Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas gone so soon

Being a totally manly man who wears real jeans (by that I mean original Levis, etc), boots (sometimes), and flannel on occasion, winter would seem to be the season that brings out my manly tendencies. I have to shovel the snow, tote the wood to burn (in my gas fireplace since I don't have a real one anymore) and do the masterful work of decorating the outdoors for Christmas. Yep, that's totally a man's job. I own tools too. Lots and lots of tools.

But the Christmas season also brings out some unmanly traits. It has the propensity to turn me into a blubbering fool when it comes to the sentimental moods of the season. I love to sit around our huge Christmas tree with My Beloved as we watch all the campy, funny and all-but-predictable holiday movies on all the women's channels. You know, Lifetime, Hallmark and the Family channel to name a few. The usual plots are the poor unfortunate woman who is lonely, or the handsome fella who is just as lonely and bitter at the holidays. They then find the spirit of Christmas and fall in love...yea! If it wasn't for the Christmas season I would totally ignore each and every one of these films at any other time of the year and ridicule anyone who watches them.

Unfortunately, I also like to listen to the three radio stations that play non-stop Christmas music from before Thanksgiving until December 26th. Then, they just shut down and go back to the other stuff. Since you only get to listen to those songs for less than two months each year, I miss them when they go away. It's so abrupt. I actually listen to more music this time of year that any other time.

Unfortunately, the Christmas season ends quickly and is replaced by the holiday season as we slide into the new year. I'll miss Christmas, until next year. (I also like to say yule. I'll miss that too).

Hope everyone's Christmas was a good one.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thanks for nothing

We're alive? Did we make it?

Apparently the world hasn't ended as was predicted.  Perhaps we can now put this crap behind us. It would also be a very good idea if we could just ignore the next ten crackpot, doomsday scenarios that come down the pipe.

If an asteroid has dead-aim, I'll listen, other than that... I guess that means I'll have to pay that credit card bill after all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Senseless

As a grandfather I tend to see some things in a different light than perhaps I did many years ago. As adults, we see the world through unfiltered eyes. The harsh reality of the world we live in is laid out before our eyes daily. We see not only the blessed events and happy times but the pain inflicted on others by events beyond our control. Sadly, there are times when these events affect the children of our lives. Such are the circumstances that happened in Newtown, CT.

We live in a complex world and too often, myself included, we tend to think we can make problems go away with simple solutions. I was part of a long discussion with other authors yesterday after the shootings in Newtown. The thoughts were wide and varied and showed me that we all see things differently based on our own circumstances. Several voices came from outside our world; by that I mean outside the US. Authors from the UK and one ex-patriot living in Mexico gave the rest of us a view from the outside.

It's simple to chant the slogan to ban all guns or put schools in a fortress. But those same actions come with their own set of problems. We live in what was described to me as the most heavily armed country in the world outside of a war zone. If that is true, it is truly sad for us all. Citizens owning guns should not be the norm. It should not be a right but a privilege to own a gun, the second amendment be damned. Any fool can get a weapon virtually without a permit or training but one must carry a license at all times to operate a motor vehicle and for identification.

We live in a complex world and, unfortunately banning guns won't solve the problems we face as they are woven into the fabric of our society, interlocked and intertwined with a host of other issues. All we can do is adapt and move forward and punish those who commit these crimes and pray for the victims and their families.

Friday, December 7, 2012

'Tis the Season!

One of my Christmas traditions is not getting out Christmas decor until the day after Thanksgiving. Some of that is because we have a small amount of Thanksgiving decor to display in the short month between Halloween and Thanksgiving, but also I do not want to rush the Christmas season along. The retailers do enough of that, unfortunately.

While I do get the outside lights put up during a warmer spell in November, I do not light them up until after Thanksgiving has been put in the books for another year.

Kudos this year to Handsome Son, Eric the Tall, and Wonderful Daughter for the big-time assistance in getting the outside done this time around, owing to my physical limitations. Punkin and Punkin Bread also helped do some manual labor in getting boxes from the crawl space. They are always eager to help.

We have collected enough Christmas decor over the years to choke a small foreign country, but as it is Mrs. North's favorite time of the year, this is allowable.

Each year we switch around what goes where, and there are always boxes that go either partially unused, or not used at all, but the decor in those boxes will make an appearance over the course of a few years. We have concentrated the tree decorating to a good combination of handmade ornaments from the kiddies' early years, as well as some ornaments commemorating places we have visited, and adding "name" ornaments as the family grows larger. Thanks, Sainted Mother, for starting that particular tradition. It continues to be passed on to the new generations.

Christmas is always a time of nostalgia, and, for me, nothing brings back that warm, fuzzy feeling like getting out certain decorations. My favorites for years have been the red-and-white children carolers candles holding a Christmas song book; the pine cone snowmen with the plastic hat; the pine tree candles; Santa and Mrs. Claus candles; and the snow-covered bottlebrush shrubs and pine trees in several sizes.

The candles have never been lit, only used as figurines.

Last year when my Mother-in-Law came to live with us, one of her myriad boxes included more of the carolers, a few snowmen candles, and some deer candles, which I had not seen before. Though she is no longer with us, her carolers and other candles figures have once again seen the light of December's days, and will for many more years to come.

A couple years ago, The Stache bought me a few lead figurines very similar to ones we had when we were growing up. He found them at a flea market, or some such. A man pulling a sled, on which can sit either a mother and child combination, or a larger, adult-like figure. There was even  "rope" for the man to pull the sled along. This year I made it more difficult for the man to pull the sled, as I have managed to put both the other adult and the mother-child combo on the sled together. Let's hope it isn't uphill both ways in the snow for him!




Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Writer's Interview

Hello rambling followers, and welcome to my first writer's interview. I am part of a group of enigmatic authors who, quite simply write some of the best works you will wrap your eyes around. They are a diverse group whose range covers everything from romance and erotica to mystery and sci-fi.

Too often the world of publishing and authorship is a privileged club that lets in only a select few. If your name is high-profile or you carry celebrity status, you can literally write your own ticket whether you can form a coherent thought or have the ability to string together three sentences or not.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce fellow author Brian Dockins. Brian is currently living and writing in the great state of Texas. He currently has twelve titles in print as ebooks available through Amazon.com with several also available as paperbacks. His primary works are fantasy-fiction with a notable series, Department of Magic (DOMA).

Without further adieu, may I present Brian Dockins; Author...



1. What was the pull for you that made you choose fantasy as your primary genre? Was it a certain book or series?

I’ve always liked fantasy. When I was nine years old, my dad gave me a copy of the Hobbit, and from that point on, I read almost nothing but fantasy. My love for that genre stems from the fact that anything goes. The characters have all the normal hang ups of a normal person, but there’s always that one other layer (the magical one) of identity and problems. I began reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series in the mid-90s and have been following that. One aspect that struck me about his series is that there are literally hundreds of characters, and weaves their stories together in this elaborate tapestry. It’s hard to keep track of them all sometimes, but that’s what wiki’s are for.

