple attempted to be different than the couple before them.  Definitely not like the stiff and staunch march I had to perform at my graduation.  I think I liked it.

Graduation parties.  Wow.  My party was very low key.  I had about 10 people there, only 4 of which were graduating student friends.  I mean, almost everyone else was having family graduation parties, so I was thrilled to have a couple of friends to join my family party. We had NO family near us when I was growing up - no aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no grandparents.  My mom was from NYC, my dad was from Iowa.  I was raised in Ohio.  I had friends.

Saturday, coming through Toledo, I saw people getting ready for all the different parties.  What I found truly interesting, I noticed one guy out hammering stakes in his yard to show his property lines. Here's the cool part - he was putting up "No Parking" signs and a couple of "Private Property" signs. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing there "ain't a whole lot of neighborly love" right there.  The other guy who obviously was having the party, had tents, coolers, banners, and all sorts of party regalia up blowing in the breeze - in the yard, in the trees, on the house, over the garage. We are talking PARTY!

Memories. The speeches today kept repeating over and over - this is the last time you will all be together as a group. Never again will you all be together in one spot.  In my head, I could hear so many of those graduates mentally thinking: Yeah, yeah, we'll all get together for our 5 year reunion.

No, you won't. Surprise! Today was your last day together as a group. Tomorrow, next month, next year, as terrible as this sounds, one of your old schoolmates will bite the dust. That's right, they'll die. Or, they'll be in surgery or overseas, or not get the notification or one of a thousand other reasons for them not to be there.  How do I know?  One of my classmates passed two weeks prior to our 50th reunion.  I had to skip the 40th reunion due to a quadruple bypass surgery.  One of our classmates has fallen off the face of the earth - we have NO contacts for him - no parents, no relatives, no siblings. He graduated and that is the last we saw him. I graduated during the Vietnam era but I can proudly say, we lost no classmates to the war. Those who have passed, have done so since.

So, to those graduating this year. You have a few distinctions that I would like to bring up.

1. You are the last graduating class who was born in the 1900s.
2. You are technically advanced but totally ignorant of simplistic thinking.
3. You see space and the stars as locations, we saw them as points of wonder for the imagination.
4. The nucleus family is no more.
5. Like a rock star who hasn't had a hit in two months, when I pass, no one will care beyond the next day or visit my grave... this is your future.

Today was Pomp and Circumstance. Tomorrow is reality.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Writing Dilemma

Now exactly what could be so horrific to cause a writer to panic?

I'm 70+ years old and have several novels published, both traditionally and self-published. Not to mention several articles and posts that have offered internationally. Still, I, like so many other authors, remain unknown.

I'm considering not to continue my supposed writing career. At my age, I should be rocking away on the front porch, enjoying life as it passes by.


Enjoy life as it PASSES BY?  NO!  NO!  NO!

I had a few days this week when I actually considered dropping from the authorial world and just enjoy life, playing with the grandkids and great-grandkids, gardening, reading, and traveling. I almost had myself convinced to just sit back.

Then I decided I would step back from writing and just finish up those few novels I'd written and either never finished or needed to clean up to publish.  That sounded like a better idea. It could be something I do while we are traveling and camping... or sitting on the front porch. LOL.

I figured a one-year sabbatical - two years at the most - would be sufficient.

So, I made a list of those novels I needed to work on... uh, all 26 (the count so far) of them. That's correct!  I have 26 novels in different stages of completion. I actually may have more if I scrounge around on my laptop and backup files. This number does not include the myriad of short stories I have written.

Needless to say, I don't want to peek into the sub-directory named "Future Plots" or the other one named "Ideas" for fear of what I may find there.

Therefore, with the idea of not writing anymore now entrenched in my mind, I have decided that perhaps I should reconsider another avenue.

I won't write any more NEW books until I have the ones already on my laptop finished.

Exactly what does this mean?

It means I won't be participating in any future NaNoWriMos (that is National Novel Writing Month which happens in November) or seeing a wild-flung idea/plot from some obscure news article or tidbit discovered while surfing the internet.  Also, I might have to control my imagination when watching certain TV shows - like Aliens on the History channel or of that ilk. National Geographic and History channel can be great idea generators.  I can't give up Giorgio Tsoukalos, Erich von Daniken, David Childress, Peter Fiebag, Robert Bauval and Luc Burgin. Nor can I give up the SyFy channel.  I'll just have to control (aka lock down) my imagination.

