Thursday, October 23, 2014

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Idioms are passed from one generation to another.  They are phrases that we grow up with. Tidbits of advice, collapsed into a sentence which can be interpreted literally, but are usually meant metaphorically, with regards to a situation at hand.

While I was doing errands about a half-a-dozen Octobers ago, a brief encounter got me thinking about the commonly used phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  I put those thoughts in writing, and I recently found them in a file in my computer. This is what I wrote that day:

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover 
The covers on these books have seen better days, but the contents are still classic. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  A worn out cliché, but it rang true for me today.
This afternoon, I stopped at an auto-parts store to look for the jumper cables I had promised to purchase. These would be our donation for the “Car Care” basket my son's class was assembling for a Silent Auction at the School PTA Halloween Carnival. 
I wandered up and down the somewhat scruffy and cluttered aisles, feeling very out of my element. I was surrounded by men, all seemingly with a purpose and appearing comfortable locating what they needed.  I perused every aisle, but couldn’t find the jumper cables.
My frustration mounted and I was nearly ready to concede defeat and leave empty-handed.  Suddenly, like a white knight, a man in a store vest said, “I’ll be with you in just a moment, Ma’am.”  (He must have read my mind . . .)
Seconds after he spoke to me, my eyes alighted on “just the thing” – an inexpensive “Emergency Car Kit,” complete with all sorts of emergency items, including the jumper cables I was needing to buy! When the salesperson returned to my side, I asked him if the contents of the kit were accurately depicted on the packaging, and told him why I needed it.
He confirmed the contents.  To my surprise though, he said, “But you probably want another one. This box is worn and stained, and the packaging is cut through.  Let me look in the back, as I think we have a newer-looking one there.”
I was very taken aback, and more than a little ashamed of myself.  Somehow, I had placed this person in a stereotype, based on my observation of the disorganization of the shelves and dirt on the floor, and even (unforgivably) his gender.  I had just assumed details of packaging and the aesthetic appearance of an item would have been unnoticeable and unimportant to the men managing and working in the store.  
Not only did this sales person find an impecable emergency car kit for me, he also voluntarily provided some store coupons, and a free t-shirt to add to the basket as well.
Quite different from the cover, indeed.
As I recall, the “car care” basket was a popular item at the auction.  I'd like to think that my family’s contribution of jumper cables provided an increased feeling of security for the driver who acquired it. The awareness I experienced while purchasing them, however, was priceless.

I recognized the absurdity of some unconscious stereotyping, while shopping for jumper cables.

When was the last time you made an assumption about a person, but once you got to know them better, you realized it was not true?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm Blogging - But Not the Easy Way!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have noticed that I did not publish anything yesterday.  I have been busy making some changes to this blog, which I am writing about today.

If you are not a blogger, probably all you need to know is that: 
  • I have added a Topic Index, so you can view previously published posts by subject. (There's still some work to be done to complete this - but I hope to have all past posts indexed soon!)
  • If the Topic Index doesn't show what you are looking for, you may find it by typing a related word or phrase into the Search Bar. (See photos below.)
  • The layout and organization of this blog is constantly evolving. Look for more improvements in the future!
Beyond this information, non-bloggers may find the rest of the content of this post a little dull. Instead, perhaps you could find a topic that interests you in my new index! Or, maybe this previously published post (click here) would be more interesting to you. (It might even provide an idea for your Halloween costume this year!) 

Any guesses who I am dressed up to be?
If you are a blogger, I hope you will read on ...

My blog changes worked - but I suspect there's an easier way!

Even though I am the author of a blog about making the most of every moment, I confess I probably accomplish a lot of things the hard way!  When it comes to blogging, I know this to be true.  

I've learned a lot through trial-and-error, but there is undoubtedly an easier and quicker way to do some of the web page set-up work that I have done! I am ever-so-grateful for the many tutorials specific to the Blogger platform that I studied before attempting the following changes myself. 

I'm not an expert on blog design, but it is my hope that by sharing here what I have learned, I might save another blogger a little time.

1. Blog Organization 

Topic Index
I write on quite a variety of topics. I am experimenting with using topic labels on each post, which link them to a list in my sidebar. Essentially, I am creating an index of blog topics, using the Blogger Labels Widget. (The Blogger Help Forum tutorial, Label Your Posts” explains how.)

Hopefully this new index will make my previously published posts easier for readers to find.

This is what my new blog post index looks like so far.

My advice to new bloggers would be to add some topic specific labels to each post as you create them ... trying to go back and add them to almost 200 posts has been a lot of work!

Ideally, I would prefer to create an index of just linked thumbnail photos and titles , rather than the full blog posts under each topic - but I have not discovered how to do this yet on Blogger!

Search Bar
If you are looking for a post on a particular subject, and can't locate it here, you might also try typing that topic in the search bar.  (Blogger provides an easily used gadget to install this.)

The search bar on my blog looks like this!
In an effort to make this blog more user friendly, I have been tweaking headings and rearranging things. I hope you like the changes!

