Virtual Connection and the Coronavirus
The coronavirus scare of 2020 in the United States is still in its infancy in my region. I’ve watched my state’s progress on the coronavirus map for the past two days. I don’t have any real-time data, but it seems the increase in cases is growing more rapidly in recent days. My state had 41 known coronavirus cases 48 hours ago. Now, according to the interactive map, there’s a total of 69 cases as I write this piece at half-past midnight on 3/16/2020. From what the medical experts are saying, I believe that number of 69 in my state could be exponentially larger in my near future. I don’t have many words of embellishment to make this a very long blog post. Sometimes, less is more.
What I will say is, IF the virus I first heard of as the “novel 2019 coronavirus” did anything good – it made people realize we’re connected in more ways than we think.
Guess what folks? We get the chance to combat the spread of the virus by helping each other from afar. How cool is that? Selfishness please go and take several seats. Social distancing is the buzz word I’m reading and hearing about across the airwaves and in cyberspace in recent days. In other words, “help me help you” by staying away from me if you choose to go out among the population for no good reason other than the fact that you can do what you want. Almost everybody needs to pay bills, and for the large part of the population affected by the closures, I hope containment of the virus happens soon and we as a nation go back to business as usual. Life is meant to be enjoyed and I have high hopes for me and my family’s future as well as my fellow human being.
In the meantime, my game plan is prayer, social distancing, self-care, checking in with my elderly loved ones and high-risk friends and family. I intend to spread cheer whenever I can.
Be encouraged – because we’re all in this together.
May God Bless us all.
Get the Coronavirus (COVID-19) facts on the links below:
Random Acts of Kindness Day is halfway over as I pen this piece. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll remember some of my thoughts on those ‘non-official’ national holidays. I honestly believe a good majority of the National Days bring out the best in people. I enjoy them because most of the days have a light-hearted spin and allow us to step out of our comfort zone and communicate with our fellow human beings.
Most unofficial National Days honor relatives, friends, people in varied professions, many foods, and much more. I especially enjoy the days that prompt us to do random things. In this month of February there are some gems: Open that Bottle Night (29th), Do a Grouch a Favor Day (16th), Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day (7th), and my personal favorite Spunky Old Broads Day (1st). 😊
Here are some honorable, ‘interesting and questionable’ mentions during the year: Appreciate a Dragon Day (January 16th), National Shower with a Friend Day (February 5th), If Pets Had Thumbs Day (March 3rd), National Cheese Ball Day (April 17th), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4th), Name Your Poison Day (June 8th), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th), Race Your Mouse Day (August 28th), Be Late for Something Day (September 5th), Punk for a Day Day (October 25th), Use Your Common Sense Day (November 4th), Bathtub Party Day (December 5th).
National Random Acts of Kindness Day
The name of this day recognized on February 17th is self-explanatory, unlike some others. A day to perform an act of kindness on whatever scale is wonderful, in my opinion. Using the day as a teachable moment for the younger people in your life is a great idea to pay it forward.
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with (randomly) you may want to try before the day’s over:
- At work: Ask a coworker if you can bring them something back from the breakroom, vending area, or corner store.
- At work: Get a coworker their favorite coffee, tea or soft drink as a surprise.
- At work: If possible, offer to help a coworker with their workload.
- Hold the elevator those extra few seconds for someone headed your way – they usually really appreciate the gesture!
- Hold a door open for someone with their hands full or just “because it’s nice to do.”
- Smile and wave (with all fingers 😊) to the driver who cut you off in traffic.
- Call someone you haven’t connected with for a while.
- On the way home: Stop at a drive-through restaurant and pay for the order of the car behind you. Or, if you’re financially able: Go to dinner and pay for a random table’s order before you leave. (It feels great! I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this act.)
- Volunteer at a community center or shelter anytime during the year.
- Call an elderly family member or friend and ask if there’s anything you can do for them today or in the future. (i.e. run an errand, shopping, housework, etc.)
- Winter: Shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
- Seasonal: Offer to help with the yardwork for a person needing help.
Also, there are so many things we can do which don’t involve money or time. A smile, a “thank you,” “you look great,” “I’m proud of you,”, and many other words of encouragement go a long way to spreading those good feelings that make some of us want to wake up every day and live our lives.
