Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DO YOU WANT TO BE CREMATED OR DON’T YOU?




There was a time back in the day when only weirdoes wanted to be cremated. Nowadays, everyone wants to be burnt to a crisp…literally. In fact, it is now nearly 50/50. What the hell happened? Why all of a sudden does everyone want to face the fire? Is it because they all figure they are going to hell anyhow, so why not get a head start fanning the flames?



One fellow explained that it is a fraction of the cost to be cremated rather than being stuck in a casket and lowered into the ground. Of course, much depends on the kind of service you want. A full blown funeral service at a funeral home is far more expensive than a memorial service at a local church. So, I guess that explains why some people prefer cremation. My neighbor is claustrophobic and can’t imagine being confined in a box under ground. Common sense tells me that you ain’t going to really care about much of anything once you’ve checked out. However, he did mention one thing that convinced me to be cremated, and that was when he pointed out that you’re going to spend eternity turning into goo. That thought makes me shudder a bit.



Now, the real problem I have is what should happen to the ashes. My dad had his ashes buried next to mom. That makes sense. My father-in-law’s ashes is another story. He had his divided up into separate little containers and divvied out to his six kids. Good Lord! Does that sound a bit freakish? Others have their ashes sprinkled over home plate or out at sea. They tell me that sprinkling ashes is illegal because it is not environmental friendly. Good grief, the neighbor’s dog can crap in your yard, but ashes are against the law. Go figure.



So, here are my questions to you, because I really do not have the answers. Are you going to be cremated? And what do you intend to do with your ashes? Would love to hear from you. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A KEEPER


I grew up in the fifties with practical parents -- a mother, God love

her,  who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it.

She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A

father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.



Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived

barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, a tee shirt and

a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the

other.



It was the time for fixing things -- a curtain rod, the kitchen radio,

screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.  It was

a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy.  All that re-fixing,

reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful.  Waste meant

affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.



But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth

of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that

sometimes there isn't any 'more'.  Sometimes, what we care about most

gets all used up and goes away...never to return.



So...while we have it...it's best we love it.....and care for it.....and

fix it when it's broken.....and heal it when it's sick.  This is

true.....for marriage.....and old cars.....and children with bad report

cards.....and dogs with bad hips......and aging parents.....and

grandparents.



We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some

things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away -- or -- a classmate

we grew up with.  There are just some things that make life important,

like people we know who are special.....and so, we keep them close!



I received this from someone who thinks I am a 'keeper' so I've sent it

to the people I think of in the same way. Now it's your turn to send

this to those people that are "keepers" in your life







What Goes Around Comes Around!




Friday, January 27, 2012

AN OLD WOMAN'S POEM






When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near

> 

> Dundee, Scotland, it was felt that she had nothing left of any value.

> 

> Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they

> 

> found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that

> 

> copies were made and distributed to every

> 

> nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland. The old

> 

> lady's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas

> 

> edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental

> 

> Health. A slide presentation has also been made based

> 

> on her simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old Scottish lady,

> 

> with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this

> 

> "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet.

> 

> 

> An Old Lady's Poem

> 

> What do you see, nurses, what do you see?

> 

> What are you thinking when you're looking at me?

> 

> A crabby old woman, not very wise,

> 

> uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

> 

> Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

> 

> When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"

> 

> Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and forever is losing a

> 

> stocking or shoe.....

> 

> Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

> 

> with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill....

> 

> Is that what you're thinking?

> 

> Is that what you see?

> 

> Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.

> 

> I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

> 

> as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

> 

> I'm a small child of ten ....with a father and mother,

> 

> brothers and sisters, who love one another.

> 

> A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,

> 

> dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.

> 

> A bride soon at twenty -- my heart gives a leap,

> 

> remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

> 

> At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,

> 

> who need me to guide and a secure happy home.

> 

> A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

> 

> bound to each other with ties that should last.

> 

> At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone, but my man's beside me

> 

> to see I don't mourn.

> 

> At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,

> 

> again we know children, my loved one and me.

> 

> Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;

> 

> I look at the future, I shudder with dread.

> 

> For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the

> 

> years and the love that I've known.

> 

> I'm now an old woman ...and nature is cruel;

> 

> 'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.

> 

> The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

> 

> there is now a stone where I once had a heart.

> 

> But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,and now and again,

> 

> my battered heart swells.

> 

> I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

> 

> and I'm loving and living life over again.

> 

> I think of the years ....all too few, gone too fast,

> 

> and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

> 

> So open your eyes, people, open and see,

> 

> not a crabby old woman; look closer ..see ME!!

> 

> 

> Remember this poem when you next meet an old person who you might brush

> 

> aside without looking at the young soul within... We will one day be

> 

> there, too!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SO… YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER.


Probably the most frequent question I get is, “Do you have to go to college to become a writer?” Take it from a college graduate…No! Absolutely not! I majored in English and took every Creative Writing course that was offered, and the one thing I did learn is that nobody can teach you how to write. Think about it. An instructor can’t teach you how to get great ideas for stories or how to make sentences flow with the proper use of words. Either you have the talent and drive or you don’t, and there’s nothing an instructor can do to change that.



The only way anybody is ever going to hone the writing skill is simply to write everyday of your life. Even if you only have time for a hundred words, you must sit down and do it. I think it was Hemmingway who would write a thousand words a day. That’s an ambitious yet attainable goal even if you have a full time job. You simply must make the time whether it’s in the morning hours or late at night. Develop some kind of routine. This is especially important if you are writing a novel. No matter how geeked you are about your work, if you leave it for any length of time, you will forget the details and will be forced to reread what you have done. My publisher just told me that I have a character dying twice in my upcoming book. Even Stephen King couldn’t pull that off.



