#ROW80: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

We never made it to the Georgia Department of Labor last week. Instead, we went first thing this morning… and when I say “first thing,” I mean we left for the place at 6:30 this morning. Mary was worried that she wouldn’t get a handicapped parking spot, and the last time we were there four years ago, it was insane. They’ve rearranged the office, though, and I guess there aren’t as many people applying for unemployment as there were four years ago. That’s not necessarily an indication that things are getting better: it’s possible that people have given up looking for work, or their unemployment benefits have run out. Georgia’s unemployment is at 8.8%, meaning that 8.8% of the population is unemployed and actively looking for work.

Some appropriate music, from BTO:

So, while I comb the job boards and brush up my resume, I continue to write, and ROW80 is a good place to keep track of what I’m doing.

  • Write 1,000 words every day: Going quite well, actually. Still hitting the minimum every day, and in some cases, such as yesterday, exceeding it. I’m playing with the idea I had a couple of months ago, and it’s become nothing short of an obsession with me. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about what to write next, how to adjust the story, what might be a better direction for the story, etc.
  • Learning and using Scrivener: I’ve managed to get the first portion of said story into Scrivener, and had fun yesterday breaking it into scenes. After that, I added another thousand words and another using Scrivener’s text editor. I can see why people like it so much. If there’s a scene I know I need to add somewhere, I can set up a placeholder for it and write it at some other time, or if a scene is out of place I can shuffle it wherever I need it, ot take scenes out and put them back in where they make more sense. In short, I’m having fun.
  • Writing with my left hand: It’s coming along. I am doing all right with the printed capital letters and numbers. They still look like my worst efforts in first grade, and I’m having nightmares about Miss Disselhorst, my first grade teacher. I guess that means that I’ll be having nightmares about Mother Amadeus (second grade, when I learned cursive) and Mother Juanita (third grade, when I used a fountain pen for the first time). Hey! Maybe I should get one of those real thick first-grade pencils. Remember them?

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  • Producing an article for publication every week: Eh, not so good. I might need to do more research on that.

So, that’s the scoop here. Hope everyoine has a good week.

Two for Tuesday: Seatrain

You might remember from a couple of weeks ago that The Blues Project had virtually disbanded after the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. The only two original members were Andy Kulberg and Roy Blumenfeld, and Verve Records was demanding one last Blues Project album. 1968’s Planned Obsolescence featured, in addition to Kulberg and Blumenfeld, guitarist John Gregory, violinist Richard Greene, saxophonist Don Kretmar, and lyricist Jim Roberts. Having completed the contract with Verve, they renamed the band Seatrain. They released the album Sea Train in 1969. By the time the released their eponymous second album in 1970, Blumenfeld and Gregory had been replaced by Larry Atamanuik and Peter Rowan, respectively, and the band added Lloyd Baskin on keyboards. Seatrain’s one hit record, “13 Questions,” reached #49 on the Billboard Hot 100. Legendary record producer George Martin produced that album and 1971’s The Marblehead Messenger, after the band relocated from Marin County to Marblehead, Massachusetts. After that, Peter Walsh replaced Rowan, Bill Elliot replaced Lloyd Baskin, Julio Coronado replaced Atamanuik, and Richard Greene departed. This group recorded 1973’s Watch (which featured Kulberg’s “Flute Thing”) before disbanding.

Our first selection is Seatrain’s one and only hit, “13 Questions.”

The second is the title track from their first album, “Sea Train.”

Hope you’ve enjoyed the music of Seatrain, your Two For Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

#ROW80: First Week Of Unemployment Edition

I’m writing this Tuesday afternoon. By the time it’s published, Mary and I will be on our way to the Georgia Department of Labor office so that I can apply for unemployment benefits. Not something I look forward to, but as someone who’s worked nearly his entire life, part of the game. As is applying for disability benefits, which we started last week.

Collecting unemployment benefits is contingent on my continuing to search for work. The law in Georgia requires that I provide evidence that I have been searching for work by providing a list of at least three contacts that I made during the week for each week that I plan on collecting benefits. I’ll find out tomorrow whether I can use article submissions as part of that evidence. Regardless of whether or not they will, making freelance contributions is an area that I am going to explore and see how well I can do at it.

(SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve also decided that I’ve gone too long being unable to use a pen (or, in my case, pencil). My right hand has never fully recovered from the stroke, and it doesn’t cooperrate when I try to hold a pencil, much less write with it. My research in how to teach my left hand to write has led me to conclude that not only is it possible, it’s good for the brain as well. So that’s another thing to work on.

