Thursday, December 24, 2015

This Christmas Eve

This day again, my favorite day of the year. Sitting here with My Beloved, the fire roaring as I sip a cheap glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Okay, who am I kidding? It's sixty degrees here this year. I was sweating my reindeer off on Christmas Eve day as I wrapped up the process.

In truth however, this day has become the holiday for me each year. The hustle and bustle are complete and our home is decorated with pine and trimmings. Each year it is a little different. We cherish treasured ornaments and decorations from our past while we add new touches to the house. My Beloved does the vast majority of the Santa duties and I offset that by putting up and out the decorations each year. It's a working balance.

Christmas makes its statement to each one of us in its own special way, and as we grow older our views change and adapt. Christmas Day is for the children and the more I am around my grandsons the more that is refreshed within. I would gladly trade any gift I could or would receive to see their faces light up when they see the tree and what Santa has brought.

There will always be a religious element in our home as that is how I was raised. Christ's birth is the true meaning though I do not begrudge those who have come to take on a different outlook in this overly-commercialized season. I have come to terms with that and I believe most do as we grow older. My family comes first and that is the blessing that is bestowed upon me each and every day.

In these final hours before the magic of Christmas Eve, when the clock strikes midnight and the work of elves and a particular poignant fellow begins, I would like to wish everyone who reads this ramble a truly joyous and Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with joy and fellowship that pursue you throughout the coming year.

Now for my Christmas list ... oh, never mind. It's probably too late for all that.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Launching in January

It's a lot of work to write a book, and the culmination of that project is a published work. The closer one gets to finishing, the more anticipation builds, not only with the reading public if the book is announced, but also within the author.

The following in a brief excerpt from my upcoming science fiction novel, Star Eagle Six which has a tentative launch in January 2016 ... God willing and the river don't rise.

“What’s the report commander?” Joseph turned at the sound of the conference room door opening. The pull of the star field as it swept past the Parras was intoxicating. It was his way of losing himself, brushing off the burdens of command even if was just for a few minutes.
“We’ve not been able to detect any of the ships sir. I was concerned about the Revenge with her structural damage, but even she is undetectable.”
“How long before we cross the first detection point.”
“Less than thirty minutes captain,” Jason replied.
“We should get back on the bridge. We can’t afford for a Lorilon ship to stumble across us.”
Joseph led the way as mentor and student took their posts at the command station. Joseph could feel the tension level of the Alpha bridge crew rise as they neared the threshold. It was one of the most heavily militarized sections of Lorilon space. Tor Dunlaw was a fortress. It would be protected from a distance. Joseph looked up instinctively as the first of the proximity warnings sounded.
“Lorilon ships dead ahead at space normal speed captain.”
“We should breeze by them without so much as them sensing we’re even here captain.”
“That’s the idea commander,” he replied. “How close will we come to them?”
“One-hundred thousand meters captain,” Conn replied.
“Comm, were all ships instructed to maintain communications silence?”
“Yes sir. We’re certain that would give away our positions.”
“Monitor any communications. Let me know if anyone slips up.”
“Aye sir.”
The minutes ticked off one by one and the tension within the ships of the fleet mounted. They were close; the first big test of the cloaking devices was upon them. Fifteen minutes; the time cut in half. Stuart Joseph was getting antsy, swaying from side to side.
“Sir, a Lorilon Studda has turned and is heading towards us.”
“Time to intercept?”
“Eleven minutes.” The bridge went quiet for several moments. “Eight ships have turned and are accompanying the Studda.”
“Conn, has their course changed?”
“No sir. Nine minutes to intercept.”
“Can we tell if their weapons are energized?”
“Not at this distance sir,” Conn answered. “They have assumed standard attack formation.”
“Commander, signal all forward batteries.”
“All batteries report ready sir.”
“Seven minutes.”
“Should we signal the other ships sir?”
“Maintain silence.”
“You think that wise sir?”
“Jason, I have to rely on the captains of the fleet to know their business.” He turned, scanning his bridge before he settled back on his second. “If they don’t, they’re dead.”
“Second Studda group off to starboard captain. Six ships altogether. Standard Lorilon formation.”
“Four minutes.”

Star Eagle Six ... coming in January 2016

Monday, December 7, 2015

Because you allow it

It's not often I get political on a ramble, especially when the Christmas season is upon us. I would prefer to stay light and breezy this time of year. I however came across several articles that just happened to coincidentally come together in my thoughts this morning. One was Senator Bernie Sanders berating WalMart for their business practices. Another was an article about corporations not paying their fair share of taxes and a third for retail companies, not just WalMart for paying wages that others don't believe are classified as a living wage.

Now, I rarely shop at WalMart, nor as a long time retail manager do I work for them, nor have I ever worked for them. Taking retail as a whole, many jobs are part time work and have always been considered entry-level work. You can make a living wage in retail when you move up the ladder. Going into the workplace means moving up the ladder to have a successful career or a better life. I could name many companies outside of retail or the restaurant business that people start part time and with lower wages than someone who has put in the work and proven themselves.

I know someone who drove a FedEx truck that made $10 per hour. In many areas of the country that is the same wage a WalMart cashier makes. Many people that perform office work start part time and make less than that. Have you ever asked a bank teller what they make? It's a low wage. Where is the uproar over those companies? Never hear about it, do you? Most who make a higher wage have either one of two things in their favor; either they have a long work history of success or they have specialized knowledge to perform a specific task. Entry level positions require neither of these attributes.

As for the companies that pay little or no taxes, the politicians like Bernie Sanders (and every other member of Congress who is running for president) and the rest of Congress have no further to look at who caused the problem than to look in the mirror. Why is it all these corporations can do this? It's because they are following the laws you as Senators and Congressmen have passed into the tax code. Why would anyone pay more than they are legally entitled to pay? As a private citizen I wouldn't, so why would any business? I'm sure every member of Congress takes advantage of every deduction and loophole their accountants can find.

I hear a lot of politicians pointing the finger at problems when the election years come around, but I still don't see them finding much of a solution. Here's a solution to the tax problem, change the tax code. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Life hacks?

So the current theme that seems to be running through social media are things called 'hacks'. There are life hacks, cooking hacks, winter hacks,  etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (I've just always wanted to write that out instead of the abbreviation).

I read one this morning that was about making your home more comfortable for the upcoming winter months. I suppose it's nice that someone takes the time to give these tips to everyone. Of course I would hope they didn't put too much time into them, because by reading them, I can tell they didn't.

