my rosemary plant woes

 

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You’re probably thinking to yourself – hey that’s no rosemary plant, that’s a bearded iris.  And it’s not even fully open.  I supposed you’d be correct and can pat yourself on the back for having such keen observation skills.  I didn’t really want to show the dead remains of what was once my beautiful rosemary plant.  And to be honest I was trying to figure out how I could work this imperfect picture of my not fully open bearded iris in.  So ta-da!  Well let me explain and take a temporary tangential (writing note – always be careful not to spell or say tangenital when saying that word – I had a coworker confuse them once and I still laugh about it when I think about it) path down iris lane, I have a gazillion of these plants that keep reproducing each year and they never die.  I don’t think I’ve ever lost a single one.  There was this one time that I finally saw one die (or so I thought) because I had the tuber (root part) of the plant that I had sat in a bowl exposed to direct sunlight for weeks and weeks and it had almost turned to paper.  Astonished I stared at it for a moment and thought wow they really aren’t immortal.  I turned to walk away and took a step and stopped.  I looked back at the sad remains and then I was like – ok the scientific side of my brain has got to know the truth so I planted the very light pappery remains of the tuber into moist miracle grow potting soil.  I knew the whole effort was futile but I didn’t feel right not giving the plant a chance to prove me wrong.  Luckily no one was around to bet me on the outcome because I would have surely bet against the plant.  Some weeks later before I started my summer garden I was outside looking through my rag-tag collection of container plants to try and decide what I wanted to do for a summer garden when I saw it.  The pot that had the decomposed remains of the bearded iris tuber.  It was alive and well as all of it’s non-zombie stage cousins.  It had pulled through weeks of direct sunshine on it’s root with no soil or water.  It was alive and happy.  So I added it back to the mental list of total count of bearded iris plants I have and realized these things really are immortal.

So with that story in mind let’s fast forward to yesterday which is weeks into my summer garden.  I’ve had failure after failure with rosemary plants in the past but I like the plants so much I just can’t seem to bring myself to give up on trying to grow them.  Yesterday I had a very healthy young rosemary plant on my plant shelf in the shade and decided I need to put it back in full sun because I know they don’t like spending such a long time in the shade.  I had moved this small plant back from full sun to shade many times and it obviously loved the sun better because it thrived in full sun.  I watered it and sat it on my table that’s in full sun.  This was about 6 AM in early morning.  Then about 3 PM I walked through the garden and was stopped immediately by a horrific site.  The rosemary plant was 100% dead.  I couldn’t believe it.  When I picked it up all the tiny pointy leafy things fell off from it.  I pressed the soil inside the pot gently and it sprung back up and then I realized the roots had overgrown the tiny pot it was in so it had almost no ability to retain water; it was practically rootbound.  So with yesterday being a very hot and windy day it had dried out and died within a few hour period.  I watered it and put it back in the shade but I know there is no use.  Rosemary plants are nothing like the unstoppable, totally forgiving, immortal bearded iris.

my book reading pledge for 2020 and some, ok, many simple ideas for a detailed annual reading plan

I’ve been a member of goodreads for many years even  before Amazon bought them out.  I enjoy their Reading Challenge they do each year which gets members to pledge a certain number of books that they’ll read for the year.  I had set similiar goals even before I joined goodreads as I’ve always valued the power of reading – at both the entertainment level and health level due to it’s positive benefit on cognitive skills.  This year I’m trying some new ideas in an attempt to get my total books-read count higher and to make my reading more effective.

Here are some of my personal motivations for working on a new plan.  These may not fit with your interests and schedule but they may give you ideas to customize your own plan if you have an interest in putting one together for reading more books.  Now something else to keep in mind, some people prefer spontaneity over planning when it comes to reading a good book and that’s quite alright.  To some the act of putting a lot of thought and planning into the activity of reading would potentially diminish the enjoyment of it.  You would need to evaluate your own personality type to know if that is you or you prefer planning such as I do.  I do sometimes have days where I’ll pick a random book for spontaneity and possibly read the whole book just for something different.  And if I only read one or two books a year, I’d likely skip all the planning, however, with my goal of reading many books over the course of a year, an organized plan makes more sense to me.  I’ve been doing a reading plan for well over a decade and I know from experience without a plan, I will not read many books during any year – I would be lucky to read six books in a year without planning.

