Monthly Archives: August 2013

Bucket Lists

My.SilverAge and HARO

Last spring I attended a California Writers Club – Tri-Valley Branch meeting at which the guest speaker addressed out-of-the-box ways to get to know new people. One method was Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO) www.helpareporter.com.

The speaker explained that by subscribing to HARO she has contributed to several articles, picked up some publicity, and best of all she developed a long-time friendship with an editor at a large New York newspaper.

HARO is easy. Go to the web site and sign up. Once on the mailing list I receive one or two emails each business day. If busy, I just hit delete, but I hate to miss out. Reporters from all forms of media need people to interview on countless topics. When I open HARO email I skip Biotech and Healthcare and head for the other eight to ten categories. Sometimes I find interesting requests in several categories.

In May I saw a subject line that caught my attention, Looking for seniors who started something new after 65.

I sent the reporter an email describing two things I started after 65, zip-lining and writing. I heard back the next day. The reporter already had a writer, but she was interested in my fear of heights, and zip-lining. We exchanged a few emails. Today, I’m one of six senior citizens featured in a slide show on my.SilverAge http://mysilverage.thebegroup.org/Retirement/6-Fearless-Seniors-Tackle-Their-Bucket-Lists. I’m number three.

Andrew Again

This was the first tower we climbed. The reporter used two other photographs for her slideshow.

It’s takes five to ten minutes a day, less than an hour a week to check HARO. I’m sure that everyone who reads this blog could help a reporter. I guarantee you’ll have fun doing it.

I’m corresponding with a reporter now who is doing a piece on the difficulties faced by people in their sixties trying to find a job.

My motto: “Don’t act your age. Just because we’re old in the eyes of society doesn’t mean we have to sit in a rocker and act like old people. Be young in mind and spirit. If you want to try something new, do it.”

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PILZ

My friend and fellow blogger, Julie Royce, recently published PILZ, a sizzling crime thriller. Julie is a former Michigan Assistant Attorney General whose legal career exposed her to the dark side of the medical profession. PILZ is spine-tingling murder and betrayal that will leave you wondering how far to trust your family doctor.

(PILZ is the name given by drug abusers to prescription drugs used for recreational purposes).

Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Labor Day Weekend (August 31-September 2) the Kindle version of PILZ will be FREE on Amazon.com. Download a copy and pass along the info to your friends. Feel free to reblog this information.

PILZ

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Rewrites and Edits

Over the last ten days, I’ve put in at least eighty hours editing, editing rewrites, and editing the edits of A Tale of Robbers and Cops. Writers will detect an overabundance of “echoing” in the previous sentence. Tough.

Three days ago, I finished my seventh or eighth round of edits. Wow, I’m getting there.

Two days ago, I began to read ‘Robbers’ aloud. What a mess. I began another round of edits.

Today, feeling exhausted, beyond frustration, and just plain whiny, I tweeted:

Editing “Robbers” again today. Will the book never be finished?

I haven’t written a word for the next book in weeks. Detective Hector Miguel Gomez and the other members of the Liberty Police Department Anti-Gang Enforcement (AGE) unit must think I’ve given up on them. They’re probably wondering, “How will we ever lock up Geronimo and the Knife?”

Brian Thiem sent me a note:

“I’m doing a rewrite now and plan one more after that. Once I accepted that rewriting/revising IS writing, it’s been easy. If you’re like most writers, even those best-selling authors, you’d wish you could take another crack at it even after it’s in the bookstores.”

My friend, mentor, and sometimes editor, Vi Moore sent one as well:

“Best-selling authors tell me they do at least five full edits. Congrats! You’re on your way.”

Several other friends wished me Good Luck.

Thank you all for your comments and support.

I went back to work with a fresh and positive attitude. Yes Brian, I’ve accepted the fact that rewriting is writing. With yours and Vi’s comments in mind, I accomplished more in the last four hours than the previous two days. Thanks.

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Our last night on the Grand Princess – Final Post

Many passengers were apprehensive about our last night at sea. The concern was that we might experience winds similar to those of the first night. We were pleasantly surprised with calm seas. The only sensation experienced was the on-shore swell common to any sea coast. These caused a slow but pronounced port to starboard rocking motion.

Cathy and I wanted to be on our balcony while going under the Golden Gate. We checked the daily newsletter, and asked four or five crew members. “What time do we go under The Golden Gate?” The consensus was between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. We were scheduled to dock at 7:00 a.m.

For the only time on the cruise, I set up a wakeup call, 5:30 a.m. The call came. We were up and out of bed quick as a shot. I threw open the curtains, stepped out on the balcony. To our amazement we were next to Alcatraz. It was foggy. We couldn’t even see the Golden Gate.

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After an early and leisurely breakfast, we cleared out of the stateroom and prepared to disembark. We met our friends Mike and Maddi Misheloff waiting on the sidewalk in front of Pier 35.

The Misheloffs hadn’t eaten. Maddi said, “We haven’t eaten. Do you want to get breakfast? We know this great place, or do you want to go straight home?” Good thing we ate a small breakfast.

