Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Civil Discourse

Facebook. Twitter. Messenger. Civil discourse isn't so civil anymore. Here's how I imagine it going with several friends of mine. I freely apologize for using their names...

Anny: Did you see that peach pie recipe on FB? They used raisins. Ew! Raisins!

Amarinda: What's wrong with raisins? Maybe some people like raisins.

Jane: That's right! Raisins are just dried grapes. They're fruit!

Anny: But raisins...in peach pie. Gross. That's worse that apples and cranberries.

Cindy: I happen to like apples and cranberries and nuts.

Amarinda: Nuts? What kind of nuts?

Cindy: Uh, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts...

Amarinda: Huh. I'd rather eat mangoes. And pineapples.

Jane: Bananas are good.

Cindy: Apples. Apples and cheese.

Anny: Colby cheese.

Jane: Mozzarella. Maybe cheddar.

Amarinda: Why would you ruin good fruit with cheese? Don't rodents eat cheese?

Anny: Not if you keep it in the fridge. Besides, a good cat will take care of a rodent.

Jane: I'm allergic. I like dogs.

Cindy: Me, too. Dogs. BIG dogs.

Jane: Little dogs.

Amarinda: Chooks. Chooks are the best.

Jane: Well, I have to go feed the pony.

Amarinda: I have to go to work.

Cindy: I have to go write.

Anny: I have to go bake bread.

Helen: Frogs. Green frogs. And green grapes...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things I Don't Understand

Why do we call Wednesday 'hump' day? Why not Thursday which is exactly half way through the week? Or are we implying only work days count? And if so, what about all the folks that don't work? Is Wednesday their 'hump' day, too?

Why do the football players announce their name and what college they attended? Some of them are in their thirties, so how is that relevant? Do doctors say, "I'm Doctor So-and-so and I attended Johns Hopkins"? Or firemen say, "Hi, I'm Mike O'Hara and I attended MIT"? What's up with that? Am I the only one who finds it weird that grown men tell you what college they attended? Isn't their current performance more important than something they did way back when?

Why, oh, why do people click on the like icon on Facebook? Are they signaling they were there, like Kilroy? Is their time so valuable they can't take a moment to choose some other button, at the least? And what do they like? The cute kitten meme? Or whatever the poster had to say about it? What about the sad posts? Why do they like them? What if they were never there...and Facebook is clicking on the posts for them?

Does Facebook count how many likes we get on a certain posts? And why don't they list how many people stopped to read a post like they do on my 'author' page. Wouldn't that be more useful information that wondering if anyone read my post?

The other day I googled a bunch of stuff and almost immediately ads started showing up in the sidebars of my Facebook and Yahoo pages. All except...when I googled fast acting poisons and exotic ways to kill an enemy. So does that mean there are no products available? Or are the powers that be afraid someone will actually purchase their products?

Every Thursday the hunk and I go to Weight Watchers. The doors open at 5:30 PM. Sometimes we leave at five to five. Sometimes we leave at fifteen after. No matter when we leave, we arrive at 5:28. How does that work? Is there some Supreme Being watching me drive down to Weight Watchers?

Why does it take twice as long to dry the clothes as it does to wash them? Shouldn't it be like the same amount of time so you can keep the whole cycle going? Instead, you have wait...and wait...and wait with a full washer load for the dryer to finish.

What things do you wonder about?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anny's Commandments

The life of a writer is beset with trials and pitfalls. For the new writer, they are compounded by ideas about what a real writer does. So these are the rules I've devised for myself over the years I've been writing. As always, every writer has to devise their own.

For writers:
1. Write. Write. Write. There are a few--very few--writers who are disciplined, possibly even anal, who sit down and write a preset number of words every day. That's okay...for them. Then there are the rest of us who work full-time jobs out of the home, or are busy raising children/grandchildren, or are dealing with the devastating effects of medication, stress, and/or illness. For us, it's sometimes a struggle to set aside five minutes to write. So make it count. Whatever it is. It doesn't have to be a book. Write a letter to your mom or dad. Or your children. My father wrote to me once and I have that letter framed. Write a blog. Keep a journal. We write our truest thoughts in a journal. Write a grocery list. Just write. It stimulates the brain so it remembers what writing is all about.

2. At a certain point, writers finding sharing their work irresistible. If you just want to share, that's fine. But if you're looking for a critique of your work, be prepared to accept what you get. I will tell you a secret. 99% of the folks who read your work will never, ever tell you whether or not they liked it, hated it, or didn't even finish it and that is because they don't want to hurt your feelings and they don't want to lie and say they never read past the first chapter. So. Choose a person whose opinion you truly value, be up front about what you want from them, and ask them to be honest with you. When they are, pay attention to every word. Otherwise, you're just stealing their time.

3. Write only what engages your passion, your heart, your soul. No one--I say, no one can please everyone else. Hell, no one can please 1% of the reading population. Really. So you don't write for anyone else but yourself. Write the book you'll be happy reading over...and over...and over. And for those writers who say they never read their own work? Why not?

