Saturday, November 30, 2013

My first Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

That being said, this really isn't my first Thanksgiving. I am kinda old, ya know, so I've been through a few of these. In the days of my youth, it was always a fun time. We didn't have much growing up but there was always food on the table and more love in our home than anyone could imagine. The holidays were times of celebration and fun. With five kids, that's a lot of commotion for two parents to put up with. The opening feast of the holidays was special.

With all those memories, yesterday was truly a first for me on Thanksgiving. What was this first you say? Well, for the first time in my life, I had to work on Thanksgiving Day. Retail has been a good life for me. I've made many friends and met some wonderful people over the years. That being said, I know the retail world and I realized it was just a matter of time before I was forced into this. I was hoping I could put it off for one more year; not to be so.

We opened late, and manged the crush of people. I run a smaller store and really didn't have to put up with the "Walmart" customers. That being said, I feel like I lost part of what makes the holidays special. It is a time of family, and although a small or smaller shop can often feel like a family, shopping isn't what this day should be about. In a business sense, I fully understand why these decisions are made. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it. My day ended late, 3am when I landed home and went back into work at 7pm. Nothing says 'happy holidays' like a bunch of sale signs.

Thirty years of not having to work on this day was a blessing. So sad to see it end. Perhaps some day we will remember what holidays are really supposed to be about. Stores filled with stuff you can buy every other day of the year, shouldn't be one of them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wall to wall

On the weekends, when I'm not working, which most of the time isn't very often, the television routinely finds itself on either HGTV, DIY or some similar home improvement channel. My Beloved loves these shows of remodeling, renovation and all the trials and tribulations that come along with all of it.

Now, I  understand that many of the scenes are staged and the homeowners walk in and are joyfully surprised by the overwhelming transformation, but why is the script always the same? Just for once, why can't the perfect-looking homeowners walk in and cringe at what they see? Wouldn't that be hilarious? You did what?, she screams. That's the most hideous kitchen I've ever seen!

When was the last renovation show that had a contractor that didn't look like they walked out of a magazine shoot? Now, I'm not against very nice looking people on television. But couldn't you have someone on there that looks rather ordinary but knows where a load-bearing wall is located? How many renovation shows begin with pipe-dreams of perfect homes and still maintain the budget? Answer: all of them. How many shows find out that twenty minutes into them there is a load-bearing wall they can't move? Answer: all of them. I suppose that makes for the drama of it all, if you want to call it drama.

How can so many contractors miss the same thing every show? Also, how many 'contestants' know what a budget is for and how to stick to it? Oh, here's our budget, although we won't stick to it because we don't know why we have a budget anyway.

I wish I was a contractor for these shows, I could make the same mistakes over and over again. Just like the real world, I guess. Then again, these shows usually do give me my next project.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chinese Checkers

This is how you play Chinese Checkers:

Lay out the board, everyone taking their own color of marbles to move across the board. Then the play begins...

Jump, jump, jump.

"You can't do that."
"You jumped the red thumbtack."
"I thought that was mine."
"No, you have the yellow 'Jujubee'."
"Well, who has the paperclip?"
"The paperclip belongs to black marbles."

Jump, jump.

"Can't do that either?"
"Who's that belong too?"
"The 'Mike and Ike? That's green."
"Well, why didn't you use a green one then?"
"That's all I had."
"You've got 'Hot Tamalees' you could have used."
"I ate those already."
"Who does the 'Pez' belong too?"
"I don't remember; blue, I think."

Well, at least that's how you play Chinese Checkers at my house after a four-year-old gets hold of the marbles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zero is nothing gained

Zero tolerance. It seems to be the new mantra of just about every organization out there; schools, companies, national organizations and just about everything else. It has been in the national news several times over the past few years, but what does it mean? What is zero tolerance?

From what I can tell, it simply means no one is smart enough to use their God-given brains. We hear it all the time. A kid comes into a school and has a gun; he's suspended. Another kid comes into school with a picture of a gun; guess what, he's suspended too. I ask you, where is the logic in that? How is it that zero tolerance has become zero brain usage by those in charge?

Managers, supervisors, principals and the like now seem to see zero tolerance as an out so they don't have to make the tough choices. Aren't they supposed to be the real leaders? Isn't that why they have risen to positions of power and influence? Zero tolerance has become nothing more than using a policy to show toughness in a situation where true leadership should surface. Being PC is just the easy way out and a way to stay the 'popular kid' as it were.

Perhaps its about time we go back to brain power and ask our leaders to exit, the 'zero zone'.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reading NatGeo

In general, I'm a fairly busy person. I put in a ton of hours at my 'day' job, have a wife and a home to take care of as well as all the other business of life. On top of that, I work to find as much writing time for my books as I can. That's a lot to have on the plate, all the time.

One thing a writer must also find time to do is read. Reading is like practice for anything else. As an author, one's reading should primarily be along the lines of the genre you write in. There are several reasons for that, among them keeping up with trends and finding ideas for your own works. But one should also read outside your preferred genre. Finding an author whose style you like whether inside or outside of your genre helps to make one a better writer. Perhaps you can use elements of that style in your own.

With my time crunches already built into my world, I find one of the best things to read is National Geographic magazine. Really, you ask? Really! Most who know little of this gem only know of the photography. While the images are often dramatic, the writing can also be powerful. Some of the best descriptive scenes I have read come from these pages. The writers are telling a story just as you would find in any book, short or novel. But unlike other periodicals, they also give you a sense of place by description, touch and scent. It's odd that the writing would need to include such descriptive passages that are accompanied by dramatic scenery, but I find some of the best writing out there to be within these pages.

Although I enjoy the scientific and social elements of this magazine, I believe the writing within holds as much for me as anything else. It is the only periodical I subscribe to. Well, I am kinda busy, you know.