Title IX: Colleges are avoiding the spirit of the law

Fifty years ago, girls weren’t allowed to play football, but today, thanks to the Title IX, they can.

Fifty years ago, Title IX was signed into law, legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. The idea being that girls should have all the same opportunities as boys. While Title IX is not exclusively about sports, equality in that realm is what most people think about when considering the law.

You may be wondering why Title IX was so important. Up until the law was established, only 300,000 girls participated in high school sports. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations that number jumped to about 3.5 million during the 2018-19 school year, 43% of all high school athletes.

And the reason that leap is so exciting? Young people who participate in sports learn valuable skills that shine in the business world. Ninety-four percent of women in C suite positions—that means executives—played sports, 52% participated in college athletics, so there’s a serious correlation between athletic and business success. And it’s easy to see why. Athletes learn teamwork, punctuality, leadership skills, and the ability to get back up when they’ve been knocked down. Who wouldn’t want to hire them? Until Title IX, only male athletes reaped this benefit.

But before you rejoice over the wonderful success of Title IX, it’s important to take a closer look, especially at the college level, where the law is being manipulated in a rather appalling way. If a school has an equal number of male and female students and there are 600 male athletes, by law there should also be 600 female athletes. But, according to a 2018-19 analysis by USA TODAY, some of the nation’s biggest and most well-known schools—107 institutions in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, to be exact—are rigging the count.

For example, twenty-seven schools dumped extra athletes onto women’s teams, players who sometimes had never participated in the sport before and who never competed at the varsity level, all so they wouldn’t have to field women’s teams in other sports. At the same time, ten schools decided not to count 170 male athletes by saying they didn’t “sponsor” men’s indoor track, only because the men didn’t compete in conference or NCAA championships. Hence, they were not required to provide an additional 170 slots to women. Even worse, one-quarter of all women’s basketball players reported to the federal government were…wait for it…men. Yep, it seems it’s quite legal to call some guys in to scrimmage with a women’s team and then declare that those men are actually women. Fifty-two schools reported 601 male practice players as women, so they could comply with Title IX guidelines.

Not surprisingly, when the schools were contacted by USA TODAY reporters and asked about the proper counting of male and female athletes the response was terse. “We follow the guidelines as issued.” Which is true, but completely unfair and not in the spirit of Title IX.

So, 50 years later, have things improved for women in amateur sports? Yes, they have! But have we reached the goal of full Title IX compliance? Nope. The numbers are being fudged and our schools can and should do better.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Life comes at you fast!

Covid and a severely broken leg had me thinking about the precariousness of life.

Generally, for those of us lucky enough to live in first-world countries, life generally plods along in a rather routine way. We get up, do the stuff we have to, then go to bed. The excitement usually comes from whatever TV show/movie/video game we’re watching.

However, on occasion, life takes a hard turn, slaps us in the face and says, “What are you gonna do now?” One year ago, I had such a moment when I got Covid, passed out, and woke up with a severely broken leg that would require surgery, but which left me untouchable until the virus passed. It would be three weeks before a surgeon would re-break my leg and attach a titanium plate along with eleven screws, which sometimes makes me feel like I might be related to Oz’s Tin Man. Clearly, nothing was the least bit normal. I was in bed for months. I was completely helpless. I couldn’t prepare food or bathe myself. I had to learn to walk again.

When you’re staring at four walls, you tend to think a lot. I kept recalling that old commercial saying: Life comes at you fast! I learned that seemingly insignificant decisions can have a huge impact. Had I not gotten out of bed that night, I would have recovered from Covid and been bouncing around as usual after a few weeks. Instead, I would not feel like myself for almost nine months and I will carry my metal bits as a reminder for the rest of my life.

No matter where I go, I will always carry the evidence of my fall with me.

During my convalescence, I reflected on other moments when a snap decision put me in eminent danger. One time that sticks out happened in my early twenties, when I went skiing in Switzerland. I’d grown up on the slopes in New Jersey and New York, but skiing in the Alps was a whole different sport.

The lift dropped me above the tree line, and I faced a vast, mountaintop field of fresh snow. It was delightful until I saw the trees below. Other skiers funneled into what appeared to be small trails, disappearing into the pines. I followed them, but the tracks were only about ten-feet wide, which might be okay for a leisurely walk in the woods, but not so much for an average skier heading rapidly downhill.

