Equal Justice?

As I listened to the news lately, I heard that President Obama did some spying on some people that was illegally.  It prompted a question in my mind, one that I wonder if any others have considered.

If he, or any former president is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to prison, would that mean that the Secret Service agents would have to continue to guard him while he is within the prison walls?

As I pondered the thought, I realized that it would be impractical, if not impossible.  A prison cell is too small for an ex-president and four secret service men.  Moreover, they would not be able to take weapons into the prison as there is too much chance of another prisoner getting his hands on one.

I would guess that the most practical way would be a house arrest arrangement.  He would have to stay in his house with all phone calls monitored.  I would suggest that he Should have to eat the same food as the other prisoners, but I don’t think that would happen.  My suspicion is that he would eat far better than most of us.  He would probably also have maid and laundry service, maybe even a butler.  Mostly he would be able to live about like he does now, except he’d have to stay in the house.

Somehow, I don’t think that would be equal justice.  Oh well.  Who am I kidding.  No matter the crime, Obama would never be convicted of anything.  Even if someone charged him with anything, there is no way that they would be able to assemble a jury to convict him.

So the question will never be more than a mental exercise.  The question will never have any more than a theoretical answer.

 

For those that would like reading things that are a little outside the believable, I have over thirty stories for you to select on my authors page.  It will likely just take a few minutes to look at them my clicking on the below URL .

http://www.amazon.com/author/story_teller

If you enter it manually, take note that there is an underscore between story and teller.

Indefinite Pronouns

I’m hardly an expert in English.  Over the years; however, I have learned a thing or two.  One of the things I learned was to avoid over using a word.  Things get annoying if a word, such as “thing”, gets used too much.  “Thing,” is an especially bad word to overuse for a number of reasons.  So, instead of using thing, it is better to use a word more specific.

The thing that makes thing especially bad is that it is weak, or so I’m told.  However, I’ve noticed it competes with something, nothing and everything, for example.  Therefore, I bend over backward to avoid the word thing, or for that matter, too many words ending in “ing.”

Sometimes, when proofreading my stories, I get tired of it.  I’ve found passages where words ending “ing” occur two or three times in each paragraph.  Sometimes, it seems unavoidable, but I do make an effort at it.

There is another thing us storytellers need to avoid.  It is what I call the indefinite pronoun.  Okay, my definition of indefinite pronouns is not the same you find in the books, but I feel it is still just as important.  This story in a somewhat humorous way illustrates my point.

My son, Josh wanted to cook something.  In his way, on the stove was a hot pan.  To the left of the stove was a sink full of dishwater.

Well, with the pan being hot, he didn’t know what to do with it, so he called out, “Mom, what should I do with this pan?”

“What pan?”

“This hot skillet.”

“Get a potholder and put it in the water.”

“Okay.”

All right.  I guess I don’t need to tell you what happened after that.

“Josh!  What did you do that for?”

“It’s what you told me to do.”

“You knew what I meant!”

“You told me to put it in the water.”

“The pan, Josh!  The Pan!”

“That’s not what you told me.”

Okay.  He knew what she meant.  He knew to put the pan in the water.  He was just having a little fun.  As storytellers though, we have to be careful about such possibilities (aren’t you glad I used possibilities instead of things?)

By proper definition, this was not an indefinite pronoun, but I still like to think of it as one.  Though the pronoun was supposed to refer to the pan, Josh – though he knew better – he assumed it referred to the potholder.  After all, how was Josh supposed to refer to the word, ‘pan’, which was not even in the instruction.

Maybe I go to extremes sometimes avoiding a misunderstanding.  I certainly have been accused of it enough times, but I don’t like it when someone reads my stories and has problems with matching the right pronoun (such as he or she) with the right character.  If you come across such a reference, maybe you can tell me.  Also, if you find me overusing words, especially thing, I’d consider it a good thing if you’d let me know.

 

This story is a true one.  As a writer, my novels are fiction, in some cases, even fantasies.  If I am given the choice of believable or interesting, I try to choose interesting.  When I choose between realistic and romantic, I choose romantic.  If I must choose between plausible or humorous, I try to choose humorous.

In addition, there are a few stories that are really tall tales.  I made no attempt to make them believable.  Sometimes, it is just so the reader can have fun following me in my imagination, such as “The Prepper.”  On the other hand, some have a little basis in reality.

If you go to my author’s page at:

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/story_teller

 

You will find more than 30 stories from which to choose.  Hopefully, you will find one or two there you might like.  (By the way, there is an underscore between story and teller.  I know it may not be easy to see.)

