Talking Surveillance Camera Home Security System for the Blind

When I decided to breathe new life into my comatose blog, a few months ago, the original plan was to mostly write autobiographical stories from the past that might entertain you, and make fun of the hell out of them. One of these days, I want to get around to adding more posts about my debut novel into the mix too, and posts about the books that are available, from the other authors who are members of the Writers’ Mastermind. However, these new blog post inspirations from the present time keep popping up. I planned to tell you the story about surviving my sister’s two weddings, for this weekend’s post. Then this dream came along, the other night, that I thought was kind of funny. So I’ll blog about it first, instead. Hopefully, there’ll be enough time to write the wedding survival post afterward. So many writing inspirations, so little talent with time management. 

*** 

The dream started off really cool. I had my own house, and because I was living alone, I had an inside and outside surveillance camera security system installed, and this system was geared for the blind. It told me if someone was at the front door, or if they were lurking around anywhere else near my house. It could be programed to recognize the faces of my close family members, and anyone else I programmed it to recognize. Then when they came to my door, the security system would say something like, “Your mom is at the front door.” 

It’s AI came already programed to recognize things like, certain uniforms and vehicles. So it could tell me stuff like, “UPS has arrived.”, “Pizza delivery has arrived.”, “A police officer is at your front door.” 

It could also recognize types of animals that could be life threatening. “A bear has entered your back yard.”, for example. 

As awesome and innovative as this talking surveillance system was, its descriptive abilities were still a work in progress. It didn’t describe people’s faces or genders, or weather the person outside of my house was an adult or a child. If it wasn’t programed to recognize someone, it would either just identify them by their uniform or company vehicle, or it would just say, “A person is at your front door.” This flaw wasn’t very reassuring, in case there was an actual home invasion.

If someone broke into the house to rob me or try to kill me, the system would just say, “A person has intruded.” So if the criminal got away, I would have no description of him or her to give to the police. 

The system was also programed to alert me to changes or movements of things inside my house, that happened without my doing, such as, “Your thermostat is rebooting.”, “A paper has fallen.” And it alerted me to things I should take safety precaution to, such as, “Your coffee maker is left on.”, “Your burner is left on.” 

Because this was for the blind, and I lived alone, for the benefit of my own safety, I had to have the inside surveillance cameras installed in every single room of the house. That included the bathroom. 

The dream ended with me sitting on the toilet. I was just relaxing and spacing out, thinking about story plot idea stuff. Then my bathroom surveillance camera said, “A roach is crawling.” 

I cursed at the thing, for being so dam vague with its descriptions. It didn’t tell me exactly where the roach was crawling. Was it crawling anywhere near me? Or crawling towards me? And was it a BIG roach? 

“A roach is crawling… A roach is crawling…” 

Stuck on the toilet, I stomped on the floor, and kicked at the bathtub, hoping the noise would scare the roach away. I banged one fist on the sink and bathroom cabinet, and shook the shower curtain with the other hand. 

“A roach is crawling… A roach is crawling…” 

I woke up kicking and flailing under my gravity blanket. Before being fully awake, I had a second or two of paranoia that the roach might’ve followed me out of my dream-made-up bathroom, and was crawling in my real-life bedroom. 

Then the thought came to mind, “A dream of living in my own house with a talking AI surveillance system, which would probably cost thousands of dollars, if it existed… Hmmmm… Could this be a premonition that my sci-fi drama book series is destined to earn some hot bucks?” 

Then again, nothing would make the future so bright as, if every home could be safe-guarded by AI pest control. 

Love you all! Post you real soon!  

Written In “English”

My sister, Gina, aspires to be a proof editor. She started off with editing my paperback proof copy of HECCTROSSIPY book 1 The Legend of the Land, and she’s gotten pretty dam good, in a short amount of time. She has a keen eye for picking out the teensiest punctuation, grammar, and typo mistakes that the most seasoned regular-type editors would miss. I mean, her brain practically goes on savant mode, when it comes to pointing out such mistakes. 

Once she began following this calling, her brain started auto-proof reading the Minecraft books she reads to Jaden during his bedtime, and she even got him into pointing out the author’s minuscule wrongs. 

She’s taking a proof editing course now, and wanted some extra practice. So I gave her my final draft of DARK ADMIRATION book 1 A Villain’s Rise to Fame, which Jo had edited, and put on a Word doc. This is the only other manuscript that I officially decided to stop rewriting. For those of you who might become fans of my sci-fi drama, the DARK ADMIRATION trilogy is a spin-off of the HECCTROSSIPY series, but both series are going to be listed under the Velva Leena series category. DARK ADMIRATION 1, 2, and 3 will also be listed as Velva Leena 4, 5, and 6, because the spin-off trilogy is my sexy bad guy’s angle of the storyline in the first three HECCTROSSIPY books. There was a HECCTROSSIPY 2 that could’ve been published and out by now. However, I decided to make the smooth move of re-writing book 2, for the zillionth time, and then divided it into books 2 and 3, delaying their publication all the more. Sorry. Rambling off subject here. I’m terribly sleep deprived, and the 8 cups of Bolivian coffee I had, a few hours ago, is starting to loose its effect.   So anyway, getting back on the story of Gina the proof reading savant… 

Well, Gina was over yesterday, and she wanted to talk to me about DARK ADMIRATION. She noticed a pattern where I consistently use too many commas. There were too many commas in the first HECCTROSSIPY proof copy, and now there they were again. She wondered how my editor could’ve let this slide, twice. I had explained to her before, that as wonderful of an editor as Jo is, there is—I wouldn’t call it a language barrier—but more like a grammar barrier. Jo is English, and the folks over in the U K are more relaxed about comma rules. Modern American grammar seems borderline anti-comma. I, like probably a majority of U S authors, get confused with our flip-floppy, prissy-pants comma rules. 

First of all, I thought you are always supposed to put a comma before the word “and”, unless it’s a very simple sentence, like: The zebras panicked and ran. It turns out, sometimes you don’t put a comma before “and”, in a more complex sentence. It depends on the subjects or clauses, or something. Gina gave me this whole headache inducing explanation about the laws of “and” 

I had to cut her off, before the top of my skull could pop off, and go flying across the room. I told her to please just send me an email about it, that I could study sometime later. 

