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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wildlife Wednesdays: Kayaking the Cedar

Last weekend my dad and I took out the two-man blowup kayak down the Cedar River. It's a great run because at the end we ended up in our own backyard. Even though the measured depth was 1.8 feet, we were still able to scoot along (half the time with our butts touching bottom). I highly recommend rafting the Cedar. In high summer, when the river is deeper people go down in black donuts, sometimes with a cooler in tow. One time I swear I saw someone on a mattress. Yes, a mattress. It floats. Beyond our portion of the river and around a few more bends at a takeout spot there is even a liquor store. Many times people going down the river would wave to us from their donuts and ask how much farther the liquor store was. Oh, river-goers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: When I Grow Up

I've been telling my boss's boss that when I'm rich and famous I'm going to purchase a Vitamix blender, a Dyson vacuum, and a laptop of approximately two grand. To me these things represent wealth. They are symbols of upper middle class. The blender is just under $400 and the vacuum cleaner mostly just under $300. To spend over $50 on an appliance and over $100 on a vacuum cleaner suggests splendor and excess cash. To me they represent solid items with lifetime guarantees (the Vitamix anyways).

What things represent wealth to you?

Cars that you don't buy outright or houses you buy with a mortgage attached do not count. I'm referring to products you can walk in and buy with cash. That is a privilege for those who do not live paycheck to paycheck, especially if you're splurging mid-year without a holiday's excuse in sight.

Recently, to represent my newfound wealth of two incomes I purchased a (used but great condition) handheld GPS and a year-membership to ($30).

When I was in college I spent six months debating whether to purchase my then $90 Vibram 5-finger shoes.

Between high school and college I spent three - six months debating whether to buy my own archery supplies (bow, arrows, etc) and then did, spending about $150 but later selling everything to another budding archer for $75.

In my mind, purchases over $100 necessitate some thinking. Are they worth it? But most importantly, are they as valuable as their price tag? Or as my dad would say, what is the use per dollar? A bed would have high use per dollar. A sandwich has one use per however many dollars you spend.

This is the financial thought process I go through when I want something and think I can "afford it" Certain products and services I value over others. Learning I value higher than cosmetic services. I do not think a haircut is valued over $20 but I think several hundred on a class is worth it (Bartending School). I think good healthy food is worth extra dough. I do not believe community-centered activities should cost anything (dodgeball, card game clubs, book clubs, etc).

How do you place value on the things you buy and do?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Socializing Sundays: The Smartphone date

I may be young, hip and cool but I just don't understand the smartphone date. You know what I'm talking about, the young - middle aged couple who goes out on a date and spends 75% of the face time with their eyes glued to their cell screen. Don't you know how ridiculous you look with a minuscule computer six inches from your face? You look like the blubber-balls from Wall-E. And even when not on a date, per se but an outing or a social gathering you cannot socially function without plodding away on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, twitter, blogger, tickld, etc. You are the most self-absorbed socially backwards bunch of awkward teens (or adults really) people I have ever seen. At least have the decency to pay attention to your surroundings and respect those you have come out to see/visit/hang out with. It is incredibly rude to do what I call "time waste" on your phone while in a social setting. Unless you are helping a friend with directions or taking a call from your mother, I should not see you tippity tapping away on your smartphone. I do not care if you want to show me that video you are thinking about right this second. You know what we did back in my day? We played footsie with each other. Just kidding. We talked and laughed and made eye contact. You know, 20 years from now you'll be cross eyed from staring at a tiny screen for years and you won't have any real friends anymore, only Facebook friends and followers. And far away, on what used to be Earth, two little robots are falling in love.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author Thursdays: Steven King Says So

Just wanted to let you know I finished the first draft of my newest manuscript. It is the roughest first draft I have ever written. That is to say much editing and revising is needed (see <- passive voice no no). After listening to Steven King's audio book On Writing I realize I probably use too many adverbs. Whilst reading over my manuscript, I have also noticed the repeated use of many words and phrases. These are:
at the moment
as well
a moment
and so
not to mention
sudden (ly)

So after my read over I will Control+Find all these bad boys and make sure they are all necessary or kill them. Also, I need to make sure I use the correct version of the following:

further v farther
leaped v leapt
toward v towards
Any other no-no words I should be looking out for?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Within the Lines

At my new job I park on the side of the building. For several hours the side of the building shades the entire 3-space wide 20 or so space deep parking lot. Then as the sun rises, all but the spots closest to the building are full in the sun. There are enough employees who park in the lot that there aren't that many extra spaces. They aren't particularly wide spaces either but they are spacey enough for normal-sized cars. The mini-cooper I'm driving fits perfectly in the spot. However, there is that one person who parks in two spots, right in the middle. They take up the one closest to the building and the middle spot. I think this is such a jerk move. Their car is not overly large or overly wide. I don't think this is okay to do, even if they are "senior" employees because one car does not need two spaces. It's not like it's a Ferrari either. Jerks. It really bothers me that they do this. Gosh, didn't they learn to stay within the lines in elementary school?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: What in the World

