What to Blog? Inspiration Comes From Within

“I have nothing to write about.”


Everyone has something to say. Everyone has a talent, something to say or something to offer. Saying ‘I have nothing to give, or nothing to say’ is foolishness.

Talk to a friend if you think this isn’t the gospel truth. If you have nothing to offer, then why are they your friend. Many of our greatest artists and writers took their inspiration from their household life. Monet painted his back yard something like fifty times, and they call him a master. Rembrandt rarely left home. Patrick McManus, the humorist, wrote about his family and friends, and he may be the funniest man I have ever read.

The other day, I said I had nothing to say to someone on the phone, when I had an entire comedy routine playing out at my feet.

Enter Gypsy the Psycho Cat, Xena, Princess Warrior Cat, and Duke the (so called) Pit Bull.

Background: Xena and Gypsy were raised by a dog, a Weimeraner/Pit Bull cross. Their mother was a tramp, wandering the streets of Chula Vista at night, rarely coming home. She returned once a day, sometimes less, so Daisy spent most of her time warming the kittens and teaching them to fetch, beg at the kitchen table, and drag their bellies along the carpet. They also chase cats and heel when going for walks. In the words of Dave Barry, “I am not making this up.”

Enter Duke, the So Called Pit Bull.
When Duke came to live with me, via my son moving back in, the dogs in the neighborhood (especially the annoying poodle two doors down) began to behave themselves. They stayed at home, and ceased to stand in my driveway yapping at my cats.
The stray cats also steer clear. Duke is a good family dog and a devoted watchdog. His only fear, if you could call it that, is Gypsy, the Psycho Cat. Duke would like nothing better than to sleep next to my bed at night. Gypsy doesn’t think that is such a good idea, and I am woken in the middle of the night frequently when Gypsy, hiding behind my door or under my bed, comes out and ambushes Duke as he enters the room.
I don’t know why he keeps trying. She terrifies him. He has a bed, a blanket, and his own Laz-E-Boy recliner. But he seems to think that somehow, some day, he will be able to sleep in my room. Its nice of him to feel so devoted, but it is difficult to sleep through a night punctuated with brief but intense combat.

Why can’t they be more like Xena, and sleep through the night out in the guest room with my son?

I think I may be shell shocked.

Watch this space for more on strange but true animal behavior.

If You Can’t Sing, Hummer?

Evidently, the people that brought us the ‘Vega” have been running GM. The recent spate of Government Handouts to mismanaged businesses has made fools of everyone that put their money into GM stock. While they were putting real money into what was supposed to be a real business, GM was monkeying around in the real estate fiasco, the credit business, and all sorts of other things- except making a lighter, better, fuel efficient, all metal (hence, all recyclable) roomy, automobile. Did you know (GM knows) that you can not send a car to the smelter for recycling if their is any, any plastic at all, still intact on the vehicle? If you want to recycle the plastic parts of your car (read ‘Saturn’) you have to take each, separate, individual piece of plastic, the dash, the doors, the moldings, the wiring harness, the connectors, the seat covers, the wheel covers, the door locks, the catalytic converter, any computer parts…

Did you know that over 60% of a GM car is made overseas, then shipped here to be assembled?

So, our tax dollars are bailing out…Japan, and France, and Germany.

But now, the people that brought us Corvette, the Rocket 88, the GTO, she’s real fine my 409, the Hummer, the Firebird, Cadillac and Buick, this company that still produces (produced, now) the world’s most famous marques, some of which still have waiting lists of future customers, the company that sells Rolls Royce its’ transmissions (thats right-Rolls Royce uses only Cadillac trannys) this company has been so mismanaged that it can not turn a profit, even after driving most of its’ competition from the playing field.

But, wait a minute. This isn’t supposed to be a communistic, socialistic society, where the government runs business, is it? Isn’t the idea supposed to be pure capitalism, that if you can manage your business, you live, and if you run, say, Tucker Automobiles, or Reo, or Fokker Dutch Airlines, GM undercuts your stocks, hires away your talent, starts rumours etc. to drive you out of business- excuse me, I mean, if you can’t run your business, then, you sell off your holdings and give the money to your loyal shareholders (wouldn’t want your fans to go without), and start over.

