Being “set off” and Reading


Has one little thing—you tripped over something, you get an annoying phone call, or an outrageous bill—really set you off? Well, that’s what happened to me.

The other day I received my RG&E bill in the mail. $324.27!!! I mean, it isn’t like I run around the house in shorts and a tee all winter.  And it isn’t like I have a huge house to heat either. And it wasn’t because I read the meters wrong. Well, okay, maybe I did add a thousand kilowatt hours to my electric reading.

But let’s talk about their meters a minute here.  Excuse my ignorance, but why do we have to read five—FIVE!—microscopic dials to tell RG&E how many kilowatt hours we used? And one dial you have to read has the numbers going clockwise, the next you read counter clockwise, etc. Back and forth for all of them. My electric meter is also set nice and high for Big Foot to read and I’m more like Mr. Magoo.

When RG&E installed new gas meters, they asked me if I wanted it inside again or outside. I thought outside would be easier for them to read and I wouldn’t have to struggle every month or let someone through my kitchen with muddy boots. Turns out, they only installed the gas meter outside (not the electric meter) and they not only put it in front of the house (that part I had agreed to–my only outside option), but those tiny dials on the meter are exactly 20 inches from the ground! So even I have to practically lie on my belly to read them.

I suppose their meter readers have some electronic device with which to do the reading, so they just have to reach down with the scanner to get the information.  So much for customer satisfaction!

Now for my latest book. “Cell 8,” which I mentioned in last week’s blog, was written by Anders Roslund, an award-winning journalist, and Börge Hellström, an ex-criminal. Together, whatever their respective contributions were, they have written a dynamic story. Their research, particularly the medical stuff, was very impressive, based on the evidence in the novel. The whole story was full of detail, lots of characters, which were somewhat confusing at first, but as I continued to read, each character became more familiar and recognizable.

The settings are basically our state of Ohio and the country of Sweden. Ohio is pro-death penalty and Sweden is very anti-death penalty.  So, given that Cell 8 is on Death Row in a tough Ohio penitentiary and Sweden is death against (pun intended) executions, you know there will somehow be a strong connection. It is done very well. The writing is compelling (as are the diametric opinions) and I was completely drawn in—until the ending. I may have read the last few pages too fast and missed some little clue, but I was disappointed at the end. However, I highly recommend this read!

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Reading, Writing and Computers


I tried to write my blog yesterday. Honest–I really did. But for some reason the blog I’d added to on another website, but through my wordpress account, totally prevented me from being on my own blog. At least to add to it. Today I picked up my brand new computer, and voila! here I am!

I’ve been reading an interesting book: Cell 8 by two Swedish authors. Roslund and Hellstrom. I’m only halfway through it, but I already recommend it as a really good read. The basic theme is the death penalty and its pros and cons, although there is no big discussion of the topic, per se. The writing is well done and the sub plots really strengthen the story premise. On top of all that, the authors are described as an award-winning journalist and an ex-criminal. Now THERE’s a story in itself!

I’m getting some work done on my YA novel, but not as much as I’d like, or as I should. I get snagged sometimes when I know the story and a character needs to have a certain reaction and that reaction isn’t really a good thing. It’s a good thing for the story, but I sort of hate for the character to go through it. So I suffer over that for a while and then I get real. When it’s good for the story, it’s good for me to use it. To write it. So I got over that hurdle last week and can now move forward once more.

So now, I’ve been one day late writing my blog for two weeks in a row. I must say, I think I’ve run out of excuses. So look for me again next Monday. I promise!

Waiting


This morning as I waited for my tea water to boil, I realized a familiar truth: a watched pot never boils. So, of course, I busied myself getting out the cereal bowl and preparing the Cheerios, milk, flax seed, banana. The water still wasn’t quite at that 212° yet.  Frustration!

I thought about waiting. We spend ALL of our lives waiting! Think about it. We wait for evening hours so we can relax; we wait for holidays; we wait at the doctor’s, the dentist’s; we wait to hear from loved ones; we wait for our paychecks, our Social Security check, our IRA payments; we’re waiting for Godot. No. Wait. That’s someone else.

Personally, I’m waiting to hear from an editor who asked me for my full manuscript after I’d sent her a query letter and sample; I’m waiting for my next critique group, to hear their suggestions for my WIP (work-in-progress); I’m waiting for my writing group (LCRW.org) to decide on the particulars of our next writers’ conference.

I’m also waiting for a cure for Cystic Fibrosis so that my twin great-grandsons can benefit from that;

I’m waiting for a miracle for my grand-nephew who has been dealing with leukemia for over a year; I’m waiting for a cure for CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) so my son and one surviving sister can reap that reward.