I figure if I can finish, edit and publish at least two (2) books a year - it will take me a mere thirteen (13) years to finish all those I have lurking (aka languishing) on my laptop.  Even IF I were to be able to push myself to 3 books a year; it would still take over 8 years to finish them all. Exactly WHERE did I think one or two years would be sufficient?

Can I control my imagination to not... repeat, NOT want to write something new for the next ten years?

At the current time, I am open to any and all suggestions of how to complete the task at hand.

Uh, so you have a "basic" understanding of what I've got stuffed in my laptop --

5 Amish novels, one is a horror, the rest Christian and sort of a series
5 vampire novels (a series)
4 fantasy novels (a series)
2 action adventure novels (1 is a sequel to a published book)
3 epic fantasy novels
1 Native American werewolf vampire detective story
1 Native American fantasy
1 mainstream fiction
1 historical fiction
1 military fantasy
1 SF novel
1 fairy fantasy

As you can see, a very eclectic selection of stories. Oh, and the short stories are a collage of SF, horror, and fantasy... and we have NO count on those.

Is this the time I should mention, I have one "screenplay" I also have in the works and not part of the counts above?


Until next I ramble on...

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Comma's Story

This week I'm sharing a blog I read. I hope you enjoy it. As an editor, I see so much drama with commas, lack of or overuse of. Enjoy...

bewilderd commaThe comma stood on the corner, bleating, “Please, can someone help me? I know I belong somewhere, but I can’t quite remember where.”
Devon Taylor, copy editor, sat at the counter of the diner counter across the street and watched as passers-by skittered around the pitiful punctuation mark. They looked away determined to not notice it.
Devon (destined to become The Nib) couldn’t really blame them. Commas were notoriously slippery creatures. But there was something about this comma that made Devon think it was truly in trouble.
The editor set down the empty coffee cup and wandered across the street.
Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What I've Learned OR The Rainy Day is Here!

I've made 70 circles around the sun. If you want a more impressive number, the moon has made over 900 cycles around the earth in my lifetime, so far.  BUT... In that time, surprisingly, I was able to learn a few things. Some of them were easy, others took a little more ... shall we call it wedging with a sledgehammer?

I'm retired.  I spent many decades working, always giving my all to my job, fretting when I couldn't make it in due to illness and feeling guilty when I was on vacation when a big project had to be finished. A friend of mine told me "This company doesn't give two farts to the wind about you. Don't stress yourself, they don't."  But I did.  I actually thought the company couldn't continue without me.

I was wrong.  I retired. I left and went back about one month later to see how things were going. Some people didn't even realize I had retired and been gone for any length of time. Everything still stood, life continued and didn't care if I was there or not. Yeah, I was a little depressed. I felt sure there would be a myriad of questions of how this or that was done. The questions didn't come.

In fact, it wasn't until about 6 or 8 months after my retirement that I got a frantic call about something failing. Seems they cleaned house over the weekend, getting rid of a lot of old equipment. They removed the sign "Do Not Turn Off" and removed the server over the weekend. On Tuesday, when the one employee attempted to print a seating chart - it failed. I got a call the following Monday as to what could be the problem since I wrote the program. Found out they removed the server which removed the program, the source code and the compiler. There was nothing I could do to help them. I'd printed out the source code with an explanation of what each line of code did for every special program I created, but it was deemed a waste of paper and tossed. They "hoped" I had a copy at home. Uh, no.

It was obvious, my last place of employment, and several of the others prior, had no regard for me or my work. Unless it impacted them and/or the bottom line ($$) they didn't care. Why should I?

So, again, I reiterate - Unless you own the business, don't fret about it or kill yourself, nobody cares. In other words, go to work, do your work with pride and go home and enjoy your real life.

What else did I learn? Learn to pick your fights. Sometimes you don't actually get that opportunity. Yes, the opportunity to pick your fight. It seems no matter what you do, the fight is coming to you and you're going to be in the mess. When that happens, take the appropriate action. BUT, if you can avoid a fight, do so. Is it really worth the effort of fighting about whether this or that is true or false? Step back and evaluate the battleground. Give it a lot of thought. With you winning or losing, will it make a difference? Next week, next month, next year - will the outcome have some bearing on it? So, it don't make a difference, why engage? If you win, it won't matter. If you lose, it won't matter. So why even get involved? Walk away.

