Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie Review: SKYFALL

By: Michala T.

I went to the movies last night. I watched Skyfall, the new James Bond movie for those who don’t know.  Now I normally watch this with my best sis Amanda but wasn’t able to this time>>>sorry girl! 
What I am used to from the Bond movies is a lot of sophisticated animalistic sex appeal mingled with exotic locations, beautiful women, fashion, and of course danger and thrills, crime and action. I walked out of the theatre a little let down last night. Not a whole lot but a little. Skyfall was just different from the previous Bond movies I’ve come to love. It was an excellent film. I’m not bashing it in the least. I just didn’t feel as though it held to the nature of James Bond.
The setting for the movie is ‘shit happens…to everybody.” And it was. Bond’s world was crumbling. His boss M’s world was disintegrating. MI6 was collapsing. To show evidence of Bond’s world going to hell, he appeared unshaven and old, drunk and living life as though he didn’t care about crap. I didn’t like the old look but they refreshed him a bit later…but still the look of the old man lingered. This wasn’t fitting in my reality as Craig is a year younger than Roger Moore in his first Bond movie.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Photo: Stretch Your Mind

By JccKeith - not my pic, found it hanging around online

This picture is in fact an extreme close up of spandex.  In light of this festive time of year when too many of us eat far too much - I thought a good old look at our stretchy friend would be nice. Hang around, hang loose and enjoy.

For anyone interested, spandex was invented in 1959 by a couple of chemists, C.L. Sandquist and his buddy  Joseph Shivers in a DuPont lab.  It is a synthetic, meaning not natural, fiber.  It is known for its lovely elasticity and has been making people look really good or really bad for over fifty years.

The World Is a Vampire? No It's a Meme!!!

By: Michala T.

The Word Is NOT a Vampire!
(all white text) Cool Story Bro. Tell it again SweatshirtDo you remember that song? Bullet with Butterfly Wings in which they say the world is a vampire by the Smashing Pumpkins?  In case you didn’t know that saying refers to an even or circumstance which occurs and reminds of you how utterly stupid and unfair humanity can be. For example, you are pulling into Walmart and you see this awesome parking spot right? And then you see a real old person walking across and you slow down to let them pass. Then you pull towards you parking spot and someone takes it from you and flips you the bird JUST LIKE THAT! And then you call your friend to complain and they say, “man…the world is a vampire.”
Well, the world isn’t a vampire. It’s a meme. Maybe your world isn’t but mine is a big fat meme.  First let me explain what a meme is in case you didn’t know.  According to the Urban Dictionary a meme is an idea, belief, or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture. It can be spread from parent to child but in this instance I am talking about memes spread by cultural acquisition (by peers, information, and entertainment media.) Now, this definition is polite and makes a meme almost acceptable.  Urban Dictionary does not stop with just that definition though. Nope. They get to the real nitty-gritty with definition 2. A pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable. Doesn’t that sound scary!!!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do...

By JccKeith

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been hard at work and hardly working.  I haven’t been posting on the site as much due to my services being needed elsewhere.  Everyone in my house has managed to come down with a different version of the plagues going around this year.  It fell to me to see to their every need and make sure they were getting enough fluids, enough pain relief, having their temperatures taken and other necessities.

On the flip side, I haven’t had time to write so I’ve hardly been working on that at all.  Fortunately, my brain has a habit of distracting itself from the situations at hand and was hard at work.  Sifting through the details of my favorite novel in progress, it was rearranging and reevaluating everything.

I discussed previously in the Journey With Me post about giving up my deep seated need to adhere to the facts associated with our reality here on Earth and in our universe.  Breaking up with reality was tough enough.  With the break up came the opening up of new avenues of thought and interaction.  But as with all break ups, there was a lot of collateral damage.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

J.K.Rowling Was My Shrink

By: Michala T.

I’ll admit I was behind the times when the first installment of Harry Potter came out. In 1998 I was not yet married and though I read a lot, it was mostly V.C. Andrew novels. (Okay, everybody engage in laughter now….okay, now stop.) I didn’t get around to reading the book series until after I had finished reading the Left Behind series AND the Gunslinger series.  By then it was 2004 I think. My brother was heavy into the series but I think that was expected. The book series was more geared towards the younger generation than it was for my own. It wasn’t until adults really picked up the book and decided to read it that they realized Rowling had truly did something magical. She’d written a book series both young and old could get hypnotized with.
And that I did. I loved the series. I loved the characters. I loved the storylines. And I was hooked from then on and honestly feel she did us all justice in the way she ended the series. Of course, that is my opinion.
At the time I picked up the series I was also frequenting the computer but I wasn’t gung-ho on the Internet really. I was more into the word processing program as I was trying to get my poetry out into the mainstream. I was at a stage in my life where I was ‘trying’ to be a writer but not writing anything new. So I focused on my poetry and the Writer’s Market book was my lifelong companion…for about two years. LOL

Losing My Religion Lyric Review

By JccKeith

Lyric review of Losing My Religion by REM

Most people have heard this song.  What many people don’t know is that the song has absolutely nothing to do with religion, by Michael Stipe’s own admission to various magazines.  He says the song is about romantic expression, a love that is not returned.  The term “Losing my religion” is slang in the southern United States for “being at the end of one’s rope” or “losing ones temper.”

With this new insight into the song in mind, let’s listen to the song and then break it down with some meaning:


Oh life, it’s bigger  [Singer is contemplating life and meaning]
It’s bigger than you  [Speaking to the other person: You are not the center of the world.]
And you are not me  [You don’t understand me because you are not me]
The lengths that I will go to  [I would do anything for you, go to any lengths to reach you]
The distance in your eyes  [I can tell by your eyes you do not feel the same about me]
Oh no, I’ve said too much  [I regret saying such things to you]
I’ve said enough  [I’m done talking about it for now]

Friday, December 28, 2012

Srapcboko....Thats What my Scrapbook Looked Like

By Michala T.

