Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weight-Loss-Wednesday: Week 1

One week down, nine to go!

To keep healthy and combat obesity we are recommending a popular program called 5-2-1-0. The guidelines are easy (as easy as 5-2-1-0); just do the following on a daily basis:

Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables.
Limit yourself to 2 hours of recreational screen time.
Get at least 1 hour of physical activity.
Do not drink sugary drinks (0 Sugar).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hit the Space Bar ONCE

A few weeks ago I read something that really floored me, that something I had learned at the tender and impressionable age of twelve was completely wrong. I learned that hitting the space bar twice after the period was not only incorrect, but Satan is creating a new circle of hell for those who unleash two spaces upon the world.

The article (linked here) was by Rob W. Hart on the Novel Publishing Group, LLC website. In it he breaks the news that you only need to hit the space bar once when you end a sentence.

I've shared this new revelation with others and most -- no, no scratch that -- all of them were just as shocked. I'm hoping that I can get a reprieve from Beelzebub with the, "everybody else is doing it," excuse, but I think my other shortcomings will still sink me.

At first, I wanted to understand why. After searching around the best explanation I've found is that this stems from typewriters. With early typewriters every character filled the same amount of space. Whether it be a skinny 'i' or an extra wide 'w', it consumed the same amount of space. In modern language, they took the same amount of pixels. Because of this, a period-space-beginning of next sentence was too close and the typeset caused readers having problems recognizing the beginning of a new sentence. However, with modern computers this is no longer a problem so the double-space-bar rule no longer applies.

Sorry folks, that is the best I could find. I have trouble buying this theory because you would think the capital letter at the front of the new sentence would have been a clue.

I then wondered who else believes this. Short answer: the pros. All of the styled guides prescribe to the single striking of the space bar. When you talk to the elitists, they are all in favor of one space. It is actually so well known that I can't believe I haven't even heard about the debate surrounding this topic.

I also wondered if anybody would care. After all, I've been sending out email and story submission one after another breaking this rule and nobody has ever questioned it. Not even a yellow sticky note saying, "I fixed your double-space issues." Nothing!

But it isn't these people I will be submitting manuscripts to when I want to be taken seriously. So while most people will not care, those who would care are the ones I need to impress. And I've noticed since trying out this rule nobody has written back criticizing me for being too lazy to hit the space bar twice.

That said, I'm trying to repent. After this many years of hitting the space bar twice I'm finding it very difficult to get out of the habit. Rob W. Hart insists it is a piece of cake, but I have yet to unlearn this habit. I seem to be developing a new habit, and that is hitting space-space-backspace. Arg!!
I resolve to become a one-space-bar advocate. This is going to be an uphill battle for me, and that hill is going to be full of wraiths wielding chain saws and the latest editions of the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't care, this will be a battle I will win or die trying! RAWR!!!


(And, yes, that is my keyboard)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest & Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Here is my entry for the Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest that is being ran by Shelly Brown, the winner of my 50 follower contest. Poetry isn't my common M.O., but I promised I would participate. She recently did a review on Tyler Whitesides, who is coming out with a book called Janitors Since I finished reading and enjoying it just the other day I figured I would base my poem as a review of his book.

So here it is!

Why You Should Read Tyler Whiteside’s Janitors

By James Duckett

I just read a fantastic book,
I’ll try not to give much away;
I’ll review it in a poem
Instead of a boring ol’ essay.

The book is named Janitors
It is written by Tyler Whitesides,
Here is a glimpse of the fun and excitement
That this entertaining book provides.

It has magical brooms,
It has magical mops,
It has a substitute teacher,
And a scene with some cops.

It has government officials,
From the mysterious B.E.M.,
Who recruits Spencer Zumbro
To fight warlocks who are against them.

With the aid of a cleaning glove
A girl named Daisy Gates,
And a flashlight to find an item
That leads him to dire straits.

There are mean little creatures
Hiding everywhere in schools,
They attack students who are smart
And turn them into fools.

There is a cabbage smelling teacher
That does little to help out,
There is a bully that causes trouble
In this book he is there throughout.

You’ll read as Spencer and Daisy
Do all everything they can,
To save the day and by the end
No doubt you’ll be a fan.

Because there is a lesson in here
A lesson that is true,
That honesty is the best policy –
Be truthful to those around you.

Tell the truth in all circumstances
Don’t ever turn to lies,
Good things never happen
To those who compromise.

So pick up this book
Sit back, and enjoy the ride,
Without a doubt you’ll be hooked
To the story that is inside.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weight-Loss Wednesday: The Beginning

At my day job, I have been asked to run a 10-week weight management programmed called “Winning by Thinning or Maintaining.” The idea is to help people achieve proper weight in an effort to lower our healthcare costs.

