A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Turning Point and Best Promotional Advice

  Have you ever considered why you are where you are today?

English: Cactus at Big Bend National Park in T...
Cactus at Big Bend National Park in Texas
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        A recent post at L.Diane Wolfe's blog Spunk on a Stick asked the following:

                         1 - What was your own personal turning point?

                         2 - What’s your best book promotion advice?

       At Diane's site there were so many good answers and stories from these questions with valuable advice to share. I'd encourage you to visit the post if you didn't see it and read through the answers in the post and in the comments. The post inspired me to the point that I decided to answer these questions to use on my own blog post. 

        The context of the questions originally asked in Diane's post were more in relation to writing and publishing, but they can certainly apply to any of us and with anything we have done in our lives.  I have not published anything yet, but I have lived life and done things.   Maybe my answers are something that you the reader can relate to or maybe they will inspire you to even write your own blog post on the subject.

My Turning Point

       Life is so full of twists and turning points that it can be difficult to pick one specific place on my personal timeline and say, "This is the decisive event that changed me in some significant way."    There are numerous milestones in my life journey that caused me to stop to consider which way to go next.  These would certainly include my educational experiences, jobs that I worked, and people whom I met along my way.  Had any one of those moments not happened it would probably have resulted in significant change in all aspects of my life which makes every milestone important in it's own way.

       But let's just examine one major point that inspired me to look at my future in a different way.  Since I had grown up with a love for travel and a desire to work in the entertainment field, these were like magnets drawing my focus to a pin point rather than a meandering attitude of "What am I going to do with my life?"

         The unlikely lodestar which stirred my imagination was Big Bend National Park.  In 1974 after nearly five years of attending college and working to pay my way through that education, I read an article in my hometown newspaper about this remote park in Texas and became very intrigued.  Soon after reading this article, in an ironic convergence of events, a long-time show biz friend of my parents was passing through town and spent a few days with us while he played some school shows in the area.

         This fellow was an 8 millimeter film buff and had many films of the places he'd been in his touring life.  At that time I had been also playing around with film and since he was showing films related to my two great dreams of travel and show business I joined the older folks in the living room watching as the film images were projected on the wall as the man described what we were watching and the lifestyle he had lived.  Most of the films he showed that evening had been shot in West Texas and included footage shot in Big Bend.   Now I was hooked--I had to go there.

          After that everything happened quickly as I look back on it all.  I convinced my best friend to drive his van to Big Bend during his July vacation from work.  The adventure was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Within a year's time, we drove down to Big Bend twice. The following summer I was offered a job with a touring magic show--an opportunity that I pounced on without giving the idea much thought.

          For the next sixteen years I worked as a manager of a touring production and then another eighteen as a manager of a branch of the costume company that owned the show I had managed.  My dreams of travel and show business were essentially fulfilled for a lifetime of interesting adventure and meeting many fascinating people.

           And to think it all started because I wanted to go to Big Bend National Park and went there.

My Best Promotional Advice

        In my blog posts--primarily ones to be found at my other blog Tossing It Out--I've often referred to promotion and marketing.  My philosophy is that everything we do in life is some form of marketing and promotion, if not for some product  or service, we do it for ourselves.   My best advice is to believe in what we want and what we are trying to "sell" (whether it be ourselves or a product or service) and then go for it.  Determination, research, and the right attitude can get us just about anywhere we want to go in life.   However, it's also important to know when to quit or to be willing to change when what we are doing is not working.  Persistence can take us far, but we should never mistake stubbornness for persistence.

Final Thought

       There's always so much inspiration for blog posts to be found everywhere that I don't know how anyone can run out of ideas for posts.  I might run out of time often, but I never run out of ideas, even if it's variations on ideas I've already used.  Other peoples blog posts can be a great jumping off point for your own post on the same or a related topic.  When you leave a substantive comment on someone else's blog post, consider turning that comment into a blog post on your own site and then link back to the post that got you going.

       My post and the one at Spunk on a Stick was inspired by The Thing That Turned Me anthology from Stay Classy Publications which is set to release on June 30.    In this upcoming release, a diverse group of authors, bloggers, speakers and editors has come together to bring you a unique collection of writings:  The Thing that Turned Me,  an anthology revolving around the people, places and things in our lives that ‘turn’ us, or cause us to change in some way.

