About Me

My photo
Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

WC Fictional Characters

 


Fictional characters I'd like to meet.

I decided to narrow this to ten female characters I'd like to meet. Can you figure out in what story they're from?


1. Cassandra, to ask her about always knowing what's going to happen and not being taken seriously.

2. Penelope, was Odysseus worth waiting for twenty years? 

3. Shahrazad, ask her to tell me more stories. 

4. Dulcinea del Taboso, what it's like to be loved by a lunatic?

5. Lessa, what's it like to talk to dragons?

6. Mina, now you're not a vampire, what's next?

7. Katerina, where you really tamed?

8. Ophelia, was suicide really your only option?

9. Lisa Kelly, can I be your slave?

10. Peggy Olsen, was it worth it to succeed in a man's world?


Tuesday, May 04, 2021

TTT My Last Ten Reads

 





I'm currently writing a novel about the life of Matthew Fontaine Maury and am researching through five different biographies. I've decided to re-read some of my favorited authors to catch up for the next book in their series due to come out this year. They're like curling up on a couch in front of a fire and having a chat with old friends.


I just finished the 54th book, The Killer, in the Casca Eternal Mercenary series. Tony's written now 30 of them. In this one he's fighting in the Algerian Civil War during the 1950's for the French Foreign Legion. I'm not re-reading the other thirty books, they're stand alone.


There are currently five books in the Dark Elvin series: Dark Blade, Heir of Gorridan, Okra's Tower,Faerown's War, The Mountains of Butchock. A new one is due out this year. The last few books Roberts has unleashed Faerowen's sensual side.


The Kastania Chronicles are by far the best fantasy series I've ever read, even better than Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. They now comprise Prince of Wrath, House of Lust, Patch of Pride, Throne of Envy, and God's of Gluttony. I can't wait for the next one coming out this fall.
All told there's many more than ten books here, but I count each series as one extended book.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday Five 043021

 



Today’s words are: proper, brand, husband, pigeon, offend

 

Coo coo coo, Shanika felt like throwing a shoe and knocking that irritating pigeon off the tree limb outside her window. If she did that she was sure it would offend some bird lover and catch holy hell for being mean to a poor bird. Coo coo coo. She buried her head in the pillow and tried to go back to sleep.

It was Thursday and that meant chapel. Getting into her seat next to little miss prim and proper Martha Smith, there was still a few minutes before they dimmed the lights and the proctors with clipboards counting heads were walking the aisle. Three of them came up to Martha and congratulated her on getting engaged.

It's not even midterm and she’s engaged?

The mousy gal was beaming and showing off a ring with a miniscule diamond chip. The lights dimmed and she took a needed nap after that damn bird woke her up at the crack of dawn.

In the locker room Martha’s finding a husband was the topic of conversation. On a small campus with just over a thousand students anything was fodder for gossip.

Beth Shumacher, the point guard griped, “She’s the reason why freshmen women can’t get an A. The professors think we’re only here to find a husband.”

The lone senior on the team, Candice Clark, shook her head. “Pity the poor girl, she’ll drop out find a job and start on her PHT degree.”

Shanika was curious, “What’s that?”

Candy gave her a look, “Putting Hubby Through. She’ll see him through college and graduate school. Then when he starts earning real money, he’ll trade her in on someone more intellectually stimulating leaving her to raise two or three kids.”

“Just because that’s what your Daddy did to your Momma, doesn’t mean that’ll happen to Martha,” Beth said.

It was time to go out on the court. They looked on the ball rack and low and behold there were ten brand new practice balls. Shanika grabbed one and felt the fresh nibs as she shot a three pointer, nothing but net.

 

 


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

WC 042821 Favorite outdoor activities


 Today's topic is: You're favorite outdoor/nature activities.



Golf. At least it used to be. My broken hand and strained back have put an end to the most expensive pleasurable activity I've ever know. The picture is of PAAKO Ridge on the eat side of Sandia Mountain. The shot is of a par three hole going down to a par four hole and then a par five on the dogleg left. The most spectacular golf course in New Mexico.


Isotopes/Dukes. I grew up watching Albuquerque's AAA baseball team. They were the Dukes for decades. I watched Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Oral Hershiser, Pedro Martinez, and todays Joc Petersen play in our city. Kirk Gibson was in town the year after the Dodgers won the World Series. He was rehabilitating and only playing a couple of innings  a game, but I witnessed him hit a home run that was thirty feet over the scoreboard. They measured it at over 500 feet and the ball was flat on one side. The old Duke stadium had a drive up area beyond the outfield. I had a truck at the time and we could sit on the tailgate and hope for a home run to get a souvenir.


