Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Not-so-favorite Animals

We woke yesterday to find that our lawn looked like it had been trampled by a herd of gnus. Actually, the damage was done by a skunk (or skunks, since there's lots of territory covered). They put their noses into the ground and turn in a circle, tearing up the sod so they can get at bugs.

A friend who stopped by advised trapping them and moving them elsewhere, but trapping skunks is a dangerous enterprise. I think we'll just hope they move on.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Big Marketing, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

How long since you bought any Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner?

Me neither! (Although I looked and it's still available.)
Marketing is huge in our world, and sometimes it flops, either because the product is useless (as I'm guessing the automatic shower cleaner is) or the campaign is badly done. Pringles' latest tag line is "You Don't Just Eat Them." Really? Should I make little castles out of them first and THEN eat them? Does that line in any way make me want to run out and buy some Pringles?

Sometimes I look at new products and think, "Who is going to buy that?"As someone dear to me says, there are people who must have them, possibly because they're new, possibly because they seem like fun. The Rotato, the Egg-tastic, the Purse Pouch, Flex-Steel, Card-lock, Tummy-tuck, Pocket Hose, Chillow...I could go on, but you get the idea. They sound good, and many of us don't stop to think whether we really want another gadget we use once a year that isn't as wonderful as promised.

The hawked-on-cheap-TV-time items are pretty easy for me to resist, so I don't own any of the above. But think about things that advertising makes us (at least some of us) think we need (Start with make-up: Why don't men wear it if it's so great?)  We're afraid to smell like human beings, so we buy 20 different deodorant things, from deodorant to deodorant soap to flowery fabric softener sheets. (Gave them up when I learned a few years ago that they clog up the fibers on your towels so they don't dry as well.) We make shopping lists of items we "need," but many of those needs were created by advertisers who make us think the world will stop if we don't have the next $850 phone.

The scariest to me are the prescription drug ads that try to convince us we need more medicine.That
"ask your doctor" line they use makes my angry every time. If your doctor is so dumb that she doesn't know which medicines you need, get a different doctor.

When ads are good, it doesn't mean the product is. We all know that actors, sports figures, and other celebrities are paid to read copy and often don't even know what they're representing. Some are cautious; others are like prostitutes, selling themselves to the highest bidder.

It's hard to escape marketing, since it's everywhere. All you can do is ask yourself IF you really want/need the product and try to separate the product's reality from the hype surrounding it. And if you must have the Personal Pedi, use it somewhere I can't see you. Those things make me want to vomit.

Monday, August 17, 2015

List Your Pets

Here's a challenge: List all your childhood cats/dogs/whatevers in order.

Now I can't do ALL our cats, because we lived on a farm and there were cats everywhere, but the first cat I recall was Chocolate Bar, an adopted barn cat who let me carry him around like a baby. He was followed by Ching-a-ling, a temperamental Siamese who had no intention of letting anyone carry him anywhere. Ever. (His opinion was overcome for the picture at left.)

Our longtime collie dog was Laddie (also in the photo), who was useful for herding cows and as lovable as a dog can get.
When I was really young there was a workhorse, Rowdy. Later there were two ponies for the two of us to ride, Molly & Rusty, and an assortment of horses from Mackinac Island we boarded over the winter, notably Danny, who had his own mind about where you would go on a trail ride, and Dolly,  who became a permanent resident at some point. (Photo below)

I never got close to the chickens, pigs and cows on the farm. In fact there was one cow who had it out for me and I swear, caused me to break my arm.

Since I left college, I have never been without a dog and/or a cat. When you grow up on a farm, it just seems weird not to have animal friends around.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meet the Granddog

This is Bert, our new Basset Grand-dog. He's 8 weeks old, and pretty much all he does is sleep. When he is awake, he likes Mommy G best (because she spoils him) and Grandpa J second best (because he'll sit and hold him for hours). I apparently fall into the "I'm sleeping under your chair so be careful not to rock" category. He did roll off J's lap once and onto the couch. Didn't make a lot of difference to Bert.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Readers, E-readers, and Listeners

An author in an online group I visit did an informal survey to discover reading habits, and it was interesting to me. I don't recall specific numbers, but here's the gist of it.

Most people who read still read print books. The percentage was in the 90s.
Many people read e-books in addition to print. I think that was 67% of her responders, and that's where I fall too.
Some listen to audiobooks as well. That was twenty-something percent. I haven't joined that crowd yet, mostly because I'm a fast reader and I don't like waiting for someone to read to me.

The author's respondents were about the same demographic as my readers: mostly women, mostly over 40, mostly lovers of  the mystery genre.

I haven't done any research, but I'd agree with those results just from talking to many, many readers over the last few years. We like print books, but some of us find them heavy or hard to manage as our hands get arthritic. It's sometimes hard to take them where we go, and the print isn't always the size we need. We like e-books because they're easy to take along when we travel, let us choose the font size, and are sometimes more convenient than a book. For example, I like the e-reader for night-time reading, because I usually lie on my side to read in bed and it's hard to hold a book open in that position.

Those who listen to books often have specific times when audiobooks are most convenient: riding in the car or on the subway, exercising, or (in the case of at least one friend) at work, in order to block out the asinine conversations of her coworkers!

It disturbs me to hear people say, "I want a real book in my hands," or "You need to get with the digital age," if they make it sound like anyone who chooses differently is just WRONG. We shouldn't argue about what's "better" or worry that "real" books are going to go away. As long as you're getting the stories you love, the method shouldn't matter.

If you are an audiobook person, here's my little spiel for the day: MURDER IN THE BOONIES should be available within days, according to Audible, so watch for it!