It was a short but hectic drive to 6th Street. The restaurant was in a new location so the Misheloffs were not positive where. We parked and tried to feed the meter. Wow, it was five minutes for a quarter. We had less than a dollar’s worth of change between us.

Cathy went into a bodega for parking change. “If you buy something, I’ll give you four quarters. No more.” She bought water. Now we had forty minutes on the meter. I offered to come back and feed the meter after we got to the restaurant. We walked east. A young lady heard us talking and told us to go four blocks the other way.

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This old building had pieces of furniture mounted to the walls.

Two blocks up we found a free parking spot on a side street. Mike and I went back for the car. After making the mandatory three turns, we got to the spot and parked. Both our phones began to ring. “Hey, there’s a free spot up here beside the café.” Another odyssey. We arrived only to find that a third of the parking spot was marked with no parking signs for construction. I had Mike pull as close as possible to car in front of him. I moved the no parking signs a few feet back.We looked legal.

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Cathy and Maddi chat as the line reaches the corner. It was another half hour wait from there. There is always a line for:

Dottie’s True Blue Café
28 6th Street
San Francisco

They had muffins the size of small cakes and a dozen specials. What a place.

Outside Dotties

Mike, Maddi, and Cathy are discussing the specials.

Later in the day, our daughter Jennifer and her boyfriend, Brandon Witt, stopped by the house for dinner. I had two great steaks ready to BBQ but there wasn’t enough for the four of us. So we decided on Frankie, Johnnie Luigi Too! It’s about a mile from our home. On the way I tried to explain to Jen and Brandon where we had our second breakfast. I said something like, “Dorothy’s on 6th.” Jen screamed, “Dottie’s True Blue Café.” Jen first saw the place in 2007 when a group of women from the Nike Women’s Marathon * San Francisco stood in line waiting to eat at Dottie’s old location. It took her until this past June to get back and actually eat there. It’s now one of her favorites.

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Fifth Posting

We remained on-board for the remainder of the cruise. Our last day in Alaska was a cruise up the Tracy Arm Fjord to the Sawyer Island Glacier.

We spent a few hours at the glacier and then begin the two and a half day cruise back to San Francisco.

I have to tell you about my biggest complaint about the ship, Internet. They charge almost two-hundred dollars for ten hours of service. That is why there was no blog posting during the ten-day trip. Believe it or not, the cruise line charges the crew the same amount.

I was up at 5:30 a.m. We approached the glacier as I got topside. It was biting cold. The bay was clear of any other vessels.

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Glacier

I took these at 5:50 a.m. as we slowly neared the glacier. Crew members told us that sometimes the fog is so heavy that they can’t get close enough to see the glacier.

The ship rotated so that every passenger and stateroom had sufficient time to watch and photograph the glacier.

We had breakfast at the Horizon Buffet with a window seat. Enjoying breakfast, I forgot just how cold it was outside.

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We had a room service order for coffee at 6:00 a.m. The waiter was new to the crew and had never seen a glacier. Cathy invited him in. He was in awe of it. We got him to snap this photo of us with the glacier in the back ground. I prepared well for the weather, shorts and my ever-present Aloha shirt.

After we went topside, I remembered just how cold it was. We saw movement from the glacier. We watched a huge slab of ice break away. The splash was followed by a tremendous roar.

Camera crew

We heard a motorboat and then this zodiac boat came into view. It was a five member film crew. The man standing in the bow looks for ice. If spots a large piece he warns the boat operator, if small he has a long pole to push it away. They moved very slowly.

Film Crew

This iceberg was one hundred yards or so from the ship. With the zodiac at the right side you get an idea of how large it is.

Visiting Glacier Bay a dozen years ago, several cruise ships moved about. The Tracy Arm Fjord is much smaller. When the Grand Princess was rotating, there wasn’t much more than a hundred yards from either end to shore. Traversing the fjord out to the open sea, there were places where two ships could not have shared the passage.

The trip back out to the open sea remained cold, biting cold with snow-capped mountains on both side of the fjord.

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The mountain is about fifty yards from the right side of the ship. There isn’t much more room on the left. We turned and passed through the notch visible in the center of this picture.

This was a successful cruise. We enjoyed ourselves; saw some good shows and sights.

The Writer

I’m happy to report that during the cruise, I wrote over 15,000 words. Of those almost eleven thousand were for the new novel.

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Fourth Post

Skagway is accessible by car and draws a great many recreational vehicles. My brothers-of-the-road represented Harley-Davidson with motorcycles from Florida and Kentucky. Two or three of the Harleys had couples riding. The women had to be good sports. Some off brand two wheeled vehicles were allowed in town. I saw five BMWs from the Canadian Province of Quebec.

Cathy and Princess

Cathy in front of the Grand Princess tied up in Skagway.

It was overcast and chilly when we disembarked for the morning. It warmed up and was great weather all day.

Once again we opted out of any organized tours. Shuttles run from the docks to Skagway and beyond from early morning until the last cruise ship departs. We got one of the good drivers who gave us a running talk about the town.

