Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Here's an interesting comment from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates responding to a question about why the U.S. continues to treat Pakistan like an ally even though its government has proven untrustworthy. "I would say based on 27 years in CIA and 4 and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

It is so sad when diplomacy has turned into hypocrisy. I remember when it was a badge of honor to be able to have it said of you, "This is a woman of her word." I remember when a handshake could close a deal and the handshake would be honored no matter what. That type of honesty and trust built integrity and integrity is the backbone of character.

According to a recent article by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, some people are paying $2 and $3 hundred thousand dollars for playhouses for their kids. I couldn't believe it. That is more than the average American pays for a home. The people with the money and the means to built such extravagant installations for the amusement of children make no apologies for what Ms. Marcus calls, "such grossness." She quotes Dan Burnham, former Raytheon chairman as saying, "It's adorable and worth every penny."

I support Ms. Marcus's suggestion that parents ask a delivery man for a leftover refrigerator box and buy the kids a set of markers and a roll of duct tape. Then "send the kids out to design their own magical cottage. After it rains, throw away and repeat."

When I read that, I thought of how much fun the kids at the Youth Drama Camp had making a barn out of... you guessed it, an old refrigerator box.

Nathan Heller would like us to rethink the slogan "American as Apple Pie." In a recent article he put tongue in cheek and proceeded to list all the reasons "The dessert is gloppy, soggy, undeserving of its vaunted status-- and just plain old un-American."

I know he meant this all in fun, at least I hope he did, but I wish he would have left my favorite dessert alone. I like my apple pie in a bowl with milk, then it doesn't matter how gloppy or soggy it is. Berry pie is good the same way, and I have fond memories of my grandmother letting me have pie or cobbler for breakfast. Hey, I was getting my fruit and milk, wasn't I?

What about you? How do you like your pie?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Balancing the National Budget

As President Obama and Congress keep the financial woes of the country locked in partisan politics many are concerned for senior citizens, the handicapped and our military because of threats to stop cutting checks to Social Security, Medicare, and government payrolls.

Wait a minute. There's a better way. When personal finances get a little tight, do folks cut out basic needs such as food and housing? No. They start cutting the extras, and nobody can legitimately call Social Security an extra or an entitlement. We, and our employers, have paid into it our whole working lives, and if President Lyndon Johnson had just left it alone and not put the money into the General Fund, there would be no shortfall for Social Security.

And to even consider cutting military pay and benefits is an outrage. If the government can't find a way to pay them, then bring them all home.

So again, I call for cuts at the top of the budget, starting with Congressional benefits that include free healthcare, outrageous salaries and retirement packages, and more paid holidays than the average worker. And by the way, they voted to receive their annual raise this year, while Social Security increases have been frozen because there has been no increase in the cost of living. Or so they say. Obviously, they have not shopped at my supermarket.

Another huge savings could be made if we stopped sending so much aid to other countries. Sure, we should step up when there has been a disaster, but do we have to send billions of dollars? And the billions we are sending to countries that have had no recent disasters - like the funds going to Pakistan - should be stopped. I know we are trying to buy their loyalty, but have we?

Come on, Washington. Be smart about getting us out of this financial mess, and creating more debt is not the answer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Having a bit of fun

I know. This is Tuesday and I don't normally post on Tuesday's, but I thought you might like to have a little fun with us at the Blood Red Pencil today.

I'm a regular contributor to the Blood Red Pencil blog, and today we are featuring the authors behind the book, Write More Good, a guide to editing that is sure to get you fired. The book is a spoof on the AP Stylebook and is quite funny. We do a regular Ask the Editor series on the blog, and I thought it would be fun to have them answer questions today. No telling what kind of answers we will get, so if you have a moment, stop on by and join the fun.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Drama Camp is officially over. We had our last production yesterday and the response from the audiences was great. We had over 80 in attendance Saturday night and about 70 on Sunday. It is quite a challenge to put a show together in just two weeks, but it always seems to work. The kids did a terrific job and garnered lots of laughs and applause throughout.