After we discussed my unAmerican comma-fied writing style, she pointed out a mishap that happened before the first HECCTROSSIPY was released on Amazon. After she had corrected my spelling, Jo converted my spelling of words to the British way. I don’t think he really meant for that to happen. Over in his part of the world, his spell-checker probably thought my American way of spelling was incorrect. This mishap does fit to my book better. After all, it was published in Great Britain. So I don’t really consider this a mistake. 

It’s just that, whoever interviews me on their pod cast, might be surprised to hear my thick American accent. 

Love you all! Post you next weekend!   

Weirdpress 2

This happened, I swear, for like, the fourth time within the past few months. 

On my last Weirdpress post, I mentioned how I read posts from those who blog less often, on my notifications, and posts from hyper-productive blog blasters, on the WordPress Reader. 

So I was pittling around on WordPress, yesterday, and something told me—perhaps it was my fairy blog mother—to check through my list of blogs I follow. For the fourth time, it seems as though a mischievous digital poltergeist had gotten into my Notification Settings, and turned off new post notifications from EVERYBODY that I read, through my notifications! So I had to swipe through the long-ass list of blog names, and one-by-one, click on those who I read in my notifications, and toggle the New Posts button “on” for each and every one of them. If this happened a few times already, it’s most likely going to keep happening, every so often. Ugh! It’s so annoying! It’s like, because I flip back and forth to read posts from two different sections of WordPress, the thing gets confused. I must either read all blogs on the Reader, or toggle the New Notifications button “on” for the entire infinite number of you that I follow. Or else it “can… not… compute” 

Now I have to remember to check my list of followed blogs, regularly, to make sure the thing doesn’t keep turning people’s new post notifications off on me. Pain in the ass

Anybody else encounter this quirk? 

If I was one of the rich and powerful, I would start a movement to, once and for all, END THE DAM TWICE-A-YEAR TIME CHANGE!!!

It’s STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! And there’s no longer any logical reason for it! 

I know we’re on the fall-back time setting now, but first I’m going to talk about Daylight savings. 

I know that it started in the pioneer times, so farmers and factory workers could work longer hours. This profitable time change caught on in places such as Canada, and European countries. But for whatever political or cultural reasons, it didn’t become a global thing. I heard that in the modern times, it’s beneficial for businesses, because consumers supposedly spend more time shopping, and doing other out-of-the-house things when there’s more daylight in the evenings. If the masses and businesses prefer more daylight in the evenings, what’s the point of changing the clocks an hour back, in the fall? We all know that the days naturally get darker, earlier. Why make it darker even earlier? Those pioneer day leaders should’ve just decided that the clocks would be on daylight savings time, all-year-round. I don’t like daylight savings time, but that dicision would’ve made more sense. 

The name “daylight savings” itself is stupid. We’re not saving daylight! Setting the clocks an hour ahead is just taking an hour of daylight away from the morning, and adding it to the evening. So it should be called evening savings time. Human kind doesn’t possess the godly power to slow the rotation of Earth’s northern hemisphere, around Easter time, to prolong daylight! Spring and summer days are naturally longer, yes, but setting the clocks an hour ahead won’t make the days even longer. A spring day in Florida might have 12 hours and 13 minutes of daylight. That same spring day in New Jersey might have 13 hours and 6 minutes. If we set the clocks five hours ahead, it wouldn’t make a difference on how much seasonal daylight nature provides. It’s such an illusion. 

Then when it’s time to change the clocks again, we take an hour of daylight away from the evening, and give it back to the morning. 

Personally, I always liked the fall-back time setting better, because I like more light in the morning. However, if we decided on this time setting year-round, it would start getting light outside, crazy early, during spring and summer. 

In the summer, the earliest the sun rises in Florida is around 6:15. On perminent fall-back time, the earliest sunrise would be around 5:15. I don’t think this would be that hard to get used to. I’ve been to places where early morning looks more like mid morning, and I loved the way it psychosomatically made me feel as though I had a more satisfying sleep. However, a fall-back time setting in the summer may not be too cool, in places further north. 

According to my weather app, The earliest summer sunrise in England, is around 4;45. on perminent fall-back, the sun would be up by 3:45. That might not go over well with the young British folks who like to party until they pass out at 3:00. The weather app says that the summer sun rises in Sweden, at 3:00. On perminent fall-back, the sun would rise at 2:00. Imagine that. Yeesh

On the other hand, if daylight savings time was year-round, it would be a cause for mornings of longer darkness, in the fall and winter. Especially in the northern places. Weather app says that the latest winter sunrise in New Jersey, is around 8:00. On perminent daylight savings, the kids in that state would not only be commuting to school in the dark, they probably wouldn’t see the sun until 2nd period. The sunrise is delayed enough in the winter, in Homer Alaska. Permanent daylight savings wouldn’t allow the sun to come up until it’s almost lunch time. Talk about your body clock getting screwed up. 

So what do you prefer?—Those who live in countries with a twice-a-year time change—Would you rather have more daylight in the morning, or in the evening? 

What annoys me even mor, is that the time changes here are just a little bit different than in the other countries that do it. 

America and the other countries used to be on the same page. We set the clocks an hour ahead, the first Sunday of April, and then we set them an hour back, the last Sunday of October. Or second-to-last, if Halloween was on Sunday. Then in 2005, politicians or whoever, dicided to prolong daylight savings time a smidge, by snipping off a couple weeks of fall-back. I don’t clearly remember the reason, and I don’t feel like looking it up at the moment, but it had something to do with being more beneficial to businesses. Now Americans set the clocks ahead, in late March, and set them back in early November. I resented this, because it took away some of my precious fall-back time. I hate bright sunshine at 8:00 at night. Most importantly, it doesn’t make changing the clocks twice a year, any less STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! It’s also unhealthy for our sleep cycles, and a lot of people resent it. 

So come on, America, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, and all other countries that begrudgingly have to adjust to a time change, twice a year. Let’s all unite together, agree on ONE time setting, and STICK WITH IT!!! 

Love you all! Post you next weekend!    

