Friday, December 11, 2015

Beating the Peter Principle with the Principles of St. Peter

Laurence Peter developed the theory that selecting a candidate to fill a position is based on their abilities in their current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, candidates stop being effective once they reach their level of incompetence.

Very insightful Larry but there is a solution. I have discovered that keepin’ it holy is priority number one and what or who is holier than Saint Peter?  You needn’t worry about the Peter Principle if you will but master the following principles of St. Peter. 

  • ·      Be there first. St. Peter was among the first disciples called during Jesus’ ministry and he was first to enter the empty tomb, proving seniority counts big time.  Question the saying, ‘fools rush in’ because even though they are called fools, they do get all the best seats now, don’t they?

  • ·      Roll your eyes. Many of the paintings of St. Peter depict him looking up. I don’t think he was looking up as to the Father. He was rolling his eyes in response to an accusation.

  • ·      Deny any and all accusations. Even if your photograph is posted on Facebook, deny it and explain the marvels of Photoshop. Deny that you are in denial.  

  • ·      Be the rock. Jesus gave Peter (formerly Simon) his new name which means, “rock.”  It also helps to remember the famous quote from Forest Gump, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

  • ·      Always allow yourself three chances to succeed at anything before giving up. If you fail after the third try, faint and say you’re suffering from a temporary mental health condition.

  • ·      Keep in mind that impulsiveness and sudden action will camouflage a shallow thinker. It is acceptable to blurt. St. Peter was a blurter but also prepare eloquent and dramatic boilerplate speeches to cover thy ass if things go wrong.

  • ·      If you become emotionally overwhelmed when multiple challenges occur in rapid succession, take a nap.

  • ·      Fishnet stockings, denounce them.

  • ·      Show subordinates that you are capable of great anger. This will demonstrate that it is not wise to question you for fear of summoning your forceful personality.

  • ·      If you have not met a deadline to execute an important assignment, explain that you twisted your ankle while trying to walk on water skis. 

 Be sure to celebrate your success and hard work with regular lunches, dinners and drinks after work. There is no shame in bragging about your success. Consider publishing your success story in the company newsletter or sharing it on one of your company’s social platforms. Convince your superiors that attending concerts is beneficial in broadening your horizons and improves your mood. Remember, be the rock.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Yule Regrets, A.D.D. and Missing Ornaments

This year I thought I would make a couple of changes to avoid the traditional holiday stress. I need to take it easy, beat the crowds, the frustrating search for parking places and cold weather. I decided not to cook the holiday dinner and to do my shopping online but I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Amazon is the granddaddy of online shopping so I started there…Click…

Several family members are the crafty type, I typed in Arts and Crafts and found over a million results for crafts ranging from fashioning headbands to carving elephants on a gift box.  The elephant signifies power, commitment, strength and royalty. I really should research some images to make sure the finished product would be an accurate representation…Click…

Did you know that elephants are the first wild animals to understand pointing? I smiled. It reminded me of a dog I used to have, a mixed terrier named Stinker Bell.  When I wanted her to see something I would point to it but instead of looking into the direction I was pointing, she just looked at my finger.  “Look!” I said excitedly but her eyes remained glued to my finger.  Ultimately, I would put my hands on the sides of her head and aim her line of vision. Eventually she would either see what I wanted her to or it would be too late and she would completely miss the point of interest…Click…

I just checked out points of interest in Egypt. Pyramids, temples, King Tut exhibits and the Red Sea.

It seems ancient Egyptians knew a lot more about our endocrine system than first suspected. They believed that our pineal gland located in the center of our brain is the portal that our soul passes through from life to life.  Meditation can stimulate this gland and provide answers to questions about the existence of an afterlife. I really have to get back to meditating. I wonder why the Egyptians scooped out and discarded the brain when bodies were mummified if the pineal gland was so important? I just found some Pineal Activation Cream. It is said if you apply it to your third eye, you will be much more open to psychic experiences. That would be awesome, then I wouldn't have to guess what everyone wants. I just bought some...Click...