Now I have my routine back and when I came into my office this morning I saw a very large spider. Maybe it wasn't as big as my fear made it, but thank goodness for my cat, John. He must have thought the spider was a small rodent because he pounced on it and killed it.

In last Thursday's Dallas Morning News I read a column written by Leonard Pitts in which he took journalists to task over the lack of integrity in the profession. The article was in response to the recent debacle at News of the World.  According to a Gallup poll quoted by Pitts, the general public ranks journalists between auto mechanics and lawyers in terms of ethics.

It is apparent that that code has been severely diluted in recent history. It used to be that the tabloids were the newpapaers known for sleazy journalism and reporters who crossed every line to get a good story. More recently we have heard of reporters from major publications fabricating stories or plagiarizing in attempts to further their careers.

The code that I learned early in my career, and that Pitts reminds us in his article is that "One avoids conflicts of interest. One does not plagiarize. One does not buy information. And one does not hack the voice mail of a missing child."

Okay, that last one was not specifically in the code that I learned, but I was taught to respect the dignity of the people in the stories I was pursuing. In that way I protected my integrity, as well as the integrity of the publication for which I was working.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review - Swept Away by Marsha Canham

Back in March when authors who are part of the Backlist E-Books group were participating in a special sale, the book that kept popping up as a best seller on Kindle lists right along with my One Small Victory, was Marsha Canham's Swept Away

At first I thought her book was another contemporary suspense novel, and I was really surprised to discover it is a historical romance set in Regency-period England. The story does have a mystery, and there are some suspenseful moments when the hero and heroine are in danger, but I had a hard time seeing a close connection to my book, until I thought more about the heroine of Swept Away.

Annaleah Fairchilde is a strong woman who wants no part of the conventions of society, and she finds an ally in her Aunt Florence, who long ago thumbed her nose at what is expected of a woman. While visiting her aunt, Annaleah finds a half-drowned, mostly naked man on the beach. She pulls him out of the approaching tide and he is eventually brought to her aunt's house, and her aunt recognizes him as Emory Althorpe.

Being a romance novel, there is of course the attraction between the two central characters, but the story also encompases a mystery and adventure. Emory is being hunted as a traitor to England, responsible for Napoleon's escape from Elba and suspected of a plot to save Napoleon from exile to St. Helena. Annaleah believes in his innocence and becomes involved in his attempt to discover the truth about himself and reveal the identity of the real traitor.

It may have been pure coincidence that our books were so closely together on those Kindle lists, but it also may have been because they both have strong women leads, and readers are always ready to cheer for a protagonist who steps up to the conflicts and challenges instead of sitting back and letting the men handle it all.

Swept Away is  a well-written book with a complex plot and lots of adventure. The historical aspects were well-researched and came across believable. I really liked the characters, especially Aunt Florence, who had some of the best quips in the book.


FTC Disclaimer: I bought this book myself and made no promises to myself, or others, to do a review. It was just to satisfy my curiosity. The author may benefit from this review in that a few more people might buy her book, and I suppose in a round-about way that may benefit me if our books are still on some of the same best-selling lists. Perhaps I should go check.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

This is the last day of drama camp. Wow, it has been an intense two weeks. We have had twenty-four campers ranging in age from six to thirteen, and they are a creative, energetic bunch. The good thing is that they have put together a great show in this short span of time, even though they have worn this old lady out.

I love working with kids and seeing them so excited about theatre and learning more about how to make a story and characters come to life on stage.

In lieu of my normal mini-rants on Fridays, I thought I would just share some links to some of the blogs I like to follow that have good content. First up is Mystery Writing is Murder - home of mystery author, Elizabeth Spann Craig. Wouldn't you know it. I just clicked over to her blog to discover she is "Gone Fishing" for a week and a half, but she left some links to some helpful posts for writers.

