Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 1972 Buick Electra 225

The following is an excerpt from a story I wrote about some childhood memories, memories when our family took a vacation.



As our van exits the driveway, the memory from the previous evening returns. Across the street from where my family calls home sits the home of my youth. A large edifice when built compared to the surrounding homes in the area. I see it now as we turn south to begin our vacation. It’s still a big house, I suppose, but I now look upon the building with a lifetime of perspectives, opinions, feelings, and memories. It’s more than just bricks, mortar, wood, nails, and concrete. It breathes with the lives of real people, real laughs and real tears and I am saddened whenever I see it.

But on this morning the memory is vivid. It is 35 years earlier, dark and cold. And before the sun crests the Rocky Mountain range under which we live, three small children and two parents walk to the street and prepare for the same trip. Perhaps the tradition existed before the children were born, but whenever my dad purchased a new car, its first assignment was a family trip. The memory now replaying in my mind was no exception. On this particular summer morning my brother, sister and I first entered the palatial opulence that was the 1972 Buick Electra 225, a car almost unimaginable in today’s world of fuel-efficient, lightweight modes of transportation we are required by law to operate. No, the days of the incredible Buick Electra 225 have gone the way of all the earth. There are many older Cadillacs or Lincoln Town cars from the era still on the road, or lovingly tucked away in a garage or storage unit, and perhaps if a movie star or famous singer of the day had appeared in a film or penned a song about the beautiful General Motors behemoth that was the Buick Electra 225, children would not need the internet to find out what the car looked like; they could experience the awesome sight of seeing one of these land yachts glide over the road and through the air themselves. If only…

The world of automobile travel known to my children differs drastically from one generation to another. My children can hardly relate to the experiences I had as a child, nor could I relate to the traveling memories of my father. I truly expect my grandchildren to think their own parent’s day of motorized transportation to be archaic. The demise of the 225 perfectly exemplifies the advancements made in the world of automotive engineering in the past 35 years. My father picked the 225; it was his car of choice. He was a big man, 6’ 4” though he always looked taller in most pictures due mostly to my mother. Her 4’ 11 ¾” height added stature to an already tall man, and a big man likes a big car. The summer morning we left on our family vacation 1972, was the last time my father had the opportunity to take a trip in a new car. The blue 225 was the last car he ever bought. Family stories indicate before the dark blue ’72, my father owned another 225, but a lighter shade of blue. I do not recall that car as well as the ’72.

I look in the rearview mirror as we leave the street of my childhood, several times repaved so that the original blacktop is all but disintegrated under the new. The Ford minivan of today turns west and travels down what was once an ancient shore of an ancient lake. I see my children in their traveling cocoons, still excited of the prospect of travel and I think to myself, they have no idea just how amazing traveling by car can actually be.

There are many aspects of my dad’s Buick I remember, the sleek lines, the chrome bumpers, the large dials to indicate the speed of the car, but the greatest feature of the dark blue 1972 Buick Electra 225 was the immense back seat. Of course, to a child of six years old there was no vulgar connotation to a car having or needing a spacious back seat. To my brother, sister and I it was a wonderland.

I loved that car and I'd love to see one on the road again. I know they're out there, somewhere on a stretch of road a big beautiful Buick commands the road like few cars did before and fewer still will in the future...

All photos were used without permission from the following websites: http://www.city-data.com/forum/automotive/1084322-early-70s-mopar-gas-mileage-question-4.html, http://forum.mr-spb.ru/showthread.php?t=11268&page=22, http://www2.uol.com.br/bestcars/cpassado2/electra-4.htm

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Topaz


I've only entered a couple of writing competitions in my life. And I've been very fortunate. The second time I entered a screenplay writing competition I won. I entered a few more times after that and picked up an honorable mention. I entered a writing competition in college and won, and I think I entered another one--can't really remember what I entered only that I did--and obviously I didn't win that one...

A month ago I entered a nationwide writing contest, the winners will be announced at some point in the future. As with other events in my life (writing contests, job interviews, ward raffles, powerball lotteries if I played, etc.) I always think I should think positively about my chances. It is as if I think I'll get the job, win the contest, enjoy whatever item is being raffled, then I will. But if I believe I won't get those things, I won't. Of course, keeping a positive attitude can be a double-edged sword. It can make rejection that much tougher.