I Don’t Scrapbook
I’m lucky if I even get a good dozen pictures taken in a six month period of time. It wasn’t always like that. When I was newly branded ‘mom’ I took tons of pictures. Of course I had watched hundreds of episodes of A Baby Story (thanks TLC) of all the perfect mommies who decorated their beds or backdrops of wherever they were going to take a picture of their baby. Mothers decorated their babies with flowers, costume jewelry, exotic cloths, and what have you and then the show would post the brilliant photos. Yep I tried that stuff. My pictures didn’t come out all that great (but my baby looked heavenly anyway!)

I took a whole lot of pictures those first two or three years. I have tons of pictures in photo albums and even more in photo boxes. I mean a lot! And then my second child came. I took pictures early on but not as frequently. It wasn’t that I didn’t think my second child wasn’t as photogenic or whatever. I was just slacking. I still have a load of pictures in albums and I even have a good amount in boxes, but I didn’t have the excessive amount as I’d originated with my first child.
And still I had so many loose pictures of my two children; I didn’t know what to do with them all. I decided, “Hey, I can make a scrapbook!” My first child had a good amount of pages in the scrapbook but I felt that my skills just weren’t up to par. I’d seen so many other awesome scrapbooks that were better than mine, more creative, bolder, brighter, better! My second child’s scrapbook…well, I did get maybe 5 or 6 pages in there decorated. By then I realized I don’t scrapbook. Nope…it’s not my thing. I am not interior decorator. I cannot craft books with images. I craft books with words, characters, plots…but not photos.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year In Review: Another Notch?

By: Michala T.

This week, realizing that I was finally reading and writing for important reasons and not just for self-gratification, but for real…for others, I decided I had to take it up a notch. Now I’m not saying when I write stuff for my blog that I am not putting my best effort in. I am. However, now I am not just toying around with my thoughts but with a book review I am literally trying to get to you the most important elements of that book and how they affected me. I am telling you just why you should turn your car around right now, skip out on whatever present involvement life has forced upon you, and go buy a book. Okay, maybe not that extreme but you get my point.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year In Review: Screw You Sherlock

"Screw you Sherlock!”
By: Michala T

I bet that’s what Watson was thinking whenever Sherlock Holmes would answer, “It’s elementary dear boy.”
You must be thinking I’m off my rockers. But truly, I’m having a blast. Okay, let’s back up a little. You must be wondering why I would think something like that.
I’m talking about book reviews. What it is like. Doing a true book review is totally different from those “Okay class, write a three page paper on….” It is so very different. In fact, it is so very different. (I repeat myself on purpse.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Symbols

By: Michala T.

I can't very well list all the originations of all the various Christmas representations here; nor would you want to take the time to read it all. Hey, look something up for a change! Just Kidding. I wondered of a few things: snowman, ornaments, wreathes, and so much more. I decided to look up these two:
Candy Canes:   Christmas tree ornaments originally were foods such as candy and cookies.The original candy cane was a straight, white sugar stick. These candies were later bent and shaped to represent a shepherds staff.  There are many representations people like to cling to: upside down 'J' for Jesus, the white for purity and red for blood. The flavor of peppermint is similar to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made. Thus the candy cane. You can read more by clicking on the Underlined words Candy Cane. 

Gingerbread men: The mixed ingredients formed paste would be pressed into a wooden mold and then used to give the 'news of the day' a storyboard. Some of the cookies would be painted with icing. In the 16th century people would add sugars and spices to the cookies to taste more inviting. Queen Elizabeth I decided they made great cookies for entertaining guests. Thus the gingerbread cookie was formed. And not just in the shape of a man, but castles and biblical scenes as well. 

Pretty interesting stuff wouldn't you say? Merry Christmas Everyone!

Year In Review: Am I A Nerd

By: Michala T.

Wikipedia…Gosh don’t we all just love that site…or love to hate it? In grad school, if you use Wikipedia as a resource, you will receive an F on your assignment. Okay…not really, but it is a huge no-no and points are definitely taken off because it is deemed unreliable. And yet I am still compelled to visit the site for any research I take on. (Here’s a tip…scroll down to the very bottom and look for their resources...some of those are credible resources for your papers!) Damn…I just gave away one of my secrets!
I digress. My novel is definitely utterly fantasy. But I have not always written fantasy. It chose me, not the other way around. I actually had to seek out someone who had the knowledge for me to write it properly. (There are rules in writing guys! Really!)
I can’t help that inside my mind I picture the nerdy school boys who would play D&D or would do those role playing things…oh, those MAGIC card games and all that. I was so NOT that type of person. I was not a nerd. Or was I? I liked to read a lot. But that (according to Wiki) does not mean that I am a nerd. So what does Wiki say about nerds? Let us compare the ways…I could or could not be a nerd.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Year In review: How Free is That Speech

by: William Muir

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment of Constitution of the United States of America, 1791

By: William G. Muir

It is often said that America is a free country, but this is not necessarily correct. We live in a country were we have certain liberties. In a free country these rights would come with no strings attached. But in the United States our rights come with responsibilities. And the rights laid out in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights are no different. What I would like to look at is the freedom of speech that is guaranteed in the founding document of United States.

Deck the Hall... and Get Out of My Way

By JccKeith

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,

Fa la la la la la la la la

Tis the season to be jolly,

Fa la la la la la la la…  

wait, what?  Tis the season to be jolly?  Clearly, whoever wrote this song never went Christmas shopping in December.  I would venture to say they never had to fight mall traffic.  I would also bet they never had to fight bumper to bumper cars just to get to the friggin’ grocery store.

