email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wine Cork Removers

I like wine with dinner.  Always have.  Not gret wine; I can't drink anything that costs more than dinner.  But this is about opening wine bottles...

Years ago, I started with a standard lever corkscrew.  It worked, sort of.

Than I got interested in cork-pulling gadgets.  I have a shelf full of them. 

For 10 years, the best one I had was a twist-top device that really worked.  But the foil cutter drove me crazy!  It often had to use a dedicated serrated Ginzu Knife, LOL!

So when I came across a Houdini cork-puller, I gave it a shot.  Its tricky, but I got the method right lately.  The foil cutter is SUPERB!  It never fails after just one turn.  But as a cork-puller and cork remover (from the device), it takes some technique.

Which is to say honestly "it works", but it takes some practice.  I'm searching for an analogy here...

One is using a bait-casting reel.  It takes a bit of practice to throw the bait, get some distance AND not have it unwind in your hand after the bait reaches the water.  Another analogy is flipping pancakes.  Or folding omelets.  Just saying there is some technique involved.

The Houdini cork remover does the cork-removal just fine.  You use the foil cutter, remove the foil, set the Houdini on the cork, and turn the lever.  The corkscrew goes right into the cork beautifully!  With some practice, you turn the lever the opposite direction and the cork comes right out.  Only took 10 bottles to get that right.

Then you have to get the cork off the Houdini.  That drove me nuts for weeks.  And the instructions say to NEVER remove the cork from the device manually.  That part still baffles me.  Why does the device CARE how I remove the cork from it?  Does it feel insulted?  Does it report improper cork removal to the manufacturer? 

Well, no.  But I'm getting better at it.  Its some trick of gripping the removed cork in the winged clamps.  I can get it off easily 8 of 10 times now.  Yes, I kept track... I do things like that.

The more I use it, the better I get.

So, if you see one of those devices, they DO work.  You just have to keep practicing on a few bottles.

Whil I will keep using it (if only to get proficient and parties), the real way to go is the outstanding Houdini foil cutter, and the  previous screw-down cork-puller.  But that would mean all I bought was a GREAT foil cutter. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frustration

I have become too stupid to do routine things on my computer.  I'm not saying that easily or as a joke.  I have fallen behind the learning curve, and I can't see a way to catch up trying to figure it out on my own..

Yesterday, I wanted to download a youtube video.  I hadn't tried to do it before, but I expected it wouldn't be very difficult.

I couldn't do it.  I don't mean I looked at the process and thought it might be hard and decided not to.  I spent 5 FUCKING HOURS trying to do it and I couldn't!  I did research, I found instructions.   I spent an hour finding the places I should go to to download a video.  I finally found I should "just" open my "activity monitor" (I have a Mac).   Then go to "resources or whatever you need"
 and adjust the code.

Good lord, I learned to program in Basic, Fortran, and Cobol, and I've been using computers since 1980.  And I haven't the slightest idea what "they" are talking about.  I feel like I'm a forager from a 3rd world country be exposed to a DVD recorder for the first time.

And speaking of THAT, apparently, I can't even copy a VHS tape to a DVD either.  I THOUGHT I could, but the DVD copies played fine once and then not afterwards.  I feel like electronics are causing me to lose my mind, and quite frankly, at 64, I'm too young to be losing my mind. 

I can surrender to the VHS tape-copying fiasco and just buy DVDs of them.  Not to say this wrong, but buying a dozen of those is a nominal expense for me.  It's the inability to do these things that is driving me nuts!

I can't stand not being able to DO mildly complicated things!  It's a sign of old age encroaching on my life, and I am fighting that tooth, claw and neuron.  It's not in me to just give up.

I'm going to separate all my TV and stereo equipment and reconnect it from scratch (and eliminate that rat's nest of loose wires.  I'm going to take the DVD recorder and VHS tape player and set them up apart from all other equipment. to try to get clean replayable DVD copies that play repeatedly.  I'm going to return to Windows computers for the simplicity. 

And I'm going to investigate Adult Education computer classes available locally.  I may have gotten "computer-stupid", but I'm not going down easily! 

And, yes, I'm pissed.  At myself...

