Healthful Food Looks Beautiful

For my eventual new self-care blog

Have you ever stopped to appreciate how beautiful fresh, healthful whole foods are? They’re works of art from nature. Many of us appreciate forests, beaches, sunsets. That same beauty is there in our fresh foods, on a small scale, that we can hold in our hands.

Think of the patterns of veins on a leaf of kale. It’s as beautiful as the leaves on a tree. Some kale is even grown for its beauty. Picture the dappling of an apple, the warm fuzziness of a coconut, the captivating shape of an egg.

How about strawberries? They’re amazingly sensual. As a symbol of wild passion, they’re second only to cherries. Their smooth red sheen is captivating, the tiling pattern of their seeds is intriguing, and their fragrance is like a siren song. I like to put them in my salad. I often buy three baskets of them, because of the discount, and because it’s hard to carry two. They always get eaten.

Have you ever noticed, on a healthy animal, that glow? Or on an attractive person, they seem to glow–they have a beauty that’s not about their appearance, but about a radiance from the inside? Fresh vegetables are that way to me. They seem to glow, to vibrate, to call out to me.

Heated pouches don’t do that to me. Cheap processed food sits there guiltily, like vermin that has been shot and is waiting to die. I don’t feel that ache to touch and to taste. I don’t want to make it part of myself.

But when I see so much fresh, delicious food around, it’s tempting to buy it, to take it home, and make healthful, glowing delicious meals out of it. I want that glow that the strawberry has.

What fresh fruits and vegetables do you find most beautiful? Most sweet smelling? What protein foods are most intriguing to you, and look most interesting on a plate?


Setting myself up on Fiverr

So I just created a gig on Fiverr. Usually, I’m the one who reads every scrap of instruction and advice I can find, and constructs a giant decision tree, trying to anticipate everything that could possibly happen as I work up front. Not this time–I was so eager to get my listing up that I jumped in feet first. It turned out fine, because although it was a bit time and labor intensive, it was simple.

They wanted me to create an account before I got a good look around, so I just went ahead and did it. They wouldn’t let me use an email alias. I’d rather filter my email on an alias than on a keyword, so now I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t lose a message.

I already had a clear, workable idea for a service, and so when they told me I’d be up and running in five minutes, I believed them. I should know better. On the Pricing screen, I was offered the option of creating three tiers for my service. I could have gone ahead with just the tiny test service I had in mind, but I knew this was my opportunity to invent a genuine, serious product, and I should take it.

The hardest part about the Description and FAQ page was paring my sales pitch down to fit the 1200 character limit. Cutting is a fact of life, and I’m finally getting used to it.

Then there was the Gallery page. For as much as I’ve struggled with the Gimp, you’d think I’d have some skills by now. Oh well, I can always polish and improve later.


For reference, the steps are:

1) Overview – tagline and category
2) Pricing – simple product or three tiered system, with the option to offer add-ons (such as expedited delivery and extra re-dos)
3) Description and FAQ – your marketing copy, 1200 chars plus the FAQ
4) Requirements – what you need from the client to do the job (in my case, I needed a video or audio file of the speech I’m to evaluate, plus an optional text description of the client’s goals and objectives)
5) Gallery – one (required) to three still images, and optionally, a video
6) Publish

BTW, if you’d like some coaching on your speech, come see me.

Film Review: Dr. Strangelove

As part of my study of storytelling through film, this weekend I watched Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

More than 50 years after it as made, it doesn’t have the shocking impact that it originally had. Irreverent, over the top political satire wasn’t part of the culture then. Today, however, we’ve lived through the era in which people got their news from John Stuart. (They still do, for all I know–I try my best to avoid it.) We just assume that our top political and military brass are from the bottom of the barrel. The film looks normal, maybe even slightly boring, in this regard.

What is totally relevant today is the particular dysfunctionalities of the powerful men it skewers. At least three of the main characters, and we can easily speculate about a fourth if not all, are driven by masculine anxieties and misdirected lust. General Ripper’s paranoia about Soviet plots against his “bodily fluids” and “purity of essence,” which both led him to initiate the strike against the Soviets and revealed to his colleagues that he was certifiably insane, floats in modern variations around the internet today without irony. His delusions that women sense his supposed superiority and “flock around,” trying to parasitize his “essence,” are straight out of the MGTOW meme pool.

