I’ve got an idea for news websites–just have news on them

I’ve got an idea for news websites–just have news on them

Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, but I’m sick of getting news information from websites like CNN and FOX NEWS. In fact, I’ve got an idea for news websites–just have news on them.Please, just put news on your news websites

Why has that become so hard? Why does CNN et al have to run a flipping commercial every time a video starts on their website? If you were watching their news on TV, you wouldn’t have to take a commercial break between every story.

I really wish there was a website for news that did this one simple thing–it did the news.

I don’t want to see hours-old videos of Shep Smith or a blonde girl from FOX NEWS or CNN.

I don’t want to see a dozen stories pushing the gay marriage agenda.

I don’t want to see  stories in the lower rail that are days old.

I don’t want to see comments from Trolls bashing whichever other side of the issue isn’t portrayed in the story.

I don’t care about the most instagrammed spots in the world from 2014.

I don’t care about 6 crazy facts about drinking.

 

I don’t think that sharks “go ballistic” and therefore attack teens. They’re freaking sharks. Go back and watch Jaws. They eat anything.

Fox News ponders if entrepreneurship is dying. Maybe not, but the news business is with crap like above on their pages.

I JUST WANT TO BE ABLE TO READ THE NEWS. 

I want to be able to use my brain to decide who is wrong and who is right in a story.

I want to be able to read the story without interruption of a video that begins with a commercial from Geico or Allstate or anyone else.

If you know of such a site, please let me know. Please.

 

 

Jan 10, 2015 - Featured, Product Reviews    Comments Off

AT&T Rollover Plan Pisses Me Off

AT&T Rollover Plan Pisses Me Off

I have two teen daughters who live with their mother who lives in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t have wifi. So when my two daughters’ phones renew each month, they start watching YouTube videos and God knows what else until we start getting warnings from AT&T about how they’re going to charge me $15 for every gig they go over on our plan. And trust me, I’m paying out the ass on how much I pay for a lot of data each month.AT&T Rollover Data is a farce

Used to be I could use the Parental Limits portion of my plan to throttle their data consumption. But that was working to well and AT&T wasn’t making rip off money hand over fist, so they deleted it. One of their sales guys told me it was getting too hard for them to manage. Bullshit.  They’re the freaking technology company. Don’t tell me in this day and age they can’t make something like that work and work well.

Now, the way AT&T works, you can either just turn data off or on for a phone on your plan.

And I’ve had to up the data on the plan so that I can actually have data when I move around town or the country and NEED it. I can’t limit my daughter’s phones so that when they get to X level, their phones stop.

And so now, AT&T is going to, out of the kindness of their hearts, start rolling over any data we have left at the end of a month.

Well, if we ever have any left, that will be a nice thing. And since it won’t ever happen, well, then it’s meaningless to me. Other than serving as an aggravation to the fact that too freaking much of my money goes to AT&T each month. It’s enough to make me gag and want throw up every time the cellular and the home account bills are due. UVerse, Internet for the home, and cellular phones.  It’s disgusting and AT&T isn’t doing anything but racking in money I don’t have and now they’re just making me angry.

 

Jan 5, 2015 - Featured, Novel Writing, Product Reviews    Comments Off

McDonald’s Archenemies: The Protagonist v Antagonist

McDonald’s Archenemies: The Protagonist v Antagonist 

The new McDonald’s commercial, Archenemies, is a great 60-second spot all aspiring writers should watch again and again.

Why?

Penguin and BatmanThey say a story is only as good as the battle going on between the protagonist and the antagonist. That’s the battle between the good guy and the bad guy. If a writer fails to establish a significant level of contrast, the story will be boring.

The new commercial from McDonald’s helps by showing iconic archenemies, but the twist is the premise that McDonald’s food is so good, even these guys can put things aside and enjoy a drink, fries, chicken nuggets or a burger.

We may not all be fortunate to create black and white, good and evil, iconic good guys and bad guys as they are portrayed here in the McDonald’s commercial, but we should all endeavor to portray such opposing relationships in what we write if we are wanting to write good, solid fiction. Otherwise, we are not being true to the art of storytelling.