2. What book of yours are you the most proud? It doesn’t have to be your best seller, but what is your best writing?

The book I’m most proud of is of course my first book. I had written several ‘novels’ before that one, but they never made the cut. I never felt like they were ready to be published. My first book, Betrayal of Magic, was the first story that I felt passionate about. After numerous edits and rewrites, I finally published it last year.

3. What is your most current published work?

My most current published work would be Second Exodus, Book 6 of my Department of Magic series. I released that volume in August of this year, and I’m hoping to have Book 7 out by Christmas. 8 and 9 will follow in January and February.

4. What sets it apart from other books you currently see in fantasy? What about it says to the reader; pick me up and read me.

What sets my books apart is the fact that I have some very traditional, cliché character-types and creatures, but I place them in a current world setting. The clichés are intentional, but I enjoy that juxtaposing. For instance, I have a scene in the first book where there’s an ogre loose on a highway in California. Ogres are very cliché, but one attacking passing cars on Earth in 2012 is not. The Department of Magic not only has to stop that ogre, but they have to make sure to provide a good cover story to the normal humans who have no idea that this world of magic exists.

5. You have a series; Department of Magic (DOMA). What was the inspiration for that series?
The inspiration for Department of Magic didn’t come from one single place. I actually created and designed the world of Andaloria first, and even wrote two novels set in that world. For my first book I wanted to tell the story of the people and creatures of that world coming to Earth, and what happens to them here. My style of large casts is something I picked up from Robert Jordan. The depth of history that the characters have was inspired by Terry Brooks. This fact will become more prevalent when I eventually get to my other series. Movies have played a big part in shaping my vision of the world of the Department, such as Men in Black and Harry Potter, especially when it comes to the whole idea of a supernatural world that exists but humans are unaware.

6. Is there a common thread or theme that runs through the DOMA series?

I have several common threads that I have (hopefully) weaved throughout the series. One of the primary elements is the diversity of my cast. Fantasy has always been one of those genres where diversity only comes in the different races, such as elf, dwarf, goblin, etc. There never really seems to be much fantasy that deals with diversity among humans. Setting this series in our modern day allowed me to create characters from all walks of life. I have people of every color, age, gender, sexual preference, religious background, and ethnicity. Some of this was intentional, but much of it grew organically from the story I was telling. I feel that it’s important to have characters that every reader may identify with.

7. Will you be continuing the DOMA series or do you have something else in your sights?

DOMA will occupy much of 2013. Book 7 will be out in December 2012, Book 8 in January 2013, and Book 9 in February 2013. After Book 9, I’m going to take a hiatus from that series for a few months and work on an unrelated, short Science Fiction series with a release date in late Spring. I’m hoping to have Book 10, 11, and 12 of DOMA out in the summer 2013. After that, I plan on writing a traditional fantasy series set about 200 years before DOMA on the world of Andaloria. There will be a strong connection between the DOMA series and the new one. I’ve got outlines finished for all of my 2013 projects, so I’m hoping to be able to finish 9-12 projects next year. Let’s just say that 2013 will be a very busy year for me.

8. What is challenging to you as a writer; plot, characters or something else?

My biggest challenge is pacing. As I’m writing, I’m conscious of the events that are coming up and sometimes I find myself speeding up the plot to get to that big event. I have to tell myself to slow it down a little. Other times, I get so engrossed in my characters (even supporting characters) and their development that I find the plot slowing down too much. So far I think that particular problem is balanced well, but I have to keep a close eye on it in the editing and rewrite phase of the writing process.

9. What type of challenge would you like to take on as a writer? What is the ‘big one’ for you?

I think the ‘big one’ for me is going to be my science fiction series that I’m developing. I hope to begin writing that at the first of the year. The mechanics of that type of storytelling will be different for me as will the style in which I’m going to release the stories. The first one will be a larger work, but each additional release will be an ‘episode’ and be much smaller than the large fantasy works that I’ve written before.

10. It seems the world of publishing is undergoing it biggest changes in decades. How does the ‘indie’ author fit into this world? How do you fit in?

I’m sure people have said this in generations past, but I really do think now is a great time to be a writer, author, and publisher. The digital world provides so many outlets and avenues for a reader and an author to connect, and that’s really the key to all of this. I spent several months soliciting agents until I researched the publishing industry more, and then decided to stop trying to get an agent and a traditional publisher and to just do this all on my own. I’m glad I made that choice because I love being in control of my story. I think the old stigma that you have to land one of the Big Six to be considered ‘published’ is fading away, and many people are finding success through self-publishing. I like being right in the middle of this publishing revolution.

I would like to thank Brian for his time and wish him best success with his upcoming endeavors.
 




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Within us all

There is a passion that pulses deep within the bosom of your soul. It dwells within the very nature of your being. It is guttural, primal. It is unforgiving, unadulterated emotion, conflicting, yet pure in its very essence. Its nature is a life-long heritage that drives your passion. It can not be seen but it can be felt. It drives one on in the heat of conflict, one man against one man. One strives to move forward step by step, striving to gain ground within the turbulence of the whirlwind of mashing bodies.

The past is the past but that past yields to the present. It has an abiding pull as we look forward to the future. Memories linger of past success and we revel in joyous victory as the chime rings across the field of honor, yet we sulk in solitude and look inward as we regret the failures that cling to our hearts and imbue our spirits with abject remorse.

Yet with each new season the revelry renews the passions that live within our souls and holds firm the fire that dwells deep within; stokes the embers and fuels the emotion that burns in the belly of the beast within us all and ignites the pulsating rhythms of a single chorus bent on one determined cause......

                                                   ......'cause Michigan still sucks......
                                                                 GO BUCKS!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Enjoy some Thanksgiving reading

Are you suffering from a turkey hangover today? Have you seen more football than you can take? Here is a link to a list of books by authors I am familiar with. It has something for everyone from romance to thrillers, sci-fi, horror and fantasy.

There is some very good writing here folks. Definitely worth a look-see. All are available as Kindle ebooks and many of the titles can be had through Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. If you have an ereader, these are worth the look.

Hope you find something you enjoy and happy reading.

http://www.onlytruemagic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/black-friday-books-best-of-2012.html


Sunday, November 18, 2012

A changing Christmas

As the season progresses and we enter the coming Christmas season I tend to reflect back onto my life and those times past. This season more than any finds me wandering into those times. Perhaps that is a reflection of happy times and a different age, at least in my life, an age of innocence.

