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Have you got a book in you?

I am part of a collaborative group that puts out inspirational books. We just put out a practical book!!! This was strange because we were using the same principles we had chosen for the other books:

  1. explore one aspect of the subject,
  2. call to mind some stories that help people look at the subject from a different perspective,
  3. give the reader something to think about.

What was different about our last book? It was a “How-To” book on the Art of Speaking. The chapters included organization, incorporating humor, making use of body language and vocal variety (which was really tough because it’s difficult to get across those concepts without actually hearing them!), and the end result was something that could actually serve as a manual for the readers to follow.

What is cool about how our group works is that we keep getting invited to the local library for “local authors” events. There will be a table where we display our (Now 7) books and a hefty percentage of the authors in attendance. The number of authors for each book varies from 7 to 13.

While we sit behind our table we come in contact with other authors. Once we sat next to Preston Love!!! He was astonished that such a big group could work on a single project and still be friends afterward. We were displaying our latest book, “Spotlight on the Art of Gratitude” and he told us that after watching our group all afternoon, he still couldn’t tell who the leader was.

We also walk around and visit the other authors to see what kind of books they’ve got, how long they have been writing, do they have an agent, who does their publishing, stuff like that. Every once in a while, some of us may buy books. I tend to buy books on the history of the area.

There was a book that intrigued me after reading the back cover. It was about a businessman and his ex-girlfriend who had a daughter with him, and he was striving to make the world a better place. The writer of this book went to a self-publishing service. They did not proofread, edit, or format his book. After looking at their website, I’m guessing he got the Black & White interior with the glossy cover. He spent about $2000 on publishing the book, and he got 58 copies. The cost of printing that sized book is about $7.00 apiece. There was no way he would make a profit unless he sold over 275 copies. The chances of him coming out with a new book every 6 months (like we did) were slim and none.

Folks, this book was terrible. I couldn’t get past the first 40 pages and threw it away. Now those of you who know me know I would never throw a book out unless it was covered in duct tape and missing 20 of the interior pages. It was supposed to be a work of fiction. You’d think that there might be a plot somewhere in those first 40 pages. There was a back story on the main character, and there were 18 other characters introduced and all had superficial back stories–one or two sentences each. But we still don’t know why we’re interested in this particular character. And horror of all horrors, this author wants to make this into a series about the guy! So the saying is true…you can’t judge a book by its cover.

How hard is it to write a book? MONUMENTAL!!!! Right?

Nope. You have told stories all your life. There was that one time on vacation… I remember that bully in 6th grade… I entered a car into the pinewood derby once… See? You string these stories together. As you write, you start making up things that your main character would have to do to get from Zero to Hero. Give him a team or maybe pit him against his villain. You can go anywhere with this! Make an outline of what you want to say in your book whether it’s a story or a textbook. Fill in the details. Describe your setting and your characters. How did they get to be the person you’d see in this story? Why are they IN the story? You see?

Half, no 7/8 of what happens in your story is based on the questions you ask yourself. Take the part of the reader as he interviews the characters. Take the perspective of someone that wants to ask the author why this or that scene is in the book… If it’s an adventure, tell us who you want to win in the end. If it is a biography, make a two-dimensional person into a three-dimensional person. Don’t just tell us what he did and when he did it. Tell us about his character, his values, his loves, his hates, his fears… If it is inspirational, include a call to action.

Here’s the most important part: Have fun writing!

How to get away with murder on any Police Procedural Show

You know how this works. You’ve gotten to the end of the line with this jerk. He stole your company. He stole your wife. He brutally raped you or a friend of yours. He’s ruined your reputation. He cheated on you…whatever it was–he deserved to die. And you killed him. You’re guilty as sin.

You cleaned up the scene as best as you could, wiped down all the surfaces, cleaned up all your blood, and repaired the damage to the furniture and the walls. It won’t make any difference. Somewhere, maybe by the litter box, under the sink with the cleaning supplies, or in the bathroom, the Crime Scene Investigators will find the single hair, the drop of snot, a single teardrop that will give them your DNA. They will come to your house and send in the lab geeks to ask you questions. They will slam down a folder as thick as a doctoral dissertation and tell you all the evidence they have.

You left a single pine needle from the Pinus sylvestris which, though prolific in the area, is only found in one place within the 7-mile radius of the crime scene and it’s in your backyard.

