Tag Archives: A to Z Challenge

Z is for Zirconium


Today is my 26th post for the 2022 A to Z Blogging Challenge. My goal was to stick to my theme, the arts and the creative process, but it’s hard to think of something arts- or creativity-related that starts with Z. So please forgive me for writing about an element instead.

Zirconium is a chemical element. Its symbol is Zr, and its atomic number is 40. Its primary source is the mineral zircon, from which it is named. Zirconium is a silvery metal that resembles titanium.

Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral with the chemical composition of ZrSiO4. It’s fairly common, being a minor constituent of all three types of rocks, igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. It’s also a popular gemstone, the birthstone for December. It occurs in different colors and is sometimes used as a cheaper alternative to diamonds, which it equals in sparkle.

Cubic Zirconia, however, also a lower-priced substitute for diamonds, is not a naturally occurring mineral, but synthetic. It’s the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2).

Cubic Zirconia
Cubic Zirconia. Photo by Gregory Phillips. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Video of the Day: Y is for Yodel


Video of the Week # 355: X is for Xylophone


Wordless Wednesday: W is for Water

Water Ranch Lake
Duck at Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Guest Post: V is for a Veteran’s Guide to College by Kelli Brewer

A Veteran Graduates
Image via Pexels

The transition from military life to civilian life is often difficult for many veterans, particularly when trying to find suitable employment. One way to tackle the issue is to go back to college and earn a degree. The following advice may help you on your journey.

Benefits of Going Back to College

Many colleges offer programs specifically for ex-military. Here, veterans are among peers who share the same experiences, which helps build a community spirit. Many veterans find that returning to college after serving in the armed forces helps ease the transition into civilian life. 

Your job opportunities vastly increase when armed with a degree. Earnings are substantially higher, too, compared to those who possess only a high school diploma. Annually, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can earn $32,000 more than someone with a high school diploma.

At college, you have the opportunity to learn something completely new. Things you had no interest in when joining the military may now seem highly appealing. Learning new skills and using them in the professional world can help you earn a considerable annual income.

Veteran-Friendly College Degrees

Due to your unique military experiences, you may be better suited to some jobs. The following degrees can help you obtain the credentials required for your chosen career:

  • Criminal justice. This degree is for veterans who want a career in law enforcement. As an ex-serviceman or woman, you possess the physical attributes and weapon training police forces are looking for. 
  • Engineering. The need for engineers is growing. If you held a technical position in the military, you already know some of the fundamentals of engineering. 
  • Nursing. As a veteran, you may have already been trained in health care to some extent. Nursing is a sound occupation if you wish to take that training further or you have a desire to take care of others.
  • Physical therapy. You can earn significantly more than the national average as a physical therapist. Having served in the armed forces, you’re only too aware of the need for physical therapists.
  • Teaching. Leadership skills, discipline, and effective communication are just some of the many skills you can bring into the classroom. If you want to get into teaching, aim for a teaching degree rather than a bachelor’s, which means a higher starting salary.

Online Degrees

Another option open to you is an online degree. This option allows you to study while working and meeting other commitments. You can study business and finance, psychology, or computer science. Through an online course in computer science, for instance, you can learn the necessary skills to become a highly sought-after professional in the IT industry.

Veteran Education Benefits

Veteran education benefits can help open the door to a new career. Here are some of the more common ones.

  • Montgomery – Chapter 30
  • Montgomery G.I. Bill – Active Duty
  • Montgomery G.I. Bill – Selected Reserve
  • Post 9/11 G.I. Bill – Chapter 33
  • Vocational Rehabilitation – Chapter 31
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program

On the Road to a New Career

Now that your time in the military has ended, it’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter of your life. Following this advice can help you get on the road to a new career.

Kelli Brewer is proud of her military family and is passionate in supporting military families. She uses her work to offer support and resources to families experiencing the challenges of deployments. Together with her husband, they created DeployCare to offer understanding and support to our service members and their families. Their team is composed of veterans and their spouses who have experienced many of the issues that arise when there is not adequate support when needed.

Monday Morning Wisdom #359: U is for Peter Ustinov

Monday Morning Wisdom #359: U is for Peter Ustinov

The sound of laughter has always seemed to me the most civilized music in the universe. ~Peter Ustinov, from Dear Me

T is for Telemann


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) was possibly the most prolific composer in history. He is considered one of the foremost German composers during the Baroque era, and is often compared to Bach and Handel, with whom he was well-acquainted.

Concerto for Traverso and Recorder in E minor:

Telemann’s father passed away when he was four. His mother disapproved of wasting time on music, but young Georg found himself a music teacher when he was 10, and by the time he was 12 had composed his first opera.

Musique de Table Quartet in G Major:

Telemann composed 33 operas in all; church music, including series of passions, cantatas, and oratorios; several orchestral suites and chamber music pieces; fantasias, overtures, and fugues for keyboard; chorales, fugues, and chorale harmonizations for organ; numerous concertos for violin, viola, horn, trumpet, chalumeau, oboe, bassoon, recorder, and flute; and sonatas for oboe and bassoon.

Adagio from Trumpet Concerto:

Telemann’s style evolved as he aged and incorporated influences from French, Italian, and Polish styles. He was a driving force during the late Baroque and early Classical periods, although his writing remained complex contrapuntally and harmonically, and he considered some of his contemporaries’ works as too simplistic.

Brecht ihr müden Augenlider:

Telemann insisted on exclusive publication rights for his works, thereby setting one of the most important early precedents for regarding music as the intellectual property of the composer. 

Burlesque de Quixotte:

S is for Skill


Creativity is vital to the artist. But creativity is the starting point. In order to achieve your artistic goals, you are going to need skill.

To be skillful is to do something well. No one is born with skills; they are acquired through practice. So, the good news is that you can become more skillful at anything. The bad news is it’s going to take work. There are no shortcuts. But there are strategies:

  1. Focus on one skill at a time. Add another only after you’ve made progress on the first and know that you can maintain your pace.
  2. Lofty goals are good, but realize they will take time, as in years, even decades. Set realistic intermediate goals, and raise the bar as you go. You may want to be the best xylophone player in the world, but maybe start out by learning how to play smooth scales.
  3. If you can, take a class or private lessons. Go to workshops and conferences. If that’s not possible, you might be able to find some good lessons on YouTube for whatever skill you’re trying to learn.
  4. Find other people who can already do what you want to do, and cultivate them as friends. (Caveat: famous people probably will not want to be your friend, so do not stalk them.) Hang out where people who do what you want to do hang out. If you want to be an author, google writers groups in your zip code. If you want to be a comedian, look for open mike nights. Go and watch a few times, and see if you can talk to some of the participants. Ask them for advice, like how they come up with their material or handle stage fright.
  5. Practice is paramount. Every day is optimal. Even if you think you don’t have time except on weekends, try to get in some practice every day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Maybe there is one tricky passage in your dance routine. Do some stretches and try just that pattern ten times after dinner. Do that Monday through Friday, and when Saturday comes and you can really devote some time to it, it will be that much easier.
  6. Practice smart. If you want to draw people but the hands always look wonky, then just draw hands for a week or two. I once embroidered an angel, and her hair was supposed to be made of French knots. At the time, French knots were my least favorite stitch, and I always messed them up. But by the time I finished the angel’s hair, I’d made several hundred of them, and I could do them blindfolded.
Embroidered Christmas angel

It’s never too late to try something new and develop new skills. Don’t sell yourself short—practice.

Video of the Week #354: R is for Reading Aloud to Children


I may have posted this in the past, but this is such an important issue, it bears repeating.

Wordless Wednesday: Q is for Quilts

Joy's Christmas quilt