Friday, June 29, 2012

In Praise of Senior Volunteers

I spent Wednesday gutting a house. It had been severely damaged by a tornado last spring and I'm part of a church-led disaster recovery team that's going to re-build it so the couple who lived there can come home.

As you've probably noticed, I'm a grandmother.  No spring chicken.  But I was by no means the senior member of the work team that went out on Wednesday.  If fact, I think I was one of the younger ones.  Almost everyone there was, if not eligible for Medicare, at least ready for AARP.  We put in ten hours of manual labor, got that house completely stripped and ready to begin re-building on our next trip.


I wasn't.  I worked for the American Red Cross for twenty years.  Although my paid position was a desk job, I had the opportunity to work a number of national disasters.  You know who I was working alongside much of the time?  Yep - a whole lot of seniors. 

That's not to say there weren't plenty of younger volunteers as well. I am in awe of those volunteers who use their annual vacation or even take unpaid leave from their jobs to go to a disaster site and do whatever needs to be done. These people are phenomenal and I salute every one of them.

But seniors get a bad rap sometimes.  They're a drain on the country's resources.  Medicare. Social Security.  (We have the nerve to think we should get back some of that money we've been paying into the system for the last seventy years.)  Hell, NBC even cancelled Harry's Law - not for poor ratings but because the show's viewers were too old.

Are you a fan of statistics? I found a couple.
  • Between 2008 and 2010, 18.7 million older adults contributed over 3 billion hours of service.
  • Yearly value of this service to the U.S. economy was over $64 billion.
  • 52% of seniors volunteer their time to unpaid community service.
Is there a point to all this?  Maybe not.  I guess I just wanted to thank all those seniors who have earned the right to kick back and relax but choose instead to rebuild someone's home, work a disaster shelter, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and disdraught, care for the homeless, give underprivleged kids a leg up, try against all odds to protect the environment, etc.   
Okay, that's all.  Have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.
Friday Bloopers - medical variety:
Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.  (ow!)

Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Military Minded?

Happy Hump Day

When I was polling my faithful followers last week on possible replacements for my closing groaners, several people mentioned quotes.  Well, it just so happens I have a few good quotes for the military minded I can share with you today.  Not military minded?  Okay, you get kitties.

'It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.'
- US Air Force Manual -

'If the enemy is in range, so are you.'
- Infantry Journal-

'If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up to him.'
- Infantry Journal-

'You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.'
- Lead-in Fighter Training Manual -

'When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane, you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.'
-Multi-Engine Training Manual

'Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.'
- Naval Ops Manual -

And for your Hump Day "aw"...

You know you'd forgive him.

Hope there was a chuckle in there someplace for you.  Just enough to get you over the hump and heading for the weekend.

Please say hi while you're here but forgive me if I'm a tad slow in responding.  I have to go gut a house today. Seriously.

See you on Friday.

News Headlines for Today:

Blind Woman Gets New Kidney From Dad She Hasn't Seen in Years

Council Runs Out of Time to Discuss Shorter Meetings

Students Cook & Serve Grandparents

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Critiquing Process - Circle the Wagons or Full Speed Ahead.

I recently joined a new online critique group. It's one of those put together by a matchmaker through a writing group we all belong to.  Five of us, all unpublished and with finished or nearly finished manuscripts of similar genres, who didn't know each other prior to joining the group. And all fairly new at critiquing.

We got off to a good start, agreeing on how many pages we'd submit at a time and on what schedule.  The first two rounds ran smoothly, critiques given and received.  But by the third round we came up with a question.  If one or more members of the group had re-written their earlier pages based on the critiques received, could/ should they re-post them for a follow up critique instead of posting new pages. 

We agreed it could be helpful to let the writer know if the others thought she was moving in the right direction before she went on but would re-critiquing the same pages at this point slow us down too much, making it difficult to finish each other's manuscripts?

So, as writers do, I'm looking to the more experienced among us for advice. If you are or have been in a critique group, did you run into this question?  How did you handle it?  If you circled back, did it bog down the progress of the group.  Did you benefit from a re-write and re-critique process?  Did anyone get caught in an endless loop?

I'd really appreciate your input.

Thanks to all that offered their vote on a replacement for my regular groaners (last Friday's post).  I'm working out a new "post closers" schedule but for now I offer these - which are neither quotes, bloopers, groaners, or trivia, but I hope will give you a chuckle.