Mark

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Those Late-Planted Flowers

I mentioned that I planted some impatiens and coleus under the deck in the framed bed I recently constructed.  I was unsure if they would grow.  They've been sitting in those little 2"x2"x2" plastic 6-packs since I planted the seeds in February.  Seedlings can become permanently stunted when kept in small spaces. 

But it was either toss them out or plant them.  And since I built the bed for transplanting hostas to next Spring, there was no harm in trying the cel-pack seedlings.


I'm pleased to say that they have already shown some growth.  Four of the impatiens have already opened flowers, and the coleus leaves are growing larger and I see new leaf buds along the stems.  So maybe they will do their planty business and grow enough until the first frost (about late October here).  They may look pretty good by the end of the season, which should encourage me to start seeds of them again next February and plant them out sooner than August, LOL!

It probably sounds odd, but I feel an obligation to the plants I start from seeds.  Like, I started them, so I owe them their full season of existence.  I don't mean I think I am their plantish diety (though one could argue I have somewhat deitish control over them), but I feel vaguely guilty when I start plants and then never plant them.  And there are always some.  I usually start more plants from seed that I actually set in the ground. 

There is always less space for them than I thought, most die while outside in flats and it doesn't seem worth planting the 3 of 6 survivors, I forget to water them inside once too often, I get too busy to plant them when I should, etc.  Always something...



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I DID It!

I actually did it.  I wired the old VCR player into the DVD-Recorder AND got it to show on the TV!

I know it may not sound like much, but it took 2 days and I wasted (maybe) a recordable DVD figuring out how.  And it only took 3 trips to Best Buy (for cables) and a few hours studying the DVD-Recorder manual.

And to be honest, I wasn't sure it was recording right (and it wasn't at first).

See, I tried the DVD recording function and the "clock" stayed on 00:14 with a blinking red light.  That didn't seem good!  So after 15 minutes, I decided to waste the Recordable DVD to check and see if it was recording.  It was, but it was in 3 segments.  Well, those were when I kept hitting the "record" button.  But after 2 days of trying different cable hookups and a few hours of finding the right replay setting (not HDMI1, not HDMI2, not TV...  Component1).

But I found the pattern for my particular equipment!  I'm recording Heavy Metal right now.  I have about 3 dozen worthwhile tapes to record.  Well, yeah, I could buy them on DVD from Amazon, but that's not the point.

I figured something out that was a challenge.

I've read (an seen in science shows on TV) that the best way to not grow mentally old is to take on mental challenges and learn new things.  Well, I sure got a month's worth of new learning the past 2 days, LOL!

Now all I have to do is straighten out all the cables!











I have lots of VHS tapes to record to DVD.  So it means I'm not going to be watching my live TV for a few days, LOL!  Bewt I play a LOT of Scrabbles and Risk for a few days...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Little Gardening Interlude

While Marley's Birthday Party was going on Saturday, and to watch over the cats playing in the fenced back yard, I took advantage of the time to pull weeds from a section of the flowerbed where the old perennials had about died out (Veronica and Dianthus, both of which have always just limped along here).

I pulled the tops of all the weeds carefully, looking for existing good plants,
 but there weren't any.  Then I used a spade to shove along about an inch below ground, cutting the roots.  Then I dug 6 inches deep and turned the soil over to get at the deeper roots.

That left clumps of hard (but good) soil with some weed roots.  So I crushed all the clumps by hand (great hand exercise) and pulled out all the roots I could find.

I had some leftover sun-loving plants from seeds in small 6-cel flats.  They weren't in good condition, but they weren't dead either, so I planted them in the cleared spot.  Eight Butterfly Weeds (Asclepias, perennial), and if they survive, that will be fine because I planted them near other perennials (Torch Lily and Autumn Joy Sedum).  Next to those, I planted 6 surviving Basil.  Then I found that there were 10 Black Eye Susan Vine barely growing, so I stuck them in the ground too.  Well, why not.  Give them a chance, you know?

The Butterfly Weed look mostly dead, but even the worst had some small leaf buds and the roots were healthy.
All these Basil have to do is produce some leaves before they die at the first frost (late October, usually).
The Black-Eyed Susan vines will want something to climb, but there is time to see if they grow much.
 At least it isn't 6'x4' of grassy weeds.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Baseball

I've never been one to sit and watch sports on TV.  When I was younger and more active, I would always rather play than watch, and now that my joints creak a bit, I generally neither play nor watch.  The local professional teams have always had a habit of folding when the going got tough, which is frustrating to watch.