If the difference between your protagonist and antagonist isn’t as vividly clear as the one between Batman and Penguin, the postman and a dog, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, donkeys and elephants, and on, then you really need to spend a little more time raising the stakes of your story and more clearly establishing what it is the protagonist is wanting and what the antagonist is fighting with all of his or her might to prevent.

McDonald’s did a great job of magnifying the differences of these archenemies and the power of their food in being able to unite foes. But ask yourself where literature would be if knights and dragons, and coed swimmers and sharks were ever able to get along?

McDonald’s please keep selling your food. For those of us writing, don’t forget your story goes nowhere if your protagonist and antagonist aren’t duking it out for something bigger than french fries.

 

 

Jan 3, 2015 - America In Ruins, Featured, Get A Mac, Product Reviews    Comments Off

Apple Sued Over iPhone Memory

Apple Sued Over iPhone Memory

Here’s the stupid story of the day courtesy of CNN.iPhone Memory Lawsuit is stupid

A few users are upset that iOS 8 is taking up space on their 16 GB phone and they therefore don’t have 16 GBs of space on their unit. I guess it’s supposed to run on ether. This is one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever heard of and I hope Apple can sue the idiot lawyers and plaintiffs for wasting theirs and the court’s time.

Point is, DO NOT BUY AN IPHONE or IPAD WITH LESS THAN 32 GBs, 64 GBs if you can help it.

The real crime, if there is one, is that no one should buy a 16 GB anything in this day and age with all the music and digital photo consumption going on, it’s just not worth the painful effort of trying to manage so little amount of space.

Apple would do itself a favor to not sell anything less than 64 GBs at this point, but then they’d want to charge more (Imagine that) and people would not buy because they’re be dumb enough to think they can get by on 16 GBs.

CNN: Apple sued because iPhone isn’t really 16 GB.

 

Dec 28, 2014 - Family, Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

Christmas 2014 Is Over

Christmas 2014 Is Over IMG_4923

It’s been a depressing sort of weekend. With Christmas Day Thursday, and daughter Chandler’s 18th birthday to follow Friday, I went ahead and removed our trees and decorations Thursday evening. Yeah, Christmas night everything came down and was boxed up in hopes I’m still alive to unpack it and put it all back up again next November.

At 49-years-old, I probably should not begin to wonder if I’ll be around for another Christmas, but there are some things that are deeply troubling me that just make 362 days from now seem like they’re an eternity away.

While I was packing things up, I even considered writing myself a note of congratulations in hopes that I’m around to read it next year and maybe tell myself that I shouldn’t do that again. But that seemed a little too morbid.

There’ve been some significant family losses the past few months. I lost my grandmother and a brother-in-law. Last week my youngest daughter was in a one-car accident where she very well could have gone through the windshield and into a tree the driver hit at a moderate rate of speed. That’s made me think a lot lately about the frailty of life and at Christmas when family members are missing, well….

Thing I Do Want To Do Differently For Christmas 2015

Friday night at 1 a.m. the power went out for several miles around. Maycee and I got up and walked the complex to see if it was a local accident or something else. Apparently, it wasn’t a drunk hitting the power units on our main road. But I came to realize that I’m tired of a Christmas tree with static white lights and red balls. That’s really been my Christmas Tree set up since at least 1988 and it occurred to me that that’s gotten a little tired.

My mom always used to hate blinking lights on a tree. And then I discovered white lights and moved completely away from the multi-color strings.

So next year, I’m thinking that at least on one of our trees, I want to try multi-color lights with a few blinkers.

Things I Learned During Christmas 2014

Andy Williams sings The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and he mentions the telling of ghost stories. Huh?  Well, my Aunt Lynda said to Google it and leave to the Victorians, but yes, they would actually tell “scary ghost stories” at Christmas, not just at Halloween.

Did you know the guy who wrote Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was from Birmingham, AL, and Judy Garland at first refused to sing the song as originally written? I think I actually read that last year, but for you trivia buffs, it’s still a valid fact.

And Speaking of Christmas Songs…. 

How on earth did John Cougar Mellenhead’s I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Bruce Springstein’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town become songs that SiriusXM and commercial radio decided they need to play every 10 minutes on the radio at Christmas? Mannheim Steamroller is in that mix, too.  My gosh, there are so many Christmas songs. These get worn out before Christmas season even gets close. I’ve gotten to where I just turn off the radio when either Bruce or Mellencamp come on.

