That Jeopardy Game…..

Yesterday completely got away from me as I am trying to take care of a number of things before I leave on my trip. We always watch Jeopardy and before the show started, Hubby said a rumor was going around that the reigning, record-breaking champ would be beaten. I’m not sure who leaked the news, but it validates the concept of, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead”. There are things that are difficult to keep to oneself.

Anyway, if there happens to be someone who didn’t know, the guy as champ had won for 30+ days, racking up more than $2 million. He was short of beating the highest winning record by $60,000; however, he achieved his amount in half the time of the record holder and he broke the record at least once of the highest single day amount. The guy created quite a controversy because he is a professional sports gambler. He also has an incredible body of knowledge and made few errors. He knew some really obscure things. He bet aggressively and often hit all the “doubles”. That was his actual undoing last night as he got the first “double” so early in the game, he couldn’t bet much extra. His female opponent got both in Double Jeopardy and answered them correctly. Both opponents basically matched his pattern of going after the high dollar clues first and in the entire game, there was only one wrong answer. That is not something you see often.

Quite simply, he usually outplayed his opponents by a factor of about 10:1. You had to feel a bit sorry for people who finally get their shot at Jeopardy and came up against someone like him. One of his habits was to bet odd numbers for final jeopardy, and Alex of course asked about that after several days. Each number he bet was done to add to his total to give an ending number that had some personal significance to him. It will be interesting to see if the new champ continues to play in this pattern or if she will follow the more traditional method of going through the clues without deliberately seeking out the “doubles”.

Those Fitted Sheets….

For we Baby Boomers, most of us remember when there were no fitted sheets. The first ones were created around 1960 and didn’t become widely available for a while. Aside from the fact you weren’t allowed to have them in Army Basic since one of the things you learned was to tuck a sheet so tightly you really could bounce a coin off the bed, they were probably a little more expensive. Anyway, as their popularity grew there came a change in design that puzzles me. For a long time, only the corners were fitted which did make it easier to pop the corners down and you were done. Somewhere along the line, they started elasticizing all sides of the sheet and it is more difficult (at least for me) to determine where the ends of the sheet are as opposed to the sides. If one has a round bed it doesn’t matter, but for rectangular, as most people have, it can be confusing. As you may have guessed, in changing the sheets on the guest bed to prepare for my sister’s arrival, I maneuvered the bottom sheet two or three times before I got it right. Perhaps it’s either less expensive or easier to set the machines to apply elastic all around; I can’t think of another reason to do this. I do sometimes have the issue as well of the thickness of the mattress straining the corners of the sheets. I have seen the “deep pocket” fitted sheets which I suppose were created for this purpose. I don’t have such a problem as to seek them out and I imagine they are probably carried mostly in the higher end stores. The other aspect of the elastic all around is in trying to fold them neatly. I admit I don’t put a lot of effort into it, even though I do like my linens to stack well on the shelf. I will also admit this is not an overly important matter; merely one of those things I do occasionally ponder. Maybe I’ll raise it as a topic at Happy Hour this evening. For all I know, someone in the group may have an actual answer.

Slipped Up Again…..

Last week was especially hectic and in playing catch-up, posting to the blog didn’t quite make it. Ah well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. On Sunday, we had an extra task thrown in, although going to have a beer isn’t a bad thing. In all seriousness, it was Cinco de Mayo and we had already decided we wouldn’t attend any of the celebrations for two reasons; we tend to stay away from big crowds and Monday was a workday. However, I had a text that Exit One Taproom (I’ve posted about them in the past) was unveiling their new “Welcome to Florida City” mural as part of their Cinco de Mayo event. They were hoping I could get a photo into the paper. As it turned out, I needed Hubby to go to a place not far from there to get a photo of an old house for a piece I was submitting on Monday.

Exit One wasn’t as crowded as I expected when we arrived and it is always fun to watch a mural being painted. Not surprisingly, they weren’t quite on the schedule we’d been told, so we didn’t see the final product. (I did see it yesterday when I drove by). Interestingly, of the four artists, only one of them wanted to give me his name and we chatted for a bit. He’s been working on art projects for about two years and he was also wearing a tee shirt with a design he did for the line of clothing his girlfriend has.

We enjoyed our craft beers when we went inside although we had only one and didn’t have anything from the Tacos and Tattoos food truck the way we usually would. We left the partying crowd to have fun and actually came home for pizza. We always order pizza on Friday of course, but had been at the Seminole and then Pub 935 after.

Working on “Welcome to Florida City” mural at Exit One Taproom

Babyboomers and Our Music…..

