I like space stuff. I always have. If I had the chance to go into space, I would. No hesitation. I credit my father for reading science fiction stories to me as a child, and watching Star Trek, Space 1999, and Lost in Space on Saturdays. I remember being fascinated with the Time Life books: The Solar System, Space, The Sun. I don’t know what the first sci-fi book that I read on my own was, but if I had to guess, I think that it was The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.
I experienced a partial solar eclipse once. I think that it was around 84.2% (no, my memory isn’t that good…). My pinhole telescope and welder’s glass provided a very cool image for a pre-teen kid. When the first Viking pictures from Mars were broadcast, I thought for sure we (humanity, not my family) would be living there sooner rather than later.
My family bought my father a telescope for Christmas one year. I think that I championed that idea more to serve my desire to have one. Seeing the craters and mountains of the moon, the rings of Saturn, and the moons of Jupiter for the first time was a dream come true. I think that I had hoped that he would build an observatory in his backyard. No Keck observatory for me…
So, it was odd that when I started to write, I didn’t start writing science fiction. No, not really. My poetry served its purpose, and I continue to be inspired to write it. But my head was always in the stars. If I had a book in my hand, it was more than likely about space. I always got excited when a new sci-fi T.V. series or movie came out.
I’ll quote from the introduction of my next project:
“I decided to write a series of short stories in the style of the early years of science fiction, where scientific knowledge wasn’t king, and imagination drove the author to create…”
I should probably talk about the title of this post. I missed seeing Halley’s comet. I don’t remember why; I’ll just blame it in the clouds because I can’t think of any reason that I didn’t stay up all night to see it. I did see a comet in the ’90s, and now I have an opportunity to see another. So, I’ll set my alarm, get up stupid early, travel away from the light pollution of the city, and gaze upon an object millions of years old.
Last week, the days started to get shorter. Since December, the days had lengthened, almost imperceptibly by a minute or two a day, until before I realized it, we were on the downswing once again. Now, I don’t know how far south one has to go before the days and nights are close to the same length all year round. I suspect once you get to the two tropics (Cancer and Capricorn), it starts to even out. Which one is the northern one? I never remember. I’m sure that it came up on a high school test in my past. It’s not a fact that I have needed – until now. There was a book called Tropic of Capricorn ( or was it The Tropic...?).
We used to have to memorize everything in school: Math facts, times tables, capital cities. There’s nothing wrong with memorization. It’s just not that easy for everybody. Apparently, some things that I memorized, I didn’t. Oh, I’m sure that it’s in there somewhere (in my brain, that is), but sometimes it takes a little longer to find.
I like math. Really. I find it fascinating. I also find it frustrating. Remember those times tables? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Quick, what’s 7 X 8? Did you say 56 right away, or did you think “ If 7 X 7 is 49 then 7 more is….umm, well, 49 plus 1 is 50, so I have 6 left over from the 7, so 50 + 6 is 56. Which way is quicker? Which method makes you look smarter? Although, you do need to understand why 7 X 8 = 56, then once you do, it’s better to remember it.
If I were able to recall any math fact instantly, I probably would have become a mathematician or a scientist, or in the worst-case scenario, an accountant (my apologies to all accountants, but that was just too easy). I assume that people like Einstein, Hawking, Turing…OK, one sec. Bear with me…
Tangent Time– I had to Google female mathematicians. That’s sad. Marie Curie was the only female scientist that came to mind, but now I know. Here are a few in no particular order (well, the order is how they were listed on the Smithsonian site, and that was chronological), so here they are as presented on the Smithsonian website: Hypatia, Germain, Lovelace (who wrote the first computer program the mid- 19th century, that’s pretty cool), Kovalevskaya, Noether, Johnson.
Back to the topic, which was…memorizing. I went to university to learn Classical guitar. If you are a musician, you know that memorization is the key. You don’t have time to think what note comes next because once you do, it’s already gone. I was never that confident with my memory. I was always afraid of forgetting, and sometimes I would. Complete blank. Not an ideal situation for a performer. When I do have to play, that thought is always there, “Don’t forget. What if I forget?” Nice set-up for failure, right?
