Easter Sunday 2016 – And My Mirror Moment

Mar 27, 2016 by

Hoppy Easter Sunday, 2016. 

May you and your family find the rich blessings of our Lord in your world today.

Having A Kid Away At College During Holidays

I re-learned yesterday, when my twin 16-year-old daughters came over for an early Easter lunch, that holidays can be/are far different when you have your eldest 10 hours away at Auburn University. Empty spots at the table take some getting used to. Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 4.46.21 PM

I dressed up for the twins to come–usually I am dressed in a t-shirt and shorts so I don’t mess up clothes while cooking the proverbial fatted calf. Yesterday, it was a white dress shirt and a seasonally-appropriate green self-tied bow-tie with white polka dots. A picture has been included.

 

So much is in flux in my world as I sit here today sharing a few thoughts.

Sheered Great Pyrenee

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.46.23 AMA week and a half ago now I took Maycee, my 20-month-old Great Pyrenees to the groomers and had her winter coat shaved. Whew. No more hair all over the place, but she’s been needier than ever. Has even been sleeping in the bed with
me and she had stopped doing that about a year ago. Now, when I sit here at the desk trying to work, instead of sitting in the floor next to me, she’s rubbing up against me. In many ways, I feel like I have a two-year-old child with separation anxiety. I will be glad when she regains her self-confidence. I had no idea dogs could feel embarrassed, but it’s clear that’s what’s going on. One of my neighbors said, “You should know better than to mess with a woman’s hair. We take that seriously, you know.”  Lesson learned. But I’m not sure how to avoid it next year.

FileMaker Is Challenging My Left-Brain

I have spent hours upon hours the past few months learning the deeper levels necessary for the development of database projects in FileMaker Pro. By nature, God made me a writer, which means I do most of my work out of my proverbial right-brain. Left-brain work is not something I’ve ever been really good at but I am doing everything I can to use the other side of my smarts–heck, I’m 50, it’s about time, right?  Two significant development projects are underway. (And I just got bumped into by Maycee.)

J. Suzanne Frank

One of the smartest people I’ve ever come to know is J. Suzanne Frank, the director of Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program.

In the past year and a half, I’ve been through all of the early portions of the program and have been under her instruction for at least half of it. Suzanne has written and had published EIGHT books. She knows her stuff and it is reflected by the results of the Writer’s Path program.

Having two completed manuscripts in hand, I’m now taking her special “Gap Year Revising” class where she is encouraging us to put our works through the wringer to get them into shape to be presented to agents and publishing houses in New York in November 2017. (I make mention of the date so as to emphasize to you that writing a book isn’t something one does in the space of a Hollywood movie and it gets sent to the first agent/publishing house, they love it, stop the presses, print it and then it’s on the shelves for everyone in the world to buy at Barnes & Noble in a few weeks.)

Friday, Suzanne circulated a post from another writer on non-rules to follow for budding writers. They’re pretty good and I’ve added the link here.

But last week’s revelation to us was something Suzanne calls “The Mirror Moment,” and her theory, which we’re validating in this week’s homework, is to find the point–typically EXACTLY mid-way through a published work of your choice, where a character is at a point where they can see they must make a change and can see what their life will look like if they don’t make one for the better.

It was a pretty stunning revelation to learn and while I’ve found it hard to find in other works this past week, I am finding it.

Emerging Butterfly

The past few years of my life I’ve been in something of a cocoon. Considerable learning with self-taught programs like Linda.com and several howScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.47.45 AM-to books have vastly improved my skills as a graphic artist, video editor, digital book publisher, and ultimately, has moved me into the field of novel writing.

The agonies of the past few years have been many, but I’m seriously trying to turn a corner–I’m having my own mirror moments–and can see how I don’t want to live the last years of my life.

I won’t go into them now, they’re really still fleshing themselves out. It’d be like taking a butterfly out of its cocoon without letting it do all the exercises necessary for its wings to dry out and strengthen so it can fly on its own. Doing so kills a fledgling butterfly.

But the Mirror Moment is my life epiphany for the week, I suppose. Brought on by the teachings of again, one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. What changes MUST you make in your life to set it off in a better course than you’re heading on now? Words to ponder.

Hoppy Easter to one and all.

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Cartwright Speedway in Front of Stoneleigh Apartments

Jan 18, 2016 by

I’ve safely been at least 4,162 miles on business around the US in the past 12 days and this morning pulled out onto Cartwright in Mesquite and almost got hit by a Dodge Charger going well over the posted 40 mph so he/she didn’t see the stop light until it was almost too late.

The negligent city of Mesquite continues to do nothing about this problem.

