Preventing Frailty

When a worker was here last week to fix the cracks in my foundation, we talked about some of the improvements I want to do outside the house, such as the pathways I want to put in, so that I can be safer in my old age. He commented that I spend too much time thinking about getting older, which might be true, but on the other hand, if I don’t work now to provide a safer “fourth age,” who will? (Old age has now been divided into two categories — the third age from 65 to 80, which used to be called the golden years, and the fourth age, which is from 80 on.) Admittedly, I am still years away from that fourth age, but what I do now will give me the best chance of a) living to that age, and b) living strongly once I have arrived.

I do worry about frailty — I see so many older people who are too frail to navigate under their own power, and I don’t want that for me. Well, no one does wants that for themselves, but since I have no younger family members to take care of me, I have to be particularly careful. I’m also willing (more or less) to do what it takes to keep frailty at bay for as long as possible. To that end, I’ve been researching how to keep from getting frail as I get older, and most of it I already know. Keep moving, for one, such as taking walks and stretching. Do resistance exercises to help build up muscle mass. Eat more protein. Avoid dieting since weight loss leads to more muscle loss than fat loss. And oh, yes, kick the sedentary habit.

It’s that last part that has me flummoxed. I do understand that we as a society are too sedentary, and to be honest, some of my most prevalent activities are sedentary ones, primarily reading books and playing around on the computer. But the suggestion is to do no more than three hours per day of such activities.

Huh? We’re talking about people in the third and fourth age here. What are we supposed to do for all the rest of the time? Let’s say we get eight hours of sleep a night, perhaps another hour for grooming tasks. Perhaps an hour or two for fixing meals and doing chores. Maybe, if we’re being generous with our estimates (or maybe if we’re outright lying), we exercise for an hour.

That adds up to twelve hours. And only three should be sedentary? Heck, if we in the third age could be up and around, doing all sorts of on-foot activities for nine hours, we’d be — oh, I don’t know — still working perhaps. Where are we supposed to get the strength for all that activity? Following the rest of the suggestions — exercise, more protein, etc — can only give a newly elderly person so much energy. All those years we are carrying around are heavy, which adds to desire for sedentariness.

Come to think of it, maybe that worker is right. Maybe I’m overthinking all this. Maybe I should just do what I feel like, even it turns out to be way too much sitting.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Reviews Requested

Non-authors often have suggestions of things for me to do to promote my books, which I appreciate, even though I’ve probably already implemented the suggestions. (In fact, I had two such conversations yesterday.)

Oddly, what no one ever asks is what they can do.

Admittedly, I made a mistake by spending too much time promoting other authors, presuming wrongly (in all but a handful of cases) that the authors would in turn do something to promote me.

And I probably made a mistake posting so much of my grief writing here on this blog where anyone can read it without having to do anything in return. Which is okay. My mission, ever since Jeff died, is to untangle the many threads that go to make up the knotty — and so very agonizing — problem we call grief.

Still, there is something you can do, which is probably more important than anything I can do.

If you have read and liked any of my books, if any of my grief books have helped you, you can leave a review for me on Amazon. You don’t even have to have purchased the book from Amazon — after all, none of the professional reviewers buy the books they review.

I realize that some people are intimidated by the expert reviews that have been posted, thinking they could never write as well. Or they simply do not know what to do.

But it’s easy. Truly.

You don’t have to write a synopsis of the book — there are already synopses posted, both by the publisher and a few of the reviewers. Nor do you have to agonize over what to write.

First, say what you liked about the book. You might like a specific character or the interplay between a couple of characters. You might like the setting. You might like the plot, the style of writing, the way the author kept you interested. Just say something, anything, that you liked.

Then, say how the book affected you. Maybe it made you laugh, or think, or offer comfort, or take you away from your problems for a few hours.

Finally, star your review. (A five-star review is nice — hint, hint — but not necessary.)

A simple review is fine. A short review — a couple of sentences — is fine. A misspelled review is fine. (You can always edit it later if you wish.) The important thing is to leave a review.

You can find my author page on Amazon here, with a listing of all my books: Pat Bertram Books

Thank you for your help!

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Playing with the New WordPress Block Editor

WordPress is planning on getting rid of their classic editor box, the one I used from the first time I posted a blog. It was easy for a neophyte-blogger me to learn because it was so much like an email editor box, with everything right there that I would need.

I’ve been hesitant about using the new block editor, which is what they call the new blog editor, because it’s based on various blocks or boxes, for example, a box for images, one for text, one that combines both, one that uses a collage format for images, an embedded calendar, and all sorts of other “blocks” I will probably never use. The new format isn’t as intuitive as the old way, so I thought for the first few days of blogging with the new editor, all I’d be able to post is a few words with bizarre formatting, especially since, like most new applications and programs, the directions leave a lot to be desired. To be honest, even the original editor didn’t explain things very well, so I had developed my own tutorial to teach people how to blog.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing around with the new format, trying to figure out how to do things so I can keep my current and future blogs more or less in line with my previous posts. There’s virtually no help from any site that claims to explain how to do things (mostly they just say that the block editor is easy to use, all you have to do is pick the block you want to use), but that didn’t work for my basic needs.

