Friday, February 8, 2019

As Long As The Gas Stations Remain Open...

Photo by Mary Vee

The power is out. Day three.

I am thankful for the fleet of electrical power workers who are out in the wind and ice storm that is attacking our area. 

On our backwoods American road, trees are down, a power line fell and ignited the road, and the power is out in our community. Temperatures are expected to drop throughout the day. At this time we are experiencing a whiteout (when cloud and snow on the ground meet and prevent visibility).

Repair men and women are braving the elements to restore our power along with the power for thousands of others in the north. 

Fleets of electric repair vehicles park at fire stations where crews change shifts and hopefully get something warm to drink.

Photo b Mary Vee

Perhaps the task wouldn't be as difficult if once the repair was finished, the restored area could be checked off the list. But ice ladened trees or their heavy branches continue to fall on power lines. It's like a whack-a-mole game that doesn't seem to end.

The workers must feel frustrated. 

And yet, when I called to report five downed trees on our dirt road to the west, and more downed trees to our east, making our road impassable except for obscure dirt roads, the dispatcher asked questions, repeated information, and clearly addressed the issue. No complaining. No grousing. 

These people are heroes.

As for us, we have a small generator keeping the furnace going. As long as the gas stations remain open we're good. We saw huge generators delivered to a facility for the elderly. 

So I am also thankful for generators.

As Long As The Gas Stations Remain Open!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Chicago Fire vs Polar Vortex

Photo by Mary Vee
A cornfield by summer, snow and wind playground in winter

Like many folk in the northern parts of the United States, I have stayed inside and watched white swirling winds drop the temperatures far below 0 today. 

Yesterday was freezing, but today is, well, a good day to be inside. I plan to have a warm, hearty meal for my hubby who is working in the Emergency Room. Kudos to all the emergency services who are on standby for us. Don't forget the homeless. The shelters are crowded. I am going with a group on Sunday to spend the afternoon and evening at a rescue mission, talking, keeping them company, being their friend.

The one issue that amazed me with this polar vortex is an odd problem in Chicago.

The train rails are so cold they are malfunctioning. CNN and ABC posted an article about this situation. The link is below.

The sub 0 temperatures cause the metal rails to contract and separate. The separation pulls at the bolts holding the rails together. Many have popped out of place. The only way to repair the tracks is to heat them. Workers pour kerosene on the metal and light it. The fires cause the rails to expand enabling the crews to reinstall the bolts and in some cases replace broken ones. 

So, I learned a new application to a principle I already knew. Kudos to Chicago Rail Workers.

If you live in the north, stay home if possilble. Stay warm.

Link to News Article click here

This post has been brought to you by: WarmWords


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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Coming Soon - Space Ads - Obstacles to Stargazers?

Wouldn't you love to see a space ad blocking these stars?
Photo courtesy:
I visited Russia years ago. I came home with many observations. One of the biggest observation was the lack of billboards along the highways. To qualify, there were billboards encouraging the people to work, but I did not see ad billboards for products like we have in America.

Not that long ago in America, neon signs could not be placed near expressways and busy highways because they'd distract drivers. It was thought by those who had the policy that accidents would increase.

Today, I see neon signs, busy neon signs with flashing lights and colors near expressways and busy highways all designed to grab my attention. Against a black sky, they do more than get my attention, the stark light contrast hurts my eyes. I don't read those signs. I don't know who does. 

A simply lit roadside ad, especially one that calls my attention to a product I want, gets my attention much faster.

An article on in their MACH section, (space, science, technology, and environment news) announced Russia's plans to put ads in space. (Link to article below)

The company's name is StartRocket and the plan is to post the first space ad in 2021. The ads will appear to hang in the air. Think of the ads pulled by small planes over a stadium, except these signs will hang in a low-Earth orbit of 280 miles and can be seen all over the globe.

Like the neon signs we see along the highway, the space ads will only be seen at night. Yeah. What better way to make a stargazing night exciting. Okay, that was sarcasm. I couldn't help myself.

