Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wanna Lend a Hand?

I've been writing some reviews over at ReviewStream, and they've just started a new policy. Every review can now earn a few extra pennies for receiving positive votes. If you've got a few minutes, you can take the time to go and read my reviews and vote on those that are helpful. You can find them from the links below. Thanks!


Monday, January 29, 2007


She'd blown it. When she was young and foolish, she'd let him talk her into using her name to buy a lot of extravagant things they just had to have, and in the process she'd completely ruined her credit. Now that she'd grown less foolish (though she was still young enough) and was trying to get back on her feet, she wondered how she'd ever manage to get the small business loan she needed. Despite have worked so hard and finally paying back all of the money she owed, she still had a bad name.

That was when she discovered Premier General Finance. They had helped her find ways to raise her FICO score by nearly 100 points within 30 days, and to do so legally and ethically. They helped her explore ways in which she could get cash advances based on future credit card business that her company would surely do.

It was still in its infancy, but already the business she'd dreamed of owning was beginning to take off. She'd never quite believed it would be possible, but here it was. It made those hard years of clearing up his debts well worth the effort she'd put in.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Easier than Ever

Bob: I hate this time of year.

Jim: Why?

Bob: Well, it's just past Christmas, and my wife's birthday is in January. I've done everything just right so far, but I've run out of ideas. I'm a dry well. Valentines Day gifts are beyond me. I always bomb out on this holiday.

Jim: I used to, but it has gotten really easy now. Easier than ever.

Bob: Yeah, how so?

Jim: I order flowers online. She loves them. It's not hard to choose. And the flowers are delivered fresh and pretty every time. It's really hassle-free.

Bob: Yeah? But they must cost a small fortune.

Jim: Nah. At Dot Flowers, they've got a lot of selection in many price ranges. It really isn't as bad as you think.

Bob: So, you just do flowers?

Jim: Nope! Dot Flowers actually has more than just flowers. They've got gift baskets with all sorts of goodies to choose from. And she loves it.

Bob: Maybe I'll give them a look.

Jim: You'd better... unless you want to bomb out on another Valentines Day.

Well, that depends...

Sister: Why didn't you carry the trash out yet?

Brother: Mom threw a cockroach in it, and I am scared of cockroaches.

Sister: Mom did? Mom is scared of cockroaches too.

Brother: No she's not.

Sister: Yes, she is.

Brother: Only live ones, I mean.

Sister: No, she's scared of any of them. Just ask her.

Brother: Mom! You aren't scared of dead cockroaches, are you?

Mother: Well, that depends...

Brother: Depends on what?

Mother: It depends on how dead they are.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lost (part 3)

this is a continuation from this post

This morning had started out on a more somber note. Breakfast consisted of coffee and two Snickers bars shared amongst the four of them. And that was it. There was no more food in the packs.

They picked up their gear and began the walk again, without any clue of how much longer it would be before they found their way out of the jungle.

Little did they know that within ten minutes, they would find themselves on the edge of a rubber plantation. Another twenty minutes would bring them to a sight that might have been funny, if not for the relief it brought - a payphone standing in the middle of all the trees. Before the day was done, they would be back at home, having a hot shower and laughing over the memories they'd built.

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Lost (part 2)

this is a continuation from here

They were still young, and it took the reality of diminishing food rations to make them feel any real concern. In the afternoon on that second day, the question of whether to stop for the night had to be answered. It was still early enough to continue on, only 4:00. But if they didn't stop soon, it would be too dark to find a safe place to camp.

They had agreed to trudge on for half an hour, in hopes of finding signs of other human activity before making their decision. At 4:30, they'd stopped to pitch camp.

And eat nearly all of their remaining rations.

(to be continued)


Two Days.

They'd been lost in the jungle for two days. On the first, they didn't even realize they were lost until evening time, though they had veered off track before lunch. The rain had fooled them, led them away from the sound of the river.

But it wasn't until the second day that things had begun to feel grim. By midmorning, they'd struck along the course of another stream that turned into a swelling river. That has settled their fears about continuing the journey without water. But by evening, they were becoming more and more aware of the reports of travelers who had died in this jungle because they'd gotten off the paths normally used.

