By the Dots

As a writer who started serious endeavors back in college earning his BA and MA in English, I’ve had a lot of experience with the elements of style. There are so many things I’ve picked up along the way but one thing stands out as personally significant.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “By the Dots.” We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

I had grown to overuse parentheses to signify asides in my writing. I noticed it not after writing but years later going through looking for good stuff and finding out I was doing this in an exorbitant fashion. Here’s an example:

I had lunch (my favorite meal of course) with my brother (I have one and two sisters).

I see this over usage with many bloggers. I think it’s tempting to do it because in blogging you are simply relaying a diary to your readers. There aren’t the usual trappings of MLA or APA and certainly no one giving you a grade per se.

I think about the silent readers, the ones who never comment. The best way to consider them is to read my work before and after it’s published making changes if needed. I decided to self-impose a ban on parentheses for a while. That was almost 3 years ago. I guess I realized they were almost never necessary. For asides, appositives, and extra notes I want put in a sentence I no longer use parentheses. Now I just use the comma appositive sort of format. I feel this has made me a better writer and hopefully a more palatable one for my reader.

Childhood Friends on Facebook

Facebook has made old connections come alive. I imagine just about every user has run across someone they once knew and got a chance to catch up.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.” Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)

My best friend when I was 8 was Mike. We’d do all sorts of stuff together like watch Star Wars at the theater and write stories together. One of our stories we entered into a contest it and won 1st prize at the Orange County Fair. I can still remember asking my mom and dad if he could sleep over and vice versa. Mike could draw an excellent C-3PO and as I recall I was deft with my Darth Vader sketches. I was luck to have a friend like Mike all those years ago. I understand some people had “imaginary friends” at that age but I really don’t think I ever had one of those. I lost touch with Mike in High School and heard he had some sort of heart surgery. I always wanted to find out about that but never did. It’s amazing how easily we fall out of touch with friends after High School.

Mike went on to amazing things in video, music video to be exact. He did the video for the Stereophonics “Have a Nice Day.” It is so great to see my best friend from 3rd grade doing such incredible artistic things. I connected with mike a few years back on Facebook and Twitter. I shared with him how I had become a teacher and he wrote what he was up to. We’re both married with families of our own now. My youngest daughter is now 8. She has a few close friends but I wonder if their friendship will resonate so loud that they’ll still post to each other on social media when she’s 46. Hope so, it’s a neat thing.

#onlinediary – Riley Central 2016-01-07 21:18:24

Sometimes the cold day forces you to stop, Not to get warm but rather to respect the beauty of the cold weather.


Taken from the Mall of Victor Valley parking lot about 6pm.

Sometimes the cold day forces you to stop, Not to get warm but rather to respect the beauty of the cold weather. I thought we were getting rain all week but it seems the forecast has changed to just cold cloudy weather. I love the rain and we sure need more of it in California but we won’t be getting it this week so I’ll be freezing for no rain payoff.

It’s a short one tonight. I’m looking forward to blogging from Starbucks this weekend though. I’ll probably have a lot to say then. My fireplace grate comes tomorrow and my backup laptop battery came via UPS today. I’m feeling like it’s Christmas all over again. It was a rough week at work but I learn to cope. The kids need me like the sick in the hospital need the doc. I’m preparing them for 5th grade and life. That’s an exciting idea to me, it motivates me. Just the same, breaks are so appreciated ;)

No Model Home As in Arizona On TV | Damien at the Speed of Life

Despite starting a new project, I am dutifully posting my SoCS post! This one was cathartic! Thanks again Linda Hill.

Somehow I got the bright idea to have a party at the end of the school year … At my house which isn’t a model home in Arizona like the ones in brochures and on the cooking channel …

Read my full post at my online diary: No Model Home As in Arizona On TV | Damien at the Speed of Life

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Netflix Search – a Game of Groans

maxresdefaultToday’s blog prompt was: “Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.”

