Monday, July 30, 2018

Remember the Days of the Old Schoolyard

There are days that I spend way too much of my time thinking about what I may write in my blog for the week when the answer is right in front of me. Actually, right inside my head of what I truly experienced.Just meeting up with a schoolmate brought this back to my memory. 

So many people talk about how they would never want to go back to their high school years. That is most definitely not the way that I feel. Now, I can't say that every moment was the best ever, yet on the other hand, it would not be such a bad deal. I know for a fact that the word boring would not be used for the time that I was in high school. Alright, I will give you a point for the hour that was spent in Geometry, day after day. That was just an hour. From there we went back out in the hallways with friends. Most of the time, we had great teachers and lots of fun. At least, for me, it was anything but boring.

There were parades that the R.O.T.C. sponsors marched in that led us off in my mom's cool convertible with one of the best English teachers ever (and the coordinator of the sponsors) driving it! We had great fan spirit for the basketball team and the football team. There was the much anticipation about the Homecoming Game where the Homecoming Queen was announced. Even if you did not win the Queen, it was a proud moment to be nominated at school and then to be escorted down the field on game night. I still have the picture that my mother took of me in my blue velvet dress. I loved that dress!

Which leads me to my love of fashion which did start early. By the time I became a senior, I was named the Teen Representative for Modeling on a local television show with a very popular disc jockey, George Klein. When this portion of the show came on the school was announced for that Saturday and the representative (me) got to come out modeling and then sat down by Mr. Klein for a brief chat before announcing the models and what they were wearing. I totally got into that part. We all had a lot of fun. 

The show was live, but not the kind of show with an audience. My friends and I went to the back to change out of the clothes and hand over to the store clerk who guarded them like a hawk. We all got our own clothes back on and were headed out when I was pulled over to the side and asked if I knew how to play the keyboard. I replied that I played the guitar and all I knew about the keyboard was where the note C was. 

He explained that his group was about to go on live and they would not be playing instruments live, just pretending to be playing. This is how the show always worked because it was live and no room for mistakes. He asked again if they kept the camera off my hands could I pretend to be playing the keyboard? I asked what song? When he said to my amazement, Green Onions, yes, I had heard of that song but not into that many names of bands I had forgotten that it was Booker T. and the MG's who I was just asked to pretend to play keyboard for. 

It seems that the keyboard player had not made it to the studio yet. Little did I know that it was Booker T. himself that I was standing in for. I heard the announcement that a substitute was playing the keyboards and to welcome Booker T. and the MGs.

Well, that apparently was my few minutes of fame. I was hoping that the cameraman was not showing my hands because I knew not what I was doing. Just trying to move with the beat and have my hands where they should be. I still have trouble believing that I pulled it off. 

By the time that I got home my mother was having a conniption. She could not believe that I agreed to such an arrangement. I am glad that I had a nice sweater on and basically that is all that showed because unlike my friends, I could not wear jeans. It would have been the perfect thing to wear while pretending to be in a band. (I did sneak out to a store the first month of my freshman year at Ole Miss to buy me a pair of jeans.)

The other claim to fame that I look back on and smile is when I came home from college during a holiday, I went out with a police officer. He asked me if I had ever seen or met Elvis. The answer was a quick, "No!" He then said that he had heard he was at The Memphian Theater, which he was known for renting out for his own private movie. His usual posse was always with him and he allowed police officers to come and go also. They just were not to disturb him. I was told that we could go over and sit in the back and I could see Elvis. 

Part of me did not believe this. I had to see it for myself. So off we went. We were let in by his body guards once he showed his badge. Elvis and his possee were up toward the third to fifth rows, so we went midway down. I wanted to see more than the back of his head. No one was seated in there with us which I found amazing. I moved my seat all the way to the far side so that I could at least catch a glimpse of his profile. OH WOW! It really was Elvis. 

So to go back to my original train of thought, I do remember the days of the old schoolyard with very fond memories. More fond than not. Would I have done things differently? Probably not unless I could know then what I know now. Living in optimism and happiness, with a chunk of naivete is what made it so much fun!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Green-Eyed Monster

When I started writing seriously, I can remember how I would compare my writing to other authors and their books. In my own little world, there were so many great authors and books out there, that as a reader, there was no way possible that I could get to all of them that I wanted to, so how was my book going to stand up side by side to theirs? At times that
was the only way that I could view my situation.
Libraries, book stores and Amazon were full of them, that is for sure; even if it is broken down by genres. 