Another helpful blog for writers and readers is Straight From Hel by Helen Ginger. She has interviews with authors, book reviews, and insightful articles about the business of writing. 

I often check in with Elspeth Antonelli's blog It's A Mystery, where she does some amazing pictorial essays.

Terry Odell also shares pictures on her blog, Terry's Place, on Fridays with her Friday Field Trips. Often the photographs are from her son, Jason, who is a professional photographer, and he is featured today with pictures from the Badlands of South Dakota.

There are also a couple of blogs that I contribute to. The Blood Red Pencil focuses on writing and editing advice and information. Criminal Minds at Work is written by a group of mystery writers and the topics range from reviews to tips on forensics. All Day, All Night, Romance Diva's is written by a number of us who all share the same first name. Hence the reference to the song, "All day, all night, Maryann, down by the seaside sifting sand. The content here is heavily focused on things romantic, but there are also posts that cover industry standards and changes, and other things related to writing in general.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Advice for the lovelorn

Heading into the last three days of the Youth Drama Camp. It has been fun, but I am anxious to have my days back. LOL  Here is an offering from my friend, Slim Randles for you to enjoy.

Things were going kinda slow down at the Fly Tying Love Center and it bothered Marvin Pincus a lot.

He found it hard to believe that, out of all the people in the valley, none of them needed love advice and the proper type of fishing fly to illustrate it. He had the sign made and put in the yard, and he’d obviously had great results with the Jones kid and good ol’ Dewey. Since Marvin’s advice to Dewey to shower before asking a girl for a date, Dewey Decker, the Fertilizer King, had had several dates with nice young women.

Now the fishing-fly earrings part of the business was going great. Women all over town were wearing dingle-dangle earrings with Marvin’s point-clipped fishing flies hanging therefrom. He learned that short ladies tended to go for the smaller dries, like Griffith’s Gnats and Royal Coachmen, and the taller ladies leaned toward salmon streamers. Some of the ladies slipped Marvin’s wife, Marjorie, a couple of bucks to help buy more feathers and hooks.

But on the love advice front, there was a dearth of heartbroken customers.

“What would you think,” Marvin said, “if I ran an ad in the Valley Weekly Miracle?”

“For what?” Marjorie said at breakfast.

“You know … love advice.”

“Well, you have the sign out front. I think everyone in the valley already knows about it.”

“But they’re not coming in.”

Marjorie smiled. “Honey, some people find it hard to talk to others about their personal problems. That’s probably it.”

Marvin got a piece of paper and began writing. Then he’d scratch it out and start again. This went on through both bacon and toast.

“How’s it coming, Honey?”

“About got it right, I think, Marge.”

“May I see it?”

He handed it to her.

The best love advice in the valley, tied up with the appropriate fishing fly. Call the Fly Tying Love Center for an appointment. Results guaranteed.

“What do you think?”

Marjorie just smiled and nodded her head. What she thought, however, was that retirement isn’t for sissies.


Brought to you by Slim’s new book “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Monday, July 18, 2011

A bit of humor

NOTE*  The second week of drama camp starts today, so I will be busy again all week. I'll be sharing some bits of humor in my regular posts, and I thought I would start with a piece I wrote a few years ago for The Blood Red Pencil blog.  I got my start writing a weekly humor column for a suburban newspaper. Primarily it was about family, but occasionally, I would write about the joys of the writing life. I took some of those old columns and shared them with the readers of the BRP blog, and now I share it with you.  Enjoy....

When I sold my first short story to a magazine a few weeks ago, we were all happily playing Howard Hughes around here for awhile. My husband was planning his retirement, the kids were picking out houses in the country and I had visions of never having to look at another price tag" again before I bought a dress.

I suppose we're all entitled to our glory dreams and it sure was fun while it lasted. But now that the excitement has died down to a dull roar and the rejection slips have started to litter my desk again, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that perhaps we'll have to wait awhile before we start recklessly throwing money around buying mink coats and hamburgers.

