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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Finding Your Voice

It isn't easy to write. I like to tell myself that it isn't easy to write. But writing is like trying to exercise in that the more you do it the easier it gets.

Stephen King talked about writing in his book "On Writing" and the desire to write. His book still inspires me. I like to read it when I want to procrastinate on my own writing. I love how it makes me feel that I am learning something and getting pointers from a master barb. Sure, he isn't Shakespeare, but he is the master of his craft. He is still popular after 44 years of writing.

What about voice? Would I love to write like King? I would be lying if I said that I wouldn't want to be like King. I read his books in private. I try to understand his formula for writing success. I understand his voice is what makes him successful. He tells stories the way he wants to tell stories. I am sure he is still edited like any other writer in the business, but he continues to find success, unlike  most authors.

What about James Patterson? His voice is somewhat sophomoric when it comes to the way he writes. His sentences are simple but his stories sell. Patterson sells more books than Stephen King.

These two examples of writers have found their own voice. Patterson has other authors writing some of his books, so he is a different example of an author and his voice, but still a good example of an author writing in many genres.

A successful writer needs to find his or her own voice. Reading many authors will help you find hints at what might work and might not work, but the voice must still come from inside yourself.

I don't know when my own voice will take over and something good might come from the mind of this author, but it is nice to procrastinate and read the words of other successful writers and allow myself to dream big.

Thank you, Stephen King and James Patterson.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fake News

If you don't like the news, well, just call it fake. It sounds like heaven for anyone that faced any news that wasn't in their favor. I don't like what you must report, so you know where I am going with this little spiel. 

It is hard to believe that our president could get anyone to believe that the news reports are just fake news because they are negative or unfavorable to the presidents' agenda. But it seems to work because he loves calling the news fake. 

Yes, the media and the president haven't always been chummy, but that is the way the news media is supposed to be with the president. They are a check of power that we need in our society.  When they report only favorable things about the president we all should worry about the ethics of our news. 

There are now a plethora of websites and newspapers doing fact checks of news reports. With a simple search of "fact checking" and you find several websites covering every issue in the news.  

It also seems foolish to believe that every news story is going to be perfect, and some of the false reports start with social media. Reporters rely on sources, and sometimes these sources might fit a news angle or get used because of the need to have instant news. 

We also have to remember that our president is a social media master and excels at firing up his base with outlandish Twitter rants. He uses Twitter to make random comments that probably makes his staff cringe and want to head to the local bar to have a drink or five. 

Does anyone seem shocked at what the president says or does? His supporters are going to stick with their man because only they know why they like him. We can take polls that have findings of negative ratings, but that is just fake news anyway. 

I wish I could have used the fake news ideas when I was young. Wait, I did use something like that and it didn't work because mom and dad knew the truth. I trust we as a nation know the truth and know that a little fact checking will show us that fake news is sometimes painfully truthful news. 

Donald Trump isn't a career politician and he isn't familiar with "double-speak." It might be why he just screams fake news when the news isn't good for him. He hasn't learned how to talk like a career politician and that might be why his base loves him. He seems original, but he still pushes a Republican agenda that seems unoriginal. 

Will fake news soon be replaced by something catchier and trending with the Trump base, but for now, the president seems willing to distract us from what is really going on in Washington. 




Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Binge Reading

I must confess, I used to binge read. I would go to the library and grab some books from my reading list. I was alone, well, not really. I was in a long distance relationship at the time, so when I wasn't talking on the phone I was reading. Binge watching television wasn't hip or even really thought about because there was a world outside. We didn't post pictures on a social media website. You took pictures with a camera that required film. This reality was a world where you couldn't drag your computer outside and your phone required a cord.  It was the pre-digital world. 

I enjoyed the physical contact of words on paper. I enjoyed the way the words fed the imagination. I never felt reading was a passive activity. I was a dreamer.

Binge watching television is the latest thing for people to do when they want to watch a lot of television. 

I came up with a way to binge read in 8 easy steps.

1. Go to the library. You might remember this building. It also has free books they will lend to you for the insane price of free. The library card is free. It only cost you some free time to read. You might even feel a sense of accomplishment. 

2. Pick books that interest you, or pick some books at random. Pause, look the book over and make sure there aren't any surprises waiting for you.

3. Check your books out, and this is probably the easiest step.

4. Pick a location where you can read in silence. This will seem strange at first. You might take many false steps because you aren't used to silence, but it does help to have the right reading environment.

5. Read the books.

6. Pause after reading those books and think about how it feels to read those books.

7. Return library books before they are due because you don't want to pay any fines for late books.

8. Don't brag to your friends about binge reading because they might interrupt you and tell you about the latest show they are binge watching. Be sociable and try to keep your sad face to a minimum--they just can't be as cool as you.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Keeping Friends on Facebook

Do find yourself annoyed by an old friend that post political views on Facebook? Where you tempted to delete that friend or do you block that friend, because of their political views? Did your friends repost fake news stories?

