Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NEW JOB!!!!!

I'm so excited! A week ago, I interviewed for a newspaper job and last night I received a phone call from the editor. Can I start Thursday morning? Yep!

There's some nervousness about's a little of a drive, and I'm on for a 45-day trial basis. Lord willing, with a little hard work and a little confidence I can make this work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting back to my true love--fiction

The past few days, as far as writing goes, have been split. A big chunk of time is spent on getting freelance assignments completed while I'm also working on some fiction projects. One is a novel, working title The Game Show, in which I'm about 2/3 completed on the rough draft. There are also short story ideas I'm getting some ground work laid down on. One looks to be a combination of two ideas.

I'd rather not divulge too much details, but I do like the Twilight Zone-style suspense and twists. Often, I ask myself, "What if?" and start writing.

Slight change again

The orange-on-royal blue didn't work as well as I wanted. For now, I'm trying a yellow-on-royal blue. Normally, I don't like the darker colors, but I've really liked using the dark blue as a background color since it provides great contrast. We'll see what happens.

Royal blue and yellow is one of my all-time favorite color schemes, along with royal blue and light blue and then kelly green and gold. But for this blog, I'm looking for schemes that provide great contrast--making it easier to read--while allowing some aesthetic appeal also.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Experimenting with colors

Have decided, for the time being, to move away from the light blue-on-dark blue that I had been using and experiment with orange-on-royal blue. Am curious to see how it works.

I have a love/hate relationship with orange. Aesthetically, I don't really like it. It was my high school color. Burnt orange I hate, but I have grown to see bright orange as a pragmatic and not-too-ugly color. Besides, blue and orange are the original colors of my favorite baseball team the Houston Astros. I'd like to seem them return to those colors and ditch the hideous black, brick red and sand they currently have.
Don't know how long this color scheme will last...might be changing it again as the blog evolves. We'll see.

The Zowie family's origins

The Zowie family got its start in America around 1899 when my great-grandfather, Sebastian Zahnweh, immigrated to America from Mötzing, a little Bavarian village in southeastern Germany. Mötzing is located about 33.9 kilometers (or about 21 miles) southeast of Regensburg and about 154 kilometers (or about 95 miles) northeast of Munich.

Here is a link to show you where Mötzing is on the map. According to a census done two years ago, it has just under 1,500 people in it.

Richard Zowie, animal rescuer

One of our neighbor's ducks got out of her pen the other day, and the way she was walking around and quacking, I could tell she wanted back in. So, I went over there, was able to catch her (she probably thought I was going to make her my Sunday dinner) and got her back in. It was a very nice, tender moment. I thought of trying to quack to her to calm her down and reassure her I wouldn't hurt her, but that seemed too bizarre even for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Decline of American Comedy: Kevin Smith

Back in 1996 while stationed in the Army at the Presidio of Monterey, Calif.'s Defense Language Institute, I got my first taste of the tasteless filmmaker Kevin Smith. A friend had rented Clerks. It's a brilliant film about a convenience store worker, I was told.

Fifteen minutes later, I got up and left. The movie was incredibly boring and had enough profanity and vulgarity to fill several films.

A month or so later, I sat down and watched about half an hour of Mallrats. Same result: boring, disgusting film.

I haven't seen Clerks II or Dogma, since I feel you don't have to repeatedly whiff a pile of garbage to know it smells bad. So, it goes without saying that I won't be seeing his new film, either.

Smith, according to the AP, recently--at a comic book convention--featured a clip of his new film Zack and Miri Make a Porno. (The movie stars Seth Rogen of Knocked Up, which tells me this movie will be utterly unwatchable). Smith also mentions having a hearing to get the film an R rating: currently, the Motion Picture Association of America has rated it NC-17 despite Smith's numerous edits.

No worries, Kevin: just make it R-rated and then feature your cut on the DVD.

I love to laugh, don't get me wrong, but why does the world insist on trying to get humor from smut instead of getting humor from irony, off-the-wall scenarios and great timing?

Ahhh, the joys of writing satire

A few months ago, I posted an article about a famous rock star on my satirical blog.

The website, again, is 100% satire.

Nevertheless, I have received four angry e-mails from that blog from angry readers. One threatened me with physical harm.

The fictitious, tongue-in-cheek article merely pokes fun at the musician's entrepreneurial ways. Nothing more. I actually have a lot of respect for him, but apparently these readers didn't bother to read the "This is satire" disclaimer at the top of the page.

