Look Over Your Ballot BEFORE You Go Vote

Posted November 2nd, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

Be an Informed Voter

I’m certainly not going to tell you who or how you should vote, but I am going to tell you, it’s a whole lot smarter to take a look at the ballot before you arrive at your polling place.

In addition to the Federal offices, state, and local offices, ballots also include Proposed Amendments.

You may have heard and gathered info on most of the higher offices, but you may never have heard of some of the amendments.  It’s just smart to take a look and see if there’s any additional info you might want to check before voting.

To See a Sample Ballot

…gotta love the digital age.  We can see and print sample ballots online.  

Most states will have a similar web site, but I can specifically help you with Alabama.  If you’re a voter in the state of Alabama, go to: 


There you can check your voter registration status and the location of your polling place.  You can also see Sample Ballots for each county.  


Links to the Amendment Acts

See all those amendments on the right side of the ballot?  They give a general description, but often, they’re not really enough to make an informed voting decision.  You could Google all the Act Numbers assigned to each, but there’s a much shorter way.

Check out the pdf from on the Secretary of State (Alabama) web site.


The pdf lists all the proposed amendments on the ballot and includes LINKS to the Act Numbers.  Use those links to read the actual Act.  

This will give you a little more information.  If you need to know more pros and cons to each, you’ll have to google a bit.  The State Provided files are just straight up records and documentation.

For any of the local or state offices on the ballot about which you may not be as knowledgeable, you should probably Google the candidates a bit to make an informed decision.

Be Prepared

Well, there ya go…at least, in Alabama.  Click a couple of links and walk into the polls as an informed voter.

Read up.  Go vote!  đź™‚

Since I missed The Hunger Games in the theater, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the movie release on disc.  Now that I’ve read all three books/audiobooks in the series AND seen the first movie, I can offer a summary review.


First the good part – the author, Suzanne Collins is a master of suspense and engaging the reader.  Each bookin the series, especially the first one, is one of those you just don’t want to put down.  You REALLY want to see where all of this is going.

Now, the bad – Collins stinks at closure/denouement.  I really thought this was just a normal “rope us in” thing at the ends of books 1 and 2…making us want more, but the end of the third and final book in the trilogy was almost as bad as the first two.  She does wrap things up a bit at the end of the third book, and most folks I’ve talked to don’t seem to mind, but there are a few nagging unanswered questions.  …and I just don’t like leaving a book/series asking “Really?  REALLY???  That’s REALLY how you want to leave this?”

Again, I want to emphasize that the author is absolutely amazing crafting each story and keeping readers eager to turn pages.  I just don’t think the urge should continue at the end of the trilogy.  …how about an enhanced epilogue or a complementary short story to tie it all up?

BUT, that could just be my opinion.  As I’ve said, other readers don’t seem to have as much of an issue or demand for tidy closure.


The first movie just came out on disc today, so I had to get it immediately and catch the flick I’d missed in the theater.  …not bad.  …not great, but not bad. 

Lionsgate / Press Kit

Honestly, I guess the hype had me expecting more, but it was pretty much the same as most movie adaptations of novels…a good, abridged, visual version of the story.  It just can’t be helped.  Novels are, by nature, rather in-depth, and producers can only include so much in a short period of time. 

The movie leaves a lot out, but I can promise that folks leaving the movie wondering exactly what was going on in certain scenes or wanting more back-story – you can read all the details in the books.  The author is very good at details and expressing motivation.


I know.  If the audiobook is unabridged, is there really any difference or reason to review the audiobook version rather than just reviewing the book?  In this case, yes. 

The unabridged audiobooks published by Scholastic Audio are truly exceptional, and the narrator, Carolyn McCormick is just as talented as the author in pulling the reader into the story.  Instead of not wanting to put the book down, you never want to press pause.  There are many reasons that The Hunger Games is still one of audible.com’s best sellers.  

The stories are compelling.  The narrator is amazing, and enough folks have read, watched, or listened to engage in some fascinating discussions.

Review Summary

So, do I recommend reading, watching, or listening to The Hunger Games series?  Yes.  Unless you are particularly annoyed with lackluster closure (may just be a personal annoyance), the pros far outweigh the cons.

Book Review – 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire

Posted August 11th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

Quick read, lots of snickering J

101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire by Joleene Naylor is exactly what the author describes in the book’s listing description.  It’s short.  It’s a list of 101 tips for travelling with a vampire.  It’s free.

It’s also a cute little companion book, written in the voice of Katelina, a character in the actual author’s novels in the Amaranthine seriesIn fact, many of the snarky tips refer directly to Katelina, Jorick, and events from the novels.

Many of the tips are also snarky on a general principle…well, unless you really want to point fingers and name names about certain “sparkley” vampire falsehoods.

