Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts

Jul 15, 2021

First-World Trials: Then Dreaded New Computer

 Happy cartoon broken computer logo royalty free stock imagesA few months ago, my computer started acting strangely. It wouldn't connect to the internet, or it if did, it wouldn't go beyond the home page. It saved all files as Read Only, no matter how many times I told it not to. And moving from site to site took forEVER.

My husband, blithe spirit that he is, said, "Don't keep fighting with it. Buy a new computer." This is a man who hands me his iPad whenever something isn't the way he wants it and expects that I'll return it in working order. He has NO idea what buying a new desktop means. 

Still, the computer is old, as computers go, and I use it every day for many things. It got to a point where I had to admit it was time. I ordered a new tower.

When it arrived at four p.m. two days ago, Hubby was excited. "Are you going to open the box?"

"Tomorrow," I replied, and he seemed disappointed. I'm sure there was a man standing over Pandora's shoulder saying, "Aren't you going to look and see what's in that box?"

Yesterday early on, when my mind and spirit were fresh and optimistic, I started. When I plugged the cords in all the right places, I saw the familiar "HI" and thought, like Sally Bowles, "Maybe this time, I'll be lucky..." But life isn't a cabaret, old chum. It's error messages and pings of distress from a machine that doesn't get why I keep plugging and unplugging when the effect is the same every time.

At first it went pretty well. I downloaded my on-line resources like Dropbox and Office without any trouble. I chose my own browser and home page, and unchecked the boxes that automatically install stuff I don't want. But as Gilda used to say, "It's always something." This time it's hardware. The computer didn't recognize any of my printers, my wireless keyboard, or my wireless mouse. They'd sent along the last two items (wired), so I used them to get started. Eventually I made the B&W printer and the photo printer work. It took digging out the disk to add my fancy color printer, but now it's there. I also had trouble getting my external hard drive to show up. I'm not sure how, but eventually it arrived.

I started at six a.m. yesterday That happened around three p.m.

Each time I went downstairs: for snacks, for lunch, for a short brain break, Hubby would ask, "How's it going?" My answers were...in a word, terse. It's like when you're in labor. It's not really his fault, but yeah, it kind of is. He probably told the guys at golf yesterday afternoon that I was really grumpy, and I won't dispute that.

Every item mentioned above took between an hour and two hours to troubleshoot, and I still haven't got a wireless keyboard or mouse. Going online for advice is frustrating. They start with "Here's how to easily connect your wireless keyboard to your new computer," and then they lapse into some ancient tongue understandable only to druids. I write it down. I print it off. I do exactly as they say, until it comes to a point where the instructions no longer match what's on the screen or I've done each step and found that it changed nothing .

I have resigned myself to using a wired keyboard and mouse. I can learn to live with it. I know I can.

NOTE: Some of you are going to be tempted to send advice on how to fix my problems, but I advise against it. There will come a time when my new computer gives me joy and satisfaction. There might even come a time when my keyboard is again wireless. But leave it alone, because today is not that day.

Mar 12, 2018

...and Then the Monsters Showed Up


I'm not a big reader of science fiction, but I love it when it's well done. (Michael Crichton comes to mind.) Good sci-fi writers explore interesting social questions while constructing cool plots about things that haven't happened...yet.
My complaint with SF is that all too often the story ends with "and now we must kill the aliens before they kill us." The last few chapters are the all out battle for the survival of our species, with lots of things blowing up and gallons of green blood spilt.
That's not my thing. In the most recent example I read, the story began well, with questions about how time travel would actually work and what the resulting physical and mental problems might be, but it ended up with monsters pouring out of the portal and lots of shooting. We started with questions and ended with an arcade game.

SF isn't the only predictable genre, which is why genre fiction has a bad name with literary folks. Who hasn't started a romance novel and known from the first chapter what was going to happen and who was going to end up living happily ever after together? (Sometimes it's a tossup between two men, but if you go with the less socially acceptable one, you'll probably get it right.)

