This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not an Optical Illusion! I'm Back for Today with Optical Osmosis

      Yes, I'm still away from the blog, but I happened to have today scheduled as a stop on Jefferey Beesler's book tour for his new release Optical Osmosis.  Be sure to visit Jeff's blog which is linked below and do check out his book!

Thanks for hosting me today, Arlee! I’m proud to come on over here and discuss my new book, Optical Osmosis with you.

Throughout the blog tour, I’ve discussed most of the components of the book, ranging from the relationship dynamics between siblings to a kooky, snarky retired psychic who comes close enough to stealing the show with her antics. But there is one key element I haven’t discussed, and so today’s the day for it.

I’m a firm believer that most people in this life have at least one person they can turn to in times of need, even if that person might be, depending on the individual’s belief system, God. Without delving too deep into a theological discussion at this time, it can be understandable why people turn to places like church, community centers, or things of this sort. They’re looking for help. There’s a song out there that has a particular lyric which sums up what I think of this. “We all need somebody to lean on.”

In Optical Osmosis, the person my main character Greg Gnops comes to lean on the most is his sister’s best friend, Dani Staras. Both of them are genuinely concerned for his sister, Ashley, who only introduces them to one another because she seems to think Greg could use a female companion. A genuine friendship between Greg and Dani develops despite of all the setbacks going on in the story. At one point, Greg has to make the choice to tell Dani about what has happened to his eyes. Will she understand his dilemma? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Name: Jeff Beesler
Your website address: See Blog Address
Your Twitter handle: @JeffBeesler
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Book purchase links

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Caught By Surprise!

        I knew this was coming.

         I just didn't expect it so soon.  Let me hold my current thought as I have to step away from the computer for a while.   This is not like me--I usually have posts prepared, but not this time and I'm not able to get anything together at this late of notice.

          As a matter of fact, all my blogs will be affected by this current turn of events.  I'll be back after the first week of August to explain and to continue my story about my reluctant Ecuador vacation.

            In the meantime, I'll try to catch up to some blog visiting if I have some idle time and internet access.  And that's a big IF!

            Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Reluctant Ecuador Vacation

            On June 24, 2013 my wife, Betty, and I set off for a ten day vacation in Ecuador.   We arrived in Quito near midnight of the first day and spent two days in the capital city.   Joining us on the trip was one of our daughters and her husband. 

           We hired a cabdriver to take us around while in Quito.  This proved to be a good decision as Quito is a crazy place to navigate and the driver knew the good places to take us in the limited time we had.  The first day we paid $40 for about eight hours touring the city.  The second day we paid $90 for twelve hours and about 200 miles in the mountain regions.   What a bargain!   We also had him join us for our meals and paid his bill.  I think he appreciated that.  And we did give him well deserved tips each day.

           After Quito we rented a car and drove a couple hundred miles south to Guayaquil.  Since this is where Betty was originally from we spent the most time here.  It's another bustling city that is more modern than Quito.  We paid a visit to the University of Guayaquil where my wife received her doctorate degree.  Our delightful hostess in Guayaquil took us to many of the more notable sights of the city.  We also spent a day visiting some of the beaches along Ecuador's Pacific Coast.

          Returning to Quito for our flight home, we made a one night stopover at the resort town of Baños de Agua Santa .  The trip from Guayaquil took longer than anticipated so our visit to Banos was shorter than we had planned. The final day was a few hours spent getting back to Quito and turning in early so that we could get up at 2 AM in order to make it to the airport for an early flight. Our trusty cab driver from our earlier visit was there to take us to the airport. What a dependable guy he turned out to be.

          As I went through our photographic records of the trip I realized that I was heavy on video, but short on photos.   For this reason I don't have much in the way of scenic shots.   I mostly used the still camera for photos with my wife's friends and relatives.  

          By the way, my wife is originally from Ecuador, which is why she wanted to make this trip.  Her daughter wanted to meet some relatives and my wife wanted to catch up to friends she hadn't seen in decades.   Sweet wife treated me to the trip and I'm glad she did.  In my next post I'll explain a bit about my reluctance about going.  In this current post I'll share a few of the few photos I managed to take while in Ecuador.

Pululahua Crater not too far from the Equator Monument Park afforded a panoramic view.  It was a weekday so things weren't too busy out in the country.   The city was another story entirely.  I thought Los Angeles traffic was bad!

My lovely wife, Betty, at the Equator with the flag of the nation of her birth.  She  has an affection for Ecuador of course, but she's been a proud citizen of the United States for many years.