Cultural commentary aside, the film is a masterpiece of suspense. We know, because it’s such biting satire, that the Doomsday Machine is going to be triggered–but how? How close will they come to being able to save humanity before they fail? How many holes in their own best laid plans will they be able to exploit? How many ways will their own scheming and arrogance come back to bite them? How far out of touch can they be, at what worst possible moment?

The War Room is a beautiful, iconic set, with its huge, elegant circular table in a lofty, triangular room, and with the big screens overhead. It makes the inept, immature behavior of its occupants seem all the more pathetic by juxtaposition. And it is a joy to see Peter Sellers play three different characters, all distinct, each one beautifully done.

And from now on, whenever I stumble into another annoying MGTOW rant, I’ll be be able to laugh at the looming, grandiose Jack D. Ripper, chomping on his classically phallic cigar and spitting about “fluids.” For that, I will be eternally grateful.

From a Ramble to a Story

Earlier today, an aspiring speaker asked how to turn a 25 minute ramble, which he had already created, into a 10 minute story. By the way he asked, I could tell he knew it was about much more than shortening it; it was about giving it structure. He had a formless collection of ideas, and he wanted a work of art that could plug into the human mind and evoke change in the listener.

He may not have realized it, but he had actually taken the proper first step to write a story from scratch. Brainstorming is a useful first step in writing, no matter the project. His brainstorming just happened to be in spoken form. His intuition for the craft was excellent; he just needed a little information.

Here’s what I told him:

Decide what you message you want your story to have – what enemy you defeated, what lesson you learned, what change you made, or what have you. Choose the event from your ramble that serves as the hinge point of the conflict, lesson or change; that will be the turning point or climax of your story. Everything else in your story will support it.

Now choose the event in which you first meet the enemy or see the need for change, and put it first. Finally, choose several events between these two to illustrate the rising conflict, and make a mini-story from each one, relating them all to each other as you go along. This will be your basic story structure.

Once that is done, choose some descriptive elements to illustrate what life was like before the story begins and put those in an introduction, and likewise, choose some from after it ends for the wrap-up. This will show how the change has been fought for and achieved.

Now you have a hero’s journey, with stasis at the beginning, initiation into the “other” world with the first conflict, rising action building to a climax, resolution, and a higher level of stasis at the end. To see more, google “hero cycle” or “freytag’s pyramid.” Best of luck.

Toastmasters Club Officer Training for Secretary

Dear Fellow Toastmasters,

Here are the resources I showed and referred to in my Club Officer Training for the office of Secretary. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at kelley nnn nospam at gmail dot com.

To find Club Central, log in at the Toastmasters International site, click the Menu button in the upper left hand corner, click “Leadership Central” in the drop down menu, then click on “Club Central” in the submenu. From there, you will be able to access your club’s administration page. You will also want to look at “Club Officer Tools”. There you will find resources such as an electronic copy of the Club Officer Handbook, and information about the Distinguished Club Program and Club Success Plan.

Club Leadership Handbook PDF (direct link)
Plain text template for minutes writeup – Windows version
Sample of written up minutes using the template – Windows version
Plain text template for minutes writeup – *nix version
Sample of written up minutes using the template – *nix version
Minutes taking cheat sheet from Tony DeLeon (MS Word file)
Minutes taking cheat sheet designed by me (Google Sheet)
Checkbox image used in the Google Sheets cheat sheet
Sample of minutes taken directly on agenda – front of sheet (jpeg)
Sample of minutes taken directly on agenda – back of sheet (jpeg)
Minutes taken directly on agenda – both sides (pdf)
Guide to the Secretary role from the Club Officer Handbook
The agenda and case studies from the session, including duties list (pdf file)
The agenda and case studies from the session, including duties list (Open Document Format file)
Sample spreadsheet to track your Club Success Plan
Free Toast Host for creating a home page for a club
Easy Speak for automating club administration
District 4 home page
District 101 home page

Example of a club’s charter document:


To submit your club’s updated Officer list, go to

Good luck!