Friday, July 25, 2008

News for today

Will make this quick since I'm very tired and want to watch an episode of Northern Exposure before going to sleep.

Job interview today went very well. It's for a reporter position for a northern Oakland County (Michigan) newspaper. Editor liked my resume and writing samples. Said he'd call in about a week. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will be meeting a Detroit Tiger tomorrow

Lefthanded pitcher Bobby Seay, who will be making an appearance at the Davison, Mich., Kroger. Am a little nervous. Will have to make sure my camera batteries are good to go.

Ahhh, the fun finances of writing

In my ventures as a freelance writer, I've run into these scenarios quite a bit:

1) Website tells you that for a fee of x dollars per month, they'll give you access to thousands of freelance jobs. One site that I subscribed to for a month gave me access to maybe 20 jobs in a month. Talk about a tax write-off. There are legit sites out there, but this one wasn't one of them.

2) Other sites will give you work, but to get the work, you must pay a service fee per month. I pass on these and if ask, I'd say, "No, you don't understand: I don't pay you to work. You pay me."

John McCain's running mate...who will it be?

We know it won't be Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. He has ruled it out and says he wants to focus on Louisiana's problems. (As someone who was born and spent the first year of their life in The Pelican State, I can respect that).

Some say that Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has the inside track. Mitt Romney, of course, is still a strong possibility.

Hurricane Dolly hits South Texas

This is a concern for me, since I'm from South Texas. Looks like it'll miss my family (which lives inland and further up the Coastal Bend in Beeville while my mother-in-law and her husband and son (they live near McAllen) might have to be more careful.

Around 15 inches of rain with winds around 85 mph. Hopefully that'll be the worse of Hurricane Dolly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who will be Barack Obama's running mate?

Will John Edwards once again serve as a potential brides' maid? Will Georgia's Sam Nunn serve? Will it be Hillary Clinton?

Doesn't really matter to me, since I won't be voting for B.O.

I will say this: IF Obama does get elected, expect him to blame all his mistakes or problems on the Bush Administration.

Paying to work

If ever my life settles down, I would love to busy myself--when not writing--by acting in local productions. There's always been the thrill of getting on a stage and pretending to be someone you're not. I remember taking a theater arts class my senior year in high school and regretting not taking it my freshman year.

Sometimes, I'll see ads for movies being made near my area. Had a chance to go to a casting call for a horror film about an ominous town, but due to the gasoline money and the subject matter, I decided not to go. Other sites offer an opportunity for anyone to work as an extra. Sounds great, right?

One problem: you have to pay a nominal fee for their services.

A friend from college who has worked as an actor tells me that no reputable company connected in the entertainment industry will make you pay for the opportunity to gain access to possible jobs. The only payment a true agent would do is a commission after you've already secured work.

In the meantime, a few actors I've spoken to say the best way to get in is to get training, work in local productions and go from there. One actor said this to me: if fame is your goal, don't even start.

Short fiction story: Capturing the idea

I submitted this to Writer's Digest last year. Didn't make the cut, so I thought I'd post it here to give viewers an idea of what my fiction looks like. This went through about six edits before I finally got it to where I wanted it.

Capturing the idea

By Richard Zowie

Becky stopped, her blue eyes bulging, as if lost in a trance of excited concentration. She and Mike had been about to walk out the door of their home with their three daughters for a quick trip to the grocery store when she stopped on the carpet, right where it met the linoleum of the kitchen. Their girls were already out the door and were probably already getting into their seats in the car.

The glassy gaze remained on her face.

“Honey, what is it?” he asked, watching her reach with her left hand into her purse and produce a small purple notebook. After transferring the notebook to her right hand, her left hand then furiously fished for something else inside the purse.

“Becky, what is it?” he asked again, but she still ignored him, her eyes intensely concentrating on what they could see in the purse.

“Rebecca—” Mike began, knowing that when Becky was focused on a task like this, she completely ignored the world around her.

“I’m looking for my pen,” she finally said as her hand moved even more frantically, almost as if wrestling something inside the purse. “It’s in here, isn’t it?”

Becky’s disorganized ways, which he had long given up on trying to reform, didn’t surprise him as she always seemed to be losing something. But this time, things seemed urgent. It was as if the checking account was overdrawn and she was trying desperately to search the purse for any debit receipts she’d forgotten to have him ledger.