Anjanette has given up her dream of a whole new bedroom set with maybe a new bedroom to put it in. David has gone back to mowing lawns to save the money for his new mag wheels and Michael is collecting cans for recycling to keep himself in spending money. I've resigned myself to another year at least in the bargain basement, and unfortunately, Carl still has to get up every morning and go to work. (Someone has to keep me in typing paper and postage.)

Meanwhile the check isn't even cashed yet. I'm afraid to· cash it because I know it will be gone all too soon; and besides that, it's still a big thrill to go in and look at it every now and then. (I know that will pass, since it only took me two weeks to stop opening the magazine every five minutes to see my name in the credits.)

From here on in, no other acceptance will probably ever mean as much or create quite the stir that this one has.

Someday, discussing the terms of a sale with an editor in New York will be old hat. I won't have to try to act cool and professional on the outside while on the inside I'm jumping up and down for joy.

Someday, I won't call my best friend to announce, "You are now speaking to a famous writer person!"

"Who is this? Is this some sort of crank call?"

Someday, selling stories will all be part. of the routine around here and no one will stop by with champagne to celebrate. The kids won't be announcing it to every creature that moves up and down the block, and my husband won't run around the grocery stores making sure the magazine is prominently displayed. (I told him I didn't get any royalties, but he did it anyway.)

But until that someday rolls around, I guess I can stand all the excitement just a little bit longer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review - Dear Cupid by Julie Orloton

Kate Bradshaw writes a popular "Dear Cupid" Web advice column, but finds it difficult to offer positive advice after her painful divorce. She would like to tell every reader to "dump the bastard and move on." Not exactly the kind of pithy advice her boss wants her to give.

In an attempt to regain the perspective that made her column popular, Kate leaves her native Texas hill country for a business trip to L.A., where she practices her flirting technique on the first attractive man she sees, movie special-effects man Mike Cameron. If she can successfully get his attention, maybe she can start believing that she has what it takes to offer advice to the lovelorn.

While I found that set-up a bit of a stretch, I hung in with the story and I'm glad I did. It was a pleasant read, and the interplay between Mike and Kate's son, Dylan is truly engaging. Mikes persistent, yet gentle efforts to get Kate to trust herself and trust in love again, was equally engaging. He is definitely a different kind of hero, but no less a hero than any other good romance novel.

Dear Cupid was first published in hardback and mass market paperback in 2001 by St. Martin's, and the author released the e-book this past June. Right now it is available for only 99cents.


FTC Disclaimer: I purchased and reviewed this book of my own free will. I was not compensated in any way for the review, and I am guessing the author does not even know I did it. Even though I am not normally a fan of romance novels, I decided to give this one a read because I met the author online and I was impressed with her writing in posts to groups and her blog. (Authors, the quality of your writing everywhere does matter.) I was also influenced by the price. For 99cents, I thought I would take a chance. Does that mean I would only buy another book from this author if it was priced that low? No. I will probably buy one of her other books once I have read a few of the other ones I have loaded in my Kindle.
NOTE: I wish the author would change her last name to Smith so I knew how to pronounce it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It’s not crazy, but it should be

The Youth Drama Camp is going well and is so much fun, but it is also very time-intensive. Two weeks to prepare for a production and mount it? Whew! Not to mention finding new ways to keep almost 30 kids engaged and focused. 
Today I'm sharing a bit of nonsense from my friend, Tracy Farr. Since the current mission is the last one for the Space shuttle Atlantis, I thought this reflection on the end of the Apollo missions would be fun to share.  

I don’t know how it happens – it just does. One minute I’m lounging on the couch sipping on a tall glass of sweet ice tea, when all of a sudden, WHAMO! a crazy idea comes to mind – such as: If I took a shower after mowing the yard, maybe my armpits wouldn’t smell so bad.

These little crazy ideas usually plop on my shoulders like bird droppings, and there’s nothing I can do about it – like this one: Want nice smelling armpits? Don’t mow.

