Writer’s Workshop: Things I Learned Recently…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
  1. If you’re going to drink coffee (or something else) near your laptop, having a mug with a lid (like a travel mug) is a great idea.

  2. Make sure you leave the lid closed when you’re not drinking out of the travel mug.

  3. If for some reason you get coffee on your keyboard:

    • Unplug your laptop and disconnect everything attached to it.
    • Turn the laptop off.
    • Remove the battery if you can.
    • Leave the laptop open at an acute angle (under 90°) and turn it upside down onto a towel (or paper towels).
    • Don’t touch it for 48-72 hours (the longer the better).
    • Reattach the battery (if necessary) and turn it on. If it turns on and works fine, great! If not, take it to be repaired.
  4. Buying a silicone keyboard protector is probably a good idea.

I learned this the hard way…

Writer’s Workshop: A to Z to Me

When I started blogging back in January 2012, I was under the notion that I would be a great novelist, and talked about all the great writing I was going to do… and somehow never got around to doing, because I was spending most of my days reading other blogs, listening to music and playing solitaire while fantasizing about writing the Great American Novel.

Yeah, I was one of those guys, all talk, no action. And I wondered why, and came up with the reason: I didn’t want to write fiction. For that matter, I barely wanted to read fiction. Seriously, I would buy books or get them out of the library, read a little bit, put the book aside and not get back to it. Mary and I have a joint Kindle library of about 6000 books, most of which are books Mary has read. Of those 6000 books, about 500 are books I bought with the intention of reading and either never started or never finished.

Seemed the only writing I was doing was for my blog. I got involved in several blog hops and looked forward to writing on those days. One of the first blog hops I was involved in was the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, which was my big impetus for getting into blogging. My first year I took the NATO spelling alphabet (alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta etc.) and used the words associated with each letter as my daily prompts. It was a fun exercise, and I found the challenge of figuring out what to talk about for each word exhiliarating. (How’s that for a $20 word?)

Many times, I’d start with the word and head off in a completely different direction. On S day, when the word was "sierra," I discovered there was a short-lived TV program called Sierra, produced by Jack Webb, who also produced Dragnet, Adam-12, Emergency!, and other shows. So I ended up writing about him. On V day, when the word was "victor," I thought of the movie Victor/Victoria, which was directed by Blake Edwards with music by Henry Mancini, who had worked together on a couple of hundred projects, so I wrote about them.

Talking about Mancini, and Dean Martin (the word for J was "Juliet," and that day I wrote about Juliet Prowse, who had been on Dean’s show a lot in the ’60’s and ’70’s), and Les Paul (who designed the echo chambers at Capitol Records) helped to point me in the direction of writing about music. Writing about Webb, Martin, and Mike Wallace (M’s word is "Mike") reminded me of my fascination with television, which I started writing about. Many of the stories I wrote for the A to Z Challenge that first year were stories about the world when I was growing up and funny things that happened to me on the road.

Those were the directions I took my blog in, and when I started daily blogging (July 1, 2014, and I haven’t missed a day since), those were the things I wrote about, and write about today. And I have no intention of stopping.

Writers’ Workshop: Busy, Busy, Busy…

I am, if you’ll pardon my French, busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. And, trust me, it hasn’t been easy.

I am, once again, a co-host for the annual Blogging From A To Z April Challenge, which started this morning bright and early. The way it works is we start with a word starting with the letter A today and progressing alphabetically on Mondays through Saturdays (taking Sundays off) until we reach Z on April 30. My theme for this year is radio station surveys for the US, Canada, and a few from the rest of the world.

In addition to doing my own blog thang, I’m also writing for the A to Z Challenge blog a few times this month (I do the Tuesday articles and the Saturday article on the 17th) and following up with people doing the Challenge, spreading love, joy, and happiness wherever I go.

In addition, I will try as much as possible to maintain my regular blogging schedule, which as you can probably imagine is hectic enough as it is.

So, naturally, my Internet Service Provider, whose name rhymes with "bombast," has chosen this time to start screwing with me. It started last week when the guy next door, while he was cutting his lawn (as well as the tiny piece of my lawn that’s on his side of my driveway) managed to cut a small piece of the cable that connects my house with the Internet and knocked me off the air. They weren’t able to get to us until Wednesday of last week to repair it, which they did and had everything working well. At least until they started doing "scheduled maintenance" early Thursday morning. That didn’t affect us until early Monday morning, when it went out for good. I checked the app they provide to let me know what’s happening (which was the first hint I got that they were doing scheduled maintenance) and it said that scheduled maintenance would start on March 25 and end "as soon as possible." There’s a picture of the message on a post from yesterday.

Well, I figure it won’t take them long to figure it out, so I wait all day Monday, using as much as possible the hotspot on my phone and reaching the point at which things slow to a crawl. I get halfway through Tuesday and finally contact them through Twitter. They told me they had an issue with the planned maintenance and hadn’t resolved it, and as of 5 PM on Wednesday still haven’t. What’s more, no one can tell me what it is or when they expect to have it fixed.

I was lucky today (Wednesday) in that I was able to find one of their hotspots. They have them all over, but I can usually only reach them from my desktop computer, so I’ve been working there today; I’m sure that, when the wind shifts, I’ll be knocked off the air. But I’d really like to have my usual connection up and running, and am more than a little upset that this has taken so long. It would seem that they could route the traffic through another server, but that might be too much to ask.

Writers’ Workshop: Entertainment, Schmentertainment…

Image by Devon Breen from Pixabay

Today is my 65th birthday, or as I like to think of it, the 30th anniversary of the entertainment industry not caring what I like.

Seriously: the key demographic for the folks in Hollywood and New York is people from the ages of 16-35. Everything is geared to them: movies, TV, music, art, even theater is geared to those born between 1986 and 2005. If you were born before that and like what the 16-35’s like, great, if not, well, go watch In The Heat Of The Night reruns and shut up, Gramps.

Do I sound upset by this? Because I’m not. I knew the day would come when I’d turn on the TV and find nothing I’d like, turn on the radio and hear nothing but noise, look at the movie listings and see remakes of movies that were remakes of movies that were remakes of movies which, in true Telephone fashion, completely miss the point of the original. Or they’re movies based on some kids’ cartoon, or a comic book, or on a video game, or on a TV show that I watched 50 years ago as seen through the eyes of some twentysomething screenwriter who got the whole thing wrong because his idea of research was to binge-watch all seven seasons while playing with his phone the entire time…

We looked at what our parents had, decided we didn’t want it, and built something different. Our kids didn’t like what we had and started building their own thing. Their kids will do the same thing. To its eternal credit, technology has intervened to give all of us what we want. When we didn’t have a choice — when there were five TV stations in a market, 15 radio stations, and one movie theater in town — we were very interested in current trends in entertainment. Now, who cares? I don’t. I don’t have to. There are plenty of alternatives, and more are on the way. Stay tuned.

Writers Workshop: All One Floor

Not ours, but what I might look for. Source: InteriorDecoratingColors.com

Mary and I have no intention of moving. Our house is nearly perfect for us: it’s paid for, taxes and insurance are reasonable, the neighborhood is great, and everything we need is within five miles of home. The air conditioning, furnace, and water heater are less than ten years old, and while there are things that need fixing, it’s nothing major.

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