Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Empty Newsletter

By Keith N Fisher

Well, I don’t feel any happier, but I do have a new appreciation of all the blessings I’ve been given. Last week I talked about counting blessings as a way to happiness. I also said I would spend thanksgiving counting mine.

It was a wonderful activity that brought insights and peace. How many of you have been grateful for air to breathe? We had dinner at my brother’s and I spent much of that time reminiscing about my childhood. You see my brother owns a house where the barn used to be, when I was three years old and we lived down there.

The small bungalow my parents rented still exists, but it was moved and sits on blocks in a field behind the landlord’s house.

I remember playing in the water puddles that formed in the road after a rainstorm. I remember so much more, but I don’t want to bore you.

I’ve finished the book I was working on and started on another. I now have one at the publisher and two in editing. This, latest, story wants to be told, but its not anxious to give up the secrets. I’m sweating over every word, trying to get it right.

I also started our annual family newsletter this week. What a daunting task it has become. Do any of you write seasonal greetings? Our newsletter used to be easy. Our lives were full of activities, but as the economy tanked, and funds became hard to scrape up, activities have tapered off.

I get a kick out of other newsletters I read. Some of them, I’m convinced, are propaganda sheets, designed to make me feel guilty about my less than, perfect life. I marvel at how we all become spin doctors, tweeking the truth to make it sound better. This year, I’m afraid I’ll end up saying, “nothing happened last year”.

There are, however, a few pictures I can use. My wife continues to get thinner and I’ve noticed a weight loss on myself. Hey, I just thought of some things I can write. Perhaps with a little spin . . .

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

Hymn number 241 in the Mormon Hymnbook, caught my eye the other day. I’ve probably sang that hymn thousands of times over the years, but I finally got the point recently, and I thought you might benefit.

The advice in, Count Your Blessings, is clear. If we are burdened with troubles there is freedom. All we need to do is, count our blessings. Name them one by one. Count our many blessings see what God hath done.

According to the song, there are myriad things God has done for us and if we honestly start counting those things, how can we feel anything but grateful? Then with gratitude in our hearts, our troubles seem to morph into manageable annoyances.

That is the promise---happiness through gratitude. Are you willing to give it a try?

In light of the impending holiday, I thought it would be a good time to try the experiment. Each year, we greet our friends with a cheerful “Happy Thanksgiving", and rush to continue our preparations of the great meal. Many people look forward to watching sports on TV. Most of us can’t wait to get reacquainted with relatives. Others wish those relatives would stay away. How many of us actually use the day for what it was intended. How many of us take time to recognize God’s part in our lives?

When I think of my childhood and teenage years, I have much to be thankful for. I realize the many times God saved me. There were times when He, alone, stood between me and impending doom. As I grew older, He helped me in subtle ways. So, I plan to take time on the holiday, tuck my tail between my legs, and give credit where credit is due. I bet I will run out of day before I run out of blessings to count. Either way, I look forward to the promise in the song.

I hope your holiday will be full of family love and good food. I also hope you will take a moment and remember He, who made it all possible.

Good Luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

Like most of those in my generation, I took a typing class in junior high. I recall sitting behind a typewriter, trying to find the “D”. We had a chart on the wall that showed the placement of all the keys, but we weren’t supposed to look at it. I had to close my eyes and try to remember.

I wondered why the letters weren’t just placed in order. You know start at the top with “A” and move down the keyboard until you find “Z”. It didn’t make any sense.

When I found out, however, why the keys were placed like they are, I nodded my head and understood. After the invention of the inline typewriter, proficiency of the users caused a problem. The type bars would often get tangled on the backstroke with the following bar. To avoid the problem of jammed keys the inventors mixed up the keyboard to slow down the typists.

Having spent hours typing on an old manual typewriter, I can understand. Even with the confusing placement, my keys often got tangled with each other. Now, after all these years, I’m vaguely familiar with the keyboard. I also use a computer that reacts to each stroke in quicker time than even my mind can function. I don’t need the “A” in the top left corner, because I’m used to having the “Q” up there.

I still wonder if an inline placement could help though, and some keyboards are laid out that way, but it’s okay. You see, when I’m composing off the top of my head, as if I were speaking, I write pretty fast. My fingers become an extension of my mind and words flow fast enough for me.

On the other hand, I’ve taken typing tests that made me feel like a ninth-grader again. I’m slower than glacial ice. Instead of typing word for word from the test sheet, I tend to read the thing, take time to comprehend it, then type what it said. Sometimes, I even have to visualize the chart to remember the keyboard placement. Well, I hate timed tests anyway.

