Saturday, February 28, 2009

Patrick's Saturday Six #255 - Blogging

It's time for Patrick's Saturday Six. The topic this week is Blogging. If you want to play too, click HERE.

1. When you write on your blog, are you more often trying to entertain, inform or persuade? I'd say that most of the time, it's to entertain.

2. Do you feel you’re successful most of the time? Ha! I wish!

3. Do you consider yourself to be more bold online than in person, or the other way around? I'm definitely more bold in person. I'm fairly careful about what I put in writing.

4. Who would be most embarrassed if they read your blog? Hmmm, since I'm not writing it to embarrass anyone, and since I try to be discreet when I do write something that might be embarrassing, I haven't a clue.

5. Take the quiz: What Kind of Communicator Are You?

You Communicate Vividly

You love language and communicating. You are the first to try a new word or saying.

You are a persuasive communicator and know how to influence people. You are inspiring and even poetic.

You tend to use analogies, stories, and interesting phrases. You know how to evoke the right emotions.

While you love to talk, you are also a good listener. You like conversations... not monologues!

6. What do you think the biggest change has been in your online writing in the past year? Probably the frequency with which I post. I'm trying to post a lot more, for myself more than for any readers I might have.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

money matters

photo from Google images

I switched insurance companies today, for my homeowner's and auto policies. This was a huge deal for me, psychologically, for a couple of reasons. First, I absolutely hate dealing with money. Most of the time I love being on my own, but when I have to do anything dealing with money, I really wish I had, at the very least, a sounding board regarding the decisions I'm making. The simple fact is, money doesn't interest me. I know that I need it, and there are times that I take real pleasure in spending it, but as a divorced woman, I've also had to learn how to handle it, and for the most part, that has been a painful experience, and one for which I never have much enthusiasm, in part because I'm never sure that I know what I'm doing. Second, I've been with Company A for about 15 years, and they've always been great to deal with, so a part of me felt guilty even thinking about switching companies. But my premiums had risen so steeply that I decided I had to get comparison bids from other, equally well rated companies. When I did that, it was clear that the amount of money I'd save by switching was substantial and I couldn't justify not doing it. I called Company A and told them Company B had done an apples to apples comparison on both policies and asked them if they could match it. Any guilt I'd felt evaporated when I got their response. For the auto policy, they were willing to switch me to one of their lesser companies, which would lower the premium slightly; for the homeowner's, their suggestion was that if I wanted a lower premium, I should increase my deductible from $500 to 1% of the overall value of my property on all claims. Huh? I may hate dealing with money, but I'm not stupid. I said thanks but no thanks and called Company B and had them draw up the paperwork, which was then faxed to me. I signed on the dotted line and faxed it back, and gave them credit card information for the premium, at which time I was faxed a temporary ID card...all of which left me feeling like I wanted to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. It's not supposed to be like this, is it? Aren't I supposed to feel empowered or something? But the people I like best in this world tend to share my loathing of dealing with money. Dunno what that says about us...

Monday, February 23, 2009


It's time again for Carly's Monday Photo Shoot! The assignment this week is to hit her with your best shot. If you want to play too, click HERE.

I knew immediately what shot I'd use for this assignment, and yes, it's one from my archives, specifically, 1982. In those days I kept a roll of seamless paper hanging from the ceiling in our dining room, and I'd regularly pull it down to shoot various objects, including our cats and our daughters. I took this shot of Alex and Katharine, who were then 6 and 3, in early November, for our Christmas card that year. 27 years later, it's still probably the best pic I've ever taken, or certainly my favorite. I took this with an old Nikorex with a Nikon lens, and used two umbrella flashes for the light.

I prefer to photograph living things: people, animals, plants as opposed to taking photographs of buildings. Of course, I take pics of buildings too, and in fact (a moment of shameless self-promotion here) I just got notice that a shot that I took of the Robie House at U of C
last December has been selected for inclusion in the sixth edition of the Schmap Chicago Guide. I didn't get paid, but my name is on the shot, which is pretty cool. The most challenging aspect of photographing people for me is to catch the personality behind the face. I think I succeeded in this shot, and that's why I like it so much. A part of that aspect (capturing the real person behind the face) is, of course, lighting, which is why I'm ready to move on to a digital SLR as soon as my budget allows.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Dave!