Ok with all that out of the way here are my main objectives/motivations/ideas for a reading plan and ways to increase my book reading count.  Keep in mind that I developed these over many years of reading plans and for many years were unwritten and mostly inside my head:

  1. Increase overall reading count for books especially for it’s positive effects that I’ve personally noticed regarding my memory, cognitive skills, reading, writing, and communication skills.  I believe there are many more and this is just a few areas that I’ve personally experienced improvements with when reading large amounts of material.
  2. Ensure that across all books read to include a mixture of formats such as digital e-books, print (hardcopy), and audiobooks.  This is because I own and actively collect additional material in all these formats.  You wouldn’t have go spend a lot of money on this if you didn’t already own them or better yet, you could visit your local library and/or utilize online libraries to borrow for free additional content in any of these formats if necessary.  There are also free resources on the Internet and even Amazon has a lot of free or cheap (less than a dollar) material depending on what genres interest you.
  3. Find additional ways to get two birds with one stone to increase reading/listening opportunities for books.  Read e-books or listen to audiobooks while on a treadmill.  Listen to audiobooks while on a walk or jog or while cutting the grass or certain household chores such as dishes, laundry, or cleaning.
  4. It may be necessary to set certain goals on specific formats.  For instance, I have a 2.5 hour commute each day so including lunch I may be able to listen to 3 hours of audiobooks per day just from my commute and lunch times.  With visual reading however, my time is much more limited and I’m lucky to get a chapter a day reading visually but I try to get at least that much and more on weekends.
  5. Some formats such as audiobooks utilize a very different skillset when reading.  It took me years to get adept at listening to audiobooks with full comprehension and retention.  But I think developing that skill helped my communication skills when listening to other people talk to me.  I recognize the same skill that helps me effectively consume audiobooks helps me in business meetings or just with personal communications when listening to a friend.
  6. I have procured a lot of cookbooks (digital and print copies) since I enjoy cooking and I’d like to put them to better use.  Set a goal of 1 cookbook per month so that I can queue up new ideas for future meals.  While reading these cookbooks set bookmarks (digital bookmark if ebook, and a color coded tab if the cookbook is a physical book) so that I may go back to the recipes that interest me when I get closer to being ready to get the ingredients and prepare the meal at a future date.
  7. I have an interest in writing my own books including comic books and possibly scriptwriting for shows/movies and I enjoy painting/art/etc. so I’d like to read more comics to understand the medium more thoroughly and to see more of the visual art styles used in main stream and indie comics.  Therefore, setting a goal of at least if not more than 1 comic per month is my plan.
  8. Since I have an interest in writing short stories and getting published and truth is often stranger than fiction, I’d like to read a high percentage of non-fiction books during the year and potentially weave real-world weirdness into my stories.
  9. I very much enjoy music whether listening or learning to play new instruments.  I already have a uke, acoustic and electric guitar, and keyboards (synth and midi types) so I’d let to set small goals each week of practicing and getting better at playing those instruments – mastery isn’t the goal just baby step improvements in my skills and understanding of those instruments and to have fun playing.
