Adventures with My Timer

cuckoo-clock

copyright yokim01 via freeimages.com

When I get up in the morning, my timer has put a window up on the monitor that says, “Good Morning!” and has a snooze button on it. Usually, I just click it closed.

However.

The other morning, my mouse was dead. I got a new battery from my desk drawer, performed “resuscitation” on my mouse, and pronounced it alive.

However.

In the process of installing a new battery, I inadvertently clicked something on my browser, bringing it to the front, covering up the timer window. I went about my merry way, drinking my iced coffee (yes, I drink iced coffee year round, even if I shiver while drinking it), clicking my way through my facebook feed.

Hmm…what was that? I thought I heard a cuckoo clock. There it was again, a soft little “Cuckoo, cuckoo.”

“Oh,” I thought, “it must be whatever hubby is watching on television in the living room.”

I got up, moseyed into the living room and…no cuckoo clock sounds. Good. That part of the show must be over. I sauntered back to my office.

But…

I’m hearing the cuckoo clock again. And now, there are little springtime birds singing softly, too.

Say what?

Birds?

My hearing loss prevents me from being able to pinpoint the source of a sound, so I’m looking all around, wondering where this is coming from. Could it be…my computer?

I turned the volume down on the computer, and, aha! The cuckoo clock shut up. As did the little birdies.

I’m thinking there must be something on one of the open tabs that is producing the sounds…you know how those ads play videos even when you don’t want them to…grrr! So I closed the open tabs, one by one. Still cuckooing.

I finally closed the browser.

And there, hiding behind the browser, was the timer window with its cheery message… “Good Morning!” So I clicked the button to close it, and the aviary chorus disappeared. Mystery solved.

So, now I know, if I don’t close the “Good Morning” window in a timely manner, I’ll be serenaded until I do.

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It’s Just a Matter of Time

timer

copyright Marcelo Gerpe via freeimages.com

Tommie Lyn dips her pinky toe in the water of blogdom. Is it safe to come out again? Unsure of herself, she tentatively gathers what courage she still possesses and takes a baby step into the blog light. And isn’t immediately struck down. Yes! She will try blogging again.

I haven’t written a blog post in quite a while now. Life has a way of directing you down paths you never expected to walk, away from what you had planned to do. But after a while, the dust settles and you can make choices again. And today, I’m choosing to post to my poor, neglected blog.

What’s prompting this choice? you may wonder. I’ll tell you. A writerly friend of mine has been pushing and prodding, cajoling and encouraging me to get back to writing. You see, after I published my last book, On the Red Clay Hills, an overwhelming reluctance to write settled over me… “Not gonna write anymore. That’s it. The last thing I’ll ever write.” But my friend wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. So, in deference to her, I decided to start off small. After all, an innocuous blog post…what could that hurt, right?

And on top of that, my friend recently got a fitness watch that has a sedentary alarm on it. The alarm goes off, she gets up from the computer, walks a little, maybe does a little household chore, then comes back and continues what she’s doing on the computer.

Say what?

I was impressed. I was jealous. I wanted one of those watches.

But exhaustive searches on Amazon didn’t turn up one I could use, because they all require syncing to a smart phone, and I don’t have a smart phone. I did have a smart phone for a while. Hated it. Got rid of it and got a phone I like. NOT gonna get another smart phone. Not even if it enables me to use a fitness watch.

But.

Where there’s a will, there usually is a way. (Remind me to tell you later what setlace means.)

Turns out, there are timers you can download to your computer. FREE timers (which was a plus, because the fitness watches ain’t free, not by a long shot). I downloaded one, set it up to sound the alarm after 30 minutes of inactivity (I chose a doorbell for the alarm sound because it was loud enough for someone like me who has a hearing loss), and I was in business.

It may not be as fancy as wearing a fitness watch, but, honey, it works! It has me jumping up (well, maybe not jumping up–after all, I’m an old lady–but at least getting out of my chair) and doing some walking-through-the-house and some chore-getting-done-activities.

I’m impressed!