Alas, the team was sold and lost the name Dukes. It was renamed the Isotopes (credit the Simpsons here). Grrr. The stadium was rebuilt and prices went up, even having to pay for parking and no bringing in snacks. They have retro days where the play in the Dukes uniforms and those are the game we attend. They also have the Mariachi's uniforms for special days. The first picture is of the Dukes uniforms. The second picture is of the new mascot called, Orbit.


I also like taking my dog for a tug.

 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Friday Five 042221

 


Today’s words are: Increase, retire, dairy, hiccup, verdict.

 

The alarm sounded. Shanika hit the snooze button and moaned. She hated chapel. It was only twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, but she didn’t have a morning class those days and having to get up for chapel interrupted her sleep.

Going into the auditorium she found her assigned seat sitting next to Martha Smith and Alex Baumgartner. Martha is a PK (preacher’s kid) and Alex is a preacher boy. She usually, once whoever was giving the lecture or sermon started, scrunched down and went back to sleep. Martha and Alex stayed alert and attentive the whole hour.

Today the president of the school was giving the lecture. She remembered the freshman welcome he gave at indoctrination. She never heard anyone say so much without it meaning anything. A nice jumble of words and that was about it. This guy should retire and maybe the next guy would increase the attention span of the student body!

Dr. Slaughter began his mouthing of verbal inanity and she went promptly to sleep. For some reason half-way through she started to hiccup. She sat up and had another and another. “Crap,” she said starting to get up and bothered the line of sleeping students for the aisle and a water fountain. Even Martha and Alex were passed out.

A couple of gulps and the spasms stopped. Going back to her seat she heard Dr. Slaughter say, “There was no doubt in Pilate’s mind that the verdict on Jesus should be not guilty, but the crowd wouldn’t let him…”

After waking up the slumbering students again she was pissed off that she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep and had to listed to this guy droning in monotone for another fifteen minutes.

If had to pay to attend here, I’d go back to my parent’s dairy farm.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Creative Outlets


 Creating Outlets I Enjoy:

Reading: there is nothing more creative than nurturing your imagination by escaping to another time, place, or universe in the written word. By becoming another person and living through that person in their world.

Writing: To look at a blank piece of paper or computer screen and create another world, time, place, and populate it with other people, monsters, aliens, mythical beings takes imagination and a sense of wonder. 

Plastic Canvas: While watching TV my wife and I make tissue box covers, place mats, coasters, office inboxes, note pad holders, legal pad folders, book marks and other items using yarn and plastic canvas. It keeps us from adding calories by eating in front of the idiot box. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Friday Five 041621

 

Today's words are: Long, tin, party, witch, earthquake

  

It felt good to get the brace off her finger. It was still a little sensitive, but before long it would be good as new.

Shanika got out of the shower, sprayed on some perfume and dressed in T-shirt, jeans, sandals and put in earrings. It was a Friday night and there wasn’t a game on Saturday. For the tall woman it was the first time since the semester began it was time to party.

The men’s JV team invited the Queens to a bonfire. They’d practiced with them for three weeks now on Tuesdays. It wouldn’t hurt to socialize.

It was behind the gym and on school grounds, which meant no booze. Small Baptist universities have a tendency to expel anyone caught drinking on campus; also, no weed. They like locating 40 miles from the nearest known sin.  

The real bummer about coming here. She had her stash wrapped in tin foil hidden in her closet. It would have to stay there.

Ray Spradling was the six-foot-eight center she practiced against. The first time she tried driving on him she bounced off and landed on her bottom. It felt like an earthquake had hit while trying to get up. She swayed too and fro, never feeling like that before. 

She learned how to drive around him and hit a jump hook, or swing under the basket and do a backwards Bankshot. It added a new dimension to her game.

Walking to the gym she could see others heading there too. Her spirits deflated, the Dean of Women, Mrs. Carpenter was walking that way too. “Witch is going to take all the joy out of tonight!”

Finding Ray by the fire she made him bend down to whisper in his ear, “Not a party if there’s a chaperone, is there some place we can go for some fun?”

He picked her up to eye level, something she wasn’t used to, and said, “My car awaits. There’s miles of farm land perfect for fun.”

 

 

 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

WC If I won the lottery

 


Today's topic: If I won the lottery I would...

