Resolved(?)

Dear Fans, Friends, Fiends, Foes, Family and Foundlings,

Another year of the 21st century is gone and still no atomic powered flying cars, personal jetpacks or colonies and mining operations on the several planets of the Solar System although we do have instant visual talk on our personal communicators and even the dumbest of most phones has more computer power than a whole roomful of computers would have had when I was growing up and reading stories about the future.  Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, along with a veritable plethora of others, shaped my views of what the future would be like.

It is customary,  Continue reading “Resolved(?)”

Fixing Consistency With Butter And Salt

Dear Fans, Friends, Fiends, Foes and Family,

Consistency.  That is the key word that I need to focus on.  I need to produce content here on my blog and while I (think I) have the ingredients all together in one place, just like any other recipe they must be mixed in the right amounts at the right times.  There are some recipes that require you to “fold in” an ingredient, like chocolate chip cookies (Which are, just so you know, an acceptable donation to this author.  Unless they have nuts.  Then you can keep them all to yourself.).  You mix everything up, the dry stuff, like the flour, the baking soda and salt in one bowl.  Beat the sugar and brown sugar and butter (Real butter, please. God created cows, man created margarine.  Yellow vegetable oil is all margarine is and putting it in your cookies is just icky.) and vanilla together, then mix in the eggs one at a time.  Add the flour mixture, then, when everything is the right consistency, the last(best) thing you add are the chocolate chips.  Do not add nuts.  Never add nuts.  Herb is nuts enough, maybe?

Sometimes writing is like chocolate chip cookies, really splendid when they come out hot and gooey from the oven and you kind of burn your tongue on them and cool your mouth with an ice cold glass of (whole) milk.  They are good when they have just slightly cooled, with a nice hot cup of coffee or another cold glass of milk or an ice-cold Coca-Cola.  When they are cooled sufficiently you can store them in a cookie jar if there are any left.  And to keep them from getting hard you put a slice of white bread in the jar along with them.  As I tell the grandkids, “Yummy to da tummy!”

Sometimes writing is like brussels sprouts.  Stinky, icky, nasty little cabbages that I feel confident were created by the devil, but, nonetheless, are much improved with butter and salt.

I also don’t want to have a piece of toast without evenly spread butter.  They mock me because I have to spread the butter evenly onto every inch, every corner, of the toast but I don’t care, I know what’s good.  If for some kind of unknown reason you don’t have bacon or bacon grease you should fry my eggs, over medium, thanks, with butter.  Fried eggs with buttered toast, bacon and a tall, cold glass of milk.  Ooooohhh…Yeah!

Popcorn without enough butter and salt is just styrofoam.

Now, another thing you can do is affect the consistency of a lot of recipes by altering the butter content.  Add more butter, take out some butter, you get different results.  But one thing is certain; you have to have enough butter.

Herb, are you leading up to a point with all this or are you just trying to milk this analogy for all you can?

Okay, okay.  The point is that you can have so many good things with butter.  And you can write so many good things if you sit your butt, er, in the chair with consistency and just write.

Update on New Job and Blogging

Greetings, Salutations and Hi There to all of my fans, friends, fiends, foes and relatives,

As many of you are aware I have been working at a new job since mid-June. The decision to leave Walmart was probably one of the better ones I have made in my life and I like a lot of the call center things.  The operator job was mindless and boring but then I could read during the time between phone calls. Now that I have moved up to the handling of calls about the insurance policies and can actually help people and not just route their calls it is somewhat more fulfilling.  I like to help people, it is one of the reasons I have always fared well in retail environments and one of the rewarding things about being a claims handler.  I have never really considered myself a “people person” though. I am really not this friendly and outgoing guy but I do play one at work.

Earlier this year I had found out that some people were actually looking at my blog and reading it again and felt encouraged and started writing regularly again, but then when I got the new job, instead of finding more time for writing I found more time taken up by the things that “normal” (even though normal people scare me) people have to do that I had to let go because of my weird retail schedule. This last week I received some more encouragement in what you may think is a strange way, but it came in the form of a person telling me that they couldn’t leave a comment.  This meant not only that someone was reading my stuff, but also that they wanted to say something to me. Whether it was a remark about the article or just a note to say hi or anything, comments are really meaningful to me.

But.  Yes.  I know.  There has to actually be some content first.  During the time when I was really popular I was also really prolific, sometimes writing every day of a week and never less than four days a week. The thing is, I should not be having the tough time that I have been.  Back in May AbbyNormal posted a career quiz she had found.

The results when I took it back then were

careerquiz051515

The result when I took it yesterday as I was thinking about writing this were:

careerquiz081515

So in other words, I should be breezing through this blogging thing.

As I have promised before, I will do better, just stick with me.  Like I said, I was encouraged by the idea of someone wanting to comment and began to wonder if there were any others who had similar problems commenting but just never thought to let me know. Another thing I am going to do is try to not think about

I have made some changes to the settings and hope that I have made it easier to comment.