  10. Also, I’m interesting in composing music which adds in music theory books to the mix.  These books would likely be paralleled meaning I would be reading up to five or more books at once over a longer period of time rather than completing them one at a time.  That way I could choose to study music theory or various instruments week to week – again mastery isn’t the goal only small incremental improvements.
  11. I enjoy many forms of visual art across the whole spectrum including physical and digital mediums.  Having a decent ability to create my own artwork plays into my other interests for a type of cross pollination effect so I could create my own artwork for a book cover or for any future indie comics I might create or less likely an album cover if I ever put together a music collection.  For this genre, I’ll set a goal of working through one artbook every 1 or two months since these books tend to be shorter around 120 pages but they require following along with the art exercises.
  12. Talking about cross pollination, the big one is creating video games.  I started a video game company when I was 17 and developed a total of 5 full scale games and sold them around the late 80s/early 90s.  These weren’t as great as they could have been but I did sell some copies and I learned a lot in the process.  With video games all types of art is used from visual art, to music, to story line and game design and everything in between.  While now-a-days very large teams (artists, musicians, animators, story writers, game designers and developers, etc.) may build a single game costing millions and millions of development cost, it is still possible for one person to make interesting and fun games maybe for the mobile market (like phones, tablets or even web browsers).  So I could in theory tie all of the skills together if I decided to write video games.  This idea adds in books on game development and programming.
  13. Ending with the core reading count is basically filling in the remaining slots.  This is done by choosing books from several genres top 3 of which I prefer and 2 more of subject areas which I don’t listen to as much.  The idea is to improve areas which I’m strong in and also become more acquainted with areas I’m less familiar with.  The goal isn’t really to predetermine all books for the year but just to have a general idea of where to choose the next book from.  Here is how my personal choices look:
    1. NonFiction (Business, Corporate, Science, History (World not just Western Civ), Government, Technical, How-to, Personal Development, Psychology)
    2. NonFiction (Biographies and Memoires)
    3. Fiction (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror (Steven King, Coontz), Classics (Greek, Poe, HP Lovecraft, Twain)
    4. Fiction (Any not mentioned in item 3 that I wouldn’t normally read)
    5. NonFiction (Areas where my knowledge is limited)
      1. From subject areas that may not be my preference such as socialism, vegan, certain political views.  All to often I see conservatives who don’t try to understand the liberals point of view and vice versa.  I think both sides should understand the complete picture even if they don’t agree with the other side’s ideas.
      2. From subject areas I vehemently oppose – extremism, hate groups, Hitler, Nazis, Serial Killers, etc. (I’m not trying to empathize here but seek to better understand evil and why some people make such terrible and evil choices.  Whether by reading case studies, analysis, or sometimes directly from the hater’s own messed up head such at Hitler’s Mein Kampf, I prefer not to ignore hatred and evil people but instead approach it without hesitation.)
      3. From subject areas where I have holes in my knowledge – certain religious beliefs, certain lifestyle choices, alternate political beliefs, etc.  I feel like there are areas I could use a little more knowledge in such as libertarianism, humanism, utilitarianism, and those pesky anarchists. Just kidding I don’t know if they’re pesky or not.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/20108162

