MY KNEAD UNFULFILLED

July 29, 2014

breadbaker

We inherited a fancy fire engine red KitchenAid mixer last week.  The first thing I did was order a dough hook for it.  Like lots of foods that many of us should go easy on, fresh baked bread is simply something I cannot refuse when the basket is passed around the table.  So, having this new mixer with the dough hook thingie means I can make bread without having to go through the kneading process.  Great.

Sunday morning is bread making day.  I lay out and measure all the ingredients and proceed with a recipe for rustic bread I got off the internet.  The dough hook did a convincing job of making the dough and gathering it into a nice ball…but the minute I put my hands on it, it simply did not feel right.  It was tough.

I followed through with all the remaining rising and kneading sessions and I must admit I was a little optimistic since the dough rose very nicely… and did so twice.  Then I finally got ready to put it in the oven and I put the cosmetic knife slicings in the top and wished it well.

The bread never browned. Never.  I couldn’t keep on baking it; it simply was not going to come out looking anything like the golden crusted beauties in the picture.  Instead of rising more in the oven, it sank.  That made it dense and…tough!  It was awful.

I will try again, but I think I might just go back to using my hands and putting the dough hook in with the fishing gear in the event I run into Jaws.

After all the time and effort it was really disappointing.  There was no saving it.  I fed it to the black hole in the kitchen sink.  Then I popped a Thomas’ English muffin into the toaster.  There’s something about a Thomas’ that can sort of sooth a bad bread baking day.

*****


BOIL THE WATER…ANOTHER BOOK’S COMING!

July 26, 2014

CAMCovFace

I am just a few weeks away from launching my fifth book in as many years.  That’s the rough draft of the cover pictured above.  There were also two other completed efforts this year: one is a teacher’s lesson guide that supplements one of the children’s book and the other is a short manual to guide newbie self-publishers through the process of preparing a manuscript for publication.  That’s seven items total that have kept me off the street corner during these, my early years of retirement.  I’m pretty proud of myself having accomplished all this, despite the fact that I haven’t sold much of my work at all.  One book, nonetheless, having won an international award, earned one of those embossed gold sticky things on the cover.

Since few buy what I write, I figure either I’m not very good at it, or I just haven’t yet figured out the marketing and sales parts of the process.  It is a bit daunting, but I remain committed to this journey in hopes that eventually I can stand behind a podium somewhere someday and in my best Sally Field impression declare that “you like me, you really like me!” I hope I get to say it in present tense and not someone else on my behalf in past.  I swear if I am discovered after I die I will come back and scare the hell out of everybody just for spite.  Bury me not too deep, please.

So okay, what’s the latest salvo?  It’s another children’s book, the first draft of which was written a couple of years ago.  I put it away in an old sock drawer and let it grow mold and turn ripe before pulling it out and thinking seriously about rewriting it and then going through the self-pub process.  So that’s where I am now.  My faithful, artful sidekick, Lynda Louise Mangoro is finishing up the last few illustrations along with the cover.  This is our third children’s book together…hopefully the charmer.  It’s titled, The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels.

Christopher is a typical American middle/upper class middle schooler who has a propensity for calamity.  His pathway through day-to-day living is strewn with land minds that blow up in his face or detours that take him places he has no reason to be.  As a result, Christopher is always in some kind of predicament and always paying the price.  And here is where his life is a bit different from most kids. Christopher’s parents both work in the criminal-justice system.  His father is a prosecuting attorney and his mother—get this—is a judge.  When most kids do something wrong, one or both parents dish out some kind of penalty and the kid pays his dues.

In Christopher’s house, family court is held in the kitchen and his cases are regularly brought before Judge Mom and Prosecutor Dad. The outcome is almost always the same and when the verdict is read it simply says, “Christopher Arthur McDaniels, go to your room!”  Christopher’s teachers, meanwhile, have concluded he is unlike the other troublesome students.  They say he doesn’t have issues; instead, he has situations.  If you are an 8-to-12-year old, it is these situations that will pull you in, tug your heart and have you cheering for Christopher as he attempts to reach his 12th year with as few bruises and as little time served as possible.  Good luck to all with that!

The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels...at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in August.  Of course, I’ll let you know when!  Is that water boilin’ yet?

*****

http://christopherarthurmcdaniels.com


MOVE OVER SPIELBERG, I MADE A VIDEO!