(to be continued)


It had been too long. He was ready to get out in the boat, and he had his brand new Raymarine equipment that he wanted to test out too.

He couldn't believe that he'd finally gotten it all. Depth finders, chart plotters, compasses... the works! He'd even gotten a fancy new gps system. She'd have never let him do it, he knew. But, well, she wasn't here anymore. Who'd asked her to go and run off with that fellow anyway?

Now, at last, he was his own man. He had the boat of his dreams, all decked out with the latest toys. And he was going to enjoy himself, whatever she might think of it.

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An Odd Happening

She was relieved that the work had been done. It had just been long enough now that she was near forgetting she'd ever done it. She'd written her 200 words, sent it to the office to have it passed along to the client, and then promptly forgot about it.

Until the email came to her inbox. An offer for a few bucks to write a review in her blog. A review of the site for which she'd written the copy.

And the review paid double what the original writing job had.

Night Ride

The lights glittered across the straits. The city situated on the tip of the peninsula was reflected in the inky waters of the sea at night. Neon shining from the depths.

The chain on the new bike clattered, not quite broken in. With a few more miles on it, it would be a smooth silent machine. But for now, it was still awkward in its infancy.

In the night sky, no stars shone. The lights of the city made stars invisible in their glare.

A headlight came over her shoulder, flashing on the "Beware of Crocodiles" sign.

A Bounce in His Step

He locked the door and turned to swagger down the path to his car. No dragging his feet this holiday. Nope. This year would be different. As terrible as he'd always been at finding Valentines Day Gifts, or gifts for any other event either, he knew he'd scored big this time.

It was just luck, really, the way he'd stumbled upon that website. But lucky enough for him. They had everything he needed, and then some. Now, not only would she be thrilled with the roses he'd gotten her (and for less than 30 bucks!), but her parents would receive a unique country bouquet too. That ought to stand raise him in their estimation a couple of notches.

Perhaps it would even make up for the years of birthdays, Valentines Days, and anniversaries in which he'd really bombed out. How was he to know, as a young guy, that she wouldn't like a new iron for their first anniversary?

But those days were past now. He'd bookmarked this site, and he knew he'd be back.


Its blue edge continued to float above the water's green surface. The bulk of it was submerged, barely visible. But it held on, remaining afloat, if awkwardly. There was no grace in its movements. It was whipped here and there by whatever unseen currents moved under the water's surface, though that seem calm enough. Not a romanticized misunderstood bit of beauty, the plastic bag floated along as a thing not much different than it actually was, a discarded piece of rubbish. Waste.

In the car atop the bridge, the couple continued to argue.

"I didn't have it last; you did."

"No, I gave it to you right after we bought lunch."

"Well, where's the lunch bag then?"

"Didn't you just throw it away, litterbug?"

The radio repeated its announcement.

"20-84-12-09-63-82. Those are your winning numbers. The jackpot stands at $14 million."

On the Edge

He stood at the bridge's edge and looked over. Vertigo. It was a long way down.

"I don't know if I can do this."

"Sure you can. Just let go. Lean over, let go, and trust me."

What had he gotten himself into? From this height, he could see the water rushing in the river below. A river that wasn't deep enough, if he fell into it from this height.

He tugged at the gear around his waist. He didn't know what he was checking for. How would he know if it was secure anyway?

"Hey Mate! You going over or not."

Deep breath. The plunge. A rush of wind against the face, whistling in his ears. And just as he thought he would break the surface of the water, a tug. Up he bounced with a rush, until he began his downward descent once again.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You Name It, We Deliver

Where I live, flowers have just become a major commodity. The recent flooding in the center of the island, where most of the gardens are located, has hit the local flower industry hard. Unfortunate, with Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day just around the corner, and local flower prices skyrocketing.

The good news is that local shopping isn't the only game in town. With the ability to visit online florists like, the local flower prices skyrocketing doesn't have to mean consumers' pockets are hit too hard. On top of that, the ability to order online saved some local flower merchants from failing to fulfill orders when the flooding first happened.

