Make Me Think Monday

28 11, 2022

Is It Time to Pitch Your Turkey Leftovers?

By |2022-11-27T16:58:25-06:00November 28th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

If you live in the U.S., you probably sat down at a Thanksgiving table loaded with enough food to feed a third-world country for a week.

We sure did. And we had leftovers.

For me, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. I love the smell of the stripped carcass simmering with onions and celery in our traditional turkey brown rice soup on Black Friday.

With only two of us now, cooking the whole turkey carcass into soup is too much. This year’s bare Tom Turkey bones went with a granddaughter and her growing family. Instead, we took enough slices of turkey for sliders on Black Friday.

I’m guessing many are still moving leftover turkey or dressing or sweet potatoes around in your refrigerators to eat next week…but is that safe?

It depends upon how long the leftovers sat before being stored. Did you refrigerate perishable foods quickly after your meal?

If not, it may be time to pitch the leftovers or risk foodborne illness – isn’t that a lovely way to say food poisoning?

Bacteria don’t typically change the taste, smell, or look, you can’t tell until the nasty germs attack your digestive tract. Happily, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling.

According to this Forbes article, you should follow these six guidelines for leftover food storage,

  1. Store leftovers within two hours of serving.
  2. Use clean airtight containers or wrapping
  3. Remember the three-to-four-day limit for refrigeration of leftovers.
  4. Froze the leftovers? Remember the three-to-four-month limit for freezers.
  5. Check refrigerator temperature is 40° Fahrenheit or lower.
  6. Heat leftovers to at least 165° Fahrenheit before eating.

My advice, check any leftovers, Thanksgiving or otherwise before you eat them. Better safe than sorry.

14 11, 2022

Gratitude begins with Thankfulness

By |2022-11-14T07:25:56-06:00November 14th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Blogging about thankfulness and gratitude in November is cliché.

On the other hand, there’s no better time than the month when our nation pauses for a whole day to give thanks.

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested we should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Here are two ideas that can help focus an attitude of thankfulness.

Use social media

Author friend Daphne Dyer is doing 30 Days of Gratitude posts this month. She suggests daily topics and gives her answers. Check out her posts on Facebook for daily gratitude inspiration.

Another friend Shelia Athens uses every Thursday to share gratitude posts all year.

Keep a gratitude list.

It can be hard to think of something to be thankful for, especially when those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days gang up. Research shows over time the act of physically writing out a daily list can produce a grateful attitude.

Writing’s not for you? Try grateful beads to help recall things to be thankful for.

I use a string of ten beads. Three beads remind me to be grateful for three people who touch my life. Six beads for six things, events, and occurrences, and the final bead reminds me to give thanks to our creator.

There are many options on Etsy  Pinterest also has lots of ideas.

I discovered an M&M thankful game. Pick a color, name something I’m thankful for, and eat the M&M. Now that’s a game I can get into. Bring on the M&Ms.

Being grateful is a choice. Wouldn’t it be lovely to seek out things to be thankful for daily rather than only one day or one month per year?

31 10, 2022

Halloween Costumes

By |2022-10-30T18:13:16-05:00October 31st, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

A little synchronicity going on with blogs this Halloween.

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s post for last Friday about crayon costumes she’d made for her children arrived for me to schedule as I was searching through my stash of pictures for a Halloween costume photo to use for my blog today. As I told her, great minds think alike.

My search for the photo of her brother and sister in their costumes turned into more of a search than I wanted. I discovered two things:

#1 The albums I used back in the 1970s were disintegrating. The pictures were fine the photo holders not so much.

Not a big problem. Now I know there’s an issue. I’ll switch all those photos to albums like the other years before cell phone photography and cloud storage.

#2 Daughter #2 (the one in the picture) had the photograph.

That proved to be more of an issue. After texting Daughter #2, I learned she did have the photo I wanted for sure along with several others. All taken with permission. However, she couldn’t find the photo of her and her brother in Halloween costumes.

Thus began the great Halloween picture search at our family gathering to watch the opening game of the World Series. She brought a huge pile of pictures for us to search through as we sipped craft beer and cheered the Astros.