Mysteries are often predictable too, and after reading them all my life, I really enjoy finding one that escapes the rules a little. An interesting (but not mean) sleuth is great, a unique setting is nice, and if at all possible, a solution that's clever and even obvious...after I read it. Too often these days I know the "who" early on, and I tend to skip chapters to get to the end and find exactly the same thing that happened in the last five books I read: The protag is bloody but alive, the cop that doubted him/her becomes a friend/lover, etc. etc. etc.

Even "literary fiction" novels, those books that are supposed to "transcend genre," are often the same old same old, and lately they seem to come in streaks. I'm tired of books about bookstore owners who are delightfully fey, tired of titles with "Girl," and tired of lead characters with no redeeming qualities who wallow in their own misery for 400 pages and end up exactly where they began.

If you're nodding your head as you read this, I know what's wrong with you. You have read TOO MUCH. YOU NEED TO STOP READING BOOKS. (YOU NEED TO STOP WATCHING TV AND MOVIES TOO.) YOU NEED TO GET A HOBBY, LIKE COLLECTING SPOONS OR WEAVING YOGA MATS OUT OF OLD GROCERY BAGS.

Or you can keep doing what you're doing, looking for the one book in ten that occupies your mind and satisfies your heart. That's what I intend to do!

Mar 5, 2018

Authors in Strange Situations


Image result for cartoon convict



Nobody tells you that promoting the books you write requires you to be adaptable and have a sense of humor. We picture authors jetting all over the country, sipping champagne and telling adoring fans about their latest novel, but that's not reality for the vast majority of us. I loved the story one author told about arriving at a bookstore where he had an audience of one. The fan told him he'd really liked the book, though he admitted he might not have chosen to read it except, "It was the only one they had in solitary confinement."

I haven't met any ex-cons who are fans (that I know of), but I have ended up in strange situations. I want to state here for the record that I am EXTREMELY grateful to libraries and bookstores who allow me to come for a Sit & Sign or, even better, a talk. However, it doesn't always go the way one might imagine.

*** There was the library where they'd booked two events at the same time in the same room. The other event was a League of Women Voters meeting (in a Presidential election year), so I ended up in the children's room, with those cute little 2-foot high tables and miniature chairs.
Image result for cartoon images roof collapse***I spoke once in the Library Annex, a building so old I worried about the roof collapsing. And if any of my audience had allergies to mold...








 ***Scheduled for a Meet the Author Sit & Sign, I arrived to find the librarian who'd contacted me had retired, and no one on the job seemed much interested in her program. They'd scheduled another author to give a talk at the same time, so I got to sit and watch people file into the conference room to hear him. (They didn't even have to pass by my table to get there.) I heard every word of his speech from my table in the hallway behind the door. It was very entertaining, and when he was finished I watched people leave with his book, not even aware I was there.

***I once sat in a bookstore promoting my historicals and heard a customer ask at the front desk if they had any historical mysteries. Asked what era, the woman said she liked medieval and Tudor. The clerk led the woman RIGHT PAST ME to a section where she introduced her to a few of her favorites. Ummm, chopped liver here?

***At one library my audience was very small--three people. When I started chatting with them I realized it was the librarian's mother and her two sisters. She'd called them when it became clear no one else was going to show up!
***Recently I stopped at a library where I'm scheduled to speak and found that nobody there knew about it. The librarian had been reassigned, and yes, they'd love to have me come, but could it be Saturday, not Thursday, and in the morning, not evening.* (It's a good thing I don't have a day job!)