Another question I get is, “Where do you get your ideas?”  And my answer is, “I don’t know.” All I know is an idea comes to me when I’m least expecting it. At any one time, I have five to six ideas rolling around in my head. After a year or so if they are still there, then they must be worth pursuing. The lame ones seem to just disappear. It’s not like I can simply sit down and start thinking and try to come up with an idea. I’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work. Stephen King was on vacation and stopped to stretch his legs. He was staring into a forest and thought what if a little girl got lost in the woods. That was the seed for THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON.



I guess what I’m saying is if you have the talent and the desire to write, it’s time to get busy. Just remember that the first 10,000 words are the easiest. It takes an extreme devotion to finish the other 70,000. I’ve written 12 novels and 8 screenplays. The one piece of advice I will give you is be sure that you are extremely excited about your project.



I could go on and on about this subject, but you’re probably already bored. If it takes 4 months or two years, it will never happen until you get started. Quit making excuses and get to work.


Thursday, January 19, 2012


WHAT KIND OF PARENTS ARE WE RAISING TODAY?



I know a teacher in Michigan who gave her class a homework assignment that would allow each one of the students 8 weeks to complete. The due date to turn in the assignment was just days ago, and, as you might have guessed, not every student turned in their homework. In spite of the fact that they had 2 months to complete the work, many of them came to school that day empty-handed. I’m sure you are asking yourself just what did these students offer as an excuse? They didn’t! Instead, their parents did it for them! This teacher received emails from the parents of 22 members of her class offering excuses of various kinds. We’re not talking about kids in kindergarten; rather, these are fourteen and fifteen year olds getting ready for high school. 



It’s been said that we are raising a generation who will be living in the basements of their parents, and, from what I’ve seen and heard in the past few years, that statement might not be too far from the truth. Teachers today have no means of discipline for the few students who are unruly misfits. Even a voice of disapproval will sometimes backfire when an irate parent storms into school to defend his little urchin. We’ve all heard how students of all ages are treated in school today. We mustn’t do anything to bruise their egos. There are no scores in sporting events now. Everyone gets a trophy. There are simply no losers. Everyone is a winner. Unfortunately, when the little boogers get out in the real world, his boss doesn’t hand him a trophy, and he doesn’t take calls from parents making excuses for him. I often wonder if these Wall Street protesters represent the first wave of these self-absorbed, spoiled kids.



So, you tell me. Am I off-base here? Do these protesters represent a good cause? Are parents really holding their kids responsible for getting their work completed on time? What should that teacher do about those 22 kids? Should she give them an F for failing to complete the assignment, or should she excuse them as their parents would expect?



I know that I’m a senior citizen, and we all know senior citizens are out-of-touch with today’s society. Good grief, I go back to a time that when a boy was bad in school, his teacher took a wooden paddle and swatted his butt with it. I always preferred the female teachers since they could swing the paddle with only a portion of the force that a male teacher did. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that type of discipline. There would be mothers across the nation fainting when they heard about little Johnny getting his butt beat. But shouldn’t a teacher have some means of keeping law and order? And just what do you recommend?  

Monday, January 16, 2012




                      SHOULD WE SAY GOODBYE TO HARDBACK BOOKS?





When was the first time you heard about the Kindle or the Nook? Were you like me and thought it was just another passing fad? If the electronic book is a fad, then it is without doubt the most incredible fad of all time. The first Kindle was released in 2007. It had a slow start but soon became more and more popular with staggering figures within the last two years. Amazon now sells more electronic books than trade paperbacks, and the numbers are still rising.



Is it any wonder? How can the hardback and even the less expensive trade paperback compete with such an incredible device? One can easily browse the thousands of books available through Amazon, purchase them at a fraction of the cost of a hardbound book with the click of a button and they are magically downloaded to your device within seconds. If you happen to be an avid reader, you can continue downloading E Books because your Kindle literally holds thousands of books. They even thought about the ever growing population of senior citizens. If you have problems seeing small print like so many of us old geezers, they provided a simple method of changing not only the font but the size of the font as well.



I could go on and on about the neat little features these various devices have, but the real selling point is the cost of an electronic book. Back when I was a kid, a hardbound book would sell for $3 to $4. As we all know, the cost of material and labor over the years has escalated to the point now that a newly released 400 page hardbound book sells anywhere from $25 to $30, and I’ve seen some books priced at $40. If you were to download an electronic version of that same book, it would probably cost you less than $10. To make it even tougher on the publishing industry, there are thousands of books that sell for 99 cents and even more that are free! Call me crazy, but I’d say the E Book has more than just a few advantages, and it’s pretty obvious why there is such a growing interest in this new industry.



The first book that I had published was an E Book, but back then E Books were considered to be from the wrong side of the tracks. I, like so many authors, cannot be happy until I actually hold that soon-to-be-classic piece of literature in my hands. As you might have guessed, I found a new publisher and was blessed with my first trade paperback. Since then, I have enjoyed holding two more novels in my hands, but now as I look ahead to the future, it appears that the days of any author holding a printed book in his hands are numbered.



So, you tell me. Will publishers still be releasing printed books twenty years from now? It’s been going on for hundreds of years, but will these publishers be able to compete with E Books? And tell me what you think of Kindles, Nooks, and the likes. Do you own one or plan to get one? It’s a fast changing world that we live in, and this new gizmo reminds me of a steam roller heading straight for the old traditional publishers.