Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Tag Archives: blogging

Writing Your Novel Tips! Worthless Advice that won’t help you in the least!

Well, I have no helpful writing tips for you and your upcoming bestselling novel.  This is my worthless advice blog, remember?  If you want some helpful tips, you might as well just click over to someone who is helpful like: Jenna Morcci.  She’s an author/writer/blogger I stumbled upon, while I was watching YouTube.  Before you judge me, my YouTube viewing is called “research.” While I was “researching” something…. (Truth be told, you know I was wasting time with Mr. Whiskers by my side, trying to figure out something on YouTube when Jenna Morcci’s writing videos came into my feed).

Let’s get to the point….She is hilarious!  Well crafted videos that are a bit sarcastic, but helpful on writing.  She’s informative, delightful, and has some great writing points.  Hmm, she could be more helpful than my worthless advice blog and that could be dangerous.  Perhaps, she could be my arch enemy?  Nah, that would involve me thinking too much of plot lines, character development, and how to write more than two sentences together and thus make something worthwhile.  One of my favorite videos is at the end of this post.

To combat her cleverness, I probably should throw together a witty list of “How to Write a Novel” tips.  Here goes my worthless advice tips list that won’t help you at all:

  1. Write in a Safe Space.  Yes, go to your safe space.  This could be an extra room in your house, under the stairs, the local coffee shop, or the pub down the street (see item #2).
  2. Consume large quantities of alcohol.  All the great, successful writer were drunks.  Why should you be any different?  Drink up!  You could even have a signature drink!
  3. Play music appropriate to your writing style.  Feeling romantic? Play some love songs.  Your story takes place at an all night rave?  Throw on some EMD trance music.
  4. Read.  Heck, you can’t write if you don’t read.  Read your genre or just read the classics.  Just don’t sit around and do nothing.whirlpool-1580294_1920.jpg  Pick up that Kindle and read!
  5. Soak in a Hot Tub – this is a wonderful way to relax, brainstorm, and not write.  You are in a hot tub, how could you write anything down?
  6. Surf the internet.  Remember I said not to sit around and do nothing?  Well, start surfing that internet and enjoy learning about how to snowboard in New Zealand.  It won’t help you write but you might end up with a great storyline, a blog post, or a new place to visit.
  7. Watch YouTube videos.  This is an awesome way to learn a new skill…how to change out a wheel bearing, how to paint your house, how to waste time watching You Tube videos about how to be successful.  It’s always just a big circle; watch a video and never write that next great American novel.
  8. Play with your cat!  What can you distract you more than your cat?  So cute, so cuddling.  It makes you want to watch cute cat videos on YouTube!  Am I right?  You know I am.
  9. Chat with your Imaginary Stalker Cyndi -You know you haven’t been paying enough attention to Cyndi and she doesn’t like that.  She will get you back….and she is your #1 fan!

Luckily, I know none of these tips will help you to become a better writer.  I know they won’t help you doing anything that moves you along to becoming successful, or happy, or the pride of your family.

Here’s a link to Jenna’s videos.  If you like a snarky attitude, you like to write, and you think I might actually have some good advice for you, just click on her video!  I don’t get paid to say how much I enjoy her videos, but she is pretty funny.  She should at least take me out to dinner for all of the web traffic my blog will be sending her…. No, I’m not in love with her…. (my wife will roll her eyes when she reads this part…).  Until Jenna comments on my blog….I bid you a fond farewell.

 

Summer Camp for Adults? Cash on In!

FullSizeRenderSummer is here and a few years back I read about Adult Summer Camps.  I didn’t pay much attention to the Adult Summer Camp craze because I was too busy being, you know, a parent.  Besides, I’ve done my fair share of camping, backpacking, and attending summer camps as a young Boy Scout and also as a Boy Scout troop leader.  Oh, and don’t forget my trips to various Girl Scout camps with my daughter as well.  So you can imagine, I’m not too interested in sleeping a musty old cabin eating bad food at the dining hall as an adult because we now have an Adult Summer Camp opportunities abound.

So, you see, the idea of Adult Summer Camp doesn’t really appeal to me.  However, I can see that it is a great idea because it already exists and someone is making some money.  However, I believed these “summer camps” are called business conventionsand trade shows and held in places like hotels.  Usually  you have to attend because your job requires you to.  Or you could go for pleasure and attend something like Comicon.  You know, a place where you can dress up in a costume just like you do on Halloween.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is a hobby and hobbies are something you enjoy doing and I strongly encourage you to attend a convention if you want to.  I just don’t understand why someone wants to head out to the woods and go back to summer camp.  I’d much rather head to a hotel and enjoy the pool and spa services.