What about spelling? Most of the time, you probably don’t have to think about it. Then you look at what you typed and see all those red squiggly lines. I still forget how to spell certain words. Remember that stupid saying, “i before e except after c, except in the words: their, weigh, receive, receipt, and the 100 other exception to the rule?”
Not everyone is going to excel at memorization or understanding certain topics. We are not all the same. So I try to practice remembering things: names, numbers, what the heck did I come here to buy?
Oh well, seeing that I am here, I might as well pick up some chips and dip.
Do I have enough money? Chips cost $1.18, and dip is $2.39. Well I know 8 + 9 is 17, and 10 + 30 is 40, so 40 + 17 is 57…add that to the $3, and you get $3. 57! Since I have a fiver in my pocket, I’ll be left with $1.43. All good.
It is time. I’ve been holding on too long, and it is just frustrating. This is no longer working for me.
I have to get a new knife.
How long have we been together? Ever since I got the department store credit card in college. I needed a dress shirt, and being in college, I had no money. Credit cards make you have more money, right? So I got the card, and the shirt (long gone now), and the two free gifts. Free gifts? I like free gifts as much as I like free money (which can be traded in for free dress shirts).
I know what you want to know. What was the other free gift? I know I did say two gifts, and I know that you are smart (SMRT) enough to figure out that the knife was one of them. But this post is about the knife, so why am I teasing you with this mysterious second gift? Why, indeed…
Do you want to know about the knife or the other thing? OK, it was a serving tray. Not that exciting, except for the fact that I still know where that one is as well. It’s in my mom’s kitchen. She still uses it. That’s the gift that keeps on giving. I gave it to her on Mother’s Day (or birthday, it was so long ago).
Back to the knife. It’s been sharpened (improperly probably), and if you place the blade on a flat surface, you can see a space between the edge and the surface. Makes cutting tricky as it leaves parts uncut. So, I'll have to bite the bullet and fork out some cash. I like to cook. I don’t like crappy cutting.
I also need new running shoes. I admit that I have used them well past their prime. There are holes which I have unsuccessfully repaired, but they are so comfortable, and shoes are really expensive. It is suggested that you replace your shoes every 300-400 miles. Mine are hitting triple digits. Ever try on new shoes? They don’t feel the same or feel comfortable.
I also need a new bike helmet. I’m not going to go into that stats, but something rather than nothing is probably not the best argument. But hey, if I fall and my head hits the ground, would I rather have a bare head or an old helmet? Right?
Am I cheap? No, I’m thrifty. OK, I’m cheap. I dislike spending money, especially when I’m on a budget. Here is a link to an article that I wrote: Maximizing Your Food Budget. I’m a fan of the adage: If it’s broke, fix it (if that isn’t an adage, it is now). I use and fix, and fix again. That’s my gift to the environment. So, with a heavy heart, I must retire "Mr. Slicey" (not really the brand name).
If I still have it next week, you can call me cheap.
Say that five times fast. That’s OK. Take your time. Try again. I’ll wait…
We’ll just have to add that to “Peter Piper” and “She Sells Seashells,” won’t we?
I decided to reach out to some more book bloggers this week. I googled book blogs and came up with sites with lists of book bloggers. As I suspected, there were a lot of them. Why book bloggers? Somebody has to read your book and like (or dislike) it enough to tell others. There are countless blogs out there, and many companies/individuals that set up blog tours, cover reveals, and book blasts. I checked out a few of them, and I wasn’t convinced that it was worth the cost (advertising is always a gamble even if it is a necessity). Sure, you get a fancy banner, and they send out your info to the participating blogs, but I visited a few, and some blogs had tour stop after tour stop that looked pretty much the same. I don’t think you get to choose your site either.
The last point was the most important to me. Now, I’m sure that these bloggers get many emails from authors, so how do I stand out? I wanted to make a personal connection, so this is what I did:
I did discover some interesting things during this exploration:
I came across several blogs that had been inactive for a long time. I was compelled to peruse through the blog to see if there were any clues to why the site had been abandoned. Not one had closure, no last post saying thanks, or link to follow. Nothing. A ghost in the digital miasma (I learned that word while doing a crossword puzzle...). So, as a writer, I wrote:
I stumbled upon your blog today
The place you built to have your say
A clever name
Graphics much the same
Stars twinkled between pages
Of poetic thoughts, dreams, and rages
Shared part of your life right here
For friends and followers to hear
But where do you go?
