Friday, September 27, 2013

Quick fix

Fix it. Fix it now. Fix it quickly.

That seems to be the motto of the society we live in. On the surface, there's nothing wrong with fixing what isn't working or isn't working well enough. The problem is how we fix things or what we think might be the correct fix.

The inspiration for this ramble came as I was listening to my sports-talk radio the other day, although what happens in sports, as is said, happens in life. Sports is the ultimate quick-fix. Have a football team that sucks? Get a franchise quarterback. Languishing in near-last place in the standings, go over-pay for a power hitter. It's the same thing year after year after year.

So what is it about all these supposedly smart people who are billionaires and own these franchises, that they can't see what the problems are? Why do they languish in futility? There is generally a reason why your team sucks and throwing money at a big star isn't going to fix the whole. In football, RG III might be a great quarterback but you can't win games because your defense is terrible. North of 50's Yankees no longer win because they are old and slow and often injured. They now have a 2nd baseman who at the age of 31 or 32 wants a ten year contract worth 8 gazillion dollars. Why not take that 8 gazillion dollars and get several players that can help the team? (Personally, I hope they don't so the vaunted Yankees continue to miss the playoffs, boo-hoo). Sorry North.

Like sports, life isn't a quick fix. When there are problems there are usually underlying issues that need fixed. I often face the same issue at work. Sometimes I look at my product assortment (that I have no control over) and think, who the hell thinks this is a great idea? Unfortunately, ideas from my range of control are difficult to percolate upward without continual nagging.

But take heart, and for things you can control, look past the surface issues. A quick fix is normally a short-term fix in sports, and love and life.

Happy fixing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


As many know I run a retail store. It is in an older part of town and we periodically suffer from power outages. Some may last only seconds, although we have had those that lasted days. It is very difficult to run a store with no power.

It happened again today, we lost power for nearly an hour. But, something caught me a little different about this one. I don't really know why. It was morning, about 9am. The light was bright and we had a clear sky. Then, BAM! No power. The way the building is situated, the front faces north but with a large windows the light cascades about half way into the store. It drops off quickly and the rear is lost in a hollow gray.

With our alarm systems not receiving power. there are quickly beeps and chirps echoing throughout the stillness. The sounds will not fade until their battery power begins to die and then there is silence; total silence except for your breathing. What little sound you do hear is echoed throughout the building.

This has happened many times since I have been at this store but today, it was different. At one point walking up the main aisle, I had a sense of loneliness. The thought that struck me was the men of Apollo 13. It made me stop. I listened to the sounds of alarms, the stillness of all else and the fading darkness as light could not reach all places. Now I have seen the movie several times and watched the documentary. Both were gripping, but for some reason today, I began to appreciate just a little of what they may have felt like.

I can't explain why; I was in no danger, no peril; I was safe and calm in a familiar place. Perhaps it was the alarms, the retiring light and the stillness. There was just something about this time, this place that gave me a new-found respect and admiration for the men who traveled to the moon and almost didn't make it back.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Small Town America

It is the time of year when the end of summer is just around the corner. For me, that means a busy time at work and the back to school season which just completed in our area. With that comes a changing of the guard for the seasons and all that goes with it; the nights begin to get cooler so a good nights sleep is a little better and small town America comes to life.

This is the time of festivals and county fairs across our country. Usually, this time of year I am far too busy at work to attend some of these, and they are diverse. In our area we have the Popcorn Festival, the Tomato Festival, The Pumpkin Festival and my favorite, the Sweet Corn Festival on the shores of Buckeye Ocean.

If you ever want to see the quintessential small town, go to a festival. You'll see everything from kiddy rides to arcade games, to games of chance which always seemed to be orchestrated by the local fire departments, Order of Something or Other or a Catholic organization of some sort. We Catholics always seem to be around the beer and gambling. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it's in the bible, who knows.

Well, this year My Beloved and I were able to get to the Sweet Corn Festival with her cousin Red and her husband Chester the Charmer. The weather was perfect with high skies and cool temps as we walked about the grounds beneath tall trees. The food was what you should have at festivals; something on a stick, cooked and baked sweet treats of all sorts and whatever the festival is about, in this case, sweet corn. The next best thing is people-watching. You see all sorts from the old farmer and his wife as they stroll down memory lane to the goth chick and friends. You get the football players and the cheerleaders, the hoe-down on the platform where the old folks dance and everything in-between. It was a lovely evening all-in-all.