I was interested in how they plan to hang these signs. Aren't you?

Engineers will link tiny satellites equipped with reflective sails about 30 feet in diameter. The number will be based on the size of the ad. These sails reflect sunlight and form words that can be seen from the ground. The color will then be depended upon the reflected light, like the moon. The NBC article has a photo of this. The link is below.

The article states the U.S. outlawed this type of advertising in 1993. Russian based StartRocket has no such ban in place and therefore feels they have the right to impose upon the world. ( sarcasm let the last 12 words fly)

For more information, here is the link to the article: NBC Huge Ads in Space

I am beyond not in favor of this concept for so many reasons:

*The signs will prohibit stargazing with physical obstruction and light noise
*Nature is an escape. 
*The atmosphere already has space junk. Why put more there?
*There is no universal language. Why does the entire world have to read this sign devoted to one people group?

When we are silent, we lose the right to stop a wrong.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: NoSpaceAds


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

International Community Help TSA

Photo by Mary Vee

Community on an international scale has proven it doesn't matter which side of politics one stands. When people need help, the community steps up.

TSA workers currently are in the forefront when it comes to those needing help during the government shutdown. Their salary is not very high, but the workers make a living doing their job. 

In one family, both parents are TSA employees. They work opposite shifts so one parent can be home with their young children throughout the day and night. The community in their city are helping by providing an important staple for them: diapers.

According to recent articles in USA and other wires, locals drive to the airport and drop off trunkloads of food for needy TSA workers. Vendors in the airport provide free lunches and transportation assistance to the airport. Canadian air traffic controllers buy pizzas for their American counterparts. Banks offer discounted or no interest loans to tide the workers over.

The TSA workers, unfortunately, are not allowed to accept gift cards from passengers. I wish those at the TSA top would relax that rule for this time. It would be an easy way to help them and allow the worker to get what they needed when they needed it.

There have always been someone or a group of people in need globally. The TSA is unique because I think we all have been bothered by the demands of these workers at one time or another. We know the intent is to provide our safety, but sometimes it seems they go overboard.

Passengers who have been "harassed" by the TSA walk the corridors grousing after finally passing through the inspection. Yet, here they are. Helping the TSA.

I think we are seeing the principles taught back in kindergarten in action. And this is good.

This post has been brought to you by the one word-InternationalCommunity


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Friday, January 11, 2019

Fighting For Life and Surviving

Photo credit:
Today we stop in New York City and are standing across the street from the New York Times Building.

From the sound of such an environment, you would be correct in assuming this is prime property. Any small business that had its start in 1917 and found its way to this location would logically struggle to stay solvent when surrounded by mega companies. 

Such is the true case of a bookstore. A bookstore so amazing it received a Tony honor for excellence in 2011. 

So why is such a famous store struggling?

Manhattan rent increase. Prime property. The law of economics.

The bookstore is called The Drama Book Shop and has been a family-run store since its beginning in 1917. Success enabled the owners to move the store to bigger buildings with better locations until it finally landed on 40th Street. After the bookshop settled there, The New York Times building sprouted across the street. As did other large companies. Of course, online book buying also increased.

News of the owner's decision to close the doors reached a successful producer, a theater owner, and an actor/composer/playwright. The actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and star in Mary Poppins Returns, spent hours as a teen in this bookstore. "It was a place to go." He and three other Hamilton Musical colleagues purchased this book shop from the widow owner to keep this treasure alive.

The store will still have to vacate the 40th Street property. The new location will be announced in the fall. If you'd like to read more, here is the link to the BBC article

While shopping online is convenient, there is so much more that awakens the mind and engages the social spirit by physically walking into a brick and mortar store. Kudos to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his three colleagues!

This year, plan to visit a bookstore. A library. A brick and mortar store of any sort. Meet people. Hear the sounds. Smell the atmosphere. Much better than being sucked into cyberstores.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: AwakenTheMind

Until then, I have two great book ideas for you:


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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year Resolutions AND Syrian Refugees

Perhaps you have been asked the usual New Year Question, What is your resolution?