But the Washington Nationals baseball team has been doing really well this year and they have a tendency to WIN those tough close games at the end, so I've gotten a bit more into a watching habit.  It also helps that they play most of their games at night just as I'm sitting down to dinner (when I'm going to watch "some" TV anyway).

They've won 7 games in a row, something like the last 6 of 7 games have been won by 1 run late in the game, and the last 3 games were "walk-offs" (which I think means that, as the home team, they score the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning and don't even have to complete the inning).  So they just "walk off" the field in the middle of the last inning.

And their fielding is a delight to watch.  They make plays I never even heard of a decade ago.  Say there are runners on 1st and 2nd base.  The batter hits a ball to the 1st baseman.  Traditionally, the 1st baseman would just run to 1st base with the ball and force 1 out there while the runners advanced.  But no, the 1st baseman throws to 3rd, who throws back to first and its a double play!  I even saw a double play from a ball that went into the outfield!

I'm amazed!  And a fan who is becoming more knowledgeable with each game I watch.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Attic Work

I'm been negotiating with an insulation company for several weeks.  It's not that I'm trying to drag things out or trying to get them down a dollar at a time, but each quote they send has either some errors or descriptions of work that need some further explanation.

Well, for example, I have part of the center of the attic covered with plywood flooring.  The complany is focussed on the insulation gains, so they proposed to remove the flooring.  They just want to fill the entire attic 2' deep in blown-in insulation.  And they wanted $100s of dollars just to remove the plywood.  So I replied that I would remove the plywood myself and that if I decided to replace it after they were gone, that was none of their concern. 

There were also some questions about access to the basement framed paneling.  The cavities between the cinderblock wall foundation and the paneling covering the 2"x4" framing need blown-in insulation.  They wanted to do that for about $1,900 "along the entire perimeter of the basement".  The paneling is only along 1/3 of the basement.  That sort of thing...

And part of their cost was moving the many many boxes I've saved.  The boxes are just in the way of their work (and I understand that).  There was about $500 involved in that work. 

Well, I've saved boxes all my life.  It's practical.  As I used to move from apartment to apartment when I was younger, it was really useful to save the packing boxes for all the various stereo and minor appliances.  What better packing for stereo equipment is there than the original boxes and styrofoam shapes?  And good sturdy boxes are always useful for packing "stuff"!  I mean, I always expected to move "someday".

But I've decided that I'm not going to move anytime soon, and when that day does come, I can afford to just buy matching moving boxes.  So I didn't need the ones I had (except for a few recent product boxes I'll keep).  So I started tossing attic boxes down the stairway. 
 It was enlightening!  I had a box for the Commodore 128 I brought with me here 28 years ago.  I cracked up seeing it.  That computer is SO long-gone!  Seriously, for those of you who have never heard of it, it was 128K memory.  But you COULD actually do things on it.  I wrote letters, learned spreadsheets, and played some rather interesting games on it.  The best part was that the programs for the Commodore games were so simple, you could buy codebreaker programs to copy them for friends (and if you learned Fortran and Basic, you could even improve them.  But I digress...

So I had all these boxes down the stairs (and more remaining in the attic.  I spent an hour pulling the styrofoam and bubble wrap out of the boxes.  The cardboard boxes are recyclable, the styrofoam (generically, polystyrene) is not.  So my game for the day was to fit the small boxes into the middle-sized boxes, and those into the larger boxes.  Then fitting them into the Highlander SUV.  Packing is a fun game.

I needed 2 trips to the recycling center Friday to get rid of most of the boxes, and one trip bringing all the styrofoam to the associated landfill.  And I really tried to find a place to recycle the styrofoam.  The nearest place was 100 miles away.  Apparently, styrofoam is dirt-cheap to make, buly to transport, and to energy-expensive to bother to melt down for reuse locally unless you live next to a styrofoam-producer.  Sad but true.

Unfortunately, I had to make the styrofoam disposal trip twice.  The landfill closes at 5PM.  I left on a 15 minute drive there at 4 PM Friday.  But there was an accident right at the intersection leading to the landfill.  I sat in traffic for 45 minutes and only got to the landfill 5 minutes too late.