The last post was two years ago
Why walk away?
Was there nothing left for you to say
Do you still look the same?
Do you have the same name?
I hope you left for good reasons
Like the changing of the seasons
There’s nothing I can do
Except hope for you
So, I’ll go on pretending
That you wrote a happy ending
I closed your blog when I was done
The visitor count read 3,471
Till next time, keep reading!
I’ve been thinking of what to say about the events of the past week. What will one voice do? One voice that echoes the sentiments of many others. Can you see a drop of water in the ocean? No, but you can see the ripples radiating out into the expanse. Has anybody actually won by ONE vote? I don’t know.
Being silent doesn’t mean you agree or disagree. If I didn’t say anything, would you know? No, but I would. If you listen carefully to the noise of a crowd, you can discern individual voices, if you try hard enough.
So here I go...
It hasn’t taken us that long to get here. In the scope of things, we are just a fraction of time in existence. Maybe we did it too quickly. Perhaps we should have taken a few more steps, planned it out better, thought about the consequences of our growth.
How do I feel? I’m saddened that someone had to die. Again. Needlessly. I'm disappointed that some people used it as an excuse to destroy property and steal for personal gain. I do, however, believe that there is more goodness in the world than bad. Seeing police officers kneeling with protesters confirms this.
I doubt that humanity will ever get to the point that it is able to live in complete harmony. I wish that that wasn't the case but I think that hatred, intolerance, racism, violence, and greed can seem too easy for some. Any type of power can corrupt. Oh, we are trying, I know that, and we are better than before in so many aspects, so I say, don’t give up. Keep talking. Keep moving in a positive direction.
My drop in the ocean…
Everyone is entitled to their opinion (that’s my opinion), but does that mean we are free to give our unsolicited opinion whenever we want? You know, free speech and all…I’m sure that I just opened a huge can of worms, methinks. So, just for fun, let’s crank the opener of these great dividers:
Smoothy vs. Crunchy
Can you sit on the fence and say both? Of course you can! Will you? Probably not.
Crunchy hurts to eat, smoothy sticks to the roof of my mouth, crunchy on toast, not on bagels though. Smoothy: good for making fudge (unless you like crunchy fudge…)
What about natural? Woah, hold it right there, Bucko. This is not a ____vs.____vs.____
Kirk vs. Picard
No contest. You know I’m right…
Dogs vs. Cats
If you don’t care about loyalty or the return of affection and you want to be able to just leave for a few days without worrying…
North Pole vs. South Pole
Santa, good. Penguins, cute! But what about narwhals?
North pole: Pack ice / South Pole: Packed ice
Coffee vs. Tea
I look forward to my morning coffee and my afternoon tea, but I have on rare occasions had a morning tea and I do enjoy an afternoon shot o’ espresso…
Ale vs. Lager
Beer lovers are either loyal or experimental. I see people beeline straight to their brand and get out of the store before I have even started to cooler window shop. But that has nothing to do with the Ale vs. Lager debate does it…
PC vs. Mac
Endless updates and glitches, or should I just spend the damn $$$$?
Zoodles vs. Alphagetti
You know that they are pretty much the same thing, but what can you spell with Zoodles?
Two-ply vs. Three-ply
I didn’t include one-ply because it becomes two-ply since you know you’re going to fold it.
The Turkey: Light meat vs. Dark meat
You might as well call this Dry and bland vs. Moist and tasty….
Star Trek vs. Star Wars
(See Kirk vs Picard)
Ren vs. Stimpy, Rick vs. Morty, Magellan vs. Cook, AM vs. FM
Well, I’m absolutely, positively, sure that I missed some real doozies, but did you think that I was going to talk politics or religion? No way that I’m going there….that’s as volatile as discussing what pick-up truck is best.
