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Our Government Is Broken

Written on January 1, 2019

On Friday, December 28, 2018, a freeze was placed on all Federal employees pay. Does that include all politicians’ salaries? I trow not!


On Saturday, midnight, December 22nd, the government was told to shut down, this resulted in a quarter of all federal employees to be sent home or work without pay. Did that include politicians? Again, I trow not!


When the government shuts down, there should not be retroactive pay for federal employees. This is a hardship on them, I know, but if they’re not working, they should not get paid. When the general populace is laid off, they are not paid nor do they receive retroactive pay.


The shutdown should include all expendable politicians. Only those who are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to run emergency services for our country should be allowed to keep working, but they should work without pay until the government opens again. I don’t think this would happen very often if the politicians were included in these actions and their monthly or bimonthly paycheck was missing or substantially reduced.


Accrued vacation in a government shutdown should also be suspended. Now, that I’m on THAT subject, how is it that the government extends so much vacation time to their employees and so quickly after hire, when us regular people working 40 hours a week generally have to wait an entire year before getting even a week vacation? Usually, I had to wait until after my second year anniversary to get two weeks’ vacation, and most of the companies I know of did not give you three weeks’ vacation until you had been employees a substantial amount of time. Four weeks was almost unheard of. Yet the military is allowed this, and if they are…I’m sure the rest of the federal employees are too.


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the military getting special benefits. These men and women are expected to lay down their lives for the protection of our country and all its citizens, as are agencies like the FBI, Border Patrol, and other federal law enforcement agencies. But the rest of the federal employees are not. They are expected to serve selflessly but without daily risk or sacrifice of lives.


Last night at dinner, we sat around talking about what was wrong with our government and possible ways to fix it. Of course, we all know the powers-that-be will take none of this under advisement, but it makes me feel better to voice my opinion on the subject.


Let’s start with our politicians. No one should have the right to give him or herself a raise. It’s not done anywhere but within the upper echelon of politics. We are their employers, therefore, we should have a say in whether they get a raise, and how much. Just like in the private sector, a supervisor should be the one who gives the recommendation for a higher salary. It should go through channels. The supervisor would recommend a raise in pay, and then it would go to a vote by the people who employ the politician. That should be the practice from the bottom to the top, right up to the President. The President’s supervisor would be the public. They should decide what the salary should be. All these government salaries have gotten way out of bounds if you ask me. They are out of proportion. It’s no wonder we have a deficit.


Speaking of voting, eliminate the Electoral College. Let the people decide by popular vote, not the districting controlled by the political parties.


All politicians should use the same healthcare as the rest of us. They should not have their own special healthcare programs. They should pay for that healthcare coverage just like we do. Maybe that would get us the healthcare programs, which would be beneficial to the public.


Now let’s talk about the military. From what I understand, the military gets free healthcare. They get room and board, and as they climb the ladder in rank, they get many additional benefits. This should all be considered when deciding what each level is paid.


Which brings me to another point. It would seem that our military force is dwindling because no one wants to join up. Fine. Reinstate the draft. Other countries have it…why not us? I think it would be a good thing for young men and women to serve their country. However, women should not be in the same units with men. We’ve seen the results of that. Have common sense people.


All military personnel need to live on base, not off base with a special allowance to pay for rent. If a person wants to marry and serve in the military, there are arrangements on base for that. If that’s not the case any longer, fix it. If the spouse doesn’t want to live on base, said spouse can pay out of their own pocket for the housing, but the serviceman or woman stays on base. The government should not be monetarily responsible for a family living off base.


When it comes time to make cuts to ease a deficit in our government, salary cuts should start at the top and work down until the deficit is gone.