Wow, someone has invented a build your own potato gun with PVC pipe and a rudimentary combustion chamber fueled by hair spray and ignited with a barbeque lighter.  The demonstration video is quite impressive.  This gun is capable of mashing a large russet baking potato against an abandoned car window effortlessly. Might come in handy if you have a lot of dinner guests or enemies for that matter. Raw potatoes would leave real serious tater knot on your head. Click…

My sister and I got a Mr. Potato head for Christmas one year. The bug eyes always scared me.  We had a Mrs. Potato head too.  I think this is why so many women believe they need lip augmentation. They played with Potato Heads when they were little. Have you even seen the lips on Mrs. Potato Head?...Click…

My mother used to make the cheesiest potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes. Yum. Even though she’s been gone a long time, I still think about her cooking. The taste of her Sunday pot roast with homemade egg noodles sticks like a magnet to my mental refrigerator…Click…

Isn’t it funny how some people get into a routine with their weekly menus? Growing up, Monday was spaghetti, Tuesday was pork chops and gravy, Wednesday was chicken, potatoes and canned corn, Thursday was meat loaf, with roasted vegetables, Friday was fish sticks, and Saturday was hamburgers.  My father was an excommunicated Catholic due to his divorce but I can think of a multitude of other sins that he could have been excommunicated for. There’s little worse than a bitter Catholic. I suffered from second-hand Catholicism growing up; it’s many times more carcinogenic than second hand smoke. I think the only commandment he threatened us with was, ‘Honor thy Father and Thy Mother’ and that was the end of any possible conflict.  Even though he was dropped-kicked out of the church (can you believe they used to do that?) he never ate meat on Friday. Maybe he was afraid he’d go to hell. As a child, I promised myself that I would never develop menu monotony after I grew up but I can’t count the number of times I would be stirring spaghetti sauce and suddenly realize it was Monday…Click…

It is often said that more bad things happen on Monday than any other day of the week, heart attacks, accidents, long lines, rude clerks and memorials. Monday night football used to drive me batty…Click…

Good Grief, I forgot about decorations! So caught up in holiday shopping that I need to buy a tree and replace the ornaments that I accidently gave to Goodwill last January. …Click…

Man, this online shopping is for the birds. I can’t see that it has saved me any time at all! Sitting in front of the computer for hours and not have ANYTHING to show for it, well, sounds like a typical day for me. There isn’t enough time to get gifts shipped on time now so it looks like I will be out among the throngs again, pushed, shoved, stepped on and honked at...Click... 

Sigh, I have to admit, I do love memories made during the holiday season…Click…

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I Confess

"I did it!" I cried hysterically as I stumbled into the Police Station. The officer at the front desk didn't look up. I stood across from him, tears running down my face, mascara everywhere but on my lashes. 
"Did you hear me?"

He looked up briefly then back down at his paperwork. 
"Can I help you ma'am?"
My heart was slamming against the wall of my chest. "I didn't want to do it, I had to. Actually, I was dared to."

This time he looked up. His eyes scanned my make-up stained blouse.
"Maybe you'd better come back and speak to one of the detectives."

He lifted the door and invited me through a hall to a wide room of cluttered desks. 

"Sit here." He pulled out a chair next to an empty desk. "Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Water?"
"A diet Pepsi would be nice."

For a fraction of a second, he looked impatient, then he cleared his throat and smiled.
"Diet Pepsi it is."
He disappeared into what looked to be a break room. I heard him insert coins and there was the sound of a can dropping from a vending machine. He came back, tapped the top of the can with his index finger before snapping it open.

"That's diet Coke."
"What's the difference? We don't have Pepsi. Sorry."
I blinked up in disbelief. "What's the difference?" I squeaked. "Can't you tell?"
"Actually, no."
"That's unfortunate." I shook my head. "It's way different." I huffed a sigh. "Would you happen to have some ice?"

He cleared his throat louder this time. "Sure."
I noticed he had a tic that caused the outer corner of his left eye to twitch rapidly. 