The snow was deep and fresh, powder flying. But then the trail split in two ahead and I had to pick one. I skied to the right and the narrow track quickly disappeared. I hurtled into the woods. Suddenly, I came to a dead stop, up to my chest in snow. I blinked and tried to get out, but couldn’t move. Muted quiet assaulted me. I guessed the rest of the skiers had taken the other route. Irrationally, I attempted to lift my skis, but the snow held them down. I couldn’t turn around. Surrounded by trees and silence and snow, I started to panic. Would someone come my way soon or would they find me the next spring as I thawed from an icy tomb?

Then, I felt one foot slip backwards slightly. It was only an inch or two, but my ski had clearly moved. I took a breath to calm myself, then tried moving my other foot. Again, the ski slid back, but only a little. I found that I could move in only one direction—backward—and only in tiny increments.

I don’t recollect how long it took me to get out or how I made my way back to the correct trail. I do recall not being the least bit cold. No doubt the panic and exertion kept me warm. And, I can still vividly remember the euphoria I felt when the snow finally released me from its grip and I knew I would live.

I have had other close calls over the years. A narrow, underwater lava tube one-hundred feet below the sea’s surface where I found myself scuba diving without a light or the ability to turn around comes to mind, as does a ride over an equestrian show-jumping course—a place I was completely unqualified to be—where the horse magically sprung over rails and water obstacles, while I clung to the poor creature’s mane using a death grip.

Yes, I’ve been a dope a few times in the past, and I realize how fortunate I was not to end up, well…dead. Still, I must confess, I might be apt to do more dumb things in the future.

That which does not kill me and all.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Communication skills are going the way of the dodo

Studies show we’re losing the ability to communicate in person?

I’m worried!

There are a lot of things that have me concerned, like the usual ho-hum topics: climate change and politics, pandemics and inflation and war. But what worries me most are young people.

Why, you ask? The vast majority of them seem unable to fully communicate. And yet, studies show strangely different results on this issue.

As I usually do when confronted with a problem, I popped on my reporter’s hat to do some research. The first article that came up was from Psychology Today, a 2020 story by Dr. Marilyn Price Ph.D. who thinks young people are doing just fine, thank you very much. According to her article, a study by Douglas Downey of Ohio State University involving more than 60,000 K-8 kids between 1998 and 2010 showed that “no decline in social skills was noted by teachers or parents during this period of increased internet activity.”

As an educator of over 20 years, all I can say is color me surprised.

A short time later, I came upon a 2021 story by SWNS Media Group: Young Americans lack key social skills, avoid the phone, and fear small talk. The article was based on a survey of millennials by OnePoll, a marketing research company that specializes in online and mobile polling. The survey produced the following results:

One study shows 30% of millennials always or often feel lonely and 27% say they have no close friends. Could poor communication skills be adding to the problem?
  • 68 % of millennials admit they actively avoid talking face to face if they can
  • 40% confess that they often find themselves awkward or uncomfortable if having to make small talk.
  • 62% feel a sense of dread while speaking on the phone to clients and customers at work.
  • 80% feel they are often more vocal or able to express themselves in text or online than when they are in person.

Only 7% of millennials say they generally keep in touch with friends by talking on the phone, while just 9% communicate in person. And the vast majority claim their main form of contact with friends is on social media or via text.

While these stats are sad, they sound more realistic. But I know what you’re thinking. Why the disparity between the studies? I mulled this over for a while and then the proverbial light bulb went on. The first study was talking about children. The later discussed the grown-ups they’d become.

Clearly, then, we have a problem. In the interest of full disclosure note that I taught communication skills in high school. Then, along with a host of other classes, my program was cut to make way for all those STEM courses. Don’t get me wrong, science, technology, engineering, and math are fine subjects, but not all children are wired to succeed in STEM. And, even if they were, don’t scientists and engineers and IT people need the ability to work with others? Without solid communications skills, misunderstandings and errors are bound to occur.

Just 9% of millennials say they generally communicate with their friends in person. That leaves 91% alone.

Good communication skills can also improve one’s personal life. Being able to listen and respond clearly to another human being builds trust, nurtures mutual respect, and goes a long way toward avoiding confusion that might lead to arguments and stress.

The question is, what do we do now? An entire generation of young people has grown up communicating primarily by screen. And, if that’s not bad enough, consider that they are now raising children. What will become of the offspring of those who have eschewed social skills?

Did I mention I’m worried?