Another tidbit - Money. What did I learn about mone?. One never seems to have enough. When I made $1.25 an hour, I wanted to make more. When I made almost $50 an hour, it seemed I still needed more. I didn't realize until I retired the true reason for that... even though it had been flaunted in my face at one time. Each person will consume to the level of income. That is almost a universal law. When I was cut back during a company-wide crisis back in the 80s - another employee friend of mine moaned that he wasn't sure how he would survive the 15% cutback. Sorry, but I couldn't empathize with him - I'd been cut back 22.5% and when I explained my situation, he explained he had a much higher cost of living. Our friendship sort of withered during the cutback and never re-bloomed when things got better.  It didn't matter how much one made, we all lived to the full capacity of our income and a cutback, whether 15% or 22.5% - it hit the paycheck. So, what did I learn about money? Try to stay within the means of your income. Actually stay within 75% of your income and avoid using credit. Yes, it is only a few dollars each month, but the number of months is astronomical in the long run. I am currently working to eliminate all debts and expenses except those needed for day-to-day living that one can not eliminate: trash removal, phone service, electric, water and other such amenities.

Another fact of growing up. A friend of mine retired shortly after me and from what I can tell, he quit shaving, showered when others made faces or flat out told him, and basically vegetates in his house. He said to me: I cleaned and shaved every day, put on a fresh shirt, tied that tie and wore a suit with shiny shoes for a professional look. He decided to go feral. Okay, I retired and gave up the fancy suit and tie look. Yes, I'd worn "monkey clothes" for most of my working life with a few days of simple dressing. After retirement, I started to wear shorts and t-shirts, going barefoot when I could. I would put on long pants and a nice polo shirt when going to town. By the way, this is my year-round apparel wearing routine. Yes, I walk outside to get the mail wearing shorts, even when the snow is blowing, I just add a hooded sweatshirt or jacket. And I wear moccasins almost daily.  Sunday, when I go to church, I tend to dress up - a nice shirt, slacks, socks and shoes, but the minute I get home, they get changed to shorts and t-shirt.  Retirement is about enjoying life - your way - but it always means that you still need to function within society, so one does need to bathe and consider hygiene.  Still, it is your life, enjoy it as you see fit... you worked for this moment, enjoy it.

Remember the phrase - We're saving it for that special time? Exactly when will that special time happen? We had "good" china, special candles and fancy clothes for a special occasion. Of course, it could anything you have that you've been saving. Why? When will it be that special moment? Use it. My wife and I have lugged special china I bought while in the Navy all over the USA with us as we've moved over the years. Always keeping it for that special meal. I think we've used it maybe 3 or 4 times - hardly worth the effort of keeping it all these years - over 40+ years! We are now considering down-sizing and it will be up for sale. Why? At this point in time, every day is a special day and we don't use them - we use paper plates for convenience. Time to clean house. We had some crystal china my wife had collected and we finally decided to use them as everyday plates. Rather fancy for a meal but we used them and finally sold them. My mother received a blouse that was expensive and she saved it for a special day. She's gone and the blouse was sold in the estate sale, never worn. If you have it, use it. You woke up today so it is a special day, make it even more special and enjoy the stuff you're saving - otherwise it will be sold at a sale. It may mean something to you, but to those who "inherit" all your fine things, it probably won't mean a thing - 25¢ blouse or 10¢ plate. Enjoy what life has given you, don't stash it away for a rainy day.

Oh, wait - that might be the magic phrase I'm trying to allude to - Forget the rainy day, enjoy it now!

When it comes time to regret, you'll always regret the things you didn't do. Seldom does one regret doing what they did. They may think it a better choice not to have participated, but will they regret it? Not really!

I enjoy my family, my community, my hobbies: traveling, writing, fishing, gardening and being with my wife.

It is better to have ______ and lost than not to have ______ at all. (fill in the blank to fit your need)

I see rain but I also see a bright sunny day in my very near future. I'm purging myself of all that is holding me back, cleaning house, and moving forward. In the words of Johnny Nash...

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Yeah, the perfect song. Enjoy it... and remember, you are your first priority and that includes your family. The rest will fall into proper place.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I started teaching this week.  What am I teaching?  Writing, of course.  I'm doing a 7 week course I created called "Sailing The Seven Cs" which is based on my segment of a how-to writing book.

