Mirror Mirror: Chapter 10

Rosa went downstairs to Ella’s locker. She opened the locker and looked for the English book. Finding it, she reached in to take it.
“See you after school, Beautiful.”

Photo credit

Rosa is a trusting sister. She doesn’t know that Ella and Jerry enjoy a secret rendezvous every Thursday night. But a chance encounter changes everything. Enjoy Chapter 10, and please share with your friends.

Dreyer’s English – Book Review

I recently acquired the book Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer from a discount store. This edition is “Adapted for Young Readers” and I will add new/young writers. While recommended for writers 10-15 years old, this 67 year old, found it to be a fun, educational, and informative reference.

Consisting mostly of short examples, it is very easy to follow. Similar items are grouped together. The book is organized into two parts. The first part covers daily topics such as: When should I use a colon? Is that comma in the right place? Should I write out the number 34? And, do I really need to use the word really in my writing?

Part too includes homonyms that you often sea in the wrong place. There is a section on words that are easily confused. These can effect, or is it affect your writing quiet, or is it quite a bit. Again, most of the page space is taken up by clear examples.

I am so happy I stumbled upon this book. If you can’t find one at a discount price, the Kindle version is only $6.99. If you are intimidated by reading a book that targets young people, you can get Dreyer’s English (for grown ups) as well. I plan to use my copy on a regular basis.

Mirror Mirror: Chapter 9

“How chivalrous,” Ella giggled, feeling her face blush. “You’re making me blush, gallant knight.”

Photo credit

Do you like playing games? Maybe even role-playing? How about surprises? It’s time for Ella to experience Jerry’s surprise. I hope you are sharing the fun with your friends. Enjoy!

Be Safe

It’s 2018 and you have a friend that works in high-rise construction. Or perhaps someone is involved in law enforcement. You know their job is dangerous and when they go off to work for the day, you might say Be Safe.

We have a correctional facility in my county just down the road from my diner. I often see uniformed corrections workers come in to pick up their breakfast. When they leave, I do my best to encourage them to Be Safe.

When COVID hit, the phrase Be Safe took on a whole new meaning. Now it meant, be sure to wear your mask, or don’t get caught in a closed-in crowd of people.

I’m not a 24/7 mask person, but I will still wear a mask if I have a cold or flu symptoms. I never did that before. When I go to see my doctor I wear a mask even though our healthcare facility doesn’t require them anymore. It just seems like a wise and caring thing to do for people who may be vulnerable. Staying safe physically is just a smart idea.

But let’s consider whether we care to Be Safe emotionally. It seems reasonable we should strive to be emotionally safe from the stress of the world around us. There is plenty to be stressed about. Wars around the world? Stress. Political unrest? Stress. Job loss? Stress. Cultural division? Stress. Relational anger? Stress. Barista got your order wrong? Stress. REALLY?

Yes, I’ve been there too. On most counts. But let’s put some things into perspective. If you look back on your day, and the most stressful moment was the wrong coffee order, you are doing really well. If you find yourself amid relational anger, you have the opportunity to reconcile. Cultural division? Isn’t that relational at its core? You can choose not to inflate the tension. Political unrest? Choose your candidate, participate, and vote. Wars around the world? Be thankful you aren’t in the middle of it and support those in need if possible. (My prayers to you if you ARE directly affected by war.)

We can never completely avoid stress, and that is good. Stress tells us when something is wrong. Stress stimulates adrenaline. It’s like stepping on the gas peddle to get out of trouble. But if you step on the gas and steer into the oncoming traffic, you are increasing your stress to the danger level. You have a choice where you steer the vehicle of your life.

Being safe during COVID meant making decisions to protect yourself. It’s no different with any part of life. But you must choose to Be Safe. Many people chose to take their chances and not wear a mask. They said there was no proof the masks minimized infections. Maybe that’s true. But what I considered a minor inconvenience seemed more rational to me than the unknown risk.

Does the same rationale apply to the rest of life? It seems reasonable. Let’s consider one of the high-stress events in life. You lose your job… You didn’t make that decision. But now you must make a decision. I see three choices. Remain unemployed; search for a job; go live with your parents. OK, the last one may be very sketchy if you are 43 years old. But you must make a choice. Searching for a job is a very difficult choice. Giving up is a very undesirable choice. Probably the two extremes.