He turned and walked away, rubbing the back of his neck. When he returned, he had the can of Coke in one hand and a green plastic cup in the other. 

I looked at the can and then at the stained green cup. "That's okay, I'll just drink from the can."
"Detective Puglisi!" He called louder than he needed to. "Code eight!"

A large man slowly rose from his desk and lumbered over. He was wearing a rumpled grey suit that looked as if he'd slept in it. 
"Can I help you ma'am?"

I burst into tears and looked up beseechingly. "Must all of you call me ma'am? I have a name. It's Venita."
The desk officer quickly walked away.

"Ok, Venitia, what seems to be the problem?"
"It's Venita."
"Why are you here, Venetta?"
I stared at him. "Just call me ma'am." I took a sip of Coke and made a face. "I hate Coke."

He reached out to take the can. "Would you prefer water?"
I slapped his hand and then gasped. "Oh! I am so sorry!" I clutched the can in both hands. "I prefer diet Pepsi but if this is all you have, it will work."

He sat down at the desk and took out a pen and pad. "What's the reason for your visit today, V-Veh-Vin-, ma'am?"
I took another swig and made a face. I couldn't stop my knee from bouncing.
"I killed someone."

He looked up and studied my face. "You killed someone?"
"Yes, well, I mean, I didn't do it personally. He was much too strong for me."
"So you arranged to murder someone?"
"In a sense, I guess I did." I nodded in resignation. "It was necessary if I wanted to push forward. You know, progress in my craft?"

I dug through my purse looking for a tissue. He snagged a box off the nearest desk and offered me one. 
"Thanks." I wiped my face and blew my nose. "You see, I was told to kill them, kill them all."

Puglisi frowned. "Who told you to kill them?  What craft? Witchcraft? You killed more than one person?"

"No." I dismissed his questions with a wave. "Just the darlings."

Puglisi shook his head. "Let's start at the beginning."
I shifted in my chair, took another sip and made a face. "Let's"

"Who did you arrange to kill?"
"Let's just call him Ed."
"What do you mean, let's call him Ed? Is that his name or not?"

I took in a deep breath and pushed on my knee to stop it from bouncing.

"Yes, that was his name."
"What's his last name?"
I stopped fidgeting for a second and my jaw slacked when I realized.
"I didn't give him one!" I sobbed again.

Puglisi put his notebook back into his jacket pocket. "I don't think you need a detective, you need a doctor."

I tipped the Coke and gulped down the last third. My face must have looked like I had just downed a shot of rotgut. I wiped my mouth with my sleeve.
"I'm fine."

Puglisi's grimace of confusion was comical but then, I have a bad habit of laughing at exactly the wrong moment. I laughed. 

"How did Ed die?"
"You know, I thought about that for a long time. How would I do it? I decided to have a man commit suicide by jumping out of a 14 story window and fall on him."
"You talked someone into killing themselves?"
"Oh, no. I didn't know him at all. I just had him do it. I figured Ed would quickly end up as a bloodstain on the sidewalk when it was all over but it wasn't quite as simple as that. It had to flow." I rose up in the chair in excitement. "Should the jumper be in a vertical or supine position? I mean it wouldn't be easy to jump out of a window if you're afraid of heights so you might want to go out backwards. Right? Should it be nighttime? Would the jumper break Ed's neck while he was walking by or should it be daytime and I would have him sitting on a bench watching children play in the park across the street?"

Puglisi frowned. "What children? What park?"

"I finally decided to have the jumper dive from the window, do one and a half somersaults in pike position and meet Ed head to head."

I dented the can and tossed it into the wastebasket then burst into tears again. "I've killed before but I never felt like this. I spent so much time with Ed. He was like family. Oh! Why did I kill him?" I buried my face in my hands. 

I felt the detective pat my shoulder. He whispered, "I'm going to take you to the hospital now."
I sat up straight. Stiff as a tombstone. "No, really, I'll be alright." I pulled another tissue out of the box. "It's all Stephen King's fault."