“Confess you Dastardly Murderer!” they will say with Shakespearian glee.

This is when you do it. Here are your lines (with direction).

*Stand up and slam your hand down on the table. “YES! I did it!”

This might seem counterintuitive. You just confessed to murder, after all. This, however, is where it gets fun. At this point, you make up reasons why you killed him.

“He made fun of my favorite LOL cat meme!”
“He spray-painted his name on the bridge my father built.” Your father was a musician.
“His dog pooped on my lawn every morning!” He didn’t own a dog.
“He called my wife incessantly!”
“He heckled me at the Stand-Up Comedy Club.”

It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t tell them your real motive. They’ll figure that out later.

Then you describe your brutal murder of the victim in gruesome detail. But you have to give all the wrong details. Make sure you’re crying or yelling while you do this. Emotion sells. You pushed him off a building, so instead, you tell them you slit his throat, shot him straight in the heart, tied him to the garbage truck, or snipped his brake lines. After you confess, you ask, as innocently as possible, if your picture will be in the paper. Then you just wait. Do not giggle…look as guilty as possible. Evil masterminds will have discovered this trick and their whole modus operandi is to make the cops (especially the CSI) aware of how feeble their powers of deduction are. They tend to gloat and rub their hands together evilly when they think no one is watching. They may even smile or laugh. You are not an evil mastermind. Your modus operandi is to not get caught.

Even if the detectives DO come up with a motive, and they discover you had the opportunity, they will dismiss you because they believe you’ve made a false confession. They will look for someone you might be protecting. But since the only one you’re protecting is you, this is not your concern.

Most importantly, NEVER RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME! Remember that the total time from the discovery of the murder to your release will be between 24 and 48 hours. Then their department will get backed up and they’ll forget about you. Now you can go on your merry way.

Who knows? You might even see your crime reenacted on “Unsolved Mysteries.” Do not invite your friends over…

Measurable Progress? So what?

Recently, I’ve had some REAL measurable progress. My pants size has dropped from 2XL to 16P. This is a major change. So I decided rather than wear my baggy jeans, I would go and get some that fit me. Big Mistake.

I hate shopping.

First of all, America is filled with fat people. 41% are obese. 41%. That’s a lot of fat people. Now, look at TV. The only people you see that are fat are old women. They’re the doting old grannies and maiden aunts and church ladies. All the women under 40 are svelt, symmetrical, and muscular. They all wear stilettos. I can think of 2 exceptions. There was a serial killer who’d had electroshock therapy when she was a child and her father abused her, so when he took away her dolls, she got human substitutes. Then there was the serial killer who had PCOS and was convinced that the photographer that worked with her sister in the flower shop was in love with her and was going to marry her and, of course, he proposed to the sister! So there’s that. Old ladies and serial killers. Not sure which category I’d put myself in. OK, wait, there’s Crissy Metz, and the big news is that she’s lost 100 pounds.

Anyway, with that many people being overweight, why is 85% of the floor space in the department-store ladies’ section dedicated to people that are not obese? Why do they put the plus-sizes in the corner, wayyyyy in the back? (snarky comment–fat people need the exercise anyway so we provide that!) Why do all the dresses and tops look like discarded wedding tents and camping tarps? Why do the sizes go from 12P, 14P, 22W, and “continued on next table”…that is empty. Why do the manufacturers assume that if you have a 40″ waist, you’re 7’2” tall? Why do they think that petite people are all size 0? How do they come to the conclusion that you need an extra foot of fabric at the hips if you can fit the waist, and if you fit the hips, you need low-rise pants so your muffin top has something to sit on?

And what genius decided that size 22W people wanted Super-Skinny jeans? They even have Jeggings–leggings that look like jeans. They’re easy to put on, but God help you if you have to go to the bathroom in a hurry! The only way out of them is by turning them inside out. and if you want to take them off (for instance in the fitting room) and you cannot bend over to get them over your feet, you need to get creative. If I wanted jeans so tight they look painted on, I’d paint them on.

Shop online, they say. I went to the Dress Barn, where I used to be able to find stuff that fit. They seem to be online only now. Most of their models are tall and if they’re overweight, they’re not big. No way to try the pants on before selecting a size. Sooo, buy 1 type of pants in 3 different sizes to get the fit right? SURE! Buy something and wait until it ships then find out it doesn’t fit…because 16P at one store isn’t the same as 16P from another. In fact, 16P in the same store will not be the same under another label. In fact, 16P in the same label on the left side of the display is not the same as on the right side. I also went to the Lane Bryant site. They’re selling the same brands, the same sizes, and using the same models!

