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The Good and the Bad that Happened to Me

Bad Things that Happened to Me Today:

  • A Facebook friend dropped me, without a word. First time that's happened to me, and it's probably for the best. But if you've read my :-p :^) post, maybe you get how it can be right but still sucks.

  • Fixing my car to pass inspection used up every last dollar I had for it, plus 79¢ that was allocated for moving and for the kids' school supplies.

  • I need to drive my car for a week before getting it re-inspected on Friday at the latest, because that's when my 60 day time limit runs out. (And Friday is only 2 days away.)

  • I don't have enough money to get my car registration renewed, and it expires in 5 days.

  • I hit a wrong button, lost part of this list, and had to retype it. That sucks.

  • I'm way behind on tweet-backs, comments to blog posts, reading other bloggers' posts, and going through the job ads.

  • The DUA sent me a packet yesterday, and now I have to log on to their website, and that's just plain depressing.

  • My coffee pot died yesterday, and so I have no coffee today.

  • I spent hours yesterday making my websites more efficient, because my virtual private server was running hot, and some of the sites were slow. I finally figured out that it was the shared MySQL server that was probably being overloaded by someone else's site. But I was unable to reduce the memory footprint of my web-apps, and I don't know how I'm going to afford a bigger VPS. And having spent all that time hacking with the websites, I'm even further behind today.

  • I have way too much stuff to do.

Good Things that Happened to Me Today:

  • An old friend hired me to help with his website, and I'm thinking it might actually be something I will enjoy. (And BTW, he said he can afford to pay me.)

  • Another friend sent me a tip regarding a software management job, and I talked to the recruiter on the phone, and I felt confident and in control during the conversation. So she's going to pitch me to her client. Meanwhile, I'm filling out the questionnaire she sent me, and maybe the hiring manager will agree to chat with me on the phone.

  • I've been getting a disproportionate number of retweets of blog posts since yesterday. This includes "7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Writing My First Book" (which was initially retweeted thanks to a kind word from Joanna Penn at TheCreativePenn.com, which word was "Brilliant"... awww, shucks... but then many others also retweeted it). Also, my lament at having seen part of the "texting while driving" video, thanks to @DouglasCootey and @ThatNeilGuy, who retweeted it.

  • The punch line to the "texting while driving" video, which will go up in a few hours. (That is, the funny punch line, not the serious one.) I'll have to try it out whenever I feel upset or anger coming on; maybe it'll help me feel better.

  • My Beautiful One had a blast at camp, hiking down Mount Washington today. I wonder if she'll come home with a T-shirt that says, "I climbed Mount Washington."

  • I'm leading songs this week at church, and I love performing music.

Gotta go pick out those songs now. See ya later.


A Dream about the Healthcare Debate?
I haven't really analyzed this dream that I woke up with this morning. it might be about the healthcare debate, because yesterday I passed over several links and comments on Facebook regarding it, because I didn't have the time or emotional energy to get into it. But also because I also didn't think it would do any good, because cooler heads rarely prevail in the midst of a hot political debate.

This dream left me feeling sad:

I am sitting at a small desk in a corporate presentation room or class room with a bunch of other employees. B___ (one of the best managers I've ever worked with) is conducting the meeting. We are reviewing a design critique by a consultant, Sam --- (I didn't recognize the name), who also used to work there.

In one section of the critique report, he pointed out a number of things wrong with a circuit-board design on the project, as shown in Figure 4. One of the so-called problems that he identified was that the circuit board was "cheap," meaning it was of low quality. I think that it was probably a good thing that it was cheap. What's wrong with that? I wonder, as I analyze the situation in my mind. On the surface, it would seem that cheap is bad, because you only get what you pay for, but I reason, cheap could be the right thing, even if it's unpopular.

I see that this so-called problems he lists in the text are probably not really problems at all, but I want to confirm my intuition by looking at Figure 4. At first I can't even find it, but then I notice it's on the next page, after Fgures 1-3. Figure 4 is just a layout diagram of the circuit board, with complains called out. I wonder if he also included call-out lines, so that I could see what on the board each complaint referred to, and at first I can't see them. I think how incompetent Sam has been to include such a useless diagram in his report. But then I rotate the page and suddenly see the call-out lines, and I feel a little let down, because I really want Sam to be as incompetent as possible, because I already know I disagree with some aspects of his critique.

One of the things he complains about is that the designer stored "her husband's information" on the board. I gather that her husband was also an engineer at the company and that they were working on the project together. I could see that if the information had nothing to do with the functions of this board, then putting another chip on the board to store it was indeed probably a poor design choice.

But other things he mentioned were empty complaints, or just plain wrong. I went back to the "too cheap" complaint.

B___ was taking comments and questions from the floor, and I spoke up before my opportunity to speak lapsed. "B___?" I said. She recognized me, and I patiently explained in some areas, Sam just seemed to be grousing. I talked about his "too cheap" complaint, and said that while it's true that you only get what you pay for, getting less is not necessarily bad, if it's what you need. I pointed out that in the new design, if you're getting the same or a greater level of features and quality than in the previous design, and on schedule for no more cost than you had before, then that's probably a good thing. You can't just assume that because something costs more, that it's better for you, because you may need something cheaper. And in that case, satisfying your design requirements, at the same or lesser cost, is what you want. So it might be, I explained, that Sam is just grousing here, and not making a real, substantive point against the project design.

I realized that Sam was diluting the effectiveness of his report by grousing in an ill-informed way, and that this could even mute the bona fide complaints that he had regarding the design.