Thoughts for Today:

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.

A day without sunshine is like ... well... night.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

(Hmmm, maybe that last one was a groaner.  Sorry.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

To Groan or Not To Groan

Serious Friday Stuff...Sort of

I need your help.  Very weighty decision pending here. 

For some time now I've been closing my posts with a groaner, a pun guaranteed (hopefully) to make you groan and laugh.  Many of you have asked where I come up with them and my answer is always, "everywhere".

Well, there seems to be less "everywhere" than there used to be and I'm having trouble coming up with enough good puns for every post.  (No snarky comments allowed.)   

So I've decide to cut back the groaners to once a week and do something else for a closer on the other two days.  Now the decision part...what should I use to replace the groaner?

Regular jokes?

 (you know, those misworded lines from newspapers, church newsletters, etc.)

Straight quotes?

Trivia questions?

Something else?

Please toss in your two cents on this earth-shattering issue and help me decide.  What would you like to see?

By the way, I'm sorry this post is going up late today.  I spent last night at a dive/swim meet.  Ever attend one of these?  The diving portion lasted two hours.  My granddaughter had four dives.  A dive is over in about a second.  Maybe three if you count standing-on-the-board time.  That's 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 48 seconds of waiting and 12 seconds of cheering.  The swim meet lasted four hours.  She swam in four events.  Maybe 30 seconds each.  That's 3 hours... well, you get the idea.

Oh, and it was in the mid 90's and VERY sunny at the pool.

(She took first place in the 25 meter backstroke.)

In the winter we go to my grandson's wrestling meets.  Wrestling meets can last over six hours.  He will wrestle in three or four matches.  Each match lasts about...

Okay, don't forget to leave your preference on a groaner replacement.  (Maria!  Stop cheering!)

Have a fantastic weekend.

Groaner of the Day:  In the days of old, when Genghis Kahn's men were running over Asia, they set their sights on further shores. Rather than 'huns', these warriors were known as Kahn's men, or simply, Kahns. When they had conquered all the way to the water's edge, they build boats, gathered their loot, and bravely went to sea.

By a sad twist of fate, they encountered an island of lepers, which resulted in most of the crew being infected. Hastily leaving that island, they set sail again, but by the time they reached Ireland, there wasn't much left of them. Disembarking on stubby limbs, they set forth, but were soon set upon by the natives for the riches they carried.  Rotted away, but still clever, they hid on the island and awaited rescue, and the locals never did get their hands on the treasure.

And that's how the story of the little people got started in Ireland - the leper Kahn's and their pots of gold.

Bonus groan:

Cunning though diseased, the Kahns were never fooled by those who tried to trick them out of their pots of gold by swapping them for an empty pot - thus the saying: "You cannot change a leper's pots".

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You Know You're Gonna Laugh

Happy Hump Day.

I'm back from my little mini break in time to help you over the mid-week hump and onto the easy downhill to the weekend.  Let's start off with a little warning...

And while we're enjoying our feline friends, here's my favorite Simon's Cat.  If you've never seen this one, take a couple minutes and enjoy.

I have a dog like that.

Now here's something you rarely see these days.  A joke that's clean and funny.
(But not about cats or dogs.  Sorry.)

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute.. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

"Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But, you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."

During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up."

At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner."

And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

Okay - back to cats.


Not laughing yet?  Well, they say that laughter's contagious.  Listen to this clip and let's see it it true.  The jury is still out on whether this piece was real or staged but it's too funny either way.


Oh come on, you've got to be laughing now.
And I didn't forget your "aw".  Just look at that face as you read the caption.
You know you said it.
Okay, that should do it.  Don't forget to say hi and let me know what tickled your funny bone.
Groaner of the Day:  No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life Intrudes

My apologies, Blog Buddies, no Monday post.  Life intrudes and I need to take a couple days off.  Please come back and see me on Wednesday and I'll come by then to visit you, too.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Breakthroughs and Parties and Memes, Oh My...

Lots of fun stuff happening on the beautiful Friday morning.

First , an invitation:

Next week, Stephen Tremp is hosting a Breakthrough Breakout Party.

On June 18th and 19th,  Stephen's fast-paced thriller

will be available as a free download from Amazon. 