Alright, in all seriousness, of course they didn’t.  Deck the halls is older than you might think.  Its origins date back to a Welsh song by the name of Nos Galan from the sixteenth century.  Its more ‘modern’ version (actually named Deck the Hall, not Deck the halls) wasn’t even published until 1862.  So we’re still in the no-mall traffic ages around that time.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Managing Your Time: A Personal Experience

By: Michala T.

How do I do it?

I have always been a busy-minded person. I think it is due to the fact that I think way too much for my own good. I always have. And to keep from thinking about things that bog my time and energy down I just feel it is healthier to keep busy. (My thoughts tend to go towards the darker side of life.)

Having kids, you would think I wouldn’t have to find things to keep busy. LOL But I must and so I do. I found school was a great answer to my prayers years ago. Maybe it is due to the fact that I got really good at juggling life and school and work but after a while even going to school didn’t keep me busy enough. So I incorporated writing on a heavier level into living.

My therapist told me once that I was too busy. I looked at her like she was crazy. LOL

Today I still maintain that business. Only now its grown to grand proportions. I have my family and home to tend to, I work part time at a hotel (I love meeting new people!), I sell Thirty-One (again to meet new people and make new friends), I attend Graduate school, I read and review books for various places (which now includes keeping up with my own blog),  and I am working on my first novel.

Top 7: What Keeps you From Writing?

By: Michala T

Just when I sit down to write, there are always things around me or inside my head that always tries to prevent me from getting my writing done.  Here are a few of them.
1.Facebook! I should probably just say INTERNET.

2.FAMILY  It is so very hard and nearly impossible to get any writing done when they are in the house.

3.FAMILIAR MUSIC   I start singing along. What’s really bad is when that one song gets stuck in your head and you are like…’GET OUT OF MY HEAD!’ Oh and VIDEOS are the worst. I love them. Gosh I miss you MTV and VH1!

4.Waiting for the mailman. I can’t help it. I am a mail junkie. I will order magazines and freebies just to get mail. I LOVE IT!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What They Said: Edward P. Jones

by: Michala T.
If you write a story today, and you get up tomorrow and start another story, all the expertise that you put into the first story doesn't transfer over automatically to the second story. You're always starting at the bottom of the mountain. So you're always becoming a writer. You're never really arriving. -EDWARD P. JONES

I find this quote very humbling and one that I believe all writers should recognize. When I am writing anything and that process carries into the next day, I can't just go right in and begin where I left off. Rarely if ever does that happen. Instead, I find I must reread a previous chapter or what I wrote the day before and then collect my thoughts on the creativity I created yesterday. Most frequently I find I change some minor, and even some major pieces of the part I wrote yesterday before I can even begin to continue working on today's piece.

Lost in the City, by Edward P. Jones is a collection of short stories involving African American working class. His second novel, The Known  World, is a fictional novel with a protagonist who was of mixed race and a slaveholder. He won the Pulitzer Prize for this book as well as the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He’s written other interesting  novels and collections of short stories and is definitely an author to check out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What They Said: Stephen King on Banning Books

Reprinted by Michala T.

I once borrowed a book from the public library that was so over the top grotesue I went back to that library and filed a complaint against such book. I was appalled that such a book could be on the shelves of a public place, where my children could potentially find their way to such a book. I felt that said book needed to have no place in a public library.
Fortunately, that book was never removed from the shelves and I received a letter telling me as much. Why do I say 'fortunately'? Because today I can understand that censorship in such a way is wrong and contradictory of free speech. I would go on to explain my views now, compared to what I felt at the time however Stephen King said it so much better. His link can be found her: Book-Banners: Adventure in Censorship is Stranger Than Fiction, The and you can visit more of his works as well. After you read this, PLEASE post your commonts on how you feel about book banning.
Published as a Guest Column in the March 20, 1992 issue of The Bangor Daily News
"When I came into my office last Thursday afternoon, my desk was covered with those little pink message slips that are the prime mode of communication around my place. Maine Public Broadcasting had called, also Channel 2, the Associated Press, and even the Boston Globe. It seems the book-banners had been at it again, this time in Florida. They had pulled two of my books, "The Dead Zone" and "The Tommyknockers," from the middle-school library shelves and were considering making them limited-access items in the high school library. What that means is that you can take the book out if you bring a note from your mom or your dad saying it's OK.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blueberries Caused Me To Give Birth

By JccKeith

O.k. that's a deceptive title.  Blueberries didn't cause me to give birth.  They stimulated my body to increase the birth rate of brain cells in my hippocampus.  The hippocampus is not those pesky areas of increased fat on your sides or thighs.  Also, not the university where hippos go to college.  But speaking of college, sit down and brace yourself, I'm going to school you in the benefits of blueberries.  And then I'll explain to you how blueberries will help you write brilliantly and win a Pulitzer.

The hippocampus is the area in the brain responsible for memory.  And to be more specific, it was the roughly one cup of blueberries every day for a couple of weeks that did it.  To be even more specific, it was the roughly one cup of blueberries I added to my yummy low fat vanilla yogurt every day.  Honestly I couldn't eat them otherwise, they're a little too tart for my taste.

Blueberries, who knew, those cute little blue round thingies were so beneficial to the body?  Apparently, fruits rich in deep pigments help preserve the brain machinery and boost the power of neural signals.  They help turn on key systems in the brain and help other proteins involved in memory and a few other cognitive skills.