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Good luck with whatever direction you choose.  Either way, plan or no plan, I hope you find time to read good books and enjoy the reading experience as much as I do.

my required walking goal and a treadmill acrobatics story

Ok.  I’m finally getting serious about meeting my 10,000 step per day goal again.  It’s almost literally do or die time so I have no choice due to serious health reasons.  Me and my daughter played some basketball this morning and with all the tasks I had to do outside such as feeding the chickens, cats, and dogs and cleaning up I already had just over 5000 steps before getting on the treadmill tonight.  My treadmill has been feeling neglected I’m sure because it’s probably been over a month since I got on it.  I walk at a local park during my lunch break at work or go to the gym, and play tennis once or twice a week but my home treadmill has been collecting dust and I haven’t been meeting my fitbit 10k step goal.  Tonight is probably the first time in weeks outside of my tennis days that I actually met the goal.  I almost always meet it on tennis days but the weather lately has been insane.    Tonight, I combined walking on the treadmill with reading, chatting, and updating my goodreads status so I wasn’t walking fast and thus spent over an hour on the treadmill.

 

Ok.  For the treadmill acrobatics story, this unfortunate incident happened to me at Planet Fitness a little over a year ago.  I try to walk 1 to 2 miles during my lunch break at work.  I have a commute time of an hour and fifteen minutes one way and I live and work in different states so I can’t go to my house during an hour lunch break.  In cooler weather, I like walking at the local botanical gardens but in warmer weather I have to go to a mall or Planet Fitness.  On this particular day I was chillin’ in the Judgement Free zone at Planet Fitness on one of their comfy treadmills.  I had a small towel on the treadmill bar to the left and I had my work phone and personal phone on the treadmill in front of me and I was listening to wireless headphones while watching a ted talk.  I try to find a treadmill in a cool area with good airflow so I don’t sweat as much since I don’t have time to shower and for some reason on this day for the first time ever (or since for that matter) I had picked one in front of the employee station.  My goal is just to get 1 to 2 miles at a brisk walk around 3.5 mph and I’ll usually push my pulse to 150+ using the incline setting towards the end of the workout with the idea I can cool down quickly using my car’s AC.  On this day, however, I had pushed the speed up to 4 mph which isn’t a problem it just increases the risk of me sweating more.

I had probably been on the treadmill for 15 to 20 minutes and I had just used the towel to dry a little bit of sweat from my face.  I guess in the moment with me using multiple gadgets (maybe my work phone to order ahead for a salad at Marco’s Pizza) and watching the ted talk I didn’t do a great job of positioning the towel on the hand rail because it had fallen down.  For some reason that I surely can’t explain, I stopped running so that I could reach down to pick up the towel but the silly thing was I was still on the treadmill which was still running at 4 mph.  In case you’re wondering how long it takes you to get ejected from a treadmill running at 4 mph if you stop running, it’s not long at all.  So off the back of the treadmill I went in front of the employee station and in front of people walking to and fro but fortunately no one walking on the row i was on.  In some sheer streak of what had to have been luck, I landed on the floor on both feet in what I can only describe as my best spiderman pose.  I looked around briefly trying to figure out how I did it and feeling just a lit bit impressed with myself but with the treadmill still running I decided I better get back on so as to not draw any more attention to myself than I had already done.  So then my 2nd bad mistake was not stopping the treadmill to get on and it was still running at 4mph and until this day I had never stepped on a treadmill already running at 4 mph.  Finally then in a very ungraceful move, I had to get up to speed with my legs which are now at the back of the treadmill and the top half of my body at the front of the treadmill, I’m sure looking very distorted but quite comical to everyone but me.  And just in case anyone in the entire building hadn’t noticed this whole fiasco up until this point, as if by some cruel joke at my expense, the machine started squealing very loudly because the belt was slipping because of my heavy erratic steps.  It took me several seconds during this with the belt screaming and loud stomping sounds from me and my pathetic maneuvering, but I was finally able to right myself back into a normal running position.  I couldn’t bring myself to look around at anyone around me so I looked straight ahead as if none of it happened.  I was thinking certainly they had the whole thing on video and I’ll likely be in some Planet Fitnetness employee training video and one day probably even see myself on you-tube.  But until that day, I’ll post these funny videos of other people having bad treadmill days who weren’t as lucky as I was.  I’m hoping no one got seriously hurt in these videos.

 

 

 

trying a new 5 minute artisan bread recipe

Last week I was going to make some calzones since it’s been over six months since I made pizza (a calzone is technically a folded pizza) so I figured it was about time.  I was in a hurry and didn’t want to mix up some dough so all I had in the fridge was one small can of Piggly Wiggly biscuits that had been in there a while and needed using up.  And since I said Piggly Wiggly for the first time in my blog I’ve got to post this silly video since it actually has a reference to PW in it.  If you don’t like Avengers you’ll probably want to skip it.  LOL.