It would be a great thing if every person with a voice, platform or means would do their part in making the world a better place. I believe with my whole heart the forces of evil are no match to the spreading of love, kindness and caring throughout the world. In the end, if yours and my ancestors survive the effects of global warming, climate change, war, injustice, governmental corruption, poverty, and most of all hate – I’d like to think acts of kindness, civility, love, and service to others are what saved the world.
P.S. Let’s make every day a Random Act of Kindness Day
I’ve considered myself a stargazer since childhood when astronomy became interesting to me. Although I’ve never owned a telescope, the dark sky has long been a fascination of mine. In the late 1990s, I belonged to an online group of amateur stargazers. The group would virtually discuss astronomical phenomena and meet offline from time to time for stargazing activities. My interests were fueled by my curiosity and love of viewing the night sky.
Meteor showers are one of those astronomical events I look forward to seeing whenever possible. The annual Geminids meteor showers happening this weekend from Friday, December 13th through Sunday the 15th, 2019 is no exception. While I no longer belong to a stargazing group, I still get excited to read or hear news of any upcoming event in the sky. Yes, I was one of those people who stood outdoors on August 21st of 2017 with a makeshift pinhole to view a total solar eclipse projected onto paper. Next, I’m anticipating the total solar eclipse expected in April of the year 2024. The North America path of the future total solar eclipse will track very close to my neck of the woods. Should I get to see April 8, 2024, plans are for a short road trip to an area where I can experience the total phase of the solar eclipse.
Anyway, back to the Geminids! A little background info: this upcoming meteor shower is said to originate from an asteroid, unlike most meteor showers originating from a comet. The sighting of the first Geminids meteor shower dates to the 1800s.
If I’m lucky, I’ll get to witness the last Geminids of this decade as they streak across the sky. Affectionately called “falling” or “shooting” stars, I consider meteor showers spectactacular. You can find optimal viewing times here. I’ve read the cold moon which happened shortly after midnight today, December 12, 2019, may bring some glare in viewing the Geminids. Luckily, I won’t need a telescope of other fancy equipment to see the Geminids shower across the sky this weekend. I will, however, need dark sky and warm clothes according to the chilly weather forecast.
Bonus: Stargazers, read more here about Comet 46p/Wirtanen which may be observable while you’re enjoying the Geminids.
Thanks for visiting!
The source links below provide detailed information on these astronomical wonders.
I hear today, December 4, 2019 is National Cookie Day. Here’s my lazy blog post: See https://rhwdorsey.com/2019/11/26/a-very-brief-rant-on-national-cake-day/ Same difference (smile)!
Thanks for visiting! Happy Holidays!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines doldrums as “a spell of listlessness or despondency.” Life experience has taught me the things which helped me cope when I was feeling down and out of sorts. Here are some of the things I’ve learned to help me ward off the blues.
- REST YOUR MIND. For some like myself, concentrating isn’t always easy. In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to multitask our lives away. While we know efficiency is a great trait, being still for a time has value. Concentrate and complete tasks one at a time. I sometimes find myself all at once: checking social media while updating my budget spreadsheet and checking email with a music playlist sounding in my ear. Taking a break short break can jumpstart our minds back into focus. I used to work with numbers and spreadsheets for many hours during the workday. I found getting up and walking around the office for as little as a few minutes helped me refocus my concentration.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP. I can’t speak to the adequate number of sleep hours required for anyone except myself – those recommendations are better left to the experts. I need at least seven hours or more of sleep per day to feel rested. When I wake up feeling refreshed, my entire day usually goes well. I’ve discussed sleep patterns with friends and family over the years. Some people in my life claim to get no more than four hours of sleep and feel great. Others claim at least eight hours of sleep makes them feel rested. I remember seeing an interview on television years ago with a nonagenarian. The woman claimed the key to her long life was getting plenty of sleep and walking daily. I’ve seen people I’ll just call “moody” who weren’t the most pleasant people when they lacked hours of sleep. I know from experience about how things like overall health, medications, and caffeine can interfere with a restful sleep session. One thing most of us might agree on is how sleep is necessary for our mind to function properly.
- MAKE YOUR OWN FUN. I pride myself on what I call ‘making myself happy.’ I think of things I enjoy and take some action. Everything we enjoy can’t always be done at a moment’s notice. However, simple things like taking a walk, reading a book we enjoy, or participating in physical activities can do wonders to uplift our spirits. Do what you love. Music listening and dancing in my home are my go-to activities for feeling better. I listen to music daily and often!
