Plot Development

The second week of my Coursera creative writing class opened up today, and the topic is structure as it relates to plot.  The lesson was focused on a five act structure that is labeled as ABDCE (Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending).  Those of you that know this already, I apologize.  I’m just laying a little background down.  So, the assignment was to write a 100-200 word short story about a trip to the doctor or dentist.  This is my entry.  It clocks in a little long (277 words), but it is based on a real experience of mine.  It feels very…basic to me.  But, I must learn to walk before I can run, right?

So, without further ado, here it is…

I noticed the curve ahead, and downshifted my motorcycle into 2nd gear to start decelerating into the sweeping turn.  It wasn’t tight as some of the other curves I had encountered on that mountain ride on that late May afternoon in 2008, but I wanted to make sure I was safe about riding through it.

I hadn’t been a motorcycle rider for long; just a few months in fact.  My wife and I took the safety class together, and after a weekend of closed course training 6 months prior, we came away with our motorcycle endorsements.  This was the first real mountain ride I had been on.

I saw the other motorcycle coming from the opposite direction, and I picked my left hand up off the handlebar to give the traditional “fellow rider” wave to him.  No sooner had I done that, than I felt the front wheel start to shimmy just a little bit.  In a panic, I grabbed the handlebar and tried to regain control, but it was too late.

The motorcycle slid out from under me, and all I really remember from the fall was slamming my foot down on the pavement to try to stabilize the motorcycle and then tumbling across the road until I came to rest on the shoulder.

The day culminated in my first and only helicopter ride to date as I was taken down the mountain to the hospital with a visit to the ER.  Fortunately, the only damage was a broken heel and an assortment of abrasions.  After a few months of recuperation, I was as good as new.  My motorcycle riding days were at an end, though.

There it is.  I welcome your comments, critiques, etc.  I know that as I get further through this series of courses, my writing will become more developed and polished.  Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Lazy Sunday

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Ever have one of those days where you just don’t feel like doing anything?  Yep, that’s today for me.  It’s a fairly nice day out, but I’ve had little energy or desire to do much of anything.  And, I’m perfectly fine with that.

Yesterday was a busy day, and tomorrow will be as well.  It’s nice to take just one day of a long holiday weekend and do very little.

I have a list of  things I want to write about, but I think those will wait for another day.  So, with that, I’m taking this short post and calling it good for now.  Those of you in the United States, I hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.  Those of you elsewhere, enjoy the remainder of your Sunday.

Ramblings For a Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  It’s not Monday anymore, so that’s a victory in my book.  I want to start by thanking everyone that gave me some suggestions on places to find some writing tips and tricks. Michelle from Putting My Feet in the Dirt suggested Blogging University from WordPress and Weird Weekends shared his writing process, which is very similar to mine!

I’ve also signed up for a course through coursera.com that focuses on creative writing.  It’s actually a five-part program that ends with a capstone course where we have to write a 15-18 page short story or memoir.  The first four weeks focus on plot.  The upside is that it is a college level course.  The downside is that for full participation, it costs money.  I’m OK with that.  This is something I’m really interested in pursuing and seeing how I can improve.

So, on to my ramblings.  I’m at work, which I’m not sure I should admit, but I’m going to.  Tuesday mornings I take a turn in our group’s walk in lounge where people can come in for general computer help.  Most days it is fairly slow, and it is a good time to catch up on email, help desk tickets, and other projects.  Me, being the procrastinator that I can be, chooses to write a blog entry rather than work.

Honestly, though, my overall work load lately has been devoted solely to helping to get new buildings opened up.  The company I work for has been growing rapidly the past few years, and as a result has been feeling a space crunch.  We’ve opened six new office buildings in the past  year, with 2 or 3 more scheduled into 2017.  I’ve been our group’s new building person since December of last  year.  This means I go in and set up all the common areas that need computers such as conference rooms, visiting offices, and computer labs.  It isn’t difficult work, but it can be time-consuming and is very dependent on the spaces having the necessary infrastructure in place such as tables to set the equipment on.