So I pressed the biscuit dough thin and used a beef, mushroom, and onion filling for it – it also contained cheese and sour cream.  I still had extra filling so I had to use some low carb tortillas for the rest of it.  It all turned out well but I got to thinking it would be nice if I had dough mixed up in the fridge for such occasions and I wouldn’t have to use store bought refrigerated dough which has extra preservatives in it and doesn’t taste as good.  So enter the following book for no-knead or refrigerated dough…

If you search youtube or the web you can find plenty of recipes for no-knead or refrigerated dough or you can buy the book which is generally pretty cheap.  The book has a lot of variations for preparing the dough such as herb bread, butter rolls and such.  I don’t get any money if you buy the book from the link so I’m just including it for reference.

So here is a summary of the steps:

You first have to mix the dough and preferably leave in the fridge overnight.  The ingredients for the dough I used is – you can double this recipe if you’d like:

1.5 cups lukewarm water (not too hot)
3.25 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons yeast
3 teaspoons salt
2 or 3 teaspoons of cornmeal

  1.  Mix water, yeast, and salt together then add flour together.
  2.  Mix just enough to moisten flour without dry spots.  Doesn’t take long and no need to knead the dough.
  3.  Put a lid or plastic wrap on the container where it’s loose but don’t seal it completely.
  4.  Let it rise for 2 hours then put it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  Keep in mind that you never want to punch down or flatten this dough if you’re going to make round airy loaves.
  5. When you take it out of the fridge it’ll look wet and take the form of the container like the photo below.img_0069

6.  When the dough is chilled and you take it out, use a serrated knife to cut off as much as you need.  Maybe an orange size amount or a grapefruit size amount.  Note, that the dough is easier to work with if it’s chilled.  Dust the wet ball of dough with some flour on top and then stretch the surface below the ball, turning the ball 1/4 turn each time.  The goal here is to only stretch the outer layer of the dough and not compress or work the other 95% of the dough.  You should wind up with a dough ball like the one on the right.  It doesn’t have to look perfect and this stretching process takes less than 60 seconds normally.  You don’t want to overwork the dough or it’ll be very dense after cooking.

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7. When both surfaces have been pulled and tucked under the ball it’ll look something like below.  Not that if you’re going to use a dough paddle like I have here, you’ll want to use it from the beginning to prepare the dough and let it rise as opposed to the wax paper I used here.  Sprinkle a little bit of corn meal on the dough paddle before shaping.

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8.  Cover them with a roomy bowl like so and let them rest for 45 to 90 minutes.  During this time they will rise some.

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9. During the last 15 to 20 minutes of rising you can go ahead and preheat the oven and stone (if you’re using a stone) as opposed to a pan.  I have a cheap baking stone that I bought years ago. Also place an additional empty metal pan (not glass as it’ll shatter) in the oven.  You’ll add hot tap water to this after adding the dough to the stone so that it’ll add steam to the cooking process.

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10. After the dough rise step is done, drop some flour on top of the dough and score/slice the top of the dough with a serrated knife.  Patterns such as 3 slits, a plus sign, or tic tac toe pattern can be used – I used the first two here.  The flour should help keep the dough from sticking to the knife.  After cooking and the bread has cooled you can shake off excess flour before eating if you’d like.

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11. The paddle and the corn meal under the dough makes it easy to slide the dough from the paddle directly to the baking stone.  After you transfer the dough to the baking stone or pans if that’s what you used don’t forget to add hot tap water to the empty metal pan so that it can add some steam to the cooking process.  The loaves I made here are smaller so I only baked them for 20 to 25 minutes.

12. The finished bread is below.  The outer shell was nice and crisp and the inside was airy and fluffy without being too dense.  It was excellent sliced and brushed with a little bit of butter.  Of course there is a million ways to enjoy this crusty bread such as with sandwiches, soup, or salad.

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i just felt like sharing some music links…

 

I’ll start out with upbeat songs before the sad ones.

Who needs a full band when an acoustical guitar and vocals are enough…

 

I was searching high and low for uke how-to videos and found this youtuber…

 

I like Pink’s version but her video is a little saucy for my blog…

 

From a different era of my life.  Too bad this great artist is no longer with us… 😦

 

Not sure this song would have the same impact without watching this sad video…

 

She has a lot of great covers…

 

I still prefer imagine dragons version but so nicely done and a good song to end with…

hey… hey… wake up!

