Blogging from A to Z April Challenge—Updated May 3, 2017

So apparently there’s this blogging challenge that has been going on for the last couple years, and I just found out about it this year.  There is a different theme every year, and the participants can take it in whatever direction they like on their own blogs.

The details can be found here: A to Z Challenge 2017

I plan to participate this year, although they’re having everyone put clickable links into their posts and  there’s a lot of complaining about that on their site already.  Apparently in previous years there was a list for participants to add their site’s URLs to so people could just go to the Challenge site every day and click on the links, making it easier to find the blogs they wanted to read.  This year they’ve done away with the list, expecting people to go to the Challenge site every day and post the clickable link to that day’s Challenge entry, as well as go through other people’s posts to find the blog entries they want to read for that day.  There have been a few people complaining about this new method, but as the Challenge hosts have explained, it’s less work for them, especially as this way they won’t have to worry about possible broken links on the list.  They also gave clear instructions on how to create a clickable link, which I’ve never done before, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of, but now I’ve got it down, and am actually having fun using this new skill elsewhere, like on Facebook. 😀

Anyone who has known me for any length of time at all will tell you that I am not very tech savvy at all, and my computer skills are severely outdated (anyone remember BASIC programming, from the 80s?  See what I mean?) so throwing all this code at me and going, “Oh, it’s easy, all you have to do is copy and paste and put your own information in here and it’ll be great!” and I was going, “What?”  I’m lucky I figured out PowerPoint in 2011 for my Ivy Tech computer class, and you’d better believe I’ve forgotten every bit of it since.  Why?  Because I never use it for anything, that’s why.  I don’t work in the business world, I don’t run my own business, and even if I did I would have no use for PowerPoint or Access, and the only thing I use Excel for is to keep track of all my usernames and passwords because otherwise I would lose them all and there’s no way I can remember them on my own.  Basically the only part of Microsoft Office I use consistently is Word, and it doesn’t require any special codes to use it, or specialized computer skills.  Even using WordPress isn’t that difficult.  But all these codes that other sites expect us to be able to use?  No thanks.  I’ll leave code writing to Bill Gates and his buddies.

At least, that was my attitude, until I got the hang of creating clickable links.  Okay, okay, so it’s still my attitude as far as code writing in general goes, because it might as well be written in Klingon for all I understand it.  But now that I have this new skill, I don’t know how I ever managed without it up to this point, so if I get nothing else out of this challenge, it will be one positive experience for the month of April!  Wish me luck!

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Hello world!

Welcome to my place!

This is where I will post my thoughts and feelings about all kinds of subjects…my favorite books, movies and music, the stupid things people do that royally tick me off, the funny things my furry kids do on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis…just about anything, really!

Disclaimer: I have a tendency to ramble on about all kinds of stuff, and go off on about 30 different tangents, and sometimes I might even manage to get back to the original subject I was rambling on about (although  this doesn’t happen all the time, it has been known to happen, so pay close attention).

Some (but not all) of the subjects that interest me and that I may (or may not) ramble on about here on a semi-regular basis…Star Wars, Star Trek, NCIS (all of them), CSI (all of them), forensics shows (Forensics Files, Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda, Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, A Crime to Remember, Southern Fried Homicide, Swamp Murders), Ghost Adventures, The Dead Files, Ghost Hunters (aka the TAPS crew), paranormal investigations in general and my own in particular, my favorite book genres/series (mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction, Celtic lore/history, U.S. history—especially the Revolutionary and Civil Wars)….and anything else that catches my attention, however temporarily.  You have been warned!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.  Just remember, “We’re all mad here…”

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One Night at St. Mungo’s (Original idea set in the Potterverse)

“I really hate bedside vigils,” Ron complained.

“I know,” Hermione replied absently.

“No, you don’t understand.  I really, really hate bedside vigils.”

“I know, Ronald.”

“Especially when they don’t really expect the person to wake up at all.  I mean, what are we supposed to do if they don’t wake up?  Then we’ve wasted all that time waiting on a deathbed confession or whatever that’s never going to happen, when we could’ve been out investigating, or interrogating suspects, or something instead of just sitting here, waiting on nothing!”

“Did it ever occur to you, Ronald, that you’re not actually waiting on nothing, that you’re actually waiting for someone to die?  And that if you weren’t there, that person would die alone?  They may not even be aware that you’re there, but they’re not alone.  That’s a bigger service that you’re doing for that person—for that soul—than they could ever do for you by waking up and telling you what you want to hear.”

“I’m sorry, Hermione.  You’re right, of course.  I simply wasn’t thinking.  Still the emotional range of a teaspoon, I guess.”  Ron grimaced, regretting his outburst.

“Only sometimes now, Ronald.  Most of the time you’re up to a full measuring cup.”  Hermione smiled to take the sting out of her words.