Here's one; don't leave your exhaust fan running. It will cause your furnace to run longer. Wow! Really? Here's a tip from me, don't leave your windows open either on a winter's day. It will make your furnace run longer. Turn off your air conditioning. It will make your house cold, and then you'll need to run your furnace.l

Another tip was to get your furnace tuned up. Gee, I would never have through of that, to have a major piece of equipment in your home looked at that has gas and a flame professionally tuned before you put a match to it to light it. Another, put a piece of toilet paper in front of your windows to see if they move. Okay, I would assume you could feel the damned cold coming through the major gulfs in your home if it is moving any kind of paper, thin as it may be.

I suppose that since I grew up fixing things and learning how to repair my house and cars and just about everything else I ever had, these types of articles speak to the lack of common sense in the populace. I've never had the money to just go out and buy something to replace something that broke. You had to try and fix it first. I believe the lack of common sense is often in direct relationship to the fact that most people don't know how to fix nearly anything they own. The older I get the more and more I see this same lack of skills in the younger generations.

There are exceptions of course. People who live out from the cities often have much more skill than the city folk. If you live on a farm or simply in a rural setting, or the mountains, you have to rely much more on your own skill set.

Here's my own winter hack for you on this day before Thanksgiving: shut the door, you'll let the cold inside and it will take longer to cook the turkey. And, if you are one of those who feels the need to deep fry your bird, OUTSIDE people .... OUTSIDE.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy, I'll be at work...not that I'm bitter or anything ...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A world away

Our world is still spinning, still turning beneath the sun. It is a constant. What is no longer a constant is the security of the world beneath our Sol. But, it never was. In my lifetime our country has almost always been at war in some form or another. At fifty-seven years old, I was born shortly after the Korean War which was five years removed from the largest military conflict the world had ever seen. I've lived through the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the First Iraq War, the Second Iraq War that really hasn't ended, the invasion of Afghanistan and so on and so on.

The difference in the latest conflicts is critical. We no longer fight against a government with a land mass. We fight against an ideology, one that is foreign to me. I am one who abhors the taking of life under nearly any circumstances, however to let a thief come into the night to wantonly slaughter innocents is one of those circumstances that must be defended against.

Radical extremists rape the world through fear. They have no grounds to defend, only an ideology. That in itself is part of the problem when confronting them. Where do you strike back? At whom do you strike? Whether you believe in that ideology is up to you. I for one do not. We as civilized nations describe the attacks against Paris as perpetrated by barbarians. In that context, I agree.

How does one then defend themselves against an enemy that has no borders? As a people that has restricted their military actions in the past it is time the United States and their allies take the gloves off, and unfortunately fight as they fight. If innocent civilians are targeted by extremists, they must run the risk of facing the same reaction. Surgical strikes are no longer an option. Bombs must fall wherever the radicals reside. Unfortunately, if that means innocent people die, that is a risk they must take. We can no longer let our enemies hide behind the skirts of innocents.

We must protect ourselves before we worry about protecting others. If enough of the innocents get tired of dying, perhaps they will stand up to the bully in their neighborhood. Me? I don't see it happening. Isis hates simply that we exist, yet they strive for the same reasons, to have economic power over what they claim. We can no longer afford to take a knife to a gun fight and expect the results to change.

And may God have mercy on our souls.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Crap Show

Hello everyone. I'm back from a very rare weekend off from work. Yup, it doesn't happen very often. It's been a long year. So, what did I do? I went with My Beloved to a local craft show. I have a friend who calls them crap shows.

I haven't been to one in several years, although My Beloved has. In my line of work I'm usually engaged on the weekends. I don't get out much. This particular show is rather large in the area and draws a good amount of people. They have everything from the standard woodworking entries to the goat-milk candles and soap and all sorts of sewn goodies. It's interesting walking around seeing all the handiwork. Many of these folk are very talented.

And that's where one of the rubs comes in. How many times do you find yourself at one of these types of shows and overhear someone saying, "that's too much. I could do that." My answer to that is, well, go ahead. Take the time, take the effort, buy the materials, the paint the cloth the wood the iron the nails ...
Don't disparage another persons time and effort because you think you can make one better or cheaper. If you won't buy it, nod and smile and move on.

It's the same thing as writing a book, a short, a poem. The author puts themselves out there for everyone with an opinion who wishes to criticize every little hick-up, plot twist, scene or character flaw they work into the story. Most of the reviews I see that aren't the five star kind pick apart the little things without offering constructive crits, or they read a book and find it distasteful due to some belief they hold whether it is religious or political. Hey folks, it's the authors story, not yours. If you want to put your thoughts out there for the world to criticize, please do so. One must have a thick skin for this business.

I did find out something about my own tastes. I found I tend to walk past booths where the color schemes are pastel or lend themselves to jewel tones. No matter what the product the artist was offering, those tones did not influence me to even look. I found I am drawn to darker and richer tones. Those were the booths that drew me in even if I had little or no interest in the products.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Second

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

Above paragraph is from Wikipedia.

I am not a firearms person. Yes, I have shot guns. No, I do not own them. We have a situation in this country. It is guns. We are the most heavily armed nation in the world not including our military. We also have one of the highest, if not the highest murder rate in the world, civilized or not, and I use the term civilized loosely. These are the facts, not an opinion.

So here's my question. What the hell do we need all these guns for? I hear the argument, protection. Okay, protection from what? What are truly the odds that someone is going to barge into your home? Who are you trying to protect yourself from? If you are that afraid, are you wearing your weapons 24/7 inside your home? Why not? In most areas of America, the average person could walk outside their home at any hour of the day or night, look up and down the street and not see a place where there was a crime committed, likely in more than a year. So I ask again, protection from what?

If you want to have a gun for protection, go ahead. Does anyone in this country need a so-called assault rifle? Do you expect to be holding off the Russians or the British? How about the Iranians? Any group out there roaming around your neighborhood? Not likely. How about a random person? Okay, that's a possibility. The Second Amendment gives the authority of the government to regulate those firearms. It's time they do so.

There is no need for the citizenry to possess any type of weapon that is military or para-military grade. If you want to own a pistol, rifle, shotgun, that's fine. Automatic weapons have no place in this country. The cry of if I give up my gun only the criminals will have guns is not a valid argument. Let the police handle the criminals. Most people that come into harms way from criminals are there because they choose to be. They have put themselves in a situation they shouldn't be. Sure, there are neighborhoods where violence is a fact of life. This isn't a perfect society. There isn't one and never will be one.

