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D is for Downtime

Saturday with no major obligations means a little time relax. Today that meant…

…a little reading…


…watching a little rugby (sporting many layers and drinking a venti latte)


…some quality Spenser time…


…dinner = Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burger, Wegman’s 7 grain salad and a Southern Tier IPA.


All together not a bad day. Tucked a little decluttering and a few errands into the day.I didn’t make it to the gym, but my Fitbit seems pretty pleased with me.

Hope everyone has a great Easter. I’m already planning Monday’s post 🙂



C is for Creativity


Creativity intimidates people. They treat it like some mystical, esoteric elixir bestowed upon us grudgingly  by some penurious muse — the purview of artists and writers alone.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Creativity is everywhere and within reach of everyone.

  • A dad who finds a way to coax a reluctant child to sleep.
  • A woman on a tight budget who creates tasty meals from her pantry.
  • An entrepreneur who identifies an under served market.
  • An six-year-old who amuses himself with a couple of sticks
  • And of course, writers like you and I.

Here are a couple of interesting notes about creation and criticism from Martha Beck and fear and creativity from Karen Thompson Walker and a Psychology Today article on Albert Einstein.

Pay attention over the next couple of days. Try to identify at least three creative things you do. Any time you use non-linear thinking to solve a problem or reach a goal. Share what you learn in comments if you like.


B is for Barking

Which this little guy….

IMG_4566 (2)

..does plenty of.

I have employed various strategies to reduce his barking, such as yelling, “Stop barking!” or “Hey, stop barking!” or “Enough barking!” Surprisingly, none of these strategies has worked. Once, in frustration, I smacked him on the nose. He smacked me back (Not kidding). He climbed up on me and smacked me on the chest with his paw.

Today was the first warm day we’ve had this year, and with the nice weather comes increased activity in the neighborhood – lawnmowers, motorcycles, kids on bikes…each of which our intrepid watch dog alerted me to, without fail.

When I was home for lunch, his barking was particularly frantic and incessant – and without a UPS truck in site. I looked out the window and saw a small dog wandering around unattended. Maybe a Shih Tzu, I’m not sure.

I watched for a minute to see if an owner was nearby, and when I saw no one, I grabbed Spenser’s leash (Cue “OMG we’re going for a walk barking and spinning), a treat and my phone and set off after the little dog.

He was about four or five houses away, sniffing around some shrubbery, and when I had closed the gap a bit, I began calling him , “Hey Buddy! Hey little dog!” He bounded right up to me, tail wagging, and lay down for me to pet him. I put a treat on the ground, clipped Spenser’s leash to his collar and looked at his tag. Both a phone number and address were listed. He had traveled just a couple of blocks.

I stood, punched the number into the phone and turned to walk back to my house. What did I see about 50 feet away? Another little dog. Same breed, a little smaller, different markings. They had to be a pair. I wondered if my luck would hold out and that he would also respond to “Hey little dog.” He brightened at spotting his missing companion and loped right over. I checked his tag – yep, same address. I just ran the same leash through his collar and we walked back to my house with the two stumbling over each other. Sharing a leash was less than ideal, but hey.

I left a message with my address, saying that I would bring the dogs to the address on their tags if I could get them into my car.  I opened the door to my back seat. The dogs looked in the car, looked at me, but seemed at a loss. I picked them up and put them the car with their cooperation and ran into my house to grab my keys. Spenser disapproved of my decision to leave them in car. He had made tea and set out some biscuits.

They settled in nicely while I was gone and seemed to be enjoying their adventure. They were well-cared for, recently groomed and at a healthy weight — clearly beloved pets.

As I drove the two blocks to return them to their home, I spotted an elderly gentleman driving very slowly with his windows down. I pulled up alongside and asked if he was looking for dogs and when he said yes, I told him they were in the car and that I would take them to the house.

He was overjoyed to get his companions back. He lived alone and said they were all he had. They had slipped out the door on him and were just too quick.

So Spenser is a hero. He likes to say that he’s the rescue dog who rescues dogs. #dogception



A is for Awkward Photojournalism – The Return


This was a long-standing feature of my blog. Just sharing pictures of oddities I came across in my travels. . This disappeared when I discovered Instagram. You are welcome to follow me there, but I have to warn you that it’s very wiener dog heavy.


This is apparently a problem at Wegmans. They have live music there Friday night, so I assume that people are grabbing a beer, hanging out by the olive bar and calling it a date.


I found this at a bar in Buffalo. Note the addition of the handcuffs by the neckline. I guess that’s one way to get away with displaying what was probably once a very expensive jersey.


This one speaks for itself. I didn’t taste it, but I imagine it to be smooth and full-bodied with a touch of insouciance.


This was an awesome Christmas present.


Just ew.


I’m quite sure they don’t mean it. Surely there are more dangerous threats to our economy than Suze Orman.

That’s it for A. I’m pondering what B will be.


It’s April. Time for Writeapalooza

There are a couple of writing challenges that begin in April. One of them is Camp NaNoWriMo. This is part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) , also known as “let’s try to write an entire novel during the business month of the year for everyone who is not an accountant.” Think about it. People are preparing for a variety of holidays. Students are ramping up for finals or midterms. No Bueno.