I know this has nothing to do with writing, but as part of that program I plan to send out an Email to all of the participants with words of encouragement and tips on living a healthy lifestyle. So every Wednesday I’m going to have to write, so I figure I’ll also post what I write here in a new, but temporary (10 week) segment that I’ll call Weight Loss Wednesday. Even though at work I will be calling it Weigh-In Wednesday. If people out there are looking to improve their weight, or maintain it, maybe you’ll find something here to help you with that.

I mention habit trackers. Google a good food log online that works for you. Trust me, those things really work!!

Thank you participants in our new Weight-Loss program called “Winning by Thinning or Maintaining.” Our goal is to establish healthy habits to help everybody achieve or maintain a proper weight. This is a ten-week program and you should have had your first weigh-in Wednesday morning. If you haven’t weighed in, please do so immediately and we’ll pretend like you did.

I’m not asking that you share your weight with me, or anybody. If you want to, great!! Own it! I think it will help. But I do not want to discourage participation because somebody is afraid a number might be attributed to them. That is okay, you are more than a number to me anyways. All I ask is that you participate and share your goal with your Wellness Captain.

Every Wednesday is Weigh-In Wednesday. Reporting takes place every other Wednesday, so you will be asked to share your progress five times during this program. When you weigh yourself on Wednesday it is a good time to reflect on whether you are heading in the right direction or not.

Participants will receive a habit tracker. KEEP THIS ON YOU!! Use it to track what you eat, how much water you drink, the servings of fruits and vegetables, and how much physical activity you do. Track everything as if your success depends on it, because it might. Studies have shown that those who are attempting to achieve or maintain a certain weight are TWICE as successful if a log is kept.

When you weigh in every other week, make sure you show your habit trackers to your Wellness Captains. Those who weigh in will be entered into a drawing for nifty and fun prizes. Those who keep track of their habits will receive a second entry.

Make S.M.A.R.T. goals! Make sure your goals are…


Specific: Don’t be too general. Answer the five “W” questions. Who is going to be involved? What are you going to change in life to better yourself? Where are places you are going to go to keep motivated, e.g., the gym, a walking trail, etc? When will you be doing these things? Why are you doing this?

Measurable: Set a goal that is based on numbers. If your goal is to lose weight, sit in a sauna for an hour and you will have accomplished your goal. But that isn’t what you meant, right? Make your goal measureable so you know if you’ve truly accomplished your goal. “I will lose 10 pounds,” is a measureable goal.

Attainable: Make the goals important to you. Only if they are important will you have the motivation, attitude, and ability to achieve you goals.

Realistic: Make sure it is a goal that can be achieved. You have ten weeks. Don’t expect to drop 100 pounds in that time. Even if you did, the reality is that you will gain that weight back, plus a little interest. Dropping five, ten, or even twenty pounds is more realistic. Be honest with yourself, it is the only way you’ll achieve what you want. I would like to limit the weekly weight loss to two pounds per week (twenty pounds total), which has been shown to be the safest way to take weight off and keep it off.

Time-Based: Have a time limit. In our case, we are setting it to ten weeks. That makes math really simple! If you want to lose the max, then that is only two pounds per week. Focus on the two pounds every week, not the twenty you wish to lose overall. If you want to lose more, have a separate goal outside of this program to continue losing weight. At two pounds a week, one can lose over a hundred pounds in a year! Just remember to be realistic. Remember to be S.M.A.R.T.

Make goals and habitually track what you are doing every day -- that is all we ask. For more help, talk to others who are participating to keep yourself and your teammates motivated. Maybe find a buddy!! Waking up to go for a morning walk or jog is more likely to happen if you know somebody is waiting for you. You are not competing against anybody except yourself. Don’t psych yourself out of it. My biggest hope is that each of you will learn something new to help you sustain a healthier lifecycle in the next ten weeks.

But ultimately, it comes down to you. Like the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror,” take a look in the mirror. It is you that is going to have to make that change. YOU CAN DO IT!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

50 Follower Contest Results

I am stunned! I had no idea how successful my little contest was going to be and I am amazed at how awesome my followers were in helping get the word out about this blog. Now that the contest is over I have sooooo many writerly things I wish to address. But for now, I'm sure you are all waiting at the edge of your seat to see if you are a winner.

Well, I'm going to tease you a bit. I think this calls for a shout-out to everybody who participated as my way of saying THANK YOU and YOU ROCK MY WORLD. Okay, if you really just want to see who won then scroll down to the bottom.