Of course, I’m a fool for not cashing in on the Adult Summer Camp craze.  I know a number of experts (aka friends) that could assist me in creating a new summer camp.  If someone wants to pay me to attend a summer camp, who am I to stop them?

What courses would I offer?  The list is endless!

  • Lawn Mowing and Lawn Care
  • Complaining & Whining
  • Photography
  • House Painting
  • Blogging
  • Cheap Vacations
  • Car Maintenance
  • How to Fail
  • Drone Flying (and Crashing!)
  • Home Beer Brewing (and its sister course Beer Drinking)
  • How to Be Depressed in Your Life without Mental Illness
  • Boating and Floating
  • Camping Basics
  • Candle Making
  • Wine Drinking
  • Scotch and Whisky Drinking

Pretty much whatever you can imagine, we could offer it as a course.  I could rent some old summer camp, set up some old army tents, get some retired school cook for my mess hall, and we would have our summer camp up and running in no time.  Daily Field trips to the local pub for inspiration would be a must.  Hands on experience (like painting my house) with a touch of reality (see my highly regarded course “How to Fail”).

I know you are dying to sign up.  For only $1499 per week, this summer camp experience can be yours.  You can send me cash anytime.  I promise to save your spot for you.

Have a great idea for a course?  Want to be a part of a winning team (or you need a job for the summer)?  Let me know!  Frankly, I need all the help I can get.

 

 

 

 

Oh, I’m sorry, did you say something about how I talk?

I’ve been having problems with certain “words” in my life.  I’m making the effort to eliminate the following words and phrases:

Basically

Actually

Technically

….And something

… And stuff

I think…

I’ll try….

Let’s get into the meat of the situation, we all have phrases that we say that begin to drive us crazy. My least favorite is my habit of saying “and something”. 

For example:

“The battery is very large and something.”  Of course the battery is “and something”.  I feel like a dork every time I say it.  Please, help me stop the use of the “and something”.

And like Yoda says I shouldn’t “try”, I should “do” it.

Instead of me saying “I’ll try to mow the lawn.”

No, instead “I will now the lawn.” (Unless it is raining….who wants to mow the lawn in the rain?).

In an effort to be specific, I’m switching to:

I will….

Don’t forget about “basically”.  I recently started to listen to the radio show “Loveline” again (via podcast) and every time someone says “basically”, they ring a bell. Now, everything time I hear the word “basically”, I hear that bell go off in my head.  I have been conditioned just like Pavlov’s dog; I hear the word “basically” and the bell goes off.  Now where is my treat?

“And stuff”

I use “and stuff” when I’m talking and it is annoying. I wouldn’t write it but I find myself saying “Here comes Clark with the report and stuff.” Really?  That just came out of my mouth?

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to come off as a snobby speaker of the English language. I’m a terrible speaker and mispronounce words all the time (I blame my parents….but who doesn’t blame their parents for all their problems?). I’m focusing on my own poor speech patterns and phrases. For pete’s sake, this blog isn’t about you, ok? These items are things I want to fix about myself. And who says I can’t change (besides my wife and kids?).

One more that I don’t use but I hate:

Honestly and To be honest with you….

“Honestly, I don’t know what you mean that I crashed the car.”

“To be honest with you, I’d never eat the last cookie.”

You weren’t honest before?  I don’t use those word phrases but they drive me crazy when I hear them.

So basically (ding), I’m trying to tell you that I need to work on myself and stuff, so that I think I can become a better person and something.

Actually, that was painful to write and then read.

Have a wonderful day! 

 

6th Grade Camp and the Worthless Advice Blogger Colide!

Let’s Whip Out Some Blog Posts!

Sorry my dear readers…but I write my blog for fun…it’s not a job. I just check in to see that I have really slacked off in the blog posting schedule. I have no excuse other than the fact that I am lazy. Sure, I could say I have been busy (and I am honestly busy) but if I say I’m lazy, people understand.

My daughter finished up her elementary career in June and will head to the middle school this coming fall. In my last blog post, we were headed off to 6th Grade Camp. Most of the 6th Grade parents were happy to have 6th Grade camp reinstated after a four year absence. Why did 6th grade camp disappear? Four years ago, one of the 6th grade teachers decided she didn’t want to do 6th grade camp anymore. Some of the 5th grade teachers volunteered to take her place but she put up quite the fuss about it. And thus we had four years of no 6th grade camp. She finally moved to another grade level to teach and our new 6th Grade teachers wanted to do camp.

