Blogs, Creative Writing, current events, Uncategorized

December 2019 Geminid Meteor Shower

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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.

https://blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/tag/geminids/

https://nationaleclipse.com/maps.html

https://www.space.com/34921-geminid-meteor-shower-guide.html

Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

A Very Brief Rant on National Cake Day

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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).

Blogs

Halfway through NaNoWriMo19

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.

Thanks!

Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Speaking on Rain, Writing, Loss, and Hope

Deer outside on 062019

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.

Do It

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.” 

 

 

* https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/06/10/pittsburgh-weather-2019-rain-how-much/

 

 

 

Think It’s Rained A Lot In Pittsburgh This Year? You’re Right

Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

National Smile Day! :)

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

https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/zygomaticus%20major

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248433.php

yellow plush toy

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Blogs, Creative Writing, Uncategorized

Non-scientific Writing Community Polls on Twitter

person dropping paper on box
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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)
  • 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)
  • 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:
    • Sci-Fi
    • 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.

 

Blogs, Creative Writing, Recipes, Uncategorized

National Pound Cake Day

 

 

 

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

Ingredients:

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)

 

DIRECTIONS                                                                 

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.

round bread
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Blogs, Uncategorized

National Clam Chowder Day

seashells in a bag

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Today, January 25th is National Clam Chowder Day. I promised on a blog post last year that I’d revisit the subject of National Days. Better late than never, I always say. The 25th of February is also National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. I prefer chocolate covered nuts much more than clam chowder, but I learned clam chowder was a more interesting subject.

Are you aware that clam chowder has over nine variations? I mean, who knew? Maybe clam chowder lovers were aware, but not I. Not being a huge clam chowder fan, I can say that I’ve eaten clam chowder at times throughout the years. As a child and into adulthood, I only knew about two types of clam chowder: Manhattan and New England. I always preferred the Manhattan chowder for its tomato base and flavor.

Why does clam chowder deserve a special day? While I can’t answer the question, I believe the issue is not as subjective as I’d originally thought. National ‘Singles Awareness Day’ was observed just last week. If you’re single, aren’t you aware of it every day of the year? If you’re single by choice, shouldn’t you celebrate it every day? Maybe ‘National Singles Day’ would be a better term. Semantics, I know. National ‘Fun at Work Day’ is observed later this week. I wonder how many employers will buy into making the work day ‘fun’ for employees without sacrificing their bottom line? A day of fun at work is possible for some professions, though. When you consider there are ‘National Days’ slated for just about anything, naming a day for a chowder with multiple variations might be reasonable.

Besides New England and Manhattan clam chowder, I’ve read about variations of clam chowder named Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Hatteras, Minorcan, Long Island, and Puget Sound. It seems the different areas of the United States add or omit ingredients to the chowder, thus giving it a unique name that stuck with the region. While I won’t go into the details of all the variations, I found one interesting variation I’d like to try. Hatteras clam chowder is prepared with celery, carrots, potatoes, onions, and clam juice. My own favorite potato soup recipe has almost all the ingredients of the Hatteras variety, less the clam component.

If nothing else, clam chowder and its many varieties are interesting enough, in my opinion, to have a National Day observance.  My opinion counts – at least on this blog. Personally, as a writer, I’m looking forward to National Tell a Fairy Tale Day tomorrow.

If you like clam chowder, which one is your favorite, and why?

 

 

 

 

References:

https://www.homeandplate.com/blog/2015-2-hatteras-clam-chowder/

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/february/

https://www.ehow.com/info_8355520_different-kinds-clam-chowders.html