Samsung’s Smart TV Netflix app is awesome! I love it. All you need to have is the exact title for a movie and it will search for it. Why didn’t IMDB think of this ingenious system? On there you can limit searches by genre, year, release date, and any number of popular tags. That’s all so unnecessary. With Netflix, it’s actually not even possible to search for anything other than a movie’s name. And then there’s the browse function. The best part of this is they pre-plan how the browsing will go.

They place the lowest ranking movies in the browse so you are sure to get some “diamond in the rough” films like “Mimic 3.” and B movie relics from the 60’s. These are great when you run across them simply searching for one movie you want. You usually get worn out looking and settle on a one star for the evening. I’ve heard the iPhone app is needlessly “helpful” in that it lists movie by genre as the PC app does. Going sheerly by the tv app, you are assured to not find what your looking for unless you are prepared with a title, which for true Netflix experts, is never a problem.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Game of Groans.”

F is for Field Trip

It’s field trip day! Perfect for “f” in the AtoZChallenge! We’re going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. When you teach kids day in and day out using curriculum on paper and overheads, it’s so effective to get them out into the real world where they can experience it with all 5 senses.

Today, about 70 kids from our high desert school get up close with Science. On exhibit is the Shuttle Endeavor. I plan to take a few choice photos and post them here on the blog so stay tuned. I’ve heard there are so many amazing exhibits, I can’t wait to see the wonder in my students’ faces. I got to pick my 5 students that had the highest chapter book reading points (AR) to go. The rest of my class is back with a sub. Im helping out the 6th grade because they didn’t get enough parent chaperones. Later this month I’m taking my regular class on a Gold Rush simulation field trip. I’m serving as a chaperone on this trip with my 5 plus a group of other kids. These are very rewarding times as a teacher when you get to see the kids really engaged with learning.

Little to You, Big to Others

I give a trophy out to kids who win the multiplication competition. They have to return it once another kid wins but it’s big notoriety when one does win. They get to keep it on their desk. They smile a lot. Today one of my students told me the winner’s mom was proud of him, … Continue reading Little to You, Big to Others

Mister Buffalo With Trophy

I give a trophy out to kids who win the multiplication competition. They have to return it once another kid wins but it’s big notoriety when one does win. They get to keep it on their desk. They smile a lot. Today one of my students told me the winner’s mom was proud of him, really proud, like telling everyone in the laundry area of the apartments proud. Needless to say I’m encouraged by this news. I had a few arrows shot at me today, but who cares when you get news like this :)


This post was published first as Little to You, Big to Others on Riley Central.

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Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

My Top Ten Tunes in Heavy Rotation

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These are the top ten tunes I have in heavy rotation currently. Spotify playlist link

  • The River – Imagine Dragons
  • All Night – R5
  • Brand New – Ben Rector
  • Nobody to Love – Alex Newell
  • Demons – Imagine Dragons
  • Superheroes – The Script
  • Man on a Wire – The Script
  • It’s Not Right for You – The Script
  • Renegades – X Ambassadors
  • Superhero – Cher Lloyd

Tagged as part of: #TopTenTuesday on Twitter.

The Guilt that Haunts Me


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This is potentially a very personal writing prompt! I could have been silly with it and write about all the ants I’ve stepped on but I decided to go serious and share a real thing.

Share a time when you were overcome with guilt. What were the circumstances? How did you overcome you guilt?

Source: The Guilt that Haunts Me | The Daily Post

This is actually a story fromany light years ago that makes me feel vulnerable so go easy on the judgment. When my younger sister and her friends wanted to go to a concert, she asked me to drive. After I said yes, somehow the topic came up with the three 18 year old girls to get some booze before the show. I guess I wanted to be the cool big brother so I bought a bottle of vodka and took them to AM/PM where they bought sodas. They poured the liquor into their sodas and proceeded to drink drink drink.

By the time we got to the venue, they were drunk. I went somewhere and waitied as I recall. I think it was a local arcade? Like I said, it was years back. When I showed up to pick them up, one of the friends had disappeared. She ended up showing up later and nothing bad happened but a lot worse could have transpired. It was up there with one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. I felt guilty for a long long time, especially when the girl was lost. It goes to show you what bad things can happen when a big brother decides to be a showoff.