We were able to attend 6th grade camp if we had enough parent volunteers. As you can imagine, I volunteered to do it. I’m lucky because my career is somewhat flexible and I can do volunteer assignments.
I was assigned to a group of 6th Grade boys; which overall wasn’t too bad. Keep in mind, the 80/20 rule of good behavior versus bad behavior applied to my group; most of the kids were good but some didn’t think that they should be good. I feel sorry for them…they now belong to me.

You have to remember, I’m a tad bit sarcastic. If you are a good kid, maybe shy, I’ll be a nice guy. But if you are a little punk, I will shut you down and give you a very good dish of your our own medicine. I will make you question why you bothered to open your mouth in the first place.

Two of my little minions, were a little on the tough side to handle. One got up three times a night to go to the bathroom. I seriously think he had a bed wetting issue. The other one was a follower of the first one. He probably would be fine if he didn’t hang out with the bad seed and have to impress him. Funny, how it all comes down to that “one” kid that is a problem; if we remove him, we remove 80-90% of the problems.
Just like society in general, we have a few people who make it awful for the rest of us.

More on 6th Grade camp in the next blog post!

Do Nothing….and get jealous.

I hate to say this but I’m jealous of my friend.   Last night he told me he was writing a book. He has never expressed any interest in writing before and now drops this bombshell on me. I haven’t done anything except write a few blogs once in a while. And he mentioned he has 100 pages of rough draft. Talk about making me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life.

Holy cow, I need to do something right? At least whip out a few pages of something…a short story? I mentioned his book project to my wife. She said “Boy, what if his writing is better than yours? Considering I haven’t even started a novel, yeah, I think his writing is better than mine.

Let’s Talk About YOU! (Because obviously talking about me isn’t working….)

With the weather turning to gray overcast skies, even the die hard optimist can get a bit depressed with the rainy weather. Everything around you can be depressing; the wet roads, the bad traffic, the gray skies, the rain, the gray skies, the rain, the cold 40-50 degree weather. Did I mention the gray skies and rain?

IMG_4300

It isn’t always bad here in the Pacific Northwest but you would think it is because of all the lousy weather we are currently having. We had great weather up until the middle of October. Now, it is the normal Seattle weather. I tend to be very busy at work (since I am a school photographer) during this time of year. I don’t notice how bad it is until I have a little breathing room. And with Daylight Savings Time ending, you really notice that it isn’t nice here anymore. It isn’t as bad as Alaska but you do notice that it gets really dark around 4 pm everyday. We haven’t even seen the worst of it yet. The shortest day of the year: December 21 Winter Solstice.

That means from now until December 21, the days will get shorter and the people of Seattle will die a little more each day.

I don’t really care. To me, it is just another day in a series of depressing days where I live my life. Oh, before you get all concerned about my well being, just know that this blog post is about you, not me. I can weather any storm my way. I just jump on YouTube and get all pumped up by listening to some Tony Robbins or Les Brown. I like the crappy weather because it forces me to look at what I’m doing in my business and life.

Now, some people can’t handle all the rain and gray skies around Seattle. They complain, they mope around, yet here they still are…wet and whining in the Emerald City called Seattle.

For me, the rain and gray skies bring my busy work season. I know during this time of the year, I’ll be making the bulk of my income as a school photographer. I know that I’ll be busy working 60-80 hours a week. I know I’ll be getting up at 5 am, putting in a 12-15 hour day. On top of my work day I will also need to be a dad, a Scoutmaster, an aikido student and teacher, and a blogger. I will be attempting to balance my work life with my personal life during the months of the fall school photography season.

My darling wife is also more than willing to point out that I pretty much have summers off (work free) as a trade off for my busy, crazy fall. However, during this hectic fall season, I also think I should be creating an online business of some sort to balance out my income. I imagine it would be extremely nice to have a summer schedule during the rest of the eight months of the year. Don’t you think it would be nice to have a few extra thousand or tens of thousands of dollars to live on and invest in my retirement? People who say money isn’t important must not be too concerned about the future (or even the present). Money can’t buy happiness? But it sure makes life a lot more enjoyable!

What makes you survive the fall season? Do you feel you live in a better area and therefore can make fun of schmucks like me?

