Writing 101: Death to Adverbs

From out of the hot bright sunshine I walk into the cavernous space. As my eyes adjust, I breathe in the smell of slightly stale cigarette smoke and listen to the sounds that surround me. I hear plinking, whirring, tweeks, cheeps, and bleeps. It sounds like R2-D2 having a major breakdown. The casino draws me into its cool dark depths.

Wandering between the crowded rows of an amazing variety of games, I hear the one armed bandits scroll and clunk. Bells ring along with the sound of coins falling into the plastic buckets that await the bounty. People of all ages and appearance sit and stare. Smoke and sip their free drinks.

The table games attract attention with their beautiful dealers all dressed in old time finery. They wear uniforms of sparkling, satin-shiny red lingerie. Fishnet stockings and black high heeled shoes complete the intended image.

Cards shuffle and fly towards the waiting marks at the blackjack tables. Young couples dressed to impress smile across the felt as they count their cards and hope for a 21.

Crowds of people cheer as someone wins a roll of the dice on the craps table. The roulette wheel spins and clicks and the ball drops to its last black number. Whoops and hollers as the man in the Bass Pro Shop t-shirt wins the game.

I make my way to Penny Lane. Take a seat. Slide my dollar into the waiting slot. Video machines with multiple games. Five kinds of Keno, 10 Slots, Poker. Jacks or Higher, 9s or Higher, Double Bonus, Triple Bonus, Deuces Wild, Aces Wild.  All for only 1 cent each!

I have 100 tries to strike it rich! I play.

Writing 101: Contrasting Views

But Mike, a free country would never FORCE someone to buy anything.

But Jill, they already force us to buy car insurance.

I don’t HAVE to have car insurance Mike, in fact I don’t even HAVE to have a car! But that’s not right either. So, according to you, 2 wrongs make a right?

Nooooo, but people NEED ‘health insurance’.

Who says?

It’s just common sense Jill.

Really? I think it’s a HUGE scam!

Scam? Come on Jill. Health care is so expensive, if anything happens to you, you can easily get financially wiped out.

And the reason for that is the fact that ‘our’ government has become so involved with the health care system. It is not anything remotely resembling a free market anymore. Before they started screwing it up (100 years ago), it was the best in the world. We had a system that was affordable and innovative. The few people who couldn’t afford what they needed were helped out by charities, as well as friends and neighbors.

WTF are you talking about Jill?

Well, lets see. To start with, they went right along with the requests of the ‘doctors’ to restrict entry to the medical profession. They created ‘licenses’ and ‘accredited’ medical schools. People could no longer see the health care professional they wanted to, they were restricted to only those approved by the government. Of course, when you restrict the supply of something, the price goes up. Just like those doctors ordered.

Then, they created the FDA (not called that to begin with). That created the same problems with the supply of drugs and other products to do with health care. Now, it’s to the point where a company has to spend multi-MILLIONS of dollars to get an ‘approved’ drug on the market. No wonder the prices for drugs are so high here when the same things cost 90% less everywhere else. And, most places you don’t need to get a prescription either (saving you more doctors fees).

Are you nuts Jill? You want to let the snake oil salesmen loose again and allow people to buy adulterated products?

No Mike. I want to let the free market work. If you would ALLOW it to, there would be PRIVATE groups that would take over those functions that we really NEEDED. Just like the UL and Consumer Reports checks out many things now and informs people of whats up. There would be groups doing the same thing for health care providers and for drugs and other items related to health care.

But there would be no force behind those groups!

Yeah Mike, that’s the idea. No FORCE. Why do you think people need to be FORCED into doing things all the time?

If they won’t do what they ought to on their own, then someone needs to find a way to get them to do it.

REALLY? So who gets to decide what everybody OUGHT to do? You? Me? The President? Some irresponsible government bureaucrat?

Well, since Congress passed the law, then we all ought to follow it!

REALLY? Last time I looked, the LAW (the Constitution) said we are still a Constitutional Republic, NOT a democracy. The Bill of Rights still stands and there is NOTHING in there that authorizes Congress to write any such law, therefore regardless of what they may pass, it is NOT valid.

This country is SUPPOSED to be one that respects individual rights. It was formed specifically to do just that! When it violates that principle, then it is our right and duty to protest, up to and including civil disobedience and refusal to follow such unconstitutional so-called ‘laws’.

Oh Jill, you kill me. Go ahead and do that and go to jail. Get yourself shot for your beliefs.

No Mike, really its you and people with your attitude who are killing me. With every ‘fix’ your people put into effect, to ‘fix’ the things they screwed up before, it makes it harder and harder for me (and everyone else) to get decent health care in this country! I haven’t even got into the REAL drivers of the high cost of health care.