And Kelly Pickler can’t sing the word “Bag.” It comes out “Bahaagg.”

The worst thing about Christmas music to me is how many songs are about not being with the person you love for Christmas. It’s bad enough when that really happens. If you turn on the radio, you get it over and over and over. It has made it worse this Christmas.

That North Texan, Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree has to be my new favorite Christmas song of 2014.

January 2015

When I was a kid in Northern Michigan, I didn’t know I was going to spend so many more years of my life in California, Alabama and Texas where the idea of a White Christmas is something in a song sung by Bing Crosby. The Weather Channel has been toying with the idea of freezing rain here in DFW for New Year’s Eve, but the odds are minute.

To me, Christmas just doesn’t seem to be the same without a mantel of white to cover up the ugliness of the world. Maybe that’s what it is in my mind because I know there are tough aspects in the road ahead.

I wish you all the best for the coming year. Please pray for my family and I shall do the same for yours. We’re all going in so many different directions. I hope and pray we can all celebrate the holidays together again next year. But down deep, I know that’s not really possible. Even if we come together, we will all be so very different from life’s experiences the next 362 days.

Remember when we were kids and didn’t realize when Santa asked Rudolph to use his nose to help him through the Christmas Eve fog, that clouds weren’t encircling the entire planet all at once? Yeah, life just isn’t that simple. But it’d be nice if it was.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

Dec 4, 2014 - Family, Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

Christmastime is Here

Merry Dec. 4, 2014. Is Christmastime just a day for you at the end of the month or do you celebrate throughout December? I often find that Dec. 23 and 24 get here so fast that I’ve largely trudged through each day of the month as though it didn’t count.Merry Christmas FB

Terminal cancer patients often seem to be in touch with their mortality. Those of us without it tend to take our days for granted. Do you ever think about how numbered they actually are and they’re not to be forsaken? I’m trying to keep things, get things, into better perspective this holiday season.

There is much I could sit and pine about, but there are so many more blessings God has put in my life to be thankful for. I need to spend more time counting them than the things that are wrong.

I hope you are free of mind to do the same. God bless you.

Go make it a great day. Every day you live is one less you’ll be here for….

Dec 3, 2014 - Featured, Novel Writing, Product Reviews, Thank You, The Real Me    Comments Off

The Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way

This morning I began something new. Morning Pages. They came at the behest of Julie Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, a book that’s been referred to multiple times now in the work I’m doing in the SMU Writer’s Path program.

Morning Pages are simple. You wake up. You grab a pen and you’re then to write out three pages in long-hand about whatever it is that pops into your head. There is no right. There is no wrong. There is no editing. No review.  No one, not even yourself, are supposed to read what’s written. The exercise is done purely to free one’s mind of the gunk that’s collected there that’s blocking the way to creative thinking. Pure. Simple. So far, mid-day, it feels like it’s working. At least once I got up from the desk this morning, I felt like I’d left a lot of baggage on the page and emptied it from my mind.

Then came a walk with Maycee. Actually, my Morning Pages contain multiple references to her whining and begging to go out. She’d already been out. So I was compelled to let her on to the porch. Nope. More whining. More writing. More whining. Back inside. Then she went to the front door and rang the Christmas bells that are hanging from the knob. Maycee is now six months old and those bells only were put there last Wednesday. Thursday, the twins, Reagan and Haley, I’m told because I didn’t witness it, trained her to ring the bell with her nose. That she’s learned to do that, I can testify. When she needs to go out and poop, it’s ring, ring, ring.

After a second trip out this morning, I completed my Morning Pages. I didn’t go back and read them. I went on with my day, which now led to another trip to the potty area for dogs, and then Maycee and I left out on our usual morning stroll of at least one-mile’s length before 8 a.m.

Done with that, shaved and showered, I got in the car and headed to meet with my mentor, Ron Rose. You see, I’m at a stuck point in the development of The Privacy Patriots, the novel I’ve been trying to develop over the course of 2014. I gathered up a couple of notebooks I keep working through, grabbed a laptop and iPad and out the door I went, promising to be there by 9.