Now this next tid bit of information I can't really substantiate but it claims that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and could possibly, maybe, they really can't prove it, help reduce the effects of conditions like Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia.  One more thing, blueberries contain ellagic acid, this other super wonderful phytochemical that helps prevent cell damage.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard this mumbo jumbo before about oxidative stress and other such terms.  Oxidative stress is a real thing.  In normal cell reactions, cells undergo what are called redox reactions in which they either gain or lose electrons.  Oxygen, that thing we all love and  need, is not always a good guy.  Oxidation involves in many cases, the addition of an oxygen to a molecule.

Simply put, when these reactions go awry as they are wont to do (or at least they did in all of my chemistry experiments in college), you end up with reactive oxygen species.  These reactive oxygens then, because they can react with just about any molecules, run amok and form peroxides and other toxic molecules and damage the cell, proteins, and more importantly, DNA.

Neural cells are some of the most susceptible cells in your body and they are some of the most important.  Unfortunately, these free radicals (no not a musical group, they are reactive oxygens), attack and destroy or at least damage neurons.  What this means is that after enough are damaged, your body can't replace them fast enough or well enough and you start to see effects like memory loss, loss of cognitive functions such as in Dementia and the like.

Blueberry Goo
So how do blueberries protect your precious neurons from such cell damage?  They don't magically coat your neurons with a blueberry goo shield if that's what you're thinking.  It's a little more complicated than that.  The uncomplicated answer would be something along the lines of well, I don't know, some chemicals present in blueberries are released into your system upon digestion and interact in some beneficial way with your body.

The real answer is a lot more complicated and detailed.  You see, when you eat something and your body digests it, it doesn't magically break down into beneficial molecules that are readily usable by your body's systems.  Things you eat aren't made up of molecules with google maps telling them where they need to go in your body to work.  It's not so simple.  It's more like they are broken down into simple molecules that are then converted by enzymes in your system into other molecules which then interact with other enzymes and it is a chain reaction of small reactions that eventually lead to their ultimate destination.  I could probably whip out my biochemistry books and break it all down for you but none of us are interested in that. 

Why you're reading this, besides your unusual fascination with blueberries, is to find out how blueberries will turn you into a Pulitzer Prize winning author.  That might have been an exaggeration on my part.  Blueberries, as far as I've read, do not help your brain generate genius ideas or brilliant works of literature.  Blueberries, so far as writing is concerned, might only help you not forget where you put your snickers or caffeine laden beverage.

Let's face it, most authors will tell you, they didn't write their award winning works while munching on blueberries, unless it was a healthy eating book or something of that nature.  And even then, those authors writing those books, probably enjoyed their fair share of caffeine and sugar or sugar-like substance.

Blueberries, as pretty as they are, might, however, lead to your being a healthier eater.  They might, due to their location in the store near other fruits and veggies, lead you to buy strawberries and blackberries.  Both of those fruits, by the way, also boast brain boosting benefits.  This newfound ingestion of fruits might lead you to exercise like yoga or jogging or some other healthy pursuit.  All of that might just help you live longer.
And hey, if you're healthier and live longer, you might just live long enough to finish that novel you've been procrastinating on for most of your life.  And it might just win an award.  

  • My advice to you then would be, skip the blueberries and spend more time writing.  Blueberries are overrated.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Does God intervene in our lives?

Conversation taken from The Matrix.

The Oracle: I'd ask you to sit down, but you're not going to anyway. And don't worry about the vase.
Neo: What vase? [Neo knocks a vase to the floor]
The Oracle: That vase.
Neo: I'm sorry.
The Oracle: I said don't worry about it. I'll get one of my kids to fix it.
Neo: How did you know?
The Oracle: What's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything.

It’s a common question: why do bad things happen to good people. The flip side of that question asks Why do good things happen to bad people? Of course, people don’t want to come right out and say that but they are thinking it. You think it too. It’s the underlying meaning behind questions such as, “Why do I kick my ass to get ahead and stay broke and people who do nothing succeed and get all the money?”

But behind all those smaller questions is the really big question. Does God intervene in our lives? For those who pray and offer up our praises to the Lord and Savior, Creator and Redeemer…we can’t help but ask…does it even matter if it isn’t going to stop the bad things from happening to us?

Of course, there is that awesome subject of free will that Christians fall back on when trying to explain why bad things happen to good people. Yet, it doesn’t answer the question though, does it? We still walk away from that conversation feeling confused, maybe empty, maybe depressed, but still with unanswered questions.

Does God make things happen in our world? If He does is it only sometimes? If so, why not all the time? I don’t believe that the God I love will point His finger and stake one place as being ‘safe’ from harm (take the hurricanes or the most recent mass shooting in Conn, for example.) Were these places less good or less Christian than another? I can’t accept that and yet people all over the place say, “well, God was taken out of schools” or “that place was full of lust and sin.” No. I refuse to accept that.

When my mother in law was dying, I witnessed people who I know were very strong in their faith pray day and night over her, asking God to allow her to be healed. I mean, why not? Healing occurred in the bible, why not then and with her? She was one of the most passionate for Christ woman I know to this day. Why didn’t he heal her? Was it because one of us might have sinned on the way to the hospital that day? Maybe we said a swear word? Maybe we doubted God for a second? Again, these are things I just cannot accept.  Nowhere in my love and trust of the Lord God and Savior Jesus do I believe that one action or one thought can reverse an intervention They were minutes or seconds away from doing. That is just ridiculous.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: The Song of an Innocent Bystander by Ian Bone

By: Michala T.