If you like Vampire stories or the Amaranthine series, in particular, you WILL enjoy this short jocular companion book…especially if you like quick, giggley/snickering, lists of humorous tips.

Hey, it is what is claimed to be, and it was amusing.  AND it was free. 

If you were expecting anything else…like a full-blown Vampire Travel for Dummies with loads of logistical details…you didn’t read the description.  J

For exactly what it was…short, list, free, cute, humorous companion to other stories…It’s a solid 4.  …could be a 5, but a little more transition to show a few more specific tie-ins…maybe a little more backstory…could have been 5. 

But even at a 4 – Come on.  It’s free.  Spend a few minutes.  You’ll get some grins and giggles from 101 Tips for Travelingwith a Vampire by Joleene Naylor and may become curious about the Amaranthine series.  For any reader who likes humorous vampire stories, I DO recommend 101 Tips forTraveling with a Vampire.

Other Books by Joleene Naylor

Review of NewYorican

Posted June 26th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

NewYorican is a slice of life memoir 180 degrees from apple pie and Andy Griffith.

From my review of NewYorican on Amazon.com:

It’s a rare memoir that catches my attention. It’s even rarer that one grabs my attention enough to read, but the author’s story couldn’t be more different from my own safe, sweet southern memories. I think that’s why it fascinated me page after page.

The author’s detailed accounts of his personal, and iconic social experiences lead readers from abandonment, culturally related religion, familial dysfunction, and the eighties…in New York, no less. …and Puerto Rico. Sex, drugs, dancing, partying, guns, cars, fighting, family, and fear are all part of this incredible life most only know in tiny parts.

As riveting as the story is, there are just some things in life that most of us may want to know “about”…but would really rather not know from “experience.”

Thanks for the virtual experiences shared in your book, Mr. Cruz. I wouldn’t have survived half of them beyond the written words.

For folks wondering why I gave 4 stars instead of 5, have no fear. I absolutely do recommend NewYorican to anyone who enjoys “slice of life” memoirs. There are a few issues with grammar/spelling that keep it from the perfection of 5 stars, and there are a few gaps/missing pieces in some of the stories. Considering the author was a 7th grade dropout (though highly self-educated) and some story details should probably remain unwritten, I can certainly forgive these tiny issues and still recommend the book. I just can’t score it a perfect 5. This solid 4 is definitely worth the read.

RIP Ray Bradbury

Posted June 6th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and countless other sci-fi/fantasy classics, died Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.

His work and his influence, however, will NEVER die.

Fahrenheit 451 was the first audiobook I ever read.  It was on magnetic cassette tapes – a fact that I remember being notable, even at that time, considering the theme of saving the written word from flames.

Now, in the digital age of ebooks, one might consider our world safe from book burning with the internet’s capacity for storage and multiple sources.  Then, I realize that massive EMPs (electo-magnetic pulses) could be as disastrous to digital copies as flames are to hard copies.

Though I have no gift for memorizing complete texts, my memory of Fahrenheit 451 and its profound influence on my life can never be burned from my experience.  From my strong support of a free press and maintaining libraries of invaluable stories and information, all the way down to my compulsion to maintain multiple backups in multiple formats, Bradbury shaped portions of my life like no other.

Rest in peace, Ray Bradbury.  May your work burn forever with its fireproof influence.

QR Code Marketing Goes Bananas

Posted June 4th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

QR Code marketing has certainly grown in popularity and checking them out with our smartphones has become a really cool scavenger hunt game.  Today, however, it’s obvious that QR Code marketing has gone bananas.  Literally, I found a QR Code ON my banana today.

If you’re interested in making your own QR Codes and using them in your marketing strategy, I wrote a short tutorial with step-by-step instructions on my professional blog.  Here’s the direct link:  http://www.sherrysnider.com/qr-codes-and-smartphones-for-marketing/

Stupid Kid and the Threatening Essay

Posted April 10th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

Yes.  I really do mean “stupid.”

No.  I don’t normally just blurt out “stupid kid.”  Kids are kids and they do really strange things that don’t necessarily make them stupid, but even kids have to live in the real world of socially acceptable behavior.

In this case, the stupid kid really was stupid.  I have no idea of his intelligence level or capabilities.  I just know that his actions were INCREDIBLY stupid.  So I should say that his actions were stupid – not him.  Right? 


This one was so stupid, it pretty much categorizes him for life. 

…can’t help it, folks. 

The Stupid Kid and the Threatening Essay

The latest viral story going around is about the 15 year old who turned in a threatening essay at school.  Basically, it was a first person narrative from the point of view of a school shooter as he entered the school and began firing.  From the descriptions (“huge glass fascade”), the 15 year old was describing his own school, East Greenwich High School.