That’s it for now, kids, but remember,

The Good Book says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Why I Put Fair Blows the Wind at Number Three

Dear Louis L’Amour Fans,

I had changed my chronology of the first three books to put Fair Blows the Wind back as the first book to read in the series after I had received an e-mail pointing out that Louis himself had stated that the hulk of the ship that Barnabas takes shelter in is, in fact, the same one that Tatton Chantry had found. Since Louis makes this distinction then I must, of course, follow it in the chronology titled Louis’ Chronolgy.

However, when I very first started reading these novels, not having access to any websites and before The Sackett Companion was written, I placed Fair Blows the Wind as the third book in the series. While it is true that if you follow the dates that stated in the texts you can figure out the timing, there was one incident that stood out to me. In Fair Blows the Wind, in chapter 5, Tatton mentions an old fisherman that gave him some money and clothes and advice to, “Leave the shore and go inland away from it. There be, many accents in England…try to learn a trade…” In chapter 21 of To the Far Blue Mountains a lad stows away on Barnabas’ ship in Ireland and is discovered when they land. The description of the boy is the same as Tatton, with the fine shoulders and the conversation that Barnabas has with him is almost exactly the same. At the end of the chapter the lad says, “My name?”He hesitated. “My first is Tatton. I’ll not be telling the other.”

When I got the idea to make a website with a chronology of the Sackett, Chantry and Talon families I remembered the scene. I had not read all of the first three books I list very closely together and did not think to look up dates, I just figured the scenes were meant to be the same, so I made Fair Blows the Wind number three. Therefore, with all respect to the fine folks that pointed out the error of it, I will be changing my personal chronology and leaving the LL chronology with Fair Blows the Wind first.

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 U

Blogging A – Z Challenge

U is for Ubiquitous

This is one of my favorite words, but alas, unlike that overused, misused and abused adjective, “awesome,” ubiquitous is not found commonly used by a lot of people.  This is a shame.  It is a good, fun word with a solid meaning.  I wish you would see it everywhere.  If you are not yet familiar with this word, might I recommend the Merriam-Webster definition at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ubiquitous

“Existing or being everywhere at the same time:  constantly encountered:  widespread <a ubiquitous fashion>”

See?  That’s why I think it should be used a lot more than it is.  Not only that, but it is the only word that rhymes with iniquitous.  So,

If you see that the world is full of extreme unfairness and evil
Oftentimes referred to as iniquity
You could say that sins, credited frequently to the devil
Abound in ubiquity

Or, if you find these sinners everywhere you look
And see the many, many people who are iniquitous
Now that you know this word you won’t need a book
You merely need to say that the iniquitous are ubiquitous

Another word that I would use as a very near rhyme for these two words would be tranquility because of the “qui” and the “ity” in it.  This then allows the segue into a whole new set of words, like senility, fragility, responsibility and ability, to name a few.  Ability is really an awesome word because you can tack it onto all manner of other words, like adaptability, employability, likability, and even serviceability.

I love words and their workability and pliability.  You would think that because of all this there would be a ubiquity of blog posts.  Well, there have been a lot more over the last couple of months, but I don’t think ubiquitous really describes it.

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 T

Blogging A – Z Challenge

T is for Time to Remember

Time is important.  If the Lord wills and I live through a full 24 hour day I will have 1,440 minutes at my disposal.  86,400 seconds.  If I were to get a full 8 hours of sleep, which I seldom do, but if I did, I would lose 1/3 of my time, 28,800 of those seconds right off the bat.  That leaves just 57,600 seconds or 960 minutes to spend.  I use seconds because anyone who has lived for even a little while and seen anything in life at all knows that the truth is that life can change forever in less than a second.

So, what about when a German rocket hits your troop transport?  This is a reprint of a piece I posted originally on 10/27/04.  I have since learned that the website linked to Herbert E. Thiel was done by my cousin Marlene.

The link to the story of the HMT Rohna is http://rohnasurvivors.org/.

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Herbert E. Thiel originally posted 10/27/04

When I was growing up and even to this day when I am around certain relatives and people who have known me since I was young, and some elderly folks, I bore the moniker, “Little Herbie.”  Man, I hated that.  I hated to be called Herbert, too, because there was NObody even close to my age that had a name like Herbert!  What were my parents thinking to name me Herbert and allow people to call me “Little Herbie?”

Okay, now that the giggling, laughing, chortling, chuckling snorting and outright guffawing have simmered down I will tell you.