If something ever happens to me, someone please sue Mesquite back into the Stone Ages on behalf of my children. Thank you.

The simple solution to the Cartwright Speedway is to make the light at Stoneleigh change before speeders getting off 635 and those coming from Belt Line MUST stop mid-way at the park, but that’s too obvious.

Having MPD out there to write tickets a night or two isn’t going to solve the problem either.

People have been killed in that intersection while I’ve lived here.

The Mesquite Independent School District’s special ed buses continue to make prohibited right turns at that intersection endangering the lives of kids.

I hope this is enough for a good trial lawyer to use some day for the benefit of the survivors of the next series of accidents.

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God Wins!

Oct 18, 2015 by

I’m the Moon

I missed church this morning. Didn’t wake up till 8 a.m. and I was out late last night with my younger twin daughter, Haley Bug.

On the way home, I got a series of email reminders cast through the voice of Satan attempting to once again convince me I’m not a person worthy of the love of God or my daughters. The fact is, no matter what, I’ll never be able to lower myself enough to try and measure up to their standards.  I used to listen to that hate talk, but have found ways through the past years to just let the dog howl at the moon and me not reply. In those cases where the dog howls and the moon passes silently throughout the night, I’m the moonDog Howling At The Moon

It was 54 degrees here in Mesquite, Texas this morning. Nice. If it could stay in this range more throughout the year, I might come to say I like living here, but alas, it’ll be 90 again in a few days, and if not then, give it a few months.

Walking With God

Maycee and I went for a 2.5-mile walk this morning. We haven’t walked regularly in months. It’s been 90 or more on most days and since I grew up in the North, that kind of hot just has always worn me out.

So we went on a walk into the woods this morning. My dog hears the “Start Workout,” voice on the MapMyWalk App and she doesn’t even turn toward our place from the dog potty pen. She knows we’re headed into the woods.

I’ve done a lot more walking with God the past few months.

Writing

In late June, I began a new book project that has consumed me the past three and a half months. When I say consumed, I’m not kidding. This was the most intense writing project I’ve ever done, complete at 87,000 words. Before I whittled it down, it’d had gotten to 93,000 words.

The story, The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club, is about a man who returns present day to the woods of K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, which closed in the mid-1990s. He goes back expecting and hoping to find the peace he once knew as a boy, and as he walks the woods of his youth, he remembers the frightening and tragic events of Day Two of a massive blizzard that hit the UP on Dec. 7-9, 1977, when he was 13 years old. That storm dumped 49 inches of snow on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Part of the story also includes May to December of 1977, and the events that led to what happened on Dec. 8.Voodoo Ave and Explorer Street, KI Sawyer AFB

In the story, the man realizes how much the world has changed over the course of his life and he finally comes to grips with the inner peace he’s been looking for as a consequence to many hardships he’s endured in his life. It’s not just the story of Kirk Carson, but the story of all of us.

He starts off saying he “wants to go home.” He’s an Air Force Brat, having moved dozens of times in his life, and having established many protective practices to keep from continual emotional scaring and pain from growing close to people who either move away, deceive and hurt him, or die.

The past six and a half years of my own life have been the hardest and the worst. Much of all that I worked for was robbed of me–family, friends, jobs, houses, cars, finances, dog, you name it, because of the greed, evil and hate of some very emotionally damaged people who I made the mistake of bringing into my world, thinking somehow I could help them, and of course, bringing them in before I realized how deceived I had been.

The past few years there has been some healing, but I’ve learned lots about how hurt people hurt people, even titling that as a chapter in the book.

What’s Next? 

In The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club, my character realizes several important emotional, psychological and physical lessons about himself. Lessons I hope can be passed to readers some day if and when I can get the work published.

Meanwhile, it’s also time to do editing on this year’s earlier novel, The Privacy Patriots, which per the instruction of my SMU writing program director, I put in the closet from June until now. She’d said not to touch it until August, but Voodoo Hill was in the way of my mind. The Privacy Patriots and The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club

Last night, when my youngest daughter was here, she saw the two binders encompassing both books–a total of almost 700 pages of double spaced, Times New Roman print. “Dang, Dad!” she said when she saw them together. That felt good to have one of my children acknowledge such an accomplishment. I start a project, and I finish it. They don’t see that modeled like they should.

So what is next? I’m doubling my efforts to bring in new work, and I’m about to start doing revisions on The Privacy Patriots, while also beginning the much harder process of finding an agent for my works.

Facing Out of the Woods

More importantly, on family business in September, I drove my mom to Indiana for her 50th high school reunion and then the next morning she told me to go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and go do the research I’d been needing to do to finish The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club. While in the UP, I also checked on our family land for my dad. What I found there is another story.