I made a second trip Saturday and got rid of all of it. (and some odd old items, and a few boxes full of styrofoam "peanuts").


But it was worth it.  Only 6 boxes left in the attic (all old Christmas decorations I insist on saving).  I'll just bring them downstairs temporarily for the insulation work.

At least it was some productive work!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Deck Box Again, Part 2

Well, I changed plans and saw I needed about 6" more soil.   I raked the poor soil level level and used 4 wheelbarrows full from the existing garden out back.  The lawn-level digging at the sunken patio edge will wait another day ( have a tiller and think that is needed for the patio drainage problem).

So I took care of the deck framed bed.  This morning.  After staying up all night...  I'm crazy sometimes.

When I had it filled a bit more, I planted.  I had a flat of impatiens and a flat of coleus (about 36 each).  And a lot of the coleus were doubles.  So I teased the coleus apart and planted them at one end and all the impatiens at the other.  I don't expect much from them, they only have 3 months to grow.  But I had them (from seed) since February, and I figured they deserved a chance to grow.  Next year, the whole bed will be hostas moved from the front yard so the deer won't eat them.

So the impatiens and coleus are just for this year.

Coleus...
Dwarf Hostas...
Impatiens...
 Looking at the bed...
The hostas along the other side of the patio.  When the deck-builders came in late June, I had one old hosta in the way, so I divided it into about 12 pieces.  I bet they all survive and thrive!
And as they grow, I will divide them more and fill the entire under-stair area with them.  They aren't fancy ones, but they will fill up all the under-stairs in a few years.

And a nice thing I thought of...  Each winter, the wind blows tree leaves into the patio and I am forever shoveling them back out.  Well, now all I have to do is shovel them onto the hosta beds.  Decaying leaves are like fertilizer to the hostas.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deck Box Again

Well I got back to the deck box yesterday afternnoon.
Today's work was to dig out the soil at the high end and move it to the lower end.  I have to appreciate the heavy rain that fell Tuesday, because the soil was finally softened and digable.

It's been awkward digging under the bottom of the deck.  But I had a great idea.  I stood on the sunken patio and dug at waist level into the framed soil.  It went GREAT!  Very little lifting and easy tossing to the low side.  I was able to move the poor existing soil evenly throughout the framed bed.

That left 4" of better soil to add.  Well, I have soil in the old garden area I need to move in order to build new framed beds.  So there was some digging and wheelbarrow transfer involved for several trips.  I filled the deck bed about halfway to filled with garden soil, and raked it smooth.

Since it is going to be a hosta bed (and they don't love REALLY rich soil), I'm going to solve two problems at once!

Remember from yesterday when I mentioned the lawn was too high for the sunken patio to drain well? Well, I'm going to fill up the rest of the deck bed with soil above the edge of the patio.  They are right in the same place.  There is no grass there at the patio edge (too much foot traffic and water), so it can go right in.  Hurray!

I LOVE solving two problems with one action!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rain, Good And Bad

Well, we got some heavy rain here Tuesday.  Almost 3" all day, but almost all of it in 1 hour.
I'm not going to complain bout it much.  I needed some rain.  It hasn't been as dry as in some years when the soil cracked open, but on the other hand, the soil surface and grass was dry this afternoon, so I mowed the lawn.  Other places got more rain though, and not the kind that would just get soaked up by the lawn.  Places in Maryland got 9-10", and In New York, it got up to 14".  I saw pictures on TV of cars floating around in streets and parking lots.  So it could have been a LOT worse here.

Still, I had some problems with water getting into the basement, and I thought I had solved that with the extra-large raingutters installed 2 years ago and a drainage ditch I dug from the sunken patio.  The sunken patio has been a problem for a decade at least.  It properly slopes slightly away from the house.  The water that collects at the lower end for a day or 2 is a minor (but annoying) problem.

It's the fact that the lawn level has raised over the years that really creates the problem.  Grass grows, I mow it, the clippings become topsoil, etc.  Well, that's why praries have dozens of feet of topsoil.   I need to lower the lawn level at the edge of the deck, but that is back-breaking work and I keep avoiding it.