“I think so, why?”

Her hand moved faster still, as if about to tear a hole in the purse. Anger joined the excitement and scared look on her face. “I can’t find it, Michael! Where is it?” She only called him Michael (he detested his too-formal given name) when she was either angry or excited.

“I thought I saw you put it into your purse an hour ago.” He paused. “You had written some thoughts about that short story. Why?”

“So, the pen’s in my purse?”


“But I can’t find it!” her voice, a fevered shriek, was growing more frantic.

“But it should be in there, Rebecca.” She, like him, didn’t care for her given name but was far too consumed with finding the pen to notice him using it.

Ignoring his calmness and still unable to find her pen, Becky turned her purse upside down and shook it as hard as she could. Always one to hate clutter, Mike cringed as countless items cascaded onto the floor and plopped muffled onto the carpet: keys, compact, lipstick, a black day planner that she almost never used, change, cell phone and her wallet.

But no pen.

Exasperated and almost crying, Becky reached up to brush back a lock of curly black hair that had somehow come out of the ponytail on the back of her head. When she did, her left hand brushed up against her ear and hit something hard. Her brow twitched in confusion as she reached up to see what odd object was there.

Tucked behind her left ear was a blue Paper Mate Flexgrip Ultra.

Mike laughed as Becky snatched the pen, clicked it open, opened the notebook, sat quickly and started scribbling down words, so fast that only she would be able to read them. It took 30 seconds, but at the end, she felt relaxed. Her blue eyes sparkled as a wide smile crept across her face.

“Honey, are you ok?” Mike asked, his laughter subsiding as he started to help her gather the items to be put back into her purse.

“Better than ok,” Becky replied, oblivious to his laughter. They put the items back into her purse, including the pen and notebook. “I think I just came up with an idea for the next Great American Novel. You know that story about the woman who buys that old telephone?”


“I just thought of how to make it work.”

“Are you sure?” Mike asked.

Becky smiled again. “I’m as sure as I am that I love you.”

Mike shrugged, and Becky kept smiling. He wasn’t a writer and would never understand. Sometimes, these ideas come once in a lifetime. For a brief blip in time. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. And fleeting ideas don’t care if you couldn’t find a pen in time. Or that you had to empty your purse.

© 2007 May not be reproduced without the author’s permission.

Joined some writers sites

One is for Michigan writers and another focuses primarily on fiction. Am looking to really delve--in my spare time--into my first love of fiction. We'll see what happens.

I like to carry a reporter-sized notebook with me and jot down fiction story ideas as they come to me. So far, I'm up to 20. And then there are the scores of other ideas I have on my computer. To me, it's exciting to create new worlds and new characters and see where the story goes. I may just post something I submitted to a Writer's Digest contest.

Dallas Cowboys blog on hiatus

I had been blogging about the Dallas Cowboys at, but they are currently having problems at the site and are working on them. Will keep you updated.

Ads on my blog

I saw today that there's an ad from PETA on my blog. At the risk of offending advertisers and losing money, I'd advise against clicking on it unless you suffer from terminal morbid curiosity. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am tolerant of those who go meatless. My problem with PETA is that they base their arguments on extremely limited research. It's always a kick to see how they take Bible verses out of context (such as Jesus overthrowing the tables of the merchants in the temple because they were selling animals, when what He was really doing was because they were turning it into an unscrupulous marketplace).

Monday, July 21, 2008

New blog photo of me

I've been considering tinkering around with this blog's look and have decided, for the time being, to keep it as it is. Perhaps it's part of my restless nature to constantly try to retool things. I did, however, post a new photo.

Think it seems odd for a 35 year-old man to be holding a rubber ducky? Let me explain: I love ducks. When I was 15, my Aunt Juanita (one of my Mom's four sisters) gave me a baby duck as a gift. I fell in love with it instantly and from there developed what's turned into a 20-year love for ducks. Since then, I have amassed a collection of duck pictures, figurines and even items of clothing (including a University of Oregon t-shirt and mousepad). I also have a couple of rubber duckies.

My wife got me this blue one in the photo recently, so I decided to take a photo of myself with it. Photo looked cheery and less psychotic than my previous one I had here, back when I was in the hippie stage of my hair touching my ears.