Ron smiled back, then turned to the figure on the bed.  The young man’s pale blond hair was plastered to his head, and he moaned in a fevered state of delirium.  It wouldn’t be long now.

Surprisingly, Draco had turned out to be a good friend, once he’d worked past all that Pureblood elitist programming drilled into him from birth by his father.  Ultimately, none of that had mattered, and he’d slowly become part of their group.  He was the first to jump to Hermione’s defense whenever someone called her by that hated name, which made Ron’s estimation of him triple each time he did it.  It didn’t hurt that their children, now toddlers, took to each other right away and were inseparable, ensuring they spent just about every waking minute together.

Draco passed away without ever regaining consciousness.  Hermione shed silent tears for their former classmate and close friend, while Ron took a shaky breath to steady himself.

“Goodbye, Draco,” he said, his voice cracking.  “I’m sorry we couldn’t get to you in time.  Say hello to Harry for us.”  Ron broke down then, crying for the friends lost to him.  He and Hermione held each other as they wept for their friend, letting themselves go before they had to rejoin their family.  Their two best friends were reunited at last, and the world was a darker place for it.

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Never Answer A Question With Another Question (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

“Is that blood?”

“No?”

“That’s not a question you’re supposed to answer with another question!  Merlin, Potter, what am I going to do with you?” Draco said, exasperated.

“I have a few ideas,” Harry started, but Draco cut him off.

“Robes first, I need to clean these bloodstains before they set in,” Draco directed.  “And then, Mr. Potter, you are going to go upstairs and wait for me in the bathroom, where I can examine you for injuries before deciding whether you’re up to any other activities tonight.”

“Yes, dear,” Harry said with a grin, peeling off his work robes and handing them over to Draco, then heading out of the kitchen towards the stairs.

Draco sighed, cast a cleaning charm on the robes, then folded them neatly onto the back of Harry’s chair, then headed into the downstairs bathroom to grab the first aid kit, knowing the one upstairs needed replenished.

“Bloody Gryffindor…” he muttered to himself as he headed up the stairs.

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The Matrix Is Real (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

I woke up one morning to find that everyone else in the house was still asleep, and wouldn’t wake up.

I tried calling my parents’ house, and got a busy signal.  I tried both their cell phones, and they went straight to voice mail.  I went down my contacts list, calling each one in turn, with the same results.  Nobody was picking up.

I turned on the TV started flipping channels.  Every news channel was down, with only the old-fashioned “Standby” screen visible on each one.  Strange, I thought, what would cause them to use those old things, instead of just putting information on the screen?

I decided to go online and see if I could find anyone lurking on Facebook or hanging about one of my chat rooms.

On Facebook, I found one new post, titled “Anyone else awake?”

It had three comments.

Everyone who had commented so far seemed just as confused as I was.

I began to suspect that The Matrix was real, and that I was right in the middle of it, and that with my luck I was Neo.  Oh good, this is shaping up to be a great day so far…

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Lost gods were the worst hitchhikers (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

Lost gods were the worst hitchhikers.

They never seemed to know where they were going, or what they wanted to do when they got there.  They also never seemed to know what time of the day or night it was, or whether they were hot or cold, hungry or thirsty.  They just seemed to kind of hang out in whatever space they were in, until someone spoke to them and asked them a specific question demanding more than a “Yes” or “No” answer.

That’s why I hated driving on the interstate this late at night, you never knew who you were going to pick up—a drunk Zeus trying to sneak back home before Hera realized he was gone; Hades out for a night with the guys, forgetting where he’d parked after dropping off the last less-than-sober friend, and hoping like hell (no pun intended) that he got home before Persephone started calling around to all the bars looking for him; Hephaestus after he stayed late at physical therapy and all the buses in the area had stopped running; even Hercules and Iolaus after a late-night session at the local gym.  And with any luck I’d catch them in a good mood; a good mood meant they wouldn’t tear my car up too badly this time, and would even make sure I got home safely, without any breakdowns or attempted carjackings.  If they were in a bad mood…well, there was a reason I’d gone through three vehicles in as many years, as I kept trying to explain to my insurance company (not that they ever believed me)…

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Knockturn Alley Nearly Destroyed! (Original idea set in the Potterverse)

Knockturn Alley Nearly Destroyed!

The Daily Prophet headlines couldn’t have been any louder if they’d been literally screaming.  Molly looked across the table at her favorite child.

“Alright, Harry, what did you do?”

Me?  Why would you think I had anything to do with this?” Harry protested innocently.

“Because of the special type of destruction involved,” Molly calmly replied.  “It sounds suspiciously like damage that would be caused by certain prank items you and your brothers have invented over the years.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Mum.”

Molly rolled her eyes.  “Right, Harry.  And the dark reside left behind on the walls of Borgin and Burkes wasn’t from dungbombs, or that darkness powder your brothers started selling a few years ago.”