As always your sarcastic and non-sarcastic comments are welcome! At least hit that like button!

Curriculum Night: How my Child will learn to Become a Mid-Level Management Suck Up

This evening I went to my daughter‘s “curriculum” night at her school. This just happens to be my last one for elementary school. Have you forgotten about curriculum night? Or maybe you are a bad parent and have never attended one before? Basically, the teacher tells you what your child will be learning over the course of the year. In the great State of Washington, goals have changed and the names of the goals have changed. We’ve had WASL goals, we’ve had Iowa tests, we’ve had critical thinking goals, MAPSAT, BS Goals, etc. The acronyms keep rolling out and the goals keep changing but it all comes down to this: we want our kids grow up with a decent brain inside their heads.

I’m all for progress and helping my child become a world thinker who is compassionate and uses critical thinking in their ever changing world of shifting paradigms while at the same time becoming a global citizen that needs to manage her own future. How about that? Is that a “mission statement” or what?

One of the new math concepts is for our students to work on the computer solving problems. Really? The teacher had a sample problem involving pizza and two kids. One kid was named Lucas. All I was thinking while she was showing us the math word problem was that Lucas was a fat pig who shouldn’t be eating 3/8 of the cheese pizza, 4/8 of the pepperoni, and ¼ of another one. That Lucas kid is going to be one fat ass kid with weight and self-esteem issues if he keeps pigging out. Poor Lucas.  Did Lucas think he found the best Seattle pizza?

Welcome back to School!

Welcome back to School!

My other concern was that it was fairly stupid to being solving this math problem on a computer. A good old pencil and paper would be a lot quicker and easier to use. How are they going to do the math on the fly if the computer isn’t there? Hmm? Are the children of today (and tomorrow) going to be able to do math without the use of a pull down menu? Could they mix art and math together and sketch out the problem on paper with a pencil and still figure it out?

Really, all I saw was that our schools were teaching our kids to rely on a computer to create a whole bunch of extra work to solve a simple math word problem. They can make pie graphs, charts, etc. That’s great but it is a simple problem. They don’t need to make a ten page report on it that is a waste of everyone’s time. Are we creating a society of mid-level managers that make reports for the heck of it and to justify their jobs?

“I have that twenty page report on why we shouldn’t eating Twinkles!” Conclusion: Uh, because they are bad for us? Or maybe we should eat them because it helps the fitness industry keep fitness instructors employed?

Over the years, I’ve learned that you need to watch less TV, get off the worthless texting and Instagram, Facebook, social media sites, and read more nonfiction (that was a big one tonight) and classic novels. I would also add you need to get out and experience life. Take the kids to museums, road trips, ferry boat rides, hikes, walks, boat rides, and feel the wind in your face.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the internet as much as you do. All the information at your fingertips, merely a click away…it’s wonderful.

Yet, I’m just as guilty as other parents and their children in letting social media run our lives. I have a hard time disconnecting from my iPhone. I have slowed down my use of social media. I have tried to make a deliberate effort not to check my phone when I’m doing activities with the family. I try to ignore that email buzz on my phone. It is hard. Sometimes I’m good and other times I’m not.

What are your thoughts about using only computers for school work these days? Will it work?

 

Labor Day Weekend – Goodbye Summer and Hello 9 month of Gray Skies!

As you can tell, Labor Day Weekend is bittersweet for me.  It marks the end of summer for both my children and me.  No more midweek sleepovers for my daughter, no more sleeping in late for my teenage son, no more weekend outdoor parties, no more me staying up late reading novels: it is all gone after this long three day weekend.  Gone like all my hopes and dreams.  Sadly, it is back to reality: We will hold hands, lift our chins high, and head back into the regular schedule of school life.  We will forget all the fun of summer and instead welcome the cool embrace of autumn.

 To be clear, the regular schedule of school life has already started.  The kids went back to school this past Thursday.  I still don’t know why our school district thinks it is a smart idea to go to school for two days, then have the Labor Day.  Do the kids learn anything for the first two days? 

 I even cracked the door to my office, sat at my desk, and did some work as well.  The cat took her usual stop and sat by my keyboard.  Yes, everything is back to the normal school life schedule of our family.

 Fondly, I look back at summer and wonder where the time went.  It seemed like yesterday I was on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., taking photographs, and enjoy the sunshine.  Please, take a moment and shed a tear.