2. Blog Button or Badge

At first I had no clue what a blog button even is. In case you also wonder, these little squares are created to represent a blog, and then can be used on other sites to link back to a blog.  A blogger "grabs" or copies the text in the box below an image, and pastes it (in html code format) where they want it.  The image will (hopefully) appear, and when clicked upon, it should then link directly back to that blogger's site.

I felt challenged to create one of these buttons -but it turned out to be more puzzling than I had hoped!  I studied the advice of half a dozen websites, and then had to tweak the code some more myself. 

Mrs. Lindsey, at Teacher Blogging Basics provided some of the most clear instructions for creating a blog button that I was able to find.  Her process seemed to work, except my “grab code” did not show up in the text box.  A number of other people commented on her blog that they had the same problem - but my guess is that we were all doing the same thing wrong, or something has changed on Blogger since the tutorial was written! 

I kept playing with the code, and did some creative cut-and-paste until I seemed successful. I couldn't recreate the process now, even if I tried!  I just hope it actually works!  

Here's a zoomed in version:

A photo of my blog button, as it appears on my blog.

  • Is my blogging experience similar to yours? 
  • Has this been helpful, or do you have any good tips for me?  
  • If you grab my button - please let me know here if it works and is easy to use.
  • What do you think of these changes to my blog?
Your feedback means a lot to me. Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

the most - - of every moment

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beauty All Around - Even Where We Least Expect It

The exquisite wonders of our world can sometimes almost smack us in the face. Recently, this happened to me (literally).  Here is the photo of what I saw.

I didn't have to step into a museum to see this lovely piece. I do think, though, that it is very pretty and interesting enough to be considered museum quality.

Reader's Digest magazine has done a series of articles where they invite the reader to look at a photograph twice. Initially, it is often unrecognizable for what it really is.  When you turn over the page, another perspective of the scene or object is shown, making it clear what you have just been looking at.  

I didn't think to take another picture to put this photo in perspective, so I will just have to explain what you see here.

What you are looking at is a photograph of the front window of my car - in an automatic car wash!

Usually, I am a little claustrophobic as my car is rocking on its axles while being pummeled by sprays and brushes.  Sometimes I even close my eyes and take a few deep breaths.  The day I took this photo though, I was distracted by the beauty that appeared before my eyes. 

I love how this photo turned out. There are even three tiny hearts near the center of the picture - can you find them?

Beauty is everywhere around us - even in the most unlikely settings.  

I'd love to hear about the most unusual source of beauty you see this week!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Are You on Instagram?

As of this past Wednesday, I now have an Instagram account!

I am hoping to get a little time this weekend to become comfortable with my latest venture into using Social Media.  Twitter still sort of mystifies me - but maybe I will master Instagram more quickly. 

A copy of the log-in screen on Instagram

The Connect With Me Instagram button on my blog sidebar is now activated.
It is the button that looks like this!
I initially opened my Instagram account using my first name and one initial of my last name as my user name, but I just changed it so people who follow my blog can hopefully find me more easily there. My Instagram User Name is now Susan_ofeverymoment. 

I would really appreciate any of your suggestions for how to find the people I would want to follow, or tips about learning to use Instagram (or Twitter!). Feel free to share your Instagram name in the comments section below, so I can find and follow you.

Here is my latest post on Instagram - I think I just figured out how to embed it in this post:

He's glad we are home now! Missed us, I think while we were in Kalispell!

If you wonder why we were in Kalispell, that explanation was provided with the photo I posted there prior to this one!

I look forward to sharing snapshots of my moments, and becoming a follower of yours.

Happy Weekend!

What suggestions do you have for using Instagram?

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Plethora of Problems

It has been a few weeks since I have published any fiction.  Today I am participating in this week's Words for Wednesday Word Prompt challenge. I hope you enjoy this little vignette.

Image: gavel
Randy propped his elbows on his desk and rested his head on his hands, deep in despair. His thoughts turned to the afternoon when he had been informed he would be inducted as the new vice-president of the State Historical Association.

He had been so happy, feeling like years of hard work as a historian had finally paid off. Martha had placed a bottle of champagne on ice, and cooked a special dinner in celebration. They were excited about how the pay increase would affect their lifestyle.

That was 18 months ago. Since then, Martha had suggested a separation and was asking for a divorce. He knew it was his fault. His drinking had become excessive and his mood was always gloomy and preoccupied. Their marriage had been too young to weather such a drastic change in his demeanor.

Although he still loved Martha, Randy realized a divorce was inevitable now. He accepted the fact that it was his fault. But no wonder. His stress level had been through the roof.  After his appointment as Society president, he had discovered a plethora of problems that came from the top-down.  It didn't take much digging to realize that the budget was a sham, and funds were being misappropriated.  When he broached the CEO and the Board of Directors, however, he was accused of misunderstanding the situation. It was clear there was a "good-old-boys" club mentality, and his efforts to be sure the Society was fiscally sound were not in line with the objectives of the other executives.

Randy had continued to quietly investigate.  It appeared that with cunningly calculating precision, funds had been siphoned off from the Society bank accounts for about three years... just as long as the current president had been in office.  All of the Museum-Building General Maintenance accounts had been bled nearly dry.