Weirdpress

A few months ago, I had an odd incident where one of my followers Liked the same post three times. This showed up on both my WordPress notifications, and my email. I was like, “What the heck?” I wondered, was this blogger desperate for attention, or something? Or was she just indecisive over whether or not if she was digging that particular post. Whatever was going on, I just appreciated that she liked the post, repeatedly. Then it didn’t happen again. So I just passed it off as, a blogger who takes a while to make a final decision. 

Later on, I realized what was probably going on with that follower, when it was me who had to Like the same post twice. 

I have blogs that I follow, in my WordPress notifications, and blogs that I follow, but keep in the WordPress Reader. Now, don’t get offended, if you figured out that your blog is not one of the blogs in my notifications. You’re not chop liver. The bloggers that I put in my notifications, are the ones who don’t post nearly as often as those who are in my Reader. On the WordPress mobile app, the Reader will only hold about 300 posts at once. There are bloggers that I follow, that post several times a day. Sometimes they post every hour, or even every few minutes. These post-oholics often bump those who post less often, out of my Reader. So I put the less frequent bloggers in my notifications, in order to not miss out on them. 

Anyhow, One day, I read a post from one of the bloggers in my notifications, and I gave the post a Like. Then a while later, I was browsing through my Reader, and I scrolled past that same post. My voiceover told me, “This post is not in my likes.” That wasn’t true. I clearly remembered giving that post a Like. So I Liked it again. 

This got me a little paranoid for a while, that wordpress might remove my Like reactions. So every time I Liked someone’s post, I’d check it several times, after I clicked the Like button, just to make sure my reaction wasn’t removed. During the times I did this, my Likes for others posts stayed. So I figured that this must’ve been a glitch that was resolved. 

Then, I was scrolling through my Reader, yesterday, and I saw that it happened again. Two bloggers’ posts that I CLEARLY remembered Liking, when I read them in my notifications, said that they were not in my Likes. I absolutely positively DID NOT remove my Like reaction. What was I to do, but just tap the Like button again on these posts. 

Us bloggers know that WordPress has bugs in their system. For example, I’ve heard other bloggers talk about a glitch that puts their followers’ comments in their Spam folder. One blogger I followed, had the aggravating issue where WordPress would delete her followers’ comments after one day. A fellow blogger told me that there is also a bug where WordPress will bump followers off of your Follows list. They’ll still be following you, but their names or blog site addresses won’t be there. I’ve had four followers get bumped off completely. They didn’t unfollow me on their own. WordPress made that choice. The moral of this post is, to spread the awareness about another glitch. WordPress can remove yours, or your followers’ Like reactions, at any unpredictable time. Who can relate? I can’t be the only one whose come across this problem.   

Final Day Of My Vacation Journal

Saturday October 24 

I was woken up in the middle of the night, from a bad dream. The dream started out with me aimlessly floating around in a void of white light, but I still had my phone with me. 

I opened up my Kindle app, to see if HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land had received any reviews. There was only one, and to my horror, this first review was a one-star. Then the typical dream nonsense happened. Once my voiceover started reading the review, the review became a fuzzy, brown pillow with Teddy bear legs, that popped out of my phone, and floated in circles around my head. Every word that the voiceover read, appeared on the pillow, in bold, black embroidery. 

The reviewer said things like, “I usually don’t give bad reviews, but I’m sorry, this book was the worst.”… “There was this dragging, million-mile long info dump, at the beginning of the book, that I barely got through.”… “When I got to the story, at last, I had hope that I would enjoy this book more, but I was disappointed.”… “The story was not engaging at all.”… “The characters were flat.”… “I had to force myself to finish it.”… “The quality of the book was very poor.”… “I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.” 

I don’t remember this spirit shattering review, word-for-word, but these parts stood out. The full review in the dream, was a lot worse. I mean, this lady went off on a rant, about how terrible she thought my book was, and in typical weird dream fashion, she dedicated this review to her sister, Lucky. 

The review pillow disappeared back into my phone, and the white light became a giant TV screen. Jo was on the screen. He apologetically told me that the software he used for the formatting somehow glitched up when the book was uploaded to Amazon, and he didn’t catch it in time. 

Jo’s voice was still talking in my thoughts, as I was waking up. My intuition—or maybe it was guardian angels—reassured me that it was only an anxiety dream, and everything was going to be all right. Still, throughout the past three years I’ve been working with Jo, I’ve experienced moments of having a sort of long distance telepathy with him, including waking up at some wee hour of the morning, with his voice in my thoughts. Whenever that happened, I would find out later on that he had sent me an email about something important, around that same time I woke up. 

It was only a little after 2:00, which meant that it was after 7:00, in England. Jo allows himself off-time, on weekends. Would he really be up this early, on a Saturday morning, to email me about book production issues? I got a drink of water, and went back to sleep, but the paranoia of a possible flub in my book’s formatting stuck with me for the rest of that day. 

Later on that morning, I ate a breakfast of chocolate covered raisins, cheese and grapes, and baloney that was starting to get a little slimy. Then I felt gross, but there was no time to let the stuff digest. Gina and Jaden were visiting that day, and they arrived earlier than I expected.

Gina was going to help me with my promo photos for the Bia Bella Baker author website. Nobody had any updated pictures of me, because I’m such a sourpuss about getting my picture taken. My Facebook picture hasn’t changed in 5 years. My Twitter picture hasn’t changed in seven years, but that picture isn’t even me. Christa got a picture of a girl with her face blurred by sparkly stuff, from Pixalbay, I think. 

I know it’s wrongfully bitter, but I refuse to be in pictures, because I can’t see them. It annoys me to no end, when my sisters try to coax me to participate in family picture-taking time. It takes so many nos to get them to back off, and the more I refuse, the more pleading—and kind of winy—their tone gets. Then they give me that pissy little, “Fine.”, when I don’t give in. Gina once told me that she understands how I feel, but I should still let people take pictures of me, because it means a lot to them. Boy, did I want to take her camera-happy phone, and pop her in the mouth with it. 

