Ten Fun Facts About “A 38 Day Education”

  1. Pompeii’s Volcano, the restaurant in the book, was inspired in part by Dina’s Pizza in Cleveland, Ohio.
  2. Jay Ferragamo’s first name is actually Giovanni.  “Jay” is short for Jayson, his middle name.
  3. If The Scope newspaper was published in real life, it’s intended design would resemble that of The Oracle at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
  4. President Earl Falconer’s name was derived as a satirical tribute to the Atlanta Falcons.
  5. Jay’s roommate, Martin Ballard, does not drink at all in the series.
  6. The idea for Barron Deegan, Jay’s journalism professor, was partially inspired by late Southern Humorist Lewis Grizzard.
  7. The mascot for South Central College was chosen while watching “Ice Age.”  Mastodons are not a common nickname, and so it fit.
  8. South Central College’s red and gold colors were inspired by those of the University of Tampa, the first college to accept me while in high school.
  9. Parts of the book were written on a first-generation smartphone, emailed to my personal address, and pasted into the main manuscript.
  10. The title was originally “38 Days,” but changed when the title was amount of time a fallen soldier spent in Iraq before being killed in action.  I felt I would dishonor this man’s memory by keeping the title as such.

“A 38 Day Education is available on my website with a special deal for August.  Buy the book at $17.99 and I will ship it to you signed by me!  You not only get the book at a discount, but it will arrive autographed!

The dangerous decline of American media

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A recent perusing of my local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has left me lamenting the current state of the American press.  Once the great bulwark against government oppression and abuse of the weak by the powerful, the news media in our nation has been ebbing in terms of its ability to perform a sacred public charge…being the muscle behind the First Amendment.

Many Americans, particularly those on the far right, hail the notion of a reduced news media.  Granted, the ability of journalists to report dispassionately has been significantly compromised over the years, but this is more the combined result of ideology-driven journalism professors instructing and ratings-driven news directors and editors seeking the most outrageous and eye popping headlines to gain attention.  Rather than allowing quality, high impact material to sell itself, the “quick fix” mentality has perverted this industry into a Machiavellian cacophony of conglomerate owned media outlets, all taking matching orders from a main office which is usually out of touch with everyday issues, but more than happy to cater to the fringe movements who scream like hungry eaglets.

There was a time when one could take provide in the unique look, feel, attitude and coverage of their newspaper, radio and television stations.  It was regions signature.  The San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New York Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Atlanta Constitution had a unique feel. New York’a WCBS, Chicago’s WGN, and Atlanta’s WSB all had their distinct sound.  Anyone winks.traveled the country knew that WCAU in Philadelphia covered crime, WFLA in Tampa has heavy on the environment, and KTLA In Los Angeles was the car chase channel.  By and large, this doesn’t exist anymore.

A small group of corporate owners led by Gannett, Raycom, Comcast, and Cox have conquered the landscape in television.  In radio, the “Four C’s” of Cumulus, Cox, Clear Channel and CBS rule the broadcast booth.  While newspapers and print have dates better, consolidation has become a necessary evil to survive as stodgy publishers and editorial boards were slower than a turtle in a tar pit to embrace the internet.  That landscape is being slowly conquered by Post-Newsweek, News Corp/Fox, Newhouse, Tribune Publishing and the new behemoth, Berkshire Hathaway. 

The end result is slowly emerging.  Less competition means more fluff pieces, more tabloid sensationalism, less real investigative reporting for fear of rifling advertiser and political feathers, and more focus on the advertising bottom line.  Rather than drive readership with quality, engaging active debate and discussion, and creating a truly American journalism legacy, our birthright as a free people is being stripmined and turned into the term coined to describe areas saturated by chain restaurants and big box stores.  This once-sacred territory is now in danger of being swallowed by the sands of time and the avarice and greed which permeates corporate boardrooms world wide.

The name of this newly conquered land:  Generica, Journalism Division.

The Review Process

Couldn’t have said this better myself!

Crackerberries

The Review Process

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The best thing you can do for an author after you have read their book is a review. This not only helps potential buyers but it gives feedback to the author about what promising fans like or dislike about their writing.

You can write an easy quick review or take your time and be more meticulous. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it. A review based on the star rating system might be something like this:

• Five stars would be for a novel that is simply an outstanding piece of work.

• Four stars would indicate that the piece is excellent but certain adjustments would make it better.

• Three stars is an average piece of work. It’s okay, take it or leave it — not bad, not great.

• Two stars would indicate the writing could be good, but…

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College calls….some tips for first time college parents

With students getting ready to go to school, parents are in that time of nervousness and letting go.  Most kids are ill-prepared for the life that college presents, so here are some pieces of wisdom parents should remember.

Remind them…Party all you want AFTER the work is done.  It’s a simple reality:  new college students, devoid of rules and regulations of home, go wild.  In most cases, this leads to freshman burnout and, on occasion, flunkout.  Get the work done first, then focus in being stupid.

