Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)




Wed, Sep 30 2009

Knowing vs. not knowing what's on TV when

I've had so little time to watch TV lately that I've become ignorant when it comes to channel schedules, series premiers and other information. There was a time when I was in my late teens that I knew every channel's line-up by heart. I think it's probably a lot healthier to be as unaware of such things as I am now, but there are also a lot more channels on TV now than there were when I was a teen. We now have whole channels dedicated to topics such as NASA, food, jewelry shopping and golf. And now we have an even more viewing variety in the form of web broadcasts. We may soon be able to spend whole weeks gazing at screens without being in proximity to a real human being. It sounds wonderful and terrible, stimulating and scary, all at the same time.

posted at: 14:05 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Sep 29 2009

October 2009 issue of Deb's Monthly Review now available

We finally got our router and web server issues taken care of early this week. You can now read the October 2009 issue of Deb's Monthly Review. If you happen to read this post at a time well past October of 2009, there is always a link to the current issue.

posted at: 15:28 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Mon, Sep 28 2009

Delinquent router affecting deadline

I'm in the throes of the self-imposed deadlne for getting the new magazine issue uploaded this evening. Those last-minute issues we had with our router and other tools made work more difficult to accomplish. Thankfully, most of the work was done. I'm now tidying and proofreading content and writing the Notify Note that subscribers receive via Email. If all goes well I'll be able to report on the new issue tomorrow.

posted at: 11:55 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Sep 25 2009

Earth, wind, fire, water, words

We've been setting up some new hardware in the office and have switched some paths to drives. This is just a test entry to make sure posts are still making their way to Write Lightning. But if you've come in search of some writing or thoughts on writing, here's something to think about. Words are as powerful a tool as any of the four basic elements in and around Earth. One wrong word can cut into someone's heart and one right word can help heal someone's self-image. Unlike the four elements that can disappear and reappear in other forms, words are strong enough to hold their form and affect people for many generations.

posted at: 17:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Sep 24 2009

Getting ahead with posts?

It's not a bad idea to write 100 blog post ideas, though I usually find myself writing about whatever current things are in my mind. Still, it's not a bad idea to have some ideas for days when time is short or there is some sort of blogger's block creeping into the cranium. I may start that list as a hedge against brain fog, if nothing else.

posted at: 17:23 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Sep 23 2009

Neighbors as character idea generators

We have great neighbors in our area, but it seems that every neighborhood has its characters. We had a man on a nearby street we had dubbed as "loud guy" because of his projecting voice and his habit of shouting and venting when he is working outdoors. A few months ago we acquired what my spouse calls "loud guy 2.0". He is younger than loud guy, but has an even more unpredictable on-and-off switch, often triggered while he is talking on a cell phone.

These two males are by no means the most colorful of the lot we've lived near during our married life. We've seen a female trash hoarder who drove an expensive sports car, a young immigrant who read poetry and thought the smoke alarm would electrocute him and a grandfather whose relatives shot through a window screen and left our area to go pan for gold. I'm sure that everyone reading this has encountered a few colorful neighbors of your own. The nice thing about being a writer is that each of these people has potential to spark one of more characters in a story. Even when they turn out to be annoying as a real person, catalog them in your mind. They'll serve you well some day.

posted at: 20:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Sep 22 2009

Unusual hippo

I had to address a potential computer virus infection yesterday, so work time was minimal. So we're having another light blog post today. Give yourself a treat and go watch a hippo named Jessica. I enjoy thinking about creation, including Creation. I believe that, just as domestic animals sometimes have a streak of wild in them, wild animals sometimes have a streak of tame in them. I like to think this is due to traces of a leftover instinct that goes back to a time when humans and animals had a friendlier co-existence. Your theories may vary from mine. In any case, I'm guessing the video of Jessica will most likely bring a bit of a smile to your face.

posted at: 07:54 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Mon, Sep 21 2009

Which room is the front room?

Earlier I heard someone refer to a living room as a front room. My parents also always called the living room the front room. And it was the literal front room of the house I grew up in. In the house I now live in, the living room used to be the front room, but we remodeled a few years ago. The living room is now at the rear of the house and the room that used to be the living room, which is still the front room, is now the dining room. So, should we call the current living room the back room? And is the former living room/current dining room still the front room? To further muck the issue, the former living room/front room, which is now the dining room/front room, has openings at both ends, permitting one to make a circular route from the former living room/front room/current dining room into the kitchen and on into the current living room/back room and then right back to the former living room/current dining room/front room. Oh, look. The internet connection is back up.

posted at: 09:32 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Fri, Sep 18 2009

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated via Nigerian scam

Below is a portion of an Email I received today. Once I could stop laughing, I knew I had to share it here.
"We are obliged to inform you that after we have completed the process of releasing your funds to you, we now received a Death Certificate, certifying that you were dead according to one Mr. David Jones, who claims to be your representative, and he has requested that your funds should be transferred to a Swiss account he provided.

But however, due to the suspicious nature of his claims, we therefore decided to write you to know if really you were dead as said by the so called Mr. David Jones. So please if you were still alive, you should provide the following information for us to be sure.

1) Your full name
2) Your residential address
3) Your telephone number
4) Your occupation


Be notified that if we do not hear from you within the next 7 days, we shall assume you were dead."

There was more, but I have omitted those insignificant details. I'm thinking that this could be the start of a whole new life, now that I'm dead and all. I could escape to some little island and live like the locals, feasting on fresh fish and coconuts and making leis and exotic music CDs to sell to the tourists. I would deflect any tax inquiries to the Smith Kole (who claimed to send me the above Email) or to Mr. David Jones, who will apparently have had my fortunes transferred to that Swiss account. This is a great bit of fun with which to end the week. I'm still laughing. I hope you have as much humor in your Friday, good readers.

posted at: 14:09 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Wed, Sep 16 2009

Fire/news mix it up for (hopefully) best outcome in the end

After reading much material on the topic this monring, I must say that this story from KESQ teaches me that sometimes stories sprout where there might really have been no need. (I'm not shaking a finger at just KESQ. We all need to be careful.) At the time these things were taking place, Cal Fire did not seem to have an obvious link to its Twitter account from its main web site. The blog called Cal Fire News has a Twitter account, but is not part of CalFire. (Are you still with me?) Cal Fire News has been using its Twitter account to tweet pertinent fire information for some time, including timely updates on the recent fires that were taking place as I watched helicopters come and go over my house on their way to be refueled at the Watsonville Community Airport. CalFireNews also tweets personal comments on things not having to do with fires and emergencies, the way many other Twitter accounts do.

I'm sure the folks at KESQ meant no harm, but they seem to have misunderstood some things about the way Twitter works. There are still very few Verified Accounts and neither KESQ nor CalFire has a Verified Account. (Neither does CalFireNews.) To asssume that someone is official because of the person's Twitter name and the nature of his or her tweets only gets one tossed into a world of confusion. And for KESQ to speak of CalFireNews as though it was not a legitimate account also confuses me. It is legitimate, in its own right. Robert O'Connor runs the account. Not being an official page for our state's CalFire does not make the page less legitimate as a source of up-to-the-minute information on its own.

It takes real time and energy to understand social media. I've really learned a lot by watching this interaction take place. We all need to slow down and ask plenty of questions before we accuse other people of wrongdoing in our haste to write news and be first. The important thing is that both CalFire and CalFireNews have been working hard in their own corners to get information out to the public. We can all appreciate each of them for their respective service. I don't know very much about KESQ, but I'm going to guess that the station also wants to do right by the public when it comes to information. We need to uplift and encourage each of these agencies so that lives and property can be saved. Then everybody wins.

To help you all out in case you seek more info and so that I don't add further to any confusion:

KESQ Twitter page KESQ
CalFire Twitter page Cal_Fire
CalFireNews Twitter page CalFireNews

posted at: 12:28 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Sep 15 2009

Piggybacked or not, The Jay Leno Show premiere delivered

Well, the critics can carry on all they wish, but some of us were tuned in to "The Jay Leno Show" last night. It had nothing to do with Kanye West for some of us. I would have watched if Jay had read the phone book. In recent years TV executives have mistaken youth for full substance audience and mission. Youth is wonderful, but full substance audience is fleeting. Mission is ageless. Jay Leno has that inexplicable quality that endears him to millions and the critics may as well get used to it. The only thing that was odd for me was seeing Mr. Leno seat himself out from behind a desk. That will take some getting used to, but it's a minor point in the great scheme of what makes some of us tune in at night.

posted at: 15:56 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Fri, Sep 11 2009

9/11 is old and new, fixed and fluid, past and future

It's just a date, but once it's fixed in the mind it's part of your life. There have been many children born since then and they will have no memory of what happened. They'll be like we who were born after the attacks on Pearl Harbor are. We can look at the footage and read the stories, but we can't remember the event. The children born since September 11, 2001 can't remember what happened on that day. They'll have to get it second-hand from those of us who lived through that time. The thing that gets lost in it all is the subtleties of the way life changes after these things. Air travel changed, security in many situations changed and attitudes about certain things changed. It's a sad sort of cycle, but it does seem to be part of human history. This generation moves forward as a result of those who made decisions and took steps before it came to be. Each generation in history takes a glance back, turns forward to look ahead and then takes another step.

posted at: 12:33 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Sep 10 2009

Writing 3x5 inches at a time

I'm trying something new this week. I've had ideas for stories floating around in my mind, but have had little time to sit and plot or even jot down some character sketches. I've determined that taking bits of time to make lots of small notes would be better than waiting and waiting until I have time to write long passages and lengthy character sketches. There are plenty of 3x5 cards and papers in the house, so I'm going to make use of those for awhile and see how it goes.

posted at: 13:53 | category: | link to this entry



Wed, Sep 09 2009

The deal that got away

I had a very difficult time this morning watching a senior friend get upset over a Planning Commission decision to approve a project that will ultimately ruin the view from the kitchen window of the house she has lived in for decades, a house she and her husband own free and clear after years of hard work and sacrifice. I've been trying to think of the other property owner's point of view. Maybe developing and selling these properties was his retirement plan. I don't know. But it's been tough watching her be so upset while he makes money and doesn't have to live in the neighborhood that his transaction will affect. My friend is a volunteer, giving time and effort to civic organizations and schools. She makes certain that third graders in the area each have their own dictionaries for school. The man who is developing his property is probably also a good man in his own way. It's just difficult knowing her and not knowing him. He smiled and didn't make eye contact with her as he and his land consultant left the room where the decision came down. I wanted him to stop and shake her hand and tell her that he knew she was suffering while he celebrated and ask her if there was anything he could do to ease her suffering. But when I think about it, what could he do? There's no monetary value one can put on looking out the window at nature while you wash the kids' (and later) grandkids' sticky breakfast plates. She'll have to hold onto her memories and leave him to whatever pleasure he gleans from his business victory.

The land deal is one that will ultimately affect several households, including our own, with increased traffic, neighborhood housing/population density and water usage. Time will tell what it really costs. I've heard it said that a successful business deal is one in which everybody gets at least some of what they want. If that's true, this one is sporting major failure before the land has even had so much as a spade taken to it.

posted at: 15:23 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Sep 08 2009

American know-how or American know-it-alls?

I was heartened by the fact that many people gave President Obama's talk to students a fair chance today. It's a little frustrating when folks get so frozen in one major party or another that they see everything in black and white when the world is so many colors. I've always remembered that President Bush was readng to children at a school when he received the news about the events of 9-11. It was a shame that it happened at all, but in some ways it was kind of comforting (in an odd sort of way) to know that our country's major political leader could be going about his day doing something simple for children and have his day shocked the same way the rest of us did. It never occurred to me to make his visit to the children political, except to see that it was the kind of thing that presidents do. Thank goodness he didn't read about elephants or donkeys that day. It might have looked partisan and started a big row among those waiting for a chance to throw a verbal punch.

Can't we just enjoy President Obama talking to kids? I'm all for choice and fairness and respect, but this partisan bickering is starting to look silly and irresponsible to me. I don't want to be negative, so I'll just say that I hope we can focus on the issues and stop labeling people as liberal/stupid and conservative/stupid. With the anniversary of 9-11 coming up in a couple of days, this is a great time to focus on pulling together and helping one another along the trail. It's okay to have a joke or two and express our opinions, but the name-calling and personal ridicule are making both those who claim to be liberal and those who claim to be conservative both look mean-spirited and evil-minded. We can be better than this.

posted at: 19:27 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Fri, Sep 04 2009

Long weekend to follow

Our temperatures and comfort are much better today, making household tasks a lot easier. It's the run-up to the Labor Day weekend and we have no big plans to travel this time. Instead, we are doing a few small projects such as putting new handles on some storage cabinets. Long weekends are great for those little jobs that seem to add up but that still get left by the wayside while bigger jobs get done from week to week. We've tried doing big projects on long weekends, but it always seems that something social unexpectedly comes up and we get sidetracked. (Not that social occasions are a bad thing. On the contrary.)

I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant Labor Day weekend. I've been thinking lately of how blessed we all are to have made it to the third quarter of 2009 after such shaky economic times. Here's hoping we are headed into a wee run of prosperity for the next couple of years.

posted at: 17:41 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Sep 03 2009

Today's word is...

It's 93 degrees here today with perhaps 30 percent humidity. That's not bad at all, by most standards. I guess we are just spoiled rotten here on the Central Coast. When there is a long list of things to do and the weather is hot, what we all seem to do best is complain. I'm smiling as I type that, but it's true.

I have a meeting to go to later and it's going to be held in a room next to a hot kitchen. If I wasn't part of the program I would seriously think of not attending. A video conference would be a great solution, except that most of these folks would not be technically proficient enough to do that. I'm just hoping that the temperatures take a real nose dive, with a misty marine layer coming in to cool things down to the high 60s by about 5 p.m.. That might sound far-fetched to some of you, but this is the California Central Coast. Stranger things have happened.

posted at: 15:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Sep 02 2009

The importance of making sure we're briefed

I believe it was Robert Frost who spoke of not taking down a fence until you know why it was put up. I've run into the opposite issue this week. Someone wanted to question and even do away with a practice that had been put into place and was happily being used by other people. This person just wasn't aware of the other people using it on a regular basis and was assuming that it was unused and unnecessary. It was amusing in a way, but it also underscored for me the amount of assumption we each tend to bring to group situations. A little quiet observation or a few gentle questions could probably keep us from poking fenceposts into the wrong bed of petunias.

posted at: 22:10 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Sep 01 2009

It's a desert out there

Industry tradition, planned obsolescence, marketing and purchasing all came up in a great conversation with my spouse this afternoon. I have such strange ideas about things that it's probably a good thing I never went into corporate business. Things are done in ways that go against the very grain of my being. People like me have no place in the business world, unless we position ourselves at some edge of the corporate chaparral and scuttle from one meager shadow to another, moving fast enough so as not to get our feet burned, but slowly enough so that we don't attract the gaze from any coiled rattlesnakes.

posted at: 18:34 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!