It’s not just my rotten attitude. There’s just something about posing, and putting on a smile that didn’t come naturally, that feels stupid, fake, and cheesy. I was only willing to have my picture taken, that day, for my book’s sake. 

before the photo shoot, our plan was to go to the mall, and pick out some promo-picture-worthy clothes and accessories. I don’t ware jewelry, and I dress like a frump. Mostly solid colored shirts and stretch pants. Since I lost the ability to see what I look like, I lost all motivation to look stylish. 

There were a couple of cute shirts in my suitcase, that would’ve been fine for the photo shoot, but I thought they were too average-person-looking. I didn’t want to look like the typical middle-aged woman, who could be anyone’s suburban next-door neighbor. I wanted to look as imaginative as the planet where my story takes place. I wanted to look pretty, but in an artsy way. Not a cookie-cutter, traditional type of picture pretty. 

The mall was a walking distance from the resort, but me and Gina couldn’t figure out how to open the resort’s gate. The closest available lock wouldn’t budge. So we wandered around the parking lot, like lost and confused bubble-heads, trying to find a way out. Gina suggested that we climb over the gate, which would’ve been hilarious. 

Walking around in the hot sunshine made me feel even more gross and bloated, from breakfast. It didn’t help that I was waring jeans. The more I sweated, the more they squeezed around me, like a denim boa constrictor. Sure, it was autumn, but this is Florida. Cooler weather comes in erratic spurts, as though Florida has mood swings. 

Thankfully, the parents’ 5th floor balcony overlooked that part of the parking lot. We were surprised, but relieved to hear mom, dad, and Jaden hollering down at us. Gina hollered back up to them, about how we couldn’t find a way out of the gate. 

It turns out, the lock that wouldn’t budge was the right one, but it could only be unlocked electronically. The parents forgot to tell us, before we headed out, that the lock had a square thingy in it, where you put your room card in, to open the gate. 

I was happy to be leaving the parking lot, and so looking forward to being back indoors, in the nice, air-conditioned mall. 

Wrong! 

It was an outdoor mall. A dozen or so stores, and a hundred empty store spaces encircled a baking walking area under the sweltering sun. I was surprised how much hotter it felt, waring a mask. I was sweating hails of bullets, and my boa constrictor pants felt on the verge of squeezing my stomach through my ass. 

Thank the promo photo angels that our shopping trip went so unexpectedly smooth and quick. Two stores was all it took! Claire’s, and this store that sold a bunch of Tommy Hilfigger and Calvin Kline stuff. I was only able to afford the brand name clothes, because this is an outlet mall. 

The stuff in the brand name store was fancy and stylish, and full of fun, vibrant colors, but the quality of it seemed questionable. How much were upper class fashionistas getting ripped off, before this stuff was sent to an outlet mall? The clothes were made of fabrics that were paper-thin, and felt plasticky and synthetic. I bought one of the necklaces their, which was 60% off. As elegant as it is, its metal chain is so brittle, it might as well have been made of Hershey Kiss wrappers. 

Being conscientious about sanitation, I didn’t try anything on. When we found the perfect promo clothes, in my size, we just winged it, but it all worked out. I got two sheer shirts, two tank top-type shirts that went underneath them, a light-weight type of cardigan, a couple of necklaces, a few pretty headbands, and eye gems. 

What the hell are eye gems, you say? They’re wild looking, blinged up ornaments that you stick on, around your eyes. They remind me of something that would’ve been a fad, back in the glam rock days. The thought of waring them actually made me look forward to posing and smiling, like a total cheese. 

Gina took so many pictures. Oh, my goodness. We took pictures in my lock-off, using the glass sliding door curtain as a backdrop. Then we went into the parents’ living room, and used their glass sliding curtain, and the curtain in one of the bedrooms. We went outside, where Gina had me pose by some bushes, and in front of a giant fountain. There was so much shifting of the upper body, and positioning the head at millions of different angles. Sometimes Gina wanted a little sunlight in the rooms. Or no sunlight, and just the light of one lamp. She was so thorough, it was nuts, but of course, I greatly appreciated this. Anything that would help with getting my precious baby, evil monster out into the world. Mom said that models have to do this type of stuff all the time. It went on for an hour or so, but the photo shoot was a success. 

However, I give most of the credit for how successful it went, to my nephew, Jaden. He’s extremely attached to his mom, so he had to hang around in every room we took pictures in. He played Minecraft on his tablet, and was so into the game, he kept making all these weird, silly noises. It was making all of us laugh. When he wasn’t playing Minecraft, he was wiggling around on the nearest bed, like a happy dog, and making up all these ridiculous exercise moves. I can’t smile on command, but having goofy Jaden around made me smile naturally. He didn’t come with us for the outside shots, but smiling at him for about an hour strait, gave me the temporary ability to put on a real smile for the camera. 

When it was over, all the pretty new clothes were put on the one side of my bed, with the rest of the untidied clutter. The entertainment unit had plenty of clean space to clutter up with the accessories. The stick-on eye gems are reusable, thank god. 

The rest of the evening was Pleasant. We had a nice family dinner. Then when Gina and Jaden went home, the parents and I just kicked back, and enjoyed the remaining few hours in our cozy Tuscany Resort suites. 

I did go on my Kindle app, and downloaded a free sample of HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land, just to make sure that my dream wasn’t right. Sure enough, there’s nothing wrong with the formatting. The way my voiceover sees it, the formatting is beautiful. Phew! Jo did a fantastic job. 

To tell you the truth, there is an info dump in the beginning of the book, but it is titled BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS An Introduction to the World of Velva Leena. It’s an optional part of the book that’s there to help you get a little familiar with the planet, but all the information is divided into little sections. It talks about stuff like, what vervetts, grungols, and Guardians look like, the uniform structure of Velva Leenan civilization, The planet’s violent glowing ocean, and a brief tore of Continent 15. After the introduction, there’s a section about Artheena and Mell May’s Alien childhoods, and the abuse and neglect that Mell May had gone through, before Artheena’s parents adopted her. After those two parts of the BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS section, then you get to a page that says THE LEGEND OF THE LAND, and that’s where the actual story starts. 