Stop by his blog next week, say hi, and let him know you've grabbed up your free copy.

Earlier this week I had a double treat.  Two (count 'em, two) of my blogging buddies,

awarded me the

Thank you both.

I encourage everyone to check out Jessica's and Tara's blogs.

Here are the rules for the meme:

1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript
2. Go down to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines.
4. Tag 7 others.
Well, okay.  I'm game.  Here are the seven lines from Hunter's Way:

To her mind, this great gift was a curse. Being Yavai meant having all these special powers but she couldn't use them. All it meant to her was a stranger named Guarryn could read her thoughts, and probably the madman they were chasing could, too. And this asshole Fed might want to haul her off to wherever to be some kind of guinea pig.

And now Jack thinks she should leave the case. That she can’t do her job.


Bull. Shit.

And I'd like to tag the following seven bloggers.

Linda Grimes
Carol Kilgore
Julie Dao
Sarah Allen
Jemi Fraser
Maryann Miller
Cate Masters

Okay, that's it.  Have a great weekend and don't forget to get your free copy of Breakthrough on Monday.

Groaner of the Day:  [WARNING: THIS ONE IS REALLY BAD]

A noted biologist, who had been studying little green frogs in a swamp, was stumped. The frog population, despite efforts at predator control, was declining at an alarming rate. A chemist at a nearby college came up with a solution: The frogs, due to a chemical change in the swamp water, simply couldn't stay coupled long enough to reproduce successfully. The chemist then brewed up a new adhesive to assist the frogs' togetherness, which included one part sodium. It seems the little green frogs needed some monosodium glue to mate.

Hey, I warned you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Too Funny for Words - Oh Wait, These Have Words

Wednesday: Happy Hump Day

Okay, I'm going to admit it.  It's Tuesday evening and I have tickets to see Wicked tonight and someone sent me an e-mail with all these great pictures, so...I'm passing them along to you. 

Laugh your way over the mid-week hump and start coasting toward the weekend.

And here's your "awww"  for the day.  

Did I give you a laugh?  Okay, my job here is done.

Groaner of the Day:  David was a chef for a large catering company. He enjoyed his work with the other chefs, but often liked to relax by going to the zoo. He particularly enjoyed the three-toed sloth which absolutely fascinated him. He would stand and watch it for hours, just hanging there, ever so infrequently making just the tiniest movement. He found it incredibly relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, that when a friend from the catering company complained that work was stressing him out he suggested they go to the zoo to watch the sloth and relax. This caught on among the chefs, and soon more and more of them would go to watch the sloth on weekends and days off.

Eventually David organised a day out for the company at the zoo, and all the chefs were standing in front of the sloth's area, watching it and relaxing. Suddenly, with no warning, the sloth lost its grip on the vine from which it had been hanging.  It hit the ground heavily and rolled down a shallow slope into the moat at the edge of its pen.  Then to the surprise and horror of the gathered chefs, the water began to bubble and steam furiously, until the sloth was well and truly roasted!

David suddenly realised what had happened.

"Oh, no!" he cried, "It's all out fault! Everyone knows too many cooks boil the sloth!"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mystery Sub-genres - Which Comes First

Writers have to know the genre or sub-genre of their story. Whether traditionally published and bookstore bound, or self-published e-book, sooner or later, someone is going to ask, “What kind of book is it?” And that’s genre.

Most genres today have a lengthy set of sub-genres. Today I’m going to focus on mysteries. I looked at lists of mystery sub-genres from a half-dozen sources and came up with over thirty. The ones that appeared on most or all of the lists included:

• Cozy and its cousin, the Amateur Detective
• Classic Whodunit
• Heists and Capers
• Historical
• Medical and Legal (Courtroom)
• Police Procedural
• Private Eye, including the darker side Noir
• Romantic
• Suspense and Thrillers, including Techno-thrillers
• Spies and Espionage

And most included mention of mixed genres, such as Mystery mixed with Sci Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, etc.

Suspense and Thriller are also considered genres in their own right with many of the same sub-genres as given for mysteries. The same is true for Crime Fiction.

Lists and definitions for oodles of sub-genres are easy to find. Take any mystery/suspense story and it will probably fall under one or more of those listed above. It’s the “more” that can cause a problem. What I did not find in my search of sub-genres was a hierarchy. Which sub-genre takes precedence of another?