(It’s Chevy, BTW…)
“Do or do not. There is no try.” Hold it right there Yoda. I’m going against my adoration for you and your (well, Lucas’) universe and it pains my heart to when I say that I have to disagree with you. There is always a “try” in doing. It’s like telling a child that they can be whatever they want to be in life. Unfortunately, it’s just not true. But by trying, they will better themselves because they will fail at times (usually more often than succeed) and hopefully learn more about what they can and cannot do.
If someone wants to be an astronaut (Pick me! Pick me!) and winds up becoming a doctor or mathematician because they couldn’t hold down their lunch in the “vomit comet”, then the world has another person to be proud of, and they have learned that you shouldn’t eat a heavy meal the night before training. Maybe math or school in general wasn’t their strong suit and they go on to customer service, the arts, public service, or become a laborer. I hope they asked themselves, “Did I try my best?”, and if the answer was yes, then the next question should be, “Am I still trying my best?”. If the answer was “No” to either of those then we must look at, you guessed it, MOTIVATION.
I’m not an expert on the M-word. Far from it. Do I try my best? Usually, but then again, I’m a pretty good procrastinator too.
[Pan to figure slumped on a couch, bowl of potato chips in their lap, TV remote in the other…]
(But I won’t leave dirty dishes on the kitchen counter overnight)
A few quotes come to mind: “Commitment is doing what you said you would do long after the moment you said it in has passed.” I credit this to Bear Grylls, the adventure guy. If you don’t know, he was in the British Special Forces when on a training exercise, his parachute failed, and he broke his…everything? He then (not right away) became the youngest person to scale Mt. Everest. Wow.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to suffer some life-changing injury, but often things happen and we just say to our self, “That’s it, I’m going to do something/I’m going to stop something/I’m going to try something.”, or along those lines. It’s not easy making big changes or deciding to accomplish a task, and lack of motivation is a real killer of dreams.
Where does one get their motivation? There are many motivating factors to choose from and what works for others may not be right for you. Will what you do:
I think that if you can answer yes to the question, “Will I be a better person if I can accomplish this?”, then it is worth doing, even if there is a risk of failure.
So, do I watch TV and eat too many chips or finish this blog? Easy choice…
(Now where is the remote…?)
Nothing ever stays the same. Changes are always happening, which is how we got here today. Not the whole pandemic thing, but where humans are as a society and technologically. The only difference today is that the change came fast, and we had to adapt quickly.
Everyone is talking about the new normal. But we never go back to the old normal anyway, do we? We constantly evolve, sometimes taking the wrong turn, and that’s OK because we learn from our mistakes. People will eventually stop driving gas-powered cars (they were a good idea at the time, so was the Industrial Revolution), and people will probably wash their hands more. I can’t remember when we were told to cough into our elbows, but I do remember that coughing into your hand was the norm at one time (Really? Yes, really.).
A few things I can do without:
There’s no normal unless constant change is considered normal. Will this happen again? Of course, it’s nature. Viruses, bacteria, germs, and the like are trying to survive, just like everything else. We just got to the top first. We win. Unfortunately, that victory comes with a lot of responsibility, that as a society, we don’t seem to be ready for yet. We will stumble and fall, like Bambi walking on ice, but we will get up and try again, and hopefully not wind up like (SPOILER ALERT!) her you know who…
I’ll end with a poem, that I wrote a few years ago:
Why us, why you, why me?
To use the world
As we please
If we were gone
Would our place be taken?
The apes, the birds, the creatures of the sea?
The food chain loses its upper floor
But does it leave an open door
For a new destroyer
Or life in harmony?
The computer was supposed to revolutionize the recipe book, so were laptops, and then tablets. Then why do I still have scrawled notes on scraps of paper and greasy flour marks on my screens?
I decided to organize (yet again) my recipes. Some I have saved on a hard drive, but most are in a binder (my favorites), plus I still have cookbooks. I like cookbooks. Especially the old ones, the classic ones. I found and old bread recipe book which has some of my go-tos. I know I’s old because: it has no cover or publishing page, the pictures are all black and white, and there are a couple of politically incorrect names for some of the breads. Not going to make those…
I used to have the Culinary Institute of America’s cookbook. Needing to compete with European Schools, this was America’s answer. From Pate a Choux to sauces and other French classics, I learned a lot of my techniques from this.