The last couple books I read on my new-for-Christmas Kindle were murder/suspense/mysteries: “Well-Schooled in Murder” by Elizabeth George and “Dead Silence” by Randy White. Both books had grisly murders: only one murder in George’s book, but it was that of a young schoolboy. In White’s suspense-thriller, there was more than one murder and much more “grisly!” But throughout both stories, you were waiting for the next clue, waiting for a rescue. You lived vicariously through the characters’ hope and agony.

Because waiting is a two-sided coin. On the one side is Hope. We hope the doctor won’t be too long; we hope our loved one will call/visit soon; we hope that editor will love and buy our manuscript; we hope the cures for devastating illnesses will actualize.

And on the other side is the Agony in the Garden, which is full of “what-ifs”. When the loved one doesn’t call, “what if…”; when that cure or miracle doesn’t happen… Let’s not go there. What if that editor rejects my manuscript? What if the critique group says my story is worthless, start a new one? These last two are easy ones to answer. Go back to the computer. Research, think, work, stop waiting and start writing!

The other what-ifs? The answer is just as easy, but the doing is harder. You pray, harder, more often. You help wherever and whenever you can. You research, research, research. You never know when you might discover a little-known study/test that could be the answer for you and yours.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.”

Waiting, both parts of it, is a fact of life. It is its own co-mingled world. My tea water boiled; I have my cup of hot decaf Lipton tea; I have prayed for my family and friends; and I have completed my blog for today.

Random


Okay. I admit it. I’ve been known to expound on businessmen rubbing their hands together when they see a little old lady (that’s me) walk in their place of business while they think, “Aha! Here comes a real sucker.” And I’ve been proven wrong on more than one occasion. And before I get going here, I must say I have three sons who would never take advantage of a woman, let alone a “little old lady”. They (and many other men) respect all potential customers, women included.

But lately I’ve had two unfortunate experiences that prove my original distrust is warranted.

In December, my furnace died. I went without heat for over a week while I researched heating and air conditioning companies. I settled on Empire Heating. A couple nice young men came and spent the better part of a day installing the furnace and the PVC pipes required now for new furnaces.  They even corrected some sloppy work done previously by a different air conditioning installer. (Another “take the little old lady” dealer.) But the furnace didn’t work properly! I was freezing all the time.

I called the company and someone came out and installed a new thermostat. That didn’t fix the problem. I called again and two men came to check on the thermostat. They also cut one of the PVC pipes to eliminate the “gurgling” that happened when hot air going out became cold as it neared the outside wall and condensed. The resulting water laid in a dip in the pipe and… well, gurgled. My house temperature was still falling to 64 before the thermostat would turn on the furnace and I was layering my clothes and using my space heater everywhere to keep warm.

Finally, I wrote a letter to the CEO of the furnace manufacturer. He had one of his division managers call me and eventually, I think, they contacted Empire. Chris, another Empire repairman, came and he corrected all the previous mistakes that had been made. He explained to me how things worked and he made sure everything was functional before he left. He was excellent! And I have a nice warm house.

This past weekend, another problem occurred. I’d been complaining to Greece Hyundai at my last two or three car check-ups that something was wrong with my Sonata’s lights. I couldn’t always get them to turn off. They could find nothing wrong, they said. Last Saturday, I got in my car to get to a meeting and nothing worked on the car. I mean, NOTHING! So I called AAA and ended up having to get a new battery when Ricci’s Towing showed up. $130 plus! (I found out later that’s just about twice what you can get them for at Walmart.)

Then we couldn’t get the parking lights to turn off, so Hyundai said to bring the car in and they’d give me a loaner. I did and they did. But Monday, they told me I needed a new “Junction Box”, which holds fuses and relays and stuff.  $366.00 plus! I called the manager there and asked for an allowance of some sort since I’d asked them to check on my lights several times and that resulted in needing a new battery. They agreed to give me $75 off.

I felt that still wasn’t fair, but I let it go, thinking I’d only get all stressed for nothing. When I heard the final cost ($320.40), I thought it was a little off. So, after working with my calculator, I discovered what they did was to take the $75 off the cost of the box PLUS tax, instead of $75 off the cost ($366) and then adding the tax to that reduced figure. It only was a difference of $6.00, but as I said to the Service Writer, “I know this isn’t your fault. You’re only the messenger. But I’m returning the loaner car with much more gas than you had in it when I got it. That’s how I do things. And Hyundai is taking six crummy dollars back from what was promised me. That’s how they do things!”

I guess that’s why I drive a six-year-old Sonata and Billy Fucillo rides in his own jet airplane.

P.S. No, I won’t be taking my car back to Greece Hyundai.