For example, the other day while I was reading about the Apollo missions and how much astronaut stuff was left behind on the moon, the craziest idea of all time splattered right on my noggin: Want to get rid of a lot of moon junk and make a little profit? Sell it on Lunar eBay.

NASA wants to send man – which probably also includes woman – back to the moon. There’s a lot of space junk up there just lying around, gathering dust. When they get there, woman will mutter something about how man doesn’t know how to pick up after himself, and then tell man to clean it up (that’s her primary mission). They’ll slap sale stickers on everything, upload digital pictures to Lunar eBay, Twitter about it for awhile, and wait for the profits to pour in.

FOR SALE: Vintage Lunar Rover. Has 15.25 miles on the tires, electric engine is still good, but hasn’t been driven in awhile. Winning bidder is expected to pay for shipping which comes to about 45 cents per mile (.45 X 238,857). What a steal! Good luck on your bidding. If you have any questions, I’m “AstroDude67” on Twitter.

“Beth, come here. You’ve got to see this.”

“What is it this time, Ricky?”

“Why do you always talk to me that way when I find a good deal on Lunar eBay?” Ricky asks. “I want to bid on one of those moon buggies. It may cost a couple of million, but the shipping’s only $107,500. So, what d’ya think?”

Believe me when I say, you don’t want to know Beth’s response.

By the time NASA closed down its Apollo program in 1972, six crews of astronauts had been to the moon, 12 men had actually walked on the lunar surface, and an estimated 300,000 pounds of man-made “debris” was left behind in order to bring home 800 pounds of rocks. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but then again, I’m not a rocket scientist.

Wait a minute! Is it possible the folks at NASA were thinking ahead? That they left all that stuff up there on purpose for the sole reason of selling it one day on Lunar eBay? Is it possible they KNEW?

“Buzz, this is Houston Mission Control, can you hear me?”

“Affirmative, Houston.”

“Buzz, try not to hit those golf balls too far. We’ll need to find them in about 40 years. Selling just one of them at auction could pay for the entire Apollo program. Do you copy?”

“Roger, Houston. Slice it into a sandpit, make a few bucks. No problem.”

FOR SALE: Two vintage golf balls hit by Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Par 3 Lunar Municipal Golf Course. Please review payment options. Credit cards or cash only. We do not accept Pay Pal. Good luck on your bidding. If you have any questions, contact “AstroDude67” on Twitter.

Yep! Those NASA guys are pretty smart!

Of course, there are some people who have “bad” crazy ideas, choosing to believe man never made it to the moon. They believe the whole thing was a hoax orchestrated by NASA in order to win the Cold War. Yes, they do believe man-made debris is scattered on the moon’s surface, but they think it’s there because NASA dropped it from a low-orbiting rocket to hoodwink the rest of us.

These naysayers did a lot of drugs in the 60s and 70s. They probably get “earth” and “urethra” mixed up.

I undoubtedly believe that man has walked on the moon and will do so once again. It’s our ability to recognize and take advantage of “crazy ideas” (the good kind) that will one day take us to Mars and beyond; it’s our crazy ideas that define us and make us who we are.

So the next time you catch me lounging on the couch when there’s yard work to be done, just remember – I’m contemplating a crazy idea that just might change the world in which we live. The snoring helps me think.

Tracy Farr is a teacher living in East Texas and drives a school bus for the fun of it. In his spare time he plays the banjo, but never on Thursdays.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simple Joys of Summer

This is an essay from my friend, Slim Randles, that seemed to fit on these sweltering days of July. I would love a creek to play in.I'm posting this Tuesday evening instead of Wednesday because I hit the publish button before I meant to. LOL Chalk it up to me being a bit brain dead after a day of the drama camp. It is fun, but it is also very tiring. Not to mention getting in a car that has sat in the sun all day in temps above 100. Ouch! But you didn't come here to hear me whine, you came to be entertained, so without further delays.....