        Have you ever written a blog post that was inspired by someone else's post? Have you ever thought about turning points in your own life? Is there anything that you are currently trying to promote?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Vivando (Soundtrack of my Life--kind of)

       It's party day at my house today.  The wife of one of my nephews just graduated from her master's degree program and my wife's family will be gathering for another carne asada cook-out.  The illustrious scholar's mother has even come all the way from China to be a part of this week's festivities.  It will be an international gathering of sorts with conversations in English, Spanish, and some form of Chinese--I'm not sure exactly which dialect.

       This will the second party in the past two weeks.  Last Saturday we gathered at my brother-in-law's house to celebrate his (and my wife's) father's 92nd birthday.  Papa loves his parties and we have one every year for him.  I'm sure he's already thinking about his next birthday party of May 2017.

        So what I'm saying is that festivities and the preparations for them are keeping me pretty busy of late.   I'll keep this post short and I'll wish you a very happy week-end.  Then, of course, there's the long Memorial Day week-end starting this coming Friday for those of us in the United States.  Right now I've got no specific plans, but I'm sure something is bound to come up.

         Gotta go!  But I'll leave you with a little tune.  I was saving this to use in a Soundtrack of My Life post, but you know something?   This current post is part of my life and this is an apt song to go along with what's going on...

          Do you host many parties at your house?    Is anyone in your family celebrating a graduation of any kind?   Do you have a family member whose birthday is celebrated in big fashion each and every year?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

When the Party Has Ended

An unsheared Christmas tree in New York State ...
An unsheared Christmas tree in New York State circa 1951 displays the natural form of the tree's branches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      One year in the mid-80's when my parents were living temporarily in the Detroit area and their house in Tennessee was left empty for much of the time; my wife, daughter, and I stayed in that house during our Christmas break between show tours.  My parents had come in for Christmas and everything was festive for a week or two, but then my father had to return to his job and the house returned to a state of seeming emptiness.   It was that feeling of a houseful of hustle bustle and then all of a sudden everyone is gone and all seems as though the festivities had been a mere illusion.

     We left the Christmas tree up in the living room because we liked the way it looked.  By the middle of January it seemed odd to have the tree up like that, yet it was like a reminder of the fun we'd all had during the holidays.   Since we'd be leaving in mid-February to start rehearsals for the new show, I wanted to somehow cling to that last remnant of being "home" before we embarked on several month of living in motels.  Not that I disliked the road life.  I liked it a lot.  It was just that homey normalcy of being rooted in familiar surroundings that I guess I wanted to hang on to as long as I could.

       This limbo feeling of emotions lingering between the excitement of fun activity and getting back into a routine is something I've frequently experienced in life.  It might be the aftermath of having people over for dinner, a big party, or visitors from out of town spending the week at wherever I was living at the time.   The rush of the festive metamorphosed into the mundane is a bit like day turning into night or coming back to a quiet house after being in a busy environment.   The feeling can be relaxing or even lonely depending on ones state of mind.

         After a party that I've hosted has ended, I'll usually go around the house cleaning up a bit depending on how tired I am.  Maybe I'll leave some music playing, but I might tend to turn down the stereo and play calmer more reflective music--some might even think sad.  Or maybe I'll turn on the television if I'm not ready to go to bed yet.  Still the socializing can be draining.  The seeming emptiness of the house after a houseful of people has departed can be almost a feeling of shock in some ways.  Often it's a feeling of relief.

            Eventually the trash needs to be taken out.   The extra chairs rearranged or put back into storage.  The floors might need vacuuming or swept, but that will usually wait until the next day.  And if the Christmas tree is still up, well maybe it might stay if it makes me feel better to see it.  After all, it's not doing any real harm if it's an artificial tree that's not going to dry up and catch fire or anything.  It might look weird if Christmas is long past.  Then again it might just become part of the room and I won't even notice it except for the times I look at it and remember the good times gone by.      

             Have you ever left up holiday decorations well after the holiday has passed?    Do guests ever help you clean up after a party or a visit?    What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in someone else's house that seemed out of place?  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Reflections on the 2016 A to Z Challenge

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton.  This meme was a natural for me to use on my memoir blog.  It's an A to Z concept and it's about me.  No research and nothing complicated.  I' was given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me. 
          In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated.   In the midst of it all you might have learned a few things about me that you didn't previously know.  