I realized, however, that I may have called Sam a "grouser," in substance, and I didn't really know whether that was his personality. I wanted to make it clear that my statements were just conjecture, based on what I was reading.

While the other people in the room flipped the pages on their copies of the report, in order to verify what I was saying, B___ nodded her head. "Did you ever meet Sam?" she asked.

"No, I don't know him," I said, and I clarified that I didn't know whether he was the kind of man to grouse all the time, but that he may just be grousing in this report, for some reason.

She said that, yes, she had said the same thing regarding costs, but that the executive board didn't want to hear it. And I knew that Sam in his ill-informed complaining had been given precedence, and that cooler heads had gotten short shrift, and that the designers on the project had gotten blamed instead of congratulated.

I marveled that B___ was so adept, that even though the executive board completely dismissed her informed notes on the critique, that she could still go on with her job. I knew I would never have been able to accept it.


Joy Comes in the Morning
This was a down week for me. While I got more writing done than usual, sales of my books still haven't picked up, even Love through the Eyes of an Idiot. And while everyone says they love my writing, the marketing challenge of getting them to fork over actual cash for it— You know how while you're climbing a mountain, you can't see the top? You look ahead, and no matter how long you've been climbing, all you see is mountain, stretching off into the distant sky. And you get tired and run down, and you wonder whether it's even worth climbing all the way to the top, because it would be so much easier to turn around and just hit bottom. Well, that marketing challenge still stands as a endless mountain climb before me.

Similarly, my new résumé stirred great interest in one recruiter, who seemed to realize how great of a find I would be for her client. But I knew that her client wouldn't go for it, and I was right, because even just talking to her, I noticed a couple of warning signs that indicated that it was probably a poor client. So, dodged a bullet there, didn't I? And I'm still broke.

I also started work on a short story about a man who has decided to commit suicide, set in a fancy restaurant, because he's decided to splurge for his last meal, his last supper.

On the other hand, I managed to learn the Mourner's Kaddish, the whole thing, so if a loved one were to drop dead tomorrow, at least I could say it correctly.

Ironically, all these thoughts and experiences remind me of a song that an old friend of mine used to sing occasionally, "Joy Comes in the Morning," a song that I too learned but haven't performed in many years. It's a song that he probably learned from Jimmy Swaggart, back in the day, one of the things that Jimmy actually did right:


Some posts this week I've written or found interesting enough to comment on:

Pre-order "Love through the Eyes of an Idiot"
As I write, the printer is producing the production proof of Love through the Eyes of an Idiot. I'm accepting pre-orders via my online store.

* Reduced price through July 15
* Autographed, including personalized message
* 12-month, no-questions-asked guarantee


As soon as the book is available for sale, it will also show up on Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other sites. I've also submitted it to books.google.com, but I don't know how long Google's team will take to process the submission.


Love through the Eyes of an Idiot
My latest project is the true story of my search for love, as a teenager and young adult, called Love through the Eyes of an Idiot.

First a few anecdotal videos:

Then, an open and heartfelt letter to Delilah, the radio DJ, who plays a central role in the story. (Actually, writing this letter made me tear up a little.)


Looking Back at 2007; Looking Forward to 2008
In 2007...

As I enter 2008, I'm more regimented in my daily routine. And I'm getting more done. I also plan to do more to connect with other people.

And on that note, I picked up a bunch of postcards on my recent vacation to southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. If you're in the US and you want a postcard, click here to ask for a postcard from Longwood Gardens. First come, first served.

Happy New Year, Everybody!


The Conscience of Abe's Turn, s01e1c4
A little late. (Sorry. I forgot to post on LiveJournal.) Here's the next chapter of my story I've been posting.

The Conscience of Abe's Turn, s01e1c3
Here's the next chapter of my story I've been posting.


Friday Snippets: The Conscience of Abe's Turn, s01e1c2
I've posted The Conscience of Abe's Turn: The Birth of the Conscience, Episode 1: "How to Stay Out of Jail in One Easy Lesson," Chapter 2.

And for anyone taking part in the "Friday Snippets" meme, please feel free to leave your link at the corresponding blog post.

BTW, the "automating" part I mentioned last time didn't pan out. I thought I could just post-date future entries. But that's not the way LJ works. Oh well.


Friday Snippets: The Conscience of Abe's Turn, s01e1c1
Yeah, I know it's not actually Friday. But I'm including The Conscience of Abe's Turn in Holly Lisle's "Friday Snippets" meme, because each chapter comes out on a Friday. I'm actually automating future "Friday Snippets" posts on my LiveJournal, so they should all be posted on the same Friday that actual chapter is posted. Each chapter BTW is also automatically posted each Friday. Cool, huh?

So, I just started season 1 of my new on-line drama serial, The Conscience of Abe's Turn. Season 1 is entitled The Birth of the Conscience. I posted the first chapter of episode 1, "How to Stay Out of Jail in One Easy Lesson." I did end up editing it a little since the preview I posted last month. I have to admit, I'm still on a high from completing the whole episode. I'm anxious to see what will happen next in these characters' lives.

Here it is: The Conscience of Abe's Turn: The Birth of the Conscience, Episode 1: "How to Stay Out of Jail in One Easy Lesson," Chapter 1.

The way Friday Snippets works is that you can leave a link to your own snippet on others' blog posts that are part of the meme. Many of the participating writers are using one of Mister Linky's Autolink Widgets to streamline this process. See "Friday Snippets" at Holly Lisle's blog for more information.