April 15, 2014

CalHobbs copy

I am on a blog sabbatical.  Catching up on a few things and getting ahead on some others…not to mention taking a little time off to ponder peace and tranquility.

I shall return the first week in May, unless something occurs that motivates me sooner.  I hope you enjoy my vacation!  If you miss me (ahhh) there are plenty of previous postings you can catch up on.  Hey, what else do you have to do??

Outta here…



April 12, 2014


I have been wrestling with a medical distraction lately and, while I am nowhere near deciding what I will do about it, the whole shenanigans has me playing television game shows.  Yeah, I know, this is a stretch but hang with me…

It’s a dream I’m having almost daily: I am a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal.  I’m dressed up in a hospital gown holding the back flap closed with one hand and in the other I’m holding the preliminary prize (the diagnosis) I’ve been given.

Before me stands Let’s Make a Deal Host, Dr. Wayne Brady.  He has a deal for me.  He tells me I can do nothing and keep the diagnosis, or….I could trade it for what is behind the curtain.  I’m thinkin’ behind the curtain could be surgery, or a new diet and vitamin supplement program, or a new miracle pill or maybe—just maybe—the horrible death Zonk.  Golllllllaaahhly, what to do?  The audience keeps shouting, “Take the curtain!”  I figure if I follow their advice I could get zonked and I go home in a box (yeah, Wayne might offer me a box, too).

Having to make the decision under all the pressure and all the opinions being shouted at me is quickly becoming a mind-boggling dilemma.  I’m considering running for the studio exit and becoming a contestant on another show—Survivor comes to mind.

Suddenly there is a familiar voice shouting at me from the audience.  It’s yelling, “Take the Insurance!”  Holy crap, it’s my wife.  I didn’t even think about the insurance option.  Of course my insurance card will be the first thing I’ll have to hand over to Dr. Brady before he’ll reveal what’s behind the curtain.  So, indeed, while the pretty lady is standing in front of the curtain with her hands propped in prize-showcase mode, Dr. Brady tells me to hand over my insurance card.

The good doctor quickly scans the card and tells me there is an “issue.”  He says he will be happy to reveal what is behind the curtain but he must first get pre-authorization from my insurance company.  For that, I am quickly whisked off to another studio down the hall and before you know it, there I am, standing right next to Drew Carey and I’m the new contestant on The Price is Right.

By now I am not sure what to do.  Maybe it would be best if I turned off the TV…or maybe I should I get a second opinion.  Yeah, I’ll do that.  I wonder if Dr. Monty Hall is still practicing.



April 9, 2014


I was in an e-mail exchange yesterday in which my friend told me she “would never suggest a man say ‘no’ to his wife.”  If you are a follower of this blog, you realize this is a line that I simply cannot let rest.  But some background first…

My friend—and I hope she accepts that reference—and I go back a long way.  We went to high school together.  The funny thing is, we have had more conversations in the past year since we became reacquainted than we ever had in high school.  In fact, if we exchanged more than 2-3 comments in the four years we attended the same school, I would be surprised.  We were simply not in the same “crowd.”

[Insert poignant Taylor Swift lyric here:  She’s cheer captain; I’m on the bleachers]

So here we are some 50 years later exchanging e-mails.  She lives in Hawaii and I live in Florida.  Okay, enough background.

My friend (hereinafter referred to as “S”) is into Deepak Chopra, a well-known Author/New Age guru/holistic medicine kind of guy.  Google him if you want more info.

[Insert “adjusted” poignant Taylor Swift lyric here:  He wears high heels; I wear sneakers]

So S sent me a link to some of Deepak’s goings-on and added an associated comment that went like this:

  “…You know when you have the same conversation with another person and it continues to repeat itself over and over again? Pre-plan for the next time…to change your response, the one you always give.  Just an example, you might want to say, “YOU Are Right.” This has to change their response. One little adjustment at a time can change the order of your universe.”

Well, being the witty self that I am, I wrote S back and said, “You are suggesting I should change my response…that is a tremendous risk.  I have been saying ‘YOU are right’ to my wife for almost 50 years and now you want me to change that?!!  I don’t feel good about this…”

Okay, we have come full circle, back to where I began this diatribe.  This is where S responded saying she would “never suggest a man say no to his wife.”

So the question before us is, Should, indeed, a man ever say “no” to his wife?   Talk about opening Pandora’s Box.  I will make the assumption that the basic answer to this question will vary only two ways depending on the sex of the respondent.  But let’s put it to the test:

He:  “YOU are right dear, I have no problem with your sleeping with the neighbor.”

She:  Well, I would never do such a thing without asking you first.  I just knew you wouldn’t say no.”

He:  We have taken your mother with us on vacation for the past ten years.  How about this year you and I go on one of those romantic island retreats, just the two of us?

She: That would be wonderful, but I really wouldn’t want to hurt Mother’s feelings by not letting her join us.  I just know you won’t say no…you are too kind a person.

He:  YOU are right.

She:  I wish just once you would say “no” to me.  It’s always yes yes yes.  Why don’t you ever man-up and just tell me to f-off?