The Song of an Innocent Bystander by Ian Bone (2004)
When Freda was nine years old she and her family goes to eat out. Freda is psyched because normally her mother Nancy would never agree to such a place as Family Value. So when her kids meal doesn’t include the sticker she so badly wanted she talks her dad into letting her go back in to get her sticker.  With determination, Freda walks straight to the front counter unaware of the man who is standing on top one of the tables holding a gun.
Ten years later, Freda is still haunted by the ghosts of her past, by the unspoken secrets, and suffers under the protective arms of her mother who is hellbent on making sure corporations don’t allow such victimization to continue. The tragedy she endured however is brought back to surface when she begins to receive phone calls. Someone knows about one of her unspoken secrets. And then there is William, a college student who wants to interview her. His styles of interviewing are unlike anyone Freda has ever spoken to and she doesn’t know exactly what to make of him or his questions.
The book is told in a narrative that goes from the present time and into the past. It unfolds tale of the siege, a madman and the little Freda. All the lives of the strangers trapped within the confines of the restaurant who withheld emotions for a lonely little girl because they could only think of their own survival. The story explores how and why a nine year old might form a partnership with the only person who is showing her any kindness and mercy-the gunman and the traumatic, far-reaching effects such a partnership has on the current day lives. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Friday, December 14, 2012

By Julie Keith

This video may seem a little cheesy but in light of recent events, it seemed most appropriate.  

Today is Friday and on Friday’s I normally write a lyric review but today I just couldn’t. Today is December 14, 2012.  It will be a day some of us will never forget.  Twenty children were killed today by a twenty year old young man who went on a shooting spree at their elementary school.  The town of Newtown Connecticut will never be the same and neither will Hook Elementary School.

This man, Adam Lanza, shot his mother in the face and killed her with her own guns at his home.  He then made the drive to the elementary school to shoot innocent children.  There are around 400 children at this school between the ages of 5 and 10.  After the shooting rampage, Adam took his own life.

I cannot even begin to imagine the fear and the pain experienced by the families of the victims.  They dropped their kids off at school this morning probably looking forward to the weekend.  Today was just another day and they went about their lives as usual.  How could anyone anticipate such a tragedy, how could anyone even consider the possibility their child would be at risk of such things at an elementary school?  How devastating it must have been to hear of the shooting and not know whether their children or their loved ones were still alive.  
  • Such unimaginable grief.
I cannot fathom any reason anyone would feel the need or the desire to open fire upon innocent children.  To end their lives so brutally and cause them to take their last breaths in absolute terror is just beyond cruel and inhumane. 

When I picked my two daughters up from their elementary school this afternoon, I had not heard about the shootings.  I had been home all day and hadn’t so much as turned on a radio or television or the computer or even checked my phone.  It wasn’t until a little later that I turned on the television to the news and saw the horrible details of this senseless tragedy. 

Listening to my daughters downstairs playing, one on the computer and the other drawing gingerbread people on paper, I couldn’t help but fully appreciate the sounds of their voices and laughter.  Glancing across the room at our Christmas tree and the presents underneath for not just my daughters but my son as well, I felt like crying.  The thought that they might not live to open those presents never occurs to me.  I send them to school every day and just assume they will return unharmed.

Thinking of the terrible losses to those families, I was reminded of this morning.  We all got up and had breakfast together and a rousing discussion of Lucky Charms and Trix as we ate cereal.  Then I helped Lindsey, my youngest, pick out some clothes for school.  We found a Hello Kitty shirt in the back of her closet that had been forgotten recently but was one of her favorites.  It is dark pink with pink sequins on it and a black sequined bow on Hello Kitty’s head.  It matched perfectly with her black and pink jeans and her Hello Kitty sparkly shoes.

Haley, as always, got herself dressed.  I packed their lunches and dropped them off at school.  As we do every day, they both waved to me several times as they walked to the doors and I waved back.  I don’t know what I would do if it was the last time.  What if those smiles they flashed me with their waves were the last ones I ever got to see?  What if this morning hadn’t been such a great one?  What if we had argued about which shoes to wear or about backpack’s not being ready to go or about hurrying up?  What if today had been the last day of their lives?  Would they know how much I love them?

I am certain my kids would know how much they are loved.  Knowing this, however, only offers some comfort.  This world is, like life, unpredictable and unfair too often.  Words cannot even begin to describe how awful this all is.  I can only say that my sympathies go out to the families involved in this tragedy.

If I Had A Dollar...

By JccKeith

If I had a dollar for every time I posted something on Facebook and it went without any comments, I might not be a millionaire but I’d have a few thousand in the bank.  Well, who am I kidding, the stores would have a few thousand more dollars in their banks.

If I had a dollar for every brilliant thing I’ve ever said on Facebook… I might have a nickel.  That may seem impossible but seriously, I’m not solving the world’s problems or reinventing the wheel or expounding on the merits of quantum mechanics.  It’s mostly a bunch of nonsense or random silliness.

That probably explains why so much of my posting goes uncommented upon.  But you see, that is misleading because one of these days I might make some marvelous discovery.  I will post it on Facebook and it will be largely ignored and mankind will suffer for lack of my wondrous insight. 

I hold the secret belief that somebody somewhere is taking notes.  They are keeping track of my every post, my every move as it were.  They are preparing to write my biography some day.  I try to liven up their lives with the occasional note about my eating habits.  “Thursday: Julie made Chicken Carbonara for dinner.  Julie said it was delicious.”

In all seriousness, that’s ridiculous, no one particularly cares about my life or what I eat for dinner.  The only one who cares is my dog as she sits at my feet hoping I might accidentally drop some on the floor.  My cat is usually sleeping and too busy doing so to care.

In addition to their lack of concern for my dietary preferences, most people couldn’t care less about my Facebook account.  Even the executives of the stores I frequent don’t care about the measly few thousand dollars I spend on food and clothing every year.  I am one of billions of customers.

Where my lifestyle choices and my behaviors do matter are to people a lot closer to home.  I am not talking about my friends and family either.  They have their own Facebook posts and daily dramas to worry about.  