Ask any author who's done a book tour and they'll tell you about being asked where the bathroom is, if "you" carry the New York Times, and what books you can recommend for a fourteen-year-old who really doesn't like to read. They'll tell of events where none of the employees knew an author was coming, and a table had to be cleared really quickly for her use. Of librarians who schedule a talk mostly so they can pick the author's brain about how they might get published. And about the homeless people who attend because there are refreshments afterward. And sometimes there's absolutely no one. Time doesn't fly in those cases.
Image result for cartoon bored person

Still, it's fun. I enjoy the exchange with readers and with the people who serve as guides for reading: librarians and book store clerks. It's just that authors, like the rest of the world, have to adjust their expectations once in a while. The world doesn't revolve around us; in fact, the world doesn't ever intend to.

* The event is at the Port Tampa City Library, March 10, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. I'll be speaking on mystery writers who are very good but don't have the big name recognition.


Aug 8, 2016

Garden Tools We Need to Invent


Edible things are starting to appear in our garden (through John's efforts alone these days) and it occurs to me there are some things Science could invent to help gardeners:

Leaf-penetrating radar: for finding all those cucumbers that hide until they're too fat to use

Underground MRI: to show which carrots, beets, potatoes, etc. are big enough to pull

Rodent-discouraging pods: Before we get to them, critters have chewed a hole and taken out all the peas. 

Shaper for peppers: The ones from the store are perfectly formed. Ours taste better, but they look like some weird science experiment.

 Shut-off valve for cherry tomatoes, green beans, and zucchini: We're so excited for the first ones, but by mid-August we're desperate to give them away. Don't stop to ask for directions--you'll leave with a car full of vegetables!



You probably have suggestions too if you're a gardener.



May 30, 2016

The Bitter End

Not me. My hero, Dorothy Parker
I posted on Facebook the other day that each book I write comes to the point where I'd like to tell the reader, "I've brought you this far, now you finish it!"
I was surprised to read in the responses I got that it's been done. Can't imagine reading a whole book and being left in the lurch like that. As one respondent pointed out, "As the author, you know the characters better than anyone else. You have to tell us what happens to them."
Yes, it's the author's responsibility to sort out the mess she's created. Still:
1) I'm tired of them at that point. Like one's children, an author loves her characters, but there are times when she'd like to love them from a galaxy far, far away.
2) Some readers won't be satisfied. I've heard from some who wanted more romance (okay, sex) between the characters to end the book. One reader complained that a certain character would never have given in and obeyed the bad guy who stuck a gun to her head. (Maybe I should have said, "He pointed the gun at her and she said, "Stop that," so he dropped the gun, gave himself up to the police, and admitted everything.) In another instance, a woman at a book group expressed vexation that I never told what happened to a certain very minor character at the end of the book. (She lived her life--I guess.)
3)  The biggest reason I don't look forward to writing the end is that it's hard, especially in a mystery, where a writer can't just fade out, as some literary novelists do. There has to be an accounting of some sort, and though I've had in mind all the way along who's guilty, making the ending logical, exciting, and summary of all previous events takes concentration. Every strand should pull together and make a nice whole. There shouldn't be a point where the reader thinks, "That wasn't fair."
 I've read books where the killer came out of the woodwork, like an ant when dinner's over, and it irritates me. The clues should be there, and the ending should make it clear it couldn't have been anyone else. One of my favorite comments ever from a reader of my work was, "I didn't figure out the ending, but I should have been able to."
If you haven't guessed by now, my task this week is to end a book I've been working on. I know how it ends. I know where each character needs to step in and do his part.
I just haven't written it down yet.