No luck that night so her search continued.

No luck the next day or the next. “No worries,” I said through my disappointment.

Then I got a text late Sunday afternoon: “I never did find the original but suddenly remembered that I had scanned it in on my old phone!!” The photo we’d been searching for was included. I had to laugh at the full circle…snapshot to jpg. Computers to the rescue.

Here’s the picture. Our son is in a devil costume I made and daughter #2 is one of the three blind mice. (Back then Halloweens were kinder and gentler.)

After that buildup, you’ll probably find the photo anti-climactic, but don’t miss the paper decorations in the windows.

24 10, 2022

Daylight Savings Time Yay or Nay?

By |2022-10-22T14:00:58-05:00October 24th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

On Nov. 6 at 2 a.m. daylight saving time will end for most of the United States. All those clocks we moved ahead on March 13th must now be turned back an hour.

If your internal clock is like mine, our bodies struggle to adjust for days after each time change. But there’s an outside possibility this might be the last time we have to turn the clocks back.

Last March, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would permanently keep the country in daylight saving time and end the biannual clock-turning.

But it’s not a done deal until the House votes on the bill. It is the first time in 40 years a bill to end daylight savings time has gotten this far.

Daylight saving time has been a polarizing topic since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 declaring six months with daylight savings time and six months without, Individual states could opt in or out.

Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe daylight savings time. United States territories, including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands,  don’t observe daylight savings time either.

Whether to switch permanently to DST or revert to standard time is a tough call. Polls show most favorite a permanent switch.

A March 2022 Monmouth University poll found that 44% support a permanent move to daylight saving time, while 13% of poll respondents support switching permanently to standard time.

In a YouGov survey, 59 percent of adults surveyed said they would like to see daylight saving time made permanent, compared to 19 percent who would not.

Most health experts agree that settling into daylight saving time or standard time is better than changing the clocks twice a year.

A switch is favored. The question is which time to switch to, DST or regular standard time.

Arguments for the DST time change being permanent:

  • According to the United States Department of Transportation, daylight savings time saves energy because people use fewer lights in their homes and spend more time outdoors.
  • Statistics show Americans are more likely to go shopping after work if it is still light outside, which in turn helps businesses.

Arguments for abandoning DST and reverting to standard time:

  • The switch messes with your body’s circadian rhythms causing detrimental effects on your physical and mental health.
  • Statistics confirm a nearly 25% increase in traffic accidents, emergency room visits, suicide attempts, and patients suffering from depression on the day the changes take place.

Me, I say leave the clocks alone and let the sun do its thing. What do you say?

17 10, 2022

Why I love Noah Webster

By |2022-10-16T12:44:49-05:00October 17th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

A day to honor Noah Webster’s birthday on October 16, 1758. You probably recognize the name.

Webster is the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” and author of the Blue-Backed Speller which taught generations of American school children to read and spell.

Because he disliked the complexity of English spelling rules, he streamlined our American way of spelling certain words like “color” instead of the English spelling of “colour.” His first dictionary was published in 1806.

A year later he began work on a more comprehensive dictionary, which took him twenty-seven years to finish. He learned twenty-six languages to evaluate the etymology of the seventy thousand words included in the work.

As a child, I spent hours poring through the pages of my grandmother’s eight-inch thick copy of Webster’s New International Dictionary (of the English Language).

The fifteen-pound book had leather alphabet tabs cut into the pages. The illustrations were detailed and the maps gorgeous. There were diagrams, charts, and thousands of words. It was a fertile resource for a blossoming logophile or wordsmith as I prefer to call myself.

Wonderful magical stuff can happen when you use a print dictionary. You discover word origins and its root which can give a deeper understanding of meaning. You also find synonyms and antonyms that provide possibilities for rewriting or a totally new idea.

Sure, you can get all that in a nanosecond online. But do you scroll down to discover all that? Probably not. Even if you do, you miss all those other words your finger glides over as it scrolls down the printed page. Words that you might never have seen.

As an author, I keep a print copy of Webster’s Dictionary closeby, and I use it often along with the online versions.