While in the UP, I also did the research I needed for the book by going to what’s left of the base, walking out into the woods where the story takes place and looking, listening, smelling, sensing and remembering things that did and did not happen there to make the telling of the tale more real.

As importantly, I found a new level of inner peace with God. There are many storms in my life attempting to rock my boat, to cast me about and to knock me off course, but there’s one sight I’ve found I must be true to, the love of my God. If I wasn’t supposed to have made that trip, if I wasn’t supposed to have written an 87-thousand word book in three and a half months, God would have had me doing something else. He would have put things in place that kept it all from happening. So when I say The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club was something that God wanted me to do, I have proof. The first draft, at least, is done and no matter how hard the dog above howls at the moon, baying about how much I don’t measure up to whatever standards I shall never be able to overcome, God is in control in my world. And no matter what I write, no matter what anyone else on this planet attempts to do to me to cause my ruin or shame or pain, they can’t take away him, nor the words that have flowed from him through me. The Woods Off KI Sawyer AFB Sept 26 2015

I met with my good friend and counsel this past week, nearing completion of the first draft of Voodoo Hill. There was a time in mid-September where two people in my life reached out to him or threatened to, saying they were worried about my mental state of mind; my emotions where as raw and low as they might could ever have been. Writing the emotionally wounded parts of book, I assure you, was that intense. My dad at one point suggested, as did my mom, that maybe I should not ever finish the work, that the nerves I was touching upon, the emotional triggers, were too hot to handle that maybe I should never try and finish.

God kept telling me that I needed to push forward, to go on and work through the pains and emotions and agony that I was in. He told me he had my back.

So when I met with Harold this past week, he asked how I was doing now in reference to where I was in mid-September, before the trip into those beautiful woods I loved as a child. My answer was simple, “For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m looking at what’s outside of the woods, rather than walking deeper into them.”

I know words like that will only make Satan want to turn up the heat and send me back into the depths of the woods where I cannot see the forest but for the proverbial trees. But like my preacher Gordon Dabbs likes to remind me time and again, the last pages of human life have been written. No matter what, in the end, God wins.

God Wins! God Wins! God Wins!

 

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Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

Oct 18, 2013 by

Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

On Oct. 22, Tuesday of next week, fellow Auburn graduate Tim Cook is slated to take the stage to reveal all that’s new with Apple and as usual, that is primarily going to focus on new iPads, MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro and the new OS X version called Mavericks. What he also likely will do is include a reference to books for iPad and iBooks Author, but those announcements and presentations often seem like he’s either got to get to the rest room or his car is double parked out on the street and he has to leave.  Sadly, we truly wish Apple was going to place more of a priority on books for iPad as they truly are the way of the future and the best digital learning tool available for kids of all ages in existence.

So in Tuesday’s announcement, we’re hoping for some announcements about improvements to the free software that can be used to make books for iPad.  Ultimately, we’d like to see these three things in iBooks Author 3.0.

1. Ability to change the background color in images v. galleries-Presently, when one loads a photo image into a book for iPad and sets it so that it can be tapped and expanded to the 2048 x 1536 pixel range of the screen, depending on how large the image is, it is going to display on a white background. Apple has said over the phone that this is largely done because images can be .pdfs and they think those display better against a white background, but in a world where not everything is that simple, we really wish they’d add one more button or tick box to change this presentation feature. We have a client right now who is insistent that images in his work should appear on a black background and the only way to try to trick iBooks Author into doing that is to make all images one-image galleries, and well, that’s not working out real well because the software also names the images as galleries when there’s really only one image.

2. Ability to leave social note thread discussions within a book-Social discussions within a group project are the way of the future. Already Apple has added “share” functionality within books for iPad, but we think it should be expanded so that teachers, authors, and classmates can all leave live notes right there in a group discussion in context to the pages where they’re happening. This would open an entirely wider array of functionality and effectiveness in discussions.

3. Ability to read books for iPad on any mobile device, not just on Mavericks Macs and iPads-Think Quicktime here. It works on any computer platform. That’s what’s needed for books for iPad that presently only work on the iPad or iPad mini. At the announcement, Apple is going to say that these books for iPad now will work in the new desktop operating system Mavericks, but what is really needed is a common platform that will make them available on a Kindle, Nook, Nexus 7, Surface, PC, ANYTHING.  The 3D imagery, the interactive widgets, all of the stuff that sets books for iPad apart from the horrifically limited functionality of EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 need to be made available in a Quicktime-type of widget/app that can be loaded onto these other platforms. Apple would significantly expand its revenue base for the sale of these books and capture a greater share of the book market.  It makes absolutely no sense at all to keep this as an Apple-limited product.