I arrived at the college early so I could discuss another project with the department head and make sure I had enough time for lunch before my 1pm class.

Okay, I arrived early and she was in another class.  As I sat in the lounge, I was able to watch other students.  That's when I say the latest (at least for me) in multi-tasking.

The young man had a small electronic notepad, Kindle or iPad and was watching the news on it. At the same time, he had another smaller electronic device he was playing a game on. He also had a set of earbuds and I thought he was listening to the game.  I was wrong.  I heard a cellphone ring and he pulled it out of his pocket which had the cord to the earbuds. He yanked the earbuds out of his ears and I heard music - either rap or something with a heavy beat.  In my ignorance, I listen to rock and roll - basically 50s, 60s, 70s, and some 80s stuff, new age, classical, show tunes and country. I'm eclectic but just haven't gotten into rap or heavy metal and/or grunge.  Anyway, he started talking to somebody, grabbed the news playing unit and the screen changed to what appeared to be another news channel.  Just as quickly, he picked up an earbud, stuck it in his ear and immediately placed the other one on the speaker of his cellphone. "Listen to this!"  Again, it was music but I couldn't really make it out.

From what I could tell, the conversation between him and his friend revolved around the music he was listening to and the news.  AND, all during this time, he also continued to play the game while at the same time, involving another student who was sitting a nearby table into the news aspect.

Sorry, but this old guy's mind was blown.  How does one multi-task so many different things at once?

I was visiting my #4 son's house a while back and his 6 and 7 year old daughters were watching some show on TV.  I, for some reason, thought it to be an animated movie, like Veggie Tales or whatnot.

Again, WRONG!

It was Shopkins.  The segments are about 60 seconds, some shorter, some longer, and then it is over and a new segment comes on.

We say our children don't stay focused on one thing for any length of time. As an adult (parent) have you watched what they watch?  Just because it is a "children's" station or show, doesn't mean that it is automatically the best thing to watch.

Years ago, I was home sick and was helping my wife watch the first our grandchildren. They wanted to watch their TV shows.  My wife put them on.  I was amazed at the shortness of the scenes and the variance of each scene. I just sat there shaking my head in disbelief.

On the way to work the next day, the passenger riding next to me got up to leave and asked if I'd like to read the magazine, otherwise she would toss it.  I agreed to read it.  Inside was an article that explained how children's TV shows today are designed to keep their interest and to keep them from wandering away from the TV.


Short scenes, voice changes, lighting variances - everything plays to the child to keep his mind occupied.  In order to do that, everything is a short burst. The child won't leave the TV for fear of missing something.

Think about that!!

You go to the theater and during the movie, you want popcorn or a drink - you get up, hurry to get whatever and race back to your seat. You might miss something but more than likely, not too much and can quickly pick up the flow.

Not so with a children's TV show. By the time they've toddled to the other side of the room, they could have missed a whole episode - hence they stay put.

Is this part of the multi-tasking that I saw at college last week?  Are the young children growing up in a world where everything must happen in 30 seconds, no more than 60 seconds or lose their interest?

When I was a child, I'd sit under a big tree and listen to the wind blow through the leaves or watch the wind play atop the fields of golden wheat - mesmerized for great lengths of time.  Today when I attempt to show this to my grandchildren, it is a quick glance followed by "That's nice" and they move on.  I could read a phrase in a book and get lost in the reverie as I pondered its meaning and how it made me feel. It could be a couple of minutes, even five or ten minutes, maybe longer.

I consider myself multi-tasking when I write, listen to music, stare out the window from time to time and sometimes chew gum.  But, watching the news, playing a game, listening to music and talking to a friend on the phone and the guy at the next table?  That is taking multi-tasking to a whole new height.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 30, 2017

Age - The Illusive Butterfly

Age.  Exactly what it age?  I mean, for most it is an accumulation of years... or the number of times one has traveled around the sun. For others, it is a mindset.

In reality, it is gravity.

Within my mind, I'm not that old.  I can't be THAT old! It was only yesterday, or was it last week? I was out playing ball with my sons, hitting a few to prepare them for the summer season.  The oldest just took his driver's test - yeah, that was the first of the week, yeah, I"m sure.

No, that can't be. My mind just had a relapse.  Uh, my oldest son is a grandfather. Wait a minute. So is my #2 son.

OMG!  I'm a great-grandfather.  I'm too young for that.  In fact, I was too young to be a grandfather and that was just... OMG!  That was over twenty years ago!