The spate of school and public shootings in recent years points to how this is a failed system. In the past, killers were secretive. Few that I can remember in my lifetime before the recent decade put themselves out there for public consumption. Why the change? Society and how we communicate has changed. It is a look at me society from the news cycle to the phone in your pocket. We can no longer permit anyone to have their fifteen minutes of fame for this type of crime, a crime caused by weapons no citizen needs to possess.

Do we need more regulation? Probably not much. Likely all we need to do is enforce the laws already on the books. Is the system bogged down? Sure, but issuing a permit and weapon to someone because four days is too long for the system to work properly is turning a blind eye to the problem. If the person is not properly vetted, they don't get the weapon, period. Background checks need to be finished, not stalled.

We have a problem in this country and the status quo is no longer acceptable. As is often quoted, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. We can no longer wait for a different result. Do I have all the answers? No, I don't. But it's time for those who govern this country to pull up their bootstraps and face the situation. It's time our leaders stare down the barrel and do what needs to be done.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Take away the picture ...

... and what do you get?

As a writer, one needs a support group of sorts to gather information, learn about trends in the writing world and find out what works for other authors. Who better to gather this info from than other authors?

From that, as I have mentioned a time or two before, I am a member of an online writing group. But what are we really? As I was thinking about them the other day, it occurred to me how different and far-flung this group is.

If you took each of the author's self photos off, all you would have is a group of names. What can you distinguish just from that? Not much really. One can tell gender mostly, but not much other than that. Even if you think, 'that is an Irish, or German, or Russian name', that means nothing. Any of those names could fall anywhere within the United States or anywhere across the globe. We are a mobile society.

As it is the group numbers near ninety members. We range in age from early twenties to those in their seventies (perhaps older). We are men, women, sexually straight, gay and bi-oriented. We are truly a global collection as we live in places as diverse as Japan, Ireland, Spain, France, South Africa, Mexico and many others. We have names that would be recognized in the public outside of the group, and others few would recognize. The one thing we have in common is the writing and publishing world.

So what does that mean? What it means to me is we can learn from each other no matter what our background or nationality. We are a couple years old as an 'organization' and I have learned a tremendous amount from being associated with them. I do not place any of the members in a preconceived pocket. I don't read a comment and say, oh, that's from one of the gay guys, or the Canadian, or the Texan (of course there are a lot of Texans in the group. Maybe they just need more help than the rest of us).

If you were to put all of us in a room, I think it would be a magical place. We've grown to know each other because we share a love of writing, of authorship, of striving to become successful in the same vein. We celebrate each others success. No one disparages another because they are more successful. We are different yet we all share a common bond.

Unfortunately too many in the real world close themselves off from others because they are different from themselves. When that's the case, they have failed in the world at large. It's time to look for what brings us together instead of the differences we have. If all you can do is label, you will never be able to open the door. I challenge everyone who reads this to open the door to the world. I think you'll be surprised at what you'll find.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Four eyes again

I am once again, able to see. I have a love / hate relationship with wearing glasses. I assume most who are forced to wear them have the same relationship. I broke both my glasses several months ago and have not had the time to get them replaced. I've been forced to rely on reading glasses to get by. Not ideal.

I did try contacts many years ago. Hated them. Tossed them after six months never to return. But I digress. I now have my new glasses. They're progressive lenses. My last pairs were such. I thought it would be difficult to get used to but it didn't take long. I was surprised, but after relying on readers for a couple months flat surfaces are warped a bit. I remember when I got my first pair some thirty-mumble-mumble years ago. I was working in a grocery meat department. I was sure I was going to cut my fingers off trying to get used to them.

The blessing is, I no longer have to put my phone into camera mode to read a restaurant menu. Glasses are a difficult lifestyle. I am an active person and they bounce all over the place. That's how I broke the last two pairs (at work). Maybe I should bill them for it. Na, they'd just say no.

I see fine at a distance, close, not so much. I keep a pair of readers in my car, a set on my work bench and a pair next to my bed. I might be able to ditch the ones in the car now. Well, maybe just save them for restaurants.

Now, I look around the store where you buy them and I see all these pictures of fantastic looking people wearing glasses; wide frames, dark frames, bug-eyed glasses, etc. They all stand out. But, those styles aren't for me. I would rather have a pair that someone really doesn't notice on my face. I also don't like thick frames at my periphery. I don't like to look to the side and see the temple arm of the glasses. I want to see where I'm looking. My Beloved has glasses that have thicker arms. What I don't like about that is she has beautiful eyes and from the side, I can't see her blues because of her frames.

With all that said, I am the proud owner of two new sets of glasses. My world is again in focus. I can even write at the computer without adjusting every five seconds. Oh well, it's nice to be able to see again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Star Eagle Six

Once again I have stepped out of the bounds of my past writings. My current work in progress, (WIP) is a science fiction tale. It is the struggle of a small confederation of home world planets engaged in a bloody and consuming ten year war. The following is an excerpt from the book. I hope you enjoy it.

“So, what do you need from me exactly?”
“Practicality, captain. Practicality.” She pushed her fork into her food one last time before pushing the tray away. “I can look up the specs on the Talon all day long, but what I can’t look up is real-world scenarios. Any piece of equipment should live up close to design specs, but what does it really do? How fast does it turn; do its engines cycle hot? You know, that sort of thing.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Andren.” Turner lifted his fork, pausing as he thought for a moment. “The Talon is simply the best fighter I ever flew. It’s design specs run right down the map like they’re supposed to.” He lifted his hand, taking his first bite. He raised his brow at the unexpected flavor. “This is pretty good.”
“Humph. I think I just lost all respect for you,” she replied.
“In all seriousness, there hasn’t been a better fighter built by any of the home world planets.”
“Then why did they replace it?”
“For the same reasons engineers replace everything, no disrespect intended,” he said as he looked up to her. “Someone has a better idea or technology improves to such an extent that it allows for evolution.” He dipped his fork again into his plate. “That doesn’t always mean it’s better though.”
“Have you ever piloted the Harrier?”
“Never had the chance,” he replied. “Besides, I couldn’t do it for long.”
“Evolution, by dear Andren. Evolution.” He shoveled another mouthful, letting it slide down gently. He leaned back, letting his hand come to rest on the table, the fork gripped tightly. “Fighters now are all tied into your brain. They react to your reactions, to your thoughts. It’s instinctual, but that comes with a price.” Turner crossed his arms and stared down at the table. He seemed lost in thought.
“What kind of price?”
The pause in the conversation hung in the air. Turner continued to stare, his eyes unfocused.
“A loss of humanity.” He blinked and looked back up at her. “We are in danger of becoming what we abhor. This mechanized society where we become one with our weapons, one with our ships all in the name of saving ourselves.”
“If we don’t save ourselves, what is the point of this war, Frank?” She leaned forward planting her elbows firmly on the table, her posture rigid. “We must survive, damn it. I won’t be wiped from the face of the universe without a fight.” Her faced reddened as the passion in her voice began to climax. I will not let my planet die in vain.”
“I’m sorry,” he replied. “I didn’t mean …”
“Of course you did!” She pushed herself away from the table. “Maybe this was a mistake.”
“Andren no, please.” He leaned forward reaching his hand across the table, his touch falling short. “We’ve both been through a terrible ordeal.”
She sat silent staring, her blue eyes burning with a renewed fire.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The 39th

It was with a bit of sadness I watched most the the press conference today where president Jimmy Carter announced to the world he has cancer. Having been through that a couple years ago with family, that diagnosis hits home for me.

