A Note To My Grandchildren

May 2, 2014 by

A Note To My Grandchildren

It’s May 2, 2014 and at this point in my life, I don’t have any grandchildren. Just three wonderful teenage daughters who still are trying to figure out who and what they’re going to be in this world. Many days, even like today at my age of 48, I’m still trying to decide that myself. This morning in Arlington, I had breakfast with my long time friend and mentor, Ron Rose, and he began telling me about a work he’s writing and that prompted me to take on this simple task: Writing A Note To My Grandchildren.

But at this writing, the thing is, I do not have any grandchildren. That doesn’t matter, the Internet will be alive and well when I do and this will be cached away somewhere in cyber space for each to find and to ponder.

Point One

My Great-Grandparents, Clarence and Mamie Claxton are buried in Athens, Alabama, where they lived hard and raised many children. I go to the main cemetery in Athens anytime I’m in town to pay them my respects. Sometimes I leave my current business card on their headstone. I always say a prayer and talk to them, even though I only met my great grandmother “Momma Claxton” once that I can actually remember. We sat on her porch there in Athens with her while she shucked peas, I think.

I know so little about them and their lives. I don’t know about their sacrifices or what a normal day was like. Knowing how we Claxtons have been, they were honest and hardworking. Maybe an aunt or two of mine could tell me more, but nonetheless, this is all I remember about the Claxton side.

Of my mom’s side, I remember my great grandmother on Mom’s side, we called her Granny, and my grandpa’s mom, who could only speak Czech, we called Baba. Granny was Swedish and I remember visiting her apartment in Hobart, Indiana when we would pass thru between moves. She always seemed to have those powdered candy breath mints at her house. That was nice.

My own grandparents, Andy and Joyce Sheptak, my mom’s parents, were hard working. Grandpa was an artist and there’s a wooden carving portrait I’m sure one of your mom/aunts now have. It kind of looks like a heart and it’s a family treasure. If one of you ever get to have it, treasure it.

The artwork of the late Andy Sheptak. That's his pic below.

The artwork of the late Andy Sheptak. That’s his pic below.

Grandpa Andy wrestled with his liquid demons throughout his life but he was a great grandpa. Grandma Sheptak got bad arthritis in her latter days and died three months after your twin aunts/mom(s) were born in 1999.

Grandma Sheptak was always telling jokes. I called her on the phone all the time throughout my life and have dearly missed her being gone each and every day. In the years after she left us, I was able to draw closer to Grandpa. There were times when he would just cry. Once he said he tried some of the pain medicine she had been taking and later told his doctor he’d done so. His doctor helped Grandpa understand how strong the meds she was on really were. That greatly helped him let go of her and understand she no longer was in pain.

We buried your Great-Great-Grandpa Claxton on Sept. 10, 2001. That night, I flew back from Northern Indiana to Dallas not thinking anything significant about flying. The next day was 9/11 and I was glad to not have been stuck as I would have been away from your mom/aunts. As I write this, your dear, dear Great-Great-Grandma Claxton’s mind is withering away in the dark years of life. She was such a positive influence on me. She would bake. Made me Play Do from scratch once. And she taught me Southern delicacies like how to make gravy and chicken and dumplings. I never learned how to make her biscuits from scratch. I’m sorry. That would have been something good to have passed on.

My dad, your Great-Grandfather, still is alive, too. He’s a retired USAF B-52 pilot who helped bring to life me, three great uncles and a great aunt. My dad spent much of his career on alert in Northern Michigan ready to go attack the USSR, or he was flying, and later, in Montgomery, AL, he worked at the prestigious Air War College. He was great at military history and planning. He was happiest when he was flying. After he got out of the Air Force, he got a teaching certificate to teach high school kids algebra. He enjoyed it, but kids didn’t really want to learn and he wanted to travel.

My mom, your Great-Grandmother, raised the five of us. When your great Aunt Kim got old enough, your Great-Grandmother earned her nursing degree and then spent 20 years working at the ER in the VA in Montgomery, Alabama. She got a bunch of grandkids all of a sudden in the 1990s and insisted on being called “Be Bop.”  I have no idea why, but it stuck. If you ask your mom/aunts, they will light up when you say the name.  I promise. Even with her in Alabama and them mostly growing up in Texas, Bop still had a positive impact on their lives and they each loved her greatly.

So what was the point of all that? Simple. You now have some context of your family that’s probably not written down anywhere else and probably won’t be spoken about much when you’re reading this. I wish I had this about my Great-Great-Grandparents, so please regard this as a special treasure that I learned needed to be left behind because it was not left behind for me.

Point Two

There’s a 2013 movie called People Like Us, and in it, the lead character offers a young boy in it the six secrets to a happy life that were left to him by his father in the movie.

I’m going to repeat them for you here now:

The Six Rules

1. If you like something because you think other people are going to like it, it’s a sure bet no one will.

2. Most doors in the world are closed, so if you find one that you want to get into, you damn well better have an interesting knock. 

3. Everything that you think is important, isn’t. Everything that you think is unimportant, is.

4. Don’t s*** where you eat.

5. Lean into it. The outcome doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were there for it, whatever it is – good or bad.

6. Don’t sleep with people who have more problems than you do

These rules are simple and clear. They don’t need a lot of extra explaining. If you need some help with them, I suggest a conversation with your mom/Aunt Chandler.  She and I have talked about them. Hopefully I will have time with the twins before it’s too late.

Point Three

I don’t know if we ever will get the chance to meet, but I pray daily that we do.  I also want to encourage you to keep an open mind about your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. And your grandparents.

People at no matter what point in human history will make mistakes. Some of us fall into holes. There will be some days and some holes so deep you might think it’d be easier to reach up out of it and pull the dirt in on top of you. Other days it will feel like people, even the ones you thought were helping you, are tossing the dirt in on top of you on purpose.