When it was announced a few weeks ago that the singer Andy Williams had died, it somehow severed a link for me to a time long ago. Now, I'm not really an Andy Williams fan. He was a good singer and I grew up in a time of rising hopes as the world war was over and people were looking to the future. Christmas was transitioning to a time of prosperity for many and with the advent (no pun intended) for wide-spread television, the season was having an impact like nothing before. It was monumental, and he was a big part of that with his television show and Christmas specials.

This Christmas coming isn't really mine any longer. I will still have the memories and the good times but it seems more to me that it is now the purview of my children and grand-children. It is their memories and how they perceive this holiday that becomes the focal point. My Christmas memories still harken back to the days of my four siblings diving beneath a pile of spent Christmas wrapping paper for a picture by 32EM with my Sainted Parents looking on.

May the coming season be joyous to all.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Two bits, four bits...

I had an interesting discussion with some of the younger folks at work the other day. It was about my recent visit to the Chinese restaurant a few doors down from work. I eat there semi-often as it is quick and the food is decent. However, when I walk into the place I have always felt that the staff could simply care less that I was there; no smile no thank you, virtually, no anything. When I was stating that someone joked, perhaps it's just a front for drugs. (Yes it was a joke). I countered; even drug dealers need customers.

When you think about it, the discussion ran on, everything simply boils down to economics. Everything we do in life boils down to a financial mean. We work because we must. The establishments we choose often come down to price. When we change jobs, it's about economics. We live often based on our economic situation. We relocate, because of economics. Even our most personal events are severely influenced by the same. When do couples decide to have a family? When do we get married? Why do we get married? Marriage is ripe with financial gains and pitfalls. It is often said more marriages fail over finances than anything else. We can live with infidelity but not without financial mismanagement.

We invest tremendous amounts of time in our educational system both personally and payment. Why do we do it? To gain an economic advantage. The amount of money pumped into this system from Head Start to good old State U is staggering. We do it for a better job, a leg up, for financial gain. Even the college we choose comes down to an economic choice, value verses cost.

Take a look at life even away from our friendly confines. Primitive cultures all over the world rely on trade and agriculture as a system for economics. The stronger the trade or the better diversity of the agricultural system the stronger the tribe, or the family. Caste systems marry due to economics. There is no love involved in many situations. It may ferment and grow over time but the starting point is economics.

There is nothing wrong with economics as the underlying foundation of the structure of our lives. It has been that way since time immemorial, even before the caveman had a word for economics. More wood means a bigger fire. That's economics.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Today, citizens all across the country will make their quadrennial trek to their local precinct and cast their vote for, among others, one of the candidates for president.

After today, your mailbox will be less full, your home phone will be quieter, and instead of hundreds of political commercials, you will once again be subjected to whatever product is to be offered for your  pocketbook's consideration. 

I am not sure why those who run political campaigns believe sending the same pamphlet, flyer, or postcard to five different people at X address is a good use of time and money. Commercials all show their candidate's picture in color, while the vile opponent is always shown in a supposedly less-flattering black & white photo.

This year I have heard and seen a number of commercials for local candidates, which normally start appearing only in the last 10 days of the campaign, that have mentioned neither the candidate's party affiliation nor, in the case of those running for state representative, which district the candidate is hoping to represent.

Another annual occurrence is the appearance on the ballot of candidates for the State Board of Education. Often these people are unopposed, but even when candidates are pitted against each other the only time you see their name is when you are asked to vote for them. No one knows anything about who they are, what they stand for, or what their background is. If you cannot bother to publicize your campaign for office, I certainly cannot be bothered to vote for you. The only candidate for SBOE of whom I have heard is running in a district far from where I live, and I have only heard he is running because he is a former football player for The Ohio State University and acts as an analyst on the radio for OSU pre-and-post-game shows, and that he is forbidden to do that job until after the election.

Thanks to Beloved Father and Sainted Mother, we have had a good education in the elections process, and, at least for me, this interest still holds.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Age of man

There is a new word (at least now in favor) that is becoming commonplace in the geologic record. The term is Anthropocene.

The geological record of the world is embedded in stone and the layers covering the Earth. It is scientific discovery at it's finest on our terrestrial mother. The scientists look for layers among the hills and exposed rock strata that circle our planet. They pick through the strati and look for clues to the climate changes that have shaped our world. Our time frames are divided up by epochs, ages, periods and eras. The names are familiar to nearly anyone who loves to follow science and even those who don't. Many of these time periods have become common place to many as they are even referred to in the movies. We are currently and officially in the Holocene period which began around the time of the last ice age 12,000 years ago.

The clues they look for are many millions of years old, until now. We as a people seem to live to rediscover the past; our own past. However, as a species, we have made significant changes to our world, perhaps the most changes of any creature who has ever lived. What struck me when I began to explore this was how we have now come to a time when we are able to see the changes we have wrought to this blue marble. We are now depositing a record of our existence and our effects to a planet we once thought was unchangeable.

Anthropocene is the term now used to describe the age which the world has now entered (unofficially); the age of man. Previously all ages before were determined by great extinctions or other changes caused by asteroid collisions or carbon dioxide blooms or ice ages that changed the face of the planet. Are we the greatest change for the next ten millenium? Will we even survive our own age?

If we have the wisdom.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pay it forward

This coming Halloween will mark one year for me as a published author. It has been exhilarating and exasperating both at the same time. I have sold a few but not very many. I have received excellent feedback on both the writing and the stories themselves. One year ago I wouldn't have believed I would have five titles in 'print' but that is just the case.

Newly released is the last book of The Crystal Point Legacy series, Death of Kings. It is the wrap-up of an epic fantasy that involves an all-encompassing war, extreme heroics, betrayal and both personal growth and failure. It is life itself in all its many facets.

I look back at this year and remember how it was to put out something for public inspection. To be candid, I was nervous. I recently gave advice to another author who was putting up his first work. I belong to an author's forum that has been tremendously helpful to me as this year has progressed. His request was simple; read and give some advise. What I read took me back to the beginnings of my writing experience. I started over twenty years ago and received some of the same advice I gave to this new author. I believe he writes in a similar way to myself when I started out. He can craft a story and put words together that flow and have meaning. The trick is to learn some of the ins and outs of the techniques and structure of writing paragraph after paragraph. I have a copy of his work and he is on the path to success.

It's sort of pay-it-forward advice. Had I not received the straightforward yet respectful advice on my work twenty years ago, I may not have learned the lessons I needed to learn. Writing is not just about putting words down on a page to get to the end of a story, it's about creating emotion and placing the reader in the middle of the tale.

I had a complete stranger give me some of the best advice I could get all those years ago. It's simply my time to pass it forward. (Oh, the new book is on the right there at the top). ---->

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another step toward over the hill

As we journey down the road on our blue marble, there are plateaus we all step upon. We grow a little older and a little more frail with each change in elevation. Years ago, (I think I have mentioned this before) I told my son that under no circumstances is he ever allowed to let me wear 'velcro shoes' or those big plastic 'blot out all light of the universe' sunglasses you always see the old folks wearing as they drive down the highway. That in itself is a scary thought.