I guess I’ll wait to get new clothes until I’m down another 50 pounds or so, and have grown 5 inches and put on enough muscle so my BMI is at -2%. I’m going to my room and have a good cry.

Where are the boundaries?

I had a nice man come to my door seeking my vote for him as a member of the school board.

His stances were printed on his handout:

  1. Fight for parental rights and transparency in our curriculums
  2. Set high expectations and place the focus on academic excellence
  3. Support school choice and competition
  4. Work to keep Critical Race Theory, Comprehensive Sex Education, and other destructive agendas out of our classrooms
  5. Use your (the taxpayer) tax dollars wisely, and fight to cut spending and lower the tax levy
  6. Fight against mask and vaccine mandates

OMG.

  1. The school system which includes teachers and administrative personnel act “in loco parentis” or in place of the parents. I have seen what happens when some parents decide that they don’t need to allow teachers or administrators that oversight and interfere with the smooth transactions of education. One pulled her child out of line and spanked her child because she looked over to the window to see her mom and little brother and sister looking in. “That will teach you to pay attention!!!” she screamed. One parent was calling all the teachers for her little darling and bawling them out for giving him too much homework and then flunking him anyway. One guy felt it his duty to supervise recess and keep bullies from getting punished. “They’re just having a little fun. They’re not hurting anyone…” A group of parents decided which books in the library were to be burned and broke in and vandalized the room and damaged many of the books that weren’t on the list simply because they looked suspicious.
  2. The state school board already sets expectations in the form of standardized tests. Who is responsible for academic excellence? Isn’t the student? There is little a teacher can do to make sure each and every student reaches the same level of excellence because of “No Child Left Behind,” and the threat of loss of funding should the students fall short. There are no requirements made of students such as turning in projects and homework or studying for tests. So who bears the brunt of this expectation? The teachers? This is why the pool of teachers is getting smaller.
  3. You can’t always get enrolled in the school of your choice because of classroom size limitations. And if you do choose a school outside your district, they are not required to provide transportation. The priorities of the school locations were to provide neighborhoods with neighborhood schools, where the students knew most of the other students. How do your tax dollars get to the school you send your kid to? You cannot designate the funds according to your choice of schools. Parents of children from outside of your district are not contributing to your school.
  4. Critical Race Theory is an approach to discrimination, not coursework. Comprehensive Sex Education is not mandated in this candidate’s state. I am not sure what other destructive agendas he might be referring to unless he’s going to go back to Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design or Creationism.
  5. To ensure good education, you have to empower teachers, not disempower them. You have to pay them a living wage. You have to provide materials for the classes as well as maintain the physical building. Cutting spending–where? Lowering the tax levy–how?
  6. Mask and Vaccine mandates protect the children and teachers from getting sick. Doesn’t the health of everyone in the school system have any meaning?

Now to be fair, if you go to his landing page, he has a lot fewer stupid stances. Keeping political agenda out of the schools? Good. Attracting excellent teachers? Good. How? He doesn’t say. But when you get into his site, he goes into indoctrination based on Christian ideals. Yay! But that would be good for parochial schools, not public schools. We cannot TEACH the children what they are: children of God who are loved unconditionally, but we can show them. His tag line is Education–Not indoctrination, then he wants to indoctrinate students in regard to our supremacy as a country and morality as a people. Morality should be taught in church and in the home. Sex ed shouldn’t have to be taught in school, but because parents have abdicated that responsibility, it needs to be taught somewhere.

I dunno. It seems to me that people are CRYING OUT TO GOD! And then hoping he doesn’t answer and just waves his magic wand and everything we hate disappears. What if we’re the ones that disappear? Whoops.

What we, as Christians, need to do is ACT LIKE CHRISTIANS! We are trying to substitute an outside influence on behaviors to codify and conform all the behavior so everyone knows what’s right and what isn’t. EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS what’s right and wrong. We don’t have to spell everything out. It’s the law that’s written on our hearts: Love our neighbors as ourselves is one of 2 that are there. Love the Lord your God is the 1st, and we tend to love ourselves more than anything and despise those that are not us. There are more divisions every day. Listen to God in your heart. Love all and treat all with respect and not judgment. The government should have no say in moral issues. The government should butt out of the schools.