Sometimes I would use their success and achievements to help be my own motivation to do
just as well as most of the ones I admired. We all are aware that we live in the real world, which for me, meant there were times that I fell victim to the green-eyed monster called envy. 

At one point it was a healthy competition for me, however, if I allowed it to invade my soul and become my mindset then it was more of an obsessive focus on the negative. Negative for me, that is! Writing a book is not an easy task. Ask any famous author. It is also good for me to keep in mind that authors who have sold best sellers had publishing companies turn them away before someone saw the possibility of a best seller. This happened, at least in my mind, because the author never lost sight of his/her own vision. They believed in themselves.

This takes me back to why it is so important to stay positive. Negative attitudes will get anyone to NoWheresVille before you can blink an eye. If all I focused on were their win/wins and me sitting at my desk reading, writing and typing then it is a lose/lose for me all of my own doing.

Instead, I had to continue grounding myself in my vision. That green-eyed monster will stay lurking just below the surface and is ready to rise at any moment that I let my guard down. It became very clear to me that what I focus on will determine my success or failure; so you had better believe that my plan is to keep my focus on my goals and vision and dreams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 16, 2018

Paper Books or Digital Books?

There was a time, and perhaps the debate is still going on, that there were two sides about reading. There were books and then there were comic books. I can remember some of my teachers confiscating comic books, usually from boys who were deep into reading the stories. Even as a child, I would think to myself that at least they are reading! This was during "DEAR" time. (Drop Everything And Read!) They were not skipping out on reading an assignment. It was a free reading time that was meant to encourage reading. Something just did not seem right about this practice. My two cents did not count in this kind of debate. Once I became a teacher, I could make my DEAR time however I wanted to make it. Just READ.

Now it seems there is a debate concerning paper books or digital books. Paper books are physical books that may be paperback or hard cover. Digital books are downloaded onto E-reader notebooks such as Kindles, IPads, IPhones or other tablets that support these downloads. 

From the very beginning I put my nose up in the air at such a thing as a digital book and reading from a Kindle. Years went by before I even vaguely became curious, as I noticed more and more people reading them in waiting rooms, airports, or other places where a person may have some time to spare with nothing to do but wait. 

My husband never leaves the house without his book if he is headed to any place where there could be waiting. I thought of doing that, and even tried it a few times and unless it was a smallish book, it was uncomfortable to tote it in along with my handbag. 

This is when I finally tried out a free e-book offer from an author friend on Twitter. I had to have a month of daily appointments at a clinic and it was the perfect time to have something to read. It worked out beautifully. Yet I found that I still missed holding a real book. Holding the Kindle just was not the same feeling.

In my head I thought of the pros and cons of each type of book. Basically, I came to the conclusion that for me there was a time and a place for both. Just because I grew up with books all around me and found them comforting, I am not too old to learn new tricks, so to speak. 

  • A Kindle can have a whole library of books on it whereas if you were going on a trip or vacation and needed 2 - 3 books, your luggage would be weighted down.
  • Getting the book that you want to read immediately on Amazon gives you that instant gratification. You could order a book on Amazon and if you had Amazon Prime have it in two days or go out to a book store and buy it that very same day. How badly do you need that book that very minute?
  • Many e-books are offered free, especially the classics and new authors. Even so, most of the time Kindle books are less expensive than hard cover books. Yes, you could buy paperback books, however, my husband and I both prefer the hard cover over paperback, so this is my reasoning for comparing them.
  • Kindle books have the wonderful ability to touch a word and instantly get the definition of it. I must say that if I am reading a hard back book, there are times that I either use context clues or wait and check it later if my IPhone is not handy to google it.
  • A friend once told me that she loved sitting in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book. This is something I could not do with a digital book nor a hard cover. It would be too risky to drop it in the water, or get water on the pages as the pages are turned or water as you swipe to turn the page on the Kindle. Just lean back and close your eyes and relax. 

One interesting piece of information that I found was that studies have been done that prove there are tactile differences in how people recall events in a story based on whether they are reading it from an e book or a paper book. The research shows that e book readers do significantly worse on plot reconstruction such as list 14 events in the order that they took place. Paper book readers had a high level of correct emotional responses that showed there was a breakdown of mental reconstruction for e readers over paper book readers.

Everyone must make their own decision. I still will be the one standing tall and just saying, "JUST READ!"