I know that the golden rule for world building, is to avoid info dumping as much as possible, and instead, work the world building information into the story. I don’t know how I would’ve been able to turn the BEFORE THE STORY BEGINS part of the book into added details to the characters’ experiences in the story, and Artheena’s and Mell May’s experienced reminiscences, without turning a 300 page novel into an 800 page one. 

I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but Velva Leena really is like no other fictitious civilized planet. Other authors’ story planets are either similar to medieval Earth, or they’re like planet’s you would encounter on Star Wars or Star Trek, which is all good. I wouldn’t undermine the author’s creativity behind them, BUT they’re nothing similar to Velva Leena. The way vervetts and grungols live and think, the way their society functions, and their simple, perfect economics is so unlike anything in other sci-fi novels, I felt that the info dump beginning part was necessary, but like I said, it’s optional. Skip over it, if you’d like. At least book 1 will be the only one in the series with an introduction and such.

Phew! OK, I’m done rambling about my info dump justification! This is supposed to be the last post about my vacation journal. 

Sorry about that. 

Well, there’s not much else to say about it, anyway. We got up early on Sunday, packed up and tidied our suites, and headed back home. Then it was back to our normal routines. Speaking of normal routines, after this post, I’m going back to posting weekly. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed writing about our week at the Tuscany Resort, and posting you about it, every day for the past week, it takes me a whole freaking day to compose a single post. So I didn’t get anymore of HECCTROSSIPY (book 2) finished, which I desperately miss working on.  

Love you all! Post you later this weekend!           

Day-6 Of My Vacation Journal

Friday October 23 

It was the second-to-last day of our vacation, and the parents and I actually went on a fun, family outing… 

WE WENT OUT TO TRADER JO’S! Aaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha! Like I said on the post about Day-1, the parents and I are the most boring fucking vacationers we know. We’re devout Aldi and Publix shoppers—especially cheapo Aldi. Venturing off to pricier places with a selection of exotic goodies, like Trader Jo’s and WholeFoods, is like the Safari experience of grocery shopping. 

It’s been a Tuscany Resort tradition for the past decade, to make an outing out of going to one of these higher quality stores, and loading up on unique foods that weren’t usually available at our everyday stores. Coming back to our condo,, with eco-friendly bags overstuffed with things like, Hibiscus soda, beers from obscure microbreweries, weird flavored cheeses, and interesting pasta alternatives, was always one of my favorite parts of the trip.  

WholeFoods is the all-time family favorite. One of their best variety destinations was the bulk bins. Their assortment of bulk bins was overwhelming, at times, but with this covid issue, I wonder if bulk bins are still allowed. I couldn’t get enough of their chocolate covered espresso beans, and carob covered almonds. They had some rock’n good crystalized ginger too. Hot, nose juicing, crystalized ginger. I was also hooked on these dried mangos that were delicious, despite how much they smelled like stinky library books. 

Trader Jo’s is the next best option. They’re a lot smaller, and they don’t have as insane of a variety of all things out-of-the-ordinary. But we love that place, because, of course, it’s cheaper.. For a store with less inventory, they still have a generous array of good quality coffees, which is my favorite part.  

I made it a mission to find coconut pancake mix, and these white chocolate-coffee dunking cookies. We used to get these things from Trader Jo’s, years ago, and I never forgot them. 

The coconut pancake mix was one of those “healthier alternative” things, because it was grain-free. However, it sure didn’t taste like health nut chow. It was so coconutty, with a buttery undertone, and just the right amount of sweetness. When dad made pancakes or waffles with it, they tasted like coconut macaroons, or buttery coconut cookies. They weren’t just coconutty, more like coco-naughty

As for the dunking cookies, they tasted like they were flavored with real coffee. Not that imitation coffee flavoring shit that kind of tastes like second-hand smoke and Honey Smacks. These cookies had a good, strong, bold coffee flavor.. Each had one half dipped in rich, creamy white chocolate,  When you dipped it into your hot coffee, the white chocolate instantly turned gooey and melty. If some of your coffee melted into it, oooooweeee, it was a mouth’s wet dream. 

We searched just about everywhere in Trader Jo’s, except on the roof, but we didn’t find the cookies or the pancake mix, but I wasn’t too disappointed. They had other exotic treats that I just had to have, like coffees from Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Honduras. I won’t ramble on about every single item in our cute little Trader Jo’s cart, but I was thrilled that they had Asian pares. For a while, it seemed like grocery stores stopped selling them. 

For those of you who never had an Asian pare, they are very different. They’re shaped more like round apples, and their skin—which I think is brown—has more of a potato skin texture. How they taste, I guess, depends on where you buy them. Christa says that the ones they sell in Panamanian stores don’t have much of a flavor. But the Asian pares I always bought, here in America, taste like rum. 

There were these grapes that I couldn’t help buying, just because they were Moon Drop grapes. They tasted like grapes, but looked like little purple weaners. 

After Trader Jo’s, it was back to good old Publix, for some aspirin. Dad had a gout flare-up that gave him a severe case of balloon-hand. We had to get some dinner stuff for the next couple of evenings too. While moseying among the frozen pizzas, mom spotted this pizza that sounded disgusting, so I had to try it. Cauliflower-cranberry pizza! 

When we got home, it was time for Friday’s Write-In. I sure liked Christa’s idea to move the second Write-In of the week, from Thursday to Friday. The way my quirky brain operates, having these meetings at the beginning and end of the week, is less disruptive on my natural flow. Christa, who juggles writing, blogging, a writing course, her husband, household and dogs, AND a full-time day job, feels the same way. Sadly, however, the other group members seemed not into this change, and Friday’s Write-In was a bust. 

Since the Writers’ Mastermind has members from all over the world, it’s hard to figure out what the perfect Zoom meeting schedule should be, whether it’s Write-Ins, or monthly meetings about what we members learned from Christa’s monthly workbook. I wonder if having Friday’s Write-In at the same time as on Mondays, would be better. People seem to prefer the morning Zooms, especially our members from European countries, where 11:00 A M over here, is early evening on their side of the Atlantic. One of our members is from Norway, which I was told, is six hours ahead. Christa caught her dozing off one time, during one of our 3:30 meetings. On the other hand, 3:30 is a good time for our members from places like, new Zealand, because it’s a decent hour of the morning, over there. 