All politicians should work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks out of each year. No more extravagant vacations. No more fancy hotels for meetings. We have government buildings that can be used for that. No more limousines, fancy parties, or any other money wasting nonsense. Air Force One should be used only for official (and I do mean official) government business out of the country. If the President or any other government official needs to go somewhere, take a train, allowing for the security of that train. Plan for the time it would take to get there and back. And by the way, Air Force One should not be used for campaigning, regardless of who is the President. It’s a misuse of taxpayers’ money. It’s our airplane not their personal property.


Back to that government shutdown. The government should not shut down. PERIOD. If there’s a problem or a disagreement about anything, the politicians who have been elected to handle the running of the government need to plant their derrieres in their desk seats until the problem is solved, no matter how many hours it takes to do it. You just don’t go home on vacation no matter what holiday is coming up!


People, we need to use our heads to run this country. It is not a Let’s-Have-A-Party country, although I’m sure that’s how it seems to the rest of the world. We need to be a strong nation. We need to be leaders. Let’s act like it.

Creating Believable Characters & Scenes

written June 10, 2018

Would you like to transport your readers right into the story you’re writing? Isn’t that what we want to happen to our readers? Of course it is. After all, we’re writing for the reader’s enjoyment.


When I decide upon a character or scene for my work in progress, I first write down all the information I need to know about that character or the setting in which I’ll place that character. Personally, I like using a spiral notebook, but many  writers like entering information into a spreadsheet or document online. The problem with that is, you can’t draw a diagram of scenes unless you have a special program for it. You can post a picture in a separate file or maybe even into your document, but I like keeping all the information separated with dividers in a notebook so I can go directly to what I need.


Let’s start with the hero or heroine. A basic description of the person comes first, including their age, height and physical attributes. Then I write down everything I think I’ll need to know about this person, things maybe the reader doesn’t need to know but will effect the personality of that character. As I write the story, when I mention something I need to remember about the character, I’ll write it down on their page.


When I begin a scene, before a word ever comes out of the character’s mouth or his/her foot takes that first step, I get into their mind. I imagine myself as the character, just as any actor would do on screen, putting myself into that character’s mind, body, and shoes.


Let’s try an experiment.

Think about your favorite character from a book you love, male or female, doesn’t really matter because when you write, you write about both. Close your eyes and picture the character. Now, hear their voice. See what they’re seeing. How does this person respond to what they’re seeing or what’s being said to them. Did someone else come into the room? How do you feel about that other person. You become this character.


That’s the way it should be when you’re writing. You become the character and you will write from that character’s point of view. You don’t need to become anyone else in that scene until you change point of view to another person. All that matters is what your POV character thinks. You will write down what your character sees, hears, experiences, feels. Show the reader what that character is seeing by describing it, what they are feeling by their responses, what they are actually doing, etc.


For example: Tom glanced around the the dark paneled office. His eyes rested on the antique oak desk, piled high with papers. Thumping came from behind the antique oak desk. He inched his way toward the direction of the sound, which seemed to come from the bottom drawer. With two fingers, he pulled on the handle. A blur of black fur shot out of the drawer making him jolt upright. His heart jumped to his throat.


Do you see what I did. I gave you all you needed to picture  and feel what was going on and yet never used the words saw, heard or felt.


When I took classes in writing, one of my favorite classmates was an actress. She told me how she gets into a role by thinking her way into that character. I’ve tried to apply that in my writing.


Regarding scenes, all you have to do is take the established character whose point of view you are now inhabiting, and place them into your scene. First of all, write down everything you will need to know about the scene. Color of the walls. The trees and flowers in a garden. Wherever you have your character, write down the details of everything he/she might see. Don’t forget to put all five senses into action. Is there a particular odor, aroma, or fragrance in the air? A sound in the distance?


Once you have all the details written down, go back to that exercise above. Imagine through your character’s eyes what they will see, feel, smell, hear, and taste. As you write the scene, fill in those details.


When your readers pick up your story, they’ll thank you for making everything so real to them. And you’ll smile from ear to ear (excuse the cliche), as I often have, when you hear comments like, “I could actually see it/feel it.”


Happy writing.


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