There is in the splashing of the creek a great spray of diamonds. As each youngster sails like an  astronaut out on the tire swing, then releases the hold on the earth to flail, suspended in time and space for that brief second or two, there is a timelessness, a postponement of all things evil and destructive, an affirmation of joy.

The swimming hole in Lewis Creek has been there since Indian times, of course, and the tire swing was probably preceded by simply a rope with knots in it.

It is one of the summer lodestones of our existence.  Each summer we have to make our pilgrimage in the hot sun to the hole below the little waterfall, to the place were Lewis Creek widens and deepens for the benefit of hot, dry people before becoming just a creek again. And in this widening of the creek, this sacred place in our summer lives, we also play witness to the passage of years.

Across the creek from the tree with the tire swing, the gravelly bottom extends gently with almost no current for ten feet or so. This is the baby beach, where squealing tots are allowed to cool off without benefit (or hindrance) of any more covering than the smiles of their parents. As the children grow, they venture farther out into the current of the creek and test their strength against the forces of nature.

By the time a youngster is eight or ten, the seduction of the tire swing becomes overwhelming and the flailing of the arms and legs against the blue of the sky begin. Later still, when gangly becomes fluidity and sleekness, and we want to make catlike moves to attract the opposite sex, the tire is used as a swinging platform for exquisite dives into the deep part of the creek where the big trout lie in cold holes.

And as we age, and we watch our children come to love the hole in Lewis Creek, and as we sip lemonade in the shade as our grandchildren work their ways up the swimming hole chain of life, we can look at the splashing of the creek and see, with each sleek dive,
with each laughing bellyflop, the diamonds of the creek sent skyward, and the laughter stays with us and keeps us strong and makes us feel rich, and fortunate.

It is unnecessary to say Lewis Creek is an important part of our lives, because it, along with so many other treasures of the years, really is our lives.

Sponsored by:  Farm direct, delicious, California navel & Valencia oranges.

Slim's Web site  And check out Slim's books: Sun Dog Days, Raven's Prey, and The Long Dark.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

The summer drama camp for young players starts today at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts, so I will be incredibly busy for the next two weeks with the camp and for the show we will do at the end of the camp.But I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just an excuse to play for two weeks, and we will have a lot of fun.

I started doing this camp for kids about six or seven years ago, and we have had one every year since. It is always so much fun to work with young people and encourage them to explore their creativity. The purpose of the camp is to help kids be comfortable on stage and teach them elements of acting, staging, costumes, make up and more. I have worked with so many kids over the years, I have lost count of how many, but quite a few have stayed involved in productions at the center.

One young teen who started in the camp five years ago just sent me a message on Facebook, thanking me for helping him find his stage voice. I remember how hesitant he was to speak up when delivering lines, and now he is quite an accomplished actor, starring in his school's UIL one-act play last year.

This year I will be working with two young women, who both started with me as Young Players when they were in elementary school. One just finished her second year as a theatre major at Washington University in St. Louis, and the other just graduated from high school and will be going on to college to minor in theatrre. They will bring a new level of expertise to the camp, and I am so thrilled to be working with them.

The camp is very time intensive, both during the actual camp hours and preparing for the show in the evenings, so I will not have time for blogging. Thank goodness I can always borrow from my friends, Slim Randles and Tracy Farr, so I will be letting them entertain you most of the time for the next two weeks. Although I may blog from the camp if I have time, so stay tuned.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Anonymous Client

By JP Hailey (Parnell Hall)

ISBN: 978-1-936441-22-8,

e-book edition released 2011,

232 pages.

This is another fast-paced novel featuring criminal defense attorney, Steve Winslow. The protagonist is clever and so is the novel. It’s also slick, amusing and entertaining. The author has a good sense of his readers and their likely primary interests. He also has a good eye for detail and a finely-honed ability to use words to their maximum effect.