I will never win the lottery because I don't throw my money away that way. The first episode of Numbers explained that if you bought 20 lottery tickets a day your chance of winning would be one in 20,000 years.

Okay I'll play along. Say I win a hundred million dollars. Great. Federal Taxes are 50% off the top. State and local taxes depend on where you live, but they take a bite.

A million bucks just became around 400,000.00. Great I can spend all that. Guess again, that is income for this year which places you into a higher income bracket and come recording time you're socked by federal and state taxes again. This is how those who win the lottery wind up bankrupt within two or three years. They go wild spending everything the first year and then the tax man cometh.

The only intelligent option if you win big on the lottery is take the yearly payments, put them in savings, cd's, bonds and live off the interest. 

Say after the tax man I net a million dollars. In a saving account that will generate around (depending on interest rate) $10,000.00 to 12,000.00 per month.

 With that I could upgrade my house and cars maybe add a summer home perhaps even a boat. There would still be money for travel and other living expenses without stretching your budget.

Finance, do not buy. Use each years' installment as income for the financing. Don't exceed your income and you'll do well.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Pathfinder of the Seas

 I've started writing a new novel. What has never happened to me before is that when I started researching the subject of my novel I was wondering how to write the life of a exceptional human being as fictionalized history. 

On a Friday night as I was trying to go to sleep and it hit me. Make it his autobiography, like Robert Graves did with I Claudius and Margaret George did with the The Autobiography of Henry VIII.

Then I started writing the story in my head. I couldn't stop it. All night I was telling his story. Saturday night the same, Sunday night it was driving me nuts. Monday I finally got to the office and am ready to write down everything I've thought about for three nights.

Reality hit. As I started writing I found that I needed names, dates, and the little details. I went in thinking that I would just magically get it all down in one day. I would up buying four biographies of the man, in book form, only one was available as an e-book. Then I had to wait for them to come in.

I've written the first ten pages and have the man finally getting ready to leave to be a midshipman in the navy in 1825.

 

This is the statue on Matthew Fontaine Maury as it looked in Richmond, Virginia.

On July 2nd of 2020, Levar Stoney, the mayor of Richmond, Virginia ordered the removal of the statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury. The statue names Maury as “The Pathfinder of the Seas.” It was erected in 1929 on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.  Governor Stoney used his emergency powers to bypass a state-mandated review process, calling the statue a “Severe, immediate, and growing threat to public safety.”


The statue had been vandalized with various colors of paint calling Maury a racist. When the Civil War broke out, he sided with Virginia, his home state and resigned his commission in the Navy as Commander of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
I understand the Black Lives Matters movement to remove statues of Confederate generals and statesmen. As an historian I regret the removal of any historical figure, but I understand why some would want this, but Maury was a scientist, not a general or politician. His contribution to the world is still felt today. It makes no sense to deem the memory of this man "an immediate threat." 

He became a midshipman at age 19 and never owned a slave. His entire life was devoted to the sea and making sailing faster, safer and understanding the world's oceans.

Judge for yourself if this man's statue should have been removed.

Here are the life’s works of a man today considered to be threat to public safety:

1.   The father of Oceanography.

2.   Father of meteorology.

3.   Father of Physical Geography.

4.   Compiled the first comprehensive study of the ocean currents, wind, weather, temperature, animal and plant life, depths; the Gulf Stream; the effects of currents on land weather.

5.   Created the first scientifically detailed charts of all the world’s oceans and wind currents used by all military and merchant shipping from their introduction in 1848.

6.   His study of the Atlantic Ocean’s depth made the telegraph cable connecting the United States with Europe possible.

7.   In the 1830’s his articles in magazines criticizing certain problems in the Navy led to Congress creating the Naval Academy.

8.   He published The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855). A textbook translated into numerous languages and used by most navies of the world in the 19th century. It was used at Annapolis into the 1920’s.

9.   By 1858 Maury had over 137,540 vessels from most maritime countries gathering data to record the weather. This created the largest fleet to act in concert in history. It was the first time for the United States to lead in a branch of science.

10.      He revolutionized naval defenses by perfecting floating mines and electric torpedo.


In September 26, 1927 in a forward to the book Matthew Fontaine Maury: Pathfinder of the Seas by Charles Lee Lewis, Admiral Richard E. Byrd wrote: Because I am soon to start my own expedition to the South Pole I am particularly interested in a letter (Matthew Fontaine) Maury wrote under the date of August 20, 1860, in which he said, “I have reason to believe that there is about the South Pole, a comparatively mild climate. The unexplored regions there embrace an area equal in extent to about one-sixth of all known land on the surface of the earth. I am quietly seeking to create in the minds of some an interest upon the subject, hoping thereby to foster a desire in the right quarters for an Antarctic expedition.”