Also you can just log onto Amazon.com and enter my name.  This, however, is less desirable.  You will need to avoid looking at any other books listed there.  They are no more distractions.

Chevrolets, HHR’s, and Sunroofs that have pop-up cloth farings

When my sunroof broke on my HHR, I tried to get it repaired.  It would seem Chevrolet doesn’t do things that way.  Instead of replacing a piece of metal that would cost a nickel, they wanted me to by a new sunroof for over three-hundred dollars.

I didn’t like their idea, so I decided to go to the Web.  When I started, I could see five possible solutions.  To keep things short, I decided to remove the broken part, the piece of cloth that popped up when the door opened along with the metal that supported it.  Then I had a $50 faring installed in front of the window.

Now it is better than before.  It’s quieter and operates better.  Also, if Disney will forgive me, it’s less Mickey Mouse looking.  The faring is needed for two reasons, noise and wind at speed.  The noise is similar to the one you get by lowering the rear windows while the front ones remain closed.

While I was at it, I added side window farings.  The total costs for me, approximately $150.  Biggest advantage, I fixed the problem without paying twice for the substandard sunroof.

A couple of side notes: I noticed that the same sunroof is used by many different cars.  So if you own other models of GM vehicles, you might come upon the same problem.  Also, you might want to keep this in mind when you buy your car.  You might want to think twice about having a sun roof if it has a popup cloth faring.

The Beauty of the Backspace Key

I prefer to refer to myself as a storyteller rather than an author.  I write stories.  Most of them are fictitious tall tales, but this one is both personal and true.

I entered high school in 1960, a long time ago.  I looked around for a while and took notice that typing would be a useful skill.  So, being the brilliant person I am, I arranged a class during summer school to learn how to type.

After all, most people know that type written term papers usually get at least half a grade point higher than one that was handwritten, sometimes more.  Besides, my handwriting skills weren’t the greatest, speed or quality.  Adding speed as well as the quality would have been a big advantage.

I want you to know I gave up a lot for that class.  Not only did I give up many summer activities, but I also trudged through the summer heat every day to get to and from school.  Well, I did have a bicycle.

I put a lot of effort into the class.  I worked hard.  I gave it all I had.  I worked my fingers to the bone.  Failed it miserably.  Managed a blazing speed of 17 words a minute with three mistakes.

Actually, the seventeen words a minute was not a problem.  It was likely fast as or faster than my handwriting.

However, I want you to know, I suffered all through my life, to this day because of those mistakes.  They came out with all kinds of wonderful stuff, just for me.  They came out with a tape that I could put just above the paper and type the erroneous character and it was as if the wrong character was never there.  Well, not quite.

Throughout my life, the typewriter and I have had our battles.  Volumes could be filled with stories about them, but I’m trying to keep this story short.  It’s not supposed to be a book.

Let’s just say my type written papers had almost as many corrections as characters.  It would have been nice to avoid them, but my job required them

Then, during the mid-eighties, they came up with something wonderful.  The computer.  Not only did the computer keyboard have a backspace key, but also, when it is used, it makes it as if the errant character never existed.  What a wonderful thing!

Then they came out with something even better, an undo function.  Nowadays, if I make a big mistake, I can undo it.  If I realize that it wasn’t a mistake after all, I can redo it.

I want you to know, for those of us that had to work on dinosaur type typewriters: this is no small thing.  Today, it is taken for granted.  Today, I type about forty or so words a minute, but I still make a ton of mistakes.  However, I can now reach up there with my little finger and make them magically disappear.  (By the way, it is one of the most used keys on my keyboard.)

Then one day a thought occurred to me.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had backspace keys in life?  I say something I know I shouldn’t have; I just hit the backspace key.  I do something that hurts someone; I just press the backspace key.  It’s gone, poof—as if it never happened.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that option.  Every page in life is written in indelible ink.  It can’t be erased.  It can’t even really be covered up.  When I say something or do something that hurts someone, I have to live with it as well as the person I hurt.  Then again, if we all did have such a key, there would be no need to be careful.  Maybe that wouldn’t be so good.

Then there are those who don’t care.  If they hurt someone, it’s of no real significance to them.  In the world of psychiatry, they have names for such people.  I have a few names for such people too, a long list of them.

At any rate, when I hurt people, It is somewhat of a relief.  I feel bad, and I sometimes hurt.  It’s a reminder to be careful.  Besides, it separates me from those who have no pain when they hurt others.  I think that’s a good thing.  It’s just a little thought from an old man who enjoys telling stories.