Peering out of tiny eyes
The grubby hands that gripped the rail
Wiped the window clean of frost
As the morning air laid on the latch

A whistle awakened someone there
Next door to the nursery just down the hall
A strange new sound, she never heard before
A strange new sound...that makes girls explore

Tread neat, so small, those little feet
Amid the morn the small heart beats
So much excitement yesterday
That must be rewarded...must be displayed

Large hands lift her through the air
Excited eyes contain her there
The eyes of those she loves and knows
But what's this extra bed just here?
Her puzzled head tips to one side
Amazement swims in those bright green eyes
Glancing down upon this thing
That makes strange sounds...strange sounds that sing

In those silent happy seconds
That surround the sound of this event

A parent smile is made in moments...

They have made for you a friend
And all you ever learned from them
Until you grew much older
Did not compare with when they said

This is your brand new brother...
This is your brand new brother...
This is your brand new brother...

The Greatest Discovery, by Elton John

I was not quite 3½ years old when you were born, but I have that sort of elephant memory thing, so there are details that I remember quite well. We were living in the country, in southwestern Wisconsin, in a drafty old farmhouse: two stories tall, no central heat, no indoor plumbing.

Mom had told me she was going to have a baby, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I had other things to think about. I was terribly lonely, always; that is my overwhelming memory of that place. The
fact that I had 5 older siblings was no consolation; there was too much of an age difference for me to be allowed to tag along with any of them. My only, constant companion, E, was usually referred to, sometimes with a chuckle, sometimes with a tsk tsk, depending on who was commenting, as my imaginary friend. Even at 3, I preferred to think of E as my invisible friend, as E was quite real to me. And anyway, E wasn’t a child, but an adult male, whom I chatted up all day as I wandered around the house and yard, exploring, always hoping to find something wonderful and regularly being disappointed in that endeavor, in that place.

Mom never learned to drive, but even if she had, we had just one car, so trips into town were few and far between. Accordingly, Mom sometimes ordered things from the Sears catalogue. I had no idea where babies came from, and at 3, no particular interest in finding out, but it occurred to me, one icy afternoon in late January when a large package from Sears arrived in the mail, that perhaps "the baby" was inside that package! I waited impatiently for Mom to open it, and was incredibly disappointed to see that the big box, so full of promise, held nothing more than a very ordinary, oversized, dark blue and white, speckled enamel roasting pan. As Mom sat in the kitchen, with the roasting pan on her lap, I urged her to put the lid on, and then take it off again, quickly, convinced, if she’d just do that, that "the baby" would magically appear. In late pregnancy, Mom was in no mood to humor me. I managed to try it myself, several times, later that afternoon, only to discover it didn’t work for me either.

Three weeks later, I was quite upset when I woke one morning and found that Mom was gone. Dad said she’d gone to the hospital "to have the baby". In an attempt to amuse me and perhaps distract me from missing her so much, he took me to a neighbor’s farm, where I was allowed to help bottle feed some baby lambs. I still remember the thrill of feeling a baby lamb tugging hard at the bottle I was holding.
After what seemed like forever, but in fact was probably about a week, Mom came home. You were in her arms, but I couldn't see you because you were completely and tidily wrapped up against the winter cold in a soft blue baby blanket. Mom walked through the kitchen and into the living room, where she laid you down in your bed: a big dresser drawer lined with an old quilt. She got you settled there, then she called me to come see you.

I heard you before I saw you: you were making throaty little snuffling sounds. Curious, I knelt on my knees beside the drawer, and bent over the edge to see you up close. My first impression was that you smelled great. Also, you were very pink. You were still swaddled up in that soft blue blanket. The satin edge was cool, and wonderfully smooth to touch, and I felt a wave of envy, running my fingertips lightly over the edge of that lush blanket.

Then I saw that you were looking right at me, staring intently, and I was transfixed. As you studied me with your big baby blues, Mom told me to hold out a finger. She said that you’d grab it if I did. I didn’t believe her, so I pointed a finger and held it in the air in front of you, right above your tightly closed fist, just to prove her wrong. Mom said, "Touch his hand," and I my surprise, your fist flew open. For a moment, your fingers waved dreamily, randomly, like the tentacles on an anemone...but the moment your fingers touched mine, you grabbed on, curling your entire hand tightly around my finger, and holding fast, with a grip like a vice. I laughed out loud, surprised and happy at the magic of that contact, of that moment...

...this is your brand new brother...