I showed the rubber ducky to the neighbor's ducks, but they seemed disinterested. (Yes, I know it's silly, but it's part of my way of keeping myself entertained in this dreadful Seinfeld Era where the pointless mundane often passes for humor).


Upcoming feature story about a soccer player

Today I took photos and completed an assignment for the Davison Index regarding a young soccer player. Nate and I got to chat briefly about soccer and its failure to catch on as a popular sport in America. When you look at Europe, Central and South America and Asia, soccer tends to be extremely popular. Why not here?

I don't understand, for instance, how sports talk show host Jim Rome* can talk about the "exciting" sports of golf and auto racing but talk about how boring soccer is. Soccer and golf both take great skill, but a minute is about all I can take of watching golf.

*Don't get me wrong about Romey--I love his show and think he's funny and witty. But I happen to disagree with him about the golf/soccer issue.

John McCain set to choose his running mate soon

Possible candidates include former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and Florida governor Charlie Crist.

I suspect it'll be Romney, with my second guess being Crist.

Seeking domain hosting services

I'm looking to get my own Website, one where I can post a professionally-done photo of myself along with my resume, writing clips and even a blog. Anyone know of any good hosting services?

I'm hoping to spend about $45 to buy and maintain the site for a year. I was once with iPowerWeb, but their prices seem to have gone up.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight--is it worth it?

Many have already crowned Heath Ledger as the upcoming Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner due to his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Recently, I saw a two-minute segment of a scene with Ledger. I don't mean to trample on Ledger's grave, but I didn't see what the big deal was. Seemed very so-so. When I think of what the Joker's supposed to be in this movie, it makes me think they could've done better with a lesser-known actor. Kevin Gage would've been a great choice.

It makes me wonder if Ledger is today's version of River Phoenix: a so-so actor whose death by drug overdose will immortalize him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My thoughts on Tony Snow's untimely passing

I've always thought of Tony Snow as a man of class. When hosting Rush Limbaugh's program, Tony couldn't have been nicer to people who called in to disagree. On television, he always seemed calm and gentle.

As I reflect on the passing of this fellow Christian and wonder why God would take home such a godly man at such a relatively young age of 53, I am reminded of what actor Christopher Lee said regarding the death of his close friend Peter Cushing: some people are just too good for this world.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That's where Tony is right now.

Conflicts of interest

For one of my freelance clients, I encountered a story idea regarding a new business opening up. Editor liked it. But since I currently work part-time for a competitor, I had to pass on it and let her assign it to somebody else.

Reminds me how, a few years ago, I told another client about how my wife's Aunt C and her husband Uncle K fix up old cars and show them at car shows. One car in particular was the same type of car used by the infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde. Editor loved it, but, since they're family through marriage, I passed on writing it.


Didn't get any last night. Too much to do. Still, it's one of those things I've learned you have to make time for it--especially if you have to drive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Who's the greatest Russian?

Apparently, whoever is participating in the poll for the Greatest Russian needs to brush up on their history.

The state-sponsored Rossiya television is running the poll. So far, it's Nicolas II (the last czar) leads with 267,000 of the 2.4 million votes cast. Joseph Stalin is second with 263,000 while Vladimir Lenin is third with 187,000. Also receiving votes are Vladimir Putin and the late musician Vladimir Vysotsky. Multiple votes are being counted.

For those who voted for Stalin, please keep aware of this little fact:

Stalin WASN'T Russian!

Stalin's real name was Iosef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. He was born in Gori, Georgia in 1878; granted, Georgia was at the time a Russian colony and eventually became a republic within the Soviet Union, but at the time the USSR did not exist. Besides, Stalin was said to speak Russian with a very strong Georgian accent. It could be argued that, being born in a Russian-controlled territory that Stalin could be considered Russian, but ethnically he was not Russian.

Great interviews

Earlier today, I did a phone interview of one of the relatives of The Big Three (Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens) for my series of February 2009 columns about the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died. Would rather not say yet whom I interviewed, but it was a very good one.

Also interviewed a lady yesterday in the fitness equipment industry for an article I'm doing for a recreation magazine. Again, lots of good stuff.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seinfeld stinks

Going through some old e-mails, I uncovered one written to me by a very angry Seinfeld fan. He took grave exception to my Internet Movie Database comments saying how I hated the show, thought it was unfunny and overrated. His piece of hate mail looked like the illiterate X-rated rantings of a man who can't believe that someone out there didn't like the show. I guess he's intolerant of opinions that differ from his own.