Is a story about a private eye and a CIA agent who solve a murder while falling in love a Private Eye/Spy/Whodunit/Romantic Mystery? What about a spine-tingling thriller with a cop as the main character – Thriller or Police Procedural?

Obviously, some stories are easy to define. Others not so much. What do you think?

For writers - Is there a written or unwritten hierarchy for defining genres/sub-genres? Should there be?
For readers, how defined do you want the genre of a book to be before you buy?

Groaner of the Day:  (Just a short one today.)  The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Crossing the Line - Borrowing vs. Piracy

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

I included this line in a post a couple weeks ago.  It was one of a bunch of funny statements I received in an e-mail.  I can't credit the author, I have no idea who it was but I'm re-using it in this post because of something I came across earlier this week.

A lot of mornings when I'm reading through the blogs I follow, I move a couple into a "go back to" folder, to read when I have more time.  Occasionally, the folder gets a little out of hand, and I spent several hours recently working my way through the backlog.  Some were several months old, possibly older.  As I read each one, I deleted the link from the folder.  There was one I wish I'd kept.

A couple days after I cleaned out that folder, I was reading through the current day's postings and I came across the same post.  Same text.  Same pictures.  I'm not sure about the title.  But I am sure that it was a different author and there was no mention of this being a re-cycled post and no credit given to the original author.

By Grassyfilth

I know whatever we say in our blogs is fair game.  Copyright statements or not, anything we post can be lifted and re-used.  If the re-post is properly credited, this can be a good thing.  Especially if the credit includes a link back to the original blog.  But what if it's not?

If someone takes information you've posted and works it into their own post on the same topic, is that okay?  What if they only re-word your post?  What about images?  Okay to copy?  Should any of this be done without the original author's permission?

Where is the line on "borrowing" from someone else's blog verses stealing someone else's work?  What do you think?

Groaner of the Day:  A man who lived in an apartment building thought it was raining and leaned out his window to check. As he did so a glass eye fell into his hand. He looked up to see where it came from in time to see a young woman looking down.

"Is this yours?" he asked.

She said, "Oh, thank you. Yes, could you bring it up?"

When the man reached her apartment, the woman was profuse in her thanks and offered him a drink. Since she was very attractive, he agreed.

As they drank she said, "I'm about to have dinner. There's plenty; would you like to join me?"

He readily accepted and both enjoyed a lovely meal. As the evening was drawing to a close the lady said, "I've had a marvelous evening. Would you like to stay the night?"

The man hesitated then said, "Do you act like this with every man you meet?"

"No," she replied, "Only those who catch my eye."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Caption Contest Winner and a New Batch of Sillies

Wednesday: Happy Hump Day!

Before we get to today's sillies...

Congratulations to the winner of last Wednesday's Caption Contest: Angela Brown. 

I'll be contacting Angela by e-mail so she can select her prize.

Also, if you get a minute, hop back to last Wednesday's blog and check out the last comment I added.  A couple of my grandkids offered up their caption ideas and I promised I'd post them.

Okay, on with this week's Happy Hump Day.

First - well, this one sort of speaks for itself.

This one ties in with the t-shirts I shared a couple weeks ago.  Be careful of the quiet ones.

Well, it's about time - a Windows improvement we can actually use.

You know you've felt this way.  Come on, admit it. 

Now this takes the pressure off.  Forget about that stupid diet.

And you know I wouldn't leave you without your "awwww".

That should do it.  Got you over the hump and on the downhill slope to the weekend.

No need to thank me.

Well, a comment is always nice.

See you on Friday.

Groaner of the Day:  It's well known that some species of fish on the coral reef have adapted to be able to survive the poisonous sea anemone's sting, which gives them a safe place to hide from predators.

What isn't so well known is the story of the single fish that decided to be different. One day he swam away from his protective anemone, in search of some other hiding place.

A first, he swam into a small crevace in the rock, but he very quickly swam out of there, chased by an eel. Then he decided he could hide inside a shell, so he found a nice big one that he liked, but had to retreat from the crab that had got there before him.

Finally, exhaused, he swam into the coral beds, and hid among the brilliant coloured fern-like fronds of the corals.