Whenever we say, “There ought to be a law…” we take away autonomy, resourcefulness, creativity, and responsibility from all. We are, in effect, saying, “No constituent has the thinking ability, the consciousness, or the awareness to conduct his life as he sees fit. We must provide that for him.”

We provide our children the guidance and the moral basis that becomes their belief systems for when they become adults. But once they’re on their own, we allow them to make the mistakes, because they represent exactly what we have given them and have to make choices as to what behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes serve them best, and what don’t. When we step in and correct them, and tell them what to do, we are basically telling them they are incompetent at living as adults. Would you try if you thought your parents believed you were incapable of being an adult?

I will not be voting for this candidate.

Well, this is interesting…

Yup…I’m getting better at taking selfies?

1st one is September of 2021. 224 pounds
2nd one is June 19, 2022. 198 pounds.

Other than the clothes, it doesn’t look much different.

My feet haven’t swelled as much since the beginning of the year. Except for the vacation in England, my glucose has been right around 100 or below since March, though I did have a bad week in May where it averaged 146. I was inconsistent at the time of the day when I measured my glucose. This week, 6/22/22, I’ve averaged about 99.

Some people that I see on zoom have commented they can see a real difference. I don’t. But I feel a difference. When I got lost in Edinburgh (June 5, 2022) I walked 12K steps. My normal is 1000 or less. My expectation was that I was going to spend the night with cramps, stiffness, and terrible hip pain the next day (especially if we spent any significant time on the bus.) I was not anticipating with joy any walking tours the next day. And yet, I slept through the night and was able to work the kinks out pretty well the next day. My feet were sore after the trek, but not bad the next day even with some walking around. I haven’t had the stiffness in the back since I got home that used to occur when I walked any distance, and we did 7500 steps at the zoo with the grandkids Saturday.

I saw my sister-in-law yesterday. The last time I saw her, she was using a walker and couldn’t do stairs at all. We went to Cracker Barrel yesterday to meet her and my niece Carrie as they wended their way up to Iowa. She’s lost a significant amount of weight! Wow! She wasn’t in a wheelchair or using a walker, just a cane. Her meds are down, which (I am SURE) makes her feel better! My brother-in-law, the sweetest man alive, died just a few years ago of cancer, so she’s been living alone since then.

Unintended consequences: You know, I think her attitude about life has changed since last I saw her. MY attitude about life has changed as well.

Should have brought my water…

We kidnapped the grandkids today and went to the zoo. K had his water, G had her water, M and I didn’t. Oops!

We decided (meaning I decided and M shrugged and agreed) that the kids would design our visit. We got 2 maps and made plans. K, who’s a tweenager, is very focused on the distances, the heat, the ability of the grandparents to transit the walking looks and decides to go to the Desert Dome, but since little G doesn’t like the smell, we go only to the Kingdom of the Night and see the bats, the beavers, the snakes, and the alligators (including a white one!) G is upset because K ALWAYS gets to choose. She wants to see the Aquarium 1st and is mad because K chose the closest building. We tell her that we ARE going to the Aquarium, but just not first. K gets to choose because he’s the oldest, and she gets to choose where we go next. So she chooses the Aquarium and then whines because it isn’t first. I tell her that it doesn’t matter whether it’s first as long as we see it. She sulks. She’s 3rd grade.

We knew we wanted to go on the train and the carousel, but we needed tickets. The ticket booth was right next to the Skyfari, so we slipped that in between the aquarium and the carousel. Waaaaa! You said we were going to the carousel next. Oh, the unlimited energy of children! K said, “We have to remember distances because these guys are our Dad’s parents!” G sniffs. So we take the Skyfari up and over the rhinos and the sable antelope and though we didn’t see the cheetahs, we saw the enormous sundial, the brass rhino and elephant, and the lions sleeping on the rocks. The kids got to “fly” the helicopter, and we went to the lion compound but couldn’t see the lions from the ground. We rode the Skyfari. Unintended consequences: I have put both legs to sleep and my feet are cramping! It made getting off the gondola tricky! After maneuvering off the dread machine, we then headed for the carousel. It was a longer trek than M or I had anticipated!