I'd ask where time has gone but we all know - Time marches on.

Today I'm helping my wife. We're shampooing the rug and it is nothing like doing your hair. The machine isn't too heavy. Well, at least, when the young whelp at the store lifted it off the shelf it didn't seem too heavy.  Somewhere between that moment and me actually picking it up to put in the back of the car - it had gained another 200 pounds. With a little effort - okay, a major effort, I was able to lift it into the back of the car.  BTW, without the assistance of my lovely bride, I might add. (Insert your favorite themed music background - Tarzan, Superman, He-Man, etc.)

Sidenote: The only redeeming grace of this incident is it didn't happen at a WalMart parking lot. I rented the machine from a local grocery store.  Otherwise, I probably would have seen my image on Facebook as part of the "WalMart People" slide presentation.

Continuing on.

I shampooed the living room carpet. I've never really thought of my living room as huge. Okay. It is large, about 15x21, but it isn't what I would call an awe-inspiring chamber.  After getting all the furniture out of the room, need I say, there was a rest period?  I started shampooing.

It is time for honesty.  My living room is HUGE!  Going back and forth, back and forth.  I think I walked about 38, maybe 39 miles pulling and pushing that machine.  Remember, it wasn't all that heavy.  After the first 3 trips back and forth - pull trigger for cleaner, pull the machine s-l-o-w-l-y across the room and then push it s-l-o-w-l-y back to the starting point. Release trigger. Repeat the process without holding the trigger so the machine can suck up the moisture.

Do you remember me stating the machine wasn't 'all that heavy' at the start?  Uh, that was without the chambers filled with liquid.  In case you didn't know, water weighs a measly 8 pounds per gallon.  I believe the chamber holds about 3000 gallons... or, at least, that much by the time I was nearing the end of the process.

It seemed the dirt coming up out of the carpet added extra weight... and the two large African elephants riding on the machine didn't lighten the load.  No, wait, I was hallucinating.

Okay, the carpet looks great.  A job well done.

Now, back to age.  As I told my wife, this would have been so much easier back when I was 30. I laughed. Strange to think that.  Actually, it would have been easier when I was 50.

Never once in my life did I ever think I would look back at an age and think how great it would be. Okay, honesty here.  Yes, I did think back, but never ONCE did I ever think I'd be glad to be 50. I guess that is what your mindset is when you're 70 years of age.

Ahh... to be 60 again.  Sure it would be nice to be 30 but I don't think I would want all the turmoil of being 30 in today's society.  The age of 50 wouldn't be too bad, but 60, that seems, at least to me, to be a nice figure.  Not too old.  Not too young.  Call it middle age. Yeah, I like that.

My wife, the realist in the family let me know the truth. "You're 70, honey. Get over it."

And, so I am.  Gravity is taking its toll.  Some days gravity doesn't suck as strongly as other days. I enjoy those days because I feel like I'm 60 and that feels great.

Like a butterfly in the yard - age flits around, letting you run up and down the scale of ages, being whatever your mind thinks and your body willing to accommodate.

On December 31st of 2016, I completed 70 round trips of our sun. I'm proud of that accomplishment. My mind and body haven't totally accepted those facts... and I don't want them to!!

Today I want to live in that illusive butterfly moment and be the age I want to be.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Last Chance - In More Ways Than One

For those who don't know it ... I'm running an edit special.  I'm taking "appointments" for editing of short stories and novels.  Assigning them 'down the road' so to speak.  If you know you will need an editor, say mid-Feb, I'm willing to lock you into a time so when the time comes, you'll have my services available... and at a reasonable price.  Yes, rather than my standard $1.50/page (which by the way will be changing later on) — I'm only charging $1.00 per page.  You save 30% on my editing services.

Okay, that was last chance #1 — this offer will be expiring soon. Remember two things, prices are going up and this offer won't last forever, although you can lock it in now.