Now, back in the day, I wasn't a big fan of his politics. However, I did respect him. In my mind it's hard not to respect someone who has served his nation for as long has he has, both in the military and as a public servant. And there is what the theme for the upcoming presidential election should be. Just because you don't agree with someone's politics, doesn't mean that they don't deserve your respect.

Now, there are a lot of politicians I don't respect, however over the years, my respect has grown for Jimmy Carter. He has stood the test of time and lived up to his beliefs. On more than one occasion, I have referenced not making anyone who lives in the public eye your personal hero. Although I don't count Mr. Carter as a hero, it is with utmost humility that I would count him as someone whom I do look up to. He has fought in the public eye against poverty here and abroad, and has contributed more than his fair share in dealing with the Middle East nations. Likely, he has done more to promote peace in that region of the world than most of the leaders who reside there.

As well, he has stood by his beliefs, both personal and religious. I for one can never remember a time where he embarrassed himself in the public spotlight. He has been a moral compass to this nation in times where that was needed. Not that many took it upon themselves to adhere to his voice, but his voice was there none-the-less.

I wish president Carter well in his upcoming battle with this insidious disease. He shall always have my undying respect. God speed, Mr. President.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fallen Idols

Long ago in a blog post I'd have to dig around to find, I was talking about heroes. Now, I do remember that at the end of it, I revealed that I don't have any heroes outside of my Beloved Father. He raised us by going to work nearly every day of his life. He loved our mother with all his heart and he was true to what he believed it.

The recent revelations of Bill Cosby bring this crashing back to earth. In the days of my glorious youth, Bill Cosby was one of the funniest people I had ever heard. My family owned his comedy records, you know, those things that spin beneath a diamond needle on a revolving plate. He made us laugh; laugh hard. His tales of growing up rang true to our childhood. With three brothers and a sister, we could all relate.

Then he became a star. He broadened into television and had one of the most iconic roles in television history; Cliff Huxtable. In that role he was true to the character we all believed him to be. And that is what we as the consuming public are left with, a hollow shell of a fictitious man. He has now shown himself to be not what the world believed.

Then again, who of us are what the world believes us to be. We all possess pasts and demons. That is the nature of the species we have evolved into. So, what is the point of this all? Simple, actually. Put your faith in those around you. Look to the virtues extolled in the real world in which you live. Who are these people? They are your parents, aunts and  uncles, grandparents and co-workers. These are the heroes in the real world, not those the world of show business and sports put up on the table.

If you want a hero in life, someone to look up to, look to the left, look to the right; you might just be surprised by what, or who, you see.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Just don't

I heard a new commercial the other day that struck a chord with me. It brought back memories of a time when I was indestructible. The commercial was meant to scare and make you think about your life and choices.

The woman in the commercial has a monthly procedure to have an injection into her eyes. She has failing eyesight do to a choice she made, a life choice. She was a smoker. It caused her sight to fail and she lives with the choice and the pain for the rest of her life, yet she considers herself lucky compared to others.

Thirteen years, six months, thirteen days, nineteen hours and eighteen minutes ago (as of this moment), I had my last cigarette. I started like many other teens. Someone else smoked and I started to just do it. Everyone smoked at work, so I did too. I started with L&Ms. It was what my father smoked. It was the way of their generation. Sainted Mother was a Belair lady. She liked the menthol. Odd that although most all of my nearly forty aunts and uncles smoked, and likely many of my cousins, I was the only one of my parents five children that took up the habit. That is something I've not really understood.

I smoked for twenty-five years, but in the last few, I knew it was something I needed to quit, a habit that I had to break. It took time. It took several attempts and over a year in the last attempt. The first time I seriously attempted it was the summer before my sophomore year in college. I had stopped for three months, but the stress of the second year of the School of Architecture was too much. I caved. The second serious attempt ended the year my Beloved Father died, 1993.

It wasn't until 2001 that I again took up the challenge. As a long-time menthol smoker, I discarded them and switched to non-menthol. Cigs were getting expensive. I began buying brands I didn't like. It helped. I didn't want to smoke as much. You need to remember, this was a time before most of the now, well-knows cessation aids were common place. Another thing that helped, which is something I still don't like to do to this day is, I hate to carry things. Hauling around a pack and a lighter was irritating. I hate carrying a cell phone to this day, although I have one.

It came down to a test of my will. I wasn't going to let this insidious thing control my life any longer. At 2:15am on January 5th, 2002, I flicked my last butt out the window of my car as I passed over Cleveland Avenue on the outerbelt. I was coming home from my store's inventory. It was a struggle, something that for most of the next eight days I thought about continually. I needed to keep my hands busy. I gained twelve pounds in ten days. Then, it was like I was free. The craving vanished quickly and I haven't smoked a day since.

With all the information we now have about what tobacco does to the body, I find it hard to fathom how anyone can put a lit bomb up to their lips. I know the struggle. I know how hard it is to quit. But quit you must. It's not cool. You don't look hip (or whatever the word now-a-days is). You are simply chained to a decision you have made that will do nothing but cause pain and hardship in your life.

If you don't know the famous actor in this clip, well, that's how long I smoked. 
It's important ...  

Saturday, June 27, 2015


This is a short that I penned about a year ago. It was just a writing exercise for me one night. I was thinking about it today as I contemplated another work. It just popped into my head so I thought I'd share. It's long for this blog, however I hope everyone enjoys it.