 

Sixty-seven years after Maury wrote that letter and fifty-four years after his death his dream came true. Admiral Byrd reached the South Pole. 

He wasn't infallible. You could hardly describe the climate of Antarctica mild, or that the continent was that large. He had no idea how much of the area was ice shelf.

The only scientist to have more impact on world knowledge in the 19th century was Charles Darwin.

Why have I decided to write his life story? I married a Maury.

The first time I met my soon to be Father-in-law and we were getting to know one another he mentioned MFM, and said "No one has heard of him because he was a rebel."

Shortly after Linda and I were married I found a biography of MFM at a used book store. I gave it to Ed and he enjoyed reading about his ancestor. He gave it back and I read it. What an eye opener and I felt at the time that his life would make a great novel. 

I started writing Optimus: Praetorian Guard and it took me ten years, then when I retired I started writing other stories. MFM was always on the back burner until they removed his statue. I feel his story needs to be told to the world now more than ever. He was a man of his time and sided with his native state when the country split apart, but that should not negate all that he did and what he learned still has impact today.


The USNS Maury launched in 2013. It's an oceanographic survey ship. There have been other naval ships that bore his name. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Friday Five 040921


 Todays words are: hell, railroad, chief, abridge, past.

Shanika had to abridge her workouts. She could dribble with her right hand and throw two handed. She was very careful when catching it. She told me, “The slightest hit hurts like hell.”

I could sympathize. I suffered the same injury on my right hand while playing. The more she used the hand, the sooner it would heal.

Saturday, we had a home game against a junior college. They can be some of our toughest opponents or a cake walk. This team had two women that I was interested in recruiting. They were iffy academically in high school and I passed on them. I’m hoping they’re getting their grades up and I can have them to replace seniors on the team.

When they walked on the court, I recognized their new coach. He played for Texas Tech the last four years and was an outstanding power forward. He wasn’t quite good enough for the pros, and he most likely passed on junior high and high school wanting to coach at the college level.

From the tip off, Chief Lawson was yelling at his players. They scored the first point on a free throw and then the railroad hit them.

I didn’t play Shanika and when we were up thirty to one, I pulled first string. It was a massacre. He kept his first string in the whole game and yelled his head off the whole time. The more he yelled the worse they played. Final score 101-01.

I told the team to go over and hug every one of the other team and give them what encouragement they could. “Cry with them in sympathy, not pity.”

When Coach Lawson came to shake my hand, I refused and told him to follow me to my office. I’ve never been so angry in my life.

Behind my desk I could tell he was about to give me a piece of his mind about me running up the score. I beat him to the punch.

“I don’t care about how good a player you were in the past. You are an abomination as coach. I’m filing a complaint to the athletic director at your school. You are a bully, and have no business coaching a women’s team.”

I expected him to get angry and leave, even cuss me out. Instead, he hung his head in shame. That I could work with.

“You’re not married, are you?”

 “No,” he shook his head.

“Spent all your life with Mommy cleaning up after you and in the locker room.” He nodded his head. “You have no idea what women are like. Now either listen to my advice or quit. You are doing too much damage to good players. I was interested in Jolly James and Heather Smith, but after today I’ve a feeling they’ll drop out and go back to the inner city of Houston and wind up being single mothers working three jobs to put food on the table.”

Shaking his head, “This is the only way I know how to coach”

Listen up, Chief. “In a game even men and especially women need the coach to cheer them on. Everyone needs encouragement in competition.”

I took a breath, he nodded.

“The time for criticism is looking at the game tapes. Women need praise to keep them going. Negative reinforcement works for men. Women need positive reinforcement. Are you understanding what I’ve said?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said.

“Good. I’m calling every coach you’re playing for the next three weeks and if they tell me, you’re still yelling at your players, we’ll all write a letter to your athletic director.”


Wednesday, April 07, 2021




 Todays topic is books I've chosen based on cover or title.



The first of many James Clavell books. I'd seen the cover in bookstores and news stands and it looked interesting. When it was announced that there was a min-series of it I bought it and read it before the mini-series started. I've read everything by Clavell since then and loved all of his books.




Fellow member of Writers2writers here in Albuquerque wrote this special book after seven women's bodies and one fetus were discovered buried on the West Mesa of Albuquerque. It's a tribute to the families of those who lost their daughters.