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 Patrick Hendry

Yikes.  I can’t believe it’s been all the way back to May since I’ve updated this blog.  It’s like I’ve been asleep for 6 months at least from this blog’s perspective.  Many months ago I had another cardiac event and my cardiologist doubled my beta-blocker pill dosage which for anyone familiar with them might know taking those certainly slow you down in every way in addition to slowing one’s heart.  One odd side affect of beta-blockers is they make you worry less and lower anxiety so some people without heart problems take them prior to public speeches etc or so I’ve read.  I often contemplated whether I have normal levels of stress and/or anxiety and I’m sure I do but like most things with me my version is always weird.  For instance, if someone stuck a gun in my face I’d probably yell at them and tell them they got 2 seconds to get that out of my face – disclaimer please don’t do that if someone shoves a gun in your face as it’s not the right response.  I’ve been in many highway scenarios where I’ve narrowly avoided fast head-on collisions due to other people’s stupidity.  And I’ve been on the receiving end of many road rage incidents where insane people have stood outside my window screaming at me and one incident where a road-rager brandished a gun.  None of them raised my blood pressure very much or caused me an appropriate level of anxiety as they should.  In other words, I don’t flinch at the right times.  However, the other side of that is if I think i’m late with paying a bill, filing my taxes or going to a meeting or appointment, I get anxiety.  In other words, I always feel i’m backwards from everyone else.  But I can’t blame it all on the beta-blocker pill as I’ve always been like that even though I think the beta-blocker makes it worse.

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Patrick Hendry

 

i saw a jawa at the gym

In cooler weather I try to go to the botanical gardens and walk the trails on my lunch break but with the temps getting into the mid 90’s and blasting towards triple digits, I’ve been going to the gym more often on my lunch break.  I always manage to see someone or something interesting at the gym each visit and yesterday it was a jawa.

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You know those pesky little scavengers from Starwars that young vader hated so much.  The guy must have been about 4 foot tall with an oversized hoodie and I could only see his eyes when he walked by.  Lucky for him he was on planet fitness rather than his home planet and thus in the judgement free zone which disallowed me to take pictures of him or I would have put his mug on my blog.

It may have not been as strange as seeing a tall old slender guy walking on the sidewalk in Campbellton, FL in a spiderman suit on the way to work one morning but I suppose seeing a jawa is still noteworthy.

I’ve been a member of several gyms over the years and I have to say planet fitness is among the best and most value priced.  It’s $10 a month with a $30ish annual equipment fee so it’s really hard to beat that deal.  There is something about their treadmills that seems more comfortable than most other treadmills that I’ve walked on.  And with the AC and giant ceiling fans they have good airflow so I don’t sweat quite as bad.  Their free wifi is also a plus.  So if you’ve been wanting to join a gym and never go, then they are most likely your cheapest way out.

 

chicken neglect, unless you ask the chickens

Well I walked into the back yard right before dark to water the plants and sit in the swing for a few minutes while swatting hordes of vampire flies and realized I didn’t close the cage to the chicken pen in the back paddock the night before.

I was almost scared to walk out there and check on them thinking surely some would be missing or they’d be zombie chickens half eaten by something – yes I’m talking to you black bear wherever you are.  But they all looked at me quite happily like they had been partying all day outside their pen and having a grand old time with no predators to speak of.  Well I’m sure there predators especially hawks but they must have been feeling generous.

A few weeks ago I had built a flimsy temporary fence around their pen and an even more temporary gate which the chickens could have pushed over from the inside or the two large dogs guarding the perimeter could have broke into from the outside.  I had never planned on the fence and gate being used while I wasn’t home but all was good.  It wasn’t quite dark when I went to close the door to the main pen so I had to run to keep the chickens from seeing me and running for the exit.  They were still perched on their roosts when I ran out there and looked at me like I was crazy for running to the pen.