Thank you to everybody who participated!!

Brenda Sills

Cathy Witbeck
Twitter: I couldn't find you, please comment below and I'll add you

Cindy M. Hogan

Danyelle Ferguson

Donna Weaver

Erica Badu
Blog: I couldn't find your blog. :( If you want it linked, please comment below

Katie Dodge

Lynn Parsons
Blog: Do you have one? Your website seems parked. Here is her Good Reads page for her book.

Melissa Cunningham

Melissa Lemon

Natalie Galasso

RaShelle Workman

Small Town Shelly Brown

Tamara Hart Heiner

Thank you, everybody, for your participation. My biggest fear is that I missed somebody but I tried to be as thorough as possible. If I did miss somebody, please chastise me in the comments and I'll find some way of making it up to you.

And, just so you know, I follow everybody mentioned above and I highly recommend ANYBODY else to do the same.

So now, the big winners. First place, for the $20 Gift Card to, from a Facebook entry is...


And in second place, for the $5 Cold Stone Creamery gift care, from another Facebook entry is...


Thank you, everybody, again. I cannot express my appreciation on how well this worked. I can't wait to do it again when I get to 100 followers. Please keep spreading the word.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

50 Follower Contest

I reached 50 users. YAY!!! And, as promised, I'm throwing a little contest.

I'm giving away two prizes to help promote this blog so I can get closer to the 100 follower mark and hold another, bigger contest. The first prize I'm giving is a $20 gift certificate to, my online store of choice, and I'm also giving away a $5 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery.

Entering is easy. Just follow this blog and tell everybody how wonderful I am! I'll go with the point system.

1) Mention this blog and contest on Twitter with the following: "Follow James Duckett's writing blog and you could win a gift card." That is worth one drawing per tweet.

2) Throw it on Facebook. I think that is worth two drawings. But because I may not be Facebook friends with you you may need to leave a comment. I'm trusting everybody will be honest.

3) Mention it on your blog. Again, comment below so I don't miss it and so I can follow your blog if I'm not doing so already. I'll give five points for that!

Each point represents an entry into the drawing. I'll first draw for the Amazon gift card and then for the Cold Stone gift certificate. If you win, I'll stalk you until I find out how to get it to you.

I'll let this run through the weekend and tally everything up Tuesday night (July 12th) around 9pm and hold the random drawing. The winner will be announced on this blog Tuesday night.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

Remember those reports we used to do as kids with the above title? Mine were always easy. "I swam. I slept. My parents shoved me in the car and drove me places I didn't want to go. Now I'm back in school, blah!"

Unfortunately, my vacation report this year is not much more exciting. Except the pool where we were staying was filled with kids so I didn't feel like venturing in that direction. I actually didn't sleep all that well. And it seemed like all I did was shove kids into the car and drive them places I didn't want to go. The kids actually didn't complain since I took them to Lagoon four times. There were other things of note, but if you follow me on Twitter (you follow me on Twitter, right?) then I think I covered most of the highlights.

My personal highlight was being able to read, which is something I don't get to do as often as I'd like. I can now cross a few books off my "am reading" and "want to read" list. Yay!!!

But now it is time to pay the piper. As much as I tried to keep up with my email, I have 56 personal emails and 130 work emails waiting for me. OUCH! On top of that, I have 182 blog posts to read as well. At least I have tomorrow to catch up on work and the weekend to catch up on everything else.

When I left I had 49 followers to this blog. I'm sooooo close to 50, I thought I'd get one more follower in the meantime. Nope, still at 49. When 50 hits I'll have a little contest and give away a little prize. So who will #50 be? If you could encourage people to follow me, I'd be most grateful.

Now, on to writing topics.

One of the books I read was Larry Brook's Story Engineering. It is the main book on writing I've wanted to get to since the LDS Story Maker's a few months ago (has it been that long?). I've mentioned outlining before, and I think this gave me a lot of great ideas on what to look for. Coincidentally, outlining is where I am in my book development process so the timing on this could not have been better. I'll expand more on this later, maybe this weekend, as I think it deserves a blog post of its own.

I did stay on top of Twitter. The post that mainly caught my attention was one that questioned the double spacing after a period. This blew my mind because I didn't even know it was under debate, much less that some are considering it taboo. This bodes not well for me as I'm hopelessly addicted to hitting the space bar twice after hitting the period. You can see that in this blog post and I'm leaving it as is for now. I want to research this more and probably make that the Lesson of the Week.

Okay, I've got a lot to do tonight! I've got some serious catching up to do on blogging so you may hear from me a few times this weekend. At a minimum, at least once. I guarantee it, or double your money back!