Happy 56th, Dave

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Patrick's Saturday Six #254

With everything going on at work, the past couple of weeks have been exhausting, with the result that I haven't posted much. So I'm easing back into the water by playing Patrick's Saturday Six. If you want to play too, click here.

1. When you write a note to a friend, do you tend to write in cursive or manuscript?

Most of the time when I write to friends now, it's via email. But if I'm writing to a friend on paper, it would generally be in cursive. However, all through college and graduate school I took notes in manuscript. A physics professor once said my notes looked like they were typed. I took it as a compliment.

2. Think back to grade school when you learned how to write: which manuscript letter gave you the most trouble? I absolutely loved learning to write, and I don't remember any particular letter giving me trouble. However, I do remember that my first grade teacher insisted that when writing anything, we must space it so that our right index finger could fit between each letter, and she would check this and make you start over if you hadn't complied. I found this requirement infuriating because even at the tender age of six, spatially that simply was not pleasing to my eye.

3. Did you find cursive easier than manuscript? Not that I remember, but I was quickly seduced by the curves of cursive, and eventually that led to a fascination with calligraphy, which I spent some time (and many pens) trying to master.

4. How do you type on a computer: the four-finger “professional” method, the “hunt and peck” method, or something in between? The professional method. I learned to type in summer school while I was in high school, and I still type about 75-90 wpm. It was not considered the cool thing to do, to learn to type, back then, in the dawn of The Age of Aquarius. I remember there were feminist posters of Golda Meir (later to become Prime Minister of Israel) that read "But can she type?" Uh-huh. There was no question in my mind when I was young that whatever I ended up doing in this life, typing would be a handy thing to have mastered.

5. Take the quiz: What Keyboard Key Are You?

You Are "alt"

Some people might find you to be strange, mysterious, and even a bit off putting.

You tend to be drawn to and influenced by alternative lifestyles. You're definitely not normal.

Once people get to know you, they realize you're interesting, intriguing, and very intelligent.

You have a lot of knowledge stored in that big brain of yours. Most of it is useless knowledge, but some of it is very useful.

6. As a general rule, how often do you use the key mentioned in the answer to the previous question? For what it's worth, I find that I end up using the Alt key many times a day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

1 minute writer - TURNING POINT

Write about how you noticeably changed after a particular turning point in your life.

My brief time at the University of Chicago changed me forever. I was incredibly happy there. It's hard to explain exactly what happened, except that I learned that learning is an ongoing process for all of one's life. Later, after getting married and having children, I finished up my undergraduate work and eventually completed graduate school in Texas, but those experiences paled next to the indelible impressions I'd experienced at the U of C. I always say that although my degrees are from Texas, I was educated at the University of Chicago.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1 minute writer - NOTE

Write about a memorable card, note, or letter you have received.

I’d just started working in Child Psychiatry and often I felt as if I were in over my head, but I tried hard to help the parents who called me, trying to find help for their children. It was almost Thanksgiving and I’d been working there a few months when I received a Thanksgiving card from a woman whose child I hadn’t even ended up screening, as she hadn't met the inclusion criteria for any of our studies. Nevertheless, that woman thanked me for my kindness in taking the time to listen to her, and for my suggestions as to where she might find help. That was over 10 years ago, but I still have the card. It’s one of the nicest notes I’ve ever received.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1 minute writer - READING

Write about a childhood memory related to reading.

For most of my childhood, we didn't have a TV, and so in the evenings, my mother read to my younger brother and me. Those are some of my happiest memories of my childhood. There was a big, scratchy, blue striped armchair in our living room, and Mom would sit in that chair, and Dave and I would try to crowd in with her, and she'd read us a chapter a night. I remember The Yearling; Old Yeller; Where the Redfern Grows (all three of us wept), among others. It was time well spent; Mom instilled a love of reading in both of us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1 minute writer - WALLS

What walls do you want to knock down?

I'd like to knock down racial walls. Twice last week at work, I heard people make reference to the race of people they were talking about. Although there are times that mention of race might be pertinent, e.g., race can put a person in a higher risk category for certain diseases, in both of these cases it was not only unnecessary but inappropriate to mention race. Both times, race was used to "explain" the problems each person had experienced with the other person. For what it's worth, insofar as I could tell, the problems they were having had nothing to do with race. It will be a better world when all of us can get beyond this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ellipsis - Monday Photo Shoot #25 - Birds

The subject of Carly's Monday Photo Shoot this week is BIRDS.
Flying BIRDS. Nesting BIRDS. Gooney BIRDS. Looney BIRDS. Real BIRDS. Stuffed BIRDS, both the toy and the sustenance. BIRDS with winter plumage, BIRDS taking a bath. BIRDS and their babies. BIRDS all alone. BIRDS in their houses. Red BIRDS. Black BIRDS. Bald BIRDS. BIRDS on a wire. Real BIRDS. Fake BIRDS. BIRDS.