- ENERGIZE. I can remember learning the fact food is fuel for our bodies in science class as a child. The nutrients in certain foods provide boosts of energy throughout the day. Eat recommended foods high in nutrients (you can Google them). Certain food increase energy, and, in turn allow us to do activities we enjoy.
- MOVE YOUR BODY. Whatever works for you! If you jog, run long-distance, or walk you know the benefits these activities provide toward feeling better. For those of us with physical limitations, modifications to popular exercises work the same way. Dancing in my home, most times alone, is one of my favorite things to do. The body’s release of endorphins is said to be responsible for those good feelings we get when we move our bodies.
- PRACTICE RELIGION OR SPIRITUALITY. Whatever your belief system, connections to a greater power or with our inner selves can go a long way toward boosting one’s spirit.
- SEEK HELP. If you’re sad more than normal and find your daily life is affected, seek professional help. We know ourselves better than anyone else. Today’s plugged-in society comes with the benefits of websites, text lines, support groups, and toll-free numbers to seek help. Here are a few links that may help.
- INTERNATIONAL: https://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines
This is strictly an opinion piece and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
Thanks for visiting.
The holiday season in the United States is here. Mass media ads for Pre-Black Friday deals have hit the airways, television, and online. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Enough about the inevitable because I want to take issue with National Cake Day this 26th day of November 2019.
Who decided to name a National Day where cake and all its variations are celebrated two days before the day, we Americans traditionally overindulge? Dessert cakes, coffee cakes, cake donuts, cupcakes, cookie cakes, and cheesecakes are being discounted at vendors throughout the country. I personally have no fears about my food intake on Thanksgiving Day. I enjoy the day with my family eating delicious food to my heart’s content with no shame. It’s only one day. With that said, I realize this time of year brings with it endless celebrations involving food more than any time of the calendar year. Now starts the time of year I struggle to avoid gaining potential pounds which will be harder to take off in the coming year. The weight loss struggle is real and I only fret for recent health reasons. I love myself and my life enough to attempt healthy eating for most of this festive time – with Thanksgiving being the exception. (health nuts, save your comments – I’m good)
So National Cake Day, I’ll pass.
Thanks for reading!
Below is a picture of a Chocolate Chip Bundt cake I usually make for a family member every Spring (a perfect time, in my opinion, for a National Cake Day).
It’s been quite a while since my last blog post. I saw a GIF recently which read: “I’m busy with my free time.” I laughed when I saw it and I can relate. At the halfway mark of National November Writing Month, I’m reflecting on my progress at this point in 2018. Last year I took on multiple projects during the month of November. During NaNoWriMo18, I took on a chapbook poem daily challenge, writing a flash fiction story daily, and working on a novel. It stood to reason something would suffer and it was the novel. The novel is currently completed for content but I’m not ready to let the self-editing process end yet. The novel is near and dear to my heart and I suspect it’s the reason it’s not completed a year later – I can’t let it go. The poetry written last November was published as the first book in my Second Act Writings series in January of 2019. The flash fiction content was published in the Spring of 2019.
In this month of November 2019, I decided to spend half the month concentrating solely on writing a new novel in a new genre. I’ve decided on a Young Adult full-length novel. My experience in writing short stories and flash fiction goes back to my childhood. The NaNoWriMo2019 novel will be my first work over fifty-thousand words. By my calculations, I’m three days ahead of schedule in my word count so I’m feeling good about my progress on the novel.
I decided the other day to make things interesting and push myself yet again. I’ve worked on a novella on an off for the past six months. It’s nearly complete and will be part of a series. My goal for the second half of November is to devote half my free time daily to the novel and the other half finishing the novella.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what other writers participating in #NaNoWriMo are feeling and doing at this half point of November. Please share your thoughts or comments.