Arlee and Betty kissing at the Equator.

Posing in front of the Equator monument or "El Mitad del Mundo".    Though it's supposed to represent the zero degrees latitude line, it's actually a bit off.   The park where this is located is probably Quito's most visited attraction.

 My meal at the world renown five star La Mirage Garden Hotel Restaurant in Cotacachi.   It's a platter of typical Ecuadorian cuisine including pork prepared in a variety of ways, potatoes, mote (hominy), avocado, and a few other things of which I can't remember the names.  It was delicious.  Since we were there at lunch we had the restaurant to ourselves, but the service was still outstanding.  Without our cabdriver we'd probably have missed this experience. 
My wife and I during boat tour of Cuicocha Lake in crater at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano.   The mountain scenery around us was spectacular.
We stopped somewhere between Guayaquil and Baños for lunch.  The trip was amazing in it's beauty, but somewhat grueling with the mountain roads, construction, and periodic rain.   There weren't many choices for eating so we stopped in this town of which I don't recall the name.   The meal was not very memorable either.  I thought the town was picturesque enough for a photo.  This is the view from the restaurant where we ate.

         Here is my first experiment with putting together a movie.   This is a crater lake at the foot of the volcano Cotacachi.   The clip is about 7 minutes so you may wish to fast forward in places.

        I hope you've enjoyed my very brief overview of our trip.  I'll have a bit more to say on Friday.

         Have you been to Ecuador?   If so, what were your impressions of the country?   Have you ever made a reluctant journey that turned out much better than you expected?   Have you taken any trips yet this summer or have you planned one in the weeks to come?

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Post Postponed--My Excuse

English: Basilica del Voto Nacional, en Quito ...
 Basilica del Voto Nacional, en Quito Ecuador Category:Images of Ecuador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
          Actually I had a topic planned for today but I'm too tired to put it together in time to get it online at my usual posting time.   I should have prepared this before now (Sunday night is when I'm composing this), but I didn't.  Instead I've been sleeping and doing other things.

           If you've been keeping up with this blog you may be aware that I've been away.  I wasn't saying anything about where I was or what I was doing and I was keeping mum for rather ridiculous reasons.  I'll explain more about this in upcoming posts and tell a bit about my trip.

          Yes, I was away.  My wife and I went to Ecuador for ten days.   On my Wednesday post I'll share some photos and tell about some of the things we did.  Later I'll have some more things related to this trip to share.   For now I'm beat.   Funny how a trip like that can be rather draining both physically and mentally.

           I was tired before I left, but now this is absurd.

           Does travel wear you out?   How long does it take you to recover from a vacation?    How do you feel about traveling outside of the country in which you live?

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Friday, July 5, 2013

My Bucket List

Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...
Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 2007, Warner Bros. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       This thing caught my eye at Buck Inspire.  I've seen and heard about many "bucket lists" in the past.  I've even seen that movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  So since it's been suggested that I compile a "bucket list", here's mine:

1.  Galvanized bucket  -- There were always metal buckets like this around my house when I was growing up.   Plastic is just not the same.

2.  Hole in My Bucket -- I think there was a song many years ago with this title.   I thought it was the funniest thing when my younger sister had a hole in the back of her pants and my father started singing that song.  I was thankful that it wasn't my pants.  How embarrassing!

3.  Oaken Bucket -- I used to see an old establishment by this name on the Old Knoxville Highway in Rockford, Tennessee.   I'm not sure what the place was.  I think it was closed.  It always intrigued me though.  The place looked like it was probably open in the 40's or 50's and probably even into the 60's.  Maybe someone from that area can enlightened me about this.

4.  Bucket Brigade --How many times have you resorted to using the "Bucket Brigade" method to move things along more quickly?

5.   Kicked the bucket--Anyone remember the scene in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World where Jimmy Durante kicked the bucket?   This film is one of my all time favorite comedies.

6.   Bucket Head-- I guess more than one person in the world has this nickname.   My younger brother had a friend they used to call "Bucket Head".  Have you ever known anyone with this nickname?

7.   Bucket -- This is a term used in basketball that I've heard fans use.  Not exactly sure what it means, but I guess it has something to do with the basket.    I'm sure one of the readers can explain.

8.   Buckets of Rain -- A song by Bob Dylan.

9.   Bucket of baseballs -- Makes batting practice easy and baseballs are cheaper by the dozen.

10.  Drop in the bucket -- Considerably less than a drop in the ocean, but still a minute fraction of the overall scope of things.