I went into my archives for these shots that I took of a
Gilded Flicker (a type of woodpecker) at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (they have an aviary) when I was in Tucson visiting Mike at UA on Parent's weekend during his freshman year in October 2005. Isn't this a gorgeous bird? If you want to play too, click HERE.


Gilded Flicker (Colaptes chrysoides)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

1 minute writer - MAGIC MIRROR

Imagine you have a magic mirror. What does it reveal about anyone who looks in it?

It would reveal you as the best that you can be, in every way: intellectually, and in terms of personality as well as physically. Thus if you're heavy, you'd see what you'd look like slimmer, and if you're harsh, you'd see what life would be like if you were kinder; if you're slothful, you'd see how your life would be if you were industrious, and so on. I don't know that I'd dare to look in that mirror!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

This year I'm alone and HAPPY on Valentine's Day. This hasn't always been the case, but I think I've learned the secret of having a happy Valentine's Day as a single person: I'm good to myself. If I want chocolate or an orchid on Valentine's Day, or on any other day, for that matter, I am free to buy it, and these days, I do exactly that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

1 minute writer - PROBABILITY

Write about something highly unlikely that has happened in your life.

Getting pregnant with twins the old fashioned way (by chance) seemed highly unlikely to me. Although there were no twins in either of our families, it turns out that biologically, becoming pregnant with fraternal twins wasn't as unlikely as it might seem. I was a multipara at the peak of fertility for white females when the boys were conceived, but that was hardly on my mind at the time. I just knew that I wanted two more babies, and that I loved babies and loved being pregnant, so when I found out I was carrying two I grinned and whooped "Woo hoo!" My doctor smiled at my reaction, and said in all his years of delivering babies, he'd never had anything close to that reaction upon telling a woman she was carrying twins.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

bloody Wednesday...

I was having lunch with a couple of friends a month or so ago when I first heard the rumor. The new guy had asked for big bucks to cover severance packages; the company was being restructured and heads were going to roll. Variations of this rumor had been rife since the company was sold last year. A big employee meeting originally scheduled for December was deferred to January. "There'll be lay-offs", people whispered. But at the January meeting an announcement was made: No lay-offs! A few days after the meeting I had lunch with those same two friends. "Heads will roll on February 11th," one of them said. The date had been postponed, she explained, because one of the people who'd ended up moving on up the food chain in the big restructuring didn't want his first act of record to be letting a lot of people go.

This morning when I got to work I saw that my friend knew what she was talking about. There was an email in my inbox from our CEO. It had gone out to all employees. He began by talking about the economy and went on to talk about competition, generics, declining sales forcing the company to cut back. He closed with numbers: specifically, how many people were being laid off, here and in Europe. It's not so many compared to GM, and not many at all compared to other Big Pharma companies, but somehow that doesn't provide a lot of consolation.

Several young friends emailed me this morning, asking if they should worry. No, I said, we're too low on the food chain to be considered in this cut, and it turned out I was right about that, thank goodness. But the day was grim anyway. They were walking people out. That's how it works. That's what they do. You get a phone call to go to HR, where heaven knows what is said behind closed doors, and then some smarmy HR guy walks you back to your office to pick up your personal belongings, and you're escorted out of the building. The jackass who had consistently refused to sign my time sheets on time when I was a contractor was walked out. I wasn't sorry to hear about him, and I wasn't alone in that. A true misanthrope, he should never have been put in the position of managing others. He never seemed to tire of finding ways to make those who worked under him miserable. His refusal to sign my time sheets on time should have resulted in my always being paid two weeks late; he never discovered that I managed to circumvent him and was indeed always paid on time. But this morning many more people got the dreaded call and were walked out, including a bright, capable, hard working, cheerful colleague who, like most of the others who were cut, didn't deserve it. I was very sorry to see her go.