Unfortunately, I have succumbed to a different aspect of 'old age wear', the dreaded eyeglass strap. Yep, I'm sportin' one of those.I like to think of it as a stylish accessory but even I must begin to admit it borders on uncool. I am vigorously working to convince myself that adventuresome and stylish rouges are seen sporting this accessory as they wander the markets of Algiers and Marrakesh. I don't think Indiana Jones wore this particular piece but it sure would have added to his mystique and been the piece de resistance of his ensemble.

Alas, for me it is just a nod to knowing that I can't see worth a damn any longer. I struggle with the glasses thing as they are an encumbrance, an annoyance to my work habits. They slide and slip and fall off at work yet to go into a restaurant and order off a menu without them would be an adventure of monumental proportions. "Oh, I thought I ordered the shrimp. What's this?"

Sigh.....


Friday, October 12, 2012

Two lanes of freedom

Do you have something that you used to love doing that you no longer have a desire to do? Has your life changed or has the world changed so much so that what used to be fun is now a chore? I do.

I think back to a time when I was a young lad in my teens. My first car was a bright red '71 Torino with a black vinyl top. Yep, I'm that old. It was the last model year before they all became Gran Torinos. They were sleeker, smaller yet packed a big punch. 'Back in the day' as the old farts say, the roads were much more open and significantly less congested. You could jump onto a freeway and cruise the lanes with little distraction. There was much less worry about other drivers. Oh sure, the bad drivers have been around us for years but now, it's getting worse.

One can't slip out onto a street without being cut off in traffic, suffered to hear the thumping sound of someone's music from three cars away. I personally want to hear what's on my radio, not yours. I think it comes down to how people have forgotten how to drive. They don't pay attention to what's going on around their vehicle. They look straight ahead and change lanes. That's not how you do it folks. And try driving for once instead of talking on the phone, texting and the various other sorts of stuff people do behind the wheel instead of actually operating their vehicle.

Driving is only fun now when there are no others about, and that's a rare find. One can't even find an old two-lane country road that isn't filled with a line of traffic. Driving used to be fun with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Now, it's just survival of the fittest because most of the others simply can't operate a vehicle and they don't know the rules of the road. Roads are nothing but a big traffic jamb with nowhere to go.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A joining together

Yesterday my family witnessed a wonderful event, the wedding of two who fell in love. It was a beautiful ceremony in a classic church venue. It was the joining of two families who already have a deep history together; My Beloved's family once again joined with mine.

I was fascinated by the architecture of the church. It was a Gothic style, possibly neo-Gothic, that took me back to the first church I attended as a boy. Although the style was similar, they are different. But they are similar in how they affected me. Churches have always seemed to have a power other buildings lacked. In years past their structure held the beliefs of the religion. In the Catholic religion, they always seemed as vessels of power. Their lofty ceilings and ornate decoration expressed what this religion was about.

I miss those days as I drive down a street and see all manner of nondescript buildings that are passed off as houses of worship. I suppose 'houses of worship' aren't the same as churches, at least for me. Any of these buildings lack the fundamental integrity of a true religion as they seem to have no basis of hierarchy. It seems that almost anyone can move into a building and preach, read from a bible or other book and claim to be a leader of a flock. I have often wondered what true authority do they have in a religious form? Who or what is their authorization?

Perhaps I am unduly critical of those establishments but in my mind they have little or no authority to establish a flock of believers. A building is just a building, I know but what they represent can be worlds apart.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My obscure record has been broken

Last night, for the first time since 1996, our high school Alma Mater played a football game against their traditional arch-rival. The series had been on hiatus because the two schools had become vastly different sizes for most of the intervening years. Our school's population had shrunk precipitously while our rival's numbers had grown dramatically. In fact, there was a distinct possibility that old Alma Mater would close, owing to declining population and expanding expenses.

Fortunately, over the last decade or so, the slide was halted, the school began to re-emphasize the religious aspect of their educational program, and a rejuvenation began. Class sizes have increased, and although there are not as many students attending as did back in our days, the increase has been steady, and fiscal management sound, and the school is on a solid footing again.

Unsurprisingly, there has also been an uptick in the athletic fortunes of the school, and they have become a recognized power in several sports.The agreement to begin playing their arch-rival again in football was a big step forward for the program.

Prior to last night, our rivals had a 29-3 series lead. I was one of the few people who could truthfully state I had seen every victory by old Alma Mater over the detested maroon-and-gold.

FINAL SCORE:

eagles        14
HAWKS   28

I was not in attendance last night; I was at another football game matching the two schools from our community in which the "old" school had won all five football games vs the "new" school. Seemingly the entire community was there. Extra stands had been brought in, but it was still standing room only. Mrs. North and I had two of the Sweeties with us, and we managed to hunker down on the track behind a temporary fence to (try to)  watch the game. A large number of non-involved people standing on the sidelines next to the team made it almost impossible to see much. We stayed through halftime to let the Sweeties see the two marching bands, and then we left.

Perhaps I started a new "streak" last night: the "new" school won 37-0. For now, I am one of at least 10,000 who have seen every football win by the Panthers over the Tigers.

If there was someone in attendance at the Hawks' game that has now seen each of the now 4 wins by Alma Mater in the series, please keep it up! It is a record I will gladly surrender to you.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sounds of aluminum foil

Having read North of 50's post on the Sounds of Summer, I was called upon to have my own reflections concerning those sounds of our youth. Specifically, sounds embedded in the memory banks of my esteemed brother.

In those formative years, North was my baseball idol. He didn't know that and will likely get a big head over this. I'll keep a pin handy to pop that balloon. Back in the day, as it were, he was a notch above others on the baseball field. We played in back yards, on diamonds and nearly anywhere we could imagine a game. On the diamond, he was simply better than all the other kids our age. He started (and finished) as a pitcher and it took many years before hitters caught up with his arm. Alas, when they did, that was it.

When we weren't on the diamond, we made up games in the back yard. We played whiffle-ball on grass with a lawn chair as a catcher and the garage and house as the "green monsters" of our day. As a Yankee fan, I'm sure he is not happy with that reference. But going into the 'way-back machine' we played in a dirt yard with plastic bats and when we ran out of balls, we stole Sainted Mother's aluminum foil and wadded it up tightly. It did a passable job.

Back then, North knew virtually every lineup in the majors and knew if the batter was a righty or a lefty. We would play for hours in the back going through lineup after lineup. I always suspected that when it came down to a critical bat by myself, he would tell me the batter was left-handed which would eventually lead to me striking out.

