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A Million Words. . .More Or Less

This is an Apple keyboard. I use it to type on my Apple iPad. Both the keyboard and the iPad are eight years old. It’s been dropped. It’s had stuff spilled on it. I’ve taken it camping and hiking. Nearly every blog post on this site has been written on this keyboard. Multiple short stories. Years worth of newspaper articles.

I estimate I’ve typed close to a million words on this keyboard. It’s held up pretty well.

I’ve retired it. I’m now using a Microsoft Surface and a new laptop. As I was removing the keyboard I noticed the wear pattern. Nearly every word has a space after it. (Not two, that’s for old typewriter warriors.) I’m right handed, so my right thumb has hit that spot on the space bar hundreds of thousands of times.

I never noticed the change in shape. Certainly not from one day to the next. Not even month to month. But, over years, that constant wear has an effect.

There are lots of things that follow this pattern. Water wears down river rocks over time. I’ve seen a picture of a spot in a Buddhist temple where there are imprints in the floor from the monks feet. Steps get worn down. I have tools that I’ve used so much that they eventually wore out and needed to be replaced. I had my favorite pair of shoes resoled so many times due to the leather wearing out that I eventually had to throw them away.

Yes, things get worn down.

But, not everything. Sometimes wearing something down is positive.

This is a file. It’s a diamond coated file for sharpening knives. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. And the only way to sharpen a knife is to wear it down.

I like to build thinks from wood. One of the key features of working with wood is that you always make smaller pieces out of bigger pieces. Even after you reattach those pieces you have to sand the boards. More wearing down. But, it’s necessary wearing down. In fact, it’s part of creating a thing.

And that brings us to people. To you. To me. We all have pressure on us. We all have a thumb pressing the space bar, a knife blade on a file.

Unlike the objects I’ve mentioned, we get to decide how we will respond to pressure. We can let it wear us down like my eight year old keyboard. Or we can allow it to sharpen us like my Kershaw knife blade.

The difference is really up to us.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Independence Day Traditions. . .Old and New

Monday was a holiday. In the United States we celebrated Independence Day. Two hundred and forty-six years ago a group of men signed a document written by Thomas Jefferson declaring their independence from Great Britian.

And now we have parties every summer. We have BBQs and fireworks. Parades and fly the flag.

We all have our traditions. One of my favorite is Follow the Flag.

This week, the worlds largest free flying American flag flies in Grove Creek Canyon. The flag is named Lady Liberty. This is the second year Lady Liberty has graced the Canyon. In years past it was Big Betsy, and for a couple of days a flag named The Major.

My contribution to the Follow The Flag week is that my neighbor and I run a micro radio station this week at the mouth of the canyon. We’ve been doing it five years. You might say it’s a tradition.

We also have a BBQ. But, unlike our Memorial Day BBQ, the 4th of July BBQ is pretty informal. Basically, we fix food and invite anyo the kids who want to stop by. Sometimes they do, this year they did not. But, it’s still a tradition.

We added a new tradition this year, although I would imagine it will be a limited duration. I went to the Provo Independence Day parade and walked next to the Pleasant Grove float while my daughter road on the float as one of the royalty attendants. She might compete again next year. If so, and if she wins, I’ll gladly take another 2 mile walk in the sun. Later this month we’ll attend a parade in Spanish Fork where my oldest granddaughter will be on a float as one of the mini miss Royalty for Spanish Fork Fiesta Days. Maybe that will become a tradition as well.

This year I forgot to post my flag. It’s a tradition I’ll restart next year.

We used to have a tradition of doing fireworks. But, with the kids all grown up, it hardly seems worth it. So, I guess that’s a tradition that ended.

What were your traditions?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

No, There Is Nothing Wrong With My AC

The air conditioning recently went out in my lovely wife’s suburban.

It’s summer in Utah.

Utah’s in a desert.

Utah is hot.

Fortunately it was just a broken belt.

And also fortunately, it’s something I can fix.

A trip to the auto parts store, a new belt and a couple of hours pulling off the serpentine belt and the AC was working good as new.

And my lovely wife was grateful. And cool while driving around.

“Thanks for fixing it. Is there something wrong with YOUR AC?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“I just don’t see you using it often.”