He:   YOU are right.

[Insert poignant Billy Joel lyric to end blog:

She can ask for the truth but she’ll never believe you, 

And she’ll take what you give her as long as it’s free,

Yeah she steals like a thief but she’s always a woman to me.

Regardless, I hope S doesn’t abandon me.  I’ve enjoyed the little one-on-one school reunion we’ve been having.  I would have never had the nerve to have talked to her this much back when she was a cheerleader…and I was on the bleachers.



April 7, 2014


I wasn’t even in my thinking chair when I got to thinking about following up my last blog—the one about “if you build it, they will come.”  I was out in the backyard looking after my annual attempt to raise a few handfuls of blueberries, when it hit me.  Ever the aging curmudgeon, I saw a lot of truth—albeit negative—to this statement.  Indeed, if you do most anything, “they” will come.  Examples..

  • If you plant any kind of food-bearing plant…insects, rodents or birds will come and eat.
  • If you caulk or otherwise seal off any joint, crack, or pore in the construction of your home…ants will still come and find their way inside.
  • If you secretly and craftily hide a small personal stash of cookies…some other family member will come, hunt it down and consume it.
  • If you have finally acquired some nice furniture for your home…cats, dogs or children will come and claw, pee or spill cranberry juice on it.
  • If you drive off the dealer lot in your brand new car…it is only a matter of time—often minutes—when some object will come and ding, scratch or otherwise mar the shiny new finish.
  • If you are a caring, devoted, loving, completely “in-synch” couple…children will come and disrupt the relationship, establishing a hostile environment, causing unanticipated expenses and stimulating constant bickering.
  • If you receive an unexpected windfall of cash…a likewise unexpected occurrence will come, claiming an equal and opposite expense.
  • If you wear freshly laundered and pressed white…a colorful substance will come and deposit a very noticeable stain on it.
  • If there are cell phones…teenagers will come and commence texting until said cell phones are bodily removed.
  • If you feel a sense of “win” having discovered and placed yourself in the shortest checkout line…some calamity, such as a missing price scan or rejected credit card, will come to the person immediately in front of you.
  • If you leave yourself all kinds of reminders so you won’t forget to do something, a distraction will come at the last minute and totally cause you to forget or miss whatever it was you wanted to remember.
  • Just when you have finally figured out all the remotes for your “home entertainment” system, you will decide to “pause” the movie you are watching and when you return to resume watching it, confusion will come once again and occupy the next fifteen minutes while you try to return to the movie…during which time the most important part of the movie has gone on without you.
  • No  matter how hard you try to be optimistic, negative vibes will come and shake you back into your pessimistic self.
  • If you’ve got the world on a string…scissors will come from time to time to snip it.

Well, you get the point…






April 4, 2014

FieldDreamsArtRobert Semans / Field of Dreams

So I’m spending a lazy morning in my thinking chair on the back patio and, as happens, thoughts come to mind.  The genre of my ponderings, this time, is romantic self-pity suspense, though I am not sure that is a legitimate category.

I got to thinking about Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams. I’ve discussed this before, I think, but I can’t quite remember because I don’t always pay attention to what I say.  I am not alone…and that is what I got to thinking about:  what if, unlike Kevin’s character in the movie, you built it and no one comes?  Or, in my case, you write it and no one reads.  True, I’ve whined about this topic periodically, I write/no one reads, but I am old enough now that I can be a curmudgeon and get away with it…maybe.

I realize it would be a bit weird to collect all the rejection letters from literary agents and publishers and tape them in one of those fancy scrapbooks you can get nowadays with all the little stickers and cut-out thingies to enhance the visual presentation.  My rejection scrapbook would have daggers, meat grinders and all kinds of tears and blood-dripping frames around each rejection.  I suppose the crafts class at the “Paper Your World” shop would view it pretty grotesque compared to most of their prissy lacy foo-foo efforts.  But I digress.

I know in my thyroid that someday my novels will be discovered and then maybe buried again, but it is my blogging that will surely be cited as the personification of literary greatness.  When people google me a hundred years from now, up will come my blogs and the googler will stare in amazement at the literary treasure trove he or she has uncovered.  And, of course, included will be my memorable acceptance speech for the Pulitzer I won posthumously.  Yes I did, indeed, come back just to present this speech since it was my life’s sole (soul, too) ambition to win the great “P” and no one—noooo one—was going to deny my grasping it with my own hands…even if my fingers were long void of flesh.  But again, I digress.

Writing and having no one read what you write has to be like opening night at your Broadway musical when the curtain opens and you look out upon a theater void of any audience.  Or, as the big debut of your Oscar-worthy movie begins flickering on the screen, nary a squirrel has crossed the red carpet to come see it.  Or, to milk this further, after hundreds of hours in the kitchen you have finally perfected the perfect soufflé and there it stands, at least ten inches above the ridge of the soufflé pan, worthy of an Eating Well Magazine cover shot…but no one is there with fork in hand or drool on chin.  You get my point.