Now, I've never accused him of cheating, I'm just here to set the record straight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Turn to the voices

As anyone who has read these pages knows, I am not much of a music buff. There are many styles I like to listen to. They range from rock to jazz to swing and other genres that fit a particular setting or the mood I am in. I enjoy listening to Andrea Bocelli on occasion. That being said, I don't really know (Bo) diddly about music. (The fact that I made that reference was a stretch for me). I think my family was astonished when I had piano lessons as a boy.

What surprises me is how interested I have become in the blind auditions from the television show The Voice. Once those first few episodes are complete, I rapidly lose interest. When American Idol first appeared, I was impressed by the multitude of vocalists and the wide range of talent. After the first season I was more interested in the odd-balls that were really bad. Then, I stopped watching all together. I also don't watch much television in the first place. It is more 'background noise' in my home than anything, at least for me. My Beloved controls the remote.

The Voice rekindled my interest, not necessarily in the show itself so much, but in the performers. Again, the array of talent is remarkable and the passion they bring to the audition. Many have rich voices and strong stylings. They not only sing to an audience but to their judge's backs. It made me think of what the indie writer goes through. It is our audience however that has their back to us. We must put forth such an effort to make our readers turn around and take notice of our efforts. Our passion is in our written words, yet the readers do not know us. We are the voice in the hotel bar and the country stage in nowhere America looking for a break.

If you are a fan of reading, give the indie 'voices' a listen. You might be surprised at what you read.



The Sounds of Summer

As opposed to the Simon & Garfunkel hit "The Sound of Silence", from late 1965.

We are winding down the last days of a long, hot summer in our area. The children have been back in school for a few weeks, older students have gone back to college, and I am still retired. Thankfully.

When I was a child, school did not begin until after Labor Day, which seemed to make summer last a very long time. What I associate most with my childhood summers are the sounds:

- untold numbers of crickets and other insects making their lovely cacophony of chirping and other noises, especially if you were fortunate to be out at night away from the city

- a baseball bat being dragged across concrete, barrel side down, as I walked to another game of pickup baseball

- tennis shoes (pronounced "tenna shoes") being scuffed across walkways of large gravel, making it sound somewhat like metal baseball cleats crunching on that gravel

- the wind in my ears as I rode my bike everywhere at a fast pace

- a warm, soft rain, gentle and peaceful, with a calming effect best noticed if you were in a glider on the front porch

- a loud thunderstorm that shook the house

- the "thwack" of a wiffle ball against a wiffle bat

- the "thonk" of a rubber ball slamming off the front steps, the steps of the church next door, or the side wall of the apartment building behind us as I played countless games of baseball in my head

- the solid crack of a bat smashing into a hard-thrown baseball

- the trumpet sounding "Charge!" to spur on the Columbus Jets against their foes. I recall Richmond, Rochester (thought it was "ROD-chester"), Syracuse, Buffalo the most

- kids "popping" an empty, upside down plastic-coated paper Coke cup on concrete at the ballpark

- fireworks on Independence Day

- Sainted Mother ringing the dinner bell to call us home

These are the sounds that first spring to mind when I recall my childhood summers. I know there are hundreds more "sound memories" just waiting to bubble up to my conscious thoughts. I wish I could recapture them all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

City streets

Although I lived in two homes growing up the majority of my childhood years were at one place. It is the one I think about when I discuss home with friends and family. Even though I own my own home it is different from where I was reared.

I currently am a suburbanite living just outside a major Midwestern city. I suppose urban dwellers may even call it the country as just down the road their are farm fields and just about every neighborhood around used to be those fields. It is a peaceful place where not much happens. It is a growing area but it is anything but a vibrant or dynamic street.

Contrast that to my work environment. It is in my nearby city and though it is not in the 'downtown' area, the streets are indeed a thriving urban environment. The lanes are busy with autos and buses, bicycles and pedestrians. There is a definite hustle and bustle to the area. The main thoroughfare houses shops and restaurants, banks and schools.

 I never forgot these sounds of the city from when I was a little boy. I heard them again the other day as I traveled through this neighborhood. But then I heard a set of notes that harkened back to those times, a sound I don't hear in my world. I heard church bells. I miss their sound and their meaning. They are a lovely noise in a busy world.

It was a good day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My first trilogy

Years ago when I started down the writing pathway, I bought a small computer from Radio Shack and had-at-it. The memory of that little unit wouldn't hold a single chapter at the time. I had to save everything on 3.5 inch floppies. At long last, this first work will see the light of day.

Originally titled "The Crystal Point", it has now been adapted to a trilogy. "The Dream Valley" is the first book in the series titled 'The Crystal Point Legacy". As I have grown as a writer I have gone back over this work several times to polish it and give the reader the experience I had hoped I could when I first sat down to the keyboard.

I hope all who decide to read this enjoy the story and appreciate the effort involved. It is available as an ebook through Amazon.com and Smashwords. The other two books in the series will appear in a few months as covers are developed and final edits are made.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/227411


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Something about nothing

Jerry Seinfeld famously said his idea for his long-running television show was "it's a show about nothing".

In honor of Jerry's show, and the fact that it has been over a month since I last posted a column on here, I present my blogpost about nothing:

- Sainted Mother threw out my baseball and football card collection when I went away to college. I was 75 miles away, and came back for a weekend visit to find my cards had been pitched. What, she never expected me to return? I always hoped one day I would discover one certain card at a card show, one on which I had printed a word in the margin on the back, and thus let my mother partially off the hook for my not achieving immense riches via my collection. Not that I would ever have sold them, unless really, really desperate.

- When I was attending morning classes at The OSU the first winter I was there, I had an 8:00 class that met in Denney Hall, where my counselor worked. I always arrived quite early, thanks to the bus system, and attempted to pleasure-read a book of Greek plays. I never got far into it, and usually used the book as a face cover to get in a short nap prior to the warning bell for first class. Later, after I had met my counselor for the first time, she asked about me always napping under the book. I told her it was not for class, and she was relieved.

- I had dine-in restaurant food three times in the past 24 hours; Happy Birthday to me. Burp!

-  One of my six grandchildren is about to become a baby supermodel. What a ham.

-When I graduated from The OSU, tuition was being raised from $298 per quarter to $312 per quarter. I ranted about how people could no longer afford to pay for college.

- Ahh, the quarter system, what a quaint way of holding classes. Thank heavens I did not have to spend 15 weeks in Bio100, Statistics, or Spanish101, among others. Ten weeks was more than enough.

- I currently have a runny nose, which I can't stand. (Told you this was about nothing.)

- Graybeard still has not quite grasped the concept of sending e-mails, but at least he does not give me a phone message asking if I got every one, the way he used to do. Luddites have a way with technology that is different from the rest of the world.

- He always blames it on his system. Computer people always say it is down to operator error.