To Fall Asleep

The wind that had punished me throughout my walk lessens, the snow now falling softly from the black, night sky. How I miss the stars of summer, their warm light both a blessing and a curse to my eyes. Would I have had a different path on life’s walk, I would certainly have wished to count the stars among them. But it was not to be; such was not my road, a farm boy from the Midwest who dreamed of greater things.
My tattered coat surrounds me in warmth, shedding the chill that swirls about the street corners, their asphalt surface hidden beneath soft powder. My boots push through it easily, though it clings to me just below my knee. I feel its presence against my skin, a touch, a kiss to let me know it shall invade my world should I hesitate. I pull my cloak tighter as I trod these sullen, winter streets of a place I now call home, a place I have no attachment to. It is only the place I live, the place that shelters me.
The barren streets are sparsely lit by the occasional lamp that throws its soft luminescence into circles upon the shadowed snow. It is only the hidden rolls, the curbs of this urban environment that take my attentions from my meandering path. Much like the varmint holes of an unplowed field in the days of my youth, they alone conspire to slow my progress, to press me to falter. I shake the powder from my hair, my beard now as white as that of an old man at the end of life’s journey.
My thoughts drift back to this day, this day a year past. It is but a carbon copy of what was; the brisk winds rambling down the city streets as winter’s white laid its blanket again across the cityscape.

My hands caress her warm cheeks as I brush away the snow from her face. I lift her head as gently as I would a newborn, held within the touch of a mother’s grace, and cuddle her softly upon my lap. I pull back her tangled, pepper-black hair, letting her face glisten in night’s stillness. Her eyes search for meaning as she looks past my face into the dark sky. I shelter her from the cold flakes as I hold her head.
“Who’s there?” she whispers.
Her lips tremble as her words slip into the night. Her breath rises in a soft cloud and I feel its warmth upon my cheeks.
“Is that you, Peter?”
“It is, my love.”
“Oh Peter. What has become of me?”
“It’s okay. I’m here. I’ll always be here. We’ll always be together.”
“It won’t be that way for long. I won’t be here.” Her eyes focus on my face for a moment, perhaps a last fleeting memory before she looks again to the heavens hidden behind the overcast night.
“I’ll be here with you always,” I reply.
“Peter, do you remember that day we went down to the shore? It was such a lovely time.”
“I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my face. You were so beautiful.”
“You make me blush, Peter. I was never that pretty. But, but you always made me feel that way.”
“You were always my first love. You know that.”
“I wasn’t though. There was another before me.”
“There was never anyone before you.” I brush the flakes from her dark eyelashes as I peer into her eyes. “Once you find your forever person, there is no one before, no one after.”
“Peter, do you see the sun? I feel it. It feels so warm.” She rolls her head toward me. I see the strain it takes for her to do so. “I’ve missed the warmth, Peter. I’ve been cold all day.”
“I’m holding you now, love.” I press my cheek down to hers. Her skin is flush with night’s chill. I will hold her life little longer. “Just feel the warmth of my touch, that touch we have shared for a lifetime.”
“Do you hear the water, Peter? Can you see it? See how it rushes to our feet? It makes my toes feel numb.” She blinks, her lashes depositing a white dusting on her cheeks. They linger for a moment before her fading warmth turns them to a tear rolling down her cheek.
“I wish our daughter’s wedding would have been on the beach. I tried, you know.”
“I know, my love.” I wipe the remnants of the tear from her face. “I remember.”
“Such a day it was. God had given us that day, Peter. She should have been married at the beach.”
“You would have gotten wet in the surf.”
“I wouldn’t have minded.” Her eyes find me once again, an inquisitive look on her face. Her lips relax as a smile embraces her. “Remember how beautiful she was?”
“I’m cold, Peter.”
“I know love. You’ll be warm soon.”
The darkness that surrounds us begins to reflect a new reality, harsh and penetrating. The azure lights create a pattern of chaos in our once silent world. Commotion fills the void that encompasses us.
“Peter? What’s going on?”
“Just the lights of the city, my love.”
I turn as I hear the sounds of footsteps rushing through the powder, shoes scraping against the pavement beneath. A dark figure now looms above me as I cradle her in the soft snow.
“Is everything all right?” The police officer kneels down beside me as he tilts his cap away from his face. “Is she okay?”
“Peter? Who’s here?”
“Just a friend, my love.” I brush my fingers against her cheek as she looks again to the night sky, the falling flakes blue against the flashing strobe.
“Is there anything I can do?”
I shake my head, knowing it is only a matter of time.
“Peter? What is that light?”
“What light, my love?”
“It’s beautiful. It’s warm, Peter.” She rolls her eyes to me again, scanning my face. “Are you coming with me, Peter?”
“Not tonight, my love. But I will join you soon.”
“I love you Peter.”
I watch as her face turns to the side and her eyes close for the final time. I am at a loss, a numbing sense of emptiness begins to overtake me as I feel a hand upon my shoulder.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” His voice is strong, but I know his words ring true. “I’ll call and we’ll get her moved inside.”
“Thank you.”
“What’s her name, Peter? I’ll need it for the reports.”
“I don’t know her name, and my name isn’t Peter.”
“But ... “
“I’ve never seen her before tonight.”

I remember that night a year past so vividly. It was a night like any other winter’s night in a cold city. I push through the snow, the soft powder that covers a harsh world nothing more than the blanket in which we wrap ourselves to fend off the night.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What's behind a name?

What's in a name? Perhaps your best behavior ...

I work in retail. One thing that is common among our little band of misfits is, we all wear our name on our chest. So? So, we aren't anonymous. What we do gets called out. We are on our best behavior because people now know who we are.

Largely, our society is anonymous. Sure, we have social media, Facebook and Twitter and countless other places we can talk to the world, (or even a blog), but it is a one-way street most of the time. As well, in those venues, we only let in the people we want to 'friend'. The world does not see us as we are.

What would happen if everyone was required to wear a name badge in public? How would that change our perception of the world? Or, the world's perception of us? Out on the street, we largely ignore most others we pass. Famous are the scenes of New York where bustling crowds pass without seeing the humanity. How would that simple badge that tells the world who you are affect your behavior? Would you be nicer? Would you drive your car like a jackass? Would you now think twice before you tossed that trash on the sidewalk instead of in the trashcan? Would you smile more or would you be nicer to the average person who you don't even know?

In a world where we must stand behind something, why wouldn't we stand behind ourselves? Why wouldn't we declare to the world who we are and what we stand for? This is my name and who I am. Perhaps the world would be a slightly better, and kinder place.

How would you stand behind your name? Hey, it's just a thought.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Help along the way

It's alive! It's alive!

We all have that same feeling when something we have created comes to fruition. Writing is a solitary journey. One spends days and nights pouring their heart, thoughts and ideas into a keyboard, or handwritten into a notebook or even, * gasp * using a typewriter. Okay, I don't do that, but I do jot down things in a composition book. All the rest of the actual writing of a story for me is done at the keyboard.