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

A bit about booze

Humans and their predecessors have been enjoying alcohol, in one form or another, for millions of years.

I like wine. And the occasional beer. And sometimes a wee finger of iced dark rum. Now, some might blame this on my Irish ancestry, as my peeps are often associated with the raucous drinking of alcohol. Still the Irish are generally a cheery lot, and we don’t often take offense at our propensity to enjoy a nip now and then.

Here’s the thing. Human beings have been imbibing in some form or another since, well, before we were actually human. Studies show that our primate ancestors managed to metabolize alcohol somewhere between seven and 21 million years ago. Researchers believe our ancient forefathers might have developed their alcohol-metabolizing gene following a major climate change during the Miocene Epoch that shifted African forests into grasslands, forcing them from the trees. They probably climbed down from their branches and started looking around for stuff to eat. So, instead of picking food directly from the trees, they began eating the fruits and berries that had fallen to the ground, which had probably rotted a bit having begun the natural process of fermentation, which converted those fruit sugars into alcohol.

Understand that our furry forebears were not ambling down to the local liquor store, nor were they actively distilling anything. That process didn’t evolve until maybe around 800 B.C., when some enterprising folks in Asia thought distilling rice and sometimes mare’s milk—Yum!— were dandy ways to make alcohol. But these early attempts at creating booze were not undertaken for recreational purposes. The liquor was generally for medicinal or ritual uses. Then, somewhere along the line, some recalcitrant human—after checking around to see if any of the bigwigs were looking—probably snuck a sip. Then he or she smiled. And alcohol as a recreational drink became all the rage.

Most people who drink in the U.S. prefer beer.

Later, and perhaps not surprisingly, humans came to believe fermentation was a gift from the gods, which I certainly understand. Booze became so important that the Greeks used wine as currency. The Romans gave their soldiers wine rations to keep them marching throughout the empire. Then, in the 17th century, clever rum merchants in the Caribbean convinced the British to pass laws requiring that sailors be provided with a daily “tot” and mutinies occurred if the men didn’t get their rum in a timely matter. Note the law didn’t expire until 1970.

A 2021 Gallup poll showed that 60% of U.S. adults admit to drinking alcohol, with almost 40% saying their libation of choice is beer. Thirty-one precent opt for wine, while 27% prefer spirits. As mentioned earlier, I enjoy all three, depending on the setting. And in moderation, of course!

The thing is, for those of us who do imbibe, cocktails bring a bit of civility to the day. That pre-dinner beer—which I split with my sweetie pie and drink from a Champaign flute because I’m not a barbarian— adds a bit of decorum, especially to those days that don’t go quite as planned.

In any case, I’d like to thank our ancient ancestors for swinging out of the trees and gobbling up those alcohol-infused fruits, so that today we can all look forward to cocktail hour.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Age: Maybe it’s all about how we act

What is age? It’s a combination of things.

Age. It’s a funny thing, especially when you try to pin it down. I’m not talking about chronological age, as that’s pretty much set in stone. The question is how age is perceived.

For example, after asking my high school students what they thought was old age they agreed upon 24. Ugh! Just today, one of my kids said her friends referred to 33 as “fossil age.” Conversely, my 97-year-old mother told me she’d met a new friend who was young: 82.

See why I’m confused?

The perception of age seems to be an individual thing. But is it based on what we look like? How we feel? How we act? It seems the United Nation’s has determined that anyone over 59, no matter where they live or how they look or feel, is considered old. However, Boomers—no doubt a bit biased—say you’re not old until you’re 73.

In recent decades, ideas about age have clearly shifted. Consider the phrase “40 is the new 30”, which morphed into “50 is the new 40”. So, is 70 the new 60? I’d like to think so. Still, not long ago the idea of a woman over 30 gracing a magazine cover was rather rare. The thought being that ladies past that age were no longer attractive or desirable or captivating. Note the same prohibition was not held in regard to men, who could be suave and sexy well into their 50s and 60s. Go figure.

But then something shifted. Not only did a lot of famous women maintain their looks as the decades slipped past, but people found them much more interesting than those 20-something youngsters who still hadn’t acquired much life experience.

Sometimes, the best way to not look your age is to not act your age.

I’m thinking age is a combination of factors. Looking good certainly helps, but more important is good health. When we‘re fit, we feel better, which colors the way we act. Like most people, I’ve occasionally been on the opposite end of feeling good, and when I stared into the mirror I saw what old age looked like. While I understand illness, aches, and pains come with advancing years, they don’t have to define us.