The novel begins and ends with personnel problems in Winslow’s office, a nice counterpoint to the main theme. The problem is a little fillip that adds some rhythm to the book. In the beginning, Winslow’s sole employee, Tracy Garvin, complains of being seriously under-worked.  That’s because her boss has a tendency to not appear in the office for weeks on end, and that’s because Winslow has few clients.

One day, as the novel opens, a letter arrives. It contains ten one thousand dollar bills. Thus is laid the basis for a very entertaining, very complicated murder and blackmail plot. As is the case with other novels in this series, the plot is a morass of mis-direction, tricky timing, private detectives, and a lot of both internal and external speculation and dialogue. The book is rife with minutia, details that enhance and color the reader’s perceptions of what has just happened, what it may mean and where the story is going next.

Set in New York City, Hall and his protagonist mine the rich variety of setting and character in mostly excellent ways. There is considerably less action in the novel than is often found in crime fiction except for the courtroom scenes which are among the most compelling I have ever read. Dialogue heavy, with sometimes arcane legal maneuvering; these scenes crackle with urgency and tension as we watch the nimble attorney skate along the edge of legal chasms while trying to save his client, sometimes without even knowing who his client is.

Carl Brookins Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion  Red Sky

FTC Disclaimer: Again, I have no idea if Carl Brookins was paid, or blackmailed, or otherwise influenced to write this review. I doubt if he received any monetary benefit at all. He progably had to buy the book, then take time away from his own writing to read it and write this review. So, all things considered, it is possible he went in the hole.  I'm probably the only one who benefited directly as I did not have to write a blog entry today.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Thomas Sowell had a thoughtful column this past week answering the question, Does Constitution still matter in modern times. This was in response to commentary following the Supreme Court's decision that it is okay to sell violent video games to minors. Some analysts have said that the Constitution is out of date because the framers never envisioned  a world with computers, the Internet, and violent video games. Sowell writes, "Most people have enough common sense to know that a constitution does not exist to micromanage particular "events" or express opinions about the passing scene. A constitution exists to create a framework for government - and the Constiti\ution of the United States tries to keep the government inside that framework."

Thank you Mr. Sowell for pointing out what has been wrong with people's thinking about the Constitution. Here is a link to the entire article. It is well worth the read.

In a recent column Michael Lind wrote that conventional thinking about fossil fuels is wrong. He stated that there is enough natural gas and coal to sustain us for centuries. He also mentioned the studies being done by companies and governments in the U.s. Canada, and Japan to find ways to obtain energy from gas hydrates, which mix methane with ice in high-density formations under the sea floor. "The potential in gas hydrates may equal that of all other fossils."

Lind may have been trying to sound hopeful and encouraging, but I found those facts extremely disturbing. How long can we continue to take things out of the earth before we have more severe reactions than what we already have. Let's do a little physics experiment. Make a ball of rice, breadcrumbs, small nuts, and hold that all together with a paste of flour and water. When it dries, start taking bits of the rice and some nuts out. After a while the ball is going to crumble and fall apart.

Sure, that is a very simplistic example, but it illustrates what is wrong with the thinking that we can continually take from the earth with no bad effects. And the idea of messing with the ice under the sea is just ludicrous. It is melting from the surface of the earth faster than anyone can imagine, so we want to disrupt the foundation?

To end on a more upbeat note, a letter to the editor in The Dallas Morning News written by Arby Mason was clever. The headline was: Time-honored multitasking, and the letter read, "So, we're just now in the Age of Multitasking? That started when Eve had to cook apple pies, applesauce and baked apples while changing Cain and Abel's fig leaves and sweeping snakeskins off the front porch.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Casey Anthony - Did she or didn't she?

I didn't plan on writing about the Casey Anthony trial. I've avoided the topic since the beginning when the murder case first started to build around her. I didn't want to be another journalist adding to the media frenzy revolving around an extremely dysfunctional family and the death of an innocent child.

That stance changed, however, when I read yesterday of some people equating the not guilty verdict to the O.J. Simpson trial. The ink was barely dry on court papers when Tweets and updates on Facebook were making that connection.