And it even spurred me to write this blog post.

Working on a “Bucket List”

Seattle, Washington - © Tommie Lyn

Seattle, Washington – © Tommie Lyn

Last year, we ticked off one of hubby’s bucket list items: visit North Dakota. That left one item on his list: visit Alaska. And we took care of that last week. We embarked on a cruise ship in Seattle that was headed “north to Alaska.”

Ketchican, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Ketchikan, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

Our first port was Ketchikan. And, as you can see by the accompanying photographs, I took my camera with me and had fun snapping lots of shots of the picturesque town and its surroundings.

Ketchican, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Ketchikan, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

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Tracy Arm glacier - © Tommie Lyn

Tracy Arm glacier – © Tommie Lyn

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Then we ventured into fjord territory. The scenery in the Tracy Arm was gorgeous, and we saw an actual glacier. Breathtaking!

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At first, I was a little concerned about the ice in the water (Titanic, anyone?) but the chunks were fairly small.

Tracy Arm fjord - © Tommie Lyn

Tracy Arm fjord – © Tommie Lyn

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Juneau, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Juneau, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

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Juneau was next on the itinerary, and it presented me with plenty of opportunities for taking pictures.

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Skagway, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Skagway, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

And then, our last stop before heading south again was Skagway. Hubby told me of all the people on a quest for gold who came through Skagway on their way to the Yukon (he knows about those things, you see. Gold prospecting is his beloved hobby, and he’s read everything he could get his hands on, from historical data to all the how-to books.)

Whales feeding, Victoria, British Columbia - © Tommie Lyn

Whales feeding, Victoria, British Columbia – © Tommie Lyn

Victoria, British Columbia was our last port before returning to Seattle, and one spectacular (to us) event that we saw while we were docked was only partially visible. Several killer whales had corralled some food, probably fish, and were having a meal, complete with surfacing, splashing, and a show of fins. I belatedly decided to try to photograph it, but all I got was a dark shape which you can see in the water beyond the mast on a nearby ship. Oh well. You can pretend you see the whale…

What about you? Do you have a bucket list you’re working on?

KEY: Knowledge Empowers You

Image copyright  Ivelin Radkov, via BigStockPhoto

Image copyright Ivelin Radkov, via BigStockPhoto

Are you old enough to remember Schoolhouse Rock?

I am. My kids watched it on Saturday mornings, and I watched it with them. Those animated segments taught math, English, (the “Conjunction Junction” song still gets stuck in my head sometimes, LOL), and other things, even the Preamble of the Constitution.

Recently, I asked people who’d watched Schoolhouse Rock back in the seventies if they learned anything from it, and everyone had (including me…I learned how a bill proceeds through Congress).

Which brings me to ask another question…if they were an effective teaching/learning tool, why were they discontinued? Especially in the light of dismal performance of our public schools today.

What about the schools in your area? Are the children learning? Or are they being indoctrinated and made to conform to standards set by people who don’t have their best interests at heart? Is it time parents insist that schools use curricula that give children a good foundation, that teach basic reading, writing, math, and history, rather than forcing a social or political agenda upon them?

Or are the children being dumbed down.

…about Adventures with Aesop: A Cat Fable.

Cute kittie

I have lots of writerly friends on Facebook. And Twitter. And most of them have pets.

At my age, it’s all I can do to take care of hubby and me, so we haven’t had a pet for a number of years. But when the sons were growing up, we had more than our share of cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, frogs, turtles, squirrels, and snakes.

Nowadays, I can admire cute puppies and kitties…from a distance…without suffering an inordinate desire to have one in my home. Others keep telling me how wonderful it would be if I’d just go ahead and get a pet. But…um…no. Been there, done that. I have other fish to fry these days.

But…one day, I don’t know what got into me, but I dreamed up a scenario of getting a cat, and I posted the scenario on Facebook, complete with photos. My friends and I got some chuckles from it, and some other friends suggested that I should make a video trailer of it.

So, without further ado, here’s “Adventures with Aesop: A Cat Fable”:

 

…about editing…again.