Today I sent in a short story I wrote yesterday to a group assembling stories and poetry for an anthology to help the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. You can find information about the project here. It's for a great cause (even if they don't chose my entry...)

So I sent in my story. And I'm learning rather quickly that a writer really craves is feedback. I'm not sure if I'm going to get any feedback on this particular story. If they don't pick it, I'll put it in a future blog. Oh, and if I win the nationwide competition, I'll definitely let you know. ;)


You might think this is a picture of my blog visit stats, but to me it looks like the Dubai skyline...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daddy's Little Girl, Or The Snub...


After work I went to my daughter's gymnastic lesson so my wife could go home and get ready for dinner and a meeting she had later this evening. It's a long story that I'm making it longer.

I watched my daughter go through her practice, you know, the jumping, the cartwheels, the uneven bars. While she practiced I did a little writing.

The rehearsal came to an end and I waited for my daughter as she prepared to leave. I packed up my computer and waited. My daughter walked over with her "new friend." She kept talking to her "new friend" as they put on their shoes. I walked to the door, opened the door for both of them and we all went outside. I began walking to the car, but my daughter stayed behind to chat.

I waited, then waited a little longer, all the while my daughter kept talking, about what I don't know. I decided to just wait in the car so I began walking away. I heard my daughter run to catch up. We reached the car at the same time. I didn't realize until we were both in the car that it wasn't until we were both in the car that she said her first words to me.

I'm actually okay with the snub. She knew I was there and she was excited to talk to her new friend, but I thought I had a few years to go before I became invisible to my little girl. She did, like she always does, give me a hug before she went upstairs to bed. And all is right with the world...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello, My Name Is...



When I attended my first writer's conference (see previous blog post...), I picked up more than one "Hello, my name is" name tag. I unthinkingly put the extra tag in my coat pocket and didn't think about it until I found it while I was at work this morning.

I placed the tag on my desk and it made me think. Hello, my name is...what? A name, after all, is a title, a word by which we are known. So, my tag could say, "Hello, my name is husband, father, brother, son," or "Hello, my name is blogger, creator, or occasionally insecure writer." This morning when I looked at the tag and these thoughts went through my mind, the tag could have read, "Hello, my name is tired employee not yet ready for the weekend to end and the new workweek to begin."

The tag, in and of itself, means nothing, just as the labels others give us and what we give ourselves. Right now (after listening to a couple of Appendix Podcasts), I'm anxious to do more writing, but nervous just realizing how far I need to go with this writing thing...

The weather today was varied. On a morning walk I snapped a picture of the mountains. They looked beautiful. "Hello, my name is as of yet non-commercially viable photographer."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Karate Prodigy...




Just over a year ago, my oldest son decided to take karate lessons (it helped the dojo was right next door to my daughter's gymnastics center...).

Since he's started, he's graduated to a blue belt. As I see the different belt colors on a wall at the dojo (with the accompanying cost of each belt at the side of each belt color....), Blue is closer to the top of the belt order than the bottom.






If you knew my son, you might not think "karate." He's kind of a passive kid, very level-headed, and contemplative. But I guess everyone has a side they they might not even know about, not that karate is based on violence. I don't know much about the martial art. From what I've seen, it's not like it is portrayed in the movies.








My son is committed to continuing his training. As a father, it's been interesting to watch how each child gravitates toward something they love. And we do try to facilitate those interests as best we can. I think it will be fun to say that we have a black belt living in the house.







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Saturday, March 26, 2011

My First Writer's Conference...


Around 3 pm today, the chair on which I had been sitting since just before 9 am (with a couple of breaks, and lunch in between...) got really uncomfortable. So much so, I may feel the effects of the plastic chair tomorrow as I sit through a few hours of religious meetings. I believe, however, the chairs tomorrow will be padded. That's what 10% of your income gets you, and I have never paid 10% of my income to the Bountiful Art Center. Perhaps that's the reason for the hard chairs...

Today I attended my first writer's conference. How was it? Let's put it this way. You know those times when you know you need help (with something...), but you're not sure where to look for answers? Well, maybe you don't, but as a writer you--and by 'you' I mean 'me'--are always wondering if you know anything about the craft of writing. Today I found out that a writer's conference is an EXCELLENT place to get help. I believe I hear the distant sound of a huge "Duh!" from any writer reading this post who already knows this.

The conference included four speakers speaking on five topics.