The first book in this series has the most eye catching cover and I just had to read the book. I've read every book in the series to date and eagerly awaiting the next.




Tony Roberts has the franchise on the Casca series and I've read all of the 25+ that he's written. He came out with a elf fantasy series, Dark Blade, and the covers caught my eye. They're not the usual type of covers. They are painting done in expressionist style. I really like them. I've read and re-read these books three times. They are fantastic.




Thursday, April 01, 2021

 



Todays words are: index, opposed, mark, suggest, depend

The game was well in hand. They were up by ten points against a worthy team with five minutes left. 

Coach Spain was happy with the team's performance and that they were pushed for the whole game. She called a time out and debated pulling Shanika out to see if the team could maintain the lead without her. If the score got under six points she'd send her back in.

Sure enough Delta State hit two three pointers and Shanika was back in the game. She posted up and the ball was passed to her. The defender deflected it and Shanika screamed. It hit full force on her index finger and bent it in half.

The ref called an injury time-out and the trainer took the injured player to the locker room.

Delta State inbounded and with another three pointer brought the score to within a point. Using her last time-out she told the team it was time to suck it up and win against adversity. "I depend on this team to win with or without Shanika. They're going to oppose the inbounds pass. Lisa break for the basket. Joyce throw it to her. I want a quick bucket and clamp down on number 4. Don't let her get the ball she's killing us. Now go get them."

Lisa caught the ball and was fouled on the lay-up. She took her mark for the free throw and it bounced off the rim. The ball bounced right back to her and was in her hand. She bounced it to Joyce who banked it in. Now they were up by four with twenty seconds left.

Delta State called a time-out. Karen told them to protect the three point line and let them get a two pointer. "Make them foul to stop the clock." She looked at Lisa, "I suggest you hit your shots, they're free after all."

Shanika was sitting on the bench with her finger in a brace and wrapped in tape.  They bumped her right hand before taking the floor.

The buzzer sounded to resume play.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

WC: TV Shows I've binge watched.


 The shows I've binge watched.

When I get home from the office and do my writing the wife wants to watch TV. There's not much on the networks we watch anymore.

With HULU, IMDB, Amazon Prime, Stars, Showtime, HBO Max, Encore, Epix and others there's always something to watch.

From the most recent to as far as I can remember.

Just watched all of WandaVison last night also two episodes of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. 

Downton Abbey

Knight Rider (1980's)

JAG

Star Trek

Next Generation

Voyager

Enterprise

Discovery

Outlander

Black Sails

La Reina del Sur

Queen of the South

Billions

Ray Donovan

Spartacus

Game of Thrones





Friday, March 26, 2021


 Todays words are;  ego, pier, freight, pace, solo

Shanika was a needed boost to the team. In scrimmage she was hard to defend and on defense she was hard to shoot over or go around. 
There was a problem. She knew many of the teams they'd play against would be outmatched and they'd build a big lead quickly. If he sent in second string half way through the first half then varsity would lose conditioning when it would be needed against better opponents.
This led to the snide remark the there were three things that should be done in the dark: sex, kick the can, and women's basketball.
Their first game was a prize example. They were ahead thirty to five after seven minutes. She purposely made them slow the pace down, but kept the first team in for the rest of the half.
In the second half she put Shanika in with the second team and let her play solo offence for five minutes. The others only blocked and passed, Shanika scored. Then played only defense for the next five minutes. When the score was sixty to twenty and the other coached yelled, "Call the dogs off!" She pulled her and put the rest of the first team back in.
The next day she went out on the small pier on the lake in the middle of campus to think. She needed someone to challenge the team and the only solution bothered her. Making up her mind she went to the gym and cornered Coach Adams, the men's basketball coach.
"Tony," she asked would it bother you if your JV team would play a pick-up game with my girls once a week?"
Tony smiled, "That Shanika's like a freight train isn't she?" 
"Think you're guys are up to stopping her?"
"How's Wednesday sound?" Tony said.
"Meet you then," adding, "hope she doesn't beat up on George too badly. I'd hate to damage his ego."

Friday, March 19, 2021




 Todays words are: rebel, bank, salon, project, net

The tall dark complected girl walked onto the court and all eyes were on her. At six foot and one inch tall and a well formed one hundred and thirty pounds she was a giant compared to the other players who averaged five-ten.