Reflections on the 2016 A to Z Challenge

        It's time to get back to the regular Wrote By Rote schedule, however my first regular post will be a backward glance at this year's Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. For anyone who is not familiar with this yearly event you can click on the preceding link for more detailed information, but in short the Challenge is blogging daily through the alphabet in one month. It's fun and if you've never tried it you should keep this in mind as something for you to do next April.

       For the 2016 Challenge, I blogged according to a theme which is described at the opening of this post. As I have found in my past several Challenges, a theme is an excellent way to do the A to Z as it provides a continuity in the posts and allows for a cohesion of thought that makes writing the posts easier. In my case it was especially easy since the posts required no research--each post was free form writing about the answers that came to my head for each question. Free form is a good way to go if you want to create posts quickly. Keeping posts brief was also easier on me and most likely more acceptable to those who visited.

       My posts didn't receive too many comments because there were not very many visitors to each post. I did almost no promotion of this blog during the Challenge.  My only post that broke 100 visitors was for the letter "B" which received 132 hits while the least visited post was for "V" which only had 32 hits. My average number of hits per post was about 70. For the most part comments came from my regular visitors who tend to comment throughout the year. My thanks to all of the loyal readers who keep me motivated to keep this blog open.

       No great revelations to report regarding my experience on this blog. As usual I had a great time, especially considering that my theme was such an easy one to use. My expectation is that this blog will keep on posting and most likely will be a part of the 2017 A to Z Challenge.

      For those who followed this series, did you enjoy what I did? Have you tried this "about me" theme on your own blog yet? Do you enjoy reading blog posts that provide a look into the writer's life and view of the world?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zoos you have been to (#atozchallenge)

Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings.
Evan Esar

English: I took photo in Garden City, KS, with...
Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zoos you have been to...

     This is something that can certainly be metaphorical by nature, but I won't even explore those kinds of zoos.  A to Z might be viewed as a zoo as well--so many blog topics and posts brought together in the common realm of an April event.   I'll also leave out the many petting zoos, circus menageries, or other animal collections I've visited.  Instead I'll stay on the expected topic--zoos that I've visited.

       Not only have I been to many zoos in my lifetime, there are many zoos that I think I've been to but I can't exactly remember for sure.  After so many years things of this nature can run together somewhat.  For example, I'm pretty sure that I've been to the Chicago Zoo and the Toronto Zoo, but I'm not going to lay any money on those.  Maybe I was just thinking about going and ended up not going.  I'm sure those are great zoos, but frankly I can remember anything specific about them.

         My first zoos might have been the ones in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I would have been very young when I lived in those cities and it seems logical that any decent parent would take their small child to the local zoo.  I seem to vaguely recall going to one or both of those zoos but I can't say for sure so maybe I should move on to the ones I definitely know I visited.

        The first zoo that stands out in my memory is the world famous San Diego Zoo.  That's a world class zoo if you're not familiar with it so that's a good zoo to start out with if you go to visit a zoo.   When I first went it was in the early 1960's.  I probably went to that zoo at least three times during that period when I lived there.  Later in the 1990's when I moved to Los Angeles, I took my own children to the San Diego Zoo which by that time was even bigger and better.  If you want to see an outstanding zoo you should make a point of seeing the one in San Diego if you're anywhere near that area.  I might add here that San Diego makes for an excellent vacation destination since there is so much to see there.

        One of the oddest zoos I've visited was the one in Garden City, Kansas. Known as the Lee Richardson Zoo, this attraction has a very decent collection of animals and the best thing is that visiting this zoo is free.  Garden City is not a destination vacation spot by any means.  I was only there because we used to play the town on our road show tours and each time I was there I went to the zoo.  Not much else to do there after all and looking at the animals was an interesting way to pass time before it was time to go set up for the evening show.

         When I lived in Maryville, Tennessee I visited the nearby Knoxville Zoo.  This is another fine zoo to visit with about 800 animals on display.  I haven't been there in many years, but from what I understand many improvements have been made to make the zoo a great experience for visitors.

          The zoo that I've visited most recently is the Los Angeles Zoo.  This zoo is not as impressive as the one in San Diego, but they are making an effort to make the zoo a pleasant experience for visitors.  This zoo is owned and managed by the city of Los Angeles and is part of the vast Griffith Park complex of attractions.  It's a busy place where watching the people can be almost as interesting as watching the animals.  People watching is probably entertaining to the animals as well.