This afternoon, when it was all over, those of us who'd managed to survive this time around were crowded into a small room designed to hold maybe a third of us. We stood jammed up against the walls with no AC and bad air, listening to one of the upper management guys whom I loathe. His idea of humor was to start out by saying everyone in the room was laid off (funny, huh?), and then saying no, if you're in here, you've made the cut. He went on to say he understood there would be trust issues (ya think? what with our being told just three weeks ago there would be NO lay offs?), but we'd "have to pull together to get through this", yada yada yada. He went on to mention that he's writing a book (in the event he manages to actually do this, I won't be rushing out to buy it) and closed by saying how he "accidentally" became a VEEP at the company, just sort of backed into it (aw shucks!) yada yada yada and maybe there was a lesson there for the rest of us.

Uh-huh. I looked around the room. Although all of us still have jobs, not one face looked happy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

1 minute writer - ECONOMY

Today's Writing Prompt: Economy

If you could personally do one thing to improve the economy, what would it be?

I don't understand economics, but it seems to me a flat tax would be a good thing and is long overdue.

Monday, February 09, 2009

1 minute writer - WONDER

Today's Writing Prompt: Wonder

What fills you with wonder?

A new baby. New young things of any species, for that matter: a kitten, a lamb, a tender young plant. The stars in the night sky. The desert, the mountains, the sea.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A week well spent...

I'm back from Chicago, where I spent a happy week welcoming my new grandson, who, as is evident here, is absolutely beautiful.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

1 minute writer - FLIP SIDE

Write about the negative side of something positive that happened in your life.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I felt as if I'd won the lottery. I loved babies, and loved being pregnant, and because the girls were six and nine I wanted two more babies rather than one, so finding out I was pregnant with twins was sort of the ultimate in getting my way. I was no less enamored of the idea once they were born. Mike and Chris were terrific babies, and all of us...A, the girls and I...doted on them. But going out in public with twin babies gave me a small taste of what celebrities must cope with all the time, and I realized immediately that I didn't like it at all. The public is apparently fascinated with multiple births. Strangers would rush up and not hesitate to touch the boys and sometimes try to pick them up, without bothering to ask if that was OK (it wasn't) when they were babies.

Friday, February 06, 2009

1 minute writer - FICTION - ENCOUNTER

Friday Fiction: Encounter

Friday Fiction is a new series on The One-Minute Writer. Every Friday you'll be prompted to create a brief piece of fiction.

Write about a character's first encounter with the person he or she will later fall in love with.

He was tall and dark and slim, with close cropped dark hair, a wafer thin watch on his wrist, and a dazzling white shirt, open at the collar. He was seated at one of those long tables in the cafeteria, bent over some paperwork, writing something. When he looked up and met her eyes and spoke, her heart skipped a beat in her chest and she felt as if she were falling a great distance, but she didn’t give a damn…

Thursday, February 05, 2009

1 minute writer - PRIDE

What is your greatest source of pride?

I'm proud of my kids. They're all bright, funny, industrious, interesting, independent young adults. Raising them has been by far the most important and rewarding thing I've done in my life.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

1 minute writer - THIEF

Today's Writing Prompt: Thief

Write about something you stole (literal or figurative.)

When I was eight I stole some change…twelve cents, to be exact…from a jewelry counter in a Woolworth’s store. I don’t know why I did it, I mean twelve cents! But overall it was probably a good thing. The guilt that I felt practically ate me up. The next day I went back to the store and dropped the twelve cents back where I’d found it. That ended my life as a thief.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

1 minute writer - NEXT

What do you hope is around the next bend in the road?

Retirement. That won’t happen for a while yet, but oh, am I ready for it. If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d go shopping for a small house with a guest house in the back, where guests could stay and I could have the pleasure of their company but we’d both have our privacy. And I’d travel, and garden, and maybe take some photography classes.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ellipsis - Monday Photo Shoot #23 - Winter Days

It's time for Carly's Monday Photo Shoot. The assignment this week is to show WINTER DAYS where you live, specifically, "Snow, rain, clear, yet icy conditions, bare trees, dead leaves, whatever accurately illustrates a WINTER DAY where you live."
Extra Credit: Show the current temperature where you live.