Karen's first thought was that the gal had never been inside a hair salon. It was obvious with her wild hair that girl was a rebel

All the other members of the basketball team watched as the incoming freshman strolled over to the ball rack and grabbed one. She dribbled to the middle of the court did a half turn at the three point line and hit nothing but net. She ran to the ball, dribbled back to the three point line off to the left side and hit a perfect bank shot. She looked at the rest of the team with with a smirk that said, "I'm good."

A shrill whistle sounded and all eyes were on the coach standing at half court.  Coach could project her voice so that people in the next county could hear her. "Gather around," she said. They all formed a circle.

"Last year we lost in the title game because we lacked an inside game and poor rebounding. That's not going to happen this year."

She put her arm around the tall girl. "Meet Shanika,  our new post player."


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

WC My theme song

 


Today's topic: My theme song.


Secular: Memories from Cats and Do You Hear the People Sing from  Les Misérables. 


Religious theme songs: Christmas is O' Holy Night and What Child is this?

Easter is The Old Rugged Cross and He Lives.

You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

Simple Writing

 

Berthold on his blog wrote a piece about the admonition that a writer should write as simply as possible. My response could not be condensed into a simple reply. I've had to think about it.

One of the greatest tools I used as a 7th-10th grade English teacher was this book. If You Can Talk, You Can Write. I was dealing with students reluctant to write their spelling words into a sentence. This book was a way to get students writing and overcome a reluctance to put pencil or pen to paper. It's baby food. It's a start and hopefully from there they will become capable of writing on their own. It's writing in it's simplest form. It should not be the norm!

Does that mean we should all still want to write like Shakespeare or Dickens? That would be silly and today's audience whose eyes and ears have been captivated by TV and movies wouldn't read it. This was a can of worms to me. How complex is too complex and how simple is too simple?

I equate the keep it simple tripe to "Dumb it down."

I think the wrong word here is simple. My definition would be to make your writing understandable


A lot of people bought Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, but wouldn't or couldn't understand one word out of ten of what he's saying. It was a way to impress guests at a party by having it on table or bookcase. Isaac Asimov, on the other hand, was a brilliant scientist, but he was gifted with the ability to take the most complex scientific and technological concepts and make them understandable. In Beginnings, he took life from the modern age to the big bang and made most of it is understandable. That is what we should strive for as writers.

If you strive for simplicity you face the horror I did as a teacher with textbook adoptions. History texts expressly. The problem here is what they called readability. If students are only reading at 3rd grade level then a high school textbook should be written at the third grade level. Pure bullshit. You could not believe the garbage they tried to pass off for developmental students. No wonder they can't read, what they're offering is unreadable. Think Donald Trump trying to explain the Declaration of Independence.

When I first taught 7th grade English I found girls were reading Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, Daniel Steel. Boys were looking at the pictures in Playboy and Penthouse. Not in my classroom, but you get the drift, If they had a National Geographic it was for naked Pygmies.

Growing up, in 7th grade we read Edgar Allen Poe, and I loved his stories. I got a classroom set of Poe's books and had to read it aloud and explain every other word. I tried Mickey Spillane's murder mysteries. The boys yawned. Then I had them read Barry Sadler's Casca books. They are simple, straight to the point, but the history was sound and they could identify with a soldier going through all the major battles of the world since the first century ACE. I found books for boys in their formative reading years that they were interested in and wanted to read. The vocabulary wasn't difficult, but it wasn't dumbed down. It was understandable.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Friday Five 031221

 


Today's words are: sit, portion, fiber, inflate, beef.

For the first time in a year, I sit to have a great steak dinner in Texas Roadhouse. They have succulent dinner rolls with honey butter. Their sirloin is to die for. One thing about Roadhouse is that have a generous portion of loaded mashed potatoes, and their beef is always cooked to perfection. I also order the house salad to add a little fiber in my diet. I was afraid that after the pandemic they'd inflate their prices to make up for lost revenue, but it was the same prices as before. I'm in heaven.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

WC Best non-book gift for a friend.

 


This weeks challenge is: Best no-book gift for a friend.

1. An audio book, not the same as a book shelf book.

2. Book marks. Any types: paper ones, fancy ones, metal clips, etc. You can advertise your own books by printing up book marks and giving them away.

3. A desk top book shelf. They hold maybe four or five books without taking up too much space.

4. A costume of their favorite character.

5. A book themed birthday party.

6. Spending hours trying to out quote each other from favorite books, by memory.

7. Writing a comment after your friend writes a review and posts it.

8. Buying your friend's book.

9. Posting a review of your friend's book and posting it on Amazon.

10. Lending an ear when they're in writer's block or asking for advise.


Friday, March 05, 2021

Friday Five 030521


 Todays words are: bracket, teacher, import, maze, moral.