But, if you can’t sing, hum, and maybe the Gov’t will just, maybe, I don’t know, throw BILLIONS of dollars at you.

But could I please have Hummer? It is such a small part, and I would take good care of it.

I wouldn’t even move it overseas.


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To Blog, or Not to Blog…

Yes, it sounds like something Billy Crystal would say in a Rob Reiner movie. But it is a question we all ask ourselves; I have been asking myself and a few friends this question for months, now.

I am trying to bootstrap my writing into some kind of career; I want to be an author, and get paid to do it. Blogging takes time (although not much of it), and I don’t get paid for it. It has seemed interesting to me, but I wondered, why bother- what can it do for me?

This past week, I found out. Through a little research and discussion, it became clear to me that there are ways to use blogging to add to your repertoire, and maybe to your checking account, as well.

This is free advertising, and you get out of it what you put into it. With that ‘little bit of time and effort’ that we mentioned earlier, you can take your blogs to the next level by building it into your social networking scheme.

Add blogging into your professional web of colleagues, friends or acquaintances. Use it like you would a business card, leaving it where ever you wish to make a connection, and just like a business card, it tells your new acquaintance something about you, as it makes an impression mentally and visually- you design your blog site the same way you design a business card, giving your prospective client a snapshot of your taste, be it trim and professional, stylish or colorful, they now know who you are, something about you, that will tell those little gray cells who to contact next time.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a picture of a thousand words worth?

Start blogging, and find out.

The Great American Novel, or ‘So You Want to be a Writer”

All my life, literally, since I was a child, whenever I turned in an essay, told a story, related an experience- whatever- people told me “Wow, Brett. You should write a book.”
But, as with most things your parents tell you, when you hear it over and over again, I developed the ‘water off a duck’s back’ syndrome. I didn’t listen, mostly because I didn’t like to sit still for the ten minutes or so it took to write something down.

Working in the construction field, I fell three stories and landed with my back across a metal brace, flipped over, and landed on something else.

I now have the ability to sit still, often for as much as thirty minutes. I can still walk around, drive a car, etc., but I use a cane.

So, my adventure days are now few and farther between, and not only that, I am starting to enjoy writing e-mails, this blog, and also working on my book, “Torna”, which people are telling me looks pretty good so far. So, I am taking their advice and encouragement, and trying to turn it into something.

If you want to be a writer, watch this space, and check the links, too. Every little bit helps, and even if you read something you don’t think is any good, hey: you just learned something- don’t write like that.

Here is the first thing to look for, if you think you want to be the one to write ‘The Great American Novel- ‘Do other people get enjoyment from what you write?’

Now, if you solicit comments from other people, probably friends or family members, they usually tell you ‘yeah, thats pretty good’. I can’t imagine my mom telling me she thought my last letter stunk; yours probably won’t either.

So, wait for it. Let them come to you. Write, and write what you want to, what makes you enjoy writing, and see what people say. If they encourage you, don’t wait 45 years to get started- you’re already on your way.

Investments, and Are We Really Being Hurt?

Years ago, about 1981, right after I started my first business, I began to get phone calls soliciting my involvement in investment companies. Among the most persistent was a company called ‘J. David and Associates’. They promised me all sorts of money would be coming my way, just give my money to them. Everything would be wonderful, I would make lots of money, only why didn’t I just give them my money, because they were experts; they knew what they were doing.

My reply, every time, was ” I’m already making money, that’s why I started a business. You know, work all day, sell stuff to people, put money in the bank, buy low, sell high, and watch the pennies and the dollars would grow’.

They kept calling, and each time they called, the promises kept getting bigger i.e., more and more returns on my investment, higher percentages, etc.