In case you are wondering, yes, I have made my choice. I use both. Definitely, hard cover more often but I always have a book or two on my Kindle to read while I am out for an appointment. I tend to put books on it that will not matter if I get back to the story line in a week or so. While I am home, I get the comforting feeling of just holding a good book in my hands. 

 Let me end by sharing something that I found that really gets to the real reason that I prefer hard cover books. A 'digital book' can't be infused with smells, can't press flowers in-between its pages. It can't contain the teardrops that fell as you read the sad parts or the accidental coffee stains. No, only a real book can do those things. I saw this in a magazine and no longer can find it so I know the quote is not exactly right, but this says all that I believe about books.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Growing Accustomed to Civilization

Let me be the first to say that I would not have survived very long during the cavemen days. This is why I do not enjoy camping out and have a hard time understanding what joy others get out of it. Really, I do try to not be judgmental, simply by saying to each his own. If it floats your boat, then by all means go for it as long as it does not harm others. As for me, camping out means living without the wonders of civilization. Even though inventions have come along that supposedly make it easier for the modern camper, it is still not for me.

My last blog was late due to a storm knocking out power. Even after that was restored, there still was no Internet, which meant no blog. Nice thing was still some light outside. My husband and I did gather some candles and flashlights for our use when dusk did arrive and if electricity did not.

Just to let you know, I am well aware that we are not alone in how we handled the power outage. Others have shared what they went through in their homes. We read and I did a little writing. We did have to go out for some errands...first problem: no electric garage opener. Luckily our manual toggle worked just fine and we got out. Our hopes were that when we returned that all would have been fixed. Nope! So, once again handling the garage manually. Not really a giant of a deal. Just a little item that we take for granted.

When we came in and settled, I said, without thinking, that I would go start dinner. Oh really? Well, first the oven won't be cooking and we dare not open the refrigerator/freezer in order to keep what is in there cold.

So kind of back to square one. Reading was still okay. I lit a few candles, not that they really helped in the dusk of our study, but I was trying to stay positive and I deemed that they added ambiance.

After a while, I had the great idea of going for a hot jacuzzi bubble bath with a glass of wine. Well, I could use up what hot water there was from the electric hot water heaters, there would be no Jacuzzi bubbles going on and only wine if I dared open the fridge door to get the chardonnay out. There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than a warm chardonnay.

It seemed like everything that we thought of required electricity. We are just used to what we have been brought up with. Like air conditioning! How in the world did we survive without it. Well, for one thing, we did not know any better. I can remember being in school up on the 3rd floor with a fan on in the room, windows open and pools of sweat dripping onto the floor from everyone's legs. I am sure there was not a lot of teaching going on, much less student's grasping concepts. 

The way that we live in today's times will be looked back on as being antiquated and the same questions asked. How did they live without this or that? My only answer is that you do what you have to do for survival. Even if it is only a storm that adds a bit of inconvenience to those who lose power. It is not a forever deal so just get on with it and shake it off!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Think About It!

This blog is a little different from most of my blogs. As I was reading an article from Cheatsheet written by L. Hamer, I continued to be more amazed that there are people 'out there' who don't think things through. For the sake of having the information that I am about to share with you organized, I will list the products from the article that are apparently not worth buying, plus the reason why and what could possibly be substituted. 