- I told Robert T that I had finished three sci-fi e-books I had been sent, but that I found much of the plot to be way too unbelievable. He said, "It's science fiction. How can it be 'unbelievable'?"

- I still think I was correct.

- The Seekers were a hugely successful folk/pop singing group in the early-to-mid 60s. Many in the US thought they were British, but they actually were from Australia. The lead singer was the beautifully-voiced Judith Durham, who still sounds lovely today, at age 70.

- Target is back this year with more horrible back-to-school musical commercials. They are so bad they aren't funny/stupid, merely stupid.

- CBS seems to have a habit of putting good shows on Sunday nights at 10:00, then cancelling them after the ratings tank in the fall. Gee, do you think it may have something to do with football running way over each week (and now the afternoon games will be starting later), followed by a post-game show, followed by their insistence on showing their 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 p.m. shows in their entirety first, followed by the 10:00 show, which may start at any time between 10:00 and midnight, it seems. It means I will have to set my DVR to record The Mentalist this year with a 2-hour end-time extension. That is as far as I can extend it. I hope that is enough. CBS says they will put a crawl on the screen to tell what time the later shows will start, put it out on Twitter, and on their website. If I do not have CBS on, am not near a computer, and since I never have or will go wherever it is you go to get Twitter, I will have to hope for the best.

- Nothing more today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A new short story


It is often said writing is an art. For some it is a passion and for others it is work. For me, it is something I have grown to enjoy. It is a challenge. It is an escape from the daily grind. What can I do to this story today to make it better? Is a story every truly complete? Those are what challenges me and drives me to write on.

I hope all enjoy this short story. My thanks to kyleparkerdesigns.com for the cover and North of 50 for editorial review.

http://amazon.com/Lily-ebook/dp/B00917PKBM

Available at Amazon.com for purchase on a Kindle.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'll try harder

This is something I don't think I quite understand. It's about those who sign contracts, specifically athletes. There is a story in the sports world currently concerning a runningback for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. He was the leading rusher in the league last year. He has two years left on a multi-million dollar deal he signed a couple of years ago. Now he want to renegotiate his deal.

On the surface that sounds okay. He is a valuable member of the team and as a rule, they aren't very good. They need him. From the owner's point of view, you signed the contract. He didn't put a gun to your head to do so. The life of an NFLer is not very long. The average player is out of the league in approximately two and a half  years. That's not very long and the window to make significant money doesn't happen often. I don't blame them for the 'get it while you can' mentality.

What I don't understand is when they use the phrase, "out-played the contract". How is that possible? Does that mean if I only gain 1000 yards I get the full contract payment? What happens if I get 2000 yards? Do I now get double the contract? If that were the case, if you only gained 500 yards, shouldn't you give some of it back? Obviously you weren't trying if that were the case.

No, the contract is the contract and just because you had a stellar year doesn't mean you outplayed the contract because you are supposed to give 100 percent effort. Any less and you didn't live up to the contract. Run like you mean it and if you have another outstanding year you can take that into the negotiations the next time.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alphabet soup

We all know what IBM is. Likely we also all recognize NCR and CBS. They are all iconic brands that have stood the test of time. Sometimes those times were tough, but they are still icons in the American landscape.

How did they become a three letter company? Again, they stood the test of time. They are brands we grew up with, that were perched in our family rooms and businesses since we were children. If you say IBM, you know what that means and who they are. Unfortunately, everyone now want to become a three letter brand. Don't think so? Listen to a radio or a television commercial especially when they are touting an organization fighting a disease. Medical branding seems to want to downgrade every prominent condition to three letters. Groups that are working for social change also fall into that category. Although MADD is a four letter word, no pun intended, I wonder if that is such a good thing.

I believe groups that are fighting for a worthy cause are short-circuiting their goals as they try to abbreviate their titles. What has more effect in your mind; Crohn's Disease Foundation or CDF. (As for purposes of illustration, as far as I know there is no Crohn's Disease Foundation). It is hip to be just a few letters in today's world but those letters do not convey the true intent of what they are working to achieve. The only ones who know the letters are the insiders in those groups. What does CDF mean to someone from the outside? Likely they mean nothing.

Too many groups and organizations are trying to establish an identity without establishing credibility as they pursue their cause. Tell the world your name and you might just get some help. The name has power in and influence to a cause. No one want to help a bowl of alphabet soup.

RCT

Monday, August 13, 2012

Auto redux

Yabba dabba doo! The car has its own motor, so there's no need for pedal power
I'm just sayin.....


Friday, August 3, 2012

A lieing game

If politicians ever wanted to know what turns the voters off perhaps they should watch the television. The campaign ads are already in full bloom here in the Midwest and the nominating conventions haven't even started yet. It's gonna be a long autumn.

Now, presently I am neither in Romney's camp, not am I in Obama's camp. If it were up to me, I'd burn them both down. The ad concerning Obama's rant about "you didn't build this business" is so taken out of context that Romney should be ashamed of running the spot. I remember that speech and it is not portrayed as it happened. The other side isn't any better. I hear the consistent complaining that Romney paid little taxes, or no taxes, whatever. If he stayed within the muddled and confusing tax code written by Congress and he didn't break the law, it doesn't matter how much taxes he paid. I'll bet I could go find 100 members of Congress that paid less than Romney. Taxes shouldn't enter into the equation if he didn't break the law. Don't like it? Change the tax code. It's really that simple.

And while I'm on it, I have a problem with the other commercial where a woman is speaking about Romney being out of touch and not supporting women's choice and birth control etc. He's taking away a woman's choice? Actually, he might be standing up for something he believes in. How often does a politician do that? It is not within my choice to pay for your birth control with my taxes as that is a choice you made as a woman. If a woman is considering an abortion, where is the child's choice? You are taking from the child the same choice you are fighting for. You made your choice when you lay down with another person. Some may say, it's not a human life yet. I would disagree simply because it can become nothing else; it can't be an elephant, it can't be a flower. It can only be a human being, therefore that's what it is and if the cells are dividing, that's life, that's human life.

You had the chance to make a good choice, perhaps you didn't.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The hole

I am by nature one who does not like a bunch of crap, stuff, clutter generally lying about. To me it is an annoyance. Nothing is more uplifting than a clean and breezy home. Don't get me wrong, I like a few mementos about reminding one of family and the like, but all the other crap can just go away.

Try as I might, that just doesn't happen. It occurred to me today that is due to life changes as we age. My Beloved used to say if you can't find it I either threw it away of put it in the crawl space. When we moved into our current abode, we placed many things in 'the hole' and never touched them again. A few years ago it was time to make things go away. I agreed to a garage sale although I hate fooling with them. We pulled all the stuff our of the bottomless hole and sold much of it, old dishes, clothing, scuba gear and general miscellaneous things we had accumulated over time. It was very liberating.