Authors and anyone who publishes also have another reason to appreciate Noah Webster. He played a role in forming the Copyright Act of 1831, which extended copyrights from fourteen to twenty-eight years with an option of renewal for another fourteen years. That changed with even greater protections under The Copyright Act of 1976, but Noah Webster started the copyright ball rolling.

Thank you, Mr. Webster, for your hard work. You do deserve a national day of recognition.

3 10, 2022

My Love of Words

By |2022-09-27T10:14:13-05:00October 3rd, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Words are my world as a writer. I’m always working to build my vocabulary and hone my word use.

A recent blog post from Writing Tips, “The Vicissitudes of the Latin Plural in English” fascinated me.

Not because of the Latin. My knowledge of Latin is limited to “Et Tu, Brute” and “El Pluribus Union.”

What intrigued me was the evolution of Latin words and their plurals.

When the English-speaking curriculum included the study of Latin, the Latin plurals for words were standard. Nowadays, not so much. Use has changed their use. Imagine coming across any of these Latin words when you’re reading today.

Latin Singulars Latin Plurals
Formulae for formula Octopodes for octopus
Agendum for agenda Encyclopediae for encyclopedias
Hippopotami for hippopotamus Dogmata for dogmas
Alumnus for alumni Stigmata for stigmatas

 

Don’t know about you, but I’d stumble if I read any of those in something I was reading.

Fortunately, language is always changing to suit the comfort of the people who speak it according to the blog. Whichever word sounds “less English” is dropped.

That’s why words like data are accepted as either singular or plural. Other words like medium and media, the plural, have taken on new and different meanings.

Media in today’s use refers to methods of communication such as newspapers, television, radio, and film. The word medium can be the material used by an artist to produce an artistic creation or any method for doing something.

Latin singulars and plurals are mostly found only in a scientific or academic context.

I can understand why. Can’t you?

26 09, 2022

One of my Favorite Fall Things

By |2022-09-24T16:47:14-05:00September 26th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

One of my favorite things about September is the moon. It’s always big and bright and seems so close. Moonlight guides my early morning walks with Finnegan.

It’s called a harvest moon.

The name likely sprang from the lips of farmers who, in the days before tractor lights, used its light to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

It’s not truly bigger, brighter, or more pumpkin-colored than other full moons. It just appears to be.

Our moon normally rises on average 50 minutes later every day as the year moves on. A Harvest Moon rises only 30 minutes later. Those twenty minutes make a difference in how big the moon appears.

The Harvest moon isn’t associated with a specific month like other full moons. The moon that rises closest to the autumnal equinox, is called the Harvest Moon.

That was September 10 this year and the night sky put on a dazzling lunar display for skywatchers around the world. Did you see it? If not, check out this Twitter post from Nicholas Isabella.

You can enjoy other fabulous Harvest Moon shots from around the world here.

 

12 09, 2022

Recognizing a POGO Writer

By |2022-09-11T16:27:03-05:00September 12th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Monday Motivations|1 Comment

Writing careers vary from writer to writer. There’s no policy and procedure manual, no checklist for success. What to do and how to do it is solely up to the individual author. Writers can be successful or sabotage their success.

We tend to sabotage ourselves. In the immortal words of POGO, “We met the enemy and it is us!” Pogo Possum is the anthropomorphic character created by Walt Kelly. The POGO comic strip ran daily from 1948 to 1975. The graphic pictured was for the first Earth Day in 1971.

These are characteristics of POGO writers …

  1. You spend too much time and energy mimicking the writing and style of some other author.

The publishing world already has Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, Steven King, and Nora Roberts. Their success is their success. You can’t copy and get there!

  1. You obsess with following THE RULES.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are very important guidelines. Writing, on the other hand, is an art form that entails experimentation, innovation, and expansion.

Don’t be so hung up on THE RULES you lose your own sense of story.

  1. You buy into every new way to write or plot that a writing expert suggests.

I’m not saying it’s not necessary to study writing craft. Learning the craft and studying with writing experts is important.

All the classes and workshops in the world are wasted if I’m not producing. Plus, writing experts don’t always know what’s right for the individual. There isn’t one answer.

