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How Pervasive is Political Corruption?

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In 2019 I encountered corruption. The local farm that I get some of my food from was attacked. Hidden Creek Farm’s neighbor Ken Wentworth sued the farm on the same day as Dalton Township, under the orders of Supervisor Tony Barnes.


Not only was this unethical, but they also broke several laws. The farm is protected under the Michigan Right to Farm Act. The farm was informed the morning of their court date in an attempt to win by thwarting due process. And, the township had neither approved nor discussed this action at a meeting, which is a violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

This attack was menacing enough, and hit close enough to home, that I decided it was my moral obligation and civic duty to do what I could to help protect the farm and fight my local government corruption. I now have a 14 article series called “Fighting Local Government Corruption” on JeffThinks.com.

When I started writing these articles a failed state representative by the name of Tanya Cabala attempted …

Three Men Who Would Not be King

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It's rare for someone to give up power. That's especially true if you believe yourself to be a good ruler, and you probably wouldn't be a ruler unless you thought you were a good ruler. So, it's almost never done. Most people hold on to as much power as they can get for as long as they can. They step away only when they are forced to. But every now and then, a leader comes along that takes power, and yet doesn't seem to want it. So they decide to walk away on their own.


In 594 BC Solon remade the laws of Athens and created the Athenian Constitution. He got people to swear to abide by the laws. And then, instead of remaining head of the state. Instead of being King. Instead of ruling and wielding power he... get this... exiled himself for 10 years. Yes, that's right. He kicked himself out of his own city. The adventures he had traveling around for the next decade are a series of epic and legendary adventures. But exiling himself so that he couldn't change th…

Happy Crying

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We cry when we're sad, and we cry when we're happy. It's weird. I have a new theory of happy crying.


When we cry because we're sad our feelings can often be expressed as, "I can't believe this is happening!" in a bad way. When we cry because we're happy our feelings can often be expressed as, "I can't believe this is happening!" in a good way. There's a connection here.

In my theory of grief I've pointed out that mourning is the process of our good expectations of the future being dissolved, and our new more realistic set of expectations being built. This is intense. There is no way around the process of grief. You can put it off by deceiving yourself, but that's just putting it off, you can't truly escape it. At some point you have to readjust your expectations.

When you've lost a good thing, such as in the death of a loved one, you have a feeling of loss. You had good expectations, usually subconsciously, and now th…

On the Subjects of Education

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The subject of education is large. It technically covers all of the information ever known, or at least currently known. It's hard to face something that enormous and determine which direction to go. Nevertheless, we must wrest some semblance of order from the clutches of this giant known as education and determine a path forward.


I was recently teaching a young actress who is focused on her career to the exclusion of most other things. She's currently in a play, and because they have had intensive rehearsals for the last few weeks she has missed school.

This is a normal cycle for her. She has a job that consumes most of her time and energy for a few months. Her mother and father work with her during that time on some subjects. And obviously she still has private English lessons with me. Then, after the job is done, she goes back to school. But, as her career grows that's becoming harder to do, and it seems like a normal high school experience may not be the path for her.

A Set of Writing Ideas - Part 1

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I've written down a few dozen ideas over the last couple of months. Just small notes. I probably don't even remember what some of them mean. Here are the first five.


One

In China the government decided to build a huge city, a gigantic city. A city for millions of people. But, they built this city without any people being there. That's the kind of thing that happens in a centrally planned (read dictatorship) country. Then, when they opened it up for people to move there almost no one did. Now there's this huge city with not very many people in it. How odd.

Something similar to that happened in Myanmar, once called Burma, although it's odder still. They built this massive city and made it the capital of the country, but they won't allow almost anyone to live there. It's the size of New York City, but only a few thousand people live there. There are huge highways, with no cars driving down them.

What's up with these giant construction projects that appear t…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - November 27th, 2019

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A writing group the day before Thanksgiving? Yes, of course. And the prompt isn't what you would expect.


I thought I might try something a little different today. I usually write interesting little stories. They often turn into something in between fairy tales and fantasy, which I like. But it's good to expand and try things, to push the edges and see where they actually are. This type of writing group is a perfect place to do that.