I took the time once to explain to them just how lucrative the salvage and recycling industry was, that for $100.00 outlay, I often got back $1000.00 or more, all I had to do was manage my labor carefully, and could you beat that.

And they STILL kept calling, and making promises that I could get rich quick, just give them my money.
They kept calling, and calling, and calling…

Right up until they were arrested for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in US history, the biggest fraud case to ever hit San Diego. They ripped off something like $50,000,000.00.

They claimed they were a legitimate business, stock brokers and investment analysts, and just some deals went bad, and oops that happens sometimes.

They got hammered in court, because the DA traced the money, and found it in off-shore banks, real estate listed under different corporate umbrellas, that sort of thing. Some people got their money back, and lots of ‘Investment’ gurus and ‘stock brokers’ went to the Big House.

So, how come today, when the same thing happens, only with billions of dollars in IRA’s, and GMAC accounts (thats a car company, pretending to be an investment banker; sounds hokey to me- I’ll just put my money in a regular bank, thank you ) and people’s homes and futures- how come they don’t find the money, and give it back to the rightful owners, and put the ‘investment’ gurus, ‘stock brokers’, ‘used car dealer/banker/GMAC mortgage broker/con artists in jail?

Just a side note- when all these people spend big bucks, buying and selling stocks etc., aren’t they doing it with money they can afford to lose? I mean, you don’t spend the rent money on stocks and bonds, and then wait for your investment to grow, and then get your money out and pay the rent. These guys are playing with billions of dollars, but it is all money that people can afford to lose, e.g., ‘disposable income’. So, if everybody’s bills are paid, then all that is happening out there in Wall Street Land, is that rich people aren’t getting richer. They gambled, they lost.
Not only that, the money didn’t vaporize; its still there, somewhere in cyberspace; all they have to do is call the Homeland Security people that track every dollar and cent in and out of the country watching to see who the next threat is… don’t they?

If Big Brother isn’t watching over us, who is?

Long Lost

I have spent years hearing and experiencing dysfunctional family stories. Not only have I lived it, somehow, just through the natural selection process, most of my friends, relatives and girlfriends/wives have too.

Then there comes a time when you get your head together, or wrapped around it, as they now say. You come to grips, you get to understand that there is more to life, and then, you may even start to explore what makes your family tick (I.E. ooh, we’re obsessed with perfectionism because Grandma was raised that way in Deutschland…Ordnung!)

My wife’s family is Cuban. Not decended from, moved here from. My mother in law was raised there, and her father moved the family here after being Castro-ized.

She was uptight about family, and not very warm or affectionate. It irritated me, and privately I would find fault with her (my family’s favorite fault). Then, one day, I overheard the name ‘Uncle Fausto’ mentioned. In private, I asked my wife, “Who is Uncle Fausto”?

In 1959, the week after my mother in law was married, her mother took her 14 year old brother back to Cuba, on a special visit, to share wedding pictures, and the like. Suddenly, she had a bout with cancer, and died there.
My mother in laws’ father tried to get Faust back here, and apparently, the triple strain of wedding, death, and fighting with US/Cuban authorities, was too much, and he had a heart attack, and died a week later.
My wife has never talked to her uncle, no one has, since 1959. Not only that, Grandma (my mother in law) has held this all in, never told anyone the whole story, nothing.

The other day, she got a phone call from her estranged son, my estranged brother in law. He said, in brief, “If you want to talk about someone named Fausto, e-mail this person in Cuba”.

So, Grandma e-mailed Guadalupe, and identified herself satisfactorily, and was able to leave a message for Uncle Fausto, who doesn’t have e-mail access personally, but has been able to pay someone else, occasionally, to search for his sister on the internet.

Cuban authorities, ever paranoid, will probably keep visiting conditions for ex-pats so difficult, restrained and expensive, that they may not be able to get together, unless somebody in our family circle has a real windfall, but at least, after 49 years, they have been able to have a conversation, if second hand.

Choked Up in Chula Juana,

BW Canfield