That’s a self-discovery journey traveled alone. We eventually figure out what works for us.

  1. You’re unable to take criticism or the flip side—believe everything anyone says about your story.

Either position can be fatal.

No denying bad critiques or reviews hurt. Surviving a brutal criticism or review requires an elephant hide and learning to weigh the opinions expressed for exactly what they’re worth then make up your own mind.

It is YOUR story, after all.

Strong writers survive…and often produce better stories from hard critiques or bad reviews.

  1. You’re not writing.

This is the most telling POGO writer sign of all.

All writers struggle with the procrastination parasite from time to time. But a successful writing career requires disciple and focus. Whether moved by the muse or not, a professional goes to the keyboard or grabs a pencil every day.

I know what you’re thinking, authors must promote and develop reader relationships, which cuts into writing time. Very true, but I would argue that the key to gaining recognition and readership (aka success) is writing the next story.

Do you recognize any POGO writer signs in yourself? What can you do to change them?

An earlier version of this post appeared on September 23, 2013.
5 09, 2022

Labor Day Thank You

By |2022-09-04T11:52:59-05:00September 5th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

It’s Labor Day, I want to acknowledge workers and the work they do.

Those who work in farming, ranching, and trucking, or in factories, warehouses, retail stores, and other labor-intensive jobs are the ones who make our country such a great place to live.

Our backbone.

Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, EMTs, and soldiers serve, day in and day out, with no time off for holidays to protect us.

Because y’all do your job, I can do what I love – write. I have to pause here and give a special nod of awe to fellow writers who work full time and come home to write.

Writing is my job. Because so many workers do their jobs, I’m able to do mine. Specific thank yous to

  1. Teachers, college professors, writing workshop presenters, and conference organizers. Because you did your job, I can read and write!
  2. Thank you, farmers, ranchers, truck drivers, and grocery store employees. You do your job and I can shop in comfort at the local market for my family’s needs and meals.
  3. Thank you to carpenters, electricians, plumbers, designers, and builders who provide a roof over my head, heat, and air conditioning. Doing your job provided a safe, dry place for me to work indoors.

Writing is different from other jobs.

We don’t have to clock in or out. We’re not docked if we’re late or choose not to write one day. It’s a solitary job. For the most part, it’s us and the computer or pen and paper. But without all of you doing your job I can’t do mine.

Thank you!

22 08, 2022

Ice Cream Day and Waffles Cones

By |2022-08-21T15:39:11-05:00August 22nd, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Last month was National Ice Cream Month. Did you know?

Me either. But it’s okay.

National Ice Cream Day has been happening every July 17th since President Reagan’s 1984 proclamation. We’ll have another chance to celebrate next year.

I was researching ice cream-related memorabilia for an estate sale when I uncovered Ice Cream Day.

I regularly read Kovels’ Newsletter for current pricing and learn lots of great trivia. One of the newsletters discussed the origins of ice cream cones.

One story claims an 1896 New York City ice cream pushcart vendor named Italo Marchiony wanted to stop customers from carrying away with his serving dishes and invented the edible cone. In 1903 he patented the special mold for waffle cups with sloping sides.

A different account claims a 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair ice cream vendor W.W. Turnbull ran out of paper dishes. He made a deal with a neighboring vendor of zalabia to put his ice cream inside the waffle-like pastry. The rolled-up waffles to hold ice cream were a big hit with fairgoers.

Three years later, Trumbull invented an ice cream cone vending machine.

The Turnbull Cone’s motto: “Eat a cone every day. You’ll feel better in every way.”

I would agree! Wouldn’t you?

A light bulb on the inside keeps cones warm and crispy. Pushing the levers on the outside releases the bottom cone down the chute. One of the vintage machines sold for $800 in 2014.

The idea of edible cones exploded in popularity after the St. Louis World’s Fair and somewhere along the way ice cream businesses like Dairy Queen entered the picture for all ice cream lovers.

Texans call the distinctive Dairy Queen sign the Texas stop sign. I can promise that my vehicle certainly stops far too often.

But only to confirm Mr. Turnbull’s motto, of course.

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