But if you allow yourself the time to think through the problem rationally, with the help of friends, one of the choices will rise to be the safest, lowest-risk choice. The key to solving any problem is time and reason.

To devote time to the problem will lower the stress level. Making a decision quickly and immediately acting upon it will often lead to more stress. Time allows your brain to sort out the problem. True, you may have several sleepless nights, but if you let your brain work, the possibilities will become clear.

Then think rationally with the help of friends. Emotion seldom reveals the best long-term course of action. Friends, if they are genuinely good friends, will provide helpful ideas and encourage you. Often they will point you to the ultimate answer. But they MUST be genuine friends. You must have had time to prove they are trustworthy. I’m sure you have had dubious experience with people you thought were your friends.

Finally, there is a lot of safety in Spiritual strength. God cares about you more than any earthly friend. Hopefully, that means a lot to you. The only person better than a close friend is God. Ask Him for help. “But I’m not religious,” you might say. That’s OK, He will still listen. “But I would be admitting I’m weak if I ask God for help.” What would you prefer, being considered strong in the world’s eyes or being helped by the Creator of the world?

You can be safe. I implore you to be safe. Be safe physically. Be safe emotionally. Be safe spiritually. Of the three, I personally believe it begins with spiritual strength and safety. The other two will fall into place.

If you are looking for help from the Creator of the world, I invite you to first read my post, World Religions – Christianity. If you then have further questions, feel free email me. [info@jdrockel.com]

Mirror Mirror: Chapter 8

Rear view shot of a young couple watching TV together

When was the last time you just chilled at home with your favorite someone? Enjoy Chapter 8. And please remember to tell your friends about Mirror Mirror.

Mirror Mirror: Chapter 7

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Please say you partied safely on New Year’s eve. Enjoy Chapter 7. And please remember to tell your friends about Mirror Mirror.

Mirror Mirror: Chapter 6

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

I hope you had a good Christmas Day. Here is my present to you.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I hope y’all survived the cold. There were plenty of frozen, broken water pipes here in central South Carolina. You likely saw the national headlines: deaths, power outages, holiday travel delays, or cancelations. Not the best Christmas season in memory.

My family was very fortunate. Up at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois where my kids and grandkids live only a couple inches of snow fell. But the wind and cold provided wind-chills well below zero. They survived without any damage to their plumbing.

It was a bit different here in South Carolina. It was much warmer with a low temperature above 20F, but my plumbing was completely unprepared. Or rather, I was completely unprepared because I didn’t protect my outdoor plumbing.

For those who live in the north, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, where my family and I came from, frozen plumbing generally occurs only under kitchen sinks where the pipe is on an outer wall. If the insulation is insufficient, the cold will travel to the pipe and can cause the water to freeze. Advice up there is often given to keep under-sink cabinet doors open so the warm living-space air can circulate to the pipes. Otherwise, all outside water pipes are buried four feet underground and enter a house in the basement.

Down here there are few basements. Most homes are built on a concrete slab or have an open crawlspace under the floor. Water pipes are often less than 18 inches deep in the ground. And many of us have some outside water pipes above ground. When there are only a few days when the temperature dips below freezing, electrical heating tape wrapped around the pipe is sufficient. But as I said, I was unprepared.

I had heating tape on the primary pipe entering the house, but I had an exposed length about 10 feet long out near my well. It was enclosed in a well house, but when I had work done on a well that was inside the well house, I had to remove the roof and one side for access. So in reality, the pipe was complete exposed to the cold.

I woke up Christmas eve morning only to find there was no water flowing in the house. At least my coffee maker had a water reservoir so I could have my morning brew. When I got outside to assess the damage I was glad to see there were no cracks in the pipes. Expecting problems because of the weather forecast, I had bought a 12 foot length of heater tape, so I was ready to get to work.

Long story short, about six hours of work, three trips to the hardware store, and many muscle aches later, I had everything insulted, heating and ultimately, flowing water.

My wife and I got ready to attend our church’s Christmas eve service. I went out to start the car and warm it up a bit only to hear sssssst from near the small pond in my front yard. An unprotected valve has ruptured and was spraying a find mist of water over a five foot diameter area.

We went to church.