Now, about last chance #2.  Sort of off-the-wall.  I bought me a new knit hat.  Yeah, big whoop, but this one has LED lights.  Again, big whoop.  Let me explain.  I got an LED thinsulate knit hat for the "men's" Christmas exchange this year for our family get together.  My granddaughter's boyfriend got it in the 'drawing of the numbers" as we call it.  He was thrilled and personally, I found a lot of uses for it around my house. I wanted one.  I found this one on Amazon, costing a lot less and not quite as delicate to remove to wash the hat.  This one has dual lights.  I mean, it has 4 white lights just like the one I gave, but this one also has 2 red and 2 blue lights which flash red, then blue, then red and blue together and finally repeat the pattern over.  I think they said it was supposedly for emergency aid.  Not sure about that.  I found the white lights work great when I'm away during the day and have to go collect chicken eggs in the dark.  The coop doesn't have electric, per se.  It has an electric cord run to it that keeps the watering dish heated, but otherwise, it gets dark, it IS dark — no lights.  The chickens didn't mind the white LED light when I collected the eggs.  I reached up to turn it off and the next option (red/blue) kicked in.  I thought my chickens were going to start dancing.  Suddenly I felt like I was in a disco.  The chickens got quite vocal about the red/blue flashing lights.  Now, my son came up with a better use for the red/blue lights.  He says when I'm driving the roads at night, with limited traffic, as I come up to a slow poke, hit the red/blue and they will probably move to the side thinking a state trooper is behind them.  Hmm?  Just not too sure I want to give that option a try — my luck, I'd do it to a law officer off duty.  I don't need slammer time, especially at my age.

My next last chance —  I can't believe I'm actually saying this.  Food.  I weighed myself and was not happy with the way the scale numbers spun on the dial.  I've gained weight. SO, last chance was today.  I am now on a rigorous diet and exercise program.  Okay, not really... well, sort of.  I am watching my intake of carbs and portion sizes.  Last Friday was my last all-you-can-eat fish fry... or, at least, limiting them to maybe once a month. I might be able to skip them if I do baked fish on Fridays.  Again, it won't be all-you-can-eat, but it should sooth the crave.  I love fish.  Of course, I can basically eat all the shrimp, crab, lobster and scallops I want.  Scallops are hard to get here in this locale. Lobster is too expensive to gorge on.  So, crab and shrimp it is... and I love shrimp grilled or baked and who can pass on steamed crabs?  Not me!  Again, they are proteins so they don't have a lot of effect on my blood sugar, but I'm sure glutting on them will have an effect on my weight, so once again, it will be portion control.  I'm going back to my breakfast of kale smoothies.  I love them. My wife?  She'll pass on the green mixture.  I'm giving you my secret recipe...

1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup chopped kale (I usually just put in a leaf of kale, including the stem)
2 T chia seeds
1 T honey
1 t cinnamon
1 t turmeric
juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
some chopped ice - maybe 1/4 cup?

Blend it all together until a nice pure green silky drink.  I say YUM. If you try it, let me know what you think of my special breakfast go-get'em.

Of course, my cooking habits will have to change, too. No more all these gourmet meals of decadent yummies laden with butter.  I will need to streamline my cooking habits to a healthier ideal.  I know it can be done.  Goodbye double-stuffed twice baked potatoes. Goodbye cheesy-garlicky biscuits.  Goodbye thick soups. Hello brothy soups.  Hello zesty, spicy foods baked or broiled.  Goodby weight.

Another last chance? I have just a few more days to order my seeds to start growing them inside before Spring arrives.  This is January. If you calculate 3 weeks for a turn-around on delivery of my order(s) — that gets me into February.  If it takes 12 weeks to grow the seed to put out by May 1st, uh, I'm pushing it.  Twelve weeks is the equivalent of 3 months — Feb, Mar, Apr... which pushes me into May.  I will be ordering my seeds tomorrow. The bigger the tomato plant going in the garden, the sooner luscious tomatoes can be harvested. The same holds true for flowers  I want blooms in late May, early June — not the middle of July.

My last last chance to place here. I will be attending a 'get-together' soiree at Terra State Community College on Thursday, January 19th to discuss with others about my class I am teaching.  Yes, I am teaching a class in writing.  It will be a 6-week course and be an intense explanation about writing and handling the aspects as an author in today's publishing world.  I have been working on my classes and I think I know what I want to handout at the soiree, but I need to put that together. I got a couple of days.  I will be busy.

A final last chance?  There is never a final last chance. They just keep coming and coming.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Calendar Experience - Time in My Hands

Yeah, happy new years - once again it is calendar time.  Yup, that time of the year. If you didn't go about collecting calendars prior to Christmas, the selections of FREE calendars is now limited.