I smiled when I saw this Groundhog Day assignment. Just last week we had an ice storm in Dallas, and I spent some time outside with my digital camera, trying to capture a bit of the winter weather. It was beautiful but treacherous: everything was rimed with ice, including several pots of pansies. By the end of the week, though, it had warmed up again, to almost 70 degrees, and to my amazement, the pansies that had been covered in ice just a few days earlier were again blooming beautifully. We've had another cold front come through since then, albeit a milder one. This morning, at a little after 3:00 AM, it's 47 degrees outside, with a predicted high of 58. In a few hours, whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not, I'm off to the frozen north to meet my new grandson. In the meantime I'm re-posting a couple of my favorite shots from last week that capture a winter day in Dallas. If you want to play too, click HERE.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

the Emperor's new clothes...

It's Super Bowl Sunday and there was a time I'd have been blogging about that. I have one child in Las Vegas attending the game, and I'm going to a Super Bowl party here in Dallas later this afternoon myself. But that's not what I'm writing about today. Instead, I'm taking a few minutes to write about writing, or rather, about blogging.

I started blogging in the now-fabled AOL Land of Blog. This was a community of bloggers who came together on AOL several years ago in a sort of blogging Camelot. Many of those writers, now here on blogger because AOL closed its doors, still bemoan the loss of that community. I'm not one of them. I understand their sense of loss, but I understand it as someone who observed that community from the outside looking in, with my face pressed up against the glass, as it were, not from a sense of ever for a moment being inside that warm, fuzzy cocoon. I started blogging on AOL in June 2005, but I happily migrated to Blogger a few months later, in November 2005, when there was a great brouhaha about the ads, and many members of the AOL community left. For what it's worth, there were always ads visible on my AOL site, so I didn't really understand what all the fuss was about. I've been a fan of many of those AOL writers, and some of those writers became fans of mine, but I was never a part of that community. It seemed to me to be a gated community, and I know I'm not the only one who felt that way, because other bloggers have written me about it.

Why do we do this anyway? Why blog? Of course, everyone has their own reasons. Early on I wrote a post about this, about how blogging can be a way of feeling connected to the rest of the world and conquering the sense of isolation that afflicts everyone, in varying degrees, from time to time. I still think that's true, but somehow, as time went by, I found myself getting caught up in who was reading me; how many comments I was getting; who was leaving comments, etc., etc. This was not a healthy thing for me, because as I got caught up in those observations, I began writing less. My younger brother, Dave, one of my most faithful readers, immediately noticed and complained to me. I made a half hearted attempt to write more, but as my focus was still off, it didn't really work. The gadgets now available to us, of which I don't hesitate to avail myself (sitemeter, who links to me, followers, etc.) make it easy to succumb to this sort of self-absorption, at least, that's what it amounted to for me.

But then one day last December I went into my blog, and clicking on the linked bloggers in my sidebar and reading the blogs of others, I suddenly realized that the blogger whose writing I admire most receives almost no comments, and I don't know how many followers he has, as he doesn't post that info on his blog. And I thought of Emily Dickinson, and I also thought of Justin Hall. Without Justin, would any of us be blogging? A couple of light years ago in Chicago, A and I lived in a coach house on the near north side, on State Street. There we shared a yard with Justin's parents, who lived in the row house in front of us and with whom we were good friends. I remember the day Justin was born. When he was a little guy, he and Alex sometimes played together, and I have a pic of the two of them, arms around each other's shoulders, wearing cowboy hats and smiling for the camera. I discovered and read Justin's original blog a few years ago when I googled my own name and came across a link to something I'd written in a condolence note to his mother on the death of his father. My note had ended up being been read at his father's eulogy, and Justin had posted the eulogy on his original blog, which he started in 1994, when he was 19. It was an online diary, with no place for comments. Writing online a few days ago about his original blog, Justin said: "When I started writing I wanted to find a place for myself in the world. I wanted a mate, I wanted to work with passionate people, I wanted to explore computers and publishing. Those things have come to pass, I need to find new things to write about."

Well said.

Me too. I need to find new things to write about, and although I love reading the comments people make, I need to write without caring whether anyone reads me or not. And to that end, in January I applied seat of pants to seat of chair and posted 34 entries in 31 days.

It's a start...

One Minute Writer - What Motivates You to Do Well at Work?

That’s easy: pride in a job well done. When I was growing up, the worst thing my parents could say about anyone was that he or she was lazy. Both my mom and dad worked hard all their lives, and I inherited a strong work ethic from them. I’m pretty much a workaholic, no matter what the job is. If I were assigned to sweep floors, I’d sweep them as well as I could. I don’t sweep floors; I manage cases, which is not exactly rocket science, but I take pride in doing my job well.