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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween: What Are Your Plans for Your Dead Body?

English: Body Worlds anatomy exibition. Exibit...
 Body Worlds anatomy exhibition. Exhibition of corpses which have been through Plastination, by Professor Gunther von Hagens.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

          As I grow older my thoughts sometimes pass upon what's going to happen after I've died?   And before anyone gets any ideas, no I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon and I hope to be around for many more years to come.  It's just that as time passes we see people pass away from our lives.   Death is all around us--always has and always will be.  After all death is a natural part of life and it comes to us all.

         Today I'm asking you if you have a plan for when you die.  I'm not talking about wills, life insurance, or any of the arrangements we might make to take care of loved ones or to preserve our legacy. And I'm not referring to any spiritual or theological aspects regarding death.

         What do you want to happen to your body?

         Most people still probably consider the traditional graveyard burial route with a casket, one or more funeral home events, a procession to a cemetery with accompanying graveside service, and placement of the body in a grave with a headstone or grave marker.  This is one of  the most expensive routes to go.

         Lesser priced alternative methods of disposing of the earthly shell are cremation or burial at sea.   These typically cost less than the funeral with casket route, but they still come at a price.  Some more unorthodox choices might include donating one's body to a medical school, allowing the company that puts on the Body Worlds shows to take possession of your corpse, or offering up your body to decay for observational study purposes at a university "Body Farm".

          Death is going to come to us all eventually.  Most of us don't like to think about it much and many of us don't make the arrangements for disposing of our bodies.   Death is usually unpleasant for everyone concerned and leaving arrangements in the hands of those we have left behind might not be the best decision.

          My stepfather George made all of the arrangements for his burial a few years prior to his becoming sick and passing away.   There were few decisions to be made after he died and everything was paid for beforehand.  In fact he was so thorough in making all of the financial arrangements that my mother received a refund from the funeral home because George had paid extra money just in case it was needed.  I respected George tremendously for the way he handled everything concerning his departure from this Earth.

        What to do about my own death is something I seriously consider.   Oh, I still plan to live until I'm 156, but then again my expectations may be off a bit.   I don't want to burden those I leave behind, and I don't especially want to spend a bundle that I could use while I'm alive just to have some fancy arrangement that won't mean anything to me, you know, being dead and all.

        Halloween conjures thoughts of death among other things.  I'm just thinking and don't mean to put a damper on this festive day.  But it's probably something we should all think about before the time comes.

          Have you made plans for your own death arrangements?   Have you been faced with making plans for a loved one at the difficult time of their demise?   How would you prefer to deal with your corpse after you've died?

          Sorry for the morbidity, but it's Halloween.  This post is a big clue as to what song I'll be using in my Battle of the Bands match-up which will appear on Tossing It Out tomorrow Saturday November 1st.  It's a hit from the 70's that is directly related to the topic of today's post.    Can you guess the song?


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Are We To Believe?

Melbourne Zombie Shuffle
Melbourne Zombie Shuffle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       With our greater access to knowledge via the media and the internet you'd think we'd be up to our brains in truth.  Ironically all of this access has muddied the waters of information more than ever.  Rumors, misinformation, and outright lies are continually disseminated throughout all channels available to us to the extent that sometimes it's difficult to know what we should actually believe.

        Here are some examples:

        Harmful substances:    Various studies have shown that coffee can be bad for you while others suggest that it can be good for you.   Some recent studies suggest that a couple cups a day can stave off or even prevent Alzheimer's and dementia.   Similar conflicting result studies have come out about alcoholic beverages, eggs, and other products.   Anyone remember the "studies" back in the fifties that suggested that smoking could be beneficial.  There was a time not so long ago when smoking was prevalent in public places.   I guess it depends on who's doing the study and what result they want to come up with.   In the meantime much of the public is misguided and confused.

        Global warming:  We keep hearing all sorts of research indicating that the Earth is warming and the polar ice caps are melting.   There have been suggestions from some camps that our coastal areas will eventually be flooded and adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes will increase endangering us all.   Then there are the scientists who believe that we should be more concerned about global cooling.  Some even suggest that we may be seeing the coming of another Ice Age.   There are also the scientists and pundits who believe that the world climate goes in cycles and we will periodically have times of cooling and heating that are not influenced by anything humankind does.