We normally get a nice book-type calendar from our insurance company. My wife loves it, big enough to write in, yet small enough to fit in her purse.  Of course, that sentence is a conundrum in and of itself. Small enough to fit in her purse - that thing is about the size of a picnic basket. Okay, I'll be honest, it is now smaller than that since we no longer have four kids to tow around. But, I digress.  Yup! Nada left. I was able to get the last wall calendar and two desk calendars. Score for me!

Not that we're all that rich, but we do have two banks.  Enter bank one. Nope, they didn't get calendars this year - in fact, they had to go next door to an insurance agency and get one for their wall. Hmm?  Do I really want to bank here?  [sigh]  Off to bank number two. The wife scores two more wall calendars.

Almost all is copacetic within my world - except... I had this super really great neato calendar we got back in 2015 for 2016.  So cool.  It showed a week at a time, flipped the pages so I could save the information and had space where I could write down appointments and such.  I loved that calendar.  It stood against the window by my desk. If I gazed out the window (I do a lot of that!) I would see my calendar and know what was ahead for the week - doctor appointment, classes to teach, speaking engagements, book signings. Everything was right there. Flip a page and see what was planned for next week.

If somebody called and wanted to get together to talk and have coffee at the local cafe, a quick check of that calendar and I knew what was planned.

Putting it bluntly... I NEEDED A NEW ONE!!

I was reluctant to approach the establishment where I'd gotten the calendar before.  I was there for a funeral of a friend's mother back in 2015.  I'd not have the opportunity to attend a funeral there since. Could I really just saunter in, pick up a calendar and walk back out?  Rather crass. I considered waiting until there was a funeral and slide in as unobtrusively as possible. Option 1 seemed the awkward, but option 2 seemed the really awkward, especially if somebody was visiting and saw me and said "I didn't know you knew so-n-so." A reply of "Just picking up a calendar." didn't seem an appropriate.

I decided the frontal attack was the best and drove to the community and parked my car. I sat there staring at the entrance.  Could I do this?  Answer?  NO.  I drove home.

Welcome to Arts and Crafts 101.  I decided to do my own calendar.  I had the supplies.   I had the skills.  I had the time.

I found a calendar for 2017 that was somewhat like what I wanted but it was 1 full page per week and I definitely didn't want that.  I spent a whole day finding that calendar. Okay, I spent about 4 hours locating it.  I spent another almost 6 hours reworking to what I wanted. In other words, it don't look anything like the original I found. Of course, my wife wanted one, too.  So I printed out one set which only printed on 1/2 of the page in landscape mode. I flipped the pages around and re-did it for another set. Then I began the assembly.

First, I got all my items together: printed calendar, paper cutter, old calendar holders, and my handy-dandy binder system.

I cut the pages in half to make two sets. Tedious job, only two pages at a time to cut... and with 53 weeks, plus a full calendar page with 2017 and 2018, that was 27 cuts.  Yes, there only 52 weeks in a year, but there was the beginning partial week with 2016 and the ending partial with 2018. 

Now the fancy cut work for the spiral binding.  Again, only a few pages. I did most 3 pages at a time, although the instructions say I can use up to 6 pages of 20# paper. In my youth, I probably would have slapped in 6 or 8 pages and slammed the cutter down, but, now in my maturity, I've learned less is more.  It is easier to carry in 4 bags, two in each hand, than attempt 8 bags in the left, with another 6 heavier ones in the right and a 20# bag of dog food on the shoulder.  Anyway, I cut the pages.

After cutting those cute, small square notches, I then assembled them onto a spiral holder.

And VOILA! The final product.  Yes, I am rather proud of myself.

Who'd have thunk I could do such marvelous work?  Even my wife was amazed at my skills. And my calendar sits proudly on the windowsill where I can see what is happening in my future... at least, when I'm not gazing or daydreaming out the window.  BTW, at the present time, there are 4 deer ambling through, about 35 feet from my house. They're in the thicket, grazing.  Yes, in my bio I mention I'm snuggled in a wooded acre.  I am. It is so peaceful.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Some Tips to Share

As most of you know, I fight continuously on the battle of the bulge. My stomach just doesn't want to be reduced. Now, stepping back and evaluating this information, I've come to realize some of it is my fault and some of it is caused by medications.