Apr 18, 2016

The Gifts I Buy Myself

I buy myself presents all the time: they're called books.
Sometimes they're Kindle books, although I'm often irritated by the inflated cost of books by big-name authors. If mid-list authors' books can be produced for six dollars or less, why can't everyone's?
I know, supply and demand, but there isn't the cost in e-books that there is with print: no print cost, no warehousing, no shipping.
But I digress.
In addition to Kindle books, I also buy print books. Lots of them. No less than three, sometimes more, bookstores exist where the clerks smile when they see me coming. They know I'm buying.
Sometimes my purchases result in entertainment for few hours, and that's great. People gripe about "affording" books, but where else do you get eight hours of entertainment for under thirty bucks?
The best times are when my purchase results in absolute rapture. I got lucky last week with THE NIGHTINGALE on my Kindle, which was wonderful. On Thursday I picked up (at a nice young clerk at McLean and Eakin's suggestion) BE FRANK WITH ME.
Oh, the joy.
I can't tell you where it's going for sure yet, because I haven't finished. It concerns a young woman who's sent to smooth the way for a famous author so she can get a  book written. Smoothing the way involves dealing with Frank, a kid who's unique, hilarious, frustrating, and endearing. If you love unique characters cleverly presented, you will love Frank, and his mom's pretty interesting, too.
One of the blurbs mentions that the reader wants to
read the book again later, just to spend more time with Frank.
That's like double value for your money. How great is that?

Mar 28, 2016

Diseases and Syndromes and Help--Oh My!

(Author's Note: I have a great deal of sympathy for those who struggle with disease and infirmity. This post is in no way meant to belittle the trauma of actual disease. It's tongue-in-cheek, because the current state of the media, both public and social, makes me crazy, and because some of us are just plain smart-alecks.)

Here are some things I could get behind if there were a drive, a telethon, or a campaign to abolish them.

The Meme-a-Thon: Do you or have you suffered from people saying things that make you want to punch them in the face? Research has discovered a contributor to this syndrome, and we now know that it comes from meme saturation. Useless and unprovable, memes invade every aspect of our lives, with a meme for every situation that does absolutely no good for the listener but makes the speaker think he's said something wise.
With your help, we can educate people on the hurtfulness of repeating memes that often exacerbate feelings of sorrow and worthlessness. Here are just a few of the trite, useless phrases your donated dollars will be used to eradicate:
    God never gives you more than you can handle.
    He's in a better place.
    When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
    Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
   
Drive to Defeat Inaccuracy and Redundancy:  Today's 24-hour availability of news, sports, weather, and whatever means that someone is always talking. While such people were once hired for their ability to speak well, the widened field has allowed uneducated, unskilled, and downright unpalatable talkers to assail our ears with grammatical errors, extended, unfounded opinion, and repeated inanity.
Citizens for Better Speech will lead the way in helping these people think while they speak--maybe even before they speak. No longer will sports announcers use inaccurate descriptors like, "The golf course is ruthless today."  No more commercials with mixed idioms like, "My bill was lowered in half." And this year's special focus: eliminating those whose best advice is, "If our guys are going to win this game, they're going to have to score some points."

The Campaign for Quiet: In many American homes today, there is no such thing as quiet. Our three-pronged approach will first address consumers themselves, reminding them that they do not need to have the TV on for "background noise." As sound-dominated minds experience silence for longer and longer periods of time, researchers believe thought will result, creating a sense of peace, a lessening of fear of the unknown, and perhaps even original ideas.
Our organization's second focus is letting TVs talking heads and their handlers know that silence isn't necessarily a bad thing on the air, either. For almost anyone who loves a sport, silence beats listening to repeated reports on the legal scrape a player got into three years ago or the fact that an athlete's dad died just before the big game last year and he played in it anyway.
Finally, funds for this campaign will educate weather people, who should understand that we don't need to be told to take an umbrella, turn on our headlights, or "get out and enjoy that sunshine." Anyone who can't figure those things out should just stay home.  Try that silence thing. It might help.

Dec 16, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 22: Random Questions

1. Why are some words so hard to type? I invariably type Crhistmas and have to fix it. Also Goerge.
2. Why do we make stupid people famous?
3. Who decided that Christmas (or any holiday, for that matter) means going broke buying presents?
4. Who's Making Love to Your Old Lady (While You Are Out Making Love)?-- Sorry, it just came into my head.
5. What was I thinking when I planned a 30-day blog event?
6. What happened to being able to eat whatever I want and never gaining weight?
7. Where did I set my phone down this time?
8. Where can I find out if the 1998 Lincoln Continental had an escape button inside the trunk? (This is the kind of research question that drives authors crazy.)
9. When will I release my next book? (Only editors & cover artists know the answer!)
10. When will we learn that Peace on Earth is the only gift that matters?