It no longer surprises me (liar) that some of what I think are my best blogs receive absolutely no response at all—bzzn (that’s text abbreviation for “butkus, zero, zilch, nada”).  I’ve written two lately that I really think were worthy efforts.  One was titled “Walt Screwed Us” and the other “Going Back With All Your S*it.”  But, apparently, I was the only one who thought them exceptional because I wrote/no one read.   Hey Kevin—did you hear that??  Yeah, I said I wrote and…oh never mind.


ronBy the way, for those fans of our Contributing Editor, Ron Carmean, I am happy to report that he has survived the surgeon’s hatchet and weeks of grueling rehab abuse.  His back has returned to its semi-original shape and he is hobbling around at home, continuing his recovery.  There is no doubt in my mind, now that baseball season is officially underway, he finally has something else to focus on. Ron’s dog, Jake, meanwhile, is having a giggling good time commanding Ron to…heal!


April 1, 2014

Call Waiting

We had the same family doctor for most of my first twenty-some years on this here planet.  His name was Dr. Polin.  Some people just seem to stick in your mind forever.  Dr. Polin is one of them for me.

When I was 16 I was just a little more naïve than I am now.  I did not know that if you poured gasoline over a pile of tree limbs and reached down to light it with a cigarette lighter the gasoline would…E X P L O D E!

No one was around to help me after I blew off the first layer of skin on my right arm and the right side of my face…lost a bit of eyebrow, too.  So what to do?  Of course!  Call Dr. Polin.  It was a Saturday afternoon and there he was, “Hello this is Dr. Polin.”  Can you imagine calling a doctor today and (1) he’s the one who answers the phone, and (2) he says come right over.  Oh, let me say that again:  it was a Saturday afternoon.  That would not happen today.

I have had an unusually busy year of medical issues.  I understand that is something that happens to people who reach the senior demographic thingy.  As a consequence, I have had a lot of dealings with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and medical supply companies.  Ordering a pizza is a lot easier.

What is most amazing is the lack of response you get when you call a doctor’s office because you have a question or—worse yet—you are not feeling well and you sense something is not right.  What is even more amazing is that my experience is not with just one doctor.  I have three doctors’ offices which I have called, left messages regarding something that needed taking care of—me usually—and have gotten no response, no call back, no nothing.  And then when I call back for the third time a few days later and display the least bit of frustration, instead of an apology I get attitude.  Meanwhile, the doctors are so busy they have no idea their patients are being ignored.

What is fascinating is that we took Bill the Dog to the vet last week with a minor injury to his paw.  Now, who do you think called the next day to ask how Bill was doing?  Yep, the vet.  I was considering making an appointment with her for myself.

I recommend the entire USA medical industry, including a lot of the health insurance bozos, should undergo some serious self-examination.  Maybe they should all jam themselves into an MRI tube and not come out until they’ve fixed all their tumors.  In the meantime, I will place a make-believe call to Dr. Polin.  I realize the good doctor is not in anymore, but just thinking about him eases my mind…and some of the discomfort.



March 29, 2014


I’ve been layin’ low lately; been busy working on a project that I am not sure will work, but I have decided to give it a go.  My target audience is beginner self-publishers.  If you are one of them, read on!

When I first started self-publishing five books ago, I had to pay other people to help me get my manuscript ready to publish.  By my third book I pretty much had a handle on the process and I’ve been on my own ever since.  One thing for sure: it saves money when you DIY.  I hasten to note that I’ve master prepping the interior of my text-only books. I still need to hire a designer/artist to do the cover, though I usually originate the idea for it.

I know there must be a lot of beginners who are where I once was.  So I have decided to publish a manual sharing the knowledge I’ve picked up that will take anyone step-by-step through the basic process of going from a Word document to a finished, ready-to-print book.

I am sure I am not being an innovator here.  There are plenty of books and websites offering tutorials on self-publishing.  My effort will be pretty basic, uncluttered and more in line with the “for dummies” concept.  Yes, I will ask those who download my manual to forfeit a few bucks, but very few—less than a movie ticket for sure.

I will be another few weeks finishing up the manual and then putting together the mechanics of making it available on the Internet.  I hope to have all this done for a launch in May.   The reason I am telling you about it now is because I hope those who may be interested will participate in the process.  If you have a need for a manual like this I’d like to know.  Better yet, if you want to offer suggestions regarding what should be in it, proceed imediately to the comment section below this blog and have at it.  I will keep you informed on this blog as the project progresses.

Just for clarification, this manual will be sharply focused: it will offer instructions how to format your book and set up all the necessary elements to prepare it for publication.  I will not go into anything having to do with marketing or selecting services for publishing.  It will not include, I don’t think, much information about producing the design and art work for the book’s cover.  I will deal almost exclusively with the interior of a text-only publication.

My goal is to produce a simple procedure for the beginner to follow with as little frustration as possible.  The manual will hold your hand through the preparation process and save you a lot of money better spent on ice cream and chocolate.  Stay tuned to this blog for further details.  No film at 11.



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