"" Writer's Wanderings

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All The World's A Stage-Starting with my backyard

We have an eating area in our kitchen surrounded by windows looking out over our backyard. When the trees and brush were cut away, it gave us a beautiful view of a small lake and creek behind our house. It's a mecca for wildlife especially since I've planted so many "delictable tidbits" for the deer. They dine in the morning and evening eating plants and shrubs from the top down.

Then there's the rabbits. They take care of the plants from the bottom up and generally choose those the deer leave behind. Chipmunks feed on the bulbs in the ground, moles "aerate the soil" and the geese tear up the grass. A huge blue heron circles on occassion checking out the size and availablity of the goldfish in my pond. (I was smart enough to only buy the 59 cent variety.) Someday I fully expect to see elephants tromping through.

I keep the nurseries and hardware stores in business buying all the latest "off" sprays and "animal resistant" plants. We have motion detectors that chase the deer with a spray of water. Unfortunately, the detectors don't descriminate between deer and meter readers or friendly neighbors. All these things help to keep me slightly ahead of the wildlife...except for the squirrel.

This is no ordinary run-of-the-mill squirrel. He sneaks his way up two levels of decking to a bar stretched out from the railing to a spot right in front of the window where he hangs by his tail to grab the suet block and smear greasy lard all over his paws and face. Then he swings to the finch feeder and somehow manages with those greasy paws to wrest the top off the tube of thistle to grab what he can.

Quite the showman, he performs these feats in front of us as we sit at the table trying to eat our dinner. One evening I thought I might get his acrobatics captured on video for America's Funniest Video. At least then I would have some money to pay for the seed and suet he was consuming. He was so greasy from the suet that he slipped into the half empty tube head first and for a moment appeared to be stuck. Face pressed against the side of the tube, his tail flicked and twitched with his discomfort. Unfortunately for me, by the time the camera was on and running, he had managed enough leverage to pull himself out of the tube and he scampered away.

Having learned this new trick however only brought the furry critter back again and again. He became very adept at popping the cap off the feeder. That is until Bob drilled a hole through the cap and screwed it on. Now he sits there and contemplates the problem before him...the squirrel, not Bob. We fully expect one day to see him come, metric wrench in hand and dig into the feeding tube again. In the meantime, the finches enjoy the food when the "sentry" is not there and we continue to contemplate a way to keep him out of the suet.

Shakespeare said "all the world is a stage". He must have had a backyard like ours.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Writing for a Postmortem Audience?

[One more chuckle from an earlier post]

I've been at a writers conference for the past week. I was looking forward to sunny California but 4 out of 5 days it has rained. I think it affected my brain function. As I surveyed the list of workshops, my eyes caught one titled "Writing for the Postmortem Audience." I blinked twice and read it again but it stayed the same.

A postmortem audience? What is a postmortem audience? Is it one full of dead people? Is it an audience of coroners? Morticians? Forensic scientists? The questions bounced around in my head for the afternoon and the next day. Even though my mind was beginning to go into overload mode with all the information being crammed in, the question would still surface. What is a postmortem audience?

When the world of critiques, workshops, keynotes, and networking slowed a bit, I got out my notebook with the scheduled workshops list and looked again. Writing for the Postmortem Audience was right there. Or was it? The fog lifted a bit. I think the sun may have even peeked through for a moment. It wasn't "postmortem" it was "postmodern"!


What's a postmodern audience?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Laughter - The Best Medicine

[Another look back at a really early post]

Well, it is confirmed. Laughter truly is the best medicine. I knew that! Now we have real proof. According to the reports on the news, researchers have found that the arteries widen when we experience laughter thereby putting our blood supply to the heart and brain at a healthier level.

Now come the complications. Does this mean that the theater will charge more for a comedy than an action movie? Will comedians demand more money? Will they have to be licensed as health care givers? Will this open the doors to a private specialty practice? Will malpractice insurance be available should they fail to treat the patient with a sense of humor?