This election season was a little rough. The constant negative ads were almost too much to stomach, and then you throw the posts on Facebook that seemed to add another dimension to the election that may or may not have swayed the election in favor of Trump.

Facebook is a nice way to keep in touch with old classmates or old friends, but with the average user spending 50 minutes a day on the social website, according to Facebook. This may not seem like a lot of time spent on the website, but that is an average.

The problem with relying on social media for updates became clear in this election, as people became duped by fake news stories. It also seems that some users of Facebook felt that the company was screening out the fake news. But the real problem was the user that believed what they were reading.

Fake news is not new, but in the age of digital news, there was a lot of easy access to fake news that looked real because of the clever tricks used to make the news seem real, and how easily fake news seemed to attach itself in news feeds.

Yes, Facebook is a nice tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, and it isn't Facebook's job to edit every piece of information that crosses a users news feed. We need to be vigilant and aware of news stories that appear real but are a little too sensational. It is our job as citizens to do the work required to make sure we stay aware that not everything we read is true. A reader should question and always look to verify stories for any errors.




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Making Time

The New Year is still only three weeks old, and one of my goals was to post more on this blog. I feel I am off to a shaky start--I know I am off to a shaky start. I still haven't figured out why January is the time of the year to set new goals, but this year I am going to use April 15th as the date to set all my new goals.

Yes, you read that correctly, April 15th will be the date that I set my new goals for the year. The tax year that is. Why shouldn't I use the tax year as a the official start of all my new goals? What better day to start, because I am current with all my taxes, and maybe I will get over having to pay in  so much for just being a middle-class citizen.

No, I am not going to make this post about paying taxes. I feel they are an important part of our society, and someone has to pay them.

My new goal this year is to get in a different tax bracket. Can you help me.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sensless Crime

Who do we consider a hero?

A young man was shot and killed. He was shot by a man that had a weapon of senseless power.
 
I don’t care if there is a statistic that says only a small percentage of gun owners use them to commit a crime, or that the criminal  got the guns illegally. What I care about is how dangerous it is to think that every gun deserves equal protection under the law and that there is an unwillingness by some in our society to even be willing to discuss the issue.

A state trooper was killed in the state of Wisconsin. This murder was a senseless act on humanity. A Young man, new on the job, shot and killed by a bank robber. He was doing his job by pulling over the suspicious car. He should be bragging to his friends how he caught the bad guy. We shouldn’t see his picture in the obituary section of our papers.   

Yes, every time someone is killed by a gun there is a cry to do something. What changes? Nothing. The NRA gets in a hissy and makes strange statements. People that want more gun control laws are told there are too many laws already and that they aren’t working. Why aren’t those laws working? Does it have anything to do with the NRA making sure those laws don’t work? Does it have to do with a lazy public that relies on others to do their job?  

I know it sounds like I am blaming the NRA for the deaths, but at what point do they accept some responsibility for the gun crime in this country. They are the group that fights new restrictions that may or may not improve public safety. It is hard to say what would happen if the NRA didn’t have so much power.  

No, gun crime will never disappear because as long as there are greed and fear in the land people will use guns to get what they want. But we can dream of a land where a police officer doesn’t need to worry about pulling over a man with a dangerous weapon.

A young and beautiful life was cut short, way too short because he was doing his job. The public may move on, but his family will face the sorrow every time the phone rings, and it isn’t their son on the other line, they will face holidays without him, and the sorrow of hearing a car door closing and realizing it isn’t their son coming to visit. We the public might be able to relate, but we truly can’t understand the pain the family is facing. We can post tributes to a courageous man, and say nice things, but maybe we should do more to ensure the safety of everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life Put to Words

On the Couch, USA--It isn't everyday that you get to talk to complete strangers about subjects that interest you. I can't say that I am always the most faithful person when it comes to writing something for the many blogs I now write for because of the many projects I currently am working on at this moment.

I started this blog as a way to honor my high school art teacher, because he was a great influence on my life. He also wrote a piece for the local newspaper called "From Where I Sit." That is where I got the title for this blog.

He doesn't write for the local newspaper anymore, because he is retired and living the good life.

I think this blog's theme changed many times over its short lifetime, but I plan on returning to the original theme of the blog, and that is writing funny observations about the world from the perspective an English major just sitting around and observing.

I will never guarantee that you will laugh every time you read something I write, because some people don't laugh. But, I do hope you feel free to comment and read for pleasure. There will be no required homework for anyone that reads this blog.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Like Duke

I will see how I do this spring on my bracket. I think I picked some good teams, but you just never know what will happen.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaabk/brackets?ocid=iehp#id=B43AD345962E4A31