This latest building opens tomorrow, and will be last new building until October.  I’ve had one open every month since February, so I am very ready for the break.  I enjoy the work and the sense of pride and accomplishment when a new building opens, but it does disrupt from “normal” work.  I just have to do a walk through of the space today to make sure that everything is still good to go.

I’ve been doing IT work for nearly 17 years now.  I started my professional career as a Speech-Language Pathologist working in the public schools.  My college degrees are reflective of that.  I took a crash course in IT type stuff back in 1999 shortly before my son was born, and I’ve been doing that ever since.

I enjoy it for the most part, but I was starting to get burned out working for my previous employer, which led me to being where I am today.  I’m hoping that this job can take me through the next 20 years or so, and I think it will.  The good news about where I’m working now is that they seem to have the structure in place that allows people to branch out and try other roles if they are interested in learning something new.

I think my dream job, though, would be working as a tour guide or park ranger at a place like Gettysburg.  I’ve always been a history nut, and that sort of gig really appeals to me.  Who knows?  Maybe that can be my job in my retirement years, although I’m not sure I would want to leave Wisconsin.  I have the feeling, though, that there are plenty of places within the state that can offer up similar opportunities.  Perhaps I can combine the history and the writing and pursue that!  We shall see what life brings.

I think I’ve taken up enough of your time today.  Thanks for stopping by to read this.  I may also share my assignments from the writing class.  It will be something slightly different from what I have been posting.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful day!!

 

Creative Writing

I want to start by apologizing for the paucity of posts this past week.  I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, and it has been all I can do to go to work, get done what I needed to get done, and then come home.  The energy just hasn’t been there this week to do anything beyond the bare minimum.  But, it’s the weekend now.

This has been the first truly nice weekend we’ve had in a very long time, and the first nice weekend we’ve had since we moved into the house.  So, it is a yard work type of weekend.  Perhaps I can sneak some golf in, but I’m ok if I don’t.  I would rather take it a little easier this weekend so I can finish getting better, than to overdo things and not be feeling great come Monday morning.  I would much rather not deal with feeling cruddy with the long weekend coming up next weekend.

I sat down not having any clue as to what I wanted to write.  Sadly, that’s still holding true now.  I have thought about adding some new sections to this blog.  I want to branch out into some creative writing experiments to see how those turn out.  Those of you that do write creatively, where do your ideas come from?  Life experiences?  Personal interests?  Just sit down and start typing or writing and see where it goes?  I would love to hear from you and how you do it.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  I wanted to get something out before the weekend was over, and I’ve accomplished at least that much.  My goal is to get at least one out during the week this week.  Hope you all have had a great weekend, and until next time, take care!

 

 

 

Wildlife

This weekend seemed to be a prime time for wildlife in the yard.  In addition to the usual plethora of birds, we were visited by deer twice on Saturday.  The picture below is of poor quality, so I apologize for that.  Using the camera on the phone to zoom through the screen doesn’t work so well.

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We had a total of five come by and enjoy the honeysuckle that was growing in the yard.  I don’t know if it was five different deer, or just 3.  We had a pair stop by around 10 am (that’s when the picture above was taken).  They stuck around for a while before taking off across the driveway and back into the denser woods.  A couple of hours later, a group of 3 made an appearance.  They weren’t here as long.  Our dog, Homer, decided he needed to let those deer know they were encroaching on his territory, so he was barking at them through the window.  They weren’t happy, and took off.  Hopefully, though, that’s not the last of them.

I was hanging out in my little office at home on Sunday, and saw a pair of cardinals hanging out at the bird feeder.  I grabbed my camera this time, and managed to get a few shots of them (see below).