The Clencher


“What to do with my ride of an afternoon?”

The Peanuts movie is out. I heard Snoopy does a mean WWI Flying ace vs the Red Baron. Food courts are nice. Getting a chair massage at the mall while reading could work but maybe not because I have the girls. Fact is, I could do any nuber of things because it’s early dismissal and the teachers go home early today too. Sometimes the ride defines itself as you go along.

In 1997 when I was 27 years old I was offered a job as a 5th grade teacher. It was unexpected because I was only a substitute but they liked that I was bilingual and that I had a Master’s Degree. They grandfathered me in on what is known as an “emergency credential” in California. There was a teacher shortage at the time so if you had a few requirements and you passed fingerprints, you were in like Flynn.

Before I accepted the job that would later become my passion and career, usually it’s reversed for people, they follow their passion and it becomes a career, they took me to the school I would be teaching at. I observed the classes with the Principal and instatly knew this the right job for me.

But there was one clencher. I talked with a teacher, a male, who told me he had a wife and 3 daughters. He said teaching was a great job for raising a family. As I was talking with him, he got a phone call and I oerheard it. He was arranging a meetup with his wife at the local cinema for a matinee … AFTER WORK.

I knew this was the job for me at that moment. Today it continues to  give me the time I need to be with my family and follow my personal dreams alongside teaching.

 

Writer’s Workshop: Listening Experiment

It’s Thursday! The day I set aside to respond to one of fellow blogger “Mama Kat‘s” writing prompts. Today I chose: #3 “You have one wish…what do you wish for? I wish I could be a better listener. I get so much when I tune in to people and yet I am so on the go all week, I forget to discipline myself to do it. Listening is far superior to taking. Reading, in a similar way, is far superior to writing. I now this and yet I spend the majority of my time talking, as a teacher and also with my family/friends, and far less time listening and really accepting the input of other minds. Every once in awhile I challenge myself to do a “listening experiment.”

Most of us get hoodwinked into believing we must always be speaking, earning, racing, fighting to get ahead. As we buy the lie, we stop receiving knowledge, wisdom, encouragement, and other input from others.

I’ll be challenging myself in the upcoming set of days to focus on receiving input more than sending it out. I call it the listening experiment. So far, every time I have done it and blogged about it, I’ve been radically impacted for the better.

I don’t mind telling you that listening is the hardest thing I can challenge myself to do. I guess I’m afraid I’m wasting tie. Perhaps at my core I truly believe my thoughts are superior to other people. I hate the sound of that. A person like that ends up on an island with a Walkman and no one to talk to. I definitely don’t believe that and yet I act that way by not being a good listener. As I do the experiment, tv doesn’t count as “receiving” or listening, although it does has some value that way, you can’t interrupt it. Listening to my wife and kids does count. Reading others’ words in books and on a computer counts as well. I’m not sure why they are superior to tv, but they are. Active listening includes responses but rarely gives examples from its own life (a big pool of quicksand for me).

Active listening is an ongoing practice.

I think I’ve gotten better at listening but I still have many miles to go to be the type of listener I want to be. So that would be my wish, in response to this wonderful writing prompt. It was a nice reminder of what’s truly valuable to me and what I desire most out of life.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Announcing a movie blog contest I am participating in : Opinion Battles Year 2 Round One Favourite Quentin Tarantino Character


I asked to be a part of this for my first time and was happily allowed :) More will follow thoughout the year, different movies, different opinions. Darren Lucas, the host, just posted multiple writer’s posts including mine on his website their favorite Tarantino character.

I wrote on Dr. King Schultz, in Django Unchained. You’ll find my opinion at the source link below. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies, you should read all the clever and great opinions. Oh, and don’t forget to vote! It is after all an “opinion battle.”

Source: Opinion Battles Year 2 Round One Favourite Quentin Tarantino Character | Movie Reviews 101