        Overpopulation:   The concept that the Earth would be eventually unable to sustain the growing population was introduced by Thomas Robert Malthus in 1798.  He advocated population control to keep the order of things in check.  Paul Ehrlich revived the Malthus scare tactic in 1968 with his best selling book The Population Bomb.  Now here we are nearly 50 years later with none of the predictions coming to pass quite like Ehrlich speculated.   Famine and pestilence is not the result of overpopulation.  Actually we could move everybody in the world to Texas and with the right infrastructure we could all live quite comfortably while turning the rest of the world into parks and recreation land.  Anyone who's driven across Texas can imagine this.  Texans would undoubtedly hate it if everyone moved there, but I'm just repeating an example others have given for illustrative purposes.

       These are but three areas of debate that politicians, activists, scientists, doomsayers, and others like to banter about.  I'm sure you can think of other studies as could I, but this is a blog and I want to keep this post within reasonable limits.

My Conclusion:

        My own study shows that if you keep looking at all of these studies your brain will turn to mush and gradually seep out of your head.   With your brain gone then you would become part of the zombie population in a constant quest for more brains.

        Zombies are thrilled by this news as an increase in their population means an ever-growing zombie voter block.  Of course it's probable that we already have a majority of zombie voters and we could see an influx of zombies eventually taking office in the United States. 

       Vampires think that prospect sucks.  Vampires think a lot things should suck.  Vampires are interested in all things sucky.  Nearly all of those running things in government are vampires who have a need to keep the zombie population under their control.   The vampires look for issues they can sink their teeth into so they can suck the life-blood out of the rest of us.   They love having brain dead constituents who will follow their commands without any thought. 

       Have a frightful Halloween and may Election Day be a scary one--they usually are.

        What is your favorite conspiracy?   Do you think we stand a ghost of a chance in the coming election?  Are you ready to move to Texas?  

Battle of the Bands coming this Saturday November 1st.   There are some clues about my BOTB theme in this post.  Can you guess the song?   This time around I'm offering versions of a 70's hit as performed by two groups that I like and you might enjoy as well.  Nothing too controversial in this Battle.  It's one of the most accessible I've had so far.   Check it out!

Monday, October 27, 2014

These Girls Know How to Throw a Party!


       For the second year I was invited by Alana Garrigues and Nutschell Anne Windsor to be a guest at the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles (CBW-LA) book release party.   This year's book is Story Sprouts: Voice.  It's a compilation of the works of 25 different writers with an abundance of helpful information about the art of writing.  

       Once again the ladies at the CBW-LA showed that they are not only fine writers, but outstanding event planners.    I didn't do a head count, but by my estimation there were probably about sixty folks who attended this event and a good time was had by all.   

        There was a lovely buffet table of excellent food and a lot of prizes that were given away in a drawing near the end of the party.  There were gifts for all.   Each of the authors present gave a reading of a brief excerpt of one of their works selected from the volume.  Then the epic book signing where book after book was passed around the tables to be signed by the authors.   What a book signing that was!

        But let me dispense with words to show you some pictures of this grand book release bash:

I received a warm welcome from CBW-LA board members
at the registration desk

Long view of the room looking toward the authors seated
at the front.

Anyone want a book!  (r to l) Nutschell Anne Windsor, Lucy Ravitch,
and Alana Garrigues conduct the program prior to the signings.

Each book at the party was signed by all of the authors present on that day.  I
have my signed copy and have been thoroughly enjoying it.

The mood at the authors table was jubilant and under the
circumstances one would expect it to be!

Part of the assembled audience (myself included) enjoying
 the authors presentation.

CBW-LA Board Members pose prior to cutting the celebratory cake.
 Photos are courtesy of John Hong. 

A Collection of Lessons and Exercises on Voice and the Resulting Creative Works of Poetry and Prose by the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles.
         Show your support of this writer's group by purchasing a copy of this very well-done and highly useful book.    This would be a wonderful addition to any writing library as well as providing entertaining reading for those who would rather read than write.   Don't forget those writers on your Christmas list.  This is one book that they will use and treasure for years to come.