4. Set your own ruler. Don't base your expectations on what anyone else does. If you were a painter you wouldn't only paint Van Goghs or Rembrandts. Write your story. That's the only one that matters.

For Editors/Critiquers/Beta readers:
1. Don't whitewash the work I've struggled to produce. If it's crap, then say so--and tell me specifics. I can't fix what I can't see. And if it's reached you with problems, that's because I can't see them. Because I never share any work until I've edited it to death.

2. Having said that, don't change my work. Use tracking to mark the iffy sections and then make a note in the margins..."What the hell were you thinking???" I can't learn if you do all the work.

For Friends/Fellow Authors looking for someone to read their stuff...
1. Expect me to be brutally honest. If there's something I should know before reading your work, tell me. A fellow author who I admire very much once asked me to read her story. I commented that I was somewhat disappointed with the story as it was fluff without much substance and I knew she was capable of much more. What she failed to tell me was this: Her life had gone to hell and she just needed some fluff in her life. I wish she had said that. I really do. Instead, she withdrew from me and didn't 'speak' to me for more than a year.

2. Never, ever, ever slough off my comments about spelling and vocabulary. We, the writers are the last bastion for civilized discourse. If you don't know the difference between hostel and hostile, look it up!

For the Readers/Reviewers:
1. Here's what I ask you to remember. There's a real person behind the writing. There are many, many ways to say the book wasn't my best without shredding my soul.

2. And take responsibility for actually looking at the blurb. If it says the story is short...then it is. If it states there is sex, then believe it instead of acting shocked. If it's science fiction or fantasy, don't get all bent out of shape because it isn't contemporary or historical.

So, there ya are. My personal rules about writing. What are yours?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ponders for Second Week January

Recently, during a conversation with my Dad, he said, "I believe this will be the last election in our country." I thought surely not. But, now...yeah now, I suspect he might be right. I never thought to see it all roll out like this. I never thought to see my fellow citizens so concerned with their one or two issues that they would throw out the entire country's future, but there ya are. It's happened. Here's the roundup for this week of our fabulous congress...

The federal week in review:
1. Trump fires all Obama-appointed Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee's salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump's first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department--for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don't like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.

So. Y'all keep on being entertained and distracted and amused by Mr. Trump's tweets. Keep ignoring the steps the congress is taking to remove your rights and liberties. Keep posting your tweets about celebrities and unimportant movies/tv shows/etc. while our country dies. Maybe I'll be back next week. Or...maybe not. In the meantime, I suggest y'all re-read 1984. Or watch Running Man. Maybe you'll pick up a hint or two.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I spend a lot of time contemplating odds and ends. I suspect most people do. Of course, pondering stuff serves no purpose if you don't communicate or share your thoughts with others. That's something we don't seem to do much of anymore. We don't read. We don't talk. We walk around with electronic devices, trusting the keepers of the truth to tell us what we need to know instead of seeking out the truth ourselves.

I wonder if I'm the only one to speculate about what the President-elect is hiding/covering up by sending out all his wild tweets. No one is THAT stupid. Therefore, there is something he and his team don't want us to pay attention to...so there's the wild diversions of idiocy. What are we missing while we're huffing and puffing with indignation? Yeah...that. Diversionary tactics are as old as the hills, but we're too busy looking at the shiny to see the shadows.

I wonder if I'm to only one to see the 'media' is entertainment news. If you listen very carefully, you'll note there's only one--or rarely, two--actual news stories. The rest is fluff and filler. The average news story is approximately two minutes. How much information can be disseminated in two minutes? And why do the news readers (no they're NOT journalists) all smile? It's creepy, you know? What is there to smile about? Their salaries, maybe?

My great uncle Bill didn't get past 5th or 6th grade, yet he was one of the most educated, thoughtful men I ever met. He read everything. Everything. He was a sheep rancher in west Texas but he knew what was going on in Washington, D.C. because he read. Does anyone read anymore? You do know we are the authors of our own downfall, right? Ask the next ten people you meet if they can tell you what the first ten amendments to our Constitution are about. I bet most of them don't even know we HAVE amendments. Some of them think the Constitution is the same thing as the Declaration of Independence.

I believe our lackadaisical attitude has been carefully engineered. Seriously. I mean, how can you account for the rise of the Kardashian/Duck Dynasty/Alien Mystery/Alaskan Bush People? Who, in their right minds consider these programs entertainment? Yet, someone approved them. Someone promoted them. And someone out there keeps generating stranger and stranger program content. That's not some accidental occurrence. It's a deliberate campaign to deaden our brain cells.

The rise of Twitter/Facebook/whatever has far more to do with the spread of racism/misogyny/ignorance/gender bashing/religion than anything else. Where else can you go to communicate with other people who believe the same things you do--or don't? There is power in numbers as we found out in the last election. There is power in organization and communication. And guess what? You don't have to have a brain to use Twitter or Facebook. You don't even have to be literate. All you have to do is click on 'share'. That's right. Click.

Here's what I think. Just because you can legally do it...whatever 'it' is...doesn't mean you SHOULD do it. Maybe, just maybe there should be an occasional thought or two, first.