Maintain Your Stuff

Our church is small with a small budget. We manage our money by doing a lot of things ourselves. For example, the church building is cleaned regularly by a crew of volunteers. Needless to say, cleaning a church takes a toll on the vacuum cleaners.

Recently an old woman died and our church was given her vacuum cleaner. It is old, but a good quality machine. The woman had been sick for some time and had been cared for by a young housekeeper.

For reasons I do not understand, my wife and I are the ones church members run to when something break down. We received the vacuum cleaner just before the start of a series of revival meetings. The “new” vac was assigned to the fellowship hall. One night, one of the women tried to clean the fellowship hall following a time of refreshments and fellowship. The woman called my wife over. “This isn’t working.”

We hauled the machine home and together we worked on it. It appeared in good condition except that the brush and its bearings were filled with dirt, etc, so that the bush did not turn easily, and the machine was not pulling much of a vacuum. While my wife went to work removing strings and dirt from the brush, I looked at the hose connecting the power-head to the dirt container. I brought my sewer snake in from the garage and cleaned 3 feet of debris out of the hose. With the brush turning freely and an empty hose, the machine worked very well.

The old lady’s housekeeper is a member of the current generation of young people. My wife and I are in our mid 70’s, having been born during WWII. The housekeeper most likely paid little attention to the condition of the vacuum cleaner. She probably would have kept using the vacuum cleaner with little or no thought to maintenance until, in her opinion, it was time to replace it. In fact, I was surprised that the dirt in the brush and hose had not caused the motor to overheat and burn out.

Had it been our vacuum cleaner, we would have occasionally cleaned the brush and periodically cleared things that stuck in the hose, but then, we are old-fashioned.

Our parents had grown up in the Great Depression. Then there was no money to buy new things. Our grandparents had financial incentive to keep things working. Furthermore, my wife’s father was a mechanical engineer, and my father was a “shade tree” mechanic who never took his car into the shop because he maintained and repaired all of his vehicles himself. Our parents maintained their possessions with period cleaning and maintenance. Our mothers shared in the cleaning and maintenance. While my father was in basic training, my mother made repairs to the family car.

When something broke, our fathers would fix it. My father kept a barrel of scraps in his workshop. when something broke, he usually fabricated the replacement part himself. Nothing was thrown out or replaced until it was well beyond repair. Similarly, my wife’s father kept machinery working and was known for helping his neighbors with simple repairs.

Granted, not everyone in the 1950’s and 1960’s had mechanical skills, but everyone had the common sense to keep possessions maintained, and when something did not work properly, they would get it repaired before it destroyed itself. Those with skills, did it themselves. Those without, would ask a neighbor or find a repairman.

Until well into the 1970’s machines were relatively simple and easy to repair. Repair men worked for reasonable fees that were usually only a fraction of the value of an item.

Why is it that the “younger generation” finds themselves frequently having to buy new appliances and vehicles while members of the “older generation” often are still using vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers. that are older than 10  years old?

Part of the reason is that our fathers taught us the principles of making basic repairs. While I usually do the more demanding repair jobs, my wife does her share. More important is that our parents taught us to keep our possessions maintained. When hoses start to get plugged, a cleaning is in order. When a wheel or brush does not turn freely, we know to look for something such as a carpet string jamming it or to look for a bad bearing. Some bearings can be replaced easily. Some wheels and pulleys can be replaced easily,

Why can the “younger generation” not keep possessions clean and lubricated? Even a squit of WD40 does wonders when applied periodically.

Keep your possessions clean and lubricated. When something isn’t working as well as it should, look for a problem such as a wad of carpet fuzz in the vacuum cleaner hose. A little observation, common sense and some effort will keep the appliance working longer. By golly, you might even have more cash in your wallet when it is time to replace something.


Reynold is a retired scientist who writes as a retirement career. Please visit his website, to learn about his books. Most of his books are available for sale on that web site. Books sold on that website are autographed.

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Name, Rank and Serial Number—Your Author Biography

 An author biography is a form of identification. When you are interviewed for a job, you tell the interviewer as much as you think will help you land the job. On the other hand, a soldier who has been captured by the enemy is trained to give only name, rank and serial number. Your author biography needs to contain information that helps to sell books, but perhaps not too much information.