There are a lot of ways we can work around the ailments that plague us as we age: eating right, exercise, hobbies, healthy relationships, volunteer work. I’m willing to bet these things will go a long way toward making us healthier and happier, which will, no doubt, show on our faces.

I’m 67. And though I periodically feel ancient—the result of all those sports I was told were good for me—I don’t feel elderly in my head. My kids sometimes say I don’t act old. Perhaps that’s because I’m sometimes silly. Not too long ago, my sweetie pie and I were known to dance in the isles at Home Depot. Why there? I have no idea. Sometimes silly doesn’t make sense. It’s just fun.

So, let’s ditch the numbers and preconceived notions we have about age. Let’s work on our health and let the happiness shine through. And, personally, I recommend some silly now and then. I know many of you have outgrown that behavior, but give it a try.

I think you’ll look and feel younger.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

The origin of stuff

Once upon a time, back when we lived in caves, people didn’t have much: maybe a basic set of clothes made from animal skins and a sharp tool of some kind. Our ancient ancestors spent much of their time gathering fruits and nuts and other plants to eat. Periodically, someone got lucky and dragged home an animal to roast on the fire. They probably slept on a pile of communal skins in their cavern and, in their free time, gathered a few rocks to make into tools and bits of jewelry.

Ancestry.com led me to my great, great, great…Just kidding. That said, I think our ancient ancestors’ lives were simpler than ours.

Now, I’m not saying life was easy for our cave-dwelling ancestors, but it was certainly much simpler. As a student of history, I must admit that I used to think things improved when our ancestors came up with the two big ideas that propelled humans forward: agriculture and pottery. Some enterprising soul no doubt decided that the walk to the far-off place to pluck grains was getting tiresome and, rather brilliantly, decided to plant some near the cave. Since Nikes had yet to be invented, I’m sure the clan members were thrilled. Add pottery into the mix—a place to store and protect all their food and produce—and early humans probably never imagined that life could get any better.

But here’s the thing. Once they had those fields cleared and planted, a problem occurred. Other groups lusted after their fertile crops and might steal them if the people wandered too far away, say for a trip to the seaside to gather some yummy clams and oysters. (As an aside, I do wonder about the first human who decide to slurp down those slimy-looking, gray-shelled creatures, and without any cocktail sauce, to boot! Maybe his name was Mikey. If you don’t know what I mean, ask someone over sixty.)

Suddenly, humans had stuff others might want to steal, so they had to guard their little patch of fertile ground. Later, they started building homes around those cultivated plots and someone—I’m thinking a woman—starting considering what might look nice hanging on the walls. And so…our accumulation of stuff began.

I mention all of this because I’m suddenly feeling swamped by my possessions. Not necessarily the stuff I see every day, it’s those things that have been languishing in closets and drawers and the shed out back. I started considering my stuff when I was cleaning out my dad’s belongings. One item especially stood out. It was a medium-sized cardboard box, carefully taped shut with the following message written in black Sharpie: DO NOT OPEN! I was intrigued and felt a bit guilty when, after apologizing to my deceased father, I ripped it open. I could not have been more surprised. The box was completely empty. Nothing but air between those cardboard panels. I wanted to shout, “What’s up with this, Dad?” But instead, I was left with only questions.

Today, the vast majority of us have hundreds or perhaps thousands of possessions. Most of them are unnecessary for our survival. Many of them we don’t even use or enjoy looking at. With so many other things making life complicated—like all those ever-changing passwords we’re forced to remember—I’m thinking I’d like a simpler life. So, I’m now on a crusade to declutter my world.

But please don’t worry. I’m not advocating ditching everything and moving into a cave. Maybe I’ll just load up the car with some bags for Goodwill. Then I’ll feel better, and relax with a glass of wine and maybe some oysters. Here’s hoping I have some cocktail sauce buried in a cupboard somewhere.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg


The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

The New Retirement: A podcast

Sadly, there is no rule book to see us through retirement, but it would certainly be nice, yes?

A while back, I wrote a blog article about the fact that I was struggling with retirement. A short time later, I was contacted by a lovely man named Joe Casey, who runs a podcast called The New Retirement. Joe’s program doesn’t delve into the financial aspects of retiring, which of course are important, but are not the only things you should consider. Instead, Joe focuses on our emotional responses to this life change.