Family members seem to get at odds with each other so easily and so often over the simplest of things.

Sadly, as a parent yourself many days from now, you will have to experience the tension of not talking to your mom, your dad, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a grand child, etc.

Trust me. It will happen. And when it does, I encourage you to keep loving them and say and particularly write as few harsh words about them as you might. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to hurt, but keep praying for them and believing that in the end, someone is going to turn a corner and come around.  And if it needs to be you who turns the corner, do it when the time is right.

We all get forced to grow up faster and faster with each changing generation. I can not bare to think of the challenges and world you will have to face.

Point Four

Trust your faith. I have done what I can to instill it in your mom/aunts. But ultimately know how they relate to God is in their own way and as a parent, all I can do, and all they can do, is point a child in a direction we would hope they would go. Forcing doesn’t work. I’ve seen it and there are people still alive who might read this and think I was talking about them, so I shall stop there.

Point Five

Live your life honestly. Work hard. And fight like the Devil for what you believe in. The one thing people cannot take away from you in this life is your personality and your integrity. It is your job to protect both. They can pour cold water on your ideas and maybe even hold you back from time-to-time, but I encourage you to get back up and keep going. We Claxtons have seldom just had anything spectacular given to us. It’s been all work. I’m sure life is going to be very much the same for you. And remember, even if we were able to amass millions, in the end, we’re not taking any of it anywhere with us.

I’ve told your mom/aunts multiple times that Grandpa isn’t/wasn’t going to pay for any weddings for them until they each had/have set foot on at least three continents, worked in their own job, finished college and been on their own for a while. The order those things happen in is up to them, but to my dying day, I shall be suggesting the same thing to them and hopefully them to you, too.  Not doing those things is going to lead to avoidable failures, but you’ll also find, some people just have to make failures in order to actually learn something.

Final Point

My lineage ends with your mom/aunts because I wasn’t fortunate in God’s plan to have a biological son. So carrying on my legacy is left in a diluted way to you.  Know always, even as I write this in 2014, that I loved you very much, whether we are ever able to meet or not. There are many a days when I feel the presence of my three retired grandparents upon me, much as though you might feel a warm breeze touching your face as you view the passing sun at the end of the day.

I’ve asked your mom/aunts some day to leave my ashes off the beaten path near the Sentinel Dome area of Yosemite National Park in California, the side facing off toward Half Dome. To me, there is no prettier place on this earth and if you put me in a box some six feet under, I won’t be there anyways, for I shall do all in what cosmic power I have left to lift my spirit to that point anyway. Yes, I hope to be in the Heavens with our Lord, but what’s left of the physical me should be left where I have longed to spend the breadth of my days but was not able to.

Never let go of the beauty God has put into this world. Your mom/aunts can mimic for you how I would get excited about the beauty and power of the morning light, particularly at Yosemite, as beams of radiant energy from the sun pierced the treetop veil over the rocks and nature below. And as you sit along the water way at the foot of Bridalveil Fall and hear the rushing of the cold spring rapids racing toward the Merced, know that my spirit also will be there encouraging you to slow down, to stop, to breathe deeply and enjoy the beauty of what God has left us all.

Thanks for reading. I love you and your mom/aunts more than words here can tell. Love them back for me.

Grandpa “Daddy Claxton”

 

 

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Books for iPad–The Great Gold Landslide of 2012 And Beyond

Nov 9, 2012 by

Books for iPad–The Great Gold Landslide of 2012

Earlier this year I was having a breakfast meeting–one that lasted for 4.5 hours–with our colleague, George Saltsman from Abilene Christian University’s spin-off, Connected Consulting, (and there’s a story I need to share about George,) but this point I must make first.

We’d been talking about the rise in books for iPad and the adoption rate ACU is seeing as they work with public schools and colleges around the world, and I mean that, around the planet, and I said to George, “We’re in the middle of a Gold Rush.”  He looked at me and said words I never will forget.  “No,” he said. “This is a Gold LANDSLIDE.”

What Apple Isn't Saying About Books For iPad

What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad

A word about George before I go on.  It was George who fellow Claxton Creative developer and long-time friend, Ron Rose, and I met with back in January to talk about the books we wanted to make of the Wonders of the World for our sister-site project, The Wonders Expedition. We were on to making books for iPad, but didn’t realize Apple was releasing iBooks Author in a matter of days.  George knew, but didn’t tell us then. He just said be ready for a major announcement.

And then came the release of iBooks Author. George then talked about the work that’s been going on at ACU for a very long time. All incoming freshmen at the school here in Texas get an iPad. The iPad knows where the student is on campus by pinging and because it knows, for instance, it’s in Dr. Saltsman’s class, the student who has it gets all of the professor’s notes, lectures, quizzes–everything, from the iPad cos it KNOWS where it is.  For the next class, say the student heads to “Dr” Claxton’s class, iPad knows where it is, same deal.

I’ll let you think about that for a moment.

2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya

So as 2012 has progressed, we’ve worked with Dr. Mark Van Stone of Southwestern College in San Diego to develop his one and only book for iPad on the ancient Maya made with iBooks Author. It’s an amazing product.

Ask yourself this question.

When was the last time you read a book with two hours worth of video, and four 3D animations of ancient Maya and Aztec artifacts that are almost 1,200 years old?

Readers around the world now are doing that with our book for iPad.

There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse

My company’s associates have been on an amazing learning curve this year.  We’re just now finishing Ken Plume and John Robinson’s There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse.  The print version has been featured in WIRED.  Wait until they see what we’ve done with it for iPad. There are more than 370 videos in the Zombie book.  Read that again.  There are more than 370 videos in their book.

From our offices