Writing A Novel: The 10 Best & Worst Things That Have Happened To Me

May 9, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: The 10 Best & Worst Things That Have Happened To Me

Today is Friday, May 9, 2014 and things are wrapping up for the big Mother’s Day weekend here in America.

So as we’re reflecting about life and the sacrifices Mom has made in your life, here’s today’s writing exercise.

The recommendation is to write these out on 3″ x 5″ notecards, but really, any place you want to write them out and think about them is fine.

The idea behind this exercise, those previously mention, and those to come is to help give you a wealth of material to consider if you’re writing a novel, or, if you’re just in a reflective mood about your life in general.

TODAY’S EXERCISE

So take out a sheet of paper, notecards, even your Notes feature on iPad, iPhone or Mac, etc. and think about these next two questions.  It calls for 10. Maybe that’s enough.  Maybe you can/need to do more than that. Either way.  I encourage you to do these exercise in quiet reflection. There are no right or wrong answers. And no one has to see them. This is for you. Did you know that according to mental health experts, most people among us never sit down and do anything like this at any point in their lives? Here’s your chance to do something few others will ever do.

What are the 10 worst things that ever have happened to me?
What are the 10 best things that ever happened to me?

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April 27, 2011 in Alabama – One Of The Worst Tornado Outbreaks Ever

Apr 27, 2014 by

April 27, 2011 in Alabama – One Of The Worst Tornado Outbreaks Ever

I was in Huntsville, AL for April 27, 2011, one of the worst tornado outbreaks ever recorded in the state with 247 killed in 62 storms. I never will forget that day as long as I live, for I thought at one point, it was going to be my last.

Smithville Tornado April 27th 2011 095

Smithville Tornado April 27th 2011 095 (Photo credit: Tales from the South)

During the mid 1990s, I worked in the Governor’s Office of Gov. Fob James. His lead bodyguard, State Trooper Tom Taylor, became a life-long friend of mine. It was during the spring of 2011 that I was working with a client in Huntsville, where Tom, wife Karen and the rest of the Taylors returned to after leaving the administration in January 1999. I was staying with them north of Rocket City in a little community called New Market.

That morning, I’d gone into the city to work with friend and colleague, John Hornbuckle. Around 9 a.m. that morning we heard of a tornado warning just northwest of the offices and gave chase, but it was moving too fast to catch up to. We went back to the office. But what I didn’t know was how bad the storm had been when it went over the Taylor’s house. They had downed trees. It was something of a mess.

Now having been in Texas for a decade and away from Montgomery, Alabama where I’d spent almost 20 years of life and 10 of them working in or around the Governor’s Office, I’d grown unfamiliar with Alabama weather. While in office with former Gov. Guy Hunt and Gov. James I remembered the Airport Road deaths from tornadoes at rush hour in the late 1980s and then I still have photos somewhere of me, Gov. James and Trooper Taylor walking through the damages of the F5 tornado that hit west of Birmingham in April 1998, but I had no idea how the rest of the day was going to go.

Here in North Texas, our weather people are good at hyping the weather, they’re just not very good at accuracy. And like most talk in Texas about things being bigger – the rivalry between Texas and OU, the severity of storms, etc. I’d grown accustomed to not getting too serious about dire weather predictions after a decade of blown North Texas forecasts. Usually, like even this morning in DFW, a line of storms comes thru and the event is over.

April 27, 2011

But that didn’t happen in Alabama on April 27. I left John at the office about 11 a.m. to go to the Taylor’s because they had downed trees and I was going to go help. Well, by the time I got there, Tom had already returned, Karen was there, the kids were out of school, (It was a week day) and word was around 12:30 p.m. that we were all headed from there to a shelter close by.

RadarScope App

It was at this time that Tom told me about and shared with me the best app for iPhone I’ve come to use yet–RADARSCOPE. It gives amazingly accurate and up-to-date radar images. Previously I’d been using the WeatherUnderground.com site. In the past few weeks, they have made changes to the site that to me make navigating it a complexity and in times of a storm, I just want to see what the radar looks like, the color in the formations, how fast it’s moving and I don’t need it down to the street level.

To their credit, on Twitter, WeatherUnderground asked me for feedback, but I have to say, I’m not getting anything near with them what I’m getting on my iOS devices in RadarScope.

The Afternoon of April 27, 2011 in Huntsville, AL

We got to Tom’s brother’s house. It had a storm shelter in the basement and a ramp around back where one could seek shelter. Being north of Huntsville in New Market, I had no idea that we had moved further into the path of the storms that would knock out areas to the northeast of Decatur and south of my Dad’s birthplace, Athens.

As I recall that day, we endured SEVEN tornado warnings. One nearly right after the other. It was harrowing.