And, what does this do for all those tort lawyers? I can see the commercials now. "If you, or someone you love, saw Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, and it failed to make you laugh, your arteries could have been seriously damaged. Call us. We can help you recover financially."

Now, that's funny.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Daddy Hair

[Perusing some old posts I came across one of my favorites. It bears repeating. By the way, Tyler is now a taller-than-me sixteen year old.]

"I'm gonna be a daddy," our three year old grandson, Tyler, announced as he strolled into the restaurant to meet us for lunch.

I immediately looked to my daughter-in-law. Was he making an announcement? Were we going to add to the growing list of grandchildren? A grandmother is always looking for another.

"You can thank your son for that idea," Lori said. "Ron told him that when he got hair on his chest he would be a daddy. The other day day he noticed he had hair on his legs and he figured that was good enough--he could be a daddy."

"Well if we shaved the hair on his legs, does that mean he could be a mommy?" I asked. To her credit, Lori politely asked me not to plant that idea in his head.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Carnival's New Medallion for Cruising

One of the things my husband looks forward to when we come to Florida is that he can get the Miami Herald delivered every day. A real printed newspaper! The delivery system is a little strange. The paper gets placed in a bag with the number of our condo on it and it rides up and down in the elevator until Bob goes out and retrieves it--unlike last year where it got tossed up on the walkway in front of our second story condo. At times there was a stone in the bag so it had enough weight for the toss.

All that detail aside, the Business Monday section this week contained an interesting report on a new innovation coming to the Carnival Corporation. Those of us familiar with cruising know the value of the sea pass that resembles a credit card or hotel key. You use it as your stateroom key and to charge onboard purchases to your account. It is also your pass on and off the ship where it is scanned and matched with your security picture. Get ready for a change to procedure.

Carnival who also owns such lines as Princess, Holland America, Seaborn and Cunard has hired the fellows that engineered the mousebands for Disney vacationers. While I like the idea of the mousebands that are used as room keys, charges to your account and link to an app that allows for making reservations, setting your schedule and several other planning options, this new innovation has me asking some hard questions.

According to the Herald article and several I found online, they have engineered what they call the Ocean Medallion about the size of a quarter that will work with a variety of devices connected to something called the Ocean Compass. Before you cruise the Ocean Compass will ask you to fill out all sorts of information beyond the usual precruise details like your credit card number, dinner reservations, excursions, etc. that are usually done. It will all be programmed into your Ocean Medallion along with suggestions for extras to add on to your cruise experience based on your answers to questions about what you expect from your cruise.

Unlike the mousebands, you will not have to hold your medallion to the door of your stateroom, only stand in front of it. When you pass a monitor on the ship, it will register with suggestions for what you might like to buy in the gift shop. (By the way, there are all sorts of items in the gift shop like a necklace or key chain to keep your medallion in.) Pass the display for photos and you will immediately be up on the electronic board. Want a drink by the pool? Order through your device that's connected to the medallion and you'll never have to leave your deck chair.

The medallion will allow ship personnel to immediately identify you as you pass their devices. Your picture will pop up on their display, your preferences noted and of course the idea being that your every desire will be met. No cherry in that pina colada without being asked. Supposedly you will be able to order your food and it will be ready by the time you get to the dining room.

All of this presupposes that you have noted all of your preferences, desires, and plans on the Ocean Compass. The question is, how much privacy are you giving up and how much information (read commercials) will you be bombarded with? If someone has your medallion can they open the open the door to your stateroom? I realize that we have already given up a lot of privacy with social media and other technologies but, really, a cruise vacation is a chance to get away from all that.

Wouldn't it be more unique to have a cruise where there were no devices allowed? Where people actually interacted face to face? Where crew members actually learned your name? What's next? Robots serving drinks at the pool? Microchipping passengers as they board?

Part of me wants to see this be successful--the part that owns stock in the company and realizes they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and initiate this. The other part of me says stop messing with my cruise experience.

Here's several links to articles I read:
NY Times
Crusie Critic 
Princess Cruises

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