I hate keeping them caged without getting out to eat grass and bugs.  The first day I let them out the California white which is kin to the leghorn, an egg layer, ran out and got in direct sunlight and laid down in the grass and spread it’s white wings to absorb the sunlight.  Their pen is in a heavy shade area and gets no sun so I didn’t realize how much they must have missed the sunlight.

I decided I was going to finally spend the time and energy to build them a large chicken run when they kept running to the door when I’d go to give them their daily feed and they’d voraciously attack the green grass sprigs just outside the door.  I’d guard the door like a soccer goal to keep them from darting past me but I’d let them clear the grass from the door area.

Their 12’x12′ cage is inside a much larger paddock that the two large dogs patrol which is adjacent but outside of my main fenced area where we keep 4 small dogs.  The large dogs are my answer to bob cats, possums, racoons, and yes even a black bear attack that wiped out 6 large chickens in one swoop by pulling them from underneath a cage drumstick by drumstick through a very narrow steel mesh.  I still don’t understand the physics that allowed that to happen as it should have been impossible.

Oh well.  I guess I’m lucky this time that I didn’t lose my flock of chickens and the eggs they produce.  Maybe for a few days the egg yolks will be a little bit richer for the extra vitamins all the grass and bugs provided.  Nothing beats natural chicken feed for chickens and a little more space to enjoy themselves.

 

on the joy of reading books

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman in Coraline

 

 

I’ve been a member of goodreads.com for almost five years even before amazon acquired them and I’ve been participating in their annual reading challenge almost as long.  I’ve started setting my book reading goal to 52 books a year and I must say that the word challenge should surely be emphasized.  LOL.  I missed last year’s goal by one or two books all because I picked some long books at the end of the year when I was on a roll.  I could have easily met the goal but got distracted at the last minute.  Oh well, that’s the way it goes but this year I’m just simply behind so I’m working diligently on catching up.  I’ve finished four books this weekend alone.

I totally get the whole concept of ideas encouraging people to read more as I started myself when I had just learned to read as a child.  It was an elementary school fundraiser where I had to go around the neighborhood and ask for donations for each additional book I agreed to read.  I took the whole thing serious even as a kid and I fulfilled my obligation though it was very difficult and time consuming.  I learned another important skill at that young age and that was being careful with estimates and what you commit to.  I spent many, many hours, days, and weeks reading and it set a book reading record during that young time of my life.  But amazingly, at the end of my reading marathon back then just as the beginning, I still loved reading books.

I’ve never lost that love of reading but now I read more and more eBooks.   And recently most of my reading is done in the form of listening to unabridged audio books during my many hours of drive-time to and from work.  I also use cheap wireless (bluetooth) headphones to listen while I clean house, wash dishes, exercise, and work outside in the yard although it takes some practice multitasking while listening to audiobooks and being able to comprehend and recall what’s going on in the story.  Of course I make sure I continue to read visually with ebooks and old-fashioned print books just to get the different experience each media offers.  I own many, many hundreds of printed books some in boxes and some on large book shelves a few of which are pictured in this blog post that I call book shrines.

It took me a while to accept ebooks and stop being an e-book snob but I’m finally warming to the idea.  They are just too convenient, economical, and don’t take up much space or weigh as much to not utilize to their full extent.  Occasionally, I even pull a book up on my iPod or other small device while waiting in a doctor’s office and start reading.

Here are a few pictures of my books and ebook shrines.  LOL.

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I have a few really old books assuming they aren’t fakes.  I don’t think they are worth much money either way but it’s just the idea of holding a very old book in your hands and thinking of all the many places it’s been and the people it’s met.  Each used physical book in my mind has it’s own life story in addition to the content and story inside the book itself.  I do the same thing with native American arrow heads I’ve found over the years – hold them and ponder who else held it and when and what was their life like and their surroundings.