I retired from full-time teaching and sports officiating a few years ago, and I wish I’d talked to Joe sooner, because then I would have understood the transition a bit better. As he points out so succinctly, there is no rulebook for retirement.

“Now picture yourself on your first day of retirement, the next phase of your life,” Joe says on his webpage. “Your hopes and dreams. And your concerns. But there’s no Orientation this time. You’re on your own. Retirement today doesn’t come with a template or a roadmap. Each one is different – and that means it’s wise to invest some time in designing your life in retirement.”

Like the roadrunner in the cartoon, we run hard, then often come to a screeching halt when we hit retirement.

The important word is your retirement, because there is no one-size fits-all approach. We have spent our working lives running from obligation to obligation, doing our best to fit in all our daily responsibilities. Then we retire, which kind of reminds me of the roadrunner in the Wily E. Coyote cartoon sliding to a full stop in a swirl of desert dust. Like the goofy bird, many of us stand there with no idea what happens next.

Joe explained that many people fear boredom most of all. It’s really important, then, that we retirees identify and practice things we enjoy doing and that we have events we can look forward to. We need to be curious and ask ourselves what gives us joy. Retirement is also the perfect time to volunteer. We have all those valuable skills we developed in our work lives which can now be used to make the world a better place.

The most important thing to remember is that work is something we do. It’s not who we are.

I was delighted when Joe invited me to join him on his podcast. Perhaps you’d like to take a listen.

Enjoy!

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

Plastic surgery: Okay, a bigger butt might be nice

The desire for physical enhancement has exploded in the last 20 years.

The other night, my sweetie pie and I were watching a documentary on the history of plastic surgery. The original idea was developed as a form of compassion; doctors trying to help those with deformities or injuries, like cleft palates and burns. Historians believe these nascent attempts at human reconstruction go back at least 4,000 years.

It was not until the horrendous aftermath of World War I, where modern weaponry did so much to destroy soldiers’ bodies, that the practice took off. Doctors worked feverishly to craft new noses and chins, jaws and eye sockets to give those injured men some semblance of normal lives.

Fast forward to today, and plastic surgery has taken on a whole new meaning. In our world, the vast majority of plastic surgery operations are performed for the sake of enhanced beauty. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic surgeons, close to $17 billion was spent in the US in 2020 on cosmetic procedures.

No talent needed! Plastic surgery is so popular that an entire family of women—the Kardashians—is famous for nothing more than their enhanced looks.

While the U.S. leads the world in tummy tucks, brow lifts, and breast implants, other countries aren’t far behind. Brazil is second, followed by Germany—didn’t see that coming—Japan, Turkey, and Mexico. And these enhancements are not just for women. Plenty of men are submitting to eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, and, everyone’s favorite, liposuction.

Speaking of the procedure that extracts fat to make one appear leaner, one has to admire Brazil’s Ivo Pitanguy. The acclaimed doctor noticed—perhaps after perusing all those bikini-clad, Copacabana beachgoers— that there was a perfectly good place for all that extracted fat, and…Voilá!…the Brazilian butt lift was born. By all accounts, Pitanguy was a great guy, often providing his reconstructive services to the poor for free. However, he would become known as the Surgeon to the Stars and was so revered in his country that in 2016 he carried the Olympic torch in Rio de Janeiro, after which he promptly died at the age of 93.

I suppose it’s a good thing we have plastic surgery, I just wonder if we’re taking these operations to the extreme. It’s hard not to think of people like the late Michael Jackson, who went from a cute kid to, well, something else. And I can’t count the number of very pretty women who feel the need to up their game by going under the knife. I’ve struggled through a seven medical surgeries, and can’t imagine allowing someone to cut me for something that isn’t absolutely necessary.

I admit, I sometimes wonder what it might be like to have a more prominent posterior.

I also worry that young people, especially girls, are constantly comparing themselves to enhanced women, and see themselves as lacking. Conversely, young men ogle those literally sculpted ladies, and perhaps expect all women to look that way. Kind of a vicious circle, don’t you think?

As someone who faced the decision to do anything to look younger, I understand the pressure. When I was a sportscaster, I worked for five TV stations, at both the local and national levels. Then I aged out. You see, the target audience for sports is 18-to-34-year-old males and once I was pushing 40, I was no longer deemed pretty enough to be in front of a camera. It was a rude awakening. My work ethic, writing skills, and reporting abilities were insignificant. It was my age showing that was of the utmost importance.