July 22, 2014

film crew

If you are a fellow self-publisher I do not have to tell you that marketing and production costs can add up pretty quickly if you don’t pay attention. That’s why I try to do as much as I can by myself.  Fortunately, I spent a lot of time working in marketing throughout my career so knowing how to package up promotional and advertising “stuff” helps offset costs.  I’ve also tried to teach myself how to do certain tasks that others want to charge me for.  That’s why I can pretty much prep my own manuscripts for printing and I don’t need to have someone else do it for me…for a fee.  Allow me to insert a brief advertisement for my guidebook, Build a Book, which is for fellow DIYers who want to learn how to prep their own manuscripts.  That’s it pictured to the right.

This week I took one more giant “self-step” by producing a video trailer for one of my books.  I have never had much involvement in television or film so this accomplishment really feels good.  One thing I might add is that I discovered a website that made my video possible because it sold stock photos at an incredibly low price.  Normally, stock photo prices are prohibitive if I need several.  BTW, the site is http://dollarphotoclub.com.

For the video itself I used Movie Maker, a Mirosoft program that Hp almost unnoticeably includes on it desktop PCs.  This program was very intuitive and quick to learn…much easier than Power Director which I bought last year but could never master, even after watching a bunch of tutorials on YouTube.  Granted, Movie Maker is pretty basic and I missed not having a few more ways to display text.  But, overall Movie Maker did the job.  You be the judge!  Just remember, I don’t claim it to be a masterpiece of videography, but I think it’s presentable enough for Mom to post on the refrigerator door with the rest of my art projects!

*****


PREPARE TO BE ALIENATED!    

July 20, 2014

AlienSign copy

A NASA scientist has announced he expects alien life outside of earth to be discovered within the next 20 years.  Well, even though lately I haven’t been spending much time in my thinking chair on the back patio, this got me to thinking.  I would have to assume that the arrival of aliens would be treated no differently from the way we Americans treat anything new that plops itself on our doorstep.  Think about it…

  • Right away our new immigration laws—which I guess MAY be passed by Congress within the next 20 years, will all have to be revised. Can you imagine the thousands of illegal aliens who will be entering into our space immediately occupying our schools, demanding food stamps, manipulating our health care system and working for next-to-nothing in all our labor-intensive job markets.  It’ll be inhumane.
  • Disney would have to build a new Alien Land at its parks and come up with all kinds of new rides, cartoon characters, movies, songs and stuffed alien dolls.
  • There would be a revival of the video game Alien Invaders which I would think will scare the hell out of the aliens upon seeing the intensity in our children’s eyes as they blow up every alien ship that descends on earth.
  • Our evening skies would be aglow with thousands of alien flying saucers hovering just above the horizon as each waited its turn to be processed by U.S. Immigration officials.
  • Our import industry would go ballistic salivating over the sale of all kinds of new products we would import from the Alien nations, not the least of which would be some kind of cheap fuel that will run our cars, provide us electricity and become an additive in just about every product we manufacture.
  • The aliens would begin clustering amongst themselves within our communities, creating mini-alien neighborhoods which displaced citizens would resent, except for the new alien restaurants that would feature unusual cuisine that we Americans would find deliciously trendy, especially the fly-through windows where take-out orders would be processed and packaged in little microwavable containers.
  • Aliens would prove themselves especially adept at playing a particular sport and would begin breaking all previous records, demanding outrageous salaries and almost overnight begin out-selling all sports memorabilia with custom products that contained  alien names and player numbers.
  • Our young will soon yearn to be like “them” and want to move to their planets where real estate will be incredibly cheap.  Our elders will become hostile and will initiate long-term prejudicial attitudes and alien profiling.
  • Vacation packages and cheap flights to the planets will soon dominate vacation destinations.  Alien resorts will pop up everywhere in the solar system and feature spectacular crater views and low gravity weight-loss camps.
  • Alien music will begin dominating the industry and the pop charts will be filled with a new, weird style of rhythms that American adults will not understand nor be unable to dance to.

I am sure there are many other things that will change.  The aliens will no doubt bring a new diversity to our culture which many of us will embrace while many others will try to fend off and avoid.  Twenty years will not be enough time for earth’s governments to prepare, but I am confident the marketing plans will be well in place by next year.  Personally, I’ll be happy just to take the T-shirt concession.