Image © Marc Garrido i Puig via stock.xchng

Monk is one of the few television shows I watch…still watch, even though it’s in rerun mode now. Part of the show’s charm is the quirkiness of the main character, Detective Adrian Monk, who has OCD. His disorder creates problems, but it helps him at times, too. And he has said of it, “It’s a blessing…and a curse.” I can think of other things the saying would apply to, but the one most recently on my mind is the ease with which authors can publish their works today.

No longer does an author have to spend months or years writing query letters or proposals and mailing packets to agents. And there’s no waiting for months while a manuscript is under consideration by a publisher. Or further long stretches of time while the manuscript is prepared for publication once it’s accepted.

No.

Today’s revolution in publishing makes it possible for an author to skip all that. He/she can format a manuscript, upload it to CreateSpace, Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble and, voilà! It’s available for sale.

It’s a blessing. And a curse.

Because now, too many authors are rushing to publish their works without due diligence in preparation. Making errors is a facet of being human…so, no matter how perfect an author believes his work to be, it needs editing, sometimes lots of editing, to make it ready to meet the world of readers.

And when I speak of editing, I’m not referring only to correcting typos or errors in grammar or punctuation. I’m not talking about finding accidentally omitted words or places where a character’s name magically changes from Steve to Roy. No, I’m talking about clunky phrasing that needs to be streamlined. Redundant words that need to be eliminated. Adverbs and adjectives that need to disappear. Clichés which need to be replaced with fresh imagery. Faulty story logic that needs to be straightened out. And revising behavior and dialogue that isn’t true-to-character (would that particular character say what he’s saying in chapter four? And do all the characters sound alike when they speak?)

Some have pointed out that they’ve read traditionally published books which have errors. So have I. But that doesn’t justify a sloppily prepared and published manuscript from a do-it-yourselfer. If anything, a book from a self-published author should be even more error-free than a traditional one, because the author doesn’t have to rely on employees at a publishing house to catch and correct any problems. He cares about his story, and he has the opportunity (and responsibility) to ensure his work is as good as he can make it.

And if he later finds a mistake he overlooked initially, he can and should correct it. I spent four years editing, rewriting, polishing, and re-editing my first novel, High on a Mountain. And guess what? After it was published, I found a couple of errors, which I corrected. I wouldn’t want errors to ruin the reading experience for anyone.

My point in saying all this is not to criticize my fellow self-published authors. It’s to encourage us all to take the time to make our work the best on the market. Bar none. (Hey, is that an idiom? Or a cliché? Oh, well…)

Image © Marc Garrido i Puig via stock.xchng

…about How the Scots Invented the Modern World.

I don’t usually like to write book reviews. They are subjective, a matter of opinion. And who’s to say my opinion should carry more weight than someone else’s? Nevertheless, I decided to write a review.

And I didn’t choose a book hot off the press. No. I broke with the usual practice of writing about a brand new book and chose one that was copyrighted in 2001… How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman.

I read this book (along with many, many others) when I was doing research to learn all I could about Scotland prior to and during the writing of High on a Mountain. I learned something from each of the books I read, but this particular book made an enduring impact on me.

Why? Because the information in this book was astounding. The subtitle may give you a notion as to why it astounded me: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It. Wow! Quite a statement, that. But…it’s a true statement.

As Herman points out throughout the book, Scots made changes in ways of thinking and doing that profoundly influenced and affected the development of Western Civilization in modern times. From such mundane inventions as air-filled tires (invented by a Scot named Dunlop) to paved roads (developed by a Scot named MacAdam…did you ever think about where the word “tarmac” came from?) to high-flown ideas like self-government (George Buchanan asserted that political power should reside in the people, not the government), Scots were the inventors of the new, the modern way of doing/thinking.

Herman’s writing style is engrossing, and even when discussing what could be dry subjects, he makes topics interesting. I highly recommend this book.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Scots-Invented-Modern-World/dp/0609809997/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330381537&sr=1-1