"Stephen King? The author, Stephen King?"
I nodded. "He kills his characters all the time without a second thought. He makes you like them and then he kills them. Women. Men. Children. Dead. Dead. Dead."

I lunged forward to grab two fists full of his lapels and was lucky he didn't draw his gun. 

"Do you know how hard it was for me to kill Ed?"

He plucked my hands from his suit and pushed me back. "Characters? Was Ed a character in a story? Are you a writer?"

I blinked in disbelief. "Well, of course he was. What do you think I have been talking about all this time?"

He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "Well, you did come to the Police station and you did confess to a murder."

I stood up and slung my purse over my shoulder. "Honestly, Detective Puglisi, do I look like a murderer to you? Really? And why doesn't the desk clerk know the difference between diet Coke and diet Pepsi?"

I headed for the front desk. "I don't know if I can trust any type of law enforcement that can't tell the difference between a murderer and a writer or more importantly, the difference between Coke and Pepsi."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life in the Fast Lane or An Open Letter to Officer Mendosa

It’s been a year and a half since my husband and I moved to a small community named Pinion Pines, just a few miles past Frazier Park, CA. My daily commute has changed from eight miles to almost 100. I travel north on Interstate Five to go home every evening and unless there is some type of hazard, accident or road closure, it only takes 45 minutes to get there. It's a beautiful drive. 

Everyday drivers going 80, 90, and most likely some could be clocked at 100 mph or more, whiz by me.  I watch as they weave in and out of the traffic, cutting people off and driving like maniacs. No wonder road rage is so common. Wasn’t it George Carlin who said anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac? 

One recent evening as I was driving home, I came upon an idiot driving 50mph in the fast lane. If you’re one of those people, please stop it. You create a hazard by blocking the maniacal flow of traffic. Anyway, there I was, angry and frustrated, trying to find an opening to get around Mr. Idiot. When I finally had my chance, I gunned it and sped up to pass him at the very location Officer Mendosa had chosen to lie in wait for maniacs, right on the curve at Pyramid Lake. I saw him too late to slow down and even if I had, he knew I was speeding. I prayed he wouldn’t stop me. God must have been out feeding the pigeons because he didn’t hear my prayer.

On went the blue lights and I pulled over immediately. Want to know how long it’s been since I got a ticket? I rolled down the driver’s side window. I waited a moment for him to show up. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the mid section of a uniform standing at the passenger side window and rolled it down. Cops haven’t been approaching the driver’s side for years. And years.

He bent down to look into the window. “Did you know you were speeding?”
“Yes Officer, I knew and I’m sorry.”
“License, registration and proof of insurance please.”
I dug through every pocket of my purse, throwing things on the floor of my car and wadding up old receipts before I finally found my proof of insurance.
“How fast was I going?”
He must have caught my WTF expression because he shrugged. 

Now, I hate it when people point out that there are others that are breaking the law worse than they are but I have to admit it crossed my mind.  They break the law worse than me everyday! Why me? Then I heard my inner critic say, “Why not you?”

Officer Mendosa came back to my car and asked me to sign my ticket.
“So, how do you like your car?” he asked. “I’m thinking of getting my daughter a Subaru.”

I looked at him and blinked. So now we’re friends, are we?

“I love my car, she will love it too but she probably won’t realize she is speeding because of the comfortable ride.”
I thanked the good Officer and drove 65mph all the way home.

When I told some friends about my speeding ticket, they all wondered why I didn’t try to talk my way out of the ticket. “Because,” I said, “I am the absolute worst liar in the world and I have a terrible sense of direction so I doubt I could talk my way out of anything. “

One friend admitted, “I always keep a box of Tampax in my glove compartment. I pull it out and tell them I was speeding because I have an emergency. It works every time.”

“They don’t wonder why you’re still having periods at your age?”

Another friend said, “I tell them I just got a call from a neighbor and my mother has become very sick.”

“Your mother died ten years ago.”

A third friend asked why I didn’t just tell the officer that I was behind some idiot, sped up to pass and was planning on slowing down right when he saw me?