There are times, however when one leans on the advice and expertise of others to get through a work. A good writer never wants to leave details to guesswork. One must research facts, places and scenes to be believable, keeping in mind that fiction is just that, made-up-stuff. There are times when one needs to bend the facts to fit a story. It's what we do.

But help is always around a corner. I have a writing group that is second to none. The advice on writing and the business of writing is only a question away. With such talented people, the answer comes quickly.

And then there is the technical side. My latest creation is outside the genre in which I usually write. 'The Bear' is a modern day cold war era style novel. With that, the technical aspects of writing about the military and military hardware is not something I can just completely make up. It is with great appreciation and respect that I give thanks to two persons who helped me along the way. In 'The Bear', I give special acknowledgment to my contributors and their help in making me sound like I know what I'm writing.

Special thanks to former Petty Officer James Walker, USN (USS Sea Devil) and Lt. Colonel Rex Schlagenhauf, USAF (ret) for their technical contributions to this book.

With that being said...The Bear 
available exclusively at (for a limited time). Enjoy the ride.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I have been assimilated

I sat in my pod today looking at the analysis equipment within my earthly vessel. I sat attached. Upon my wrist was my time-tracking device. It was 1:21 pm. The internal glow from the visual interface that sat upon my control panel was interrupted only by the numeric output rolling across. The manual input plate called for me. I am 1 of 14.

I pulled a small device from my thigh. It keeps me connected to the whole of the hive. With it, I may find any information required to complete my objective. The 3/4G connection instantly scrolls information from anywhere within the collective. All members of the hive may be visited with its messaging or audio interface.

As well, I have a radio controller attached to me, its form embedded within my ear. From it I may communicate and instruct the other 13 of 14 within my unit. I am 1 of 14. A third unit attached to my waist contains all the information we require to manage components within my vessel, its contents and the location of each piece. From it we control the flow of equipment and unit output as we assimilate others into our world.

I have been assimilated. I am 1 of 14.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Coming soon, a new thriller

Many years ago, after I finished my stint in college, I didn't pick up a book for some time. I was tired. All those years of study, all those years of reading ... it was time to sit back and let my brain have a rest. 
Not long after that, a man named Tom Clancy put out his first book, 'The Hunt for Red October'. It was that book and his subsequent work 'Red Storm Rising', which is still my favorite of his works, that brought me back into reading. 
As a child of the cold war, I was hooked. This is what I grew up with. The nightly news often led with headlines of the Soviet Union. I have always been fascinated by the struggle between the two powers. Although I enjoyed most of Tom Clancy's later works, when the Soviet Union fell, my interest in that genre of writing waned.
As the world changes, it often stays the same. I invite you to look for my upcoming novel, a throwback to the cold war era, but set in the modern day world. 

Coming soon ...

“Captain to the conn.” Tull placed the mic on the hook just as his commander walked back into the station. “About that time, sir.”
“Any traffic about?”
“You were right about traffic slowing down. There’s almost nothing running.”
“Well, lets get underway.” Dawson turned, giving the order. “Bring us up to scope depth, all ahead slow.”
“Slow sir?”
“We need to see what’s up there first, and we don’t want wake, even a small trail from that could become luminescent. You churn the waters at night, you disturb it’s life forms. It’s mostly carriers that people know about, but I don’t want to take any chances.”
“All ahead slow, aye.”
The constant hum of machinery faded into the background, the sub deathly quiet as the USS Columbus began her passage into the Great Belt. The black hull slipped easily through the dark waters as the overcast sky painted a bleak picture upon the northern world. The rush of current from the Baltic pushed past, doing everything it could to keep the intruder away from her shoals. The shallow bottom of the Belt was not the featureless abyss that was the cruising plain of the open ocean. Here, the ancient geology of the Kattegat islands and narrow passages, and sunken vessels from times long forgotten all conspired to swirl the brackish waters along the hull like thunder in the face of the intruder.
“It’s okay to talk, people.”
The collective exhale eased the tension, slightly. The boat rocked ever so slightly as she fought her way against the turmoil. Dawson looked down at the screens that displayed from the scope. He saw nothing but blackness.
“Surface contact dead astern.” The sonarman pushed the phones against his ears and closed his eyes. “It’s a big one, sir.”
“Maybe we just got lucky.” The XO directed the scope astern, searching for the contact. “Starboard green. She’s coming this way.”
“Hard to pinpoint sir. Two miles maybe.”
“Dead slow, conn.”
“Dead slow aye.”
“Lets let them catch up to us. Maintain forward momentum against he current and glide right along beside them.”
“Glide, sir?”
“It’ll be a bit bumpy,” Dawson replied. “Riding along side a ship it going to make it interesting. Any idea what it is yet?”
“No sir, but it’s what you wanted, something really big.” The seaman keyed in some commands into his station before offering an opinion. “My guess is it’s a tanker.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Just a hunch, but the signature just seems to fit the data.”
“If you say so.”
“It’s what you pay me for, sir.”
"It is at that, son. It is at that."

The cold war heats up again ....

Thursday, April 9, 2015

White Staff - a fantasy novel

He reached down and stroked the soft coat of his gray friend. He knew he would never have the bond Aethan had with her but his weeks as her companion sealed a different bond between them. He was handed the reins of a chestnut mare that softly nibbled grains from a farmer’s hand.
“You will have little trouble over the flatlands to the south. There is little there to delay you. But take care as I may not have seen all that could affect your journey. The invading army may have strayed in an unsuspecting direction.” Aethan extended his staff toward Falton and moved it side to side and back again. Symbols flared along its length as a soft glow reached out enveloping his form. The layers of softness peeled away one after the other leaving his body partially transparent, a breath of wind for all to see.
           Falton slipped his boot into the stirrup lifting himself up into the saddle. He nodded to Aethan and turned his eyes toward Charise who stood beside his horse. He reached out and touched the hand she offered, though she was unable to see him directly from Aethan’s spell. She felt the wisp of his hand touch hers as he nudged his heels into the mare. He surged southwest running toward the coast of the Great Southern Waters.

A couple paragraphs from my epic fantasy novel, 'White Staff'. If you're a fantasy reader, or just a follower of this rambling blog, here is my little gift to you. Although this novel is available at many ebook sellers such as iTunes, Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble, it is for a limited time, 75% off the regular price at

Use the coupon code YR62J exclusively at to get 'White Staff' for just 99 cents (normally $3.99). The code is only available through April 17, so hurry along and snap up your copy. Just click on the link above to 'White Staff' and enter the coupon code to get the bargain price. Again, that's 75% off.