Beyond Blossoms is a good example of how the internet has increased options, both for consumers and retailers, when nature decides not to cooperate with our plans.


Nose lowered, the aircraft began its descent. The crackling voice of the pilot's announcement woke her, and she looked out the window.

Gold shot across the sky, above pillowy white cushions of cloud tinted pink in the distance. In that moment, the routine flight hinted at something grand, something beyond her experience every other week on this flight to the Omaha office. in that brief moment, she dared to believe that life was about something more than the mundane.

"Ma'am, please raise your seatback. We've begun our descent."

Twenty Hours' Downpour

Like the sound of a load of pebbles falling on a tin roof, the rain's constant beating on the ground filled the air. Not just any rain. A monsoon rain. The worst the country had seen in years, maybe ever.

He almost couldn't remember how long ago it had started. It must have actually been only yesterday afternoon, but on days like this it seemed rain had always fallen, and always would.

Squatting on the sofa's arm, he was what should be a safe distance from the window. At least a meter away. But still, a steady mist wafted his way, making the front of his shirt cling to his shivering body.

He stared blankly out of the window. The evacuation had gone smoothly enough, but he still couldn't shake the sense of dread. What would be left of his home when he returned? And how much of the wreckage would the insurance cover?

Johor Relief Efforts: an ongoing project, though the rains have stopped

Friday, January 19, 2007

What are you looking for?

"What kind of women do you like?"

"What kind? Any kind."

"Can you be more specific?"

"Well, I like short women and tall women, and anything in between. I like thin women and fat women and anything in between. I like black women, white women, and even green women if you have them. I like American women, Mexican women, Russian women, Greek women, Brazilian women, Indian women, Kenyan women, Chinese women, and women from any other country. You name it. The thing is, I like... women."

"OK. Well. Let me put it this way. What sort of woman do you prefer to date, right now?"

"Oh, that. Well, I would like to date a woman who looks like a model, who is looking for a serious relationship with an average guy like me, who is more traditional in her values, and who will want to stay with me forever."

"Hm. I don't know if we will have anyone for you here, sir. But, I do know of a place that has exactly the sort of women you are looking for. Lover's Planet."

"Lover's Planet?"

"Yes. The online dating site. If you want a woman like that, Lover's Planet is the place you need to go."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Off the Ledge

A friend moved into the city from a more rural setting. Life was hard, the adjustment was not easy. He wondered how he would go on.

No more garden.

No more greenery.



And his little pigeonhole of an apartment on the 7th floor.

He often stared down at the pavement below, despondent.

But he pulled out of it. He adjusted. Eventually.

His cat, however, was not so lucky. That creature couldn't make the adjustment, and one day, when he could take it no more, off the ledge he jumped.

And the old saying about a cat having nine lives... it isn't true.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Case in Iran

There's a very compelling story told on this blog entry, if you haven't alread seen or heard it on the news. And an opportunity for us to help.

Take a look. Give some thought to what we can do. At the very least, add your name to the list. Perhaps even send a letter to your congressperson (or whatever government official you might have some leverage with). Let's make a difference.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Moving House

"Here it is, honey!"

"What do they have?"


"What sort of everything?"

"It says here: Storage, Self Storage, Mobile and Portable Storage, Mini-Storage, Climate-Controlled Storage, and Car & RV Storage related information. That sort of everything."

"Storage everything."


"Then I guess they are the right folks for us."

"Well, yes... seeing as we have a storage problem and all."

"Ha ha. You're hilarious."

"Hey, you're the one who got reassigned to Florida. You don't have to be sarcastic with me. I'm being the dutiful spouse and following you there and all."

"Yes, I'm sure it will be a torture for you to live that close to the beach."

"Ha ha. Now who's hilarious?"

"Alright. Look, do we want to call these storage people or what?"

"Yes, I should think so. They've got everything we need, and all in one place. Says here they'll give us a quote online."

"Well, alright then. Fire 'er up and let's take a look."


The silence from the street created a buzzing in his ears. He was more accustomed to the noise of city traffic. Its predawn silence was almost eery.

He looked at the clock and cursed. 4:15, and not a wink of sleep all night. He'd have to be at work in less than 4 hours.