Sorry, Seinfeld fans, but I've seen several episodes and didn't laugh once. I love to laugh, mind you, but I just didn't find anything funny. Good for you if you did, but to me, Jerry Seinfeld has killed American comedy. These days, the stupid and mundane now pass for humor. In short, Seinfeld was exactly what it was depicted as--a show about nothing.

If you want to see something funny, check out comedian Frank Caliendo.

Another misleading Barack Obama ad

Last night, my wife and I saw a political ad of Barack Obama's attacking John McCain. When the background music is a piano in the minor keys, you know it'll be a negative one. In the ad, Obama talks of how McCain supports drilling for oil in Alaska and how it would take seven years for us to see the first barrels of oil from there.

Of course it'll take seven years, thanks to all the bureaucracy government levies on people wanting to drill for oil and gas. And besides, Senator Obama, if your party hadn't spent the past decade or so fighting tooth and nail against more drilling in America, we would've long sense started receiving that oil. We might also be paying $1.25 per gallon for gasoline instead of $4.15.

Sheesh, what on earth doe people see in this buffoon? In his four years as Illinois senator, he has essentially done two things: promote his book Audacity of Hope and run for president. I find his talk of "change" to be old, tired, recycled arguments. One wonders if he plucked it from some book, published in the eighties, from a 5-for-$1 bin at a flea market.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stephen King's class versus Simon Cowell's, Piers Morgan's, et al's classlessness

Yes, oh yes, I've heard it all before: Simon Cowell tells it like it is when he gives musical wannabes a vicious tongue lashing. So what if aspiring young singers have left his presence in tears, further humiliated in front of millions on television? They need a stiff reality check to remind themselves that while they either enjoy singing or simply wish to use a singing career to achieve fame and fortune, they should definitely not quit their day job.

Of course, Piers Morgan is the same way on Cowell's show America's Got Talent. This last season (I don't watch this show anymore and have only seen American Idol in previews and short clips), one insulted performer went as far as to call Morgan a "Simon Cowell wannabe".

For this reason, I've never liked Morgan and especially don't like Cowell. As celebrity judges, that is: Cowell is said to be a much friendlier man in his private life. I simply believe that it's unacceptable to humiliate people on television for the sake of ratings--especially when they've been led to believe they have something worth showing.

I am reminded how, several years ago, author Stephen King held a writing contest through his semi-autobiographical work On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He presents a scenario and encourages aspiring writers to send him their stories. King published the top stories and had this to say about the entries. Keep special attention to the italicized, bold-print remarks below in the text:

On Writing contest winners from

Dear Constant Reader:

I think a lot of people harbor the secret dream of being a fiction writer. Why not? You don't need any special tools, brushes, or even classes. All you've got to do is power up your laptop and you are ready to go. So when I suggested that fans of my work and/or readers of my writing book submit a writing exercise to my website I wasn't surprised to get over 1,000 responses. Not many of them were good, but that didn't surprise me either. What did surprise me--a little--was how many could have been good if the people who wrote them had tried just a little harder, or had brushed up their skills a little bit before trying their hands at what I think of as the Dick and Jane story. I should add that quite a few were, frankly, abysmal. I am not posting any samples of these. I have always believed that it's very bad form (not to mention unsporting), to shoot cripples. [Emphasis mine] But here are 3 "good" stories and one which is close to brilliant. Read and enjoy. Better yet, get in touch with these people and tell them what you think about their work or what you didn't. Like the human beings who create it, writing does not exist in a vacuum.

Best wishes,
Stephen King

Very proud of myself!

Today my wife sent me to the dollar store to get some supplies she needed for her job. While there, I picked her up a belated anniversary gift. Yes, it was inexpensive, but it's something that she really, really liked.

While at the office supplies aisle to get her some manila envelopes, I saw a package of Papermate Flexigrip Elite pens. Two black pens for $2. Very cheap. I could use some more, since I have only a blue, red, black and purple one with no backups. When it comes to acquiring another Papermate (again, my favorite), I go by these guidelines:

Round 1:
1. If you don't have the expendable income, absolutely not.
2. If you do, proceed to the next round

Round 2:
1. Are these a new style of Papermate pens OR a type of Papermate pen that I don't have?
2. Is this a type of Papermate that I already have but don't have any "backups"?