There had been a lot of tense arguments between Randy and the president. Randy had made it clear that he could not condone this embezzlement, and that he would be reporting the situation to the National officers. Of course such news had not been well received. Legal council had apparently been getting a “piece of the pie” as well, because last week they had informed him he was being fired.  They were accusing him of insubordination, as well as a bogus charge of sexual harassment against the CFO.

Randy sighed.  It was a shame it had all come down to this.  He had hoped he could handle things internally, but now the legal system was involved. He had filed a lawsuit against the company for wrongful termination, and hired a top notch attorney.

Randy knew his case was solid.  He had all of the documents to prove the theft of society funds.  It would become readily apparent in court that Randy could not be fired for insubordination; every project he had refused to participate in was associated with the illegal actions of his business associates.  In proving that it had been within his rights to not perform certain tasks in his job description because they would perpetuate an illegal act, he would expose their scheme. The CFO had embezzeled such a huge sum of money that the blackmail motive of the harassment charge would need no explanation.

He wondered what their retribution would be.  He was certain every person involved in this crime would be required to refund all of the money that had been stolen. He hoped they would also all be required to resign from their positions in the company and on the Board. He knew prison would be a distinct possibility, and this saddened him, as these men and women had all been good friends of his just over two years ago.

Randy glanced at his watch. It was time to meet his lawyer and head over to the court house. He stood up and straightened his tie. Shrugging into his suit coat, he gave himself a little shake and hardened his resolve.  It was best to approach the whole matter with a coldly clinical attitude.  Think about the facts, he told himself, not the friendships he had already lost.

This story is totally fictitious and does not contain accurate factual information! 
It is not even loosely based on any event, but is a fiction story sparked solely from combining all of the word prompts provided by Delores at Under the Porch Light for this week's Words for Wednesday Challenge.

This week's Words for Wednesday Challenge word prompts were:
insubordination, inducted, despair, plethora, museum, and retribution
and/ or the phrases: coldly clinical...and ...cunningly calculating

What setting would this combination of words make you think of?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dessert Options Should Involve Some Chocolate!

There was a plaque resting in the bookcase of a home we rented for a family vacation this summer. It really tickled me, and I took a photo so I would remember it. There was no picture on the plaque, just the words “Chocolate - it's not just for Breakfast anymore.”

Doesn't that just sum up a wonderful philosophy? 

I loved this saying so much I took this photo of it!

I was reminded of that plaque yesterday, as I prepared a dessert for a soccer team-dinner. What to make for 18 hungry, athletic high school boys and their coaches?  I wanted it to be something that could be easily grabbed and put on a plate; something the boys could take as many servings of as they wanted.

I settled on brownies. My "Canoe Trip Banana-Butterscotch Brownies” recipe (which I published earlier on this blog) makes a huge pan and is always a hit, so I decided to make those.  BUT - I feel like dessert should always include some chocolate! So I also made up two big pans of chocolate brownies.  I used a recipe I had never tried, and it turned out to be a really decadent dessert.

Good thing I did make the extra pans. Nearly all of both kinds of brownies were gobbled up - the few that were left may have just been because the boys were all too polite to take the last servings! 

If you are hosting a crowd, I would recommend making either - or both - of these recipes.

The chocolate brownies I made were Hershey’s Ultimate Chocolate Brownies, a recipe I found in the Hershey cookbook I purchased when I lived in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The identical recipe is on the Hershey's Kitchen website, so you can find the full instructions here.

Canoe-Trip Banana Butterscotch Brownies and Hershey's Ultimate Chocolate Brownies. 
GO TEAM! Good luck Boys!

Would you eat chocolate any time of day?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hiss and Spit! Halloween and Our Cat!

A Halloween Gift

When my daughter was about three-years old, my mother-in-law made a Halloween decoration for us. It stood the same height as my daughter at the time, and it looks just like a wee girl in a ghost costume.  A sheet with black circles for eyes appears to be draped over a head and upper torso, with toddler-sized floral sweatpants peeking out below.  This little statue decoration stands sturdily on a small pair of little sneakers with pink and purple laces, and carries a burlap sack of candy with the words Trick or Treat printed on it. My daughter instantly adored this little ghost girl, and I have put it on display every October since we received it.

Our friendly little ghost girl

Hiss and spit

A six-week old kitten joined our family one year in May - and it grew up to be the cat you see in many of the photos on this blog.  The first Halloween after our kitten came to live with us, I set out the little ghost girl as usual.  Suddenly, our young cat barreled right at it, hissing and spitting - very clearly upset and thinking it was an invader and ready to do battle.  We watched him become mystified, then embarrassed, then nonchalant, as only a cat can.

Even after seeing this little ghost every fall for many years, our cat still has a moment of concern, when I set it out at the beginning of the season.  

These photos were taken immediately after the ghost girl came out of the box this year.
Our cat - after realizing the ghost girl is not real, and trying to pretend he was never worried!
If this little friendly ghost girl scares my cat - just think what his response would be to the grocery store witches and pumpkin goblins I mentioned yesterday!

Has a decoration ever frightened any of your pets?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Link WIthin

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