I suppose every generation continues to love the music they grew up with and cherished “in their prime”. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before in a post, but one of the ways you can tell you’re officially “older” is when you hear a current top hit and don’t have a clue as to what the title or artist/group is. The other giveaway is the phrase, “I don’t know what kids hear in that music”. I have posted before about watching three generations of fans at Jimmy Buffet concerts and I do still appreciate Sinatra, etc.,

Last night we were at the Seminole Theatre for the Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull. Barre was the lead guitarist for Jethro Tulle from 1969 until the band stopped touring in 2013. Ian Anderson who founded the band in 1968 went his own way and Barre decided to establish his own band. Even though it was not a move he chose, it did allow him to create independent music and CDs; something he hadn’t been able to do before. The tour he’s on doesn’t include very many stops in Florida, but since we are in a direct line to Key West, the Seminole was contacted about doing a Wednesday concert. If the show wasn’t a sell-out, it was very close. To say it was loud and energetic is an understatement. For this tour, Barre has his regular band and brought back Clive Bunker the drummer and Dee Palmer, keyboardist from the Jethro Tull years. Having two drummers on stage does provide an interesting mix. The visuals on the screen took the band through the decades and images from the 60s and 70s brought back a lot of memories. It was indeed classic rock and roll – you know – the kind that caused our parents to say, “I don’t understand what kids like about that noise”.

An Interesting Type of Short Story……

I don’t recall when I first heard about the variety of short story of Flash Fiction, but I was startled at the time. To limit to no more than 1,000 words doesn’t give much room for character/plot development. Most of my stories run 3,000-plus words and some are longer. ( In pondering the concept, I thought about the number of song lyrics that in actuality do tell a story and those certainly fall within the guidelines. I decide to take one of my stories, “Walking Away”, to see if I could compress it and still maintain the essence. I did manage to get down to 999 words, although I’m not sure that quite meets the spirit even though the word count does work.

In fact, I haven’t written a short story for a while and for some reason, I am often inspired to do a new one when I am traveling. Perhaps it’s sitting around in airports observing and listening to people. It’s not eavesdropping per se, when you consider how tightly spaced most airport restaurants are and when I’m alone, I always sit at the bar if there is room. Then there are so many people these days who carry on conversations on their cell phones with seemingly little regard for whoever may be listening. As a writer, one absorbs these conversations and next thing you know there will be a scene or character created for some future use. Now, I admit, my short story, “Flight Delay”, was pretty much dedicated to a somewhat whimsical aspect of airport travel. The real truth on that one was based on an event which I did ask permission to use. I was determined to find a way to shape a story around the opening line of, “Last night I spent the evening with a lesbian Wiccan couple.” That’s not as easy to do as you might think.

The Game of Thrones Thing….

Okay, just as I was never a fan of certain hugely popular TV series, I realize there are those who don’t care about “Game of Thrones”. It is complex, does have way too much graphic violence, and a startlingly number of “good” characters meet grisly ends. There are always a few scenes where I focus on whatever book I’m reading until the bloodbath is over. On the other hand, there are way cool dragons even though they do occasionally lapse into inappropriate behavior such as killing off some poor guy’s livestock for a meal. (The “Mother of Dragons” character does reimburse them when she knows of such). In essence, the “Game of Thrones”, is set into motion in the first season as the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms (who sits on the very impressive Iron Throne) dies and everyone from the kingdoms either lay claim to the throne or chose up sides to support a claimant. In actuality, the King who died had taken power through war so the subsequent war was not entirely unexpected. There also happens to be a deadly being and huge army of his creatures who plan to wipe out everyone and take over. The continuing dramas switch back and forth between the myriad plots, a large array of characters, and the possibility of utter destruction by the external threat.

Anyway, this is the final season and there is wide-spread speculation about who will ultimately survive and prevail. Based on every season to date, a significant number of characters will probably be killed off beginning tonight as none of the primary ones were in last week’s opening episode. The series is based on books by George R.R. Martin and as violent as the shows are, the books are worse. Our neighbor who is a big fan gave us the first one to read back when the series started. It was too much for me and while Hubby didn’t mind the extreme level of blood-letting, there were even more characters to keep up with and he didn’t care for that. Martin has been key to developing the series, but of course completely closed-mouth about what is going to happen.



Competing for Time…..

This was going to be a busy week anyway. Multiple commitments, a friend coming into town, and some critical tasks as I am involved in preparing for two different fundraisers for two of the boards I sit on. So, a carefully orchestrated event was severely impacted by Mother Nature with only hours in which to respond. Several phone calls and quite a bit of scrambling, FB messages, and emails flying about that day and the next in setting up a new date. That, of course meant me being unable to attend an already scheduled event on the new day, but we’ll split, and Hubby will go to the function before he joins me at the rescheduled one.

The out of town friend in for a visit comes with the usual tasks of cleaning in prep, etc., and a couple of bedtimes later than usual, which doesn’t actually help with my insomnia. Related to dining out, I’m trying to decide how to creatively use some of the leftovers. Not a big deal, simply something to think through.

Next we have a crisis develop in another non-profit I work with, and it’s too complicated to get into, plus at the moment, we appear to have only bad choices. This is never a situation I like to find myself in, and yet, it’s not the first time either. Experience in such matters does help. I can delay things for a short while and hope a better solution falls from the sky or whatever.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no way I need to be concerned about getting bored. And to put things into perspective, two different friends have asked for prayers as members of their respective families have been entered into hospice and another friend is giving updates on the state of her daughter (several years younger than me) who is recovering from a stroke.