K and G went on the carousel, then we went and picked up the train. We rode in the caboose! The kids wanted to be as far away from the whistle as possible. K can differentiate the trains by their whistles! What kid his age does that? I’m impressed! The whining has begun. I perceive that K is flexible and looks for opportunities. But he also seems to be checking objectives off and more interested in getting to the locations than enjoying what they see there. Hurry UP, Grandma! G tends to fixate on the plan and gets upset when it changes. This is interesting.

We finished the train ride at Glacier Bay…92 degrees, no glaciers, no snow, no mountains. I was shocked! By this time, M and I are dehydrated. K, G, and I go to the closed restaurant and sit in the shade while M looks for the tram to take us up to the gate. Whining ensues. “We wanna go to the gift shop!!!!” “Maybe…” We wait for about 15 min. We think this is where G lost her water bottle. The tram comes and we all get on and head uuuuuuup the hill to the Lied Jungle. We decided to eat there because it’s air-conditioned, darker, and you can watch the monkeys while you eat. They make a KILLING on food! OMG! $5.25 for a hot dog? This isn’t the meal, that’s just the hot dog. The fries are $5.25, the mac and cheese is $5.25, the fruit is $5.00 ($5.00 for an apple!), the fruit cups M and I had were $7.25 because they had to cut up the fruit and add 1 Tbs of yogurt. K’s commemorative cup of water was $9.50. So, lunch for 2 kids and 2 grandparents was nearly $100. That’s nuts. I could get a steak dinner for everyone for less than that! Kids are not whining. G finally finishes her hot dog. We’re cooled down and head out, but not to the gift shop. Awwww. Well, I asked when they were coming back and if they could wait until then to get their gifts. They reluctantly agreed. We then trekked up to the car.

K and G are saying “Best Day Ever!!!” Warms a grandparent’s heart. M and I are exhausted and dehydrated, even after our $5/$7 drinks. We have racked up 7,500 steps. But, we’re having to drink about 1 gal of water. I have severe cramps in the bottoms and TOPS of my feet, my calves, my hands? and my leg is complaining. I take a 2-hour nap, punctuated by cramping.

Maybe not the BEST day ever, but it was fun!

Strange Market

If you come and visit me in the MidWest, you’ll be in Cow Country. Yup. Cows everywhere. What will you find on the menus? Steaks, chops, ribs, roasts, burgers… Do you need leather? There are stores here that just sell cowboy boots, and you’d have no problem getting leather items anywhere.

I went to the UK for a 2-week tour. Sheep everywhere! What do you find on the menus? Steaks, chops, ribs, roasts, and burgers…but no lamb. No crown roasts, no chops, no legs, no shanks. Do you want some authentic British wool? You can get Red Heart and Bernat in the local convenience stores. Those are NOT British labels. I went into google to search for shops in Edinburgh and London and in those huge cities, I found 4 shops, only 2 that sell locally-sourced undyed wool. And those 2 locations are warehouse stores that sell exclusively online.

I have a former student who cards and spins wool here in Omaha. It’s Wonderful stuff! Like I said, this is cow country and I have a more available source of undyed, pure wool here in town than I had on my travels in the UK.

So, as a tourist, I thought they’d offer authentic Aran sweaters and knit goods to sell at exorbitant prices. They had mass-produced sweaters with cable patterns. Most were wool/polyester or wool/cotton blends. None were produced in the UK. I am confused. They have more sheep than people, and you cannot find wool or locally crafted sweaters? In fact, there used to be an “Irish Shop” in the local mall that sold Aran sweaters and woolen goods here in Omaha, and I didn’t find any with variety on the whole tour in the UK.

I think I am going to contact my student and get some of her wool to make a sweater, an authentic Irish pattern sweater.

12,000 Steps

The trip started out like most…The bus will drop you off here and you can wander about until 2:30 when the bus will pick you up at this exact spot. Shop, eat, and enjoy the Ambiance that is Edinburgh. I was on a mission. I needed to get some English Currency. I was told the best exchange rate was at the Post Office, and due to the Queen’s Jubilee, everyone else in the country had the same thought. 2 of the places we’d stopped on the tour were several miles’ walk from our hotel or any of the city tours we went on so when we got to a post office that was close enough, Pitlochry, there was a 45-minute wait to get INTO the building. We ran out of time. Now was my chance. The Exchange was a mere 3 blocks from where the bus dropped me off!