          So with zoo we come to an end of another Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  It's been fun and hope you've enjoyed learning a few more things about who I am as well as thinking about who you are.  Yes, A to Z has been like a blogging zoo for sure.   And don't forget my one last A to Z post on this site.  Next Saturday I'll present my A to Z Reflections post and then after that it's back to business as usual.  Some of it might be monkey business.  Just like a visit to the zoo.

          Do you enjoy visiting zoos?   What zoos have you visited?    What is the best zoo that you've been to or heard about?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Your favorite food (#atozchallenge)

Your favorite food...

        Sadly, I've been finding that more and more the foods that have always been my favorites don't set well with me sometimes.  I've always liked spicier flavorful foods.   Favorite foods include pizza, Mexican, or Thai food.  But I'm also mighty fond of just about all Asian food and Italian when I'm in the right mood.   When you get right down to it my favorite thing to eat is food--period.

          Oh, there are a few things that I don't like so well, but if I'm hungry I'll go for just about anything.  Sometimes it might be a mood thing.  I might crave a sub sandwich or some soup.  Turkey dinners are great anytime--especially the Thanksgiving dinner like my mother used to make.  I can duplicate those Thanksgiving style dinners like my mother made so that everyone eating it seems to think it's great, but I can tell the difference.  When I cook it, those turkey dinners don't seem quite as good as my mother's.  Maybe it's like she used to say how you spend several hours cooking and then eating it just doesn't seem as good as it might have if somebody else had done all the work.

       I love ice cream, cake, candy--any sweets.  I'm crazy about sweets and that's bad for me.  Food, food, food.   I enjoy eating.  My wife thinks I'm a great cook, but that's maybe because she doesn't cook.   I'll admit that a lot of times my meals seem better than many of the restaurant meals we get.  And when it comes to spaghetti, forget about it.  It's been rare that I've ever had a plate of restaurant spaghetti that comes even close to what I make.  It's in the sauce.  Seems like you'd get a really good spaghetti gravy when you pay top price in a restaurant, but I rarely have so I rarely order spaghetti when I eat out.  Spaghetti is something best fixed when I fix it.  Same with chili most of the time.

         My favorite food if I have to pinpoint one might be pizza.  But if I'm not in the mood for pizza then my favorite food is something else.  It comes down to mood.   When I have a serious craving for something special and if I fulfill that craving with something that I think is really outstanding, then that's my favorite food.  For the moment at least.

          What do you tend to eat more than anything else?   Is there anything that you won't order in a restaurant?   Do you think you cook better than most people?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X-Rays you have had (#atozchallenge)

X-Rays you have had...

         Not counting dental x-rays--I've had many of those since childhood--I can't recall ever having any x-rays until the past 15 years or so.   It's been since I got added to my wife's medical insurance after we got married.  Prior to that I never had medical insurance and fortunately no incident where an x-ray was required.

         Getting older often means feeling pain.  Inexplicable pain until medical examinations are done.  When I was first covered under medical insurance I was already nearing fifty which means I was heading towards getting old.  I was getting older and feeling more pain.

          During these past years of coverage I've probably had 7 or 8 x-rays.  Maybe more--who's counting really.  If I hurt and the doctors can't immediately determine why, they order x-rays.  I've had x-rays of my feet, my abdomen, my chest, my head, and my lower back.  Maybe there were more places x-rayed, but like I said--who's counting.

           They never seem to find much of consequence in those x-rays, which I suppose I should be thankful for.   There is a lower back issue--some kind of disc problem--but they said it would be better not to mess with it because surgery could cause worse problems.  The back problems have gone away for the most part.  So did everything else they x-rayed.

           I say the problems are gone, but I don't know for sure.  Right now I don't hurt and that's the main thing.   Besides, the diagnosis typically is that I'm getting old.  That's what the doctors usually end up saying, "You're getting older and sometimes you're going to feel pain."

           I guess I don't need x-rays to tell me that.  For that matter I don't really need a doctor to tell me that.  Still, sometimes an x-ray and a doctor checking me out is kind of reassuring.  I'd rather be getting older than have something really bad be wrong with me.

            How often do you go to the doctor?   Have you ever had an x-ray where something serious was discovered?   Do you think x-rays are harmful to the extent that it's better not to have them?