Please visit my Author’s Page at

http://www.amazon.com/author/story_teller

There are many books to chose from.  You will not find one with profanity or adult passages.  Though a few of them get have some violence, they are far less violent than what you will find on network TV these days.  More important, the violence has purpose.

Newly Married

Newly Married

 

I must admit I was spoiled.  I grew up in Southern California.  Nice pleasant days were the norm.  Oh, we had rainy days.  Sometimes it rained on and off for a week, but thunderstorms were so rare that they caused a lot of talk.  I can also remember days when it was 107 degrees for as much as a week straight.  The bad part about that is that the houses weren’t built for it.  Only people who were well off had air-conditioning, and I certainly wasn’t well off.

On the other hand, I can remember walking to school one day and there were little pieces of ice lying on the street.  I don’t know why but someone was apparently trying to water his lawn.  It was so cold that the water coming out of the sprinkler froze.  Eventually the water in the hose did too.

With those few exceptions, we had day after day of nice weather.  The temperature was generally between 65 in the winter, to low 80’s in the summer.  As I said, it was enough to spoil a person.

At any rate, it was one of those exceptionally nice days and I just finished work–teaching electronics on the Marine air base.  We’d been married a few months and my new wife wasn’t much of a cook.  She could make eggs for breakfast, and she could make hamburgers, and, of course frozen dinners.  Since we were married, she, for the most part, learned to make French fries and boiled eggs.

After I opened the door to the apartment, I noticed an odor.  I called out, not knowing where Kaay was, “What’s that smell?”

She made a mad dash for the kitchen while saying something about forgetting all about the eggs.  It seemed she was boiling eggs, got busy and forgot.  As I arrived, there was no more water in the pan.  I don’t guess you could say the eggs were burnt, but they weren’t exactly edible either.

We talked it over for a while and decided she could make another try at boiling the eggs and we could have egg salad sandwiches and French fries for dinner, but I needed to make a quick trip to the store, a few minutes away.  I can’t remember what it was I needed to get, but whatever it was we needed it for dinner.  Seems like it might have been milk or soft drinks.

At this point, I guess I should pause to say that we had an electric stove.  It was supplied with the apartment.

As I got back from the store, Kaay met me at the door with a question, “Is it baking powder or baking soda that you’re supposed to put on grease fires?”

Needless-to-say, that sparked just a little bit of panic in me.  The only thing that gave me any solace was that I saw neither smoke nor fire.  I figured it couldn’t be too bad, yet.  “Is there a fire?”  I asked as I pushed by her.

She replied, “Not anymore.”

Only somewhat relieved, I asked what happened.  She said that the oil for the French fries spilled over and got on the heating element.  It burst into flames.  Then, of course, she said, “I couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to use so I sprayed 409 (the cleaner) on it.”

Somehow, that didn’t make me feel a lot better, nor could I understand the reasoning.  Although I was afraid to ask I did, “What happened?”

She said the fire went out and it just made kind of a brown foam.  Then trying to cheer me up she added, “It cleaned up real easy.  You can hardly tell there was a fire there.”

Between the smell of the boiled eggs and the small kitchen fire, we decided to go out to eat.  Not only was it more pleasant, but just a bit safer too.

I have often thought about sending the story into Reader’s Digest, but then I keep thinking, what if someone else uses it on a fire?  We got lucky.  No telling what would happen if others tried using 409 in similar situations.  I don’t recommend it for putting out fires and I suspect the makers of 409 would prefer everyone restrict its use to cleaning.

Although we had our trying times, Kaay is now a good cook.  The good part is that there have never been any more fires, though she does still make quite a bit of smoke when she cooks.  When she wants to do any serious frying, we have to disable the smoke detector.

However, to this day, I’ve wondered just how good 409 would be for extinguishing fires.  The fire departments might be using the wrong thing when they use the commercial foam they put on oil and gasoline fires.  Maybe they need to start using 409.  Then, as Kaay said, it just might make the cleanup easier afterward.

(Oh yes.  One little important thing to remember: most say the proper thing to use would be baking soda, or better yet, an appropriate fire extinguisher.  I have no idea about baking powder.  I would prefer not to find out.)

Thinking back over the situation, I should have kept a box or two of baking soda in easy reach.  A few words of instruction might have come in handy too.  Then again, maybe we would have had more difficulty cleaning up.