But yay! I figured it out, as you can see from my past few posts. Today, I even learned how to use a couple of the blocks, such as this tiled image gallery:

And this block for recent posts:

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My Changing Identity

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The Grass is Greener

Today was one of those special days you cannot plan. Or maybe you can, but I sure didn’t. When I was unexpectedly given the day off, I’d planned to go to the library, run a few errands, then work on clues for the mystery at the museum. I got as far as going to the […]

Fishing Peers

November elections are coming up, and mail-in ballots are being sent out. Locally, the city wants to raise the sales tax to fund recreational activities and improvements throughout town, as laid out in this photo of that part of the ballot: Sounds good, especially the construction of new recreation amenities. Parks. Bike Paths. Bike Parks. […]

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I would have preferred smaller images, but the gallery is dependent on the width of the blog itself, and apparently, I have a wider blog than most. (For now. I dread the day when they retire this theme, which they do occasionally.)

As fun as all this learning was, the new way seems too distracting for a simple blog post.

Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll find this new blog experience as satisfying as the old one, but for now, it feels clunky. Even worse, it feels as if my words don’t count — that the look of the thing is more important than what is said. But that seems to be the way of the world.

Still, it’s something new for me to play with, so that has to count for something!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Powdered Coffee Creamer? Eek!

I always thought the danger in powdered coffee creamer was in the ingredients, such as partially hydrogenated oil, cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, and other unpronounceables, but in a novel I am reading, the cop asked the character if she was armed, and she said “I have coffee creamer.” The cop just stared at her, and the character said, “Look it up.”

I don’t know if the cop Googled “powdered non-dairy coffee creamer self-defense,” but I sure did. And guess what? This kind of creamer can be used as a weapon. In fact, it’s banned in many prisons for that very reason. If someone doesn’t have the supplies to make a flame thrower to direct the flaming coffee creamer, such as PVC pipe, end caps, pressure gauges, air hoses, couplers and a whole bunch of other things cheaply and readily available at the hardware store, all you have to do is throw a handful of the powder in the air and light it. Oh, my!

Powdered non-dairy coffee creamer is used by hikers and campers to start a fire. They use less than a teaspoon, let one spark hit it, and it will stay lit longer than a match. Of course, you have to be careful. If you accidentally lit the whole container, you’d end up with a fireball. (Here’s a video from mythbusters showing the firepower of a whole lot of creamer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRw4ZRqmxOc&feature=related.

I doubt such a weapon would be much of a deterrent since not that many people would know to be afraid of coffee creamers (though now I am!). “Stop or I’ll creamer you,” doesn’t have the same impact as “Stop or I’ll shoot.” Besides, by the time you threw the coffee creamer at the assailant and thumbed a lighter, you could be dead, either from a bullet or from an ill-fated wind sending the creamer bomb back to you. Still, it’s an interesting idea to store away for some future book.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Murder at the Museum

The local historical museum is hosting an open house at the end of the month, and they want it to be more than simply a viewing event, so they’ve decided to use a murder theme. And I’ve been coopted to help figure out how to do create the mystery.

This is not a murder dinner (that will come in February instead of a Valentine’s celebration), nor is a skit. It will basically be just people visiting the museum and . . .

The “and” is where I come in.

My idea was to give people photos of certain exhibits as they were pre-murder. Then people need to find those exhibits, discover what is different, and so learn what the murder weapon was, or the time, or anything else I can figure out.

We will have a body. (In fact, the very first time I roamed the museum, I turned a corner and for just a second thought I saw a dead body.)

People will easily be able to figure out the weapon and time of death because of the photo evidence. But I can’t figure out how they can guess whodunnit. There will be people in costumes of the period, and one of those folks will be the perpetrator. I could leave a clue somewhere, I suppose, that would indicate one of the people. I could give them alibis, I suppose, and have visitors decide which one is lying. I could give a handout, I suppose, with all the motives.

As you can see, I am doing a lot of “supposing.”

I could set up the game where motive isn’t necessary to figure out who did it. I don’t remember, was motive a part of Clue, or was it more, “Colonel Plum in the library with a candlestick”?

If motive isn’t necessary, we could give a small prize to anyone who figures out how the mannequin was killed and who did it (that way it’s not a race, and the museum won’t be destroyed in the process), and then give a main prize to the person who comes up with the most intriguing motive.

If you have any suggestions how I can go about putting together this murder at the museum, please feel free to leave a comment. As you can see, I need all the help I can get.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

 

If words are powerful, then this matters.