She’s right. I don’t use my air conditioning much. But, it works perfectly.

Did you know that Paul Newman, the famous actor who played in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and who voiced Doc in Pixar’s movie Cars, was also a race car driver? In fact, he was so dedicated to racing that he would often tell his racing crew, “I have to go make a movie so I can finance racing.”

Race cars get very hot. NASCAR race cars, for example are about 30 to 40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. That means it can easily get to 130 or 140 during a race.

Paul Newman used to prepare for a race by sitting in his trailer with the AC off. It would get very warm as the race day sun beat down on an aluminum trailer. He said he did it to acclimatize himself.

I’m not a race car driver. (Or a famous actor.) In fact, my 1994 Corolla is pretty far from a race car. But, I don’t mind the heat. So, racing isn’t why I do it.

I honestly don’t know why I do it. It just feels right to have the window down, even in the heat. Today was about 90 degrees while driving home. Even on the freeway I drive with a window down. The monsoon season has started here in the Mountain West. A few raindrops sprinkled the freeway. The raindrops stung my hand as I made the wavey motions that kids make out the window.

I arrive home sometimes with my back stuck to my seat. I could be cooler. I could crank the AC and when I arrived home the heat would be a shock as I exited the car.

I don’t really know. But, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I drive a 30 year old car with manual transmission and manual windows, and I also write with a fountain pen, carry a pocket watch, and don’t use air conditioning.

I’m not sure what it says about me, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I’m A Creepy Cyber-Stalker

Have you ever wondered about the mind of your favorite authors? Oh sure, J.K. Rowling thought up a wonderful modern spin on wizards. Tolkien was full of tales of elves, hobbits and adventures. Stephanie Meyers went kind of overboard on the Vampire Werewolf thing. And Stephen King? What kind of mind comes up with that stuff?

I was accused of being too creepy. Well, not me directly but the character I created for a story about love at Christmas time. My main character was just trying to get a date. I mean, if you could hack into her life it would make dating so much easier, right?

No?

Yeah, my editor told me that the female readers of our upcoming anthology would HATE my main character. You know, the guy who’s supposed to be the love interest? In fact, he said my story was more classic horror than romance.

I finished the last of the edits today.

I thought a lot about my character’s actions. Did it say something about me? Was I simply channeling some inner stalker and putting him into the story as my proxy?

I certainly hope not. And yet, he came out of my imagination.

Writers are a weird collection of both the best of the world and the worst. If we do our job well, you love the heroes and you hate the villains. And we make you hate them because we think up terrible things for them to do. Things that no one should even think of doing. And yet, there we are bringing them and their horrible deeds to life.

After the edits my protagonist is no longer a creep. He’s got some real humanity. He’s a nice guy and someone that a reader could like.

And that nice guy came out of my imagination. So, maybe I’m capable of being a nice guy too.

But, that dark force is still there just waiting for a chance to come out. Just not as the hero.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Weather Forecasts Are Boring

It wasn’t on the forecast. The weather report was hot and dry for at least the next ten days. Utah is a desert. Summers are hot. We expect that. What wasn’t expected was an afternoon thunderstorm complete with thunder and lightening.

I was standing outside my office looking at mostly blue sky with patchy clouds over the South part of the valley. But, directly over our offices in South Jordan the rain came pounding down. It puddled in the parking lot and ran inches deep in the gutters. The rain gutter fed a steady stream of dirty water off the roof.

A flash followed by an deep shaking BOOM announced a nearby lightening strike.

A coworker who drives a nice car came out to check that the rain wasn’t turning to hail. Another coworker headed to lunch joined me on the covered stoop as we enjoyed the rain that our state so desperately needed.

This storm didn’t come from the ocean, the source of most of our storms. Instead it simply “sprung up” on it’s own as the hot Southern winds mixed with the humidity and the heat.

An ocean storm is forecast well in advance. We watch it track across the Northern Pacific and come down through Washington and Oregon, or we watch it come from further south as it makes landfall in California. Regardless of the source, the storm smashes first into the mountains, the Northern Olympic and Cascades, or the Souther Sierra Nevada.

Anything that makes it over the mountain ranges finally gets to Utah. But, we have plenty of warning.

Not so with pop-up thunderstorms. They form in a just a couple of hours and came dissipate just as quickly.

