Showing posts from June, 2019

I Went to a Writing Group Today - June 26th, 2019

"Write from the point of view of someone or something that none of the characters knew was watching. It could be a ghost, animal, the furniture come to life, etc." That was the prompt. It stumped me for a few minutes. Usually I can start writing pretty fast from a prompt. I think that comes from years of doing impromptu speaking in Toastmasters. But this time, this time I sat there for a few minutes, staring into the abyss where story ideas come from, waiting for one to jump out, wondering if one would. It did. - - - - - - - Jennifer smiled an unfriendly smile at Tim. "Hi, Tim. Nice to see you." She didn't mean it, and Tim knew it. Tim didn't say anything. He looked down at the floor as he walked across the office and sat in the seat facing Jennifer's desk. No one spoke. Jennifer's smile was truly happy now, full of joy. "Tim, you didn't shut the door." Tim stood back up, walked to the door, and closed it. Then he retu

Leading a Writing Group - Session 4

I was going to have the prompt be "letters." That could go in a couple of interesting directions: there could be epistolary writing where the story is told in letters, or the story could be about a letter of some sort. But, instead, I wanted to go a little crazy. I had the kids write down a color, their favorite color or some other color, doesn't matter. Bella had a hard time choosing, but did eventually. Then, I had them select a weapon. Last week the idea of a stupid ninja came up in the group for some reason, a ninja in all black that was trying to hide in snow and failing. The prompt? Write a story about a stupid ninja that wears that color and uses that weapon. I chose purple and tank. Yes, a tank. - - - - - - - Jonathan pulled his tank up to the facility and hopped out. His purple uniform glistened in the sun. He had been in ninja training for six weeks now. Since they were focused on the art of war he had thought getting a tank would impress people,

A Poem for Joshua

A couple of days ago I went through a book with a student of mine named Joshua. He's pretty good at English. He's 9, he likes reading, and he likes telling me about the stories he's reading. From what I've heard from Joshua he has an excellent English teacher at his school in China, a chap from England. I asked Joshua about writing, and he asked if I wanted him to write a three paragraph essay. Lol. No, I don't want him to write a three paragraph essay, I want him to be able to write anything he wants. I asked if he wanted to work on how to write a story and he offered to write some poetry. That works. Joshua wrote a poem based on using the letters of his name for the beginning of individual lines. That's called an acrostic poem, I looked it up. He wrote the poem on a piece of paper, instead of the screen, and read it to me. - - - - - - - July is my birthday On my desk is an elephant Sunshine and shine Haha, I am happy Upside down, Andy is my frien

Leading a Writing Group - Session 3

A writing prompt can be anything, since anything can be in a story. Truly, everything has a story, since life is a story. But, there is a little bit of an art in selecting writing prompts. This last week I went with "door." That's it. It's wide open, but it's powerful. Doors are thresholds, they are mysteries, they are the point where something changes, barriers that open. As it turns out, Lexi had already been drawing a door before I gave the prompt. Funny how that works sometimes. I think the prompt might have been a little too open. There were too many options and the kids didn't naturally add any detail to the door. It probably would have been good to have pictures of doors that they selected, or something like that. This next session I'm probably going to go with letters, and see if anyone is up for trying a little epistolary. That's where you write the story in letters, or some other documents like that. Then, I think I might start ge

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 5 of ?

Potter in the Park is tomorrow. I'm going to go over a number of logistical issues (the boring part), and then the presentations themselves (the exciting part). The woman that manages the event seems way overwhelmed. She started this thing a number of years ago and I think it's probably surprised her how large it is getting now. She kept telling me that she would answer my questions later because she was busy. That went on for a few months. For about a week now she hasn't responded to, or even looked at, my messages. So, I don't know if I can get into the event early, which is kind of important because early admission is at noon and I give a speech at 12:15, which is before the general admission at 12:30. I don't know if there is an MC or if I will get introduced. I don't know if I will have a handheld microphone or a headset. Basically, I have none of the information that you would like to have if you were giving a presentation at an event. But, I do like


I am completely burnt out. It's my fault, obviously. I have a mental issue, failure to consistently choose priorities. I have known about this issue for most of my life now, but I haven't been able to resolve it. And, realistically, I'm ambivalent about it. One of the reasons that I've been able to do so many cool things is because I'm all over the place. But, it definitely holds me back. Let's go over a few of things I'm working on and how I'm trying to manage them, and then we'll dive into some theory on how I might be able to resolve some of this. I've been driving so hard over the last few weeks on the political battle with Dalton Township that the stress wore me out. A couple of days ago I fell asleep while reading, woke up, stumbled into the kitchen and opened the fridge, and there, right in my face, was some pizza. I ate two pieces. I just wasn't mentally prepared at that moment for it to be there, to resist the temptation. Well

Notes on Horsemanship

I've always liked horses, I just haven't interacted with them much. A handful of years ago I took some private lessons and worked up to jumping over little gates. It was fun. Then, I ended having health issues after almost dying in Africa, and then I had complications with my spine, and now it's been years since I've been on a horse. Over the last few weeks I've tried motorcycle riding for the first time in years, and I've been fine. Soon I'm going to give horseback riding a try. I have some hesitancy about it, because it could go very bad for my health. But, as a step on that path I went to a 2-day horsemanship seminar at Chance Stables put on by Phil Oakes. Last year I noticed that there was a horsemanship seminar going on near me. I looked into it just a little and learned that Phil Oakes is known for his gentle methods used to create gentle horses. I like that, it goes well with my spine that needs gentle treatment. But, last year I was not anywhere

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 4 of ?