No, the people I am talking about are the less fortunate people I don’t know.  The homeless guy that sits on the exit ramp begging for change from exiting cars, the families without food, the kids without coats and gloves, the women and children at the Center for Women and Families fleeing abuse, and every other person down on their luck in my community are those to whom I am referring.

It is true that ‘Need Knows No Season.’  There are always people in need but during this season is when most people suddenly pay attention.  Almost every store has a person standing in front with a red kettle labeled Salvation Army.  They stand there day after day ringing that bell to get you to notice.  Grocery stores have boxes near the check-out filled with pre-prepared bags of food you can buy for a needy family.  They also have gift cards that will be given to needy families.  Schools run food drives and clothing drives.  Toys for tots run their campaigns.

There is no end to the ways you can donate to help others.  The problem is, in these tough times, too many people don’t because they feel they need every cent they have for their own families.  For some, this is true.  But for those people who say such things and then go on Facebook to complain about their house being too dirty, their job being too stressful, lines at the shopping malls being too long or the burger they got at McDonald’s today wasn’t made correctly – I call bull@#*%.

Whenever I look back through my Facebook posts about what I ate for dinner, what I watched on Netflix or where I went out last weekend – I remind myself that

  • When I have a dollar… on my way into that store, that dollar won’t mean much to me but it will mean a lot to whoever is on the receiving end when I toss it in the red kettle.

  • When I have five dollars… on my way through the drive thru at McDonald’s, that value meal won’t mean anything to me other than increasing my cholesterol level and adding to the thousands of calories I consume every day – but to that homeless guy on the exit ramp begging for change, a gift card to the McDonald’s at the end of the street will mean a meal.

  • When I have ten dollars…  on my way to the check out at the local superstore, the expensive shampoo and conditioner or candy and junk food or six pack of beer or whatever aren’t anything I couldn’t do without – but to some kid freezing every morning on their way to school, ten dollars could buy a hat and gloves and scarf.  Ten dollars could buy ten cans of food or a gift card for food.

You get the point. You don’t have to contribute a ton of money, anything helps.  The next time you go to spend a dollar or two on some unnecessary purchase like gum, don’t.  Save that dollar and put it in the red kettle.  Give it to the guy on the exit ramp.  If you don’t have any money to spare, give your time.  There is always a need for volunteers.

In the grand scheme of things, your contribution might go unnoticed.  But in the more immediate area, it will make a big difference.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Villian #1: Scut Farkus

By: Michala T.

Zack Wark Scut Scott Farkus Farcus A Christmas Story
Scut Farkus....what mother would ever name their kid Scut. This boy was the world's greatest villian from 1983 and on. I don't believe there was a single house in the month of December where some child or adult looked at this kid and, I'd never want to go against him and then was cheering Ralphie on when he beat ol' Scut up. This boy picked on Ralphie and his friends forever and a day. He would grab kids, scare kids, punch kids, and chase kids until they peed their pants. I think the world rejoiced when Scut got up with a bloody nose after Ralphie

Is it in my DNA?

By Michala T.
I remember when I was younger to get to Bowling Green we had to pay $0.50 at a toll booth. My mother would often times give a dollar and tell the worker she was paying for the person behind her as well as herself. This notion carried with me, and still resonates inside me. I've sometimes paid for the person behind me while at the Drive-thru of a restaurant. I've seen this done at coffee places frequently as well. I actually found lots of stories of such things. Here is one such story.
After giving this some more thought I realized I do this in many other ways that don't call for money. I've given a backpack filled with a blanket, a bible, and some nutrient-rich food bars. I have tons of newborn baby boxes prepared to give to people in my closet. I've spent time helping people, I've volunteered in various places.
Giving more thought to this small thing my mom did when I was younger I can now see how it impacted my life in such a profound and incredible way. Early in life, when I was only ten years old I wanted to give of my time to help people. I walked across town and signed up as a volunteer at the nursing home. I would pass out snacks, help with activities, and offered a kind ear to people whose dream was to be heard. I loved it. I can even vividly recall certain 'characters' that I became fond of while there.
I signed up for AmeriCorps right after graduating college because I wanted to help people. I was able to create an afterschool enrichment center for inner youth elementary school students, help repair homes, repaint schools, teach people about things that could help change their life, and I got to connect with so many people.
Today I am in school for my Masters in Professional Counseling because I still want to connect with people and help enrich their lives. It's my passion and soon my career. I won't stop doing the smaller things however. I'll randomly pay for someone's meal at a drive-thru. I'll volunteer my time. I don't do it to feel good about myself. I do it because it is the right thing to do. It's not a What Would Jesus Do thing. It's not a feel good kind of thing. It's just...a part of who I am.
I know that whole nature vs nurture debate but I have to wonder if watching my mom actively helping the person behind her set in motion a passion and drive in myself to want to do that every single day I breathe. Is that a characteristic that was already in me- DNA-ish or is it something else?
And that makes me wonder just where my passion for writing came from? Was it my Granny who taught me the love of books at the tender age of 5? I was writing at such a young age-7 yrs old. Where would that passion and creativity come from if not my DNA? I used to think it was a tool I used for my own survival because I endured some hard stuff so young but what if it was just really all DNA? A part of me thinks it is because it is something I cant turn off.
Then again, does it even matter?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Word of the Day: Moor

What a lovely day to be out on the lake. It is just so peaceful and calm out here. The gentle rocking of the boat as it sways back forth as the waves gently roll underneath. And look at that sky, so blue, I honestly do not think I have seen a bluer sky than this one today. And not a cloud to be seen. Look how the sky just blends into the lake off in the horizon, one would be hard pressed to know where the sky began and the lake ended. It will be such a pity when we have to go back to shore and moor the boat for the evening.