Speaking on Rain, Writing, Loss, and Hope
As the month of June 2019 is nearing its end, I’m wondering how Spring passed by so fast. I remember the rain, rain, and more rain most of this year. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t my imagination we’d had a very wet year in southwestern Pennsylvania. Effortless research online led me to this recent article written by a local meteorologist. I can’t say I was surprised at the precipitation level reported. The article* informs my region had precipitation on 72.5% of the days this year. That figure doesn’t include the fifteen days since the article was published. There’s been even more rain since that time. I need to mention today’s forecast shows three of the next four days with rain. I’ll leave any complaining right here as I acknowledge other areas in my country experiencing worse rain. There were massive flooding events around the world and here in my country over the past months. Lives were lost. I don’t make the mistake of forgetting I’m blessed. I took a snapshot recently of the grass and trees outside my door after a rain (featured above). If you look carefully at the beautiful green scenery, you’ll see a visitor behind the fence spying on me. 😊
With the beginning of Summer starting this past weekend, I feel 2019 slipping away fast. Working on multiple writing projects were the things occupying my time in this second quarter. Daily, weekly and monthly writing goals are a welcome part of my life. What I enjoy most is sharing this journey with like-minded writers and readers. The Twitter #WritingCommunity is filled with supportive writers and readers. A recent Twitter non-scientific poll I ran had 75% of the respondents as solely fiction writers. I’m in the minority 20% that write both nonfiction and fiction. I’m still working on finding my true audience. My style is eclectic like me. I believe finding the happy medium between doing what one loves, caring for yourself, and attending to those you love can be tricky. At this point in my life it’s important I focus on all things that bring me joy.
The past year brought the passing of family members and friends. These losses are happening more frequently than ever. The deaths notifications remind me of my mortality. As I get older, I cherish the personal relationships of family and friends more. My faith keeps me grounded with a peace I wouldn’t trade for anything. My hope is to live every day grateful for the offerings life presents.
Go ahead and eat the cookie.
Go a little over budget.
Watch the mindless reality show.
Laugh at yourself.
Gaze at the moon.
Cheer loudly for your team.
Hold your loved one’s hand often.
Hug your family every chance you get.
Cherish your friends.
Love fiercely without regret.
Say “I love you” out loud.
Life is a moment long.
© Copyright 2018 R.H.W. Dorsey from “Second Act Writings: An Eclectic Poetry & Prose Collection.”
What’s in a smile?
Merriam-Webster defines the facial muscle responsible for producing a smile (zygomaticus major) as : “a slender band of muscle on each side of the face that arises from the zygomatic bone, inserts into the orbicularis oris and skin at the corner of the mouth, and acts to pull the corner of the mouth upward and backward when smiling or laughing.”
I’ll not go into how many muscles are used to smile versus a frown. There’s seems to be conflicting data relating to that question.
What I can say from experience is that smiling seems to be infectious. Have you ever walked into a public place and made eye contact with someone who was smiling? Does noticing a person smiling cause you to grin or smile? I’m not sure what the phenomenon is, but it’s truly a thing that happens. It may be that those of us that can relate to smiling in response to seeing a smile want to share in the joy. Sharing in others joy is something the world could use more of, in my opinion. Our need to share in another’s joy could be on a conscious or unconscious level. Or, it may be as simple as enjoying the view. If only for a moment, our smiles make us feel better. Walk into a place with people laughing hysterically and I dare you not to put on a grin or start laughing yourself. I’m sure there are people that would be unmoved by the previous scenario above. “Variety is the spice of life….” as William Cowper was quoted.
Have you ever been mildly upset and have someone try to make you smile? There are all sorts of medical data available related to smiling causing a reduced stress response. Check out the article on Medical News Today.
I’ve heard and read over the years that laughing adds time to human life. Whether that information is factual or not, the laughing starts with a SMILE.
By the way, Happy National Smile Day! Enjoy 😊!
R. H. W. Dorsey © 5/31/2019
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
I enjoy Twitter polls and can hardly resist scrolling past them (no matter the subject). There’s something about being part of a poll that I just dig. (I’m a Boomer). I thought it would be interesting to get an idea of what writers think, feel, use in their craft, etc. For the last five weeks, I’ve polled the #WritingCommunity on things that piqued my curiosity. I participated in the polls, as well. The writing and publishing processes are dynamic, and I wanted to see what’s fresh. Some of the polls I ran had only a handful of responses – but some data is better than none. Of course, since this is a ‘non-scientific’ poll, the results are technically misleading. I could even go so far to say some responses may have been for sport (see the poll on 3-12-19 below). At the present time, I’m content being a part of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter.
TWITTER WRITING COMMUNITY NON-SCIENTIFIC POLL
(Total votes are listed after polling data)
- 2/21/19: Writers, how often does your WIP change genres?
- 36% Sometimes; 18% Always; 46% Never (11 votes)
- 2/22/19: How much time do you spend reading books every day?
- 25% Less than 1 hour; 50% 1-2 hours; 0% 3-4 hours; 25% Over 4 hours (4 votes)
- 2/28/19: Novelists, do you create an outline for your novel?