  • Paper Towels - These are a waste of money and resources and will harm the environment. It seems that consumers should be using cloth tea towels or purchase packets of microfiber cloths. They can be washed a few times before tossing them. Mind you, they cost more and on top of everything else we must use detergents, water and electricity to clean them. Seems to me that this is a waste of resources and still harms the environment by tossing them in the trash.
  • Alkaline Batteries - It is not cost efficient to purchase regular batteries. Once they are used up we simply toss them in the trash. It is much better to use alkaline because they can be recharged. They cost more and you will need spare ones to use while one is being recharged, as well as the kit to recharge. One last word here...I tried this for a short while. I did not have great luck recharging. It seems as though the charging unit could not give the battery enough lasting power. 
  • Detergent Pods - The reason stated here was simply that powder performs better and lasts longer. Says who? Now I will agree that the big plastic container that the Pods come in may not be good for the environment. However, let's not forget the big tall plastic detergent bottles. My point being they are one in the same. Now consumers have the choice of purchasing packets of Pods to refill their plastic containers. Can liquid laundry soap claim this?
  • Single Serve Coffee Pods - This time the article used Business Insider as a resource for doing the math as to which was more cost effective, a pound of coffee or the Coffee Pods. Math has never truly been my strong point, however, even I can see the pound of coffee costs less. Here is where you need to think about it. I am the only coffee drinker in the house. Usually only one 10 oz. cup of coffee. When I made the coffee in the coffee maker, I poured coffee down the drain each evening. You really can't make good coffee if you are trying to make less than 3 cups. 
  • Paper Coffee Filters - While we are on the subject of coffee, did you know that you do not need to buy those paper coffee filters? That had to come from a non coffee drinking person. I for one, do not want coffee grinds to get into my cup of coffee, nor do I want to try to clean the grinds out of the filter already in place. Think about it!
  • Tea Bags - Now let's get right to it. I don't need Business Insider to do my math. Depending on the quality of the tea, there is no difference in the price of tea bags vs. loose leaf tea. Again, this article is all about the environment. Those tea bags must take hundreds of years to disintegrate.  
  • Bottled Water - Sometimes it is just more convenient to carry around a throw away plastic water bottle in order to stay hydrated. My Yeti costs a bit more if I forget and leave it someplace. Plus, the smaller water bottles work well going in my handbag. Walk through a grocery store and look around. Almost all of the liquids are stored in plastic bottles. Perhaps we should work on having recycle trash pick up. Over twenty years ago we had it where I used to live. In fact, homeowners were fined if they did not participate. I now live in a large metropolitan area and we still do not have it. 
  • Plastic Straws - Yet again it is all about the environment. Forget the patient who needs a flexible straw to get liquid in his body. Forget putting two straws in a milkshake and sharing with a friend or the big smile that children have on their faces when handed a straw to drink from. Apparently, reusable paper and steel straws are now available. My question is how do you clean them properly. Some liquids dry up inside the straws and it would not be sanitary to try soaking them. Putting one end up to your eye is not going to let you see all of the germs left behind. This just totally grosses me out.
  • Take-Away Food - In all fairness, my husband and I have found it cheaper in many cases to order out from certain restaurants. In today's times the portions are often humongous. We have the option of getting one meal and sharing it or getting our own and saving the other half for lunch the next day. It seems to be basically about the food containers. I just don't get it. The food that we buy in the grocery stores are in containers, are they not?
  • Paper Plates and Cups - We are harming our environment if we use these. When having a cookout or party we should buy plates and cups that are made of plastic. Then, you can have all of that fun washing them by hand since they do not do well in the dishwasher. Oh, by the way, if you are like me, you have all the space in the world to store them. At least I know the paper ones will be going, going, gone soon. I will share with you something to use in place of plastic forks, spoons and knives, none of which work well due to their flimsiness. They get tossed right along with the paper plates. In many stores there are boxes of forks, spoons and knives that look like real silverware. They actually are plastic, just a heavy duty one. I will actually put these in the dishwasher. When trying to eat a steak, you don't have to worry that a tine on a fork is going to fly across the table.
  • Plastic Wrap and Foil - Of course, Tubberware will help to save the environment, no matter that water and dish soap are used, plus electricity if a dishwater is used. Moving right into this area of discussion is wasting money on zip lock baggies. Did you know there is such a thing as reusable  zip locks? I have one do we clean them? 
  • Lunch Box Size Food Items - What a convenient way to waste your money! If you have children who carry their lunchboxes to school you should buy the big bag of chips or desserts and manually divide it up. Most of the containers do not fit well in the lunch boxes. Unless you have a large family, the food will go stale before you get to it. 
  • Disposable cameras - Really? I had no idea that they still made disposable cameras. (They really do, I had to look that one up on Google.)Except for photographers you barely see real cameras anymore. Everyone pulls out their cell phones to snap pics these days. I just figured the author was coming to the end of what he could list as a money waster.

After reading this, I did come to the conclusion that basically this article was more from an environmental point of view, which I am not against. I just believe that the governments should buy into this and provide recycle pick ups. The next major hurdle is to get the manufacturers to work on their packaging. We do need to be mindful of the trash that we create. It will take teamwork.

P.S. The reason this blog is so late being published is due to the fact that we had a big storm come through and we had no power for over 6 hours. Then, we counted our blessings because we finally had electricity, which meant air and lights. It was more than 24 hours later that we finally had Internet for me to publish this blog. More about that topic on my next blog.