       So there you have my "Bucket List".   What?  Are you saying that's not the way I'm supposed to do it?


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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Declare Your Independence!: an #IWSG Post

             The fireworks of insecurity are sounding because today is Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group day.   Gain independence from your insecurities as we lean on each to help us through tough times and rejoice together in the good times.   To read more from other participants check out the #IWSG List.  
What, Me Worry?
        Fans of Mad Magazine will probably recognize the slogan of Alfred E. Newman, spokesman of the wacky humor publication.   You don't have to be goofy to not worry, but it probably helps.  That's why I'm a great believer in getting nutty now and then.
A postcard with the public domain "me wor...
A postcard with the public domain "me worry?" face that later inspired Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       Those who follow this blog here that you're reading now may notice now and then that I get a bit weird.  I actually think sometimes readers take me serious all of the time and don't notice when I'm being silly.  I'll concede that I take on some serious  topics much of the time, then suddenly I'm out in the ozone with a topic that could be taken seriously I suppose, but I put some twists in it.  Even the serious topics I'll throw in a monkey wrench now and then.  Why not?
        I'm one who thinks blogging should be fun.  I even have fun when we get down and dirty in controversy.  To me that's one form of entertainment.  I try not to offend, but I don't worry so much if readers get angry with me because of what I write.   Actually, if anyone gets angry with me because of what I've written it's because they probably haven't carefully read what I wrote and thought it through for themselves.  In that case I guess those people aren't really my readers.
         So I may say exactly what I think sometimes, present the opposite side other times, or I might just ramble to see if I say anything at all.   No matter what, don't get mad as in angry, but it's okay to get "mad" as in dopey like Mad magazine.  I just hope you read my blog and whatever else I may write and then let me know your thoughts.  I'm a proud writer and I declare my independence from insecurity!   Well, I'll try at least.
        If you're looking for someone to support you in your nuttiness, you can count on me.  I'll be your Nutty Buddy.  Be of Good Humor my friends.   Hope you're having a great summer!
        Do you like to get wacky in your writing sometimes?   Do you ever scratch your head when you read my posts and try to figure out where I'm coming from?    Are you or have you ever been a Mad Magazine fan?   What's your favorite--Nutty Buddies, Popsicles, or some other treat?


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Insecure? Join Alex J Cavanaugh and #IWSG

        While I'm still in some undisclosed location I'm getting a little help from my friends.   Today I welcome one of my dearest online friends from early in blogging beginnings--Alex J. Cavanaugh.  He needs little introduction to most of my readers.  But just in case you don't know him, you can find him at his blog Alex J. Cavanaugh.   He has also been an integral part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge from the beginning and is founder of the Insecure Writers Support Group about which he is here to say a few words about.   Thanks for standing in for me Alex!

The IWSG – What Does That Mean?

Most of you have seen Lee and others post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Maybe you’ve wondered what it’s all about. Who can join? What do group members get out of it? (How long will it take me to remember the acronym IWSG?)

The IWSG is nearing its two year anniversary and has grown beyond my expectations. Now three hundred strong, it requires the assistance of three co-hosts to manage the list. (Even with clones, I can’t do it all!)

Here is the official description:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writers.

Here are some other things you should know about the IWSG:

It is open to all writers, published and unpublished. You write music or movie reviews? You write on your blog? You are welcome to join us!

You cannot be TOO insecure to join. Trust me.

Just sign up, grab the badge, and post it and a link to the list when you post for the group.

You are free to discuss any aspect of writing that might be troubling you – writer’s block, rejections, feeling inadequate, etc. If you need help with a problem, this is the time to ask.

You are free to offer encouragement to other writers – anything that would lift someone’s spirits, provide answers, or give hope. (Or give someone a good laugh.)

We try to catch ad sites and non-participants and remove them from the list. Those who miss two months in a row are removed but are free to join again when ready.

Most important, the group has become something really special. Participants say it is their favorite day of the month. Those who are struggling receive encouragement and often from total strangers. Connections are made and friendships formed. We are more than just a group – we are a team committed to one another.

On a personal level, this group has just overwhelmed me. Watching the members support one another and grow stronger is a total blessing. I am humbled by every word of thanks. When I look back over the past few years, the success of my books and growth of my blog are great, but it’s the IWSG that means the most to me.

Want to be a part of something awesome? Join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group today!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, his third book, CassaStorm, will be released September 17, 2013.

            Thank you, Alex.  Join us this Wednesday for the IWSG.    I'll even be posting though still in absentia.   Hopefully things will be back to the norm on my blogs starting July 8th.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

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