April, on the other hand, is usually pretty open for me (sorry tax preparers). I considered participating in this challenge, but I literally finished and submitted a large writing project on March 30. I’m sketching out my next one, but I could use a break from sprinting toward the finish line.

I did come across a challenge that could be more my speed this month. The Blogging From A-Z Challenge. The premise is that beginning tomorrow, April 1, you blog a letter a day.  Any topic, just follow the alphabet.  Sundays we get a break.

Here’s the signup and rules.  My badge is there ========>

Tune in tomorrow to watch me make an A of myself.


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March Madness #wagginnotbraggin

Spenser the Dog and March Madness

My dog Spenser decided that he wanted to fill in a bracket for this year’s NCAA basketball tourney. But with a limited vocabulary and no opposable thumbs, he could neither fill out the bracket himself, nor read me off his choices.

It was time to come up with an outside-the-box solution.

I brought home some scrap paper from work and wrote the name of each team on a sheet of paper. I placed the matchups in front of him one at a time. Sometimes I had to place a treat on each, other times he was eager to give me his pick right away.

We did this for each and every matchup.



Yes, this took a very long time, but on the other hand, shut up.

It was pretty exhausting for a little dog.

It actually took two nights, a handful of treats, and my trusty assistant to complete the task.

Here is Spenser’s final bracket:

 And a close up.

I didn’t know how to have him choose his tiebreaker score, so I used 142 based on his weight, 14 lbs, 2 oz. 


If you’d like to see how Spenser does, you can follow him on twitter @spenserthedog

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Get Ready for the Next Blogging U. Challenge: Writing 101

Looking Forward to this challenge.

The Daily Post

Feeling a bit bereft now that Blogging 101 and 201 have wound down, or just looking for a way to cultivate good writing habits? Never fear, Writing 101 is here!

(Well, it will be here, starting June 2.)

Our next Blogging U. challenge moves away from the technical and design aspects of blogging to focus on your content. Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit is a write-every-day challenge designed to help you create a writing habit while publishing posts that mesh with your blog’s focus and push you a bit as a writer.

Here’s how it works:

  • We’ll post a new writing assignment just for Writing 101 each weekday in June here on The Daily Post. Assignments will publish at 10:00AM EST (14:00PM GMT).
  • There are no weekend assignments — you’re free to expand on a weekday post, write something unrelated, or (gasp!) spend some time away from your blog.
  • Each assignment includes…

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Know Everything and Control Everything: 2 Apps to Try

Here are a couple of the latest (Yay! Free!) apps that I’ve tried. No surprise that I found them through Lifehacker.


The first is Circa. (iPhone or Android) Circa is a news aggregation site (with Real news even). You can stay with the Top Stories default or check out national or world news, politics, technology, science and health. It’s easy to share stories through social media, email, even text. The best part? If you find a story of interest, you can set the app to send you updates.

I like this one so much that I gave it a spot on my first page of apps.


Lift is perfect for those still procrastinating on New Years resolutions. Create good habit by persisting 21 days. Choose from a list of habits or choose your own. Set reminders, find friends on Twitter to follow or join a discussion group.

I just started this one, so I’ll have to update you in three weeks.

Anyone else have apps to try? I’m a big sucker for new apps.

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My Plan to Become a Born-Again Voracious Reader

I’ve been a big reader for as long as I remember. The last few years I have been slacking off though. Mostly because there are a million distractions from binge watching Vampire Diaries to live tweeting reality shows to trying to find the end of the internet.

I think another problem is that I tend to read multiple books at once, so I never get really engaged in a single book. If I’m not dying I find out what happens next, when I have down time I’m more likely to fool around on my iPad than I am to crack open a book.

But I have stacks of unread books, so the first step will be to power through them. A couple of self-imposed rules:

1. One book at a time.
2. Non-fiction books don’t necessarily need to be read cover-to-cover.
3. I don’t have to finish every book, but I need to give each one a chance, then let it go if I don’t want to finish it, I can just let it go. Donate or whatever, but I don’t need to add it to the guilt pile.

Here are the first ten I am starting with:

This is your Brain on Music — Daniel j Levitin
The Falls — Joyce Carol Oates
Last Train to Paradise — Les Standiford
Highland Fling — Nancy Mittford
The Flu Season — Will Eno
The Ultimate Sales Machine — Chet Holmes
Behan, the Complete Plays — Brendan Behan
A First Rate Madness — Nassir Ghaemi
Content Marketing — Rebecca Lieb
American Buffalo — Daved Mamet

What are your strategies for making reading a priority?

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When Women Go Off-Duty.

Off Duty Cab

Off Duty Cab

I was reading an interview of David Sedaris in the October 2013 (I know) edition of Writer’s Digest and he mentioned a conversation he had with a woman at one of his book signings:

“I heard on the radio that you were going to be here. Normally I take my bra off and it’s off for the night. I put my bra back on for you.”

He asked the next woman in line, “When you take your bra off, is it off for the night?”

“Oh, hell yeah,” she responded.

Hell yeah indeed. And it made me think how common it probably was. It’s like the lingerie equivalent of the off-duty sign on a yellow cab.