Dec 12, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 18: The Cat's Christmas

They've started again with the cruel season. They put toys all over the house and then freak out when I play with them.
There's a tree full of shinies and danglies in the corner of the living room, but "NO! Don't touch!" happens when I get anywhere near it. I managed to get in a few minutes of exercise with several of the things they hung on it while everyone was somewhere else. First I had to un-stick the nice things from the tree, which was hard. Then I had fun chasing them around on the floor--at least until Dad came in and bellowed like an angry bull, "Mary! Come see what your cat did!"

They put pretty things on end tables and shelves too, but again, I'm just supposed to look at them. A grouping of half a dozen figurines in a little wooden shed sits on the coffee table. I knocked them onto the floor to see if they'd roll nicely on the carpet. Only one of them did, but that one was fun to bat around until it went under the piano too far for me to reach. Mom had to get the broom and use the handle to retrieve it, and she wasn't happy.

Yesterday Oldest Girl put some things under the tree wrapped in paper and decorated with bits of ribbon. The ribbon is fun to chew on, and the paper is easy to shred when you've got claws as nice as mine, but when she saw what I was doing, she swatted me! I had to escape up the tree, which set it to swaying back and forth, and then EVERYbody was upset.
Now I'm shut in the upstairs bedroom with just a window blind cord to play with.
I don't get this Christmas thing.






Nov 16, 2015

Deflating My Ego

I opened this blog site just now and saw that a bunch of people logged in yesterday.
Wow! I must have said something really wise or interesting.
No, not really. And what I did say was last Monday. Why was it so intriguing now, seven days later?
Maybe a bunch of people heard of me in the last few days?
Nope. I spent the weekend at home, and I didn't post much except my usual smart aleck stuff on FB.
So why all these looks at my site?

After some thought, I figured it out. (Sigh.) It was me. I made changes last night, turning my summer background into a more fall/winter one. Every time I looked at it so see if I liked what I'd done, the computer counted it as a visit.

I guess it's true what they say. You create your own excitement.

Jan 27, 2015

Take Two Frog Stones & Call Me in the Morning


Being a student of history, I find myself wondering about what advice was like back in the day. We live in a world where everyone wants to tell us how to eat so we can live to be 100, what to wear so we appear cool and confident, and how to survive the next attack, the next storm, or the next epidemic.

Advice from our parents' day now seems quaint and often wrong. The ads that told us real men smoke Marlboros. The Singer instruction manual that advised women to put on a clean dress and makeup and style their hair so they'd be "prepared" for sewing. The general view that a woman should not work once she became pregnant and should stay in bed for two weeks after the birth.

Really?

So I wonder, did the Tudors get advice from their doctors about how to live to be forty? Of course they did; people have always hoped some "wise" someone could tell them how to achieve good health and avoid early death. The "frog stones" in the title were ground up and put into a person's drink as a preventative for poison. Tudor doctors turned over a rock on the way to a patient's home and figured out from what they saw beneath it whether the patient would live or die. Nice to know there's a way to know for sure.

I imagine the Roman Empire sending advice to its far-flung citizenry, suggesting ways to live through an attack by raging Goths. I imagine the Great Khan sending out messengers to tout the benefits of eating only Chinese rice and not that cheap stuff coming in from the south. Maybe Cleopatra gave interviews, telling her palace folk that if they copied her outfits, makeup, and habits, they could borrow a little of her glory for themselves.

People have always sought advice, and there's always been someone willing to give it. It's odd to think that things we're advised to do will someday seem quaint, even ridiculous, by those who come later. As long as we think someone else is more qualified than we are to tell us what to do and how to live, there'll be advice, so take that umbrella with you when you leave the house today, and slow down on those slippery roads. Maybe you'll live to be 100. 

