Category Archives: rant

Photo op -1

For those few awesome folks who have seen my other Photo op posts, I say thank you very much for your interest. I will also explain why this particular Photo op is named so peculiarly and why there’s no actual photo in it.

Anyone who knows me knows of my affinity for taking pictures of birds of prey, especially Bald Eagles. I have been fortunate enough to live close to where a few Bald Eagles are occasionally seen. I have been able to capture a few in photos, but the opportunities are few and far between. Most times my success or failure has hinged on having a camera with me and some spare time to go get the shot.

On this particular day, which we will call ‘yesterday’, I was driving through the area they are sometimes seen. I had mentioned to my wife a few minutes previously that I had forgotten to bring my camera, but we were in a hurry and I didn’t feel the need to go home and get it.

This was a decision I would soon regret.

As I drove, I noticed a deer carcass on the side of the road and two large birds ‘tending’ to it. My first assumption was that they were carrion, most likely turkey buzzards that also frequent the area in which I live. As I approached, I realized, much to my chagrin, that they were Bald Eagles and I was about to drive within ten feet of them.

My eyes grew wide with shock as I flashed back to my camera sitting on the table at home.

When I was about fifty feet away, one of the Eagles took off and flew directly in front of our van, which also would’ve provided me with an excellent close-up photo. It flew in front of us for around thirty yards, which would’ve been time to get plenty of great shots. As time slowed, each flap of its majestic wings became a torment to me. I couldn’t even enjoy the spectacle because of the enormous weight of disappointment. Then it suddenly veered off as if to say, ‘You had your chance, too bad you didn’t bring your camera’.

To say that I was greatly disappointed would be an understatement.

This ranks as the number one greatest picture I never took.

I have had several more instances that I may share as time goes on, but this one was still fresh in my mind.

In any case, happy new year. Wishing you all success in the coming year.


Writer’s rant

Read the fine print.

I know as a writer that sometimes things can get a bit desperate. I know that sometimes it seems like I’ll never see my name in print. Fortunately, I love what I do. But I see many online sites that feed on the desperate. I’m not talking about the obvious shysters that are easily recognizable, I’m talking about those who look professional and even credible.

I just got done reading a submission guideline for a publication that offered a payment of $5-$20 for stories from 3,000 up to 20,000 words. That’s not great in itself, but they demanded that those unlucky authors sign away exclusive worldwide rights for two years!

$20 for two years! That’s not just insulting, it’s borderline criminal.

I don’t know how long other authors take to write their stories, but I don’t have a lot of time to work on them. With the available time I have it could take me a week to a month to create a 20,000 word story. And then I go into edit mode, followed by more edit mode, followed by sudden death edit mode, followed by ‘I suck as an author’ edit mode. Until I’m done, I’ve put dozens if not hundreds of man-hours into making my story the best it can be. Locking my work up for two years for the paltry sum of $20 just ain’t happening.

I realize this makes me look like a selfish SOB, but I have a terrible problem. I like to eat and so does my family. I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to get my name out there by submitting to markets that can’t or don’t pay, but that’s not the same as saying ‘I’m going to pay you a paltry sum just to make it legal to do whatever I want to with your story. ‘

If I placed an ad in the paper for someone to come dig ditches for me but told them I could only pay them $20 for two years of work and while working for me they couldn’t work for anyone else, I don’t imagine I’d get too many applicants.

Bottom line, always read the submission guidelines … always.



I’m driving home from work the other day and need to stop at the local Mom&Pop store to pick up a few things. After procuring my supplies I get back in the car to finish the trip to my sanctuary that I call ‘home‘.

I stop at a red light, glance across the intersection, and see an older woman lower her car window. Her little dog (I think it was a Pomeranian or some other such tiny dog that looks like it was designed by a deranged toymaker) nearly jumps out of the window as the woman turns toward me.

My first thought is: What an idiot! She’s going to kill someone while trying to keep that dog from jumping out of the window.

I shake my head at the general insanity of some drivers, when suddenly she stops beside me, blocking the street. Not sure what to think, I hesitate.

Has this woman somehow read my mind and is stopping to give me a piece of hers?

Am I about to be the world’s first victim of a ninety year old carjacker?

I roll down my window.

She smiles and says, “You forgot your tea.”

How does she know anything about me? I’ve never seen this woman before. Is she some sort of weird psychic?

She points to the roof of my car.

I jump out and there on the roof sits a gallon of tea that I had bought a half a mile ago and set it on the roof to get my keys out.

Grabbing the tea, I smile and say, “Thank you,” then hop back into the car all before the light turns. She smiles back and drives away. The light turns green. I press the gas pedal and slink away like a dog with his tail between his legs.

Lessons learned:

Don’t judge by appearances.
Understanding goes a long way.
Not everyone in this world is an idiot.
Check the roof of your car before you drive away.
Every time you think someone’s an idiot, remember this story.

I’m going to go sit in my corner now.



Couch gag

I’ve decided that the human race is too stupid to survive. I didn’t come to this conclusion rashly, it took me a few minutes.

It started when I bought a couch from the Goodwill store. (Because that’s how glamourous a writer’s life is.) As I was driving home with my ‘new’ couch on the back of the truck, a car started tailgating me.

Of course, being the sensitive soul that I am, my first thought was, You idiot! If this couch slides off, you’re in a world of hurt.

He continued to follow closely as I mentally berated him and most of his ancestors. Finally, we came to a passing lane and my newfound friend flew around me like he was doing a victory lap at Daytona.

I resisted the urge to use hand signals and continued on my way home when another car tailgated me.

I had to assume that the inherent danger in this situation was not evident to these chowderheads. So I tried to ignore him as he passed me on a double yellow line.

By the time the third vehicle had pulled up behind me I had made my decision about humanity.

Oh, wait, this guy’s backing away. Maybe there’s hope for mankind yet. It figures this guy understands, he’s driving a pickup truck.

Positively positive

This old dog has been trying to learn some new tricks. The first is the hardest one, stay positive.

It shouldn’t be that tough, right? Well I got my first test when a website sent me a response to my story submission. I should be happy, right? They sent me notice, right? Well, I would be except that the notice they sent me equals ‘thanks but no thanks’. Should I let that bother me? No, I’ve had rejections before. However, when the rejection is almost word for word plagiarized from their own website, that bothers me a little. When I remember that I paid twenty dollars to enter my story into this contest and got merely a form rejection with not even so much as a review out of it, that bothers me a bit more. But what bothers me the most is that they have the audacity to say that they try to help new writers. Apparently that help does not extend to a simple review or even the courtesy of a personalized response. In fact, twenty bucks for absolutely nothing reeks of scam to me.

So, herein lies my test. Do I succumb to the bitterness and anger over a website that says they support new writers when all they’re really doing is lying to and stealing from those very writers they claim to support?

Or do I rise above it? Do I chalk this up to experience? Do I learn the expensive lesson that some websites, no matter how nice they look or how many names they drop, are nothing more than chicanery? Just a not so cheap swindle. Slight of hand. ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.’

I’ll go the high road and not mention the website’s name, however, I will caution any of my fellow writers out there. When you’re looking for contests and see entry fees, be very careful, no matter how much the jackpot, umm, I mean first prize is. Just look for the smoke and mirrors.

For some excellent advice on avoiding scams, go here.