Now, as if to add insult to injury, designers keep placing the keys closer together. Laptops are getting smaller. We have netbooks that seem to be made for a four-year old typist, or one-handed users. My big fingers feel cramped, and I tend to type the wrong letter. Editing, while writing, seems to be the wave of the future for me. Maybe I should adopt the two-thumb texting, method of writing.

Or maybe, I need to put my fingers on a diet. Perhaps, Mrs. Woodward standing over me with a stopwatch, making sure my eyes never stray to the chart on the wall. Of course in those days, the keys were almost an inch apart. If you wanted to type a letter, you had to mean it. Therefore, your finger muscles had to be strong.

Later, with electric typewriters, they eliminated the need to press hard, but the keys were sensitive. If the user held a finger down too long, the letter would appear more than once. I guess that’s still possible with computers, but the timing has been perfected to prevent accidental doubles.

Yes, writing is not for the faint of heart. If it’s any consolation, most of the classical writers we admire didn’t type. I think I’ll stick to writing from the top of my head, and try to avoid typing tests.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ghosts, Ghouls, Kim Karshian, and a Great Story

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about Halloween. It’s about time, don’t you think? By tradition each year, I sit on my front porch in a festive mood and pass out the offerings. Life is great when the holiday falls on a warm night, but I recall several stormy nights when I would’ve stood in bed if it wasn’t for our daughter’s desire for candy.

When she was younger, we made the mistake of putting her down for a nap before going out, then wondered why she didn’t seem to care. I recently watched the videos and realized she was sleep-walking at the time.

Out of self-defense against those who would steal the whole bowl of candy we left while we went around the neighborhood, I began to stay home. The porch sitting tradition started when I got tired of standing up every five minutes to answer the door. I dressed up a few times, but it scared some of the children. Now, I remain my usual scary self, and I can’t remove my mask.

One year, I tried to read one of the Harry Potter books, but there were too many interruptions. I have tried to write, with the same results. This year, I didn’t try, although I did have my laptop charging on the bistro table. I took pictures, chatted, and philosophized about the different aspects of the holiday.

Also, this year, since our daughter graduated from supervised trick or treating, my wife joined me on the porch. My mother even stopped over.

I went to work later on, that night, and watched the kids who came into the store. Some were dressed in costumes, some weren’t. I remembered some of the teenage antics I played on Halloween, and marveled at the changes in the world.

I wished my daughter could’ve grown up when I did. When neighbors were kind, and they took care of each other’s children. It was a time when we didn’t worry about the dangers kids face today. Parents didn’t need to go trick or treating, but they still worried.

While working, I passed the tabloid magazine rack and read one of the headlines about Kim Kardashian. Now, there is a scary Halloween character for you. Except she never removes the mask. The way I heard it, she staged a wedding & marriage as a publicity stunt and now, after seventy-two days, she’s in the process of filing for divorce. Talk about a circus act. Using smoke and mirrors she has proven she’d do almost anything for attention. It’s becoming hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality these days. Reality seems to be whatever a press agent says it is.

Later, the radio played I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, by Stephen Tyler and Aerosmith. The song reminded me of a great story. I heard on television.

Back in the seventies, A model named Bebe Buell, hung out with rock stars. She became involved with Todd Rundgren, a famous lead guitarist and songwriter. After a while, she broke up with him and started hanging out with Steven Tyler of the band Aerosmith. That relationship was short lived, however, because Steven’s drug abuse scared Bebe and she went back to Todd.

Soon afterward, Bebe had a baby girl and named her Liv Rundgren. They were a family who socialized with Rock Stars and show people.

When Liv started to grow up, she noticed a resemblance between her and Steven Tyler’s daughter Mia. Now there are two different stories here, but they agree that at some point, Liv confronted Bebe about it and was told the truth. Bebe didn’t know for sure, but Steven was probably her birth father. At twelve, Liv took Steven’s stage name and became, Liv Rundgren Tyler. She has two dads and calls Todd her spiritual dad.

Later, Liv tried modeling, then acting and is very popular. She played Arwen, in Lord of the Rings among other leading roles in other movies. In 1998 she played Bruce Willis’s daughter in a movie called Armageddon. There is a poignant moment in the story when Bruce has to do the heroic thing. He tells his Daughter, Liv, by videoconference, that he won’t be coming home. Liv touches the screen with both hands as his image fades out.

In the music video that accompanied the movie, they put Steven on that screen during the last part of the song. Liv touches the screen as Steven fades out. It was touching.

Isn’t that a great story? Even though it’s an unconventional family story, its true, and unlike Kim Kardashian, Liv Tyler doesn’t display it across the media. She tells the truth and leaves it at that. It would make a great plot for a book if someone could write it without being sued. Have a great week.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.