I headed from the St. Andrews and St. George Church on George Street down to Sir Walter Scott’s memorial on Princes Street.

Then I went to the Mall and changed my money. From there, I went back up the hill to the bus collection point. It was 1:30. The bus was going to pick us up at 2:30. I wanted to sit down, but the beggar was not pleased that I was encroaching on her territory. I had no interest in wandering around the shops and I wasn’t hungry, so I sat. I got a wifi connection and thought, “Hmmm, I could locate the hotel and see if I could walk from here rather than waiting an hour.” Sure enough, the hotel was just a 20-minute walk from my location! I checked out my location and looked on my map, and noticed my battery was nearly in the red. I decided to go to my next turn before I turned on my phone again.

I walked back to Scott’s Memorial and headed in the direction my map told me to go. I could see the castle from the street, so I kept that on my left and headed out. There was a wonderful park, and it wasn’t long before I heard band music. The Royal Marines were putting on a concert in the bandstand. They were playing a medley of John Williams tunes. I got to an intersection and found a bench. It had been 15 min, so I had to be close. I looked at my map and discovered I was on the right trail, but I was firmly in the red now. I headed up across the bridge.

I passed the Hanging Bat and the Raging Bull, but somehow that didn’t spark any inspiration to eat. You may not know this, but Edinburgh was one of the first planned cities…set out on a grid. News flash. Weird looking grid. So I come to an intersection of 4 streets…(grid?) Lauriston Pl, West Toll Cross, Home Street, Lothian Road (A7?). Normally, there would be 2: Lothian Road, and one other, but no…Lauriston Pl turns INTO West Toll Cross, Home Street goes approximately 60 degrees south of Lothian Road. Uh Oh.

I stayed on Lothian Road. My phone is officially dead. It is now after 2:00. I should be in sight of the hotel. I am not. I walk further on Lothian road and now nothing looks familiar. I stop at a food truck and ask for directions. Lady gets out her phone. She lives in this neighborhood, but has never heard of my hotel? Then I hear the fateful words that will get repeated to me throughout the rest of my tale: “OK, just go this way for about a mile and a half…” and they point to the way I just came.

I smiled and asked if I could take her phone with me. I had to explain that I was kidding. Oh…Kay… I began thinking if she was pointing me back to where I had just come, wouldn’t I have seen this place on my way here? I headed back down the hill then I recalled that on her phone map, there was the Novotel. We had passed it twice since we got to Edinburgh, so I knew it was a crucial landmark and headed for that.

I FOUND Novotel and walked into the pub attached to the building. I asked the bartender where the Leonardo Royal was and guess what he said… That’s right. He pointed back to where I’d just come and said it was a 13-minute walk according to his phone. Or, I could take the #2 bus. Oh? Where was the bus stop? He said it was down at the bottom of the hill to the left. It was now 2:30. He said they come about every 15 minutes. What he didn’t tell me was that the bus goes 2 directions and they only take exact change. I had a 20-pound note and I wasn’t going to pay 20 pounds for a 1.06-pound fare.

I headed down to the bus stop Where there was a couple from Arkansas also waiting. She had a phone with GPS. “OH! No Problem! Y’all jist go down the hill there and catch Bread Street? Then ya jist turn onto Morrison Street and then to Morrison link.” Now she’s saying that as if she’d lived in, um, Southern Edinburgh…because of her accent. Then she pointed me in the wrong direction. If I could have looked at her phone, I would have been able to tell she had it oriented wrong. I’m good at reading maps. So I headed down the street in the wrong direction. Nothing looked familiar. I stopped at a clothing shop and asked the lady at the desk who had a phone.

This is what I don’t understand. I have lived in my current house for 22 years. I have no idea what my neighbors’ names are, but I know where 2 hospitals, 3 emergency rooms, 4 grocery stores, and at least 15 restaurants are near my neighborhood. I worked 1 year at the Hardee’s on the interstate and could tell you where all the hotels in the area were, and where to get your car fixed and your prescriptions filled. I worked 6 years at the financial office and could tell you every restaurant in a 6-block radius, the music store, the clothing stores, the bus stops, and where to get the best ice cream. The people that I asked were NATIVES of the city, and had lived most of their lives there, and yet not a single person had any idea where the hotel district was (and there were 8 hotels in a 2-block area. You’d think that would stand out!) and had never heard of the Leonardo.