The “essay” has been reprinted on the East Greenwich Patch – which I initially thought had been split into multiple posts.  No.  Apparently, the “essay” actually ended with “To be cont’d.”

Read it for yourself. 

I’m irate because it is NOT an essay.  I don’t know if the media is misreporting this puny little descriptive narrative as an essay, or if the original assignment was supposed to be an essay, and the story has retained the title.  Honestly, I don’t know where that miscommunication originated.  …but that’s a side rant.  That’s not even why the word “stupid” came flying out of my mouth.

Apparently, he turned it in at school. 


Days later, he was disciplined.  Then he posted it on Facebook!

STUPID again!

Then the community uproar began.  The school HAD to respond…emailing parents about the situation, etc.  Parents were furious that they weren’t notified right away.  Folks are angry because not enough was done.  No one yet knows if the student will be allowed back to the school.

People are afraid…rightfully so.  Others are defending this “good kid.”

Again, I have no idea if he’s a good kid or not.  I just know he’s stupid.  His syntax needs a lot of help, but he’s got a decent start on a usable vocabulary for a 15 year old.  BUT HE TURNED IT IN AT SCHOOL!


Then he posted it on Facebook!


Heaven help!  In this country we revel in the luxury of freedom of speech among other individual freedoms, BUT you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowd unless there’s actually a fire threat.

Since some think this little narrative was a precursor for future/potential actions, would his “essay” be his cry of “Fire!” for help?

I don’t care!

If you need help, you ASK!  You don’t turn in a paper like that at school!


The whole yelling “Fire!” in a theater or crowd analogy has been around for ages BECAUSE it easily shows how one’s freedom of speech IS free, until it endangers others or infringes on the rights of others.

For Heaven’s sake!  He’s 15!  He’s not a child.  He’s been in school long enough to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. 

People have the right to THINK what they want.  They even have the right to speak and write out their thoughts, if they so choose.  (Anyone who wants to keep those thoughts private knows to NEVER speak those thoughts or write them down.) 

He obviously didn’t want it private.  He turned it in to school AND then posted it on Facebook.

Even if a person feels the need to write out his thoughts and stories, he needs to keep a private journal.  Respect yourself AND respect others.  You don’t turn that stuff in at school!

Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid! 

Now, I still don’t know the exact intent of this “essay” – whether it was a prank, a warning, a really stupid teen joke, or a down right threat.  The only obvious intention was to stir up “stuff.”

In that respect, the 15 year old may even consider himself smart and successful at stirring up stuff.

As a human being in an American society – turning in such a paper to school – THEN, after being disciplined – posting it on Facebook….

Sorry.  That’s a ….

Stupid Kid.

FAILURE on SO many levels.

Dogwoods in Bloom

Posted March 23rd, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com
Spring has sprung, and the dogwoods are in bloom on Belly Acres. 

I’ve always loved dogwoods in the spring, but the symbolism isn’t always at the forefront of my memory.  Since I had to google it to remember all the pieces, I thought I’d share and save y’all a search. 

For those who don’t know the Christian symbolism and story of the dogwood, here’s the gist.

  • A dogwood tree was used to construct the cross on which Christ was crucified.
  • The dogwood represents life.
  • The blooms on a dogwood grow in the shape of a cross.
  • The holes in the tips of the petals represent the nails that were driven into the cross.
  • The holes have a red tint around them representing the blood of Christ.
  • The green bloom in the center symbolizes the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head.

Honestly, I’m not sure which I enjoy more…the spring blossoms or the stories behind each living thing.  Either way, the inspiration puts a spring in my step every year.

Squirrel Proof Birdfeeder?

Posted March 3rd, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

Squirrel Proof Birdfeeder?  Yeah, right.

…not in Belly Acres, Alabama.

The Lacs and Lansky – Country Brings a Beat

Posted February 16th, 2012 by cdclocks@gmail.com

No doubt, we southerners love country life, and generally, we like country music, but in the tradition of The Lacs, our country boys are also bringing our sweet southern home with a hip hop/rap beat. 

“Country Road,” from The Lacs album, Country Boy’s Paradise rocks the lyrics we all know by heart…

“Country Road, take me home, to the place where I belong…”

…and our own Okie-bama boy, Lansky (of SouthBound Productions) takes us further down the gravel road…

…from the city to the sticks…trailer life, southern rap, moonshine, county line…AU, Roll Tide…”

How the heck did he find Belly Acres, Alabama?!?!?  🙂 

Bounce to the beat with every rut in the road, the Country Boy track is available on SoundCloud along with other tracks from SouthBound Productions.

…and for more Lacs love, see our previous post on Kickin’ Up Mud