If the answer to either is yes, then I proceed to the next and final round.

Round 3:
1. Do I really, really, really need it?

If yes, I buy. If no, I don't.

I decided I didn't really need it, so I passed.

Buyer beware

In the past few months, I've noticed an ad on my blog for a certain type of writing service. Because I make money when people click the ads, I won't say when it's posted or what it is. I did, however, at one time try it services. Signed up for a $2.95 7-day trial and then for a month at around $25. It turned out to be a waste of money and time. The thousands of jobs they promised I could apply for turned out to be a tiny trickle. I'd apply, submit my bid and never hear from them again.

If you're a writer looking for work, beware as you pitch your services. Some are legit while others are not. I've also learned, while writing a press release for one gentleman, that you have to be upfront and be absolutely clear about the services to be paid. Basically, I ended up spending about five total hours of my time writing a $100 press release for free. You live and you learn.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Saw this on the WCRZ (a Flint radio station) website and thought I'd fill in info on myself:

Richard's List

Worst habit is: Speaking/Doing before thinking.

Pet Peeve: People who major on the minors

Turn Ons: Feeding ducks, spending quality time with my wife.

Turn Offs: Any episode of Seinfeld. People who insist on the nonsensical way of doing things. Reality show hosts (a la Simon Cowell) who find sport in shooting cripples...if they sing that badly, how on earth did they ever make it onto the show to begin with?

I may look innocent but: [Richard chooses to plead the fifth amendment on this question]

If I could be anyone other than myself I’d be: King Solomon. Must've been fun writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

If I was good enough to play professional sports I’d play: Baseball (with football running a close second).

Get us a list of your favorite beers: I hate beer and think it smells and tastes disgusting.

How about your favorite magazines: The Writer, Writer's Digest, Christianity Today, Reader's Digest.

Thought of the moment: Tired, but too much to do.

Would you rather live in a country run by super models or football players? Whichever one decides to govern through pragmatic conservatism.

Would you rather be considered annoying or dull? To be honest, neither. Besides, life's too short to sweat what others think of you.

If you were in prison for five years how would you pass the time? Reading and writing.

What mail-order catalog would you most likely be a model for? Hmmmm....dunno.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Devil Wears Prada

Movie was actually pretty good, and Meryl Streep showed that she's still the best actress out there. As wonderful as Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt were and as wonderful as the storyline was, it still soured me on the fashion industry.
Hathaway, who already looks like she's a nice size for a girl, talks about how happy she is because she's down from a size 6 to a size 4. Seemed barely 10 years ago that a woman who was a size 6 was considered to be very, very hot. There was also Blunt's character, talking about how she starved herself in her diet and that whenever she felt like she'd faint, she allotted herself a cube of cheese.

Then there was Streep's Miranda Priestly character, who had one divorce (and soon two) to her credit that we know of, all because she's absolutely consumed with her career. Makes you wonder if she's really indeed happy.

This film reminds me of a lot of the needless flak Jennifer Love Hewitt got when she was seen in her bathing suit and perceived to be fat. Sheesh, what kind of society are we becoming when women with a little meat on their bones are thought of as fat? Sorry, but model-skinny is as far from appealing as Pluto is from the sun.

Papermate Clearpoint

Have been using it a lot lately and like it a lot. Currently I only see it in black but am hoping to find it in blue and red and, possibly, even purple and green. Great grip, great boldness. Only thing I don't like is that the ink often has to be "primed": it seems to not put anything out and you have to scribble elsewhere to get it going again.

The Writer magazine

Just got it in the mail yesterday, and got the newest Writer's Digest recently as well. Ahhh, wonderful magazines to read.

Playing with Spreadsheets

Have been playing around with Microsoft Spreadsheets, a cousin of Microsoft Excel, as I try to learn how to use spreadsheets. I've told my wife that for freelance writing work and for our budget, spreadsheets would come in very handy. So, armed with a "how-to" book on Excel and just trying out things, I hope to become proficient at it soon. We have worksheets from Crown Financial to use for our day-to-day expenses and sheets for budgeting, and I hope to be able to implement them into the spreadsheets.

Minor change to blog; thoughts on the future

I decided to remove the big, smiley picture of myself from the top of the blog. I was worried that it would give children nightmares. Besides, it really makes me think that "less is more".