I hope everyone takes advantage of this offer, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Without meaning

Yesterday was a first. A retail first for me; I had to work. My company decided last year it was time to keep up with the Joneses and opened the stores. This year, it was my turn to work the Easter holiday. It saddened me to a point. 

Holidays have become just another day. They are a work day. The only day we do not open now during the calendar year is Christmas day. I wonder how long that will last? We must open. They will be open so we can't be closed. 

From a business standpoint, I understand the thought process. They are however, overlooking one simple thing; employees don't want to be there. Hell, I didn't want to be there. But I suppose corporations are simply reacting to what the buying public wants. And what does the buying public want? They want every day to be like every other day. 

Holidays have lost the luster of family gatherings and lively fun and relaxation. People put so much effort into making the basket or wrapping the presents or cooking the meal, they can't wait till it's over with. Many men then sit and veg in front of a television or find something else to occupy their time, and the women want to run away and get out of the house. It's their escape. What do they do? They go to stores.

The holidays have collapsed in America and it saddens me. Growing up, I enjoyed nearly every holiday as the year rolled along, at last climaxing with Christmas. Unfortunately for me, few now hold any special meaning. They are nothing more than the day before and the day after. They are a work day. 

One day, when I put the world of retail behind me, never shall I venture into a store on a holiday. I would be stealing from those employees that which I have lost.

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's been a while

Life gets in the way ...

I've been gone for a bit. Sorry I haven't posted a ramble in almost a month. It's not that things haven't crossed my mind. Sometimes, I'm not near a keyboard to put them out. Although I work around computers all the time, it isn't something I can just bang out in the middle of the sales floor at work. I don't think my employer would appreciate me adding to the blogosphere while they're paying my salary.

Oh, there are a few things I've thought about writing. It just isn't always convenient. This month has been overly troublesome to that extent. The working world calls, and I must obey that call. What it does it place the writing world in another universe. Unfortunately for me at this time, that is nearly a parallel universe where the two shall never meet.

A week ago this Saturday, I had a day off. That could well be my only day away from work this month. Yep, you read that correctly; this month. Although this time of year is not normally an extremely busy time for me in my industry, it is often the time my company decides to do other things, like upgrade all the systems we own. Well, not upgrade actually ... replace them all. That requires a tremendous amount of work and supervision for all the other aspects of the job. Oh, and I have to replace about five employees who are leaving all about the same time.

Hopefully, I will be able to drop in on a more regular basis and post a few enlightening tidbits for your enjoyment, or just to unload some of my angst upon the world. It can be a real stress reliever.
Of course, there's still books to write ... hmmm, I've got a lot of work to do. I'll get to sleep some time around May, perhaps.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I believe in Angels

Recent events in my family have sent me to pondering life and our daily struggles through it. Many believe and many don't in the afterlife, God, angels, etc. I suppose unless something happens to you, you can never really know.

Very few people know of this story, less than a handful, I'd say ...

Many years ago when I was younger, about the age of twenty-two or three (give or take), I had spent the evening and well into the night at a wedding. It was in the summer months as I recall the evening was warm and I wasn't wearing a jacket. It was late, very late, about 2 a.m. when I was driving home on the freeway.

At that point in time, I lived in an older area of the city. In itself, it was relatively safe place to be, however getting to that point, one had to venture through some areas that weren't so friendly. As it happened, I ran out of gas on the freeway about a mile from the next exit. I guided my car to the shoulder and sat there for a minute. I was tired. I know the area and knew there was a gas station at the end of the exit. That meant walking to get there, buying their gas can and walking back to my car. Remember, this was well before the age of the cell phone. No 'phone-a-friend' or AAA was coming to my rescue.

Just as I got out of my car, another vehicle pulled up behind me. It was an old station wagon, light blue in color and several years old. Out steps this big fella, rather tall, at least compared to me and solidly built. He had a big blonde mop of tussled hair and he was sporting a white tee shirt and cut-off jeans. And he was bare-footed. He steps up and offers to take me down the road to the exit. I thanked him and we were off.

In the end, I got home safely. (I haven't run out of gas since). So what's so angelic about that, you ask? Nothing on the surface. I received help when I needed help. From my perspective, I was in no immediate danger other than getting hit by a car. However, after some time had passed, I had a revelation. As I was thinking about what had happened that night, it was if a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I saw the event clearly for what it was. The person who stepped to my aid was the spitting image of my cousin Tony, a big strapping farm-boy kind of guy with a heart as big as the ocean. Still, what's so special about that? You didn't recognize him.

Tony had been killed by a drunk driver about eight years before.

I believe in angels to this day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Knob

Consider the 'knob'. Yes, the knob. You know, that graceful, circular dial that used to grace so much of our electronics. Where has it gone?

The knob used to be a staple of nearly every electrical or electronic device you owned. It was on your radios, your tape players, your stereo rack systems, even your oven. (Okay, they still are on your oven). I can think back when I was a little boy and had my first transistor radio. It had dials. It had knobs. Because it was small, they were really small. It was a device that had style and design buily into it. Where did that panache of design go?

It went the way of the button. I looked at the radio in my car the other day. It was filled with buttons. A button for mode, one for FM (1 or 2), AM, CD player, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Gone are the days when one would press their ear against a crackly speaker and slowly spin the knob to fine tune the frequency. And yes, it did help if you closed your eyes. (I think it's a scientific fact). Well, maybe.

The knob has a delicate symmetry. It is graceful, nearly no matter the size. And what can you do with big knobs? You can spin them really fast. Want to pump up the volume quickly? No more pushing an ^ up or down and wait for the electronics to catch up. Just grab the knob and give a spin. That'll get your ears burning in a hurry. So for the tuner as well. Spin that baby and you're at the other end of the dial in no time. It just doesn't have the same satisfaction pushing a button. Just like a telephone. Hanging up on someone when you're angry just doesn't have the same emotional satisfaction of pushing an off button. Most will never know the power of slamming a receiver down on the hook. But I digress...

The scientists of the early electronic era had it best. They had knobs. Knobs and dials galore to spin, tweak, turn and fine tune on their calculating, measuring and calibrating devices. And they had analog gauges with needles that measured things. Oh, don't get me started on analog over digital.

We will someday, pass the last knob into the history books when their functionality no longer suits our beeping, electronic world. Our great grandchildren one day will look on these wondrous protrusions and simply raise their eyebrows. Then, they will all run off an push some buttons. I for one will miss those days.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


When is it quiet?


A year or so past, we had a power outage. I think I wrote about it in a ramble. I think it might have been the last time it was quiet.