So the nice lady points me back to where I came…It’s a 20-min walk. Now I’ve been on this 20-minute walk for over 1 1/2 hours. It’s getting close to 3:15. I head back up to the Novotel and on the way, I see my Arkansas friends. I told them that I never found Bread street. Oh well. This time I walk East of the Novotel and enjoy the sights. Because…nothing looks familiar. It is now 3:30. You may ask how I know since my phone/clock/map/internet/paperweight is dead. There are clocks on the schools, clocks on the churches, clocks on the time/temp displays in front of the stores and banks… I have officially missed the bus to the Britannia dinner and tour. My group has no idea where I am, and I can’t call my husband to let him know I’m alright. I’m in some sort of educational area, schools everywhere. They look like ghost towns. So I turn around and head back to the Novotel.

There, in front of the hotel, is a coach with its driver. It is a tour coach. Surely this driver has taken his charges to other hotels in the area. He would know! So I go and ask him. He hasn’t a clue. By now, I have discovered there are TWO Leonardo Royal hotels. One is old and picturesque, and one is new. Every time I asked for directions, they tried to send me to the old one which I passed several times before I saw that it WAS a Leonardo Hotel. I probably could have walked in and explained my situation to them and they might have been able to get me to the right one.

The picturesque Leonardo was TWO blocks from the Novotel, and the guy who had sent me to the bus stop had no idea it was there. The new one was about 6 blocks from the hotel and he had no idea THAT one was there. The Coach driver had never delivered tourists to either one. He suggested I take a taxi. “Where am I going to get a taxi?!!!” (Frustrated much?) And while I’m speaking, one pulls up and drops off some tourists. The Coach driver talks to the taxi driver and tells him I need to go to the Leonardo in the Haymarket district. Much to my surprise, he enters into HIS GPS. Oh! it’s not far. It’s now 4:15

He easily finds the place, and due to the fact that every one-way street is going the wrong way, we have to go a longer route than I would have had I walked. I get to the hotel about 4:30 and wait 5 min in line to talk to the concierge. I tell him I’ve become separated from my group and could he call the tour guide to let him know I am alive and well and going to soak in my tub? He was aghast. “They left over an hour ago!!” “I know.” He has the wrong tour group on his “current” list and cannot call him. I get to my room and plug in my phone.

For the 1st time on this tour, I have handicapped facilities, and I COULD take a nice soak in the tub…if it had a drain plug. So, at 4:45, I Facebook messaged my friend Jeremy to let my husband and the tour guide know I was safe and sound. Then I changed into my PJs and went to bed. Even though my paperweight was dead, it kept counting steps…12,000 steps. The most I had walked before this was the 10K steps in Heathrow Airport before my flight home the first week in April. My normal is usually less than 1000.

Best I can guess, this was part of my route.

It appears that on every trip I take, I have to have some alone time…so I get lost? No more shortcuts for me!

Let me help…

I hate this. I wanted to get into my bank account to check my balance because I was out of the country. Good idea right?

I did NOT get international calling access. Bad mommy. Why would I need 500 texts from people showing me their breakfasts or giving me excuses why they didn’t practice this week? I turned my phone to Airplane Mode and left it there. But I signed into wifi at the hotels I stayed at.

In order to see my bank balance, I had to get into the Banking App which doesn’t use face recognition, put in my super-secret password, and then wait for my verification code which…you guessed it, is TEXTED to me. Read previous paragraph. Well, that won’t do. But there is an option! Yes, you can have them call you. Hmmmm. If they allowed facial recognition or, what… biometric recognition on my PHONE instead of my DESKTOP, that might mitigate the need for me to spend all that money to use this feature 3 times in 2 weeks. But no.

So in traveling all over the UK, after the 1st week, I had no idea what my balance was.

Do you want your account to be secure?
yes, that would be nice.
Let me help you. Now you have double verification!
oooh! neat! how do I access my account now?
Wait…you wanted ACCESS? That would not be secure!
um…I have my password.
Well, the 2nd verification requires a phone with a plan that allows for international calls.
I can’t get international calls.
See how safe it is?

Face/palm

So now my account is so safe the only ones that can get into it are the bank and my creditors. Argh.