Rolling out of bed, he cursed again. Why did it have to be so cold at 4:15? Why must life torture him in this way?

He pulled on his housecoat and staggered into the living room. His computer snoozed in the corner. He was jealous. Of an inanimate object - jealous.

Manuscript sold!

This was it. The letter she'd been waiting for.

Her finger stroked the logo on top of the letter. The embossed "Enspiren" felt just right under her fingertips. And she couldn't help but smile at the open book lying across the top of the word. "Soon that will be my book," she murmured.

All those hours spent huddled over the keyboard seemed now to be just moments, fleeting memories. The real substance was this letter she held in her hand.

"Congratulations! Your manuscript has been accepted."

What a sweet opening to a letter.

Check out Enspiren Press's call for submissions

Job Hunt

"A. E. Feldman Associates, Inc. Where have I heard that name before?"

"I don't know. What does it say underneath?"

"It says here executive search firm."

"Executive search? Oh yeah! I know the place. Isn't that where Ted went when he was out of work?"

"Hey! Yes, I think you're right. I think that is where Ted went to find the job he's landed now."

"Not a bad job either. I couldn't believe he landed that post at his age."

"Yeah, but Ted's got lots of experience."

"I know, but the younger fellows often get the good jobs these days."

"Well, the ad here says they match industry leading clients with top quality candidates. I suppose Ted was pretty much top quality, don't you think?"

"Yeah, sure. But hey, we aren't too shabby either. We started out pretty much together with Ted, even if he made it one rung higher on the ladder."

"Sure. And yeah, it says here they help from middle to executive to top 'C Level' management."

"Then we definitely qualify. What do you say we go there in the morning?"

"Sure. We better make the most of this day off then. It may be our last."

"We better catch something more than those two measly things then."

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A Dog's Life

A yawn. A stretch. A flick of the ear. Blink. A scratch of itchy skin. Rolling over to sun the other side for a while. Blink. Blink. Chin on paws now. Twitch the nose. Was that a sound? Ears perk up. Noise passes on its way. A yawn. Paws on chin. Blink. Another sound. The sound! Bounding up! A leap! Whining! Home! Tongue lolls! Master! Master! Home! At last! A bark!

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A Child's Logic

"That's no different than saying 'shut up,' and you always say we aren't allowed to say 'shut up'!"

"Then stop saying it and listen to me."

"Why are you allowed to say it?"

"I didn't say it."

"But you said-"

"I know what I said. And saying 'keep your mouth shut when I am talking to you' is not the same as saying 'shut up.' If I wanted to say 'shut up,' I would. But I don't, because I think it is rude, and I don't want to be rude to you."

"So telling me to keep my mouth shut while you are talking isn't rude?"


"So I could say it to Sarah and not get in trouble."

"Oh no. You'd get in trouble."


"Because that would be different. That would be rude."

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The Good Life

She stretched out her hand lazily, soaking up the sunny warmth that surrounded her. She couldn't believe her luck.

When she'd seen the ad for a Maui Condo, she nearly passed right over it, aware as she was of her own limited resources. A Hawaiian holiday seemed so far out of reach for her that she never considered it. But the prices listed in the ad had jumped out at her, and she continued reading.

A decision she never once regretted. After 15 years in that stuffy little office, slaving for the pig she called "boss," surely she of all people deserved to relax like this. And apparently the Fates had smiled upon her at last. Here she was, stretched out like a goddess, slowly soaking up a bronze complexion to match her new-found status. All thanks for that extra few minutes she took to investigate the ad. Her entry into paradise.

Neptune's Dominion

She made a conscious effort to prevent her head from tilting to the right again. It was troubling, looking at these trees. And not just because of the deep purple color of their foliage, though that provided enough of a clash against the dark chocolate of their boughs. It was something else...

Again, her head tilted toward the right. Then she noticed the feeling of movement in the leafy segments of the distant forestation. They all seemed to flow toward the right, but not as if blown by the wind. No, this was a current created by a different substance.

"I feel like a fish out of water," she thought to herself. Immedeiately, she felt stunned. The truth began to dawn on her.