Will any of this come about Tuesday? We can only hope.  And Tim Cook, when you talk about books for iPad and iBooks Author, please, slow down a bit. All the other stuff is cool, but there are those of us out here in the wilderness who are forging a path to the future with these great tools and we think they deserve a lot more time and attention.

EDITORS NOTE: Last Friday in San Antonio, I gave a presentation about books for iPad that you can download for free and see some of the cool 3D images, puzzles, interactive timelines, and tools I reference above. If you need these made for your own classes, schools, or companies, please give me a call today at 214-364-7240.  A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox.

 

 

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Don’t Use WD Unlocker on a Mac with Mountain Lion

Oct 15, 2013 by

Don’t Use WD Unlocker on a Mac with Mountain Lion

Error message trying to start Aperture with on a drive with WD Unlocker

Error message trying to start Aperture with on a drive with WD Unlocker

When I bought my 2 TB Western Digital external hard drive a few months back it came with a new feature that made a lot of sense–WD Unlocker, which allowed me to password protect the drive in case I ever left it somewhere or someone stole it.

Well, what I didn’t know is that when hard drives on a Mac go to sleep, they shut off the password protection on the external drive and until you go through the password process again, it does not work. And, I’ve been getting these -50 error messages from my Mac ever since. A call to Apple Care recommended resetting the Power Saving features of my Mac back to the factory settings, but I am here and then step away from the Mac all day long and the factory settings really aren’t acceptable.

Worse still, is that my 800 GB Aperture Library is on this one drive, too.  And once it goes to sleep, and you try restarting Aperture, chances are high you’re going to get an error message. (See above.)

I’m sorry, but this really isn’t acceptable, either on the part of WD or Apple.  To their credit, Apple tried to help me fix this. I’ve searched Google a couple times about WD Unlocker and there’s just not that much out there.

So here’s the solution I’m adopting. Right now, I’m two hours into what said was a four-hour transfer–even using a USB 3.0 connector and sending it to a G-Drive running thru Thunderbolt, it’s still taking five to six hours to transfer the 800 GBs.

When that process is complete, I’m going to reformat the external drive and start over.  This is taking far too much time to do, but in the long run, it’s going to save me a ton of time. Getting to the back of an iMac every time my machine goes to sleep has become a royal pain, not to mention an unnecessary one.

WD, you need to work out with Apple to resolve this.  The whole thing with Aperture has been more than I should have had to deal with and I count this as your fault.

There also doesn’t appear to be anyway to simply turn the PWD thing off. Your instructions for that are not easy to understand.

So if you’re out there and wondering should you install WD Unlocker on your external drive, my recommendation is don’t, unless you have tons of time to waste and like -50 error messages.

(The second image is what I get now when I try to delete a file off the drive.)  And this message is presenting even after I’ve gone thru and unlocked the hard drive once again.

 

-50 error message on a Mac because of WD Unlocker

-50 error message on a Mac because of WD Unlockerth

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iBooks Author, We Have Been Waiting Since The Beginning of Time

Jan 19, 2012 by

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

We were told a story a few weeks ago about how at one point in time Steve Jobs had about 400 engineers at Apple working exclusively on iBooks Author, the new app released by Cupertino today that essentially turns all of us into Johannes Gutenberg.

University officials we’ve already talked  with today are quite pleased with the product.  It’s going to make a difference in the world of academics.  We’ve also heard from those in the textbook industry who say without content, Apple’s release today matters not.

We beg to differ.

The Wonders Expedition™

On our new upstart project, The Wonders Expedition, we’ve been working on an app for mobile devices that will replace the set of headphones one rents when they visit a historic park or museum.

With iBooks Author, we’re now directing our attentions to writing a series of interactive books that will allow a person to take that tour in person, or in their living room with almost as incredible experience in either place.

If you’re a writer, graphic artist, programmer, photographer, or videographer, we’re interested in talking with you about our great project.  Please just go to ClaxtonCreative on Twitter or Facebook, or jump over and LIKE our Facebook page for TWE, or follow us on @Archeoastronomy and when we follow back, send us a DM.

Things We Already Know

Apparently one has to be running Lion for iBooks Author to work.  The Life on Planet Earth book one can read on their iPad, but we can’t seem to find it on iPhone, even after upgrading to iBooks 2.

iBooks Author works much like Pages or Keynote to set up and use.

At this writing, the HELP pages aren’t loading, as in Apple doesn’t seem to have uploaded their content yet.  Will check back soon.

 

 

 

 

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