My dueling demonstration has had its ups and downs, but it's coming together. I have authentic muzzleloading pistols. But, I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to use them. Rebecca, who runs events in Sparta, is checking into it, but she hasn't gotten back to me and we're only a few days away now. I may end up getting cap guns or something. The owner of Griffin's Rest in Muskegon, Kiel, is letting me borrow the staffs and swords for the demonstration, so that's great. I met with Laura and we did a little walkthrough. I'm used to giving speeches by myself, not giving demonstrations. So it's a little different, but it will go well. (The other three speeches that I'm giving will just be me.) I was going to get my temporary tattoos on Sunday from my friend Jay, but something came up so I still don't have those on yet. I have to get them in the next couple of days to let them darken for the event on Saturday. Here's the basic idea

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 9 of ?

Removing an elected official from office is difficult, which it should be. I contacted the Muskegon County Clerk's office to find out the official number of signatures needed and the time frame. Here are the number of votes needed: - - - - - - - The total number of votes cast for Governor in Dalton Township in November of 2018, was 3,530 of which a recall would require a number of signatures equal to 25% of the number of votes cast or 882 valid signatures of registered voters in Dalton Township.  This is following the process for filing for recall beginning with filing a recall petition with the County Clerk and approval of the petition language by the Election Commission at a Clarity Hearing, prior to circulating petitions for signature. - - - - - - - And here is the rest of the process: - - - - - - - Filing for recall is not a quick process.  When you file the wording with us, a clarity hearing is scheduled for not less than 10 or not more than 20 days from the

Curiosity Saved the Cat: Mind, Body, and Soul

I was recently observing my cousin's five cats interact, and I was also recently at another house where there were a few cats. One cat would come out and want to be petted. Another would hide. One cat would jump at a toy and play with it. Another would run away and hide. There are always differences in the cat personalities, but at base there are really only two main perspectives that a cat can take on life. Curiosity is the thing that encourages exploration. Exploration and fear are both ancient circuits in the brain. To a large extent motivation is linear, you can move towards something or away from it. You can approach or you can avoid. When something is new it's natural to be afraid. Not being afraid is what is learned. For instance, if you take a cat to a new environment and drop it off then the first thing that it will do is stand still, tense, ready, and look around. It's trying to get its bearings, it's trying to orient itself in its new environment. The

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 8 of ?

It's time to clear the air. It sometimes happens that people are put in bad spots, almost impossible positions. "Lie or you lose your job." You don't want to lie, but you can't afford to lose your job either. That's a difficult situation. Maybe you make the wrong choice. We all make bad decisions at some point. The question is, can it be rectified? Personal and public redemption are two different things, but they also complement each other. Personal redemption is more important, by far. You becoming okay with you, the decisions you've made and the actions you've taken, nothing's more important than that. And violating the public trust, that's a big issue. Here is a statement from U.S. President Grover Cleveland in a speech titled "Good Citizenship". - - - - - - - ...toleration in all things save dishonesty and infidelity to the public trusts. - - - - - - - I'm not sure the public trust can be restored after somet

Life: Expansion, Limitation, and Success

Life is about collecting experiences. Or, at least, that's how I've lived a large portion of my life. I think it's a valuable attitude, but I also think it falls short in some ways. Specifically, it doesn't include creative or attitudinal values. But, I've operated under that life philosophy for so long that it's a strong habit now, and maybe I have a natural tendency to be that way too. So, I'm going to dump some of my mind in here and see if I can come up with any new, good, or useful thoughts. An Amish friend of mine asked me today if I would be interested in taking some of his products to the farmers' market in Holland. Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me if I would go to car auctions with him because he owns a small car lot. At a business meeting yesterday someone told me that I should dive into the book and publishing industry in some way because I seem quite knowledgable about it. I would like to pursue all of these things, but that

I Went to a Writing Group Today - June 12th, 2019

I was not feeling it today. I had a tense political meeting on Monday that I gave a speech at, and I sat in this uncomfortable plastic chair for the meeting holding a lot of tension in my body. That threw off my spine. I went in for an extra adjustment the next day and it wouldn't adjust properly. If my cervical spine is out of place for too long it causes issues with my brainstem, and will start effecting my ability to cognitively function, which is just starting to happen now (it doesn't take long). And, I've been too busy to properly rest like this particular body design needs. So, I wasn't feeling it today, but I went to the writing group and had fun anyway. Analiese came up with a prompt that included an educational piece. Here's the beginning of it. - - - - - - - Conflict In every story, there has to be a problem. The main character has to be challenged in some way or the story will go nowhere. There are four basic conflicts to look for that may fa

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