Since that time our lives have evolved and there are simply new things to take their place. Gone is the near-antique drafting table and the scuba gear and replacing those are baby bouncers and porta-potties for our grandson. He is now of the age that he no longer needs these things. Well, sell them off.

Not so fast, gramps. As our home is regularly visited by family that is now rolling through the next baby boom, these things will likely occupy my basement for the foreseeable future. I wonder what comes after that? Someone will likely give me a box containing the old game 'Twister'. I'll have to hold on to that one. The next baby boom will need it as they hit the pre-teen years.

It starts all over again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And so, sports fans, it all comes down to this...

Usually when you hear that phrase it means the final play of a closely-contested football game, in which this play will determine the victor. I most distinctly hear the loud nasal tones of the late Howard Cosell uttering it.

Money.

That is really, at it's core, what the Penn State cover-up was all about.

Money.

The scandal was two-fold; child molestation over a long period, and the attempt to hide that from the public.

Because of money. Money that would cease flowing into the university coffers from their sparkly-clean football program, and the other (preferably large) donations that seem to go hand-in-hand with a winning football program. Trying not to tarnish the reputation of a prestigious university was a part of that cover-up, but really it was all about money. And today's sanctions levied by the NCAA against Penn State bore that out.

 - a $60 million fine (approximately one year's gross revenue to the Penn State football program), to be used to set up a foundation to combat child molestation

- a four-year bowl ban (millions of dollars from the larger bowls now not available)

- a reduction of scholarships for the football program (fewer opportunities for the program to bring in elite players, thus preventing the team from competing as easily for those bowl dollars)

Non-financial penalties include the school vacating all football wins from 1998-2011, inclusive; be on probation for 5 years, and allow any incoming or current football player to transfer schools and play immediately at their new school, should they choose to do so.

The Big 10 conference commissioner also decreed that the school will not receive their share of the Big 10 bowl games revenue split for the next four seasons, and still reserves the right to boot the school out of the conference.

Money.

For that, the revered head football coach as well as several higher-ups in the university attempted to hide the fact that a former assistant football coach was raping and sodomizing young boys, on campus, and blatantly covered up their knowledge of these despicable acts.

There are many who believe the university should have been given the "death penalty", at least a one-year shutdown of the football program. I am of the opinion that the "death penalty" is justified because of the dreaded "lack of institutional control" the bigwigs showed, deferring to the wishes of their head coach to not reveal what was going on. Others argue that would be too harsh, since it would further impact all the innocent players, and all of the businesses that would suffer because a large portion of their business would be greatly affected by shutting down the football program. Not fair, they cry.

Again, money lies at the root of the problem.

Whenever an athletic program is penalized, it is usually the innocent players who are most affected, as their chance at further glory is diminished. Well, unfortunately, life is definitely not fair, and often the innocent are made to suffer for the actions of a few. And the actions of the university administrators showed they had no regard for anyone but themselves.

The university and its administrators are being or will be sued for damages, costing untold millions (or more); the reputations of the university, the administrators and the revered late head coach are forever shattered, and no amount of rehabilitation will succeed in making them whole.

Had the administrators and/or the football coach had the guts to stand up and say what was happening in 1998, they would have been praised for their openness and action (firing the person responsible), and who knows how many young boys would not have had their world torn apart in so vile a manner in the years since.

Why did they not do so?

Because of money, in the end. They cared more for the almighty football dollar for fourteen years than concerning themselves with stopping the commission of disgusting crimes by one of their own.

All because of money.

May they rot in hell, each and every one of them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Your front porch

I read this morning in my local newspaper an editorial from Frank Bruni who writes for the NY Times. His thoughts explore how we in this country have bent our lives on our own selfishness. After reading his column I would most heartily agree. We have become a nation of 'what's in it for me and no one else'. That is a sad state of affairs.

Then I began to think about a bigger picture within that context. Is he correct in his notions? Yes, but what is the catalyst for those actions? I think one possible cause is too many of us look beyond our own front porch. The grass is always greener so I need to get a piece of that action. How many times have you encountered those who look down at others simply to keep themselves elevated (within their own mind)? Or, I don't have what you have so I will work at tearing you down. My needs come before yours or the common good.

In our culture we have put so much on our plates, or wish to put so much on our plates that we aren't satisfied with the basics. I need to have the next iproduct even though I still can't use the one I have. That car is nicer looking so I want that one. That house is bigger so I need it. How familiar do these silent/public rants sound? How much simpler would our lives be if we quit worrying about what the other person has and simply take care of our own needs?

How much stress do we pile on ourselves simply to have those things that aren't important? I would say 'a whole bunch'. There's nothing wrong with wanting to improve one's position in life. That's what we should all do but what we often overlook is the fact that amassing more 'stuff' is not improving your life, it is simply adding to the chaos and stress. 'Stuff' does not improve ones situation any more than running over your 'neighbor' with your truck because he has more than you.

Take care of what's on your own front porch and don't worry about what the next guy has. 'Stuff' is just crap that will one day end up in a landfill, (as will we all).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

MLB

As a child I really grew up with only one sport. I played baseball in the diamond three doors down, as pick-up games, on softball teams and then finally organized baseball. I was good (in my own mind). I had a great arm and good fielding instincts but once I got to high school I couldn't hit a baseball if you gave me a 2x4 and threw it underhanded. I was however a very good pitcher. I suppose that give me license to comment on the state of major league baseball.

Last night was the MLB All Star game. I haven't watched one on television for many years. I became disconnected years ago as I don't watch much TV at all anyway. But I guess I lost interest because the game didn't mean much anymore. It had lost its luster to the faster paced sports of football and basketball and the various other interests people have. I don't buy the old argument that you need to have a large space for a field in the inner city to play. There are big football fields everywhere. Diamonds are large but games can  be adapted. Streetball is an adaptation. It works in the streets of NY.

Baseball needs a marketing plan in the worst way. Nowhere are the stars of the game marketed nationally. If you don't have a Jeter in your home town, you never see another player until they retire and start talking about prostate medicine. The commissioner needs to promote the game on a national level and not simply to those who already watch the game. Those people are dying off. For all his love of the game, Bob Costas doesn't speak to the average citizen. That's fine to remember the exploits of Mickey and Roger, Babe and Ty, but those heroes might as well be Civil War generals.

MLB has taken some minor steps to keep relevant but they pale in comparison to how the other sports promote themselves. The All Staff game is a prime example. The best players don't get in to see a competitive game but the ballot boxes are owned by those who can beat the voting system. Why should the NL have homefield advantage simply because they blew out the starting AL pitcher in the first inning? The only thing the All Star game should count for is which league will host the game next year.

Quit over-thinking the game and get it relevant again in the eyes of America or face losing it to field hockey as an irrelevant less-than-spectacular spectacle.