Boy, am I making our writing group sound like something glamorous, with all this around-the-world talk. I wouldn’t bullshit you. Christa and I do get the privilege of digitally hobnobbing with outstandingly brilliant writers, but we haven’t reached any level of literary glamor… 

YET… 

It had been almost two weeks since Christa went back to Panama, enough time for a build-up of happenings to catch up on. So we spent the Zoom meeting, just hanging out. I told her about my dilemma with Sandra. Ah, man, when she told me what Sandra was really asking for, I felt like a total air-head. 

Sandra wasn’t expecting me or Jo to spend twice the cost of my book on mailing her a paperback copy, all the way to QuĂ©bec, free of charge. What she was really requesting, was a digital A R C! So it was a misunderstanding on both ends of our Facebook Messenger. Oh, hell, I didn’t even know what a digital Author Review Copy is until that day. Sandra, along with other people I know on social media, assume that I’m just as technically advanced as them. I messaged her, apologizing for my misunderstanding, and promised that Christa would send her an A R C soon. I really want that review. 

Trying to make it as an author, while still having loads more to learn about social media, and about how the digital writing business operates, makes me feel like such a silly, naĂŻve little girl, sometimes. Aaaaaaah!! What the hell have I gotten myself into!! 

Ending the second-to-last day on a positive note, the cauliflower-cranberry pizza was amazing. Whoever came up with that recipe, is a true flavor artist. It didn’t have the typical pizza stuff on it, like tomato sauce or Italian spices. Instead, it had a cream cheese-tasting sauce that was not spicy, but not bland either. It was kind of a go-between flavor that balanced out the conflicting flavors of the cauliflower and spinach, and the sweet and tangy, cooked dried cranberries. It was a savory pizza that was a perfect ending to the day’s adventurous food journey, after rum flavored pares, and weaner grapes. 

Love you all! Post you tomorrow!

Day-5 Of My Vacation Journal

Hey! I’m back! 

How was your Halloween? Mine was, meh. But I know part of that is my fault. I don’t like parties, because I’m just weird like that, and I don’t get any thrill out of costumes anymore, because I can’t see them. I do, however, still love Halloween candy, and scary stories. Foolishly, I decided to pass up going grocery shopping with the parents, on Friday. If I’d gone, I would’ve bought extra Halloween candy, so there would be plenty of leftovers. Mom and dad assumed that we weren’t going to get much trick-or-treaters, because of covid. So they only bought one little bag of fun-sized Kit Kats. 

Yeah, I’m an adult, but not a very grownupy one. When mom and dad were my age, if there was nothing going on for Halloween, it didn’t bother them at all to go about it, like it was just another day. To me, that’s depressing. The child within still likes to do something on Halloween, to make it a special day. 

I unintentionally ended up spending three hours on WordPress, catching up on reading others blogs, and commenting back and forth. That’s not very Halloween spirited, but deciding to not worry about time management kind of added a slight Holiday feel, in a nerdy sort of way. After that, I binge-watched shows about serial killers. Eh, it was something. The shows about BTK, Jeffrey Dommer, and some dude in Alaska who killed blond-haired strippers and prostitutes, were all very graphic and creepy. 

We had a surprising amount of trick-or-treaters. Mom doubted that we would have enough Kit Kats. She offered to set aside one Kit Kat for me, one for dad, and one for Jaden, but I told her to just give mine to a trick-or-treater. I didn’t want just one fun-sized Kit Kat for Halloween. That’s lame. When the trick-or-treating was over, we had two Kit Kats left, which are going to be given to Jaden. 

We had an amusing incident with this trick-or-treater who was a Trump fan. Mom and dad had put a Biden sign in our front yard. When this one little boy came to the door, he asked mom, “Why are you voting for Jo biden?” We thought this was funny, because he looked no older than 8, and his tone of voice, and his little face expressed such disgust. 

“Because I like him.” was mom’s appropriate answer for a child that age. 

When dad went out front, to take over the treat giving duty for mom, he came back in to throw away an empty juice pouch that one of the kids threw on our front porch. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little Trumpadite did it, as his 8-year-old way of letting us know that he thinks we suck. 

Anyhow, here is the fifth day of my vacation journal. 

Enjoy… 

*** 

Thursday October 22 

Spicy, salty, and so very greasy 

Processed junk in a convenient can 

Another disgrace to the American diet 

Making my mini fridge smell like processed pork farts

I’ve always had a fondness toward shit-nasty processed meat. It’s a guilty pleasure. Hot dogs, Bologna, spam, oh, it’s all good. Even Vienna sausages. What the hell are those things made of, anyway? They taste kind of like meat, but their texture is like they were manufactured by kids with Playdough Fun Factories. You could mush the whole can of them together, and start sculpting farm animals and ash trays, but it sure is tasty. 

I had gotten both spam and Bologna, as a part of my vacation-grocery order. I haven’t had spam in a few years, and it was an infamous food that I always enjoyed, as gross as it is. I mean, really. Think about it. It’s meat, chemically broken down and processed into a mealy mush, and then compressed and molded into smelly, greasy, pinkish brown blocks. Then when you take it out of the can, it makes this unappetizing, slimy sucking noise. Yet, I still eat it. 

I put the slimy, stinking block of meat-product on a large plate, and cut it into thin slices, to snack on with some cracker-cut sharp cheddar. As a teenager, I used to be able to eat a whole can of spam, in one sitting. Now-a-days, my post-40 digestive system couldn’t handle such an intense dose of grease. After a few slices, I put the plate of it in the mini fridge, with just a paper towel over it. That stuff was so greasy, I figured that it didn’t need much protection from the dryness of the fridge. 

Bleck, never again. 

Next time, I’ll put the leftovers in a vacuum-sealed bag made with oder-block technology. For the next couple of days, every time I opened the mini fridge, a fearsome, spicy processed pewsh cloud rose up into the kitchen, and extended its funk to every corner of the lock-off. 

Thursday was rainy, which enhanced my mood to be lazy, all the more. Aside from indulging in spam and sharp cheddar, I indulged into the whimsical world of Sarah Canon. Her Y A and new adult books are another guilty pleasure. I’ve been reading her Shadow Demons series, which has been one hell of a crazy reading journey. 