As for my lone goal, to write a thousand words every day, I’ve discovered that it’s easy now. In fact, too easy. I’ve managed to do that every day this week, so mission accomplished. So, I’m adding a few new goals to the list:

Revised list of goals:

  1. Write a thousand words a day.
  2. Practice writing left-handed every day. Start by printing, all caps at first, then mixed case. Then, if needed, work on cursive.
  3. Unlock the mysteries of Scrivener, once and for all. I have yet to run into any writer who thinks that it hasn’t helped them. Besides, I spent good money to buy the thing, and lately I’ve been more than conscious of how much money gets wasted around here…
  4. Produce at least one article that I can attempt to sell every week. I’ll start with one, and work my way up to three.

Wish me luck, say a prayer or send good vibes my way. I’m going to need them.

Two for Tuesday: Blood, Sweat & Tears

After leaving The Blues Project, Al Kooper became interested in a Chicago band, The Buckinghams, and their use of horns in rock. In late 1967 he and fellow Blues Project guitar and harmonica player Steve Katz formed the original BS&T with drummmer Bobby Colomby and bassist Jim Fielder. Saxophonist Fred Lipsius joined the group, and eventually trumpet/flugelhorn players Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss and trombonist Dick Halligan joined the group. Their first album, Child Is Father To The Man, was released in early 1968.

Shortly thereafter, Kooper left the group (as did Brecker and Weiss) after arranging several songs for a planned second album. They added vocalist David Clayton-Thomas, trumpet/flugelhorn players Lew Soloff and Chuck Winfield, and trombone player Jerry Hyman, Halligan moved to keyboards, and the band released their eponymous second album, which was produced by James William Guercio, producer for Chicago and The Buckinghams, in late 1968. It won the Grammy for Album of the Year and included hits such as “Spinning Wheel,” “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” and “And When I Die.” The band recorded two more albums, Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 and Blood, Sweat & Tears 4 with this lineup (Dave Bargeron replaced Jerry Hyman for 4).

In 1971, the band split along jazz-vs.-pop/rock lines, and Clayton-Thomas decided to leave rather than choose a side; Halligan and Lipsius also left the group. Larry Willis replaced Halligan on keyboards, Lou Marini replaced Lipsius on saxophone, Bobby Doyle and later Jerry Fisher replaced Clayton-Thomas, and the band added Swedish guitarist Georg Wadenius. During these changes in the band, they released a “Greatest Hits” album; it was the last album by the band that achieved Gold status. The band’s 1972 release, New Blood, went in a more jazz-oriented direction and included a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” featuring an extended voice and guitar solo by Wadenius. From there, the band experienced a number of personnel changes, including the return of David Clayton-Thomas and the addition of bassist Jaco Pastorius. By then, however, the band’s popularity had waned considerably. The band is still a popular touring group.

Today’s first number is from the Al Kooper days, “I Can’t Quit Her,” from Child Is Father To The Man.

Our second selection is from the second album, Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child.”

And there’s your Two for Tuesday, August 13, 2013.

(ETA to correct Dick Halligan’s name.)

#ROW80: Busy, busy, busy

I almost forgot how much fun being out of work can be. Not to say that it is, because it isn’t. I’m trying to apply for disability and finding that having worked steadily since my stroke six-plus years ago does not make a strong case for it.

Well, I have my words, anyway, and now I have plenty of time to brainstorm story ideas. There might even be time to try some new things, such as teaching myself to write left-handed. I understand doing things like that are good for the brain, especially when you get into your late fifties, and in my case, being able to use a pen and paper would be an utter boon. It might be a good idea to clean this place up a little, too; my office looks as though it was decorated by The Royal Society For Putting Things On Top Of Other Things.


(In case you’ve never seen the sketch. Complete with Portuguese subtitles.)

And, I’ve rediscovered Scrivener, for which I paid good money a while back and have never actually used. All of the training material I have for the software (including Scrivener For Dummies) goes into grand detail about the bells and whistles before it presents anything useful, like how do you actually use the thing? For those of you who are familiar with The Big Bang Theory, it’s like Sheldon trying to teach Penny “a little physics” so that she wouldn’t feel stupid talking to Leonard.


(For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Big Bang Theory.)

Thanks to YouTube (in particular katytastic, whose video on outlining with Scrivener has a disclaimer that she uses Scrivener her own way and doesn’t know much about it), I no longer feel overwhelmed by the software.

Anyway, I have lots of time to learn these and other fascinating things.

And, I’ve been able to maintain my goal of writing a thousand words every day, despite it all. So, mission accomplished for this week!

Hope your week has gone as well for you.