 Put me in coach, I'm ready to play, today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoA9L9i3tBU



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Proud to be an American

David Feherty is a CBS golf commentator, host of a show on The Golf Channel (Feherty), writer, raconteur, funnyman, and former professional golfer. He was born in Northern Ireland but recently became a United States citizen.

What follows is a transcript of his ode to America which aired as part of his most recent episode of Feherty, in which he paid tribute to America's armed forces.

"As we celebrate Independence Day, it occurs to me just how lucky I am to be an American. But I'm not sure that all Americans feel the same way, or at least not to the same extent.


Growing up in the auld sod of Nor'n Ireland, I wasn't exactly repressed, but people generally kept their dreams to themselves, which was at least part of what drove me to drinking and misbehavior in order to numb the longing for opportunity. However, Northern Ireland wasn't ever anywhere nearly as forbidding as some of the countries that hate Lady Liberty for her values, and blame America for their problems these days. 


Unlike some of these places, in America women are allowed to get an education. They're also allowed to drive, and dress in whatever clothes they want. We can say whatever we want, wherever we want to say it without fear of being locked up, and we can attend any place of worship we choose without our government having a say.


Thank you, Thomas Jefferson.


And we have the freedom to play and watch an absurd sport featuring little white balls and ridiculous sticks as if it were important, which it is not.


The reason we have these freedoms is now and always will be, because of the men and women of the five branches of our Armed Forces, who for more than two centuries have answered the call to protect us from those who would inflict their inferior and often brutal philosophies upon us.


We're free because of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. I love them all. And whether or not you have faith in where our country's headed, it's hard to argue that defending its interests and values around the world doesn't give me and all of you the freedom to love this America, or hate it, with freedom. 


Happy Independence Day!"


Well said, sir, and welcome home!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shhhhhhh

As many are aware, especially those of us who live in the Midwest, we had a wicked storm blow through on Friday. It is something I haven't seen in some time. I won't compare this to the horrific tornadoes that have ravaged other parts of the country. I feel for those of you who live in the plains states. What you face on a yearly basis can be quite life-changing.

But we do not face the onslaught on a regular basis as do you. However, we had quite the weather system pass across our part of the world several days ago. The rains were nearly sideways and trees and poles were snapping all around us. Fortunately for me, we suffered no significant damage.

What I did notice however were two things. I can't believe all the people who complain about not having power. Although it has been very hot, mid to upper 90's, more people complain about not having air conditioning than anything else. If it is so hot in your house go outside where it is generally cooler. Golly, who would have thought of that? It is ridiculous how many are complaining they can't watch television, get on the internet or can't charge their cell phone. You would think the world didn't come into being until fifty years ago when modern communications developed. Perhaps the Bible should have started; In the beginning, God created the air conditioner...

The other thing I noted was how quiet the world had become. There were not the routine electronic sounds we have become used to, no beeping, no ringing and the constant glare of LCD and LED had vanished. When the sun set and night fell into place, there was no light. I saw people outside playing with their children while others sat around a fire chatting. I think that's how the world was meant to be.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lady Liberty weeps

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has, in effect, granted the Congress unlimited power to regulate the behavior of the populace or impose a tax upon them for not doing the bidding of our federal lawmakers.

The 5-4 ruling upholding the so-called Obamacare health reform law has imperiled the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of every U.S. citizen.

If the Congress can mandate that we buy healthcare, where does it stop? If we buy food with nutrition content that the "experts" in Congress says is unhealthy for us, will there be an additional federal tax levied, just as they do with cigarettes and gasoline? (As example, see the recent decisions of the mayor and council of New York City among other places). And those are voluntary purchases, unlike our newly-mandated healthcare requirement.

The president argued the penalty for not buying healthcare was not a tax, but his legal team said it was a tax, and a majority of the justices bought into that argument. So, one way or another, this law and ruling are built on a lie to the American people.

After the most recent presidential election, I noted in my date book that I feared for my country. Today that fear came home to roost in a very real way.

Lady Liberty not only is weeping, but is now on suicide watch.

God help us all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What rules?

It seems to me I have been hearing a lot of complaints in the sports world from the athletes directed at, the other athletes. That sounds odd, many would say. Their complaints stem from what many consider to be the unwritten rules of their sport. For my formative years, I played baseball. It was a game I loved and played hard. I always played to win.

What you hear also is the loser complaining that the other team broke the code. They kicked dirt in the face of the game. They soiled its integrity. Believe me, as a life-long sports guy there are virtually no unwritten rules in sports. What few there are simply boil down to what some would call sportsmanship. In other words, don't rub it in. What professionals unfortunately fail to realize is those unwritten rules have their origins in amateur athletics. If one team simply is in a class or two above the team they are playing, you don't do all the things you might need to do to win the game against an equal opponent. You don't steal second base when you are up by six runs. You don't bunt to get on base with a six run lead, etc. etc. etc.

There are other sports that have similar good-sportsmanship rules but it still comes down to the same thing. Professional sports shouldn't have any unwritten rules other than not trying to do harm to your opponent. Other than that, play the game with all the fervor you can to crush the other team. That's what your paying fans are paying for. Don't cry foul when you are on the wrong end of a blowout. You're a highly paid professional. Stop them. If you can't, you'll live to fight another day and I'm sure some day you'll be on the other end of the same argument.

Unwritten rules aren't for professional sports. Don't be a crybaby. This isn't little league softball.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Servin' it up

I read recently a review by a restaurant evaluation company (posted online) concerning some of the worst restaurants to work for. They listed all types and styles of eating holes from McDonalds to some of the higher-end eateries like Ruth's Chris. They seemed to not like much about the industry.

Now, I have never worked in the food service industry but I have been in the retail service industry for many years. Their claim of conditions include low pay and few benefits. Okay, I understand that. My complaint with them is those are the same complaints brought up by virtually every other group that works in what is essentially a "starter" job. Retail could also be called a starter job. What is that? It's the first or second job you get directly out of school or when you are in school. It's not supposed to be the job you rely on to put a roof over your head and retire on.

Too many forget that these jobs are supposed to be stepping stones to learn how to work, interact with the public and business associates. Too many who enter these jobs think they are now guaranteed full wages and benefits and then complain when they don't get them. They are also the ones who at 32 years old haven't figured out how to move out of the "entry level" positions. Entry level is just that. Unless you are a constant complainer and social misfit, these are jobs and positions you are supposed to grow and learn your way out of to move up to higher paying positions with real-life benefits.

There are always places to move up within most companies. Unfortunately there are also in every company those who think they should be granted higher pay and benefits just because they show up to work. The world doesn't work that way. If one doesn't want to be stuck in a low-paying job, learn and apply yourself. Being a buss-boy wasn't meant to be a full time job any more than is being a cashier for Walmart; and it never was.