Johnny Lane opened the newspaper to the sports section. On the third page the high school boys basketball tournament's schedule was posted. He looked and found his team's bracket. He noticed that most of the teams they were scheduled to play they'd beaten over the season. They could play for the state championship. That would up his chance at a scholarship.

He left for school in his mother's SUV, a Japanese import. He parked in the teacher's lot. Jocks like him got away with stuff like that.

Going into his psychology class Mr. Williams was showing a film of rats in a maze. "Great, " he thought "I can snooze for half an hour."

In English class Mrs. Ewing was explaining the "Theme" of a book. They were reading this one for the last week. "Johnny," she called his name. "What's the moral of Animal Farm?"

"That power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He smiled knowing she was expecting him to get it wrong. He was grateful for Wikipedia.

In the locker room getting dressed out for practice there was more hooping and hollering than normal. Out on the gym floor Coach Cooper tried to bring them down to earth. "One game at a time guys. This is sudden death, we lose we're out. Don't overlook anyone."


Wednesday, March 03, 2021

WC 030321 My greatest weakness

 


This weeks challenge is: My greatest weakness.

As a writer a couple of my weaknesses technology has helped me overcome. Namely spelling and grammar. The latest version of Microsoft Word has upped my proofreading game very much. It still doesn't help me with "Horses humping over the fence." It's much pickier about commas now.

That leaves my greatest weakness as a writer:

PROCRASTINATION!

I was the one that waited until the night before a term paper was due to start it. When I'm researching a story I spend months researching the setting (Wikipedia is great). Sometimes I keep at it as I'm reluctant to start the story or the section of the story I'm working on.

The greatest feature of procrastination is the blank screen. What do I put on it?

Half way through a story and I'm stuck on what next to say I'll edit and re-edit like crazy until I'm unstuck.

Friday, February 26, 2021


 Today's five words are: X-ray, fire, style, fate, wire.

The teletype in the office started to chatter. Getting out from behind my WWII era heavy grey steel desk I walked over to see what the wire was spitting out.

Five alarm fire at NE corner of Broadway and Central.

As fate would have it that's my high school alma mater. Albuquerque High School. It was the oldest high school in the city built in square brick style, but the insides were wood floors and paneling. It brought back memories of Mrs. Ewing writing the themes of Lord of the Flies, The Tell Tale Heart, and reading aloud Romeo and Juliet where I was Mercutio. She was also my journalism teacher senior year.

I grabbed my trusty fedora and put on my overcoat then left the office. I only needed to walk five blocks to the blaze. I saw the flames the minute I left. 

Coach Gentry is having a heart attack. The gym and basketball court are being destroyed. How many state champion basketball trophies are being melted down at this moment?

Standing across the street from the inferno at the side of First Baptist Church a crowd was gathering. It would've been much bigger during the day, but at 2:00am it was mostly bums warming up to the flames in the sub-freezing January temperatures.

I heard a crash and two cigarettes later a couple of the firemen brought one of their brothers out. I walked over as far as I could to take a look. They had the guy's helmet off and an oxygen mask on his face. Two of the firemen carried the injured one to the gurney by the ambulance. I heard one of the firemen tell the ambulance driver, "I think he broke his leg."

The driver said, "We'll find out when it's x-rayed."

I took the opportunity to grab one of the firemen's attention. "Brett Jones of the Albuquerque Journal, any idea what started the fire?"

When he turned I recognized him. Fellow AHS alum and quarterback on the football team 1952. "Hi Brett, long time no see, but I'm busy right now. Talk to the chief, I just put 'em out."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

WC 022421 My Greatest Strength

 


Today's topic is: My Greatest Strength.

I've always had a near  photographic memory. The lens is a little foggy at times now, especially trying to remember if I ate a few hours ago and what I ate.

My memory has always been selective. I remember names and dates in history, memorize verses of scripture, poems, passages from books and movies, Shakespearean siliques ect.

Math is a different story. Algebra wasn't too bad, but geometry and having to memorize axioms and theorems was a real problem. I found memorizing things easy, if rather linear, but rules of an equation to get X, and working a proof was really difficult.

I've seen tv shows and movies that scoff at the importance of teaching these subjects will never be used as adults. I understand the importance of teaching these subjects now, but not at the time I was suffering trying to learn them. For the most part a hand held calculator has been all I've needed for over sixty years.