 

On November 4th, people all over the world blog for peace. Blog4Peace was created and founded by Mimi Lenox, who believes that because words are powerful, blogging for peace is important. Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and stressful times are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances) I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

I especially believe in peace after the pain of grief. Too many people are silently aching for a love they once had, a life they once shared. I blog for them, in the hopes they will find a more peaceful time.

And yes, words are powerful. And yes, this matters.

How To Blog For Peace:

  1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.htmlor from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.
  2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com
  3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

(Little did I know when I painted this picture that I would be painting my peace globe!)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

More About Risks and Safety

I think a lot about safety, wondering how to be adventurous and bold while at the same time not embarking on a death march.

Human predators mostly look for the weakest member of the herd, someone who walks with their head down, someone that no one will notice if they disappear. To that end, I keep my head up, try to pay attention to what’s around me, and always wear a hat that makes me stand out. Wide brims with flowers, ribbons, feathers — any sort of decoration that makes people look and smile. Seems like a silly sort of thing to do for protection, but getting people to notice me in a good way makes it harder for a predator to cull me from the herd. Not that I started wearing hats for that reason. The hats came first, the reason later. I wear hats for protection from the sun, and when I would get gorgeous ribbons on presents, I started decorating my hats with them. It’s nice that the extra bit of color makes people smile and me noticeable.

When I was trying to decide whether to get a new car or get my Beetle restored, the deciding factor was safety. Admittedly, an old bug, even one with a new engine and transmission isn’t the safest car from a driving point of view, but from a predator point of view, it’s worth its weight in gold. Everyone notices my car. Not everyone talks to me, but everywhere I go, someone does, and that is protection. And if something were to happen to me, if I were disappeared from an interstate truck stop, someone would notice that my car was there way longer than it should be. Most cars don’t garner attention because most cars are common. But mine is an uncommon car of memories and dreams. And there is safety in that.

Although I blog about my adventures, giving frequent updates, I am particularly careful not to post itineraries online. After I’ve been somewhere, I will tell you about it, but I see no reason to leave a trail for predators to follow. For someone who lives her life online, I guard my privacy. (And you should too.)

I do other things of course. Carry an external battery good for four charges of my cell phone. I stash filled water bottles under my seat, carry extra food, keep my camping quilt and a pillow handy, have a flashlight near at hand, keep a few tools in the glove compartment, have an emergency kit in the car, and oh, so many other things.

When I’ve hiked by myself, I’ve carried a map, generally just a handout at a trail head or printed off the internet, but when/if I ever get into a real backpacking situation, I will make sure I have a topographical map and compass, and will know how to use them.

I’m researching other things at the moment, such as bear spray (which some people say is great, some people say no, some people say it’s illegal in areas) and a bear horn to scare the animal away if I were ever so lucky to see one. Knowing me, though, I’d probably do what I do when I see a snake — watch it in awe. But we’ll see what my research holds. (I’m more concerned with dogs, though. I’ve never even seen a bear when I hiked in the woods, but I have been bitten by someone’s unleashed dog because the stupid woman couldn’t control her three animals.)

I’m not foolish enough to say nothing will happen to me, because anything can happen, and often does. But that knowledge is a safety feature I carry with me at all times. Cockiness can get people killed. Caution can save lives. And I am almost always cautious. I listen to my surroundings, not music. I try to be present in the moment and not get lost in daydreams. I use two trekking poles to save my knees, to help me keep my balance on slopes, and hopefully to ward off anything that comes close.

All this is by way of saying that I do everything in my power to minimize whatever  risks I might face, so that I can face adventure with wonder and a touch of boldness.

I understand how difficult it is to see someone you care about take risks, so I hope this makes you feel better about the risks I take.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

Blog 4 Peace

If words are powerful, then this matters.

On November 4th every year, people all over the planet blog for peace. This year, I’m going to join the the Blog Blast for Peace, and you can join the movement, too. You make your own peace globe/statement or simply choose one pre-made at http://blogblastforpeace.com, and become – a peace blogger.

Peace bloggers believe that words are powerful, and that this event matters.

So, check out the above website or check out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace.

How To Blog For Peace The short version:

1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.html or from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.

2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com

3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Twitter

Twitter BirdTwitter.com is a microblogging site where you post 140 characters at a time. I’ve written 100-word stories, 100,000-word novels, blog posts of various word counts, but anything that can be said in 140 characters or less almost doesn’t seem to be worth saying, so I’m having a hard time finding a home in the Twitosphere (or do I mean the Twitterverse?). Still, I’ve learned a few things about this twitterish world.

1. Tagging your tweets. You add tags to your tweets by using hash marks. For example, when I tweet this post, if I add #twitter to my tweet, people who are interested in finding out who is tweeting about Twitter can search for #twitter, and discover all recent posts with that hash mark. One of the most popular hashtags for writers is #amwriting.