When you submit your manuscript to a publisher such as Kellan Publishing, you will be asked to provide your author biography. Your publisher will use your author biography for publicity purposes. For example, Kellan Publishing uses the information to post an author page on the website. Some publishers even include biographical information on the back cover.

As you write your author biography, include enough information to interest potential readers without over burdening them with trivia. Unless your book is about animals, there is no need to tell the reader about your childhood pet.

I like to identify myself in the first paragraph of my biography with my name and something linking me with the type of books I write. Many authors add a sentence about their occupation or former occupation. Only if you are writing a scholarly book do you include your college degree or degrees.

Writing an author biography is like baiting a fishing hook. If something in your background relates to your book, include that. A sentence about what inspired your book can be interesting to readers. Other information is up to you. Many authors make a brief mention of spouses and children. Some authors mention where they live. This is particularly useful if the author lives in an exotic place such as Paris, but authors have drawn interest from readers by saying they live just about anywhere.

Just like the prisoner of war, there are some things you do not want to tell. You do not want to list your address or phone. In most cases it is enough to list the state you live in if you think it will attract readers. You probably do not want to give the names of your spouse and children. If you think it will make you appear to be an interesting author to let readers know you have a spouse and children, simply say, “. . . lives with his wife and three children in [name of a state or large city].” If you choose to mention your occupation, you will probably not want to name your current employer. Your age or birth date is probably not useful to your biography.

Remember your publisher will use your biographical information to bait a hook to catch readers. Good fishermen know that too small a bait gets ignored, but too large a piece of bait can scare off fish.

Spend some time polishing your biography. A good author biography will sell books if it makes you, the author, look human and interesting.

~ Reynold Conger

Get your copy of Reducing Medical Costs (At the Cost of Health)   from Kellan Publishing or buy an autographed copy from Reynold’s website.

Follow me on:

Facebook: Books by Reynold Conger

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Reynold Conger is an author Go to his website to learn of his books and his writing philosophy. 
Books he has published include:
  Chased Across Australia
       A travelogue style thriller
  My Knight in Shining Armor
       A Post Vietnam era Romance
  Reducing Medical Costs (At the Cost of Health)
       A medical thriller
  Stoned for His Faith
       A Thriller about religious persecution
Reynold has also written the Richard Tracy Series
   (A series of novellas available as e-books)
  Book 1.  A Dangerous Bike Ride
  Book 2.  Gone Running and Gone
  Book 3.  Dem Bones Shall Rise Again
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Love Your Political Enemies

Jim Crow laws have returned to New Jersey, but now it is not blacks who are refused service in restaurants, but rather Republicans. The president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was asked to leave the dining room of the Red Hen Restaurant in rural Lexington, Virginia. To Sarah’s credit, she left quietly and without commotion after being asked to leave.

The world is aware that liberals in general and Democrat liberals in particular are so angry that Trump beat Hillary, they have been openly attacking Trump, and have been refusing to work with the Trump administration. In the 54 year I have been voting, I have seen a lot of voters disgruntled by election results. There is always close to half of the electorate who are unhappy at the results of any election. There are usually many who dislike the new president, but I have never seen so many people express blind hatred for a president. The hatred started before Trump even had the opportunity to take office, and many people I talk to can not say why they are angry.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). This is good advice to all, even to those who reject Christianity, for hating someone harms the person who hates more than it harms the person who is hated. Psychologists and psychiatrists teach anger management as one way to reduce stress. I think it is fair to say that it is not good for your health to hate. The experts agree.

It would appear that this great outpouring of hate is all aimed at influencing voters in the mid-term elections. I hope the voters are smart enough to ignore the hate for Trump and instead vote on issues and candidate qualifications.

I find it ironic that only a few weeks ago liberals were criticizing Starbucks for calling the police to remove two men who appeared to be taking up counter space without placing an order. Now the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant thinks she is acting wonderfully by ejecting a member of the Trump administration from her restaurant.  The actions of the Starbucks manager were wrong, but at least the Starbucks employees thought they were acting in the interest of the company. In this case, the owner of the restaurant is only trying to make a statement about her hatred for Trump. This looks like a double standard to me.  It is possible the owner may also have been trying to make publicity against Trump.