Think about that. You know what you're doing? Thinking. Consider what we put ourselves through each day, almost every minute of each day. We are assaulted by noise; sounds such as our piped-in headphones and ear buds. Radio. Television. Background music when we visit a store. Nearly everyone walking down the street has something wired to their heads to listen to something. What that means is our senses are being assaulted, overloaded.

What have we become? A hundred years ago, there was none of this cacophony to dilute our brains. The sun went down, the lights came up and people went to sleep, or read a book, or talked among themselves. We do little of that now. We are tied to computers and devices to entertain ourselves. What is this need we feel to continually entertain ourselves?

In the past several days, I have begun to tune out some of this noise. It becomes nothing more than drivel. Long have I listened to sports-talk radio in my car as I drive to and from work. Even this has become tedious. It is the same thing over and over again. Know what I did? It turned it off. No music, no yapping. It was quiet with nothing more than the sounds of travel. I suppose the good thing is, I didn't hear any strange noises coming from my car.

In the dawn of the electronic era when radio and television began to invade our lives, it was original. It was unique. That was the entertainment value. To me, it has all lost its uniqueness. We should begin to choose our battles, choose what we allow to surround us. We take it all in and continue to take it in without a filter. When does it become an overload where we no longer think, where we no longer give thought to our surroundings, our world.

Music a half hour, television no more than two. Pick up a book. Go walking outside in the cold. Feel your senses again as you listen to nature and see the stars twinkling in the dark sky. Go buy a telescope and watch nature as you've never seen it before as your breath hovers in the darkness. It might make you think. Now, that's a unique proposition.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What's in a name?

As most who follow this rambling blog know, or at least should know, I am an author. I publish under the name of Robert Thomas. (So this is where you go off to the ebook websites and look for my books. It's okay. You can come back ... I'll wait).

Oh, you're back. Great. Hope you purchased something. I got bills to pay.

It is a major decision for an author to decide what name under which to write. There are various theories and reasons as to what to do. One could use their own name. One could also make up a really cool sounding name, like one you wish your parents would have named you. (I'm fine with mine, just so you know). Another consideration would be to just use initials and a last name. Again, an awesome chance to pick a cool name. Obviously, I didn't do any of those things.

Now, using your own name as I have done gives rise to other problems we now face in this world. It's a risk I have chosen to take. But there are other things to consider as well. Once one begins to write in a particular genre, expanding ones frontiers can become a problem. As Robert writes in the world of epic fantasy, any reader who is familiar with Robert would expect books with that name to also be fantasy. See the problem? So, if Robert wanted to write in a different genre he risks alienating his following.

So, what's a writer to do? You write under a different name. Or, at least a name that lets the reader know who the author is, but tells the reader this is something different. Don't expect flaming swords, dragons and wizards with the second name.

Sooooooo ...... coming in the next few months, a date still to be determined. Keep an eye peeled for a new work in a different genre.

Non-finalized working cover

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pay no attention ...

Pay no attention to the facts please...

We are now in a world of media saturation. The advent and proliferation of technology has placed news, sports and entertainment media in more places than people can watch. Take the recent college national championship game. The coverage during the day was on sports channels up and down the dial.

Now, before I go any further, I'd like to congratulate THE Ohio State Buckeyes on winning the national football championship. Truth be told, that's my team. I make no bones about it. I began following them as a young boy and gave cheered and suffered through the long years. I know when they are good, great, and not so good. I can take the comments of mediocrity when I know they are true.

Back to the original thought for this ramble:
Unfortunately, with the proliferation of media and channels, it seems organizations are so desperate to have coverage on topics, they will put a microphone in the hand of anyone who wants to offer an opinion and call themselves an expert or just knowledgeable about a topic. Such is the case with one commentator who appeared on Fox Sports channel.

The discussion, as routinely happens in college football turned to 'what happens next year'. Who will be the number one team in the country and who will be in the four team playoff? One such 'expert', Clay Travis from Fox Sports thought that even though Ohio State beat Alabama (the number 1 team in the nation), and thoroughly dominated Oregon (the number 2 team in the nation) in the championship game, that Alabama would beat Ohio State if the game was played tomorrow and that Oregon and Alabama are still the best teams in the country. This is what I'm talking about. This commentator has completely ignored the facts before him. He deems his opinion more worthy than what actually happened. In sports, that's why you play the games on the field. Hey idiot, the better team won. That's the fact you chose to ignore.

But it's not just in sports where these talking heads pop up. This opinion was just an example of what we are forced to listen to. So, how do we fight back? We don't argue with them, unless you want to get your blood boiling. We turn them off. Writing to Fox to say, this guy is a do-do bird does nothing but give exposure, although one might say 'as does mentioning him in this ramble', but I use it to make a point.

Facts are facts when you witness them. Many just choose to ignore what they've seen or make it up their own version of the facts. It happens in sports, it happens in the real world with real issues. Too much analysis become paralysis by volume. It's time to cut out the noise pollution.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What's it worth?

For the uninitiated, I run a business. I'm a retail manager. I've run small, local mom and pop stores and national corporation stores. For many years, I still get the same feeling when it comes to helping the public; the average customer doesn't actually seem to understand how a business works.

No matter where I have worked, I've routinely been told, that costs too much. Okay, that's your opinion, but, how in the heck could you know that? What's included in that price? You do understand, if I sell something for what it costs to make it, there is no business, there is no job. Part of the cost to the consumer of any item includes the costs of manufacturing and transportation to get it to you. It also includes a slice of the rent on the building, the lighting, the heat, the air conditioning, the cost of paying an employee to unpack it and put it on the shelf, the cost of the tag to mark it, the cost of paying benefits to employees such as medical and dental, (because we all know that's part of what everyone complains about, people working for companies that do not support their workers).
Oh, and there's more, but I won't go into those costs. So, that item you think that costs $7.99 should only cost $3.99, it's simply more than that.

The other thing retail stores must counter is each other. There are some items that are priced low because other stores price them low to draw in customers. Therefore, competing stores must lower those prices. Since you can't give it all away and stay in business, you need to raise the prices on other items to make up the difference. Again, no profit, no store, no job for your high school kid or the retired guy who can't make enough of social security.

So, where does that leave us? That still leaves us with a consumer base who wants everything for free and who blames the clerk for their perceived wrongs. Have you ever seen the videos of people who tear a store apart? If a group of customers went into any other business and acted like that, they would be arrested. But for some reason, it is expected for stores and restaurants to put up with bad behavior. Just for fun, go into your insurance agent's office and push everything off the shelves or off his or her desk and see if you don't end up in jail.

Yeah, good luck with that.