- 36% Always; 27% Never; 37% Sometimes (11 votes)
- 3/1/19: What writing software are you using, if any?
- 30% Scrivener; 41% Word; 20% Google Docs; 9% Other (44 votes)
- 3/6/19: Have you ever completely revamped your WIP before publishing?
- 75% Many times; 25% Once or Twice; 0% Never (4 votes)
- (I’m filing under questions just stupid enough to ask)
- 75% Many times; 25% Once or Twice; 0% Never (4 votes)
- 3/12/19: Have you ever taken an online writing course?
- 64% No; 18% Yes; 9% I’m a Genius; 9% Currently taking a course (11 votes)
- (I’d love to meet the geniuses one day)
- 64% No; 18% Yes; 9% I’m a Genius; 9% Currently taking a course (11 votes)
- 3/16/19: What are you currently writing?
- 80% Genre fiction; 13% Literary Fiction; 7% Other (15 votes)
- 3/20/19: Are you planning a book launch?
- 60% Not sure; 30% No; 10% In Progress (10 votes)
- 3/26/19: What to do when writing and losing focus?
- Total 39 votes: 31% Exercise; 23% TV; 31% Read; 15% Other (39 votes)
- 3/30/19: Which of the 4 genres would you buy a book?
- 41% Literary; 0% Nonfiction; 7% Poetry; 52% Crime (27 votes)
Tweet comments were posted on some polls (summarized below)
- 2/21/19 Poll: “…while it might change, it’s never too far from where it started.”
- 3/1/19 Poll: Other writing software noted in poll comments: New Novelist; OpenOffice; Zenwriter; Hemingway; Grammarly.
- 3/26/19 Poll: Activities when losing focus noted in poll comments: watch videos; housework; write something else; nap; physically move to a new space to write.
- 3/30/19 Poll: I purposely used the four categories of my personal interest in this poll. Two people commented:
- Crime Fiction and a split between contemporary Lit.
What did I learn? I learned that I was almost always in the lower percentage of the polls. I embrace being different so very much!
What was I surprised by? 64% of those that answered had never taken an online writing course – I’m one of the 64% (the only poll where I was with the majority).
As much as the poll was unscientific, it helped me interact with the writing community.
NATIONAL POUND CAKE DAY
Today, March 4th is National Pound Cake Day among other named days. *
According to my journal, I last baked the pound cake noted below in the Spring of 2017. I was living away from my home state temporarily at a Fisher House in the state of Virginia. A close family member was recuperating in a hospital at the time. A lady I’d met months before at the house gave me this recipe. I’d made pound cakes for years with a sour cream addition. The variation of using heavy whipping cream instead was a recipe I was eager to try. The cake turned out well, and I must admit other people at the house thought the same.
I’ve lived in the northeastern United States my entire life. My time in Virginia on that trip lasted close to a year. I had the pleasure of learning the so-called ‘southern hospitality’ was a real thing. The Fisher House was a home away from home. It was always a delight to get a warm welcome from a house guest after a long and sometimes emotional day at the hospital. Most houseguests got a chance to return the favor in kind. I’d have to say it was rare that there wasn’t prepared meals, snacks and fresh baked goods waiting for the guests at the end of their day. Houseguests and staff alike shared in the hospitality that made the time at the house bearable as the hospital patients recuperated.
I don’t have nutritional information for this scratch recipe. And hey, do you really want to know anyway?
So, in the spirit of National Pound Cake Day, here’s my contribution.
(*By the way, today is also National Hug a G.I. Day. My G.I. has been hugged today and he loved the pound cake!) 😊
Whipping Cream Pound Cake
5 or 6 eggs
½ pint heavy whipping cream
2 sticks of softened butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar
(A Bundt pan can be used for this recipe, but I use the tube pan to get better results for this heavy cake)
Grease a large tube pan with a light layer of shortening and dust with flour.
(Notes: I used 5 eggs, the original recipe called for 3 cups of sugar; this makes a large cake – if desired, a reduction by half in the ingredients would make a smaller loaf pound cake)
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs (preferably room temperature) one at a time beating each into the mixture, then repeat the process with each egg.
Add the vanilla extract.
Stir in equal amounts of flour, then whipping cream and stir. Repeat adding whipping cream and flour until the last amount of flour is mixed into the batter.
Bake at 300 degrees F. for 1 hour 45 minutes (I preheated the oven for only 5 minutes or less before baking)
Check for doneness with a toothpick or clean butter knife.