I'm sure there are still festivals and county fairs yet to go as the heartlands and the Midwest still have plenty of good weather left before the harvests. Get out and enjoy yourself before old man winter extends an icy finger in your direction.

Friday, September 6, 2013

An excerpt from The Dream Valley

An excerpt from The Dream Valley, book one of The Crystal Point Legacy trilogy.

"You must realize Seika, many legends and stories come down through the generations from articles based on fact. I have searched many a land during my quest. I am sure the Crystal Point lies in this valley."
"When we reach the lower valley, where will we look?"
Dwylar looked over their heads his eyes a glaze and spoke;

            The eye sees not what wing and feather spy
            What wind and fortune dare to speak
            The summit spires twin thy mantle watch
            Upon the altar man’s sire seeks.

            Crimson hues with watchful eye
Lights crystal prism cut for thee
Barrier force drives shades of wanton lust
Heaven’s fire glistens for all to see.

A place of dream where paths do cease
Of life nor death nor winter’s touch alone
Summer’s sun on chambers endless green
On fields singing only summer’s tone.

Palisades of time their visions dim
Of Searchers quest an ageless father’s line
For kings of ice and rock must falter
A blaze of fire does for thee shine.

"What tale do you tell us, Dwylar?"

"This is a part of the lore of the crystal. I believe it tells of the resting place where the king had chosen to place his warning. The Dream Valley may be the final leg of my quest, for if I fail here I must return to the Northern Kingdom, and my king, and there face banishment for my failure. His judgment shall decide my fate in the coming war."

The Dream Valley is currently free on

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sitting still

For my work, I was recently at a training session for store managers that lasted over a period of three days. As many of you know, this is my profession (as well as wanna-be author), and I have worked in this field for over thirty years. (And believe it or not, I started writing over twenty years ago).

The type of retail stores I have always managed put you on your feet. So, I walk. I walk and I talk and I lift and I carry things. The stores I've worked for have always put the managers out with the customers. I have never had a sedentary job where I sit behind a desk planning things out, and at the end of three days of training, I don't know that I could do that.

The first day, I was fine. After the hectic back-to-school selling season, it was nice to kick back with my fellow managers and talk over a few things. We talked, had lunch and wrapped things up after about eight hours. Day two didn't go so well.

Day two started as did day one. By the time lunch rolled around I was getting antsy. I don't sit well for long periods of time. Even on my days off, my best days are working around the house, cutting grass and generally being productive. We had lunch and, it didn't sit well. I felt sluggish. My stomach churned and I was simply beginning to feel miserable. The feeling didn't wear off until I was out of there several hours later and moving.

Day three followed the course of day two. I felt unproductive, sluggish and my stomach was beginning to churn again. I was so happy when the day was over simply because I could move and get active. Now, don't start thinking I'm a totally physically-fit nerd guy. I'm simply active, and active most of the time. I likely walk over forty miles per week just at my job.

Looking back, I don't see how people can sit behind a desk all day. It's just not for me. I suppose you get used to it and your body and mind adapts to what you are doing over time. If just three days nearly puts me in a coma, I'd hate to think of how I would be after a forty hour work week of just sitting.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grandpa's are from Mars

We had an adventurous weekend as we had our grandson, Ragin Cage for a couple days. There was a party for his cousins who are twins; their fourth birthday celebration a pool party. Kids that young were everywhere, splashing and jumping and running all over the place. There were plenty of adults around ranging from parents to other grandparents, a great grandparent as well as aunts and uncles, and everyone has their own style of supervision and parenting.

Grandpa's, however have their own unique way of looking at things, especially when it comes to boys. I, as exulted Paw-Paw see the young whippers differently than the Maw-Maws. I see little boys running and jumping and smacking things and whacking things and know that is what little boys do. I'm not so old that I don't remember what those days were like as a kid. We ran everywhere we shouldn't have and smacked all kinds of things with other things. We threw and kicked and generally were rambunctious, 'cause that's what little boys do.

Grandmothers and mothers don't see little boys the same way grandpas see little boys. We were them and now we live our lives wishing we had the same unbridled energy we had in the dawn of our days. In their esteemed wisdom, Maw-Maws and mothers have more rules than Paw-Paws do, at least for little boys.

And I guess they always will.