My dad used to talk about his brother all the time.  He often tells the story of how, when he was a little boy, growing up on the farm with 11 brothers and sisters, his older brother, Herbie, bought him a train set for Christmas.  In the 1930s, times were tough, you did not have a lot of money, and you did not get many “things.”  You had to use your imagination to play games, there was no Nintendo, no TV and you might get to listen to the radio if you finished your chores and didn’t have something more fun to do.  My dad cherished the toy train and valued it so much, that when other kids would come over to visit, he would put it away in his closet so they wouldn’t see it and possibly wreck it.  He cherished his brother even more.  His brother was a hero to him as well.

My dad wanted to sign up for WWII, but his hearing was bad and he was a little young and they wouldn’t take him.  My German grandfather wanted to fight, but the Army told him, as politely as they could, that he probably needed to be home with all those kids.  That’s when my uncle volunteered.  He went down and signed up and the whole family, the whole town, really, was very proud of him.  It appears from what little I know of it that Herbie was a popular fellow in the town of Saukville, WI and he was a hero before he even did anything.  That was how it was in WWII and how small towns were and are.  The town’s American Legion post, Landt-Thiel post #470, is partly named after him.

A new guided missile technology used by the Germans made a deadly hit on the boat and killed over a thousand troops (1015) and the government feared there would be panic if the news got out that the Germans had this rocket-powered technology.  This was almost as many American troops dead as Pearl Harbor, but while the USS Arizona and the USS Indianapolis were becoming household words, the poorly manned, British-owned, Indian operated HMT Rohna, was being swept under the carpet.  The maritime disaster of the HMT Rohna was not covered by the news at the time and actually appears to have been suppressed by the government.

There were many heroic deeds done that day and my dad still chokes up after all these years every time we talk about his brother, but there is one thing he points out with every telling.  My uncle wanted to do the right thing.  He knew joining the military and serving his country was the right thing for him to do, but he also had a secret.  He told my dad that he would go and do what he had to do, of course, but he really did not want to kill anyone and had prayed he wouldn’t have to.  His prayer was answered.

The link I am putting in this story, which I hope will work, is to a web page about my dad’s hero, http://marsss0.tripod.com/rohna.html  The link to the creator’s e-mail is broken, but I am thinking it was done by one of the many cousins I have not stayed in touch with.

Here is the link to the page about the disaster itself http://www.rohna.org/

I hope the links comes through as such and you don’t have to “Cut & Paste” to see it, but even so, I think it’s worth it.

So, anyway, I have learned that I have a name to be proud of and when my Grandmother and aunts and uncles would call me “Little Herbie” it was an honor I didn’t understand.  And no, don’t you even try it, because I might find some way to “honor” you.

Remember, as the Good Book says, “If you pay an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth the world will be full of toothless blind people.”

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 S

Blogging A – Z Challenge

S is for Stress knots and Stress?  Not!

People will trickle over here to find out where I have gone and what happened.  First I am going to say that not everyone has treated me bad.  In fact, the vast majority of people I have worked with and dealt with in my three and a half years there were very good people.  I don’t have any grudges against any of them because I don’t believe in nursing grudges.  If you nurse them they only grow and sooner or later will turn and devour you, but there are times you have to take some sort of action if you feel you have been wronged.  My action was to go to the personnel office and talk to the wonderful woman there, who in turn called the person who had the authority to accept the simple sentence I spoke, “I quit.”  The exit interview was amicable, even friendly and it is not totally impossible that I will return there some day.  My exit paperwork was marked “re-hirable” with the caveat that I will have to wait a full six months to re-apply.  I turned in my badges, discount card and vest, thanked them for being so nice and left.

The knot of stress that had been churning in my stomach for the last several weeks is gone.  The aggravation and frustration at trying to teach managers who refuse to be taught about what my job entailed and the proper way to do it, which was met, not only with resistance but active obstinacy and a conspiracy to get me out of the way, was gone.  It is futile to try to teach some people anything they don’t want to hear, so good luck to the people I have left behind who will have to deal with it.  I have worked with many nice, many awesome, people, but something had to give.  So I gave.  I decided that you can’t fight city hall and quit before I got myself fired.

One example, probably that proverbial back-breaking straw, was the night before last, I was confronted by a manager who doesn’t have any understanding or knowledge of the job I do but can glibly tell me, in front of a belt full of customers that I am supposed to work past my scheduled shift if I want to keep my position.  She had already asked me to step down from my position and go back to being a cashier once, using criteria she dreamed up because she doesn’t know what she is talking about.  Besides, she and her one next-in-command minion, treat the cashiers with an equal amount of disdain and disrespect anyway.  It was tempting that night to throw my badge at her and throw my vest on the floor and stomp on it and go all Johnny Paycheck about it, but instead I just said, “If that’s the way you feel about it, okay.”  I went home with the same knot of stress in my stomach that has been there for weeks, tying my digestive tract into little Gordian knots, but my wife, who has listened to tirade after tirade about the whole situation, supported my decision completely.  She has a couple of very likely leads for me and is confident that even if they don’t pan out I am capable of finding something better.  Her confidence in me is what gave me the courage to do what I needed to do.  Already my searches have revealed that the pay that is available elsewhere is easily the same and in most cases better and while there is stress everywhere, I don’t think it will be active and/or borderline abuse.  The other time I remember feeling this way was back in the later part of the eighties when even huge bouts of binge drinking (I used to be a drunk) couldn’t untie the knots and I joined the Army and came to Colorado.