Traffic on 635 was a mess, so I wound up running parallel to I-30 west until Dolphin Street. Made it through the Canyon and on the other side, began to realize I was actually going to make it to our rendezvous point early.  And then the car stalled. It apparently went into “Limp Mode.” A design feature to keep serious damage from happening to the engine.

By 9:20 my car was attached to a tow truck and headed from whence I’d just come, back to Mesquite.  By 9:44 a.m., the time OnStar’s people said the truck would be at the spot of origin to get me, we were pulling into the repair shop.

The shop, one I told the tow truck driver I use because it’s so quick, is backed up. They have about three or four jobs in front of mine. So Bruce, the owner of the shop, dropped me here back at home.

And instead of going and talking to my mentor, discussing, hashing and rehashing, God revealed to me another plan.

Sitting Still

You see it was yesterday that another now very significant mentor in my life, Author Suzanne Frank, told me to go do something besides trying to work on my book. She said to go trim the tree.  (I didn’t write her back and let her know there are already three up.) She said to bake something. But to get away from my book and let my mind wander a bit.

And so I began reading Week One’s section in The Artist’s Way.

And wow.

When I did all but about three of the first week’s exercises, I turned my chair from the desk, leaned my head back and closed my eyes and said a prayer.

I Am A Brilliant And Prolific Writer

I wrote in a notebook the following sentence:

I, Donald J. Claxton, am a brilliant and prolific writer.

And then I wrote it out again. Eight more times I repeated this function for a total of 10.

And as I wrote, I began to hear little voices saying, “No you’re not.” “You fool.” “If you’re so good, why haven’t you published anything significant yet? Your 49th birthday is Saturday. What the hell have you been waiting for? Lunch?”

I wrote those things down, too.

And then I identified people, “Monsters” the book refers to them, in the past, who might have called me things like that or said things about my writing that was negative. And then I identified positive people and positive things that have been said about my writing.

There are a couple of more exercises I need to do for the first week. And I will do them another day. Tomorrow, I will get up, scribble some thoughts about hopes and prayers the car gets repaired and isn’t going to cost a lot of money, money I don’t have, to get on the road again.

Tomorrow I have a writing class at SMU that I missed in November because of a family tragedy back in Alabama. Now, at the moment, even being there tomorrow night feels like it’s in jeopardy.

But I have to firmly believe as I sit here at this writing and believe that the same God who made sure I took some time today to be still, to think, to not think, to just meditate and breathe in the good and the bad of life, is going to make sure tomorrow works itself out, too. Perhaps if the day had gone some other way, I’d be upset about all this.

Something tells me already today’s first week lesson has already taken hold on my heart.

 

 

Nov 26, 2014 - Family, Featured, Travel    Comments Off

The Holidays: Leaving Friends And Loved Ones To Be With Family

A counseling friend of mine once described the Holidays as “the time we leave friends and loved ones to go be with family.” 32

My own family has been going through a painful trial the past few weeks, the details of which I will not go into. But it has been a time for prayer, consoling, and unconditional loving.  In today’s age when dysfunctional families are more the norm than the exception, that seems like something nearly impossible.

I am directly copying (below) advice from another counseling friend, Dr. Harold Duncan of Preston Place Counseling in Dallas. This came from his recent post and email entitled “A Word About The Holidays.”

This is sage and safe advice. As we all know, there seem to be some in most every family who wear their feelings on their sleeves, just waiting for someone to come along and bump into them and give them new reason for aggression and resentment. So here are Harold’s suggestions:

1.  Slow down

  • Take time to think about what is really going on–the significance of the season.

 

2.  Be realistic in the financial arena.
  • Gifts are a form of communication. Consider what you are saying by means of your gift.
  • The most meaningful gifts are not necessarily the most expensive.

 

3. Pay attention to your health.

  • Exercise
  • Monitor what you eat and drink. Focus on moderation.
  • Get enough rest and relaxation.

 

4.  Plan ahead-avoid overloading your schedule–decide to say  “no” to some of what is expected of you.

  • Set and stick to you own realistic limits.
  • Don’t commit to more than you can handle.
  • If traveling, allow yourself plenty of time.