Everyone seems to be getting publicity. There are those crowing about Sarah Sanders being kicked out of the restaurant and those criticising the action. It is interesting that members of both parties have criticized the owner’s action. I wonder if the owner of the restaurant will have the effect she intended.

Were I the owner of the Red Hen, I think I would have handled it differently. I would have let Sarah Sanders and her family enjoy the meal and then approach the table personally with the bill. I would have informed Sarah that the meal was on the house, but would she please convey to President Trump the feelings of the owner and employees of the Red Hen Restaurant. I would then have handed Sarah a short letter expressing a few of the most important grievances. Perhaps I would have collected as many employee signatures as I could. I think that would have had more impact.

We will never have complete agreement in our country, but we could work together as we work to keep the United States strong and civilized. We need to be kind and respectful to our political enemies, for in doing so, we will facilitate the type of cooperation we need to govern well. We may even keep a vast number of Americans more healthy just by eliminating unnecessary anger.


Reynold Conger is a retired scientist and teacher who writes in his retirement. Please take a moment to visit his website,, for information about his books.


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Should Your Hero be Perfect?

I wrote Stoned for His FaithA Christian thriller about an American pastor who is stoned because Muslims do not like the book he wrote teaching Christians to witness to Muslims. This book is fiction.

A reviewer wrote some kind words about the plot and how well I had crafted the story, but then wrote the were disappointed that the hero, a Christian, had flaws in his character. The reviewer lowered their rating on the book of these flaws. Apparently the reviewer expected a Christian hero to be perfect or near perfect.

My hero showed his humanity by being tempted and having been tempted in the past. Everyone is tempted. Should I be using a different standard for Christians than for anyone else? Obviously not. Literature should not contain double standards.

I would be hard pressed to create any character, Christian or non-Christian who is perfect the way the reviewer wants. Even if I did create such a character, it the book would be terrible. Even Superman has a weakness, kriptonite. Writing teachers instruct us to create conflict in our stories. Look how often Superman has to deal with exposure to kriponite. Flaws and weaknesses in characters, and in the hero in particular, help set up conflict. Plots are established, in part, by how or characters respond to conflict. In most stories, the hero overcomes the conflict. Perhaps they are strong enough to win the conflict, but more often, the hero changed during the story to be better prepared to meet the conflict. In tragedies, the hero goes down in flames. The reader mourns their demise but cheers at the limited successes they have achieved in striving for their nobel cause. Even the heroes of tragic stories generally show some change.

As it turns out, every good hero has weaknesses and character flaws.  What makes a book into a great book is how the characters each face life in spite of these weaknesses and flaws.

A flawed hero or heroine also gives the author the opportunity to let the hero grow or mature into a less flawed individual. Most readers are thrilled, at the end of the book, to see a hero or heroine who is even better than at first.

Do not be afraid to write a hero or heroine who has imperfections. That makes him or her better. In fact, I often try to build imperfections into my heroes and heroines.

In a week or two, I will write the post: Should Villains be Bad to the Bone?



Reynold Conger is the author of fiction written from a Christian point of view. Please visit his website,

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A Memorial Day Meditation

This weekend, people are honoring those men and women who gave their lives to protect the United States, and in doing so, they were giving their all to insure that our freedom will continue.

Among other things, people are marking graves with flags, laying wreaths, firing volleys, playing taps and giving speeches all in honor of these dead patriots.

Bugle calls and speeches are a lot of hot air. Volleys of gunfire are a form of honor, but they are simply loud noises. Flags and wreaths are more durable, but in comparison to what the veterans give, flags and wreaths are pretty cheap honor.

A more fitting honor would be to live our lives in ways that bring greatness and honor to the United States of America:

Respect all religions. In this way, we strengthen our religious freedom.

Allow everyone to speak even when we do not agree. In this way we strengthen our freedom of speech.

Vote intelligently. Educate yourself and vote for the candidates who you think will best serve the country. In this way we strengthen our country.

Respect our elected officers even when we disagree with them and even if we did not vote for them. Even if you do not like a government official, respect the office he or she holds, for in doing so you help the government to run smoothly.