Moor (moor) \MOOR\
1. To fix firmly; secure
2. To secure (a ship, boat, dirigible, etc.) in a particular place, as by cables and anchors or by lines
3. To moor a ship, small boat, etc.
4. To be made secure by cables of the like  

1. The act of mooring

What a restful day that was. Do make sure to tie the boat down securely. We don't want the boat floating away because it was not moored correctly. Do make sure to share all you have seen here today. And please share with use your experiences. Thank you.

By: William G. Muir

Smart, Cowardly, or Just Lazy

Taking the Easy Way Out: Is this just another example of being lazy?

by: Michala T.

This is a tricky question. If you were to ask people this and then show them the picture here with the Christmas lights...I'm inclined to say it was smart (or perhaps smartass-y). The house on the left is going to have a smaller electric bill. If you were to ask an insurance salesman who they would prefer to insure they would pick the person who lives in the house on the left. (They have less chance this season of getting electrocuted or falling and breaking their back or even dying.) They will also have less work to do when the season is over because...what comes up must come down.

But really, is taking the easy way out a smart thing, a lazy thing, or just a cowardly thing?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What They Said: In God We Trust

He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
- Douglas Adams Life, the Universe and Everything

By: William G. Muir
In the above quote, everyman and one of only two humans left remaining in all the universe, Arthur Dent, is about to bowl a Cricket ball to a Krikkit robot. While he is winding up for the pitch he realizes the ball in his hand is actually a Nova Bomb that will destroy the very universe if the killer robot hits it. While hoping that he is as bad of a bowler as he can remember, the above thought runs through his mind. 

The quote is an example of a contradiction, hoping and praying that there is not an afterlife. For his pray to be answered there would have to be a god, and since this is implying that god is the Christian God and therefore there would have to be an afterlife. But that is not the reason I chose this particular quote. 

What? Edition: High School is so Great (in the movies)

10 Movies Centered around High School (Part 1)

By: Michala T.

Movies focusing on the lives of high school students have been causing a buzz for generations and continue to do so. When I took my daughter to see High School Musical on Broadway I was stunned that it was basically a remake of the movie Grease, only the students looked their age this time. There are always funny, unique, and senseless facts around these movies. I've listed just a few.
  • Clueless-. The movie was filmed in only 40 days. During the game of “Suck and Blow” the cast was unable to sustain the breath to make a real credit card pass from mouth to mouth; a prop card made of cardboard was substituted that still did not work. Holes were drilled into it to make it easier, and when this failed also, the whole cast's lips were heavily coated in chapstick to force the card to stick.
  • Teen Wolf-The red/yellow jacket Michael J. Fox wears on the cover of the poster is the same one Michael Jackson wore in the Thriller video.

What They Said: Hawthorne Speaks

By JccKeith

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

All words have meaning and all writing has an effect.  The goal as writers is what meaning words have in the reader’s heart.  How your words speak to others is directly related to how you put words together.  You have to have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you want it to be heard.  Write with passion and with purpose and always be sure that it is your voice you’re hearing when you write.  You want it to be your voice the readers hear and you should be absolutely certain you know what it is you’re saying.

When I write it isn’t always for the same purpose.  Sometimes I just want to make readers laugh.  For me it is the easiest thing to do.  I am just naturally goofy.  It comes easy to me to write for the sake of humor.  Sharing my ludicrous looney ideas and thoughts with others is what I do best. 

As much as I love to laugh, however, I also write other more useful things.  There are times when I want to help and I want to make a difference.  I want to galvanize my audience and get them moving in some particular direction.  My words are imbued with motivational fervor in the hope of stirring others to accomplishment.  I want what I write to be the impetus of change in the minds of others.   Make no mistake, words have the power to change the world. 

 As great as this motivational and inspirational writing is, it is also only one part of why I write.  I don’t always want to inspire people to action.  In fact, in many cases, my goal is to inspire people to inaction.  I want them to be so moved by my work that they don’t move.  I don’t want them to get up off that chair and do other things.  I want them to sit and be spellbound.  I want them to be so into my writing that they can’t put it down.  I want my world to be a place they don’t want to leave.

No matter what reason is behind my writing, I never fall into the trap of obliviousness to the power of words.  Depending upon how you use them, they are a forceful current that can strike like lightning to the soul or fall like rain upon the mind into great pools of emotion.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Word of the Day: Pomander

Hello there friends, and welcome back. As always I am Rummie, your Outdoor Gardener. Once again we are lookingat  ways to wrap up your gardens, lawns or what space you use to grow things for the winter. Today we are going to take all those flowers and fruits that are about to perish. You know all those things that smell really good and make what is known as a pomander. The first thing you need...

Pomander (po-man-der) \POH-man-der\, noun;

1. a mixture of aromatic substances enclosed in a perforated bag or box and used to scent clothes and linens or formerly carried as a guard against infection; also : a clove-studded orange or apple used for the same purposes

2. a box or hollow fruit-shaped ball for holding pomander

And there we have it, your very own personal, homemade pomander. You can that decorate it anyway you like to give your own unique flare. As always remember to spread what you learned here today to your friends and family, they will appreciate you for. And don't forget to leave us an example of your handy work down people. We love hearing from you. Thank you. 

By:William G. Muir

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doctor Who a Show Review: David Tennant Rant!

By: William G. Muir
Welcome back all you Whovians. Before we get too far into this series I have something I want to get off my chest. Please bear with me, I am not the sort of person that usual attacks others. But I feel this is something that I must say. So I am going to shoot from the hip here and make my feelings known. Can we please move beyond David Tennant?