In talking with my daughter about it last evening, I told her that I disagreed with the verdict, and she pointed out that we cannot convict someone of murder just because they are a bad parent. We also can't convict parents because we don't approve of how they behaved after the fact.

I still believe Casey killed her daughter. Maybe it was in a fit of frustration, but I didn't buy the whole accident story. However, the facts in the case support both the prosecution's theory and the defense theory as there is no conclusive evidence of where or how Caylee died.

The jury had to look at all the facts, and if there was even a shred of doubt as to Casey's guilt, they had no choice but to acquit. They couldn't say "guilty" because Casey told more stories that Aesop during the investigation. They couldn't say "guilty" because she started partying right after the baby went missing. They couldn't say "guilty" because Casey and her father disposed of the body after the so-called accident. And they couldn't say "guilty" because Casey looked guilty.

Casey still faces charges of lying to police and obstructing an investigation, but analysts think she will be freed tomorrow because of time served since 2008 when she was first jailed on the murder charge.

I wish it would all end there, but it won't. Now Casey is free to capitalize on the whole sordid mess, and I am sure that publishers are already courting her for the rights to her story.

So sad. A little girl dies and instead of grieving, her mother will make millions and continue the party life she started right after Caylee disappeared.

On a lighter note, I am over at The Blood Red Pencil sharing some stories about how gullible I have been in my writing career. Hop over if you have a minute.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Just making a brief appearance today to wish all my American friends a Happy Fourth of July. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend with lots of friends, family, and good times. 

My long-time followers may recall that I also celebrate my birthday on the Fourth, although I am not nearly as old as the U.S.A. So I am partying all weekend with my husband and our son and our new daughter-in-law. Tomorrow, some of the other kids will be out and we will have a Texas BBQ. (That's barbecue for all you non-Texans.) So I will not have my regular posts today or tomorrow.

The kids like to come out to Grandma's Ranch for the Fourth because we can usually do our own fireworks show in my front pasture, but not this year. We are under a burn ban and fireworks are limited to a few places where the volunteer fire departments are set up to handle any flare ups that may occur. Some of the kids joked that if we couldn't do fireworks there was no reason to come for my birthday, but they were just giving me a hard time. They really like to do that.

Anyway, we are going to have to be satisfied with looking at pictures of fireworks from last year and the year before.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

A five-year-old boy shot a four-year-old boy at a playground in Hillcrest Heights, Md., about 10 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.. Police wondert how a five-year-old had access to a gun.

Good question. Do you suppose it could be the fault of some irresponsible parent?

The judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial called a recess Friday just as prosecutors prepared to rebut testimony by Anthony's mother who claimed she -- not her daughter -- made suspicious Internet searches in the months before her 2-year-old granddaughter disappeared.

I understand a mother's urge to protect her daughter, but is this really believable? This whole story since the case first broke has read like a poorly plotted novel.

The NBA is in lockout, with the teams and the players unable to compromise on terms of new contracts. Owners want to reduce the players' guarantee of 57 percent of basketball revenue and weren't moved by the players' offer to drop it to 54.3 percent -- though players said that would have cut their salaries by $500 million over five years.

This seems to be a trend in professional sports, and I wonder when it became all about the money and not about the games. And, of course, as salaries and other expenses rise, so do ticket prices. So who pays in the end? The sports' fans.
Four months after Trent Schmid
t was killed in a car accident, thieves broke into the Triumph Church in Greenwood, IN and stole musical instruments - including the bass guitar that Trent played. Trent was an associate pastor with his father, Stephen,  and his parents were devastated when the guitar was stolen. They made a public plea to the thieves to return the guitar, and apparently that worked. This past Wednesday morning Stephen and his wife were driving in the alley behind the church, and saw something that made them stop. The five-string bass guitar that Trent played at services at the church before joining the Army was left on the ground next to the air conditioner.