I love the variety of what we see on a daily basis.  There are dozens of birds that visit the feeders (along with squirrels).  We need to get a bird book so we can start identifying those that we don’t know.  We have the cardinals, blue jays, doves, finches, cow birds, but also many that we don’t have the first clue about.  There’s also at least a pair of owls about that we hear on a regular basis, but have only managed to catch quick glimpses of from time to time.

Tess, our cat, loves the birds, too.  She can sit in the window and watch them for hours.  We let her out occasionally, but she wears a collar with a bell on it to give the birds a bit of advance warning when she comes around.

In addition to the birds, we see quite the variety of animal life just driving along.  There are a handful of Amish or Mennonite homesteads just down the road.  These typically have horses and cows.  One has a whole bunch of goats.  I love goats.  I find them to be endlessly entertaining and I’m always tempted to stop.  But, I don’t want to encroach on their privacy, so I drive along and chuckle at the latest antics.

There’s also a house where we have seen a sheep, an alpaca, and a goat out grazing/cutting the grass.  I know that sounds like a bad joke, but it’s true.  I don’t think any of the animals live there, because I have never seen a pen or other fencing to keep them in.  But, they’ve been out a few times trimming the grass.  Very clever, and I’m a tad jealous.  Maybe we will have to look into renting out the neighborhood sheep to mow the yard.

Thanks again for stopping by to read my ramblings.  Have a wonderful day!!

Generation Gaps

I realize this topic might be somewhat controversial, but my intention isn’t to stir the pot.  It’s more my own observations of things and my take on those observations.  Part of the larger problem of things today is that things often get painted with very broad brush strokes, and to label something as one thing will miss the bigger picture.

I will start by saying that I fall into the Generation X category of things.  I’m 44 (45 in a few months), and I think that I’m solidly in the middle of that generation.  My parents are part of the Baby Boomer generation having been born in 1947.  I suppose my son is technically a Millennial with a birth year of 1999 (I’m getting this information from  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/).  So, my perspective on this is as a bit of an outsider in this generational battle.

This all leads me to state that I believe that Millennials get a bit of an unwarranted bad reputation in the US these days.  The perception put forward is that they are lazy and entitled.  They want everything handed to them. They need safe spaces and protest every last little thing if it is seen as an affront to them.  There have been plenty of examples of these things.  Stereotypes come from factual evidence, so I will not argue the fact that this happens on a somewhat frequent basis.

My personal experiences and observations are quite different from that, though.  The company I work for is well-known for hiring young people, especially those straight out of college.  I’m one of the old farts.  The Millennials that I work with directly and indirectly are some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever been around.  Regardless of their job, they are very motivated.  Now, I know that the sample is somewhat skewed towards that, as they aren’t going to be hiring people who don’t have those qualities.

My measuring stick on these sorts of things are helpdesk tickets and other requests for help.  I’m not talking about my computer is broken type things.  Those will happen no matter what.  No, the tickets I’m referring to are those looking for “extras.”  Things like special hardware requests or other odd requests in general.  I see some, and the rationale behind some of them are solid, but in other cases the rationale is flimsy and comes across as entitled.  We try to accommodate the best we can, but we do have to say no in some cases.  it has been my experience that for the most part, they accept no as an answer and life moves on.

The company I came from was made up primarily of Baby Boomers.  It is part of an aging industry, and my former employer seems to be struggling to keep up with the competition.  Change is hard, and it felt like some of these older employees were not very amenable to change.  The department I was in used to provide such things as kleenex, desk calendars, and other various sundries.  As budgets became tighter, we lost those things.  Well, a handful of folks swore that it was the end of the world with the way they carried on about it.  It was really kind of ridiculous.  They felt they were entitled to these little things.  The irony is that they are likely among the same people railing against Millennials and their “entitlement.”

I guess my point in this whole rambling mess of a post is that there are people of all ages that act this way.  I think the teeth gnashing of older generations about younger generations being ungrateful, lazy slobs has been going on since time began.  The main difference between past times and the time we are living in now is that many of these small, isolated incidents get blown out of proportion thanks to social media and the rapid speed with which this sort of stuff goes viral.  Life still goes on and the world still turns.  Everyone just needs to relax, take a deep breath and enjoy what you have.