My second greatest strength is analysis. "The unexamined life is not worth living." --Socrates.

It didn't come natural, but as an avid reader and English teacher I found this the most important part of a our public school curriculum. Literature teaches students how to think. It's done by analyzing the stories.


Here's why these subjects are so important today:

Algebra teaches deductive logic. Without it people fall into the trap of inductive logic of bias and prejudice. Sherlock Holmes and most detective novels deal with this type of logic. It helps understand how a crime happened and perhaps who committed it, but doesn't provide proof. Why these books always use the trope of gathering all the suspects together and the culprit either confesses or tries to run. 

Geometry is all about proof. The different steps using axioms and theorems to prove the equation. It is the ability of using motive, method, means and opportunity, and applying this to the evidence that helps convict criminals. What makes this so important is that's what the jury needs to understand.

Literature teaches analysis. Reading and enjoying a book isn't enough. What was the plot? What was the theme (or moral) of the story. What motivated the villain, the hero, the heroine? Why is this also important to getting proof in a trial.




When I read Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, that the third component of proof became apparent. How do you prove motive? The most important part of convicting a criminal.

Bugliosi used analysis on Charles Manson. After studying his life and criminal history he concluded that he liked it inside prison more than outside it. Steven King in Shawshank Redemption called it being institutionalized. Whenever Manson was released he committed another crime to get him back into prison. Always a federal prison as they are better that state prisons. This was the key to understanding the man and what motivated him to act as he did. Also the key to his conviction.

What's wrong with those caught in a cult or in thrall to Trump? They are absent these three abilities. It is deductive logic, the ability to separate fact from fiction (proof), and to analyze themselves and what they believe. That's blind faith that leads to drinking the Kool aide and dying a horrible death at the hands of a megalomaniac.  

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Penelope's Pleasure vs Bridgerton

Berthold Gambrel wrote a review of Penelope's Pleasure. I found it intriguing and since it was unlimited and free to rent. I read it.

Wife and daughter decided that the next series to binge after L.A. Law would be Bridgerton on Stars.

Low and behold both were about the "Ton." Setting in early 19th century England where wealthy young women spend Summer or "The Season" going to balls and trolling for husbands.

My daughter has already read the first two Bridgerton books, so I bought the whole 9 books for a little over 70 bucks as e-books. Wife plans on reading them too. I read the first one that the Stars series is based on. Here's my comparison of the two books.


 

Penelope's Pleasure 

I enjoyed this one more than Bridgerton, it was a fun read. Penelope comes from a large family, her father is retired and her older brother has assumed head of household. The youngest brother is in financial trouble and Penelope tries to help him out as his debts are more that her older brother will pay for.

The Duke who decides to woo Penelope is also working for White Hall to catch smugglers near their land.

Penelope is an independent minded woman and in a few months will inherit a sizable sum of money and like her spinster aunt, she will be wealthy enough to not need a husband. So she resists all attempts at marriage.

The Duke and Penelope get caught in storm while racing horses and wind up in a cottage needing to get out of wet clothes. Her brothers find them in their underthings and insist they get married. Her reputation would be ruined.

You can guess the road to the alter is not easy. Penelope starts robbing people to raise money for her younger brother, the Duke tries to catch her family smuggling and she winds up being kidnapped by the real smuggler and taken to France. All in all quite a bit of conflict.

Weakness is that the strict conventions of the time are mentioned, but one event between Penelope and her brothers would never have happened. They get drunk together and go skinny dipping in the river. A little too libertine for the time period for the family of a Viscount. 


Bridgerton: The Duke and I

Much is the same here as the other book. A young lady spending the "Season" looking for a husband. There's a gossip paper that starts each chapter with details of the different courtships. This sets the stage for each chapter.

Daphne is of age to marry and is not happy with the suitors, who are mostly older men. The one man she meets and falls for has a problem, there's also problem for her older brother as head of the house. Simon a duke has taken an oath to never marry. He's also a friend of her brother and he knows Simon from their rakish days of gambling and bedding wenches.

Much happens, but Simon and Daphne are caught kissing and Simon refuses to marry her. A duel is then arranged. Daphne rides between the men to stop the duel as others had seen them too. 

Simon agrees to the wedding, but announces he can't have children, which was why he was never going to get married.

They get married and the main conflict is why Simon refuses to become a father.

This is overcome and they start a family.

Rather lame in the conflict department here compared to the other book.