Today, I am resigned to letting nature take its course. Still, I sometimes think about Dr. Pitanguy’s specialty and wonder what it might be like to…um…have a butt.

Just sayin’.

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The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

An open letter to politicians: Here are some tips for getting elected

If you want my vote, pay attention!

Hey, you guys who are running for election, I couldn’t help but notice how swamped you all are right now. Yes, I know the mid-terms are right around the corner and you’re busy trying to convince us to mark that little dot next to your name on the ballot, but I think you could use some guidance, so I’d like to offer a few suggestions.

So you have some kids. That doesn’t mean you’re a better person than someone who didn’t reproduce.

First, since I’m guessing you want to get as many votes as possible, you should do your best not to make some voters feel left out. For example, you endlessly mention that you believe in “family” values—often displaying your spouse and kids as if they are some kind of magic totem—intimating that only people with families are worthy of running for office. But this cuts off a big swath of the voting public. Understand that about 16.5% of adults 55 and over in this country are biologically childless. And remember that 65-to-74-year-olds are the most likely to vote. See the problem? You might consider their feelings when you punch up the fact that you managed to produce kids. Not a huge achievement, biologically speaking—a drunk undergrad at a frat party can accomplish the same feat, yes?— and I haven’t seen any studies claiming that parenthood makes you a better person. Consider that family values include things like empathy, honesty, integrity, and perseverance, traits that even those who have not reproduced might feel are important. So talk to your copy writer and try to be more inclusive.

Aren’t family values everyone’s values?

Continuing with the exclusionary theme, consider your obsessive need to identify yourself as a faith-based person in your ads. It’s a bit holier-than-thou, don’t you think? According to a 2021 Pew Research Survey, 30% of Americans consider themselves unaffiliated with any specific religion. And while you may actually think you’re morally superior to others, in the interest of gathering votes, do you really want that sentiment flying around out there? Let’s remember that we live in a country that our founders decided should be free of state-sponsored religion, smart men who gave us the right to believe or not believe as we see fit. So again, perhaps you shouldn’t waste that ad budget on something that is better left private.

Don’t tell me that your opponent is rotten. Tell me why you’re not.

Now, please don’t think I’m piling on and remember I’m only trying to help. The thing is, it’s really not nice or helpful when you diss your opponent. I mean, gosh, bashing the other guy in attack ads makes you sound like a sixth-grade bully. Not a good look!

If you want my support, a much better approach would be to tell me what you believe in and how you plan to address the important issues we face. How do you propose to bring us all together? How can you make our city, state, country better? How can you assure equality for all people regardless of what they look like or believe in?

I really think you have a much better chance of getting elected if you consider all of us. So, let’s play nice. Let’s be honest. Let’s treat others the way we’d like to be treated. Let’s agree to disagree, then shake hands. And perhaps you could use that big media budget to actually point out something that proves you’re worthy of my vote.

Wouldn’t that be better?

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books

Author’s Show: Wolf Catcher

My thanks to Linda Thompson and her crew for inviting me to be on The Authors Show. We talked about my historical fiction novel, Wolf Catcher, and lots of other things on the podcast, so grab a cup of tea or your favorite libation, put your feet up, and have a listen.

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WOLF CATCHER

TouchPoint Press

Release date: February 2, 2022

Historical Fiction

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEWS FOR Wolf Catcher

Heidi Slowinski

heidislowinski.com

“The story is very well-paced, reaching a page-turning, action-packed climax to the end. This story has all the elements of a great suspense drama centered around a historical mystery.”

V. Williams

Vine Voice

“I was deeply and thoroughly embroiled in this imaginative novel… (that) melds seamlessly much of fact with fiction. Totally recommended! “

Marina Sardarova

Author

“What a journey! What a story! A truly epic tale that grabs you by a throat and moves your soul. Highly recommend for the readers of all age groups.”

Rosepoint Publishing

“Boy, didn’t this one grip me quickly and keep me glued to the pages! Loved the cliff-hanging chapter endings. Well researched, well-plotted and paced…Trust me, you’ll love it. Totally recommended and out now!” 

Megan Salcido

Wildwood Reads

“Once again the author has created a beautiful story with a powerful message. She took a piece of history and brought it to life. I just can’t say enough good things about Wolf Catcher.”

REVIEW COPIES OF Wolf Catcher AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy where you buy books.