When we got home, I went to bed. There was no way I was about to attempt a fix in the dark. Especially since the main shutoff valve was now below eight inches of frigid water.

I awoke to a miniature wonderland of ice. It was truly beautiful. The first order of business was to take pictures, of course. It was a wonderful reminder that somewhere in the grind of hard work, there can be a bit of beauty.

Stay warm. Stay safe.

Mirror Mirror: Chapter 5

No, I haven’t gone into orbit. I just feel like I’ve taken “one small step” from a WordPress perspective. I have gained a much better understanding of posts vs. pages. This is a post. Like all previous posts it goes into the stack of articles on this page. Each button below points to a page. Using pages I can offer you a much nicer browsing experience with my book chapters.

I’m not an idiot and understand you all know how browser buttons work. You would get the hang of it without any instruction. But, as a youngster in the old-timers generation (A.K.A the baby boomers) I believe instructions are helpful. So very briefly, below you see three link buttons. The first takes you to the previously posted chapter. The next button takes you to the first introduction of my novel Mirror Mirror. And the last takes you to the newest chapter. On each of the chapter pages you will see similar buttons. The middle Home button on those pages takes you back to this page, with the latest posts.

So without further ado Chapter 5.

WordPress Update

WordPress Logo

Those of you who have been following me for some time know that the look and feel of the site has changed over time. If your recently joined the adventure that is JDRockel.com, you may have had to see my lollipop eating, hat holding, smiling face. That will change; my face won’t change but the landing page will change.

WordPress is a powerful platform that allows inexperienced users to get an online presence fairly easily. The problem I have with WordPress is my zero experience start with and lack of desire to invest time into leaning the WordPress platform. I will just list a few of the challenges (not problems) I have encountered.

  • I am paying for basic service. This limits my options and the Themes (templates) I can choose from. I must clarify to WordPress’s defense that the options provided for embedding content is vast. I have only scratched the surface.
  • You can preview Themes and even test run them with existing content, but you can’t play with all your content in a sandbox. For you non-programmers, a sandbox is a place where you can test software, or web pages, as though they are really being published. Again to WordPress’s defense, I have not tried all my options to see what is possible.
  • WordPress provides a ton of teaching videos but the ones I have seen have focused on marketing and online selling. This is the way most websites are used and I don’t blame anyone for this. But finding a video that shows the type of blog I am attempting to provide has not surfaced
  • I use Categories to sort my posts among the different Menu selections. This is working fine except for the Daily Life page. I am using Daily Life as the place ALL posts go when the are, well, posted. When a post goes live it goes on the Daily Life page AND any other Category page I assigned to that post.
    • So what? If I remove the Daily Life category from a post, or don’t select it at all, the post still goes there. Well duh, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Agreed, but they stay there for a VERY long time. I would like to keep maybe 10-15 posts at the most. But there seems to be a time limit that lets them disappear.
  • Back to my lollipop eating, … , smiling face. That is currently designated the Landing Page. When you surf to JDRockel.com you end up on the Landing Page.
  • The three dots on the next line is an example of what I call a work around. In order to get the image next to my text about the acoustic modem, I needed to break the list into two. I suspect I could have added a new list and moved the items below to that new list, but I chose to take the same amount of time to vent my frustration.

A Dial-up Phone and 300 Baud (30 Character per Second) Acoustic Modem
  • What I had before, and will return to, is having the Home Page and the Landing Page the same.
  • Adding to all my frustration is my history of writing HTML code (AKA web page code) from scratch in a word processor. Back in the early days of the internet, in the days of dial up and acoustic modems, I wrote my first web page code. Back then, having a picture on the page meant slow downloads. And forget video! So it was quite easy to write a web page. I advanced to where I could put pictures on the page, I was a photographer trying to promote my work at the time, but I was very careful to keep everything small and compact.
    • Because I had that skill, I know what should be possible. I am absolutely convinced that I could eventually create the look and feel I want with WordPress Premium and an investment of time.

Those of you who are still reading, I applaud your persistence and curiosity. I appreciate you allowing me to vent a bit. While my dog listens intently and appears to care, I believe y’all really do.


Next chapter of Mirror Mirror is coming up. Watch for new navigation buttons that will allow newcomers to easily find the first chapter and will help you go back a chapter if you desire.