The next day, when he hadn't come back to the anemone, some of the other fish decided to go out and look for him. The hunted everywhere for him, but they couldn't find him. Eventually, just as they had given up, they heard him calling to them. They looked around, but they couldn't see him anywhere - he was perfectly hidden by the coral.

Finally, he showed himself, and they tried to persuade him to come back home, but he refused - the coral was too good a hiding place to leave.

"After all," he said, "with fronds like these, who needs anemones?"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Need a LEO? How about a Sheriff?

Okay, so you're writing a crime story of some sort.  Might be a mystery.  Might be a suspense.  Perhaps a cozy. With lots of romance.  Or not.  But you need a local law enforcement officer. 

Well, that would be someone from the local police department, right?  Maybe.  Or you might want to go with a Sheriff or a deputy. 

What's the difference?

A sheriff is generally (but not always) the highest, usually elected, law-enforcement officer of a county. He may or may not be trained in law enforcement.  Once elected, the sheriff appoints/hires deputies to carry out the duties of the office.

Chiefs of police usually are municipal employees who owe their allegiance to a city. Chiefs are usually appointed by the Mayor of a city; or, they may be appointed by or subject to the confirmation of a Police Commission.  Members of the police department of that city report to the chief or someone under his command.

A sheriff and his deputies have jurisdiction anywhere in the county where he is elected to serve, including all towns and cities located within the county, even if the town or city has a police department and a chief of police. The jurisdiction of the police department is limited to their town or city.  The sheriff also assumes the law-enforcement duties in unincorporated areas, towns or cities that don't have a police force.

Deputies may serve as police officers or they may work in the county jails, courtrooms, and in the civil process department (which handles delivery of civil papers such as jury summons, subpoenas, divorce decrees, etc.).  Only members of the sheriff's office can serve civil papers.

Most larger sheriff officers (or departments) have both uniformed and plain-clothes officers (detectives).  Some sheriffs also serve as coroner.

So next time you're looking for a local LEO for your story, think about the local PD but don't overlook the Sheriff's Office.

Have you ever used a sheriff or a deputy in one of your stories?

Groaner of the Day: Snow White received a camera as a gift. She happily took pictures of the Dwarfs and their surroundings. When she finished her first batch she took the film to be developed. After a week or so she went to get the finished photos. The clerk said the photos were not back from the processor.

She went back again the next week, but again her pictures were not ready. 

By the third week, she was feeling quite distraught and when told the photos still weren't ready, she began to cry.

The clerk, trying to console her, said, "Don't worry, Princess. Some day your prints will come".

Friday, June 1, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles - Sophie Style

Obstacle - ob·sta·cle, noun, something that obstructs or hinders progress.

We all run into them.  Big and small.  They try to stop us from doing what we want to do; from going where we want to go.

How we handle obstacles says a lot about who we are.  For some, they're a reason to quit, a convenient excuse.  For others, they're simply something to be gone over, under, around or through.

Any way you can.

Those of you who have been with me for a few months know we have a new family member, a little Jack Russell terrier named Sophie.  Sophie has her own way of dealing with obstacles.
Sophie loves to go on long walks.  Perhaps that's not the correct phrase since these outings involve a lot more stopping and sniffing than actual walking, but you know what I mean.  Sophie spends a considerable amount of time checking the canine message boards located on most trees, sign posts, and fire hydrants, and leaving her replies.  Rather like reading a blog and leaving a comment.
But Sophie has a small problem.  She's...well...small.
A number of the messages she wants to respond to have obviously been posted by much taller dogs.  These message boards seem to be a couple feet off the ground, where as Sophie' generator is only at about six inches.  
A lesser dog might be discouraged or even limit herself to responding to messages on the lower boards.
Not Sophie.
When confronted with this small issue of height, Sophie turns into:

Acrobat Dog!

She simply executes a perfect handstand on her front paws and holds it until her message is sent.  And then we move on.

Although not perfectly clear in these pictures, I assure you Sophie does not cheat by bracing one rear foot against the tree, post, hydrant, etc.  She stands there perfectly balanced as long as she needs to.

I'd like to say I handle all the obstacles that come into my life with such style and grace, but it just wouldn't be true.

I've never been able to do a handstand either.

How about you?  How do you handle life's little obstacles?

Have a great weekend.

Groaner of the Day: (it's a visual)

Think about it.