Perhaps you asked yourself before anyone else did.

Usually, I play the game and answer with one of the standards that everyone else says then find myself failing by February.

This year I chose to make annual goals. That way I have the whole year to complete the tasks instead of expecting to fulfill one resolution every day.

How about you? What is your resolution for this year?


I'm one of those who enjoys sending snail mail Christmas cards. I do it because I want to receive Christmas cards. There is a doorway in my home where I tape the cards. When the tree comes down, I take down the cards. 

Some of the cards include Christmas letters. 

Traditionally, Christmas letters serve as a year in focus. A friend tells what happened in their family's life over the course of the previous year.

One friend had an interesting closing paragraph. She described for me what she chose to do with her free time in 2018. She said, 

A lot of my time was spent with Syrian refugees that were settled in our area. It is overwhelming to hear their stories of death and destruction in their homeland. The women especially miss their mothers and sisters. I fill some of that void, helping them with English, the kids with homework, driving to doctor appointments, and figuring out our American culture.

I thought, this is a wonderful volunteer activity. It is an opportunity that could be done with any group anywhere in the U.S. In my local area there is a reading for adults program. These adults are very intelligent people who somehow didn't understand the concept and process of learning to read when they were younger. The methods for teaching adults are different than for children. As a result, many men and women are grasping the concepts and finding their way in a world of words.

You may find your schedule overwhelming at this time. I have had several years in my life when that was such the case. But when you do find a time when you might say, I have every Tuesday evening open, and you'd like to help someone, consider volunteering.

Here are some ideas:

Local VA
Community Reading Outreach
Community Senior Outreach
Moms Outreach
Teen programs
Refugee Outreach
Child Advocate Programs

I'm sure there are thousands more, these are just the few that spilled off the top of my head.

You might be surprised how fulfilling volunteering can be. 

This post has been brought to you by the one-word FulfillingNewYear

Photo credit:

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

No, I Didn't Forget You.

Photo by Mary Vee
Probably my favorite of the year.

No, I didn't forget you. 

I kinda hoped you would be busy with family, new Christmas gifts, cookies, etc. I hope you are.

Let's meet again next week...are you thinking about your resolution for this year? I am. Will I keep it? Probably not...but I most likely will for the first few weeks...or at least days.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How a Drone Saved Lives on Vanuatu's Island

Photo credit: Pixaby

I typically don't see anything good about drones. Many articles have reported them used for invasive reasons. Some have even been used to look in apartment windows. So, I tend to not have a high opinion of them.


I recently read about a remote mountain people group on an island called Erromango, one of a chain of islands making up Vanuatu. See map to the left.

As you can see the island is far away from a large land mass.

According to Google maps, Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly eighty islands that stretch a little more than 807 miles and has a Melanesian culture. Tourists can enjoy scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns, and shipwrecks.

I tried to imagine myself growing up on this remote island of lush greens. Where vibrant palm trees reach the sky and thick jungle plants fill the land. Where mountains keep the people isolated from the world, and I wouldn't know what a skyscraper looked like, but I'd know everyone in my community so well. Where I didn't have to worry about transportation because I walked everywhere and didn't have to face crowds in a store or search online because we grew our own food. Life would really be different.

Sickness has its run of the tiny island of Erromango, though. Anyone bringing assistance must cross the mountains, a twenty-five-mile difficult trek on a rugged trail to visit. Vaccines and other medicines must be kept cold while in transport.

Vanuatu requested medical help from UNICEF. An Australian drone company won the bid to transport the vaccines via drone to the small village. The vaccines were sent in a styrofoam box with temperature control and placed on the drone, and flown twenty-minutes to the village where a local nurse gave the vaccines to thirteen children and five pregnant women.  Want to read more? Here is the article on the BBC: Vanuatu Vaccines

I was amazed. Clearly, without the drone, the village would not have received life-saving vaccines.

With this being the month of Christmas, it seemed a very fitting article. After all, isn't life-saving what Christmas is all about?


This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Life-saving

Merry Christmas!

Don't forget to get your copy of my Christmas books. The sale ends soon. 
Link for Mary Vee's books on Amazon

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tis the Season to Watch Out For Scams-Tips To Help You

Scam artists are getting better at their craft.

Photo by Mary Vee-
A real phone booth - Luzern, Switzerland

My heart breaks when I read about a person conned by these people, especially the elderly. I know several personally. 

It is so easy to say, "How can they be duped? Don't they know..."

The answer is, scam artists are very good at deception. For every word we say to them, they have a prepared script to keep us on the phone. The longer we are on the phone, the better their chances are to reel us in. Like a fisherman dangling bait for fish. 

I asked a friend who knows how to deal with these situations, "How can you know for sure if the vendor whom you've dealt with for years is really the one calling or writing an email or sending a snail mail letter?"

He said, "The bottom line is you can't. Hang up. Never say the word "yes" or the word "no" to the caller. They can record your response and use it to say you agreed to what they offered. If you are concerned or interested in pursuing the question, call the direct line to your vendor, a number you have used before and speak with them. Ask if they called. Never call the initial solicitor back."

We use caller ID. Still, there have been some sneaky scammers identifying themselves as vendors we know. I let the answering machine record the call. If I have a question, I follow my friend's advice and call the direct number to my vendor and speak with them, never using the number left on the machine.

Here are some more tips:
Be cautious about clicking on links within a post. Copy and paste the link in the search bar.

Be cautious about paying for gas at the pump. Pay inside.

The idea for this article came to me when I visited the site. They have a great article: Scams to watch out for during the holiday season. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

I want you to have a happy Christmas. Let's fight these scammers by not letting them win!

You can read more about:

Phishing emails
Fake Charities
Phone Scams
Holiday E-Cards
Bogus Websites
Ordering from your Mobile Device
Gift Cards - this one is really sneaky
Advice for using Credit and Debit cards

in the Scams to Watch Out for During the Holiday Season post on CLICK HERE    
copy and paste this link in your browser

One extra minute. One extra step. One ounce of caution


Merry Christmas



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Finalist in 2018 contest. 5 STARS                   One reviewer: "A Hallmark contender."

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Friendship, Humor, A Hero Honored

Photo courtesy:
I listened to the live broadcast of the service in memory of George H.W. Bush today and was surprised at all I learned about this man who was a former president of the United States.

Keynote speakers told of former president Bush's time as a navel jet pilot whose plane went down in the ocean off the coast of Japan. He was rescued before enemy soldiers found him. This event happened when he was twenty.

From there he built a life of honoring others and establishing friendships. It is said he never hated anyone.  

He celebrated life to his last days, taking a speedboat out on the water and outrunning his secret service detail in his eighties, and parachuting from a plane in his nineties to mention only a few.

President Bush was known for his international efforts, receiving honors from a former Canadian Prime Minister and a German president, in addition to others. While speakers shared the list of his many notable and great historical accomplishments, one descriptive word about him stood out more, friendship. 

He saw needs and helped where he could, and when a dose of humor would help he told jokes. Apparently, he had a subscription to a joke network that he read often.

I guess I hadn't seen the many good sides of George H.W. Bush that were presented during the service, but a little boy who had leukemia did when the then President George HW Bush visited him and other sick children. That was when we learned he and Barabra lost their three-year-old daughter to cancer.

We know in our heads life isn't guaranteed. Since we still have this day, what one word would you like to be described as from those who know you? This can still be done. While the name Mary Vee may not be remembered for time, maybe the Never Give Up Stories that are shared will be used to encourage others. George HW Bush lived a life of many Never Give Up Stories that have impacted the world.

Rest in Peace, President Bush.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Friendship 



Anders' Redemption                                       Christmas with the Enemy 4.6 STARS
Finalist in 2018 contest. 5 STARS                   One reviewer: "A Hallmark contender."

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