 

 5.  Make your own plans–do not defer all your time to others.

  • Make plans to do something you enjoy.
  • Make plans to be with people you enjoy.
  • Say “no” if you don’t want to do something.

 

6.  Allow yourself to feel sadness and grief when appropriate.

  • Say a special prayer or memorial for a loved one, make a keepsake ornament, reminisce and don’t deny the grief or pain you may experience.

 

7.  Don’t use the holidays for family therapy.

  • This is not a good time to work on your spouse’s attitude or your mother-in-law’s sharp tongue.
  • People are probably not going to change much–especially during the holidays.
  • Courtesy is usually a very important priority.

 

8.  Consider volunteering some of your time to help others.

  • Take clothes to a homeless shelter.
  • Serve food to the needy.
  • Provide gifts to a child.

 

9.  If your “holiday blues” don’t lift after a few weeks, seek help.

  • Feelings of depression and anxiety that are moderate to severe and long-lasting may be signs of an illness that should be discussed with your physician or counselor.

 

Be safe out there traveling. Take lots of pictures. And keep love in your heart. We’re all only here for a whisper of time. Make the most of every breath, during the holidays and throughout the rest of each year as well.

God Bless you all.

 

dc

Nov 11, 2014 - Auburn, Featured, Novel Writing, The Real Me    Comments Off

Binge Watching HBO’s The Newsroom – A Lesson In Character Development

THE NEWSROOM

Several of my friends posted on my Facebook wall Saturday p.m. about how distraught I must have been about Auburn losing to Texas A&M.  I really was not.

Truth is, I didn’t even watch the game, and for that matter, haven’t sat beginning to end for an entire collegiate game all season.

I’ve had other things going on.

Namely, I’ve continued to use every available moment to work on my first novel project, what I’m calling, The Privacy Patriots.

So what was I doing most of Friday evening, nearly all day Saturday and three hours on Sunday?

My homework, prescribed by Author Suzanne Frank from Southern Methodist University.

I was binge watching, the HBO series, The Newsroom. Yes, from about 1:30 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Sunday, I watched all 19 episodes of Season 1 and 2, and then at 8 p.m Sunday night, watched the first episode of Season 3.

WHY THE NEWSROOM?

I’d never heard of the show before Thursday night’s class at SMU with Suzanne.PS newsroom

As class was beginning, she handed back 36 pages of 12 scenes involving my lead character, Kip Rippin. The exercise was designed to learn about what 12 major events had shaped him before the book begins. We were supposed to develop things that made him weak, strong, wounded, needing to change; the guy he is when we meet him on Oct. 13, 2016 in the newsroom of the fictional media blend of TV, radio and print called The Washington Broadcaster.

On the cover page of my submission was a note from Suzanne: “PS: you need to watch ‘The Newsroom’ especially this final season.”

Suzanne cautioned me about binge watching. “Every show is so intense.”

And is it ever. From the beginning scenes you’re sucked into an emotional roller coaster with multiple character archetypes and storylines.

Twenty hours of viewing later, I’m a much different person than I was Friday morning. I’m a much different budding author and writer, too, as I’ve seen some excellent examples of what I need to be planning and revising in my own characters. Not to make them like Will, Mac, Maggie, Jim, Don, Sloan (BTW, how in the hell does Aaron Rogers from the Packers wind up with a girl like that?) Charlie, and Neal, but to give them places to grow and develop in the pages I have yet to compose and then revise a dozen times before they hopefully appear printed before your eyes.

HBO

HBO has a great show on its hands. Regrettably, there are only five more episodes to go before the series is over and the character arcs are completed. The important thing about this new season is that Neal, one of the techies in the show, is now entangled in a mess with an Edward Snowden type of character, much like my Kip Rippin is in The Privacy Patriots. Naturally, my storyline isn’t going to be like the Newsroom and the premises between the show and my work are completely different, aside from involving whistleblowers. The richer experience for me, no matter how the Whistleblower storyline goes, is an example on making characters come to life, play off each other, and live rich lives in the conflict that’s created in their tiny world of a cable newsroom in New York City.

I can’t wait to see how the next five episodes go. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see where my own characters go because of the experience of watching excellent storytelling on TV.