Around 5 p.m. Karen, Tom and I thought things were going to die down enough for us to get out and go get something to eat. There’s a great Mexican place just across the Tennessee border we’d talked about going to. But before going north, we went back to their house. And then …

The Drive Back To The Bunker

When we realized another ferocious storm was coming, we left Tom and Karen’s house headed the two or three miles back to the bunker we’d been in. But by then the storm was upon us. There were torrential rains. The road ahead at one point headed due west was overflowing with rushing water. We were in a Jeep with a plastic-type lid. It began to hail and every stone that hit the car sounded like a rock in that blinding rain. We made a right turn to go north. More rain. More wind. And when there’s hail, there’s usually something spinning at high speeds, a tornado, around it.

As we drove thru this, I began to pray harder than ever before. Now I’d ridden thru hurricanes coming ashore and that kind of thing with the governor and Tom before, but this was different. We were being tossed and banged. We could barely see and the last thing we needed to do was stop because we surely would have met tragedy.

I could see off to the right of the road from the front passenger seat. Trees were falling to our sides. Trees were falling on the roads.  I just knew we were about to be off to the right of the road in a ditch.

The storm didn’t let up the entire ride over to Tom’s brother’s house. But by the grace of God, we made it.

The Rest of Alabama

That day, 62 tornadoes dropped to the ground in Alabama and 247 people met death’s door, a fate I thought at several points we were certain to join them in.

Because of the storms, the power in Huntsville and most of North Alabama was out for nearly a week. By early morning, Karen, Tom and I had ventured out to see Highway 231 a log jam in both directions. Traffic lights were out. People were seeking food, gas and ice. Miraculously, I found an open gas station about a mile from the Taylor’s house and once topped off, headed to see my Mom in Montgomery until things were restored.

All across the state, people were mourning the loss of family and friends.

I was lucky to have survived that day. I know it was by God’s will that I didn’t die because he had some other mission for me to fulfill. It’s days like today I reflect on whether or not I’m meeting him and his purpose. Today’s sermon in church was about stopping things we shouldn’t be doing and getting focused on God; letting Him take over and putting the things holding us all back onto the Lord and dealing with them, no longer ignoring them.

Finding Your Purpose

Have you found your purpose? Do you know why God has led you to where you are now? More on that to come, but I encourage you today to remember those who perished this day just three years ago. Bless you and bless them.  Radar right now is showing a mass of storms in Mississippi and they’re marching toward Alabama like General Sherman on Atlanta. Let us pray that things go okay today. History doesn’t need a repeat.

 

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FileMaker Pro 13 Projects Issue – iPad Won’t Connect When iMac Asleep

Jan 20, 2014 by

FileMaker Pro 13 Projects Issue – iPad Won’t Connect When iMac Asleep 

I’m using the trial of FileMaker Pro 13 to test a new project management system for my Macs, iPad and iPhone. The only issue with it I’ve found so far is when the iMac goes to sleep because of Mavericks’ Energy Saver settings in System Preferences. But I really like the ability to check on my projects, make notes of tasks, and then track my progress through the process of developing them. Here’s a review of the product and a tutorial for setting up sharing to mobile devices.FileMaker Pro 13

FileMaker Pro 13

Before I go into the problem I’m having, let me first talk about FileMaker Pro 13.  I’ve been a Bento user off and on for about five years now. It priced at $49 or a threshold very reasonable to get into and it was quite useful as a database management system for my needs. There was even an app for iPhone/iPad and from time-to-time I used them. Then, in September 2013, FileMaker killed off Bento and even though I’ve paid for Bento and had the iPhone/iPad apps, when I got a new iPad at Christmas I tried to migrate the app onto it and it would not. It’s dead. I have issues with that, but that’s not germane to this post.

So FileMaker is offering 30-day trials of FileMaker 13 in various versions on its site. They’ve even begun a year-long subscription model, very much like Adobe uses for Creative Cloud–but it’s a one-time, (for FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced) of $180 price per year, not staggered out monthly like it could have been so it’s easier on the pockets of the smaller business owner. (FileMaker Pro has a $9/month option). Otherwise, one can flat out buy the product.

FileMaker Pro 13 Pricing

Now I chose to use FileMaker Pro Advanced because when I invest in a product I go for as much muscle as I can afford and might need so I’m not looking back and wishing for an upgrade later. With software and computers, that just seems to be the best strategy to live by.

Getting Started

There are some tutorials that come with FMP 13. Lynda.com is still running FMP 12 lessons and I’ve not seen anything for 13 yet. I suppose that’s in the works.

My Projects

There is a great template that comes with FMP 13 that allows the creation of a management system for projects. It was easy to set up. And, because of it being FMP 13 advanced, apparently there’s a server setting inside that allows me to push the file for this out to my iPad and iPhone so that I can check or make updates to projects over there, too.

UPDATE: I forgot to include a screen of how easy projects are to manage:

FileMaker Pro 13 projects screen

To take my Projects file and make it available to my iPad and iPhone, I apparently still have to be on my WiFi to share it, so I’m doubtful it’s going to work when I’m not home. I’m hopeful it will, but I’m not seeing how that’s going to work. It would seem critical that it would work away from my IP.  That’s a test for later today.  But here’s how to set it up so it works here.

One the project is ready for sharing to iPad or iPhone, go to File > Sharing > Share with FileMaker Clients … and then pull up the following dialogue box:

FMP 13 Filesharing screen

 

This works great.  Except for one issue with Mavericks.