“Because I don’t think that fast, even if it’s the truth.”

So, it’s all behind me now, my fee of $275.00 paid to the LA court system, plus the $50 that I paid as ‘hush money’ so I could attend traffic school.  I was actually dumb enough to think the $50 would go towards the cost of the school. Ha ha ha ha. I was rolling down the wrong window again.

Next blog I’m going to discuss what I learned from online traffic school.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Waze and Meanings

On my last trip to Arizona, I was delighted at how well my social traffic app works to share real time traffic conditions and save time and gas money. I was just passing Riverside when I picked up a fellow Wazer on map chat. Her user name was Corn Salad. I have no idea how she ended up in my network but I’m glad she did.  

She alerted me that there was a speed trap around the Hemet area so I slowed down and saw the exact spot where the Highway Patrol was monitoring traffic. The next thing she warned me about was some debris in the center lane. Several minutes later I passed a corrugated carton that had fallen from a truck. It may have been empty but hitting it would have been scary.

The next alert happened around the Indio area. She reported having a terrible hot flash that lasted at least five minutes. Sweat was dripping down her back and when she looked in the rear view mirror, her face was bright red. The next thing I knew, I was having a hot flash. I broke out in a sweat and when I checked my mirror my face was the color of a ripe tomato.  

Just as the quickly as it came, the hot flash left but now she was reporting a profound sense of loneliness. The emptiness she felt was causing her to feel claustrophobic. I felt like the doors of my car were inching in on me. I struggled to breath normally. I took in great gulps of air but then I realized I had forgotten how to swallow.

I was coming into Blythe when her post said painful memories were bubbling up and she had just burst into tears.  I quickly got off the freeway to stop for gas. I was a little nervous about getting back on.  I made sure I went to the bathroom and bought a couple bottles of water and some beef jerky.  I still had about three hours of driving left but I wanted to allow some space between Corn Salad and me. This was just way too spooky.

About fifteen minutes outside of Blythe, I had the strangest thought. What did my friend, Debra, mean last January when she said, “Am I the only one who cares about fashion around here?” In the next moment I was sobbing uncontrollably. I pulled over and stopped to compose myself. My breath hitched as my crying subsided. I decided to stay put for a while. Corn Salad would have to blaze her own trail without me. As for me, I’m grateful that Highway 10 had a soft shoulder to cry on.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Interview With H. Schussman

Whenever someone tells me that they enjoyed reading a book, I always ask if they contacted the author to tell them what it was they liked about it. I have yet to find someone who has said they had. I like to remind them that writers love to hear from their fans and often take the time to reply. 

It is just as important to learn what makes a writer decide to write, what inspires them and how they go about the whole process. I would like to introduce you to one of my fellow authors at Vinspire Publishing. Feel free to post comments, I am sure she will be thrilled to respond. 

Tell us about yourself:

I live in Northern California with my husband of 27 years. We travel almost obsessively. An annual ‘vacation’ for us is to go to Spanish language school in some Spanish speaking country for a month. We get to live with a family and immerse ourselves in their culture. Otherwise we love the Caribbean and Italy. The rest of the world is yet to be visited. When home I work full time as a physical therapist specializing in dementia. I’m a guest lecturer at my alma mater on clinical documentation, and also psychiatric and cognitive disorders. I am a clinical instructor, so I get a PT intern for 12 weeks a year. Otherwise I write and workout in my spare time.

 1. How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’m all over the place! I’ve written two action-adventure conspiracy books (or Ethnic Romance depending on how you look at it) with Sean and Sport. The Family Meeting, an epic family saga spanning 80 years is also in the works. I have a non-fiction travel companion book for making a good first impression in other countries. I also write three completely different blogs; travel (Dashing Bold Adventure), food and wine (The Wine Tribe), and my author blog (Author H. Schussman). Humor is the underlying genre for everything I write. My characters make me laugh out loud.

2. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I just write. I fill in an outline as I go for reference. I also keep a character description list to make sure I don’t goof up and change someone’s eye color. And finally, I keep a calendar next to me to make sure I know what day of the week it is. My books go extremely fast in a short time frame.

3. What does your protagonist think about you? Would she want to hang out with you, the creator?

What a creative question! My Protagonist in Counterpart and El Tiburon is Sport. We are pretty similar. She is a physician and I’m a physical therapist, and we both like fitness, healthy food, our amazing husbands, and we’re Christians. Otherwise she leads a much more exciting life than I do, and always seems to be in trouble. We would probably have a lot to talk about. She is the one who makes me laugh. When I try to exclude her from my Action Adventure series I get bored.

4. Which of your characters speaks the loudest to you?

I would have to say Sport, but I really like Craig too. He showed up at the end of El Tiburon and has taken a major role in my current work-in-progress. He has paranoid schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations. He is seriously misunderstood by the average person. I feel like I am helping him be heard and understood.

5. Do you have a message in your books?

Yes, I guess I do. I think in general I like to let my reader form a first impression and then dash it to pieces. Assumptions can be a dangerous habit. For example, in El Tiburon I include a unique people group commonly referred to as The Cockroaches. They live in the Guatemala City garbage dump. (This is a real community of 11,000 people, 6,000 of which are children) At first glance their lives would seem to be hopeless and worthless, having no value to society. In El Tiburon they are the ones who rise as the true heroes, as they keep Sport alive and safe. They ultimately prove themselves to be a diversified people group who care about their community
and resent the power the drug cartel has over them.

6. If you could have one author read your work, which one would it be?

Oh wow…I’m nervous just thinking about it. I would say God, but He’s already read my work J Umm, I don’t know… maybe Lee Child or Bram Stoker? But honestly my first thought was Spielberg because my readers keep telling me my work is like reading a movie. I would want to know if he thought my work was worthy of a movie.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Somewhere in the scary recesses of my mind. I have a strange process I work through. Basically I sit down to my computer and write what my characters are saying in my head. I’m a secretary. I am also extremely critical of unbelievable plots. When my characters get out of line, making the story grind to a stop I go to my husband. He is my plot breakthrough man. Most of his ideas are crazy, but it gets me to thinking again.

Because I don’t outline my work in advance, I am often surprised by the turn of events. I’ve had characters turn bad (or good) on me. Since I honestly didn’t know how it ends, or who the bad guy is, my writing is tense and unpredictable to me and the reader.

8. What project are you working on now?

I am currently writing Pirates (loosely titled). This is another conspiracy, action adventure. Sean and Sport come into the plot a little later than usual. Currently it is placed in Costa Rica, but I sense it is heading to Italy.

I am also getting prepared for El Tiburon to be released by Vinspire Publishing toward the end of this year (God willing and the creek don’t rise!).

9. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write! Quit making excuses and write. Your skills will only improve with practice. It doesn’t hurt to read excellent books to train your mind.

10. When do you find you're the most creative, morning or night?

Unfortunately for me, it varies. I can’t seem to pin down a specific time I am the most creative. I write a lot when I travel.

11. If your story were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character's part? 

Sean reminds me of Brad Pitt or Matt Damon. Sean is sort of a big brawny guy of Irish descent. Sundai Love is a new model who looks like Sport and is short. Sport is a petite black woman of African American and Japanese descent.

12. Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide? :)

It depends on if it’s in my house or not. I kill fleas. I hate them, but they love me! Outside I rarely kill a bug (except fleas and mosquitoes). No insects make me screech and hide, though I considered screeching a few times in Costa Rica. Their bugs are numerous and disgusting.

Venita Louise, Thank you for taking the time out of your crazy schedule to interview me. I also want to thank Dawn Carrington, Editor-in-Chief of Vinspire Publishing, for publishing El Tiburon. I think it is great that she recognized that a married couple could star in a romance! I believe there is nothing more romantic than seasoned couple.

Discover more about H. Schussman at the following links:
A Dashing and Bold Adventure blog:
Author H. Schussman blog: