Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hybrid Education

With the advent of online classes, there will be new opportunities for hybrid education. No longer just a choice of traditional classroom versus online classes, colleges will be able to offer hybrid courses.

If a professor posts lectures as videos, students can view them when they want, pause to review important points, and discuss the lecture with other students either in person or electronically. Then the student can came to the university for seminars where in-depth discussion and analysis takes place on the content of the lectures. This has the benefit of allowing more students to attend less expensively, and focus the university resources on dialogue and teacher/student interaction. This could be a win-win.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The World of Bureaucracy

I’m always amazed at the lack of common sense that can be perpetuated in bureaucracies and businesses. I happened to hear a story told by a speaker on television that really illustrated the point.

A delivery company had been experiencing a high incidence of thefts. A clever manager decided that it would be worthwhile to have a second person ride shotgun in the delivery trucks. This policy was instigated, and the thefts dropped to nearly zero.

Everything was fine until a financial type got into the act. This bureaucrat questioned why money was being paid for a second person to be in the truck when there was practically no theft.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pikes Peak Writers Conference

I’m very loyal to writers’ conferences. Having attended my first one in 2002, I’ve found they have served me well as a means to learn how to improve my craft of writing, how to pitch to agents and editors, and how to promote my books. I sold my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, as a result of a pitch session at a writers’ conference in 2005.

This year, I’ll be on the faculty of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference at the Colorado Springs Marriott, April 24-26, teaching three workshops. This coming Saturday, February 14, I’ll be participating in a preview event called “Write Your Heart Out” from 1-5 PM at the same location. My presentation is titled, “Avoid Dejection from Rejection” and previews the workshop I’ll be teaching in April on “Rejection Is Not a Four Letter Word.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Lip Balm Syndrome

We’ve all had experiences beating out head against a wall over and over. Or as stated by Albert Einstein, “Insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I recently experienced this with what I call the lip balm syndrome.

Here’s what happened. I reached for a lip balm to open it. I wasn’t looking at it but tried to pull the cap off. It wouldn’t budge. I tried harder, applying more pressure. No result. Finally, I had the inpiration to look at the cussed thing. I was trying to open the wrong end.
The lesson: rather than doing the same thing over and over, try something different like using the senses I had been given

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Faith, Doubt and Certainty

With the recent rash of “true believers” who insist on inflicting their beliefs on others by killing people who don’t agree with them, I came across an interesting quote from Paul Tillich: “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty.”

This reinforced the observation I’ve had that truly spiritual people don’t have all the answers. They are seekers, looking for the answers. Doubt exists is all aspects of the human psyche. Science continues to find more answers, but in so doing, poses even more questions. Inquiring minds continue to ask questions and search for answers.

Unfortunately, some people on the extremes lock into an answer, no longer question and inquire, and insist on pushing their “answers” down other people’s throats.

Let’s keep inquiring, exploring and seeking dialogue.

My rant for the day.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ninth Mystery Novel Published

Yesterday, my ninth novel, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse, was published by Five Star, an imprint of Gale/Cengage Learning. When I started writing in 2001 at the age of 56, I didn’t know if I’d ever publish a novel. In fact, for a while I didn’t know if I’d ever publish a short story. On my 112th submission, I sold my first short story, titled Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog, and it appeared in the anthology, Who Died in Here?, a collection of short stories that had a death or a murder taking place in the bathroom.
In 2005 I pitched an idea of a completed novel manuscript to Deni Dietz of Five Star at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference. The rest is history. This novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in January, 2007. I’ve been fortunate to have five more books in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series published by Five Star, as well as two standalone paranormal mysteries released through small presses.

Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse is the first of a new type of mystery for me with a whole new cast of characters. The protagonist, Gabe Tremont, is a recently retired police detective who is talked into going to a mystery playhouse by his wife. When a real murder takes place, Gabe is recruited to return to handle this case since the police force is shorthanded. In addition to a theater setting, the novel also deals with the subject of hoarding.

Stay tuned for my first historical mystery, which will be published in September.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Voice of Moderation

In today’s world, the extremists are loud and visible. They represent the dogmatic views of people who have all the answers and often try to cram those answers down someone else’s throat. By contrast, moderates tend to listen, analyze the different viewpoints and look for common ground. The problem is that this quieter approach often leads to being overshadowed by the voices and actions of the extremes.

The rally recently in Paris was encouraging in that moderate voices from a variety of religions took a stand for the spiritual base of their faiths rather than supporting those who usurp a faith through extremism.

Instead of killing people who have different views, we need to find ways to encourage more dialogue. It’s unfortunate that throughout history the dogmatic extremes of religions have sought to eliminate those who disagree.