*****

 

 


IT ALL ABOUT TIME

July 15, 2014

timeline

Trust me, I am not complaining…just making an observation.  When you move from the northern regions of the United States to South Florida you lose some sense of timing since there is no real spring or fall here.  A major loss is that there is no noticeable thrill each year when the first few warm days come along after a bitter cold winter.  Of course, what is not a loss is the bitter cold winter.  Nonetheless, there are no crocus or daffodils popping up out of the flower beds announcing spring.  Likewise, come autumn, there are no leaves to rake nor rush to switch from shorts to long pants.  Nope, there are none of these telltale signs of seasons changing.

Hence, once you’ve been living in South Florida for a few years you lose your sense of annual timing.  Trying to remember exactly when things took place in the past becomes a little blurry.  Up north it is easier to remember when events took place because they have the added element of season attached to them.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that time confusion has gotten even worse after I retired.  There is no alarm clock in my life anymore.  This alone has to be the grand prize you are awarded upon retirement.  But, as your days become less hectic and you have fewer things to do and people to see, you begin to lose your sense of week.  It is not unusual for me to spend a long moment or two attempting to remember what day of the week it is.  Weekends, too, get lost since they’re now no different from the weekdays.

Thank goodness we still have night and day and I still know which is which.  I suppose that’s next to go given the fact I am sleeping less, awakening earlier and doing more things in the middle of the night…like writing this post at 2:30 in the morning.  The only saving grace is that night is dark and day is light.  When I can’t figure that out anymore I don’t suppose it will really matter.  At that point I probably won’t have a sense of anything.

*****


WELL, THAT DIDN’T WORK…

July 13, 2014

thinking

 I was going to go into a lengthy dissertation about my regrets having posted a challenge to earn 20 “likes” as described in my posting two days ago.  “Earn” is a key word here and I should not have expected to reach my goal without it.  I do dumb things every now and then…this was now. I should know better, but it’s not worth going into.  I apologize.  I will never do it again.  If I could gather all of us up in one room I’d treat for ice cream.  Okay, nuff said.  I’m in time-out!

*****


TIME TO LIKE UP! (graphics from dreamstime.com)

July 11, 2014

Holy crap! I don’t know what to think. Only two likes!!!! I am not sure how to interpret this crisis. Either no one really gives a damn and no one really likes my blog very much…or most of you really would like to see me take the dive into the canal. What a dilemma! This sucks. I will punt for one more day and see what happens. For those of you who just got here and haven’t the slightest idea what the hell I’m talking about, just catch up on my latest posting from yesterday which follows immediately…

like
Today’s posting is a self-serving, narcissistic, egotistical attempt at a meaningless endeavor.  BTW, can you spell narcissistic right on the first attempt?  I never can.  Anyway, I digress.  Here’s the deal on today’s posting.  Either you leave a “like” or I will jump into the canal out back of my house and remain on the bottom forever and ever and only come up for air when needed.  I am not sure how I will do that, but I will have to figure it out as I go.

The point is, this posting is #219 and I have never had more than 13 “likes” generated by any one posting.   I see other bloggers post one sentence and a picture of a daffodil and they maybe get 40-50 likes.  Jealous?  Of course I am.  Fact is, the average number of “likes” I get is .00573287/posting.  Oh the misery I carry.

I must acknowledge that there are some of you who have been very loyal.  You guys faithfully leave a “like” on a regular basis.  I will forever cherish your little avatars and all that they represent.  Hugs ‘n kisses and all that stuff.

Now, for the business at hand.  I want to break my record of “likes.”  In fact, I want to set a new and astronomical goal of at least 20 “likes” for this posting.  If I have over 490 followers I would think at least 20 of you would have mercy and leave me a “like”…please! It’s not like we’re setting a Guinness record here.

Okay, I hope we are all clear on this.  Off you go–you do what you gotta do and I’ll go change into a bathing suit and sit on the banks of the canal just in case you don’t.

Desperate? Pitiful? Conceited?  Yeah, all those things apply.  I have lost all pride and self-respect.  I have become a beggar, a social degenerate and despicable human being.  But it will all be worth it if I can get 20 “likes.”  We can do this.   So, gee, c’mon and show me some love…or at least some like!

—–

p.s.  Trash Update:  the junk that some crappy person left out back of my house is still there (see previous posting of this blog).  I have not seen any sign of the Code Enforcement person who was supposed to come and take a look-see.  I have not, however, given up hope that it will be removed…stay tuned to this site for further details on this developing story…or is it breaking news?  Whatever.

*****


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