I would like to take a moment to discuss my immense disappointment in Dubai. After reading about the Norwegian woman who was convicted after being raped I was horrified. Dubai is basically admitting that rape is the woman's fault and therefore when it does occur (if she is married) then she is committing the crime of "unlawful sex" aka adultery. This backwards thinking is shocking but more so is how quick Dubai was to give up on its 'morals' after the western world's outcry. Dubai doesn't want to be in the world's negative light but that does not pardon them for sentencing the woman and for their behavior in regards to the incident. I think there should be more retribution against Dubai and their atrocious behavior. Human rights were violated and all that happened was a pardon for the crime? What will happen if another woman is raped in Dubai? If it is not made public, will the woman just suffer in jail as well as from the rape itself? Despicable. I sincerely hope that there is an afterlife and that those in charge of these kinds of deplorable decisions meet their just desserts.

If the USA takes it upon itself to invade another country for the purpose of democratizing, then wouldn't this be similar cause? Re-education is needed in Dubai.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Author Thursdays:

About this author and the creator/founder of Maple Valley Writers:
Rachel Barnard is a Pacific Northwester from Florida who is always looking to work the changes in her life into a story, plot, or character.

“Back in my day,” Begins 23-year old Rachel Barnard, referring to her early age writings, “not everyone had their own personal computer. Writers wrote with a pen and paper. That’s how I got my start.” Barnard had always been a voracious reader, seeming to swallow books whole, reading lengthy novels like The Three Musketeers and the Hobbit while her peers were reading Junie B Jones and the Diary of Wimpy Kid. While in school she discovered that such a thing as grades existed and her sense of competition was ignited. She went on to become AR Queen (following in the footsteps of her sister) and surpassing the closest competitor by near twice as many points. From that moment on Rachel looked for the competition in everything. She entered the Wings of Hope Speech competition and came in third in the state, meeting one of her idols Jane Goodall. After speech writing she turned to poetry, which kept her quite occupied throughout middle school. It was not until high school that she diversified her writing portfolio once more and began to write the great american novel which was a complete failure. Her vocabulary was immensely advanced whilst her realistic sense of plot and dialogue was lacking because she was still young and inexperienced in the world. Short stories soon followed while she continued with the poetry. It was during her last two years in high school that Rachel submitted her works to various competitions and got several of her better poems published, winning a couple of bucks along the way. Unfortunately, when she arrived at college, Rachel was too busy to continue inhaling fiction, instead focussing on her textbooks, her work in a restaurant, and an active social life. Rachel was amassing life experience and soon put all this knowledge to work when she began the great american novel attempt number two after graduating. Nine months later Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams was born. Rachel had published her young adult novel of a heroine's adventures at the Academy through Amazon, doing her own editing and using her own picture as cover art. When she turned 23, Rachel joined a writing group in the Valley and wrote a children’s picture book and started on another young adult novel. She decided to form a local writing group in her hometown and is always looking for new and different challenges as she grows and learns as an author and a dreamer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wildlife Wednesdays: River Garden

The corn and in the back: Raspberries

Watering system and the beans

Dusk in June and Daylight in July

Tomatoes and ?

Garlic, Elephant Garlic, Squash, and Potatoes 

Radishes, Beets, and Carrots


Squash and Strawberries

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Something wise this way comes

Incident-Free work place
Companies that offer incentives for remaining incident free confound me. At the low end of the spectrum are edible rewards whilst at the high end are monetary. One is too low and one is too high. Incentives that are too high keep employees from reporting incidents (at least at first unless they turn out to be large problems) and incentives that are too low do not motivate anyone. How about rewards for exhibiting safe behavior in the first place? Shouldn't that be what is rewarded. Don't accidents happen, even under the best circumstances, so it is not appropriate to reward the perfect outcome. What should be rewarded is the near-perfect environment.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Author Thursdays:

I just purchased the domain for maple valley writers and will begin setting up the website in the next week, at least in time for the Maple Valley Farmer's Market and my booth for the MVW!

Things are moving along! Where are you in your writing project?

"Write with the writers, author with the authors"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: Two Thoughts

Someone once told me that to rise to the top you had to be promoted. To be promoted, it is faster to take promotions from other companies because your own company cannot always view your potential. But if you are always changing companies, wouldn’t you theoretically start at the bottom?