Each person has a different voice in their writing. Each person has certain tendencies, in tense, point-of-view, subject, sentence structure, everything. It's hard to break out of that. And to get better sometimes we need to.

There's one woman in the group that writes in this voice that's first person with some autobiography, but it sounds different. It's like a narrator doing a monologue. I've thought about giving that a try, so today I did.

The prompt was "cemetery."

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We spend our lives ignoring our own …

A Late Night Attempt at a Chiropractic Poem

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The daughter of my chiropractors at Beacom Family Chiropractic is holding a poetry contest. I've been intending to do it, I just haven't gotten around to it. Now, I'm doing it.


Over the last 30 minutes here's what I've come up with.

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Ancient communication highways,
ever-changing lanes of transportation,
rivers and their byways.

Delivering messages for friends and family,
messages of things gone wrong,
and others received happily.

Levels higher, now lower,
the banks and edges changing shape,
messages sent faster, now slower.

The fates of businesses and battles depend on,
the words floating along a flowing path,
destiny determined by communication.

Many things can go wrong,
the bank falls in, the water lowers, the river changes its path,
fixed neither by hope nor song.

The way must be cleared,
alignment is the key,
open the way that can be steered.

Now make a change, think fast not slow,
the river is within you,
the path of communication head to toe.

Ner…

Finding Your Voice as a Writer

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In writing, your voice is the unique way that you sound. It changes, and it can often be hard to grasp. I've heard the famous fantasy writer Brandon Mull talk about voice in one of his classes. He said that you need certain technical skills, but in the end you get paid for your voice. Here's one way to find that voice hidden within.


I picked a small selection to work with. It's a weird piece in the second person. And, it's not great. I'm going to make it better. Here's the original.

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Version 0

You have traveled far, entering a territory of mountains and hills, forests, and ancient paths. As you near your destination, an oppressive veil descends as the sky becomes dim. The stagecoach you hired approaches an old stone building with a belfry and enormous arched wooden front doors, whose scrollwork tells tales of horror and redemption. The coach rolls to a stop and you exit to stand before the Church of the Crossroads. The church is an age-old monument…

Masha and a Hornless Unicorn Named Aralock

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I have an eleven-year-old Russian student named Masha.


In school, writing assignments are often kind of boring. I do them a little differently. This is an exercise that we do in class. I write a paragraph, they read it and we go over pronunciation and vocabulary. Then, they write a paragraph, I go through it making corrections while we discuss the changes. It's fun and helps with learning every part of reading, writing, vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax, grammar, spelling, conversation, punctuation, and more. It works better if the students are already fairly advanced, which Masha is.

We've already done some reading and that went well. We read my horror story that's in the anthology "Horror Without Borders", and is also in "A Flash of Horror - Part 4 of 4": http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/2018/11/a-flash-of-horror-part-4-of-4.html

She liked that enough that she wanted me to write another part to it, which is quite the compliment. And, I had a feel…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 13

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We had a student-led day.


I wanted to see what ideas had stuck out in the kids' minds. They threw out a few good ones that we discussed: foreshadowing, frame stories, black/white/grey characters, and dialogue. I helped them to remember in media res, personification, tense, and point-of-view. Then they asked about the details of some of the points of view and we went over first person, second person, third person objective, third person omniscient, and third person close.

That felt like enough review for one day. I asked what they might want to be the prompt and we ended up with three suggestions: Christmas, adventure, and apocalypse. So, the prompt ended up being a Christmas adventure apocalypse.

Our youngest member wrote a story about the daughter of an evil mastermind who wanted to work with him in the lab. Initially he rejected her, but then they reconciled. So the happy ending of the father/daughter reconciliation was just the start of destroying a world, which is a neat idea.

I Went to a Writing Group - November 13th, 2019

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There were four things to think about in this prompt.


Analiese led the group in selecting a noun, a verb, and an adverb or adjective. I threw out "Turtle!" as the first thing, and it was accepted. Next, "shook" was chosen. Then, "quietly." Finally, we were challenged by Analiese to do a gender swap if we could. Since I am a man, that means writing a story from the perspective of a woman, or about a woman as the main character.