Instead, I dig a drainage ditch.  3"wide, 3" deep, and the lawn slopes downhill from the patio, so it works great.  It can drain off even the heaviest rain.  The problem?  Soil moves.  The ditch slowly fills in very slowly and I never notice when it is QUITE not capable of handling the occasionally heavy rainfall.  So I have to run out in the downpour and rescrape the ditch with the grubhoe deep enough to drain the patio.

But I had an additional surprise this time!  The raingutters ARE working just fine.  But, apparently, the soil level raised just enough this Summer to direct the outflow back toward the patio instead of out into the downslope lawn.

I'm generally an optimist (though maybe not a rational one).  I always expect things I fix to STAY fixed.  To show the flaw in that, I also expect weeded areas of the garden to STAY weedless, repaired cars to STAY working, and structures I build to stay standing.  Obviously, there is a flaw in my expectations.

So when I dig a ditch to drain rainfall away from the patio, I expect it to STAY a ditch...  Even though I'm the smartest person in the house, I have some errors in my assumptions.

So I'm going to fix this rainfall-in-the-basement problem once and for all!  I'm going to build a sealed 1' dike in front of my basement!  Just kidding... 

Seriously, I'm going to lower the lawn level 3" below the edge of the patio/lawn.  I will dig a 1' deep trench along that edge and toward the downslope lawn, and I will install perforated drainage pipe buried in sand and landscaping fabric (however it is recommended).  And I will attach a 4'  extension to the existing downspout to get the rainfall from the roof away from the patio.

Drainage pipe...
4 in. 3 Hole Smoothwall Pipe 120 Degree - 5/8 in. Holes
Gutter extention...

 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Deck Box, Part 2

One of the nice things about just posting pictures of projects is that the mistakes don't show up much.  But there always are some.  For example...

The tall framed part at the lower end had 2 metal rods pounded down through holes I drilled.  It worked well.  However, when I went to attach the first of the long boards along the side, I discovered a surprise.  Attaching "2x" boards (which are actually only 1.5") usually requires 3" screws.  Well, when I put the first one in, it went about 2" and stopped dead (actually stripping the hole).  Baffled, I stopped and looked at it for a couple minutes. 
 Oh no!  I had placed the metal rod too close to the end of the board and the screw was reaching it.  I measured carefully and decided a 2.25" screw wouldn't reach the metal rod.  Not as much holding power, so I used extras.  And exterior wood adhesive.  If that doesn't hold, I'll have to fashion an angled metal fastener on the outside of the corner to reinforce it.  Which will remind me of my error forever, LOL!

You can JUST see the little dot of the metal bar on the top right of  the picture.  All I had to do was drill the holes 1" further from the end of the boards... 

But I did make some more progress on the box today.  The box has existing soil level at the high end and none at the bottom.  Since the soil is poor, I decided to dig it deeper at the top and move it to the lower end.  That will leave me with about 6" to fill with better soil, and the hostas I intend to plant there don't have deep roots, so that should work fine.

Unfortunately, that poor soil is also rock-hard.  So I soaked the upper soil for an hour (yesterday) and attacked it today with my leverage fork.  What fun!  It was both still hard AND muddy.  I was able to dig up about 4" of it and move it to the lower area, but what a MESS!  And I need to do more digging tomorrow.  No point in leaving bad soil near the surface.
 Then I can fill it with topsoil  and plant some leftover annual coleus and impatiens there for what's left of this season.  I'll move the hostas from the front to this new box in October when the annuals die back.

Then I can get back to that chicken-wire garden enclosure to use next year.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

That Deck Box

First, just want to say the pictures may not match up to the paragraphs.  I didn't do a good job taking pictures as I went along the work.  But enjoy them anyway.

Wow, I never did so much "Grub Hoe Trenching" before!  The guys who had to dig the 2' wide and 2' deep holes for the deck posts complained about the hard soil (and they had power tools) and now I sure understand why!  The stuff around the deck is hard rock and clay.  Even with a pick and grub hoe, it was murderous just making a 3" wide trench for the boards to sit in!

To make things worse, I found that the cinder block wall around the patio is neither level compared to the house AND not level to the yard.  That made constructing the frame enclosing the area level in both ways impossible.  I did get real close...