“But none of that’s destructive, Mum.  Sure, it’s not very pleasant, but—”

“Oh, that was just the distraction.  The actual destruction came from wandwork, I’m sure, with most of the pranks merely being misdirection.”

“Now why would you think I was capable of such a thing?”  Harry kept hoping his stall tactics would work, but knew he couldn’t really put one over on Molly.

“Because I’ve known you since you were twelve years old.  Besides, I know you had help from your brothers.  Ron and George would never let you do something so dangerous by yourself, they’d want to be right in the thick of it with you.”

“What are we doing with Harry?” George asked as he stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Apparently we laid waste to Knockturn Alley last night in our sleep,” Harry replied.  “Mum has gotten it into her head that we somehow managed to sneak out in the middle of the night, travel to London, destroy most of Knockturn Alley, and sneak back into the house without anyone hearing us leave or come back, or noticing we were gone.”

“Neat trick, that.  It would be a truly great prank if we were able to pull something like that off—of course, that would be impossible, since we were safely tucked into our beds all night,” George remarked.

Just then a bleary-eyed Ron stumbled into the kitchen and headed for the cold box to pour himself some pumpkin juice.  Spotting the Daily Prophet on the table, he peered at the headline, and his face brightened.

“Hey, it worked!” he exclaimed, before his brain kicked in and he realised what he’d said.  “Um, I mean—”

“Thanks a lot, Ronnikins,” George growled.  “We almost had Mum convinced we had nothing to do with it!”

“Oops,” Ron said guiltily.

“Ronald Bilius Weasley!” Molly started in, but before she could get any farther, the three boys were running out the back door, headed for the apparition point.

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Joke Shop Expansion (Original idea set in the Potterverse)

“Why are we doing this again?” Harry complained, struggling to maintain his hold on the tottering stack of bright yellow boxes.

“Because Hogwarts students shouldn’t have to wait till the end of term to fill their pranking needs,” Fred reminded him.

“And since Zonko’s went out of business, leaving a glaring need for a joke shop in Hogsmeade—” George began.

“We decided—”

“It was time—”

“For a Weasley invasion of Hogsmeade.”

“Mental, both of you,” Ron complained from behind another stack of boxes.

“Mind your manners, Ronnikins—”

“Or you’ll wake up to find all of your clothes—”

“—turned bright pink!”

“With lime green and orange polka dots,” Harry added, deadpan.

“Brilliant, Harry!” George said, grinning.

“Oi!  Stay out of this, Potter!” Ron groused.

Harry and the twins exchanged grins, then turned their wands on an unsuspecting Ron.

Vestitus prasnius!

Vestitus roseus!

Vestitus luteus!

“You know,” Harry said conversationally, “I don’t think those three are meant to be used at the same time.”  There was a scrap of fabric just visible at Ron’s elbow, and it was a lurid mix of light green, pink and orange.

“Oi!  What did you prats do to my robes?!?”  Ron dropped his stack of boxes and glared at the others.

“Time for a strategic advance to the rear, brothers,” George stated, eying Ron warily.

“In other words—” Fred began.

“Retreat!” Harry finished, and the three boys ran out the front door of the shop, laughing, with Ron in hot pursuit.

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Insert Monty Python Joke Here (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

“Hold on, you died.”

“Yeah, well, it didn’t stick.”

“How does something like that not stick?”

“I don’t know, it might have something to do with the Horcrux I had stuck inside my head from the time I was fifteen months old…that tends to make one immortal, at least until that Horcrux itself is destroyed; after that all bets are off.”

Hermione huffed.  “I know that, Harry!  At least I knew it would work that way for him… I didn’t know it would work that way for you, as well…”

“I reckoned that was part of what the prophecy meant…since I was ‘marked’ by him, and that mark turned out to be a Horcrux, that as long as it was inside me he couldn’t die, but neither could I…and to destroy him once and for all meant finding a way to destroy this piece of him, as well, hopefully without taking me with it, but if that’s what it took to do the job then so be it.”

“This is all so surreal,” Hermione muttered, rubbing her temples as she felt a headache start.

“It almost seems like a Monty Python skit, doesn’t it?  ‘It’s just a flesh wound!’”

“Although you’re a bit more intelligent than the Black Knight.”

“And way more intelligent than the Knights who say ‘Ni,’” Harry added, grinning.

“At least you know you can’t cut a tree down with a herring,” Hermione agreed.

“Ron might try it, though.”

“Ron’s thick enough to think that if a person weighs the same as a duck, then they’re made of wood.”

“And is therefore…”

“…A witch!”

Ron walked around the corner just as Harry and Hermione burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

They looked at Ron, then at each other, and laughed even harder.

“What?  What did I say?”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other again, cried out “Ni!” in unison, then collapsed on the floor, laughing.

“Mental, the both of you!”

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