My first attempt was pretty straight forward. I thought I might be able to get everything into the first sentence and went with: The mother turtle shook quietly

And then I stopped that nonsense.

I crossed it out and began again.

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Susan the tortoise gazed at the trees in the distance. Sooo far, they were so far away. A gentle gust of wind blew across the field and the grass shimmered, rising and falling in great organic waves. The leaves on the distant trees shook, and a few quietly fell from their heights to join the fo…

The Most Disturbing Thing I've Ever Experienced

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Scarier than jumping out of a plane, being poisoned, vomiting blood, being told you're going to die, being shot at, wrestling alligators, or a car crash, is memory loss.


Yesterday a friend of mine, Scott, sent me a Facebook message.

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U watch "myths and monsters" on netflix yet? ... it's about mythology and books and why/how they write their books .. I thinks its interesting figured youd def like it

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I was playing a great role-playing game called "Call to Adventure" with a couple of friends, so I simply responded.

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I haven't yet, but I'll check it out.

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Today I did check it out. I watched the first episode. I cannot tell if I've watched it before, and that's disturbing.

Even though I had my African ordeal in late 2015, I didn't realize I was having memory issues until a few months later. I slowly noticed that my short term memory was not good, and not getting better. That made sense, whe…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 12

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I had a fun idea for the kid's writing group - nail bending.


Pole barn nails are fun to bend. Just wrap some leather around both ends so you don't draw any blood, grip hard, and bend.

I knew that the kids wouldn't be able to bend the nails. But, I thought with my help that we could probably make a dent or more. I've done it before with women that couldn't quite get the nail to bend, I just grab ahold of their hands or wrists and help.

Unfortunately, the difference was just too much in this case. So, it was a little bit of a letdown, a little bit of a frustration. In a couple of weeks I'll probably get them some easier metal to bend so they can get the feel for it. They still had fun trying, and it's a great way to use up their energy.

We went over the concept of foreshadowing. That's where you mention something lightly early in the story because it's going to be important later.

The prompt was, of course, strength. Some version of great strength, or…

Explorations in Business - Part 8 of ?

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My own psychological resistance to trying to make money is quite astounding.


I remade my website so it doesn't completely suck. But right now the only thing that you can do is sign up for a consultation.

Here's a post I recently made in the FounderCo Facebook group.

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I've been a little surprised at the immense amount of internal resistance I've had to reaching out to people. I think part of it is that this centers around a personal issue that is close to me. I've been doing a deep dive on my own psychology and seem to be making some progress in the recesses of my soul.

A friend of mine suggested that I reach out to a gym owner she knows about doing classes. So I just sent this email.

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And here's the email. (I cut out the last name.)

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My friend Joanie said I should reach out to you. She said she and her husband Rich like your gym.

I am working on launching a meditation coaching business focusing on helping people manage the…

Why City People Are Less Friendly

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I think most people probably realize that cities are less friendly places. For instance, there have been experiments done where a person falls down in the street and they count how many people pass them before someone helps them, or how long it takes for someone to help them. The numbers are always higher in cities. That's just a small example, but you get the idea. The real question is, why?


I think there are a few reasons that all converge. And, it's a bigger issue than some people realize, because it's a massive cultural divide.

In a city there are masses of people. It only makes sense to think of people in groups rather than as individuals, there are too many individuals to think about. So humans lose their individuality and become perceived of as part of a mass or group, unless you happen to know them closely like family, friends, or co-workers. In the country there are fewer people, you can think of them as individuals because you have the mental capacity to handle t…

Giving Feedback on Someone's Writing

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A friend of mine reached out to me recently because he's working on writing a book. I'm guessing we'll get together and discuss it more in the future, but I highly encouraged him to do the work of writing, because you can spend your entire life studying something and never get around to the doing. I know that from personal experience. (And, I did send him a big list of videos and books to check out, probably too many.)


This is a writing exercise he did with my comments included.

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I will offset my comments like this.

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So since I think I should just start writing, I used a writing prompt to create a very short passage . This is the first time I’ve just written off the top of my head . Lemme know if it’s decent, like if there’s room to grow, anything . Thanks.

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The important part about writing is that your style is going to naturally change over time, so you want to get past the early and fast changes as quickly as possible. There is alw…

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