My son and I sat outside this evening watching the lightening reflected against the house across the street. The rains came again, but softer this time.

The thunder was a near constant roll. And like the earlier storm, it was localized. As I looked West from my front porch I could see clear sky and even a star or two in the twilight.

It was a refreshing change from the heat we’ve dealt with the past week.

And it was completely unexpected.

Sometimes forecasts can be a boring way to learn about the weather.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Guy On The Other Side Of The Fence

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

My neighbors have some really nice lawns. Some of them hire a service. Some do it themselves. But, they nearly all have nice lawns. My house, before I bought it, was a rental. There was no one to take care of the lawn. My neighbors used to send their teenagers down to my house to mow the lawn just so it would keep the weeds down.

I’ve now been in my house for ten years. At first whatever I did was better than what was here before. I mostly got a pass on my lawn care. I think my neighbors figured, “Hey, it’s better than it was before.”

But, I have to admit, I care about my lawn just as much as my neighbors. Last year, I thought I had a clever solution to keeping my grass green. I watered it every day.

Now, my town, like a lot of cities in Utah, has secondary water, or irrigation water. It’s what connects to our sprinkler systems. Each home owner is only allowed to water three days per week. It’s based on your house number. Odd numbers get to water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Even numbers get to water Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

But, I figured out how to water six days per week.

My sprinklers are programmable. So, I set the sprinklers to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 1:00 AM and 10:00pm. So, my sprinklers would run Sunday early morning, Sunday late at night (essentially Monday morning,) and then Tuesday early morning and Tuesday late at night. The same for Thursday early and late. The only night my lawn wasn’t watered was Friday night into Saturday.

I have to admit, I felt guilty about the watering. Our secondary water is not metered. We don’t pay for how much we use. But, I was going to get a nice green lawn, right?

Wrong.

During the heat of the summer, my lawn really started to fade. I got bare patches. The grass in much of it was weak and sickly.

My problem?

Too much water.

I didn’t even know you could have too much water.

Early this Spring I asked a local gardening expert what I could do to keep my lawn green AND save water. I had already converted two sections of my yard from grass to low water landscaping. I wanted to do my part. And I was still feeling a little guilty about last year.

He said something surprising.

Avoid watering in the Spring. Hold off as long as you can after May 1 when they turn on secondary water. If you avoid water in the Spring that will force your grass to develop stronger roots. Then, when the summer heat kicks in your grass will tolerate it better.

I had never considered that. Last year, I thought I was being smart and I was really being stupid.

The weather in Utah right now is in the mid 90s. It’s hot. And I’m only watering two days per week: Tuesday and Sunday. And my lawn? Amazingly it’s one of the greenest in the neighborhood.

I guess you really can have too much of a good thing.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

An Sad Case Of Cognitive Dissonance

I like to discuss politics.

Not argue. . .discuss.

And discussions are most interesting when they have two sides. If you are discussing something politics with someone you agree with, it’s a serious of “Yeah, me too” statements.

But, if you can find someone who disagrees completely with you, but is willing to hold a civil discussion, you can learn new perspectives and clarify your own position.

But, it’s difficult to find someone who disagrees, makes a cogent argument and doesn’t get angry.

Bobby was one of those people. Bobby and I met on someone else’s page. Bobby is very liberal. I’m pretty conservative. But, Bobby wasn’t an ideologue. He was willing to approach sensitive subjects with an open mind. Occasionally, other people would get angry with my comments. Bobby assured them that I was a good guy. Just sort of misguided by my right wing philosophy.

I suspect that Bobby considered himself a better person than me. More tolerant. More intelligent.

Bobby blocked me on Facebook last week.

It wasn’t something offensive I said. It wasn’t any sort of rant. I was surprised. And then I remembered a conversation we’d had two days earlier. Bobby blocked me because he could not remain facebook friends with me and maintain his world view. He experienced terrible cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance

– the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

Bobby thought that I was a racist. I know this because he told me. It wasn’t in an accusatory manner. In fact, he said I was probably a “covert racist.” In other words, I was racist, but I just didn’t know it.

As I said, Bobby and I were able to discuss controversial subjects without gettting emotional. I certainly wasn’t offended. In fact, I pressed him for examples of things I had said that gave him the impression I was racist.