I rarely follow recipes completely. That is probably why most times it doesn’t turn out exactly as it should (Do ya think?). Don’t get me wrong, it is still quite tasty, but I’m sure it could be better. Often, I’ll use a recipe, then modify it as I see fit, depending on what I have in my fridge/cupboard. Some things I don’t mess with. My pizza dough, certain aforementioned breads, and the 2:1:1 ratio for mirepoix or the trinity.
I came across this on a piece of paper: 1 Cup flour, ¼ Cup lard, ½ tsp salt, ¼ water. I know that this is pastry, but why did I write it down? It’s not much different than the 5 other pastry recipes… Some recipes just are not meant to be written down. There is something magical about watching someone create by just dumping and handful of this, a pinch of that, and just some of that other stuff into a bowl and coming up with the most tasty delights time after time. My grandma’s rye bread comes to mind. It always tasted the same. My soups are somewhat like that, but they never turn out the same. They are always delicious (so says I), but it always differs due to what I have on hand. Fridge soup…
Cooking shows are my next favorite way to get recipes. For me it started with Emeril “BAM!”, Iron Chef (the original from Japan), then onto Alton Brown and Guy Fieri. I never had the chance to watch Julia Childs, but I did watch Julia & Julia, so I appreciate what she accomplished.
I just came across another cookie recipe that I haven’t made for awhile, so I’ll stack up the rest of the papers, cram them back into the binder, and maybe I’ll get to organizing it tomorrow.
Man, do I ever not like shopping. Grocery shopping that is. I’m not a fan of other types of shopping (clothes, electronics, whatever-I’m not much of a spender anyway i.e. cheap). If you have read my article, Maximizing Your Food Budget , you will know that I used to look forward to my weekly grocery shop. It was also nice to be able to pop in and pick up 1 or 2 items. Alas, those days are gone-for awhile at least.
My routine was to go to three or four stores (planned out to make a nice economical trip) according to the weekly sales. I’m all for the regulations that have been put in place when it comes to the safety of workers and consumers, but the new reality doesn’t make shopping very easy.
Lines/Queues*: Oh, I don’t like line-ups. Never have, never will. Going to the bank? Line. Guess not. Hello credit card. Need bananas? Nope. Waiting in queues has been a reality throughout history in many countries, for many reasons. A lot of us have had it very good for a very long time. I think back to seeing pictures of breadlines and empty shelves in other parts of the world, so I’m not going to get frustrated like the guy behind me who said, “ This is ridiculous, what are we a third world country?” Really, dude?
On the bright side, I went to my second stop (which will remain unnamed) and discovered no line-up. Whaaaa? I guess it was big enough to allow more customers into the store. No, it wasn’t Costco, although apparently there was a line-up there an hour before it opened today. Anyway, as I left (figured out which one?), there was a line of about 30 people. Score! Either I timed it just right or I went in during the senior’s time. Oops… but I don’t think so.
*This is a good hangman word. So is lynx. Are we allowed to play hangman anymore?
One-way aisles: Again, these rules are good, but it sure doubles the time in the store, having to go down one extra aisle* if you miss it the first time. Then I feel rushed if there is someone behind me, so I don’t do much comparison shopping- once I pick something up I feel bad putting it back.
*Another good hangman word
Produce: No picking, choosing, or squeezing. The hand hovers over the selection like the claw searching for the perfect stuffed toy. Hard tomato? It looked red…crap. Not even going to go near the peaches-they’re sketchy even in season.
Paper products: That initial run on TP sure decimated the shelves. Like trees after a tent caterpillar infestation, I don’t think they fully recovered.
Shopping for Two: This is what is recommended to limit people outside their homes. I don’t mind, it’s good for my cash-back credit card.
Shopping for Three: With limits on quantities, this is harder to accomplish. So, unlike team Olympic sports, where you win Gold and Bronze, but lose and get Silver, second place here is king.
So, in conclusion: I’m done for a week, I am slowly getting though the freezer food, if I run out of butter, I’m not baking, and it’s time for lunch: Grilled cheese with tomato soup. Mmmmm.