2. The difference between # and @. # is how you index your posts so other people can find them via the search function. Don’t use the hashtag for your name because no one will be looking for you that way. Use @ with your Twitter user name. (For example, @patbertram.) People can then click on your name and be taken to your profile. If @ is at the beginning of the tweet, then only the person you mentioned will see it, so if I put @patbertram at the beginning of a tweet, no one would see it but me. If you want to just mention the person rather than leaving them a message, put the @ in the middle or at the end of the tweet. That way anyone can see the tweet.

3. Retweeting. If you see something interesting, retweet it. (If you don’t see the double arrows at the bottom of a tweet, hover your cursor over the the tweet and they should appear.) This helps interesting posts get more exposure, and introduces you to a wider audience so that you will eventually get retweets.

4. Respond to people who respond to you. Respond to interesting comments. Twitter is like a crowd of people all talking at once, so there are many different conversations going on at any one time.

5. Favorite-ing. Under each tweet is a star. If you click on the star, you “favorite” it. It’s a way of acknowledging that you read and liked something. It’s also a way of bookmarking items so that you can find them again. (You just go to your profile and click on “favorites.” It should be just off to the right of your profile picture, It’s a lot easier to find a tweet in that list rather than on your Twitter home page.)

6. Trending topics. On the right sidebar of your Twitter home page, there is a list of “trends.” These trends are topics that are currently popular (as in right-this-very-minute popular) and are compiled from the most retweeted tweets. Browse the trends or jump right in and contribute to the cause. It’s a great way of joining the crowd.

7. Lists. You can create lists of people you’d like to keep up with so they don’t get lost in the ever moving Twitter stream. To make a list, click on your photo in the upper right hand corner, click on “lists.” Look to the right hand side of the screen and click on “create a list.” There is also a link to click to learn more about lists.

8. Graphics. A friend who is an expert at online promo suggested that I use photos to illustrate posts on twitter. When I started with Twitter, photos weren’t shown in the feed, but now they are, which makes them very important. She also suggested doing graphics for my books for twitter and FB. A graphic is just a background image with a brief hook and a photo of the book cover, something compelling to catch the eye. Once you have made a couple such graphics, you can use them over and over again, posting them on alternate days, or however you’d like to use them. It’s fun to make the graphics. If you have a photo editing program like photoshop elements, you can make them using that program. Or you can do them online using a site like canva.com. You can find a couple of examples of such posters here: Pat Bertram – Timeline Photos | Facebook. Don’t forget to use # before keywords so others can find your graphic when they look for similar posts.

9. Pin. You can pin your graphics or any tweet to the top of your twitter profile. After you have posted your tweet, look for the three dots at the bottom and click on them, then click on “pin to your profile page.” That way, anyone who goes to your profile page will see it. 

10. Interact with people! If someone responds to your tweet, respond back. If you see something of interest, reply or retweet. Twitter is a like a world-wide cocktail party. Stroll around and listen in.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to offer them!

Thank you. @patbertram

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Magic of Blogging by Email

I’ve been practicing posting by email to make it easier to blog when my only access to the internet will be my phone. It wasn’t as difficult to post by email as I thought it would be.

The first thing I needed to do was to get a special email address. To do this, go to your dashboard and click on “my blogs.” The easiest way to find “my blogs” is to go to your blog, hover your cursor over “my site” on the left navigation strip, then click on “WP Admin.” You should see “My blogs” on the left sidebar close to the top.

Click “enable email” for the blog you wish to post to via email. That will give you a special email address. I input the email address in my phone so I don’t have to ever think about it again, and now it’s ready whenever I need it.

To post by email, go to your email on your phone and open a new message. The recipient, of course, is that secret email address WordPress assigned to you. The subject line is the title of the blog. The body of the email is the blog itself. An attached photo will show up on the bottom of the email. Apparently, as of now, there isn’t a way to align the image via email. If you want to realign it — to add it to the top of the blog or to wrap text around it — you have to edit the post on your computer.

There are some really cool aspects of email blogging, for example, the shortcodes. [category a,b,c] will post categories. The categories must already be ones you use on your blog. The brackets are part of the shortcode, and there can be no space before the word “category” or after the last category you use. (In this case, the letter c.) You don’t even have to use the whole word, just the first few letters, but I haven’t yet tried out that tip.

For tags, use the shortcode [tags a,b,c]. Again, no space before the word “tags” and after the last tag. Be sure to separate tags with commas. New tags will be automatically generated; they don’t already need to be in use on your blog.

If you attach more than one photo, they will show up as a gallery. If you want each one posted individually, use the shortcode [nogallery].

These three shortcodes can be placed anywhere in the email and it won’t affect the text of your post.

Magic!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.