Dec 1, 2014

What's the Thing with Cookbooks?

I signed at Horizon in TC on Saturday, and a staff member told me about an earlier event with a famous (I guess) chef. She said they sold boxes and boxes of his books, with people calling and begging them to save one until they could get there.
Which brought to my mind a question: What's the thing with cookbooks?
When you're starting out in life, you need a good cookbook, and it might take you two or three purchases before you find one that fits your lifestyle and abilities. After that, you might want to purchase a couple of specialty cookbooks: Chinese food or low-fat or whatever. But once you've got six or eight, what's the attraction for buying more?
I haven't bought a cookbook in twenty years except for some they sold at church, and that was more the cause than the desire for new recipes. I'm in the minority, I know. Cookbook sales are huge, and if some chef who's been on TV puts one out, sales are guaranteed to go through the roof.
Why?
I don't know, but here's why I'm not in line for the next big thing in cookbooks. I'm not a chef (and I don't play one on television). I find most of the recipes too complicated and the results kind of blah. That's possibly my fault, but how often am I willing to waste time and food in order to serve a triumphant flan or a perfect quiche? If I want fancy food, it's easier to order it at a restaurant where the people have practiced the dish more often than I ever will.
I never seem to have all the "simple" ingredients they call for in cookbooks. I don't have to look in my pantry to see if I have marzipan: I don't. My spices are all on the downward end of their expiration dates. And yeast? Don't make me laugh. We buy it, we use one packet of the three or four provided, and the rest sit in the cupboard until we end up throwing them away. If I do have a yen for something new for dinner, by the time I've discarded the recipes for which I don't have the ingredients, it's beef stew again.
So why do so many people eagerly buy a new cookbook every year or even every few months? I think we're buying a dream--a lovely image of perfect meals that make our families gasp in wonder. And the nice thing is, if the cookbook you bought last Saturday doesn't make that happen, there's always another guy in a white hat or or woman with a foreign accent who'll sell you a new one.


Note: Since I love baking, I have included one of my own favorite recipes at the right. New one every day until Christmas.

Jul 15, 2014

I Ain't 'Fraid of No Ghost!

How about some songs about ghosts?

1. Kingston Trio tells about Ghost Anne Boleyn
2. Johnny Cash. Dead Cowboys--need I say more?
3. A ghost's warning to Jerry Lee Lewis
4. Guy plans to propose on Halloween-Classics IV
5. Dickey Lee's date turns into an eerie experience











Answers:
1. "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JKNl8gmESs
2. "Ghost Riders in the Sky"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mynzbmrtp9I
3. "Haunted House"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=857UlAih2PI
4. "Spooky"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAP84Zc_CYU
5. "Laurie"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0N4nyYS5aA

Jul 11, 2014

Today's Quiz: What Color Is It?
1. "A ____ Sport Coat & a ____Carnation" Marty Robbins
2. "____ Beret" Prince
3. "____ Velvet" Bobby Vinton
4. "Paint It ____" The Rolling Stones
5. "Jeremiah Peabody's (Polyunsaturated, Quick Dissolving, Fast Acting, Pleasant Tasting ) ____ & ____ Pills" Ray Stevens













Answers:
1. White/Pink
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD8MnvyAi6I
2. Raspberry (no YouTube version)
3. Blue Velvet
www.youtube.com/watch?v=icfq_foa5Mo
4. Black
www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEWYOt3bxNI
5. Green/Purple
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQIfp1TAo2I&feature=kp

Jun 6, 2014

Spelling--Of Course It's Correct

I found this in my "funny stuff" folder this morning:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error right
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleaed two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

At the Point Where I Can Tell You

 I sent my next book to the copy editor a few days ago, which for me is a major turning point. It's a commitment of sorts; the book that...