Here is another one of my book shrines.  Most of my printed books are in boxes but I hope one day to have a library or somewhere to hold them all.  The windows 95 book for dummies belonged to my dad before he passed away.  It still has some of his notes in it and it makes me think of all the times he asked me questions about how to do something on the computer.  He was always a master checkers player and when he got a computer with dial-up one of the first things he did was played checkers against others over the Internet.  He immediately got a very high ranking.  I figured he enjoyed finally finding good competition even if he had to go digitally half way around the world since his family wasn’t any challenge for him at checkers.

I have books on just about any topic including gardening, poultry, electronics, mathematics, comics, and many more.

I used to have a hoya plant under the grow light in this room and other ornamentals.  It weaved itself almost half way around the room.  It was a tri-color similiar to this one in the picture below except it had very long vines. I don’t know if it really filters the air that much but just having such a large living plant inside seemed neat.

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And last but not least and really doesn’t include all my book shrines.  I have this one in my shop.  I almost never get rid of my books except for technical books sometimes.  Although the giant turbo pascal box in the picture is one that brings back nice memories of when I was much younger.

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Well the weekend is almost over and I still have many chores to finish up before I can stop to rest.  We’ve had a bit of weather here with severe thunderstorms with high winds and rain so I didn’t get to chip away at all the tree debris still left over outside as a gift from hurricane Michael several months back.  So I stayed inside spring cleaning as much and as fast as I could and writing this blog post and taking pictures of course. No rest for the weary… but who needs it anyway as staying busy is it’s own reward…

 

On Writing or rather On Trying to Write

While I’m not referring to one of the few non-fiction books by Stephen King although I’ve read it more than five times, I am referring to one of my many hobby projects which is trying to get published in a Sci-Fi magazine named Analog Science Fiction.  I’ve almost finished my second story which I plan to submit to the magazine.  I’m constantly surprised at how the story evolves and takes a new direction that I couldn’t have predicted.  I don’t know that this will be the one I get published and mostly I’m not worried whether it is accepted or rejected so long as the story turns out well.  The format is short story so I can collect ideas quickly and submit them without having as much time invested as say a novel.

I’ve developed a lot of tricks during my writing journey and I thought some may have been original.  However, I’m finishing a 20 hour audio book named How Star Wars Conquered the Universe which talks a lot about how Lucas developed Star Wars ideas  and I realized my simple tricks are most likely obvious methods that many writers probably rediscover on their own.  Even so, I still enjoy reading how other people write and develop ideas and all their nifty little tricks and in my own simple ways coming up with ideas to try to pluck those pesky elusive ideas out of thin air.  One such example which is not really anything special now that I think about it is just keeping a list of interesting character names and character profiles.  I also keep other lists such as plot twists and potential settings or scenes for stories just to name a few.

I’ve also experimented with various pen and paper media (including fountain pens and ink bottles) and I have found that having many areas to sit and take in the scenery and sounds even seems to make a difference.  For electronic word processing, I’ve settled on using Ubuntu MATE Linux and LibreOffice Writer.  I have it installed on a flash drive so I can boot Linux and my writing tools on several different PCs including hybrid/convertible laptops without having to overwrite Windows that came installed on them.  Then much like with various pen and paper combinations I can pick whichever device is most convenient for a writing area such as my back yard wooden swing or a smaller metal frame swing in the front yard or a desk I have in my shop.  The flash drive not only has the tools I use on it but also saves my work.  I make routine backups of it so I don’t lose anything.  Since I don’t have wireless coverage in all these areas especially my metal walled shop, I don’t have to worry about having network access.    And while my work likely isn’t worth stealing, I don’t have to worry as much about someone getting their greedy little hands on my work before I release it since the flash drives are mostly isolated and I don’t usually have Linux connecting to the Internet.

Finally, I’ll end with an image that I found on unsplash.com that gave me the idea for this blog entry.  I included the photographer’s badge below the picture in case you want to check out more of her photos.  I’m going to keep trying to get back into a routine writing blog posts so maybe my next one will be right around the corner.  🙂


Mia Moessinger