It’s about these witches who live in a small town in Georgia, called Peachville, but their secret organization called The Order of Shadows, extends all over the globe. They enhance their magical abilities, by capturing demons from a realm called the Shadow World, and enslaving them. The Shadow World isn’t Hell, or anything like it. It’s a beautiful world with three suns, and three moons, and zero environmental problems. Its demons are actually a magical race of people who could live forever, if they choose to. 

The Order had created portals to the Shadow World, where they send out their Hunters to capture the demons. The Hunters are kind of like zombi witches, but they’re a lot more functional than zombies. They could battle with their dark magic, better than normal witches, but they are magically kept alive, long past the natural human life span. So they age enough for their bodies to start decomposing, as though they are dead. The Hunters abduct the demons, and bring them to Earth, where they are forced to live within the witches’ bodies, never to see their friends and loved ones in the Shadow World again. When a witch dies, her enslaved demon dies. 

The half-witch/half-demon main character, who is also a princess in the Shadow World, is starting up a revolution against The Order, recruiting both demons and witches. Witches who are no longer bedazzled by the allure of The Order, and are aware of how corrupt it really is. I was on book 6 in the series. By this part, the princess, her hunky demon boyfriend, and their demon and witch friends have figured out how to deactivate the Peachville portal. They’ve also discovered the secret to how to destroy the portals, which would stop The Order from being able to abduct and enslave anymore demons. They learned about the secret to how to free demons from their witch captors too. However, I’m only about half-way through the series. Princess and company had both successes and failures, in ways I’m not giving away, but they still have a hell of a battle ahead of them.

It stopped raining, by the time we wanted to eat dinner, which worked out perfectly—Or so we thought. We planned to have dinner at the pool-side cafe, but when we got to the pool, there was no more restaurant. Because of covid, they stopped serving food all together. No more deliveries either. They have a little shop that sells some basic groceries and snacks, but because of covid, the shop closed at 2:00 P M. Back in the normal days, it used to stay open until nighttime. So vacationers who wanted to get something to eat past 2:00, were on their own. 

They still served drinks by the pool, but nobody was allowed to sit at the bar. Instead, there was this long-ass line of socially distanced people in masks, waiting to get a drink. This was vacationing, dystopian-style, baby. 

So we went to good old Publix to get dinner. Mom bought veggie burgers, and dad ordered a veggie wrap with no cheese, because they both think they’re fat. Ever since I’ve known them, they’ve had this obsession with getting thin, but they still never succeeded in how thin they wish they could be, after 40 freaking years. I ordered an Italian sub. A small one, of course, but only so I could make room for cinnamon & sugar pita chips. I think Stacy’s makes them. The parents didn’t find them, on their first grocery trip that week. I was thrilled when mom spotted them by the bakery breads, because I hadn’t had them in a couple of years. They are seriously addictive. 

After getting my gorge on, I checked my Facebook Messenger, and was like, “Oh, shit.” My fellow Writers’ Mastermind group member, Sandra, wanted me to send her a copy of HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land to review on her blog. And I had already told Jo to not send out any author copies. She lives in QuĂ©bec. I told her that the book is available on Amazon C A, and she was like, “I’ll just get a copy on a later date.” 

I asked her if it was more expensive at the Canadian book store than at the U K and U S ones. 

“I don’t know,” she said, “I never shop at Amazon U K or Amazon U S.” 

I admit, I got the wrong idea, which made me a little annoyed with her. I thought she was being a cheapskate who thought she should get the book for free, because she’s a group member. I didn’t want to tell Jo that I changed my mind, and then have him spend his money on mailing Sandra an author copy, all the way to Canada. But at the same time, I really, really wanted her review. She’s good at flying through books, and loves giving reviews. So I was in a dilemma, and decided to ask Christa what I should do about this, on Friday. 

By the end of the day, I finished book 6 of the Shadow Demons series. Wow! Each book I’ve read had ended with a twist. The sixth book had two, the usual type of twist, and then the mother of all holy-shit twists. It was one of those endings that got me PUMPED. I can’t say that I recommend you to read this series yet, because like I mentioned before, I’m only about half-way through it. The ending of the last book might be a total stink bomb, for all I know. As for now, it was an exciting, mental movie experience to have, before getting ready for bed, and the ending for my journal post about Thursday the 22nd. Otherwise, I’ll be yammering on about putting on slipper socks, going into a bathroom vent induced trance, and leaving the dishes unwashed for, yet, another night. 

Love you all! Post you tomorrow!  

Day-4 Of My Vacation Journal

Wednesday October 21 

If you stay at the Tuscany Resort from Sunday to Sunday, Wednesday is the day housekeeping comes. I was surprised when mom said that a lot of people actually don’t want housekeeping to come. I could understand that. A total stranger coming into your suite, and most of the time, they come when you’re not ready for them. Then you have to quick get dressed, and scramble to move all of your stuff, so they could clean. Then there are those awkward times when there’s a language barrier. 

That happened to me, during our last Tuscany stay. I tried to tell the housekeeper that she didn’t have to do much. All I needed was more towels and washcloths, and for the kitchen and bathroom trash to be taken out. The poor thing didn’t understand a word I said. I heard her moving my suitcase off the bed, and I tried to tell her that she didn’t have to change my sheets. She patted the comforter, and struggled to say a few words in English about making my bed. I told her again, what I needed and didn’t need her to do, but added pointing and gesturing and head nods. She tried to communicate back, having a hell of a time annunciating English words. The words she was able to say more clearly, had a foreign accent that I didn’t recognize. I heard motion, as though she was probably pointing, nodding, and gesturing too, but I can’t see. This was very awkward for the both of us, so I just went over to the parents’ condo, and let her do her thing. 

It was a little after 8:00 when I dragged my lazy ass out of bed. My place was a sty. There were dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, clean clothes haphazardly piled on one side of the bed, along with a clutter of other belongings. And the wet bar was piled up with dirty dishes and unwashed recyclables. I hurried into a change of clothes, and started to straiten things up. Then the parents’ doorbell rang. I was like, “Shit.” I didn’t remember housekeeping ever coming this early. 