Yeah. Do you realize that pretty much NOBODY ever had or needed health insurance til the government enacted wage and price controls towards the end of WWll? Health care was very affordable up until that time, even with the restrictions on providers and drugs. Because of the restrictions on wages, companies had to offer something ELSE to get the workers they needed. That something just happened to be health insurance.

That started the whole deal of tying insurance to your job (a HUGE problem), and it started the big problem we have now. That being no real price control. When people don’t have any concern about what something costs, then usually those costs are going to go up. Company paid health insurance started that ball rolling.

Medicare and Medicaid started in the 60s and really started pushing that ball!

So, now you’ve got restrictions on supply and a humongously increased demand and what could you possibly expect but that prices will go up?

Yeah, but SOMETHING needed to be done. People are dying because they can’t afford health care! Do you just want to let them die? That’s pretty harsh.

Mike, no one is turned away from an emergency room if they can’t pay. The hospital is required to take them (that’s another problem). Then they’ll have HUGE bills to pay (which they’ll either stay in debt forever or just walk away).

What I think is that we need to actually try to fix the REAL problem, which is government interference with the market.

Oh yeah, always back to the government. The government boogyman. You’re a broken record Jill.

If I am, it’s only because the government IS the root of most of our problems!

Yeah Jill, whatever.

Serially Lost: Island Girl

Todays assignment is to write about a loss…

One of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life was when I saw her sitting on the bottom, the muddy brown water filling her cabin and sloshing around her decks.

The “Island Girl” was my fathers beautiful staysail schooner. She was the love of his life. We grew up on that boat. I remember so many happy days spent cruising the Gulf of Mexico with friends and family. I remember sitting around the main cabin doing my homework while my brother and sister screamed with pleasure as they hauled themselves up the rigging and then dived right back into the water. I remember taking the Girl up the rails at Tarpon Springs for a bottom job and running aground every time we left.

Island Girl

Island Girl

I inherited the Island Girl when my father passed away. I had already been doing all I could to help him take care of her while he was sick. But she was an old boat. She was build in 1910. Wooden hulled. I spent a couple of summers helping my dad cover her up with layers on layers of fiberglass in an attempt to strengthen her hull and so prolong her life.

As my fathers health declined, so did his ability to maintain the Island Girl. He tried, but he just couldn’t get down there to do all that needed to be done. There is always SO much work to be done on any boat, and the older they get, the more needs to be done. It’s a constant battle against rust and rot.

As always, I was working offshore and so couldn’t help much, but when I was home I would run down to the marina and at least start her up, check the bilges and see if there was any major change since my last visit.

I was working a month on/month off schedule. Same as I am now. You’d think with a month off I would have plenty of time to take care of a simple sailboat. After all, I’m a captain, I take care of boats for a living.

Well, I guess I could if I had an unlimited amount of money and nothing else to do with my life. Even then, I did have other things I preferred to do with my time off the ships. I really didn’t want to spend all my time off one ship working on another boat!

So, I just took care of the bare minimum. It was enough to keep her afloat while I tried to sell her. Every once in a while, I could round up some help and we took her out for a sail. What a treat! Even tho we couldn’t raise the mainsail all the way up due to an owls nest in the mast, she was still a pretty fast boat. We had great fun.

What a sad, sad, sight to see her sunk like that.

The night before everything was fine. There was a big storm coming, so I made sure she would be alright to ride it out. I went down to the dock and checked that her lines were properly secured. I checked to make sure every one of her 6 (!!) bilge pumps were working. I checked that the batteries were charged. I checked that she was all buttoned up for the rain.

The storm came and the tides were higher than normal. I had to wade down the dock through chest high water in my need to ensure she made it through it all OK. Yes! I sighed in relief! She was floating high and dry and looking lively. I made my way back down the dock, sloshed up to my truck and took off home thinking everything would be just fine.

I got a call in the morning from Old Rip at the marina. One every boat owner in the world dreads to hear. “Your boat’s sunk”. WHAT??!! Oh no! How could that happen? I was just down there last night and everything was fine!

Aiiiiyyyyyeee!! I jumped in my truck and rushed back down to the dock. The tide had gone down and the water was much lower than usual. The Girl was on the bottom. My stomach sank and I felt soooooo sick. I was stunned. I couldn’t figure out what could have happened. It was all I could do to keep from just sitting down right there at the end of the dock and just wailing my sorrow and loss.

That boat had been SO much a part of my life for so many years. She was like part of the family. Now what?