Missing Writers Conference…..

One of the things I do miss about the Washington, D.C. area is the annual writers conference in May. In actuality, the organization I belonged to was forced to finally fold due to the common problem with non-profits not being able to financially sustain in a high cost of living city. I gather another group has revived the conference. The timing was such that I was able on one occasion after we moved to attend the conference and one of son’s dance performances and perhaps the same can apply next year.

There is an energy to be had among writers even though for someone like me who has not been a commercial success, I do have to thicken my skin to hear how others have “made it”. There are always plenty of writers, however, who are still fairly new and can use experiences of those of us who have been around a while to perhaps help them along their way.I usually picked up a few good tips as well. The two conferences in this area have formats I simply don’t care for. There was talk several years ago about trying to have one here. Once the individuals involved looked at the kind of resources required, they realized it wasn’t practical. The small writers’ group has persevered over the years thanks to a couple of hard-working people. The main drawback is a lack of somewhere to meet and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in the near term. No, I don’t belong to the writers’ group for reasons I don’t intend to go into.

There are conferences in GA, NC, and TN I may look into for next year because the timing this year probably won’t work with the trip I always make to Louisiana around Daddy’s birthday, plus this is the year for the big dive show in Orlando in November. (The show rotates between Las Vegas and Orlando) Ah well, I’ll keep an eye out.



Summers on the Farm….

One of the writers on Twitter sent put a request for folks to also exchange Facebook info and I did. This morning, she posted about hay in their barn and that did bring up the memory of the hayloft in my paternal grandparents’ barn. I have previously posted about my sympathy for the economic plight of family farms balanced by my recognition of why corporate farming is what actually feeds the country. Anyway, in spending part of each summer at the farm in Arkansas, there were certain givens. One was playing in the hayloft. This was of course before we realized how allergic my brother was to such things. Gathering the eggs from the chickens was a fun chore. Unless you have done this, you probably don’t know that when pigs are crowded into the trough feeding, you can stand behind them and pull (gently) the curl out of their tails and watch them curl back up. Sitting on the fence watching Papaw herd the cows back from the pasture in late afternoon was a daily treat, too. Arkansas, by the way, is hot and muggy in the summer and we would definitely nee to wash our sweaty faces more than once a day. Three hefty meals a day was in order, but snacks were mostly taking a ripe tomato from the box Mamaw kept by the back door. There is something special about eating a garden fresh tomato in the same way as you do an apple.

The annual killing of chickens to put up in the freezer was a pretty messy affair and I’m not sure we thought that was fun. There was also a lot of canning that went on and we didn’t help with that so much as we stayed out of the way. In truth, I suppose I did occasionally wonder why it was referred to as “canning” when what you actually use are mason jars.  I imagine there were times we claimed to bored although there generally was plenty going on to keep our attention.

Not Knowing What You Don’t Know….

This isn’t as confusing as it sounds. A recent event with a major, mutual misunderstanding and some as yet unresolved tensions brought this expression to mind. I have been on both sides of this as in being in a situation where someone was convinced, “Well, you ought to know” directed at me, and me thinking the same about someone else. In the real world, however, I have also been in positions where I genuinely did not know certain things and I made mistakes due to that; some more serious than others.

Indeed, in continuing to reflect back on my Army days, I’ve mentioned my very first assignment was completely different from what it was supposed to be and it was a position to be held by a captain rather than the junior second lieutenant I was. At a minimum, it should have been a fairly senior first lieutenant. The rationale for why this  occurred is not the subject of this post, however. The individual who placed me in this position was also a demanding boss and only cut me so much slack. On the other hand, I was told in one of my moments of great self-doubt that his actual assessment of me was, “Yeah, she makes mistakes, but never the same one twice,” and the senior guys around me, to include him, did step in if it looked like I was going to make a really serious error. Which leads me to the first main point.

The event that set me to thinking about this was a case where Person A had an agreement that Person B was going to perform a certain service. Person B happily agreed and in fact was in multiple meetings when the service was being discussed. Person B had done something similar for Person C. The difference was an additional administrative requirement was applicable to Person A that had not been the case for Person C. Person B was not aware of this. Person A was not aware Person B did not know of the requirement. The lack of understanding did not come to light in time to correct the problem. “Well, they should have known,” was stated on more than one occasion. It’s a logical sentiment, but in truth, it was simply a mutual, unfortunate lack of understanding. Both parties are now very aware of the specific question to ask in the future.

The second main point is if you are thrust into a position you don’t have the training/background for, be willing to seek out the information/guidance you need and be willing to do the extra work to become as knowledgeable as possible as quickly as possible. The flip side of the coin is if you decide to pursue such a position, don’t try to pretend you won’t make mistakes. Again, be honest about what you’ll have to do and learn from the mistakes you do make. Stretching beyond your comfort zone or taking on new challenges is okay; just be honest about what it is you’re doing.