 Now, all I have to look forward to is the upcoming schedule of work and nine months of gray skies.  My friends (that live in states that see the sun) always ask: “How can you live in Seattle with all the gray skies and rain?  Don’t you want to kill yourself?”

 Anyone from Seattle has the same answer: “Well, the summers are really nice.”

That’s it.  That is the only good answer.

Well, maybe there is a little more to it than that.  We have mild winters with no real crazy bad snow storms.  We don’t have a huge bug problem like other places.  When it is sunny, it is beautiful around here.  On a clear day, we can even see Mt. Rainier while we are stuck in traffic on southbound Interstate 5.

Side Note: Traffic around here sucks.  It doesn’t matter if it is a rainy day or a nice clear sunny day; some nitwit will crash into another person and cause a 9 mile back up on the interstate.  Nothing says Seattle rocks like crawling along an interstate highway in the rain.

Good bye summer, I’ll miss you!

 As always, I need your comments to make my existence worthwhile.  What are you going to miss most about summer?  Do you have any plans for Labor Day?

Boy Scout Camp: Camp Meriwether – The Camp of Broken Dreams, Tears, and Crybaby Hill

Boy Scout Camp: Camp Meriwether

  In June, I took over as Scoutmaster for my son’s Boy Scout troop.  This was my first Boy Scout camp where I was in charge as the head Scoutmaster.  In year’s past, I have always been the Assistant Scoutmaster; not the guy in charge.  I’m happy to report that this year things went smoothly at summer camp.  No major issues to report.  The new First Year Scouts (that have recently joined our troop) weren’t too homesick and our older scouts weren’t too much of trouble makers this year.  No fires to report; no hazing; only one scout who wandered off in the middle of the night; and only one disrespectful scout (who won’t be coming back) because as I told him “There is a new sheriff in town.”

  We had 19 scouts and 6 adults attend Camp Meriwether (located on the Oregon Coast near Tillamook) this summer.  It was nice to go back to the same Boy Scout summer camp again this summer.  Again, we were luckily enough to have a great campsite with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.  It is quite a bonus to wake up and see the surf crashing on the beautiful sand beach each morning.

  Boy Scout summer camp is in no way a picnic.  It is fun but it isn’t a vacation.  A vacation would entail me actually relaxing, sleeping in a comfortable bed, drinking a nice bottle of beer (or scotch) and having some really good food.  In reality, Boy Scout camp is me having to walk at least five minutes to a flush toilet, ten minutes to a hot shower, and waking up every morning at 6 am.  Not exactly my ideal vacation.  I also have to supervise 19 Boy Scouts who are mostly teenagers or pre-teens.  Imagine herding cats and you now know what Boy Scout camp is like.

  Some of the Boy Scouts are good; some are misdirected.  They are typical teenagers.  They want to sleep in (but they can’t).  They stay up too late.  Their nerves on at their last shreds of working and they begin to annoy each other.  They don’t take enough showers.  Some scouts like to take two showers a day while others don’t shower for the whole week.  Throw four boys into a cabin and it looks like the room was tossed by some overzealous vice cops on a drug bust; the cabin is just plain awful.  God knows if they actually brush their teeth or not.  Wash their hands?  One can only hope.

  On the plus side, we had great weather with mostly sunshine and no rain.  The food isn’t bad but I wouldn’t eat it long term.  To be fair, Camp Meriwether has the best food I have experienced at a Boy Scout camp.  Overall, the Scouts (and the adults) had a positive experience. 

Giving back to the community by being a drunk!

Today is one of those rainy wet days you’d expect living here in the Seattle region. Luckily, today I’m giving back to the community as an alcoholic drunk. As a volunteer, I’ll be hoisting multiple alcoholic beverages (whisky and scotch are my drinks of choice) and doing my civic duty in the “wet lab” at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) in Burien. Basically, I get to drink all day, eat lunch, hang out with other volunteers, and allow the trainees to give me some field sobriety field tests, etc.

I have to drink until I’m drunk or to a mutually agreeable upon level of being trashed. I couldn’t drive myself here and I can’t leave until I am at .03. In Washington State, DUI/DWI is .08. Now, I’m no expert at drinking or DWI/DUI law and I can’t even tell you which crime is worse: a DUI or a DWI. I just know I don’t want to get one!

Anyway, this is my first time doing this type of volunteering. Most of my other volunteering work is on the tamer side where I need to be sober 24/7. This definitely will be a change of pace and an interesting way to start the weekend.

Have a great Friday!

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