Jennifer Nielsen, who gave an excellent presentation on characterization and was kind enough to sign a book for me (actually, it's for my daughter whose birthday is coming up, but she doesn't read this blog, so please don't tell her about it...).









John Brown, who gave two hours of amazing insight into the world of creativity and structure. I didn't think accountants could be so funny...












Margot Holvey, someone I call a friend who did a wonderful job even though she was very nervous but should not have been who would chide me unmercifully for the poor grammar structure of this sentence if I were in her critique group but am not... (whew...).









And Marion Jensen, a writer who helped me realize that, like humans using their brain potential, I am only utilizing a small portion of social media site's potential. I look forward to gleaning his literary wisdom through the written word and his podcasts. And, who I found out today, is Google's leading expert on exploding coconuts.




Looking around at the many variations of writers in attendance, it was an inspiring and uplifting experience. I look forward to attending more conferences in the future. Please visit their websites if you want to learn more about these talented writers. I had a good day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Wisdom Of Instant Messaging


I have a friend with whom I work. We work in different locations, but through the magic of electronic communication, we keep in touch. In fact, I can usually tell when he arrives at work (within a couple of minutes...). Because when he logs in, he always says hello.

My friend is truly a funny guy, one of the funniest I know. I worked with him in the same building for a year or two and enjoyed his company on many occasions. We're both huge Simpson's fans, but more so the early years. I haven't watched an episode of The Simpson's (save an errant Halloween special or two...) for almost 10 years. My friend and I I/M quotes back and forth a couple of times a day.

On Thursday last, my friend got on a tangent while I/M'ing. He has been known to expound on a thought or two, but I felt his Thursday thread was worth copying, so I e-mailed it to myself so I could include it on a blog post. He has no idea I'm doing this, but I don't think he would mind, at least, not too much. So, here it is...

Steven (12:53:12 PM): doing anything legal and can tell me about for the weekend?

Scott (12:53:35 PM): Working tomorrow, and going to a writer's conference on Sat

Scott (12:53:40 PM): scandalous stuff!

Steven (12:56:16 PM): funny story

Steven (12:56:18 PM): true story

Steven (12:56:22 PM): last night i got to thinking, '

Steven (12:56:29 PM): 'how can i honor my wife better?

Steven (12:56:33 PM): i said this to myself

Steven (12:56:43 PM): so i decided. im gonna read about jacob from the old testament

Steven (12:56:48 PM): he worked 7 years for rachel

Steven (12:56:58 PM): i reread the account last night and i just started cracking up

Steven (12:57:07 PM): my wife was using the computer next to me in bed

Steven (12:57:16 PM): and hadnt heard my internal monologue with myself

Steven (12:57:22 PM): and asked me whats so funny

Steven (12:57:39 PM): i told her the story of jacob and rachel and leah was alot funnier then i remember

Steven (12:57:55 PM): she didnt really want to know more then that but ill share with you

Steven (12:58:27 PM): while jacob did truly love rachel i was able to see he was as exasperated by the women in his life as i am

Steven (12:59:20 PM): jacob works all this time and gets the sweet spirit leah. honeymoon night leah wont let him turn the light on. or she'll be found out

Steven (12:59:39 PM): but when they get down to business jacob had to have known something was wrong with rachel

Steven (1:00:29 PM): rachel while a babe, must have felt like a chump when her dad 'throws her in' for another 7 years of labor

Steven (1:00:55 PM): then reading about the competitivness of the sisters for child rearing

Steven (1:01:14 PM): and throwing in their handmaids to increase their kids base

Steven (1:01:49 PM): every time leah has a kid she thanks God cuz jacob will finally start paying attention to her

Steven (1:01:53 PM): for like 6 kids

Steven (1:02:04 PM): then rachel is feeling envious and starts blaming jacob. give me kids or i die

Steven (1:02:17 PM): and jacob gets pissed and tells her am i God? blame him

Steven (1:02:53 PM): then there was some incident with rachel wanting leah's mandrakes believing it to help her get preggers and so rachel barters jacob to leah in exchange

Steven (1:03:05 PM): leah goes out to meet jacob and says she bought his services for the night

Steven (1:03:10 PM): apparantly jacob had no say in the matter

Steven (1:03:30 PM): then when jacob leaves the women rip of their father and so he blames jacob when he finally catches up to him

Steven (1:03:38 PM): and jacob goes ape on dad in law

Steven (1:03:47 PM): only to find out it was the women that caused the problem

Steven (1:03:52 PM): see where im going with this?