My efforts to get back into newspaper journalism continue. Some trepidation. Received an e-mail from a very popular columnist. He's a funny guy who tells me he's concerned about the future of newspapers and, believe it or not, his own job.

Perhaps online internet news sources are the future. Or perhaps the now. Or perhaps soon they'll be the past as we advance towards something even bigger.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happiness is...

...a balanced checkbook.

I'm not rich, but I know exactly how much I have. And my wife and I are starting to implement Crown Financial's worksheet for keeping track of our expenses. We'll soon be working on a budget and praying for God's strength, wisdom and guidance as we learn to become good stewards with the money He has given us.

Job search continues

I withdrew my name from consideration from a company that publishes an array of weekly newspapers in Michigan. Risky move, considering that the strong nibble I'd been getting at another promising job is starting to look like I'll have to reel in the line, put more bait on the hook and cast it out again. I'm at peace with it, and my wife is also. Basically, I just didn't feel it was a good fit. I perused a few issues and saw several things that were bright red flags. I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mitch Albom’s ‘Guns for America’ column

How nice it would be to live in columnist Mitch Albom’s world, where you have the millions to have your house alarmed with the most expensive security systems, where the police can be at your house at a moment’s notice at the drop of the strangest sound that worries you.

Albom, whose column is syndicated by Tribune Media Services, was complaining in his column about how catastrophic America will be now that the Second Amendment has been affirmed. He erroneously stated—you know, there are far too many erroneous statements in his column, and it would take all afternoon to detail them all.

I do wish Mitch could spend a week or two living in a bad neighborhood where, all too often, the only people with guns are the criminals and the police with agonizingly-slow response times. He might then understand why so many Americans feel the urgent need to possess firearms. BTW, Mitch, the Second Amendment was not solely intended to arm the military, but rather to make sure citizens could privately arm themselves when needed. The amendment doesn’t mean that every American will have a gun (the ruling won’t affect laws prohibiting convicted felons from being able to legally have firearms). Also, if you’d done your research, you’d find the amendment wasn’t even created until after the Revolutionary War.

If we ever leave Michigan, Albom’s columns will definitely be one thing I won’t miss.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This election...

…is like a game of Scrabble where you’re stumped on your options. In Scrabble, if you can’t make a word, you just simply toss your tiles into the pile, take out seven new ones and take a pass.

That’s what I wish I could do in November 2008.

When I look at Senator John McCain, I see a man who perhaps, at best, could be described as a minimal conservative. His views on campaign finance bother me, and I don’t like his views on abortion. However, I am encouraged by his views on foreign policy and feel that he is right when it comes to taxes: besides cutting taxes, we also need to corral wasteful spending.

As far as Senator Barack Obama, he’s a good public speaker who’s great at telling people what they want to hear. That’s about all I find appealing about him. For a man who claims to be a Christian (and only the senator and God know for sure), he certainly supports some very godless agendas. Abortion, ad nauseum. And then there’s affirmative action, and more taxes. There’s also this idea that Obama has to tear off his suit, revealing his superhero costume and go out and repair eight years of Bush Foreign Policy Debacle. Please. Sometimes doing what’s right means doing what’s not popular. I thank God that Obama was not president in the eighties when President Ronald Reagan had the Soviet Union to deal with. I am getting the creeping feeling that Obama has no clue just how complicated this job is. When I hear him speak, he’s always dreadfully short on details. Well, anybody can talk about change. Besides, isn’t that the same tired thing we heard from Walter Mondale in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992 and John Kerry in 2004?

As of now, July 2, 2008, if the election were today, I would plug my nose and vote for McCain.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday was the 11th anniversary for me and my wife, Jennifer. I’m still planning on getting her something nice that involves the 11th-year theme of steel, and she took some sturdy leather rope and used it to make a cross necklace for me. A manly necklace. I might post a picture sometime soon. We’ll see.

Working and writing

Still trying to nail down a full-time job while I work on freelance assignments. One of my freelance clients, an Illinois magazine, has been an absolute godsend. I can’t count the number of times (including just recently) where a freelance check from that client has allowed me to get rent paid, bills taken care and food put on the table. I think one check even helped me to take care of a desperately-needed car repair.

When it comes to writing, I’ve found these four P’s work well. They’ve appeared in a blog posting of mine before, but they’re worth repeating:

Be persistent when it comes to looking for work
When you have work, these other three P’s are very beneficial:
Be professional
Be polite
Be to the point