So, that’s the vanilla-flavored synopsis of what happened and now, today, the sun is shining and there are two bright and bright-eyed grandchildren who are waiting for the one they had been (affectionately) calling Grumpaw to have coffee and donuts with them.  Quitting is not always the answer, but there are occasions when it is, in fact a better answer than 42.

Remember, the good book says, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 R

Blogging A – Z Challenge

R is for Ready For A Change

Well, here is one of those phrases that can mean several different things depending on the context. It could be used in a manner like, “Herb showered, shaved and combed his hair and is ready for a change”or “Herb just walked two miles in pouring rain and being soaked to the skin is ready for a change” or “Herb is weary of how they are treating him and is ready for a change.”

Change is sometimes inevitable and can be astonishingly fun and exciting and dreadful and scary all at the same time. Sometimes we change willingly, having a goal or purpose or we are part of a group such as work, church, school, something like that, and have had our way of thinking converted to realize there is a better way to do things and we are going to change and I am on board with. Other times change is thrust upon us with no explanation of why or wherefore, only, “This is what you will change,” and you have no voice or say-so in the matter. This type of change is hardest to make because no one has even tried to persuade you or change your way of thinking, merely a “Thou-Shalt-Change-Or-Else” dictatorial method from people who seem to be in power over you.

Sometimes you have no power over changes like this, or think that you don’t, but there are times that come, times when micro-managerial dictators who have never said a nice thing about you or anything you have done just push you over the edge. You can only micro-manage me and treat me like a child for so long and because you believe that the world revolves around you and your organization that I have no choice in the matter. But I do. You do not have power over me. Not really. Only the power I give you.

And what If I decide to take that power back?

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 Q

Blogging A – Z Challenge

Q is for Quitting?

Nope. Not gonna do it. Not gonna quit. Even though the month is over for the Blogging A – Z challenge, I am going to finish it out anyway. I can do it, even with screwball schedules and challenges that have nothing to do with blogging. To be a writer you have to actually, um, write, right? And if you write right eventually you will be righting your writing and become a write-wright. Am I right?

Q is also for quiescent, meaning still or restful. When I was a boy I would read everything that came to hand, I still do, including the wrappers on frozen treats from the ice cream man. The label said “A quiescently frozen confection.” Back in those days a “smart phone” would have been one with an extra-long cord, a computer capable of doing a small portion of what my dumb little smart phone can do would have filled a five-story office building and Google was Snuffy Smith’s partner. We did have a very heavy tome, at least six inches wide, called a dictionary.

Dictionaries are really cool and dangerous books. The danger with them is that there are so many interesting things in them when you open them up. You can get lost wandering through totally unrelated words and subjects that have nothing to do with why you were opening it in the first place. Encyclopedias were like that as well. My son, with his curious mind, wound up reading almost the whole nineteen-eighty World Book encyclopedia by getting lost this way.

As a small boy I was kind of disappointed to find out that quiescent means quiet or still. That’s all. Well, that was no big help, I mean, Of course it was quiet. I had put water in an ice cube tray before. I didn’t think that there was any other way to freeze stuff because we had never made homemade ice cream when I was a kid. After I was grown and we had made it I never thought there was a name for the process for it, but there is. I discovered, using Google, that it is called overrunning.

So there you have it, as the Good Book says, “For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.” Job 37:6

Blogging A – Z Challenge 2015 P

Blogging A – Z Challenge

P is for Poor, Pitiable Readers

Please accept my apologies, gentle readers, but I do have reasons for being so tardy and would also like to point out that, while I may not be caught up to date on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blogging A – Z challenge, I have not given up on it.  Since no one has left any comments on any of the pieces I could, I think, turn this into a self-pity piece.

Poor, poor pitiful me.  Sniffle.  Anyone got a hankie for me?

Perhaps some other time, when I get to “S is for Self-pity” or something, because then I can double up and do “S is for Stupid Schedules.”

Actually, doing a series and having a framework is something I enjoy and do take as a challenge, like writing a sonnet or other structured poem.

Poetry, to me, is not only challenging, but fun.  Building the different metric feet into the various and sundry structures available and finding the right words to express an exact thought, or tougher yet, a vague, inexpressible feeling, is the test of the spirit that I love.  So doing an A – Z challenge is really good for me to do.  I am planning to dust off the books of writing prompts and starting to work from some of those again, too.

I am still working on finding and restoring the archives of former blogs as well.