So I did the best I could, attaching boards to the new deck posts, and keeping the long way boards as level as I could.  Tricky, when nothing is flat, level or square to the house or the deck posts.  And don't worry, all the bottoms of the boards will be "just" covered in soil outside in the lawn direction and perfectly level inside.
The good part is that the top boards are relatively level because I gave a lot of care to making sure the bottom boards were level.  But that still made me fight a bit to get the top boards level. 

The problem with DIY home projects is that you seldom do them twice, so you don't learn a whole lot that is useful from one project to the next.  My biggest surprise was discovering that the metal rods I pounded through the holes I drilled in the very bottom boards were too close to the edges(you csn see the little dots on the first 2 pictures).  My 3" exterior screws hit them before they were fully in.   ARGGHHH!  I had to find a bunch of 2 1/4" screws to use.  I'll probably never have that situation again OR it will happen again so long in the future that I will forget!
Hopefully, using the exterior wood adhesive and several more shorter wood screws will solve the problem.   Still, those kinds of surprises are maddening.  Guys who build decks every day KNOW to avoid those kinds of errors.  I only discover them ONCE!

But it was solved and I went forwards and upwards.  I did underestimate how much trench-digging I had to do.  Using a grub hoe around the twine line-marker and underneath the "just-low-enough-deck to hit my head on if I stood upright was more not-fun stuff.  I banged my head more than once just standing up (and I even checked the height most times).   It was actually safer (if harder) to use the grub hoe while kneeling. 

That mailbox you see is for storing hose nozzles.  Very useful for not losing track of them.  I have another out in the garden for small hand tools (pruners, trowels, etc).

Finally, I reached the last board at the top of the slope!  And discovered I had to bury it.  Well, I knew the soil sloped down along the cinder block wall, but I hadn't noticed that it also sloped UP from it.  I mean, you stand around and a few inches of sloping are not all that noticable.  Well, it IS when you are down at ground level with a 3' bubble level tool!

And that soil was the part the deck guys complained about be "undiggable" (and they had power equipment).  So there I was kneeling awkwardly on the ground hacking away at the rocks and hard clay to make the last 6' board level and even at the top with the previous one.  That one last board took an HOUR to get both level AND matching the previous board. 

I was drenched with sweat enough so the cats kept kept their distance, but I finally got that last board in place ans screwed in.

Sometimes I don't understand WHY I do this stuff.    It's just for me (and you in pictures).  I blame my Dad.  He taught me to DO stuff, and I don't really know how to stop.  I just feel "right" when I'm doing "something".  Sometimes I think I do a lot more "stuff" than he did.  LOL!

But it's better than sitting around watching bad TV.

Tomorrow, I will use my leverage fork to dig up the soil higher than the boards and move it down to the empty space.  That will leave some space for better soil and some compost to bring it all up level with the wood framing.  I have 2 flats of annual coleus and impatiens dying to the planted there.  Well, I had expected to have this frame built a month ago.  Still, I'm sure they will be happy. 

Next Spring, I will be moving most of the front yard hostas to this space.  That will save them from being eaten by the local deer (and I am contemplating venison steaks this Fall in revenge).

But this project HAS taught me the methods that I need to dig some shallow trenches and construction needed for the new framed beds and upright chicken-wire structure for my major garden.  I'll finally get at that September 1st. 

It never ends, and I'm glad it doesn't...  And there are more projects on my list...  The good news is that I could do this again better and in half the time. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Well I was sure surprised to discover the Mews had nominated ME for the next Writing Tour Blog Post.  I USUALLY know what they are doing, but I DO get caught off guard once in a while.

So, apparently, I have to answer 3 questions and nominate some other blogs to carry it forward.  OH, I see, they didn't want to find other blogs to nominate...  Typical of them.

1) What are we working on? Well, aside from my own blog (which tends to get a political as elections draw nearer), I am getting back to writing some prehistoric "Just So" stories a la Kipling.  I enjoy that.  Not much competition there.  Like writing about the discovery of gold, arrows, farming, taming horses, etc.  I wrote a quick one about recognizing the first constellations just a few days ago. 

Its nothing meaningful.  I'm not much into character development, though I think I did a decent job of that in 'Gold'.  Wrote a few shorts about cats.  But I'm mostly trying to get back to the "Just So" stories.  Those are fun to write.