Thankfully, the housekeeper feared covid, and wanted to avoid cleaning condos that were occupied, as much as possible. Mom was cool with this, and just had the lady bring her clean towels and washcloths. The housekeeper didn’t even bother coming to my door, but at least she brought mom enough towels and washcloths to hold the three of us over until Sunday. 

That day, I got hooked on this ginger beer that dad had picked out for me, from the Publix across the street. For those of you who never tried ginger beer, it’s like ginger ale with a kick. This stuff kicked like a kick boxer. Yeeeeeow! But I love hot stuff. If it doesn’t turn my nose into a snot fountain, I don’t consider it to be that hot. 

What is up with painful food being so delicious? That intense burning sensation in the mouth, and watering of the eyes and nose just somehow pulls the “Yummy” lever in the brain. I think the love for all things hot and spicy is genetic too. My parents like it, but they’re not crazy about it, like me and Christa are. Gina can’t handle that much heat, but our grandparents on dad’s side were obsessed with it. Poppy woj put black pepper on almost everything, and not just a few shakes. He shook that pepper shaker until everything on his plate was nearly gray. Nannie Woj could snack on jarred hot peppers, like they were potato chips, and she ate raw onions, like they were apples. As devoutly Catholic as they were, you’d think they had devil genes in them. 

My eight-year-old nephew, Jaden, inherited the hot food gene, I believe. He was eating chicken wings with hot sauce, one day, and was baffled about the effect. “This sauce is too hot for me,” he said. “But for some reason, I want to keep eating it.” 

After coffee, breakfast, and a ginger-flavored assault, I plugged the old Mac Book in, at the wet bar, and proceeded to work on outlines for future blog posts. I know, really? Could a writer get any more anal? Don’t even get me started on how I like to put my classical music, writing playlists in order, according to the number of minutes and seconds each song is. And my knit picky hang-up about how every story I write has to have even numbers of nouns, and odd numbers of verbs. 

Nah, just kidding. I don’t listen to classical music. 

I worked on blog outlines until well into the afternoon. Mom came knocking at the door between our suites, to ask me if I wanted some cantaloupe. So I went over to her and dad’s place, and hung out for a while. 

I had a craving for beer. Mom and dad didn’t just have beer, they had Voodoo Ranger beer. That’s the hardcore stuff, with twice the alcohol content as regular beer. Mom and I watched Barack Obama campaigning for Jo Biden, while I got nearly drunk. This one dude in the background kept laughing, and it was cracking me up. He sounded like an old, squeaky recliner. 

I came back to my lock-off, pretty buzzed. The intoxication made me suddenly feel like relishing in how grateful I am, that it was the present time, and not the 0’s. Wow, did I hate those dam 0’s, the darkest decade of my life. A decade of failures and disappointments, health problems, psychiatric drugs, and drinking way too much. 

When I hear music from that time of torment, it doesn’t bring back painful memories, and old wounds. I love rocking out to 0’s music. Hearing those fun old tunes from people like, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Fall-Out Boy, and the Black-Eyed peas makes me feel an odd, warm and fuzzy, happy sense of gratification. A sort of content fulfillment, and satisfactory towards overcoming all those challenges and shitty life lessons from back then. I love that I got over the 0’s, and that they’re gone for good, and never coming back. 

I put on Apple Music’s Pop Hits 2007 play list, and went on a smily, drunken musical trip to songs from people like, Amy Winehouse, Gym Class Heroes, and the Shot Boys, feeling all like, “Ha ha ha, yeah, fuck you, 2007. Ha ha ha, you stopped existing, 13 years ago. Good riddens.” 

Dad came home from work, and barged into my room, to give me a ghost chili flavored doughnut. Speaking of my adoration for hot food. His job site was near a Duncan Doughnuts that day. Ghost chili is one of their Limited-time flavors, for the halloween season, because it’s ghost chili. The lady at the drive-through window told dad that they sometimes pull a prank on people who order a dozen or more doughnuts, and sneak a ghost chili one in the mix. Hilarious. 

I ate it later on, for dessert. I’m not too proud to admit that, yeah, it was hot. But it was more like jalapeño hot, not real ghost chili hot. Cherry icing was drizzled on top. This flavor combination was surprisingly good, and it made the doughnut even more unique. 

After dinner, we went on a mile walk around the resort. Then I ended the night with watching Once Upon A Time, In Hollywood

Clennell got the movie with audiodescript, and shared it with me via Drop Box. I loved it, and couldn’t understand why it didn’t make a hit. For those of you who’d never seen it, it’s about a famous actor and his best buddy, who is also his stunt double. The movie takes place in 1969. At first, the storyline seems to be about their relationship, and the actor’s ambition to not end up a has-been. But then it turns into, kind of an alternate universe version of the Sharon Tate murders. Dad told me, later on, that that’s why people didn’t like it, because it wasn’t the real Charles Manson story. The ending was pretty bad-ass, but in a totally disgusting, gory way. The video describer didn’t need to tell me that much about what was going on. All the nasty blood splattering, and flesh taring noises helped me figure it out. 

I liked this version of the story a whole lot better than the real one, and I’m sure Sharon Tate herself might agree. According to one of those paranormal investigation shows—I think it was either Ghost Hunters or My Ghost Story—Sharon Tate became an Earthbound spirit who couldn’t move on, and leave her mansion. Because she never got over the trauma from how she and her friends were killed, and how her life was cut short, before she got the chance to experience motherhood. 

I’m so glad they had that movie with audiodiscript. There were a shit-load of visual scenes with no dialog, and so many signs and Billboards. However, in the beginning, I mistakenly got the idea that Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were an item, because the video describer kept referring them as a couple. Saying stuff like, “The couple drives down such-and-such street.”, “The couple enters a bar.” 

The only thing that bothered me about the movie is, nobody bathed the dog, after she made a bloody mess out of those people. There was all this pit bull vs human, violent bloodshed action. Then the wife just lets the dog sleep in the bed with her! Eeeeeeeew! Ah, man, there I go, being anal again. 

Love you all! Post you on Sunday or Monday, depending on your time zone! Have the best covid-proof halloween EVER!