          Story Sprouts: Voice is available at Amazon in both paperback and kindle editions.   After you've bought your copy don't forget to leave a review.   Story Sprouts 2013 edition is also still available.  If you don't have the first edition yet you might want to consider buying both.


       Have you obtained a copy of either Story Sprouts book?   If so what did you think?    Are you part of a writer's organization that has published a book?   If so, tell us about it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blog Stew--Where's the Beef?

Pepper Pot stew, slow-simmered with diced toma...
Pepper Pot stew, slow-simmered with diced tomatoes, black beans, and seasonings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       With the cold weather of winter coming upon us (or already upon you depending on where you are), some of us may be thinking of a nice comforting bowl of hot stew.  Even those in the southern parts of the sphere might not mind a dish of stew.   Perhaps not what your belly might be craving, I offer now some mental stew blog-style with some meat to greet your week-end.

Say It Again!

            The Deja Vu Blogfest is being revived this year by D.L. Hammons and Nicole Zoltack.  This is when you can repeat one of your blog posts from the past year that you felt was neglected and give it new life.  Even better to my thinking is that this is a great way for an underperforming blog to give readers a taste of the best of what your blog has to offer.   One day of content with minimal effort can be a win-win situation for you and your readers.   I've already signed up all four of my blogs and have 3 of the posts ready to go.  It all happens on Friday December 19th.   Sign up now!  You can find the Linky List at D.L.'s blog.

Play It Again!

        If you've been shying away from the Battle of the Bands posts I think you're missing out.   A number of music lovers have been joining us regularly to vote on their favorite versions of the songs presented in each post.  You don't have to know the songs or the groups to determine which ones you like best.  You just listen to the choices and pick the ones you prefer.  The participating bloggers add interesting bits of information about the songs and artists featured.  I try to tie in themes concerning topics that are on our minds--or at least my mind--to encourage readers to think beyond the music and stimulate discussion.  Next Battles will be coming up on November 1st so I hope you'll come over and vote for your preferences.  For more information including a participant list please visit the blog Stephen T. McCarthy created especially for this event Stephen T McCarthy Presents "Battle of the Bands".

Sleepy Sheepy Update

         I'm still helping my friend Dan Holom promote his children's book Sleepy Sheepy and Daniel.   I previously blogged about it here, here, and here.  In short, this is a clever retelling of the popular Bible story of Daniel in the Lions Den.   Dan's partner in this endeavor is illustrator and Disney animator Mark Henn. In the few weeks since its release, their book has gotten over 40 rave reviews on Amazon.  They're still looking for reviews for the book so if you'd like to help please get a copy and add your own review.   I talked to Dan just the other day and he told me that the second book of the series should be coming soon.  An informative radio interview with Dan and Mark about the process of creating their book can be found at Shine FM Chicago.  All writers--and especially writers of children's books--will find this interview very helpful.  Listen and get inspired.

Haunting Time Is Nigh

Paranormal Texas by Tui Snider
      I caught part of Tui Snider's interview on BlogTalkRadio this past Wednesday night.  What a bubbly dynamo of energy she is!  Tui's 2nd book was released at the first of October in time for the Halloween haunting season.  It appeared on the Amazon Best Seller's list soon after its release.   This book is called Paranormal TexasIt is a travel guide to haunted places near Dallas and Fort Worth.  For more information about Tui you can visit her blog.

Get Ready to Write!

          With NANO around the corner many minds will be turning to thoughts of writing and many of those writers will be consulting books for ideas, practical advice, and inspiration to write the novel they will be laboring over.   You might want to check out Story Sprouts: Voice from the Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles.   On Monday I'll tell you about the launch party that was held October 11, 2014 with a few photos for your' enjoyment.  In the meantime I hope you'll check out the book on Amazon and maybe even buy a copy for you NANO November.

Be watching the A to Z Blog for a special announcement soon to come.

        Are you planning to do NANO in November?   Are you interesting in exploring paranormal locations?  If you stay away from Battle of the Bands is there any certain reason why?