It was going to be the best performance of his life. Well, it would be the first, so that shouldn't be too hard to accomplish.

Trying to still the quivering feeling in his belly, he peeped through the gap in the curtains. The line of legs high-kicking into the air signalled to him that his time was near.

He turned to the mirror, straighted his curls, and checked his lipstick one more time. This was it. Tonight he'd become Queen of the stage.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Job Search

It was frustrating. It seemed the old adage was true. Civil Engineering Jobs weren't available on every street corner. OK. Maybe that wasn't actually an old adage. But he'd repeated it enough that it felt like one.

He'd been looking for months. It was enfuriating. Fifteen years of work didn't seem to do much for him, though he believed his reputation was solid enough. Or at least, he had believed so until now. And now here he was, stuck without a job and feeling antsy to get to work.

He looked at the namecard in his hand. CSI Jobs. They lived and breathed civil engineering, or so Billy had told him. If anyone could find him a job, they could. And a good job. One that was perfectly matched to his skill set and experience. In fact, Billy said that exceeding his expectations was CSI's goals. Well, he had some expectations. So he'd put them to the test.

He picked up the phone. "Hello? Is that CSI?"


The notes left the bell of the horn and floated out of the window, above the ledge upon which the player sat. They flew aimlessly and spread across the garden. On one side of the garden, the notes travelled across the fence into the neighbor’s yard, only to be dissipated into nothingness. In the back of the garden, the notes met a less favorable reception, when the old woman standing at her kitchen window cringed and muttered, “Not again!” before slamming the window shut.

But on the other side, the notes grated over the fence, dancing around the heads of the children playing there. One boy balled his hands into fists, put them to his lips as if holding a horn, and began dancing with all his might.

Screeched to a Halt

Traffic screeched to a halt, one car barely missing another. The lady’s bent frame continued its slow walk across the road, heedless of the red lighted man standing above the pavement in front of her, and equally heedless of the angry drivers complaints of the seconds she caused them to lose in their busy day.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sharing the Word on Shares

"I've got to get some good tips on the Market, man. I'm getting desperate here."

"Relax, dude. Don't get desperate. There's no need for that. What you need is some good options advice, that's all."

"I know that. But where am I going to get said good advice?"

"You gotta call PowerOptions. They've got just what you need. They've got this great system called SmartSearchXL®. It's a patented decision support technology. It will help you make the wisest, best investments possible."

"Smart Search. OK, I'll look that up. I'll see where I can find that."

"It's easy. PowerOptions is the only place you can find it. They are the only ones who use this patented technology. And it's all available online."

Caught in the Middle

At three desks in an open-concept office sat John, Mary, and Margaret, in that order from front to back.

After a year or so of working together, John and Margaret were married, much to the delight of all of their colleagues. When the word got around, Mary was flooded with questions from colleagues seeking all the juicy details of the development of the relationship.

"Relationship?" said a befuddled Mary. "You mean the two of them have a relationship?"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Rescue (a reprint)

When Rudy stepped out of the narrow doorway, he couldn't believe the sight that met his dazzled eyes. What he first mistook as badly placed lights from the work crew was actually a swarm of lights from cameras. News cameras. With reporters and microphones standing beside them.

“Thank you! Thank you!” A crying woman took the bundle from his hands. A young man in emergency gear steered her toward an ambulance that was waiting nearby. Most of the cameras followed them.

Most but not all.

“Mr. Angelo, how did you locate Sarah?”
“Was she coherent when you found her?”
“What did Sarah say when you reached her?”
“Is Sarah in good condition?”
“Sarah... Sarah... Sarah...”

Rudy found himself led toward a second ambulance. “You alright there, Rudy?” asked the paramedic.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“I kept saying this was going to happen if they didn’t close up all the entrances to the old mines. If the city council would just listen to the little guys like us...”

Rudy glanced across to the other waiting ambulance. Blue eyes rounded in shock looked toward him, gazing around her mother’s hovering form. Rudy smiled. Sarah raised her smudgy little hand and waved.

showintale's blog

This story was originally posted here at my other blog site, as part of a writing challenge.