First, let me explain the really easy part. My fault.  I love to eat, plain and simple. I love food. I love to cook and seriously get excited with flavor combinations. I'm always on the lookout for a new recipe that will test my culinary skills and tickle my palate when I eat it. Hence, gluttony will get me every time. Plus, right now, holidays are a killer. Everyone is bringing something for me to taste and well, taste I must. LOL.  The second aspect of my fault is my lack of exercise. When I was exercising, I was losing weight.  Uh, I fell off the wagon.  No exercise means extra weight. Plain and simple.  The tip here: Exercise and watch what you're eating.

Now, let me explain about my medications. I'm diabetic, stage 2. Last year, this time, my A1C was over 10 and my doctor was totally ticked. He wanted me on insulin. I fought that battle and got my A1C down to like 7.4 and I went on a strict, rigid diet, cutting my carbs and meal intakes. My doctor had me take a "diabetes learning class" and things went awry. My instructor was appalled I had cut out almost all carbs. She was adamant, I had to have carb intake. She put me on a diet that consisted of 60 carbs per meal (3X daily) and 30 carbs per snack (3X daily) and if you do quick math, that is 270 carbs a day.  I tried it.  My weight skyrocketed. And my sugar increased, too.  So, after a couple of months of seeing this drastic change, I went back to my diet with minimal carbs. I love rice and potatoes and I wasn't about to cut that from my diet. I just drastically cut back the amount and how often. No more heaping piles of rice - a polite amount, one half cut. I got my rice hit. Same held true for the potatoes. A small serving or a very small baked potato. No longer do I search the tater pile for the biggest ones I can find.  Even French fries are being limited. My tip about this is simple: You are what you eat - or if you're talking about medications - what you take - try to keep control.

But, I digress. My medications, many of them, have side effects and usually that includes, of all things, weight gain. I spoke with my doctor about that and he had a solution. I figured another pill. Wrong! He pulled a fast one on me. I take a Victoza shot every day. It helps me maintain my sugar and also dampens my appetite - somewhat.

Now, as I said, I gave up my exercise. I'm paying for that action now. I've regained about 10 pounds of what I've lost.  I'm still under 250, down from the original 268 at the beginning of the year, so I consider that a good thing. I think I've maintained a 20 pound loss over the year. Yay!!  My tip at this point? Keep focus and don't lose heart. It is too easy to give in.

As stated, I stopped my exercise and to say I became more fixture-like is an understatement. That has not done my heart any good. For the last few days I've been watching my #4 son's dog - a pitbull puppy and she is solid muscle. Lugging her to her bedtime crate for the night leaves me slightly wasted in my recliner. I'm not gasping for air but I can tell it wears on my heart. Having had a quadruple bypass eleven years ago - I notice my heart more, now.  Tip to this? Be aware.

Other topics. My writing has languished of late. I did complete NaNoWriMo but the story is nothing like I planned so it will basically be a rewrite. I want it to be more literary than fantasy. Yes, I know I'm a fantasy writer but I wanted this story to NOT have a lot of fantastical aspects, and be more fictional. I guess that is what rewrites are all about. So my tip here: Sit your butt in the char and write!

So, with the beginning of a new year, like everyone else, I will once again attempt some new year resolutions... and like I've said in the past: Make the realistic and attainable with a definitive goal.

I'm going to lose weight. That is undefined. I'm going to lose 50 pounds. That is probably unattainable.  I want to lose another 15 pounds this year. Now, THAT is a possibility. Why such a small amount? Simple. I lost 20 and struggled to keep it off. Trying to lose another 15 is going to be tough. Did you read the above? My meds make it difficult. Of course, the more I lose, maybe I can reduce some of those medications. It was a slow spiral down to this point, it will be a slow go to reach back up to the top. But I will -- WILL -- get there.

I'm going to write more this. A nice ambiguous goal.  I'm going to publish 4 books. Another unobtainable goal, more than likely. I'm not saying it can't be done, but the reality to do so would involve total commitment and determination.  I'd like to publish 2 books this year. I figure it will be a fight with everything else I think I may be involved with this year, but, I've set a goal... and it is one I feel I could reach.

So my final tip: Make your goals for 2017 obtainable. No reason of going into the new year with goals that you know you can't reach.  It is better to save $50 during the year than attempt to put $1000 in the bank when you know you live from paycheck to paycheck.  A dollar stuffed in a jar each week won't be missed, but $20 a week could mean the difference of a nice meal and no meal.

Did you set your New Year's Resolutions?  Will you keep them?  Share your goals.

Until next I ramble on...