Obey laws, even if you think they are stupid for we are a country with laws enacted by representatives of the people who serve their constituents by enacting laws that are intended to bring peace and tranquility to all.

Use you skills and intelligence to build and strengthen your life, your community, your state and your nation.

A college classmate, 2nd Lt. George Stivers (Army) lies in a grave, and the remains of a high school classmate, Captain Paul Gee (Marine pilot) are scattered on the ocean floor off of Danang. Neither is aware of what we are doing, but I know that they would be pleased if they could know that all Americans made good use of the rights and privileges they died to preserve.

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Happy Birthday to Me

I know it is a little weird to wish oneself a happy birthday, but I have some readers who desire to know more about me. I will use this as an excuse to inform you.

Today, I am 75. I was born in 1943, at the height of World War II. My folks lived in the Rogers Park neighborhood on the north edge of Chicago. Thus St. Frances Hospital in Evanston, Illinois was the closest hospital. When my father returned home from the hospital after my arrival, he found a letter in the mail box from the president. It was his draft notice. GI’s joked about their draft notices being letters from the president because each letter started, “Greetings from the President of the United States: You are hereby requested and required to report to. . .”

My mother liked men in uniform so she made a uniform for me. There is a photo dated late in 1945 of me in my uniform holding my father’s hand. We both are wearing identical uniforms with sergeant’s stripes on our sleeves.

I grew up in Wisconsin in the post war years of the 1950s and graduated from high school in 1961. College and graduate school followed that qualified me to work as a scientist and engineer in the paper industry. I ended my career as a consultant to the paper industry. Then I taught high school math and science in New Mexico.

Our two children have left home for careers of their own, but my wife of 51 years and I live on a one acre lot on the edge of the high desert. At an altitude of 5000 feet, the climate is comfortable. It doesn’t get too cold in the winter nor unbearably hot in the summer. The humidity in the summer seldom exceeds 10% increasing the comfort. We maintain our health through gym work and aerobic exercise. My wife walks. My exercise passion is running. We maintain flower and vegetable gardens, keep bees, and are active in our church.

While I was traveling the world on consulting assignments, I began writing fiction to entertain myself. This became a hobby that turned into a retirement career.

I hope to stay physically active for a good long time, and I hope to continue my writing both for my enjoyment and for your entertainment.

Look at my website,, to learn about the books I have published. There is a page called,”In the Works” on which I make comments about the stories I am working on. I also have a “Bee Page” with pictures of bees and short paragraphs about my bees. Again, this is for my enjoyment and for your entertainment.

Visit the website soon. If you have questions or comments, there is a “Contact Page” you may use to contact me.

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Meet Biker Mike

I would like to introduce you to Mike Barlow, also known as Biker Mike. He is a new character in the Richard Tracy series. Mike is known as Biker Mike because he fits the stereotype of a biker. He stands 6’8” tall and is all muscle. He used to be the leader of a motorcycle gang.

Slightly more than twenty years ago, Richard Tracy was a detective. He is now retired, but he carries a Glock in case he meets one of many criminals who he put behind bars. Mike is one of those men. Richard found the evidence to take him to trial. Mike tried to threaten Richard to keep him from testifying. After his conviction, Mike yelled threats at Richard. Richard would rather never see Mike Barlow again.

Richard Tracy lives with his second wife in New Mexico retirement house. They would like to spend their golden years gardening together, but trouble keep finding them. The first three books in the series tell the reader about the problems they encounter.

Richard doesn’t know it, but he is about to come face to face with Biker Mike Barlow in book 4 of the Richard Tracy series, Biker Mike’s Crochet Shop. Can you imagine a man Biker Mike’s size teaching crochet classes?

The first draft of Biker Mike’s Crochet Shop is in the hands of my editor. It will take some time to revise the document to take into consideration her suggestions. I expect to have Biker Mike’s Crochet Shop released as an e-book in June.

Please feel free to visit my website, to learn more about my books. I am the author of four novels written from a Christian point of view. I have also written a series of detective novels called the Richard Tracy Series. Biker Mike’s Crochet Shop will be number 4 in the series. Copies of my books are sold at a discount at my website book store. All books sold by me are autographed.

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