This is not a review of the Tenth Doctor, this is not even a review of David Tennant. This is a rant pure and simple, and it is directed at those fan boys/girls that keep posting images, fan art, fanvids to the Facebook, Youtube and any other social media outlet that exist. This annoys the hell out of me. We have a brillant young actor in the role of the Doctor right now and we should all be supporting him.
David Tennant in Single Father

Before any of you get to thinking that I am somehow jealous or do not like the Tenth Doctor or David Tennant that is not the case. I happen to think that David Tennant is a fine actor. I think he possesses an emotional range that few other actor could ever come close to duplicating. I remember watching the BBC miniseries Single Father that he did after leaving Doctor Who. All I have to say is his performance was top notch. My heart was breaking for his character Dave. 

Can You Guess?

Do You Recognize This?

By JccKeith
(No, these are not pictures of me nor did I take them, my camera doesn't take pictures this clearly)

Alright, well, as many of you have probably already guessed, this is in fact, a human eyelash and those little round butts burrowing in around it's base are Eyelash Mites.  And yes, those are the butts of the Eyelash Mites, also known as Demodex.  The entire creature actually looks like this:

What He Said: Stephen King on Spiders, Snakes, and Mother-In-Laws

By Michala T.

            Stephen King is popular. There is no greater truth than this fact. Well, maybe that one about death and taxes but I digress. I am personally a fan of some of his works. Notice I said ‘some’. Not all. Not many. Not most. Some. I did not like his book about the Dome and I hate to admit but there are plenty of his books I have yet to read. Will I ever get around to reading them? I doubt it. His books are just so slow in character development. I’m not saying that is a bad thing.
            The University of Massachusetts Lowell invited King to give a lecture and the news spread like butter on a flapjack. If King spoke at my school I know I’d be frickin’ psyched! I’d be even more anxious if I were Andre Dubus III since King shared the conversation with him. (I’m sorry…let me take a minute to look this best-selling author up.) Wait, I have heard of The House of Sand and Fog. That book was on Oprah! Not quite as ‘best-selling’ as King, but he’s got some pretty big names supporting him so I’m sure he is worth reading. Perhaps I’ll add him to my list. (Yes, I think I will-I’ll be right back.) (Reference 1)
The schedule as of the 5th included King’s speaking to the schools creative writing majors and a raffle to raise student scholarship money. Having read his book On Writing I must admit I was drooling at the thought of being in that classroom on that day at that momentous occasion.  

Journey With Me People...

By JccKeith

I have this bad habit of being myself whenever people want me to be someone else.  I can’t say I’ve been trying all that hard to break the habit.  I see it as a lost cause; guess I’ll just have to keep on being me.  
That’s alright, though, I hear no one else is currently occupying the position.

I never realized just how much my mind does for me.  Then I was driving the long drive to Indianapolis today, almost two hours all interstate.  As usual, my brain took a detour while I drove.  It went straight back into the world of my novel in progress.  I haven’t been writing on my favorite book for over a month.  I blame it on NaNoWriMo.

The truth was more than that.  The truth was hiding in the fact that I had reached a lull.  I knew where my characters were going, knew how I wanted it all to end.  I had a clear path to get there.  The problem wasn’t a lack of a clear goal.  The problem was my boredom with the journey.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Word of the Day: Avuncular

"Hello friends, guess what time it is."

"CHICKEN DANCING!" Shouts the crowd.

"No it's not Chicken Dancing time."

"HIPPO PAINTING!" Shouts the crowd.

"No, not Hippo Painting."

"DOGGIE DATING!" Shouts the crowd.

"No not even Doggie Dating time either. It is Word of the Day time. So let us go to the big wheel and find our word." 

Avuncular (a-vun-cu-lar) /uh-VUHNG-kyuh-ler/, adjective;

1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an uncle

2. of or concerned with an uncle

3. resembling an uncle; friendly; helpful

That is all for today. So from me and everyone else here at Bite My Book, have a great day. Please make sure to share avuncular with everyone you meet today. Don't forget to leave us something in the comment box. Thank you.

By: William G. Muir

Super Freak Lyric Review

By JccKeith
It's been a long day so I thought I'd take it easy this Friday night.  I searched Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time for a good song to review.  I'll admit, I wasn't searching for a song this week with the deepest meanings.  That and I only made it a couple of clicks through to number 481 on their website.  Super Freak by Rick James.  I like the song, most people do, and it's catchy.

Super Freak was released in August 1980 and became a big hit.  The name of the song, Super Freak is fairly easy to understand.  Freak is a slang term, as James said in an interview, for 'a very kinky girl.'

But hey, for a look at the song's lyrics, here they are:

Friday, December 7, 2012

FULL ACCESS: Book Cover Revealing!

By: Michala T.

I have not been blogging for a very long time but I can tell you that it is definitely sometimes very exhausting work, rewarding but exhausting. I can also tell you there is something even harder; without a doubt harder than almost anything I’ve ever done. That is writing a book.
Writing a book forces you to find and keep a clear, focused vision and voice. It challenges you in ways you would never ever expect. It requires a super level of dedication and passion and for a long period. It hurts, it sucks, it’s wicked cool, and it’s way better than any other high one could live through.

Obviously, I have a mass amount of respect for anyone and everyone who undertakes this process whether they succeed or not. Today, more importantly, I am proud to celebrate a dear colleague (among the land of writers) and friend of mine, Ashley Torbeck, on having made it through this process with her SECOND BOOK. Ashley has written an amazing series, her first being Daughters of Night: Sanctuary, and this next being Possession. She has turned her beautiful ideas into captivating stories for the Young Adult and Adult alike.
I have gotten to see some of the behind the scenes stuff Ashley had endured while writing her stories. I have seen her argue and fuss with characters, cry over them, and take small kernel-size ideas and spin them into gigantic massive tales.