It’s Alarming

Last year I indulged in a new alarm clock. An atomic clock, which means I never have to set it again. The numbers are enormous, making it easy to read without my glasses. It not only shows me the time, but also the temperature and humidity of the room, the day, the date, and the moon phase. It also has a USB port for charging my phone. How could this be a bad thing?

The moon phases are always off a little. I should have realized this before I purchased the clock. The clock runs on a man-made calendar, while the moon phases itself on a (shocking!) lunar calendar. This is not a deal-breaker.

My phone started acting up whenever I plugged it into the clock to charge. Every day at 1:08am, 2:08am, 3:08am, 4:08am, 5:08am, 6:08am, 7:08am my phone vibrates twice. I am a light sleeper. This seriously impacted my sleep.  I checked every alarm, alert, etc. on my phone. I asked my co-workers, most of whom are much more tech savvy than I when it comes to smart phones. Nothing.

After months of frustration I finally figured out why my phone was vibrating at eight past the hour every hour. For some bizarre reason, the clock face goes completely black on the hour in the AM. It comes back on eight minutes later, which causes a power surge in my phone, making it vibrate. That mystery solved.

Now if only I could figure out what’s going on with the eight-minute blackout.

 

Digging in Upstate New York

Digging things up was a minor trend in upstate New York back in the 1800s.

Joseph Smith Jr started it in 1823, when he dug up a buried book written on golden plates near Palmyra, New York. This discovery led to the establishment of the Mormon religion. 

Throughout the summers of my youth, local TV stations ran a Public Service Announcement for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a reenactment of Smith’s adventures on the hill. Once, at a writing conference, an editor said to me, “Oh, I’m from upstate New York, too, a small town outside of Rochester you’ve probably never heard of. Palmyra.” I responded “Hill Cumorah Pageant.” “That’s the one,” she replied.

Twenty or so years after Joseph Smith did his thing, George Hull and his cousin Stubbs Newell decided to play a hoax on the American public. Hull commissioned some folks in Iowa to create a “petrified giant”, which he then buried on his cousin’s farm in Cardiff, New York.  A year or so later, his cousin commissioned a couple of people to dig a well on the spot where he’d buried the petrified giant.  And thus one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American public came into being: The Cardiff Giant.  PT Barnum, when he couldn’t buy the original, commissioned his own and made a fortune off it.

The Cardiff Giant isn’t nearly as well known as Mormonism–but it does have a niche following, and people tend to co-op the name on a regular basis. There’s a baseball team in Cooperstown, NY (where the real giant currently resides, a folk-rock band out of Indiana, a wrestler, a winery, and a bar in Brooklyn.

Yet the place where he was disinterred barely rates a roadside marker, unlike Hill Cumorah.

I know, because I grew up next door to the farm where the giant was unearthed.

 

Self Help Review: Made for More? Nope.

I’m switching things up a bit this year, trying to keep the blog fresh. I will review a self-help book, or in the case of January, a self-help movie, the first Thursday of every month. I’ve certainly read my share.

One thing you’re going to learn about me is my skepticism. You may think I am a negative person, but I’m really not. Positivity is my number four strength, according to the Clifton Stengthsfinder assessment. But I’m skeptical. Or maybe I should say I’m wary of being conned.

My then-manager showed the Rachel Hollis documentary Made for More to us as a team building exercise. Rachel Hollis, in case you didn’t know (and I didn’t), is a guru of self-help for women. Her book Girl, Wash your Face was a best seller. A friend recently told me there have been accusations of plagiarism, but I don’t really know enough about it to comment. What I do know is the first half of the movie. (I declined to watch the second half, which was shown in another team meeting).

The first thing that struck me about this movie was while Rachel was discussing how her organization is all about empowering women, the video showed her husband driving the family van with the caption: CEO of her company (The Hollis Company).  I thought an empowered woman would be empower other women. Making your husband CEO of your company seems contradictory.

Further into the movie Rachel tells us about her boob job. How she hated her breasts because after nursing four children they were like yogurt, so she decided to get a boob job to increase her self-esteem/body image/whatever.

After she has justified why she wanted a boob job, she went to a scene from one of her RISE sessions (3-day personal growth conferences) where she asked the attendees how they felt about their bodies. Everyone was in tears, because everyone hated something about their bodies. It was very moving. She went on and on about how awful it was that these women hated their bodies.

I had a problem with this–not with her having a boob job–but the mixed message (and her tears) she sent to that conference of crying women with body image issues. If I had been in the audience that day, I would have felt used.

In about 40 minutes of documentary, the woman managed to turn me off. Not every “method” of self-help works for every person. Rachel Hollis is not my guru.

 

 

 

MJ’s Musings: The Next Phase

As the year draws to a close, I’m reflecting on what I have learned these past twelve months. The most important lesson was  QUESTION THE PREMISE.

Several author friends urged me to check out Becca Syme and her Quit Cast on YouTube.  Although the vids are geared toward writers, I think anyone can learn the basics and apply them to their own situation. I highly recommend the first episode where Becca talks about alignment and the third episode (Question the Premise, link above).  All of her videos are wonderful, but more geared toward writers.

I feel good about finishing the third book in the Service for Sanctuary series. It’s going to be a little later than originally planned, but it’s coming along nicely. I want it right, not fast.

After I finish the werewolf book, I plan to dip my toes into the cozy mystery genre. This is an idea I’ve tinkered with for years, making random notes and so one, but late this summer, the ideas have been pelting me, so I think it’s ready to be written. The note taking has become a flurry, and I’m compiling a list of people to talk to and places to visit as part of my research. I’m really excited about that.

I also have my currently-out-of-print baseball books (five of them) that I’d like to self-publish. I have a dystopian novel I want to pitch to a publisher. And then there’s a baseball-werewolf novella gathering dust while waiting for me to get my act together.

Right now, though, I’m going to make homemade soup.

 

 

 

MJ’S Musing: Cat in the Car

I like to drive, but I also don’t mind being a passenger–if I can have a window seat. Being short, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the middle of the back seat. As a cranky old lady, I now reserve the right to a window seat.

I love to observe. Sometimes I see the craziest things. Recently, my besties and I were on the interstate, heading home from a wonderfully productive long writing weekend, when I saw a car with California plates.  But that’s not what caught my eye. The cat did. She was sprawled on the dashboard of the car in all  her gray and white glory. She seemed to be basking in the sun. She was not a small cat. I was surprised the driver could see around kitty kitty.

As is the way on the interstate, we passed the car, the car passed us, and so it went for miles. Sometimes the cat was on the lap of the passenger, who was reclined all the way back in his seat. Other times, the cat was draped around the driver’s neck like a fur stole. A couple of times, the cat used the rear window ledge as her napping spot.

Of course the California Cat Car occupants and I smiled and waved to each other as we tootled down the highway.

What struck me was how comfortable the cat seemed in the car. A dog, yes. But I’ve never met a cat who took a car ride calmly. Maybe there is something to a laid-back California lifestyle.