One pays when exiting the bus. The shuttles have two options, two dollars for each trip or five for unlimited rides. I found it surprising the number of people who took the two dollar choice. I got a better deal. Our driver announced, “I refuse to charge veterans. If you’re a vet let me know.” When I reached him I Said, “U.S. Navy” and rattled off my serial number. He stamped my hand for unlimited rides.

The man behind me wore a submarine service cap. As he handed over his money, the driver said, “No sir” and reached to stamp his hand. The man said, “It’s my son’s, he serves. I didn’t.” Two men, both class acts.

Harley Davidson

None of the Harley-Davidson stores we visited sold motorcycles or parts.

This outlet did not have an authorized Harley-Davidson sign visible on the outside. I have a feeling it’s the result of some local ordinance because none of the franchised stores in town had a company logo visible.

I splurged and bought two T-Shirts. In addition to the usual pocket T-Shirt, I saw a great looking design on a bright yellow T-Shirt. She-who-must-be-obeyed was not happy. Oh well, once in a while one must show a little rebellious behavior.

Back on the shuttle, we rode out to one of the must see destinations. We glanced at each other. “Nope, it’s a tourist trap.” We stayed on the bus. The next attraction received the same response. Riding back to town gave us an opportunity to interrogate the driver.

We stopped at the local museum. Cathy and I have travelled to Europe and Asia. We always make it a point to visit hardware and grocery stores. The ones in Skagway are nowhere as interesting as those in Japan, but the items they stock, are different enough to make it worth ones time. Over at the IGA Grocery store, apples were almost three dollars apiece.

Homes sell from $25,000 up to $400,000. All are small. Building materials must be brought in from great distances and there are no local construction companies. Our driver told us about a house built by a man and his family. Construction of a single room and bathroom was accomplished one summer, over the next four or five years the home was completed. The family now lives in a seven-hundred square foot house.

Here is an interesting story, “We don’t get much snow here. We have sustained winds of 50 MPH up the channel. The snow is dumped in the ocean. What we get comes in horizontally. We get two or three inches of ice sheets dropped here.”

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Looking down the main street one can see another Princess cruise ship docked at the end. Parking is limited to fifteen minutes with a threat of towing. Oddly, an Ultra Classic Harley Davidson, Kentucky license plate, was parked on the street for at least five hours. It was not cited, nor was it towed. But then we never saw a single police officer or cop car.

When it came time to return to the ship, I bought three bags of popcorn and hopped on a shuttle. As I should have expected, she dumped me. “I’ll walk. It’s only a mile or so.” Thirty years of marriage and she still has the energy of a teenager.

While I was writing, a choral group of Grand Princess Passengers put on a show in a nearby lounge. The sound was outstanding. They finished up with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Their rendition brought tears to the beast’s eyes.

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We cruised past this small glacier high in the mountains around 10:00 p.m. It was so beautiful, I had to get up and take this picture. The last time we traversed this channel to the sea, it was afternoon. I spent hours looking through my binoculars while wrapped in a blanket with a good cigar and a glass of Jack Daniels. It was a great experience.

Times have changed. I gave up cigars, rarely drink, and forgot my binoculars. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was getting old. Nah!

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Third Post

Wednesday, July 24th found us in Juneau, Alaska. Layered fog surrounded the town.

Layered Fog 2

We saw our first bald eagles as we came into the harbor. A pair sat on a jetty watching the surface of the water, fishing.

The Grand Princess was the third ship in, two others arrived later. The Princess was too large to tie up at the wharf so we anchored and went ashore by tender.

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Our goal, visit the Mendenhall Glacier, but not on one of the ships expensive tours. Princess tours run on a time-table that leaves one at the glacier for three hours. We found a local service that ran every half hour. We could spend as much or as little time as we wished.

Our driver was a vivacious fifty-something named Mariam. From Iowa she is a part-time teacher and a part-time school bus driver. “We live on my husband’s salary and play on mine. I found this summer job on Craig’s List. I love it here. My husband doesn’t so he visits.” Mariam gave us an interesting commentary about Juneau. Her enthusiasm was catching. She got tipped by everyone on the bus.

I don’t think the sourpuss who drove us back got a single tip.

Bear eating salmon

When we got off the bus, we walked out over to the Mendenhall Creek and watched this black bear feasting on a salmon.

Mendenhall

Mendenhall Glacier.

Juneau is landlocked and everything is brought in by plane or ship. The cruise ship crews get a few hours off to do their shopping. At the wharf half a dozen vans marked “Crew Service” sat. For a small fee crew members or anyone else can get a ride to Costco, Wal-Mart, or McDonalds. There are four fast food outlets in Juneau, one McDonalds, and three Subway Sandwich stores.

Beauty and the Beast

It drizzled most of the time as we wandered about the park. I used my National Parks Senior Pass to get us in for free.

When we returned to town, I was ready for a nap. As usual, Cathy was raring to go. I went back onboard. After a bag of popcorn and a diet soda pop I perked up and spent the afternoon reading Green Ice, by I.C. Enger.

Cathy took the tram and shot a few pictures.

At anchor

I especially like this one of our cruise ship the Grand Princess

Eagle at Tram

This shot of a Bald Eagle could be a post card.

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