One of the oldest tricks in the book, er, history, is to use the tools at your disposal. A new tool is always nice but, frankly, you don’t get that many ‘new’ tools in life. So you are stuck with the ones you have. Far and away the best tool is education.  This means what you LEARN, not the number of books you have read or chemistry problems you solved. Common sense is not that common. To quote Will Rogers, “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”  If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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Back in the 1970s there was a song by Dr. John – Right Place, Wrong Time” – which was the story of my life. It became my mantra when I added to it:  right dock, wrong boat; right plane, wrong airport; right bus, wrong terminal. Over the years things did not change: right novel, wrong era; right concept, wrong publisher. But, then and now, as a writer, I knew/know I only have to be successful once. Done right and if the gods being willing, one book will earn me a modest retirement, the same as I would have gotten by working for the government for two decades. That being said, the significant difference between me the writer and my friends who are government workers, is I am willing to fail.  I’ve done a lot of it over the years. But I am still here, still writing books, still waiting for that one book that will send me into retirement. Opportunity is like an ocean and I cannot wait for my ship to come in so – pardon, me, Dr. John, I am swimming for it. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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For most people, ‘yesterdays’ are not believable because the photos are black-and-white. This leads people to believe ‘then’ is different from ‘now.’ But with colorization, the past becomes alive. This is a beach scene of Atlantic City, 1922, the kind of a photo that would never be in a coffee table book. There is nothing ‘editorially’ significant. But it is what I call “the gift of the split second.’  It is one split second of the past, women and women in bathing suits that are laughable today. As you are chuckling in your morning coffee, REMEMBER, these were your grandparents. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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There is a stark lesson in the Brett Kavanaugh nomination imbroglio.  It is as old as America.  You only have the rights you are willing to fight for. Contrary to popular belief, Constitutional guarantees can vaporize. As an example, the Constitution states that confirmation to the United States Supreme Court requires a 2/3 vote in the United States Senate. That did not happen with Neil Gorsuch or with Brett Kavanaugh. Union membership is plummeting and there are more nonpartisan voters than Democrats and Republicans combined. The United States Congress is less popular than hemorrhoids, root canals and herpes. In the past, as illustrated in this photograph from about 1910, we, Americans, fought for our rights as a community. Together we are stronger than as individuals scattered across an industry, issue or the country. History is repeating itself. How powerful we are as a nation depends on what we, individually, do on election day. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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Anthony “Tony” Dimond, Alaska’s lone delegate to the United States Congress from 1933 to 1944, was a master at selecting juries when he was a private practice in Valdez in the 1920s.  In one particular suit against the Kennecott Copper Corporation in which a worker was maimed, Dimond managed to have the jury packed with men who had lost legs, arms, fingers or eyes.  Even the judge was crippled.  When it came time to address the jury, Dimond, who had himself been crippled during the Gold Rush when he nearly blew his leg off, limped before the jury to plead the case of his client.  The jury found for Dimond’s client “without leaving their seats.”  If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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Next time you turn on the tap and let the water d-r-a-i-n while you brush your teeth, think of how lucky you are!  In 1898, you would have saved every drop of water in your house you could. That was because there was no tap. Actually, there was.  But it was out in the street.  And it was communal. We had better start thinking about conserving our water. The days when water was plentiful and cheap are gone forever. California is in a drought and, if you read your history, it is global climate change that causes the collapse of the Mayan empire. It happened before; it could happen again. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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Nice, eh? Historic but nice. Well, these are fashions from my great grandparents’ women’s fashion design in Torino, Italy. They owned the entire company: lock, stock, barrel and sewing machines.  In today’s dollars, it was a fully-operational $200 million-dollar business. Until 1939. Then Mussolini’s government simply took it.  Government officials walked in the front door and that was that. My great grandfather died in a slave labor camp and my great grandmother in Auschwitz. My father, uncle and grandparents landed in New York with $15,000. Next time you hear anyone talking about how the President and Congress are kicking away democratic safeguards, worry. Next time it could be YOU. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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Of course, it’s the sphinx. Everyone knows that. Everyone. Since the beginning of time. Really? Odd. Did you know that when the Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt in 450 BCE (Before the Christian Era), he did not see the sphinx?  Why not? Because it was covered with sand. Scientists say sand dunes in Egypt can be as deep as 1,500 feet and, shall we say, ‘move around.’ In 450 BCE, a century before Alexander the Great, the sphinx was buried in sand. It only ‘reappeared’ in the 1400s. Which leaves us to ask: what else is out there now, buried in 1,500 feet of sand, that Herodotus saw and we have yet to discover? And, for historical accuracy, French soldiers under Napoleon did not shoot off the nose of the sphinx. That was done in 1378 of the modern era by a Muslim named Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr. He was in control of Egypt and was outraged when he saw Egyptian peasants were making offerings to the sphinx for a more productive flooding of the Nile. He destroyed the nose of the sphinx in vengeance – and then he was executed for vandalism. If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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I’ll bet you think you are looking at flowers. WRONG!  These are ‘fields’ of abandoned bicycles in China.  Talk about a traffic jam!  In 2017, in an effort to make the citizenry more mobile, scores of business offered free bikes to the public. You used the bike when you needed it and left it when you were where you wanted to be. And it worked. Sort of. Suddenly there were millions of abandoned bikes on the streets creating traffic jams and pedestrian hazards. So cities were forced to pull the abandoned bikes off the street – and they ‘recycled’ them into artistic patterns as you can see in this photograph.  If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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OK, what time is it?  But there’s a real problem here – what happens if the instructions are to “put your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2?” I can understand why 3 is at 90 degrees but what’s the 4 doing at 180 – and what’s the ‘g’ stand for?  And those other math formulas, not a clue! This, by the way, is a real clock. I snapped a shot of it on the wall in a high school mathematics class. In most cases I can read just about any clock.  If you live in Alaska you have to get used to clocks, analog and digital. By explanation, if you live in the Lower 48, “daytime” has a different meaning in June, July and August then in the rest of America. You cannot ‘tell the time’ by the position of the sun in the sky. During the winter, well, “daytime” is very short.  And, no, Alaska does not have six months of sunshine followed instantaneously by six months of darkness.  If you get a chance, take a look at one of my short stories at https://retreatsfromoblivion.com/2018/08/29/the-matter-of-the-smallgarian-wall-and-the-portuguese-undertaker-by-steve-levi/ [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime. See my webinar at http://bit.ly/2zjyiYG.]

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