My own blog is sporadic.  I write when I feel like it, but mostly spend my time fixing up the Mews' blog so their thoughts are readable.

2) Why do we write what we do?  I write because I HAVE to.  Too many thoughts and too few close friends to inflict them on.  I have a few ways to go in my writing.

A.  I could write about what I dream, and those are pretty odd sometimes, but whole tales.  I dream well and wake up often, so I recall them.  I'm not sure what people would think, though, and it would be a bit stream-of-conciousness.  Fortunately, my dreams aren't about monsters, or embarrassing situations.  I would need a recorder at the bed for them to get the good details

B.  I could write about the cats.  But I suppose I'm already doing that (though they might disagree).  Or I could write about family.  I would have to disguise that severely.  That might not be too hard; I doubt anyone in my family would WANT to claim I was writing about them.

C.  I could write some sci-fi.  I've sure read enough, and I keep up with current science.  How hard could it be to use "dark energy" since no one knows what it is?  LOL!  Just a few days ago, I wtched a BBC production about aliens attacking the Earth (similar to but not quite 'War of the Worlds' and also vaguely like WWI.  And my main thought was "I could do THAT" (and better).

Like many of us, I think there is a book in me just waiting to come out.  But I'm more a short story person.  But every time I think of writing anything, I think of 'The Star' by Arthur Clarke and know I can't beat THAT!

3) How does our writing process work? I write because I must.  If I didn't write, I would just implode.  Did you ever watch the movie 'Conagher'?  At one point Evie is attaching short notes to tumbleweeds to drift out into the plains to express her loneliness and says (something like) if I don't write, I shall just die.  I feel like that sometimes.

I really do feel like that sometimes.  I can't NOT write.  Whether poorly, inconsequentially, or ignored, I just have to send my thoughts out into the world.  It's not for the cats, it's for me.  I just HAVE to.

Well, so HOW do I write?  All at once mostly.  I get an idea and go with it.  I don't have a plan.  I seldom even have an ending in mind.  I just start writing with an idea and see where my thoughts take me.  Characters develop in ways I don't expect and they surprise me.  Plots twist.  Directions change.  And all AS I am writing,  Sometimes it is great.  Mostly it sucks.  I've deleted a WHOLE lot more than I have ever kept.  Most of what I write is terrible and makes little sense after I re-read it.  I pound my keyboard hard.  I have to buy a new one every few months.  Well, I get THAT excited when I have a good idea.

But sometimes I write something I like to read myself and that is all that matters.   I forget who said he liked to write stories he would like to read, but I'm like that.  Heinlein, Asimov?  Not that I'm remotely close, but I just mean I understand.

The best sentence I ever wrote was "And died" (it makes sense in context).  I worked days over that one, clarifying a thought from several sentences down to 2 words (a rare editing on my part).
 **************
And now I must nominate 3 blogs to move things along.  And they should be cat blogs (or related to cat blogs.)

I nominate (without checking first)...

1.  Katie Isabella

2.  Herman's Hideaway

3.  Ramblingon

All some of the best writing I admire...  Maybe I had best warn them.






Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Political Views

I don't consider myself "liberal".  To me that means you consider that one can do anything they want (similar to Libertarian).  I think of myself more as "progressive".  I hesitate to use the word "believe" because that suggests things accepted without facts.  Let's just says I "think" some things based on evidence.

There are many issues in politics today.  When you get down to the basics, the disagreements are mostly about the role of government.  I think that government is a positive thing. 

Federalist Paper #1 said "It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force".

Therefore, representative government itself is a positive good.  We have good roads, and government efforts have created those.  We have an educated population and government-created public schools have done that.  We have government regulations to keep unscrupulous and greedy people in check. 

So Government is a generally positive benefit to society.  Some people disagree.  I disagree with them.  I positively WANT an active government to coordinate the improvement of life for all the populace.  That's what governance IS!  Governance is NOT trying to kill all actions, stopping all improvements to life, or just saying "NO" everday to managing the nations affairs.

The progress of society has been from Kings to Representative Democracy (my apologies to the utopian Karl Marx).  The more representative governance is, the better.

If I "believe" in anything, it is actively beneficial governance for all.