 

 

 

 

Oct 11, 2014 - Featured, Geeky, Get A Mac, Product Reviews, Thank You, The Real Me    Comments Off

It’s My Seven Year Appleversary! #Mac #Apple

It’s My Seven Year Appleversary! 

On Oct. 11, 2007, I made the second most important conversion of my life–I bought my first Mac.

Today, I own an iMac, my second MacBook Pro in that time, and a MacBook Air. I also have the iPad Air and an iPhone Six Plus. During my time of evangelism, I’ve also brought more than a dozen others to the fold–family, friends, maybe an enemy or two.

appleversary

There are many blessings that come from being a Mac. I don’t have to run Norton and slow my processes down.  I’ve not ever had a Blue Screen of Death from Windoze. I’ve NEVER had an issue with a virus. And with Apple Care, if anything has ever happened to go wrong, Apple has fixed it in less than three days time.

One-on-One Training

In 2007 I also bought a year’s worth of One-on-One training that Apple provides. You get to basically go to the Apple Store of your choice every week for a year and sit with an Apple expert and they teach you how to use your new machine. Adolpho Cantu taught me Aperture, Final Cut Express, and then we dabbled in ways to move things out of Photoshop into my video projects, which seven years ago, were sophisticatedly primitive given the level of video equipment I had at the time.

But that $99 a year and the curiosity to learn has made a tremendous difference from where I was then and where I am now. Eric is another of the trainers at the Apple Store at Northpark Mall in Dallas. I visited with him recently and he’s still teaching. Many thanks were tendered during our conversation. I then showed him what we’ve been doing with books for the iPad and it made his day. Neither of us could have imagined anything like that would have even become possible in October 2007.

The Price Threshold

I often hear people talk about how expensive Apple products are and how they can get a cheaper: computer/tablet/phone with another company that runs Windoze or Droid. Yeah, you can.  But with them come headaches you don’t get with Apple products. That’s not to say Apple is perfect, because there are issues in the Mac World as well, but nothing near as problematic as I was experiencing when I had a PC.  My point is, you pay a little more for peace of mind and it’s worth every penny.

My Apple World in 2014

I’m running the beta version 5 of Yosemite on two of my work machines now. For the big machine, it’s still running Mavericks. There still are a couple of crucial things for my work that aren’t jiving so well in Yosemite so I can’t make the complete change over. But it is cool to see the things that are coming soon from Apple–ways to make the iPhone, iPad and Macs all share the same information seamlessly without even having to do anything to make that happen.

And this part may surprise some of you, but I have the iPhone Six Plus and I have to say, I wish more and more that I had gone with the smaller iPhone Six. No, I’ve not bent it like six other people apparently have done out of millions of them sold already, but I just find the whole experience with it to be a little wonky–a little like a return to the Droid/Microsuck World, if you will. There have been times when the screen on my iPhone Six Plus has gotten stuck upside down. A time or two when I couldn’t start the video in horizontal position, and had to turn it sideways and then back to horizontal to shoot wide and not shallow. And then when I’m out walking the dog and I want to start MapMy Walk or take a picture while I’m walking and holding the leash in the other hand with a 45-pound dog yanking in the other, it just feels like I’m a flicker away from dropping the massive thing. In other words, it’s just a little too big, even for someone with big hands.

The other thing I wish Apple had done was better timed the coordinated release of iOS 8 for the iPhones and iPads with the commercial release of Yosemite. We have all this functionality sitting there on the iOS devices that really doesn’t work to its full potential right now and I’m certain most people are going to miss out on some of that when Yosemite finally does go live.

Happy Appleversary! 

Regardless of those quirks, I have no regrets for being a Mac. Having Apple products in my life has changed my world and work dramatically in seven year’s time.  I’m now a much better photographer, graphic artist, video producer, video editor, sound editor, music producer, book for iPad producer, movie-maker, 3D graphics designer, photo editor, web designer, and even educator because of what I’ve been able to learn in the Mac World since.

Thinking of making the conversion?  I encourage it whole-heartedly. It will change your world in ways that only you can imagine. Thanks Apple, Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Oh, and War Eagle. We need to beat Mississippi State today….

 

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