            Why is it that employees who have been with a company longer get more vacation time but are more integral to the company and therefore can’t take time away as easy or even at all (a la phone available during vacation) whilst new employees who aren’t that important get no vacation time at all? If I work longer and harder at a company I’m rewarded with something that I can’t fully take advantage of? Why aren't I given the option to sign a contract with the employee stating terms on my end as well as theirs, such as I'll commit to a year and they immediately commit to benefits and insurance, yadda yadda yadda...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: Butt-dialing

You know what grinds my gears? The fact that all phones can dial one number, even if they are screen locked. Hey phone companies, do you know why we lock our phones? So that we don't butt-dial anyone! Now the only people we can butt dial are 911.

Said one engineer-inventor to another, "You know what this phone needs? The ability to emergency dial under any circumstance. Like, what if you had stolen a phone but it was pass-code protected and suddenly you were in an emergency situation. You should be able to dial 911 from that phone!"

"That is the best idea ever! There is no possible way that could go wrong!" Said the other engineer-inventor.

Then they all added inane and unnecessary things to phones and were happy.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Thai Tea

One of my favorite drinks is Thai Tea. It's creamy and has that solid tea taste while being a creamsicle orange. I decided to buy my own brew and save myself some dollhairs by making it myself. Alas I got a splitting headache every time I drank it. There are very few ingredients in the Thai tea mix (pictured in the Ziploc bag) and I have a feeling that it is the coloring (horror!) that is giving me such a negative reaction. The headache is so bad that I will never drink this stuff again. Additionally, I am against coloring. It is unnecessary in food production and harmful to the body.

Anybody know of a good Thai tea mix without food coloring??

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Authur Thursdays: Maple Valley Farmer's Market

See you Saturday (and Sunday and Tuesday)

As you dear readers know I started a local writer's group a couple months ago and have been getting it off the ground ever since. I created a facebook page (, an e-mail address ( business cards, flyers, and am working on a website. I wrote a short blurb in the Voice of the Valley to gather interest for the first meeting and posted all over the web for the event. I even made flyers and put them up around town. 

I have learned that it is not the amount of effort you put into the endeavor that counts but the timing and type of effort. Maple Valley Writers needs more members and I know there are writers/authors out there in the area who could use a writing group. I just have to find them. 

So get ready Maple Valley! The Maple Valley Writers are coming to you! Three Saturdays in July, August, and September respectively I will host a booth at the Maple Valley Farmer's Market. There will be information, books to read, and a raffle to win several informative books on writing and publishing. 

At this point I have spent more money on this writer's group than on myself as an author! Please don't let me down Maple Valley, I know it takes time to build up a relationship and find the closet-writers but I am determined and have faith in the project. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Toiling Tuesdays: New Job Woes

What I have noticed since getting a new job

To clarify: I have never had a full-time job, have never had a desk job, have never had this type of job before.

I thought it would be a struggle to change my sleep-wake habits to get up before 9:30 AM but I have found that I am so tired after working eight hours at the one job and doing other necessary things afterwards that I am so tired by 10:30 PM that I go to bed before midnight.

My body must sense something I do not because I hardly ever wake to my alarm but instead wake up 30 minutes - one hour before it goes off. Perhaps I don't need as much sleep as I used to or I'm getting better, deeper sleep. Or I am so paranoid of being late that my body senses this anxiety and wakes me up in rather plenty of time to get ready.

I have already known this but I am less groggy in the morning when I have a purpose (such as getting to work by 8:30).

My eating habits are starting to suffer. Don't tell my parents, but I ate a bagel and ice cream for dinner last night.... This should be easy to get a handle on because all I have to do is be prepared for making food, such as curbing myself from snacking right before eating and ruining my appetite.

Ego Depletion. Staying focused at work takes almost all of my concentration and depletes my ego entirely so that when I get home all I want to do is garden and watch movies. Unless I have something important pending, like taking care of business, phone calls, or job #2 I don't have the heart to do anything for the rest of the night. The real loser in this situation is my writing. I don't feel like it. Perhaps it is because writing is a never-ending project and I prefer to work on something I can complete, like a lesson in my web development class, a poster for farmer's market, or that engineering project I can do.

Am I an adult now?

When can I retire?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Miscellaneous Mondays: SoCNoC wrapup

Southern Cross Novel Challenge
Invariably life intercedes and I chose to de-hectify my life and not worry about meeting the challenge. I resolved, about one week in, to write as much as possible, whenever possible and to make opportunities for myself to write. Those opportunities banked off sharply when I added on a 40-hour work week to my usual schedule. Overall I think I accomplished quite a bit with my novel and it stands at almost 50k words total, a complete first draft. Now on to edits. I also have yet to finish sending out my children's picture book to all possible publishers from the list I have been working on.
Week one tally?
    3 queries sent
    10,998  words written
Week two tally?
    5 queries sent
    6, 889 words written
Week three tally?
    1 query sent
    4,628  words written
Week four tally?
    2 queries sent
    5,300 words written

Final tally:
   11 Queries sent
   27,815 words written
Till NaNoWriMo!