The Problem – Energy Saver and App Nap

As has been noted before, an issue occurs with saving to hard drives on the iMac in Mavericks when the settings in Energy Saver get too far away from their factory defaults. A very odd, “error -50” dialogue box begins to appear when one tries to write, particularly to G-Drives, which of course, are critical for storing video.  As one doing graphics, video and books for iPad, you can see how this would become a problem fast–not being able to save to a drive. 

Last night, when my computer had gone to sleep, I could not connect to the iPhone or iPad.

FMP 13 Host Not Available on iPhone

So, while it’s great that I can have my projects available on iPhone/iPad, there’s a problem with my host. I don’t plan to go out and buy a dedicated server right now to host this, nor pay the additional money to FileMaker to get the FMP Server software loaded, too. A version of that comes in FMP 13 Advanced, which I have already. So the issue then is how to keep the server on the iMac operational.

Possible Solutions

Already this morning I’m trying some new settings in Energy Saver, and one in FMP.

For starters, I’ve changed the setting on my hard drive so that it never goes to sleep. I’d had this on before, with “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” being unchecked before, and that’s when I got the error -50 messages. Hopefully, that was just because I’d unchecked the PHDTSWP box, and not because of “computer sleep.”

Sleep set to NEVER.

I also did a little more investigating and did one other thing. I turned off App Nap in FMP13 so that it theoretically won’t “go to sleep.”

To get to this setting, I opened Applications, then hit CMD+i on the icon in the list and up popped the window below.

As you can see, I have checked “Prevent App Nap.”

Prevent App Nap

And so the  experiment is on today to discover if these changes will keep the app available on the iPhone/iPad regardless of what is happening on the iMac. If this works, and I will make updates, I will also experiment to see if the Prevent App Nap or the Energy Saver settings were the key.

FileMaker Pro

I’m pleased with the over all functionality of FileMaker Pro.  When the trial is over, I’ll probably invest in the product.  I have a couple of clients that already have been sparked about the potential it has for their own data management.  And yes, I realize it can do a lot more than what I’m using it to do so far, but setting up a project management system that works on my iPad/iPhone when I’m out and about will be quite beneficial.

 

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Could Not Log In to iMessage–Resetting PRAM fixed it

Aug 10, 2013 by

Could Not Log In to iMessage–Resetting PRAM fixed it

All of a sudden on my MacBook Pro I could not log in to iMessage. It had an error saying it couldn’t find the right settings or some sort.  I tried resetting passwords. Logging in on various versions of the .mac, .me and .icloud logins I have.  Nothing worked.

Then I tried resetting the PRAM on the Mac and it works fine now. A link to how to do this is below, but essentially you turn off the machine and before you hit the power button, hold down the OPTION + COMMAND + P + R keys all at the same time.  (At least before the white screen appears, and then let go. The screen will go black.  When it boots, you may have to hit the power button again, then try to log in to iMessages and at least for me, and others, it worked.

Not sure what’s afoot. There was some speculation that this was due to iOS 7 beta conflicts or a new software update for Mountain Lion, but I didn’t have one available and I’m not using iOS 7 beta on any of my devices.

Hope this works for you.

http://support.apple.com/kb/PH11243

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iPhone Portrait Lock – I’ve Been Missing This

Apr 10, 2013 by

iPhone Portrait Lock – I’ve Been Missing This

There have been many a days and nights while lying on my bed or the sofa, etc. when I’ve begun texting someone or looking at my iPhone and because of it’s orientation, it spun around. I’d move the phone and it’d move again. And I’d move the phone and it’d move again. Finally, I just had to sit up and type out whatever I’d wanted to do out of frustration.

When iPad came along, I was glad to see they just added the switch on the side near the volume.  That was a lot of help.  But alas, no such button on the iPhone.

Now most of you reading this know I’m pretty up-to-date on the latest offerings from Apple. But this one apparently slipped past me.  So how do you lock the screen on an iPhone so it won’t turn while you’re lying down or whatever?

HOME BUTTON

By pressing the button on the left, you can now lock the portrait orientation on an iPhone.

By pressing the button on the left, you can now lock the portrait orientation on an iPhone.

My 16-year-old daughter about jumped out of her chair in jubilation that she knew some Apple thing that I did not. But here’s what you do.

Push the HOME button, the button on your screen in the middle at the bottom, TWICE while the phone is open.  A menu of options will appear–it’s actually all the apps that you currently have open on the phone. (If you hold down an app it will start jiggling and a red circle with a – sign will appear if you want to close the app.  This can be helpful if your phone starts running slowly and you have three dozen apps open….)

But if you slide the app icons to the right, you will come to a screen much like the one pictured here in the post.  See the icon with the circle and the arrow in the circle?  Tap that and it will lock your orientation on the iPhone.  You can then press the Home Button once again to return to the screen/app you are active in.

It’s that simple.

And yes, I felt a little silly cos I didn’t know that.  But it’s a great feature and I’m glad Apple finally has added it to the mix.

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