Anyway, that’s enough of my middle-aged ranting for a cool and sunny Saturday morning here in south central Wisconsin.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Colorado

When we moved to Wisconsin a little over a year ago, I had numerous people ask me where we had moved from.  When I said Colorado, more than a few of them got a funny look on their face and asked, “why did you move to Wisconsin from there?”

That’s an excellent question, actually.  Colorado is seen as a mountain paradise by many, and I freely admit that I was excited to move there back in 1997.  The mountains are beautiful, and are absolutely breathtaking when the sun reflects off of them or as the sun sets behind them.  There’s also lots of fun to be had in the mountains, whether it be hiking, off roading, or just exploring the quirky communities that are all over up there.

But, my fascination has always been with the water.  Big water, specifically.  I know that can be traced back to living in North Carolina from the age of 11 months through 7 years and then moving to Michigan after that.  The time spent around the ocean and more specifically, the Great Lakes, made me a water creature.  Colorado doesn’t really have any of that, so whenever my travels took me back to Michigan or anywhere with big water, I made sure to spend as much time around it as I could.  It was the one thing I missed the most about being in Michigan.

I was also living in the Denver metro area, which was by far the largest place I had ever lived.  When we arrived in 1997, the metro population was almost 2.3 million people.  These days it is close to 2.9 million people.  Most of the other places I’ve lived over the years had a metro area population of maybe 400,000 to 500,000.  Maybe.  Heck, the county in which I went to high school maybe had 10,000 people living there, so it was big city compared to past places I’ve lived.

Not that there is anything wrong with big metro areas.  I really enjoyed many of the perks it had to offer.  There were major league sports, cultural events, parks, recreation opportunities, plus the mountains within 30 minutes of my front door.  I was heavily involved with officiating high school basketball and football.  These were things I either might or certainly wouldn’t have had in other places.  I’m grateful for my time there.

So, why did I move?  Well, my son had moved to Oklahoma with his mom about a year and a half before.  He had spent some time living with me, but he did go to be with her.  I couldn’t stand the job I was in, and honestly, the opportunity for finding a similar paying job in my field were slim.  Basically, I had nothing left there that I really cared about.  Ok, that isn’t entirely true.  My SO and I had been together for about 6 months at that point, but she was more than willing to move with me (we had known each other for about 6 or 7 years prior to starting to date).  Also, my mom and step dad were in the area having moved there barely a year before.  But, my mom understands very well the pull of having a wild hair, so after the initial shock of telling her, she was supportive.  Plus, it gave them an excuse to move back to Michigan.  I was also tired of the growing sprawl.  It wasn’t going to get any better.  Finally, though, I missed the feel of the Great Lakes region.  Even though I had been away from Michigan for longer than I ever lived there, it was still home.

Why Wisconsin, then?  Well, I applied for a job with a large software company that has some great benefits and a fun atmosphere.  I was lucky enough to get flown out for an interview, and even though it was mid February with freezing cold temperatures, I fell in love with the area instantly.  The area was exactly what I had in mind.  I left the next day knowing that if I were offered the job, I would take it.  I just had to convince my SO, which wasn’t too difficult, although she’s not a big fan of winter.

So, it has been a year now and life is good.  I am so much more at home in this part of the country.  Even though Lake Michigan is over an hour away, it is great knowing that if I want my big water fix, it isn’t that far of a drive.

Thanks for reading this installment!  I hope to have more in a day or two.  One housekeeping note.  If you are on Facebook, please “like” my page that I’ve created for this blog.  The link is http://www.facebook.com/spartaninbadgerland.  It’s pretty sparse as far as content goes just yet, but I’m working on it.

Ok, that’s it for now.  Take care, and have a wonderful day!!