They WILL do one really DUMB thing in college everyone will remember.  No matter how much your kid says “I’m too smart for that,” the fact is the brain doesn’t fully mature until the mid-20s so, unless little Jimmy is way more advanced that others, chances are good he will dance with a lampshade on his head, at the least.  Consider it a lesson in humility.

Forget abstinence; focus instead on not getting hurt or sick and keeping your self respect.  College is one of the most sexually charges environments out there.  It is the rare student who enters and graduates still a virgin.  Pressure is everywhere.  Rather than preaching abstinence and laboring under the illusion little Billy or Mary will not do what humans do, focus instead on considering forgiving them (and yourself) for their perceived loss of innocence.  Hate to say it, but sexual guilt is a serious source of promiscuity.  Empowerment equals abstinence and smart choices.  Trust them to make the right choice…forgive and support recovery when they err.

Don’t meddle.  Easier said than done.  Don’t call your kid three times a week because you are scared (or lonely).  Let them focus on their life and being who they are.  And celebrate…college life means you are able to have some real “you” time.

Remind them the real world is calling.  Paramore’s song “ain’t it fun” is on the money…ain’t no crying to your mama.  Let your kids know they are now responsible.  The WORST thing any parent can do is give bail money.  The fear of being stuck in jail with no bailout usually keeps kids from doing the dumbest things.

Burn that credit card.  Seriously, giving your child a credit card subsidized by you is like giving a terrorist a nuclear weapon and saying “play nice.”  Combine compromised impulse control with purchasing power and you have a recipe for disaster.  Better idea…help them get a credit card by driving them to the bank and having them fill out their own form.

Get over the fear of drugs and alcohol. A kid who hasn’t experimented with drugs and alcohol as a teenager is unlikely to do so in college.  Pot smokers usually start at a young age.  Heroin and cocaine abusers usually started with alcohol and glue sniffing as kids and nobody wanted to step in.  Trust your kids but explain the dumb things you did and the consequences.  Nothing takes the “cool” out of something faster than knowing mom and dad did the same thing.

And best piece of advice for parents of college newbies.

Laugh off the “I know better than you did” attitude.  Yes we want to slap that off our kids brains, but all college newbies think they know more.  It’s freshman hubris and after that first heartbreak, first bombed test or first nude selfie, the luster wears off fast.  Forgive, forget and love your kids.  Remember, it really isn’t like the “old days.”  That alone should help provide perspective for you.  Remember, college isn’t for everyone.  Don’t be ashamed if it doesn’t work out.  Move forward,.and get them launched.

“Mew 101” – Conversational Kitty

There are a lot of programs and software out there talking about how best to handle your cat.  Naturally, this is to be expected as cats are one of the largest search engine and video hit terms on the internet.  As the “parent” of three spoiled rotten felines (Bently, Max and Rex), it is quiet easy to become fluent in the language of “mew.”  That being said, here are some feline linguistic basics to understand what kitty is verbalizing.

NOTE:  Please do not rely on this as an “English-Cat” dictionary.  This is strictly for entertainment purposes.

Basic Greetings:

Quick, hi pitched chirp:  Hello there!

Semi quick, hi pitched meow:  Hey!

Somewhat extended, medium pitch:  Where the @#!% have you been?

Short, low pitched meow:  Hey, you!  Down here!

 

Advanced Language

“Mememew” – You better listen to me, buster.

“Meeheheheheow” – Okay, you got food, I’ve got a stomach!

“Awreow” – Food, dammit!

“Meereeow” – Please, feed me!

“Mew” – This one is kinda like “Aloha” as it could mean a million things!

“Meerow” – ‘Sup?

“Reeeow” – What?

“New” – No

“Rrr” Yes?

“Meeorrowwwoeeww” – My litter smells like a sewer!  Change it, dammit!

 

If you have any additional “language” to add, please comment below!  I invite feedback!

Has President Obama checked out?

http://www.examiner.com/article/obama-s-being-checked-out-may-be-indicative-of-his-ultimate-legacy?cid=db_articles

President Barack Obama has been golfing, vacationing and living the high life for several months, to the point where his own United Nations Ambassador was actually more forceful regarding Russia than her Commander-in-chief boss was. Now, both friends and foes alike have been asking one question about the Big Cheese at 1600 Penn.

Has President Obama checked out?

A column which will anger both sides of the aisle

http://www.examiner.com/article/this-commentary-is-sure-to-anger-both-the-left-and-right-read-at-your-own-risk

The new third-rail of American politics being called a “liberal.” Over the past few election cycles, politicians have gone out of their way to distance themselves from the label, while conservative pundits have relished in the opportunity to call opponents by that word. Like some bizarre new scarlet letter, it seems everyone has been trying avoid have the terrible “L-word” pasted to their person.

There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with being liberal. If you choose to have an open mind, you will read on for the reasoning behind this statement.