He couldn’t find anything other than the generic “your philosophy.” In other words, “All Republicans are racists. . .you’re a Republican. . .Q.E.D.”

I acknowledged that there was really nothing I could say to prove I wasn’t a racist. If I say, “I’m not racist” well, that’s the same thing a covert racist might say and actually believe it.

I had to leave our conversation and head off to work. I posted two family pictures before I left.

This is a picture of my daughter. She’s a member of the royalty for my town’s summer festival. (That’s my grandson and her nephew who won a ‘cutest baby’ contest.)

This is a recent family picture. Not all my kids are in this, but a bunch of them are.

Bobby had the good sense to drop the “I think you are a racist” discussion. I thought it was over. But, I realized that Bobby had a problem. And it was a problem that required a solution.

Cognitive Dissonance is when your beliefs don’t match reality. And what we’ve found is that when your worldview conflicts with reality, you do NOT change your world view. Instead you “change reality.” You dismiss inconvenient facts. You discount other’s experience.

Bobby believed that Republican were racists. And these pictures seemed to clearly prove that I was not. But, he knew I was a Republican. So, what to do?

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”

– The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Bobby couldn’t change his worldview. Republicans are racists. It’s a truth in his world. Therefore the only choice he had was to change the facts. And that meant blocking me. Now he doesn’t have to consider whether Republicans might not be racists.

I was disappointed. Bobby was a fun guy to talk to. And he was polite and offered well thought out arguments.

In hindsight I think I might have let him persist in his delusion about Republican racists if it would let us stay connected.

It’s difficult to find a good debate partner.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Single Issue Voting

Every presidential election is about the Supreme Court

This past week has proved that more than ever.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Purpose Of The Flower

We have a Christmas tradition at our house. Every year I buy my lovely wife a poinsettia. You know, the pretty “Christmas Flowers.” Funny thing about poinsettias, they aren’t naturally red. And they don’t have petals. Those are leaves. And they are naturally green. They raise them in the dark and that makes the leaves turn red.

You might think that June is an odd time to be talking about Christmas traditions and poinsettias. It’s not. We have another tradition. I attempt to keep the poinsettia alive as long as possible. My lovely wife told me I should throw it away today.

But, it’s still alive.

Yeah, but it’s ugly now. The purpose of a flower is to be pretty to look at.

No, the purpose of a flower is to wage a fruitless war with death to see how long I can keep it alive.

I threw it away. I do think June is the longest I’ve ever been able to keep one alive.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

When Your Kids Are Part Of The Celebrations

It was a busy weekend. And there was a little bit of everything for everybody.

Let’s start with the obvious. It was Father’s Day on Sunday. And I am blessed to have all my kids in the state. My wonderful daughter is back from her deployment in South Korea. And a lot of other kids came by as well. And the family BBQ was well attended by grandkids as well.

I got some very thoughtful gifts. We had great food and there was no drama. Some of my kids didn’t make it, but with 13 I’m not sure they will ever all make it.

Plus, Sunday was Juneteenth, the newest federal holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the day (June 19, 1865) when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and informed the last group of slaves that they were free. Many of my children and grandchildren are black. We don’t make a huge deal about Juneteenth, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand what a big deal it is.

And June is Pride month. None of my immediate family are members of the LGBTQ community. But, extended family and friends are. Lots of celebrations.

But, this has also been the Pleasant Grove city celebration, Strawberry Days. Not only is Strawberry Days a 101 year old tradition, this year was extra special for the Bliss family. My beautiful daughter Ruth is a member of the Strawberry Days royalty.

The parade was Saturday morning. It was a proud moment to see Ruth on the Pleasant Grove float. But, there was another Bliss descendant in the parade. My grandson was voted one of the cutest babies. He and his mother got to be in the parade too.

And then, Saturday night we attended the Strawberry Days Rodeo. And the rodeo starts with mutton busting. Little kids ride sheep and get judged. One of the mutton busters was my grandson. He made it about 3 seconds. But, then, he’s 5 years old. I expect he’ll be back next year.

His sister is also part of the city festivals, just not Pleasant Grove’s. She is in the Spanish Fork Mini-Miss royalty. Their parade is next month.

Good thing, because June has become pretty full.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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