Steven (1:04:01 PM): he was headed to an early grave

Steven (1:04:21 PM): so i learned stuff from the Bible but i dont think it was anything of value

Steven (1:04:26 PM): had a good laugh though

Steven (1:04:27 PM): ah

Scott (1:04:45 PM): Amazing! That's just how I explained the story to my nursery kids....

Steven (1:04:53 PM): ha

Scott (1:04:56 PM): They LOVED it!

Steven (1:05:26 PM): you taught the girls they were going to be psychotic troublemakers for the men and told the boys to watch out for the extra chromosome

Steven (1:05:47 PM): p.s. thats probably why you are in the nursery

Steven (1:05:49 PM): ahahahaha

Steven (1:05:50 PM): ah

Steven (1:07:45 PM): if you want to get out just pick up one of the nursery toy baby dolls and start yelling 'stop crying!' while shaking it vigorously

Steven (1:07:47 PM): worked for me

For the record, we do have 15-minute breaks a couple of times a day, so...well, there you have it. I'm going back to work Monday. We'll see what gems of wisdom, or Biblical interpretations my friend has in store for me...

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Months In...


Two months ago, I started this blog. Here's some stats...

832--Total number of visits to the blog
181--Highest number from one referring site, www.Facebook.com
17--Next highest number referred site, www.Schiesskablog.blogspot.com
6--Highest number referred URL, http://preduicesofyoungminds.blogspot.com (my wife's blog--thanks Honey, for the support!)
38--Highest number of views for one post, Mom, also one receiving the most comments (3)
28--Most views in a single day (as best I can remember...)
55¢--Amount I've earned from my blog (so far...)
726--Pageviews from United States (most visited), followed by Hungary (26), Canada (12), The Netherlands (10), Vietnam (9) Malaysia (8), and Denmark (5) and a couple of others...

These stats beg questions of me. Out of five million Danes, 5 people visited my blog, or one person visited five times, or a combination of people/visits. Having lived in Denmark for a few years, I wonder if these Danish people (or person, singular) enjoyed the posts. I have some friends in Canada. Have they visited? I don't know.

Many might think 832 visits isn't much, and in comparison with others, I guess it isn't. But had I not decided to write a daily blog two months ago, then those 832 clicks would have clicked on something else.

For those of you reading this, thanks for stopping. If you like what you've seen, please let me know. And if you have a blog, tell me about it. I'm trying to follow as many as I can. I wish you all a pleasant good evening.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pics Of The Day, Vol. 2


It's a post of photos. This is Volume 2 of my Pic Of The Day pictures over the last month or so... You can see all my pics on my Facebook Pic Of The Day page here











So, tomorrow begins another search for something unusual, or interesting, or fun, or all/none of the above. You'll just need to check it to see what it will be...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pictures I Took Today


At 4 am this morning four of the six members of our family were awake. The reason for our non-sleep centered around our youngest. There are worse ways to be awakened, but a child with an icky tummy is bad enough. The youngest woke his parents, which then caused the second-youngest to wake up and not feel good. Luckily, she wasn't as "expressive" as her younger sibling.

What does this have to do with pictures? I found myself running some errands today and I took with me my camera. I also found myself helping out at home and had the camera handy as well.


My daughter did a little drawing. That's a castle with a "treehouse" castle off to the side. I guess every kid should have his own castle, regardless of his/her age...


Our cat decided to nap at my feet. I just had to snap a picture or two (or 17...). He's a good cat about which I've blogged earlier. The cat's story can be found here...


While out on an errand, I noticed Francis Peak completely covered in snow. Those man-made things atop the peak are radar towers. Many call them the golf balls. I went up there once as a scout. The views from the peak are spectacular...



This house is over a century old and my friend spent his first 20 years living in its thick rock walls. His mom sold the place to the local amusement park (doesn't every small town have an amusement park within its limits?). The state did some major road work just south of the house and I'm sure the current view of the home is something my friend has never before seen.

When I see the house I think of my childhood and good memories come rushing back. I wonder what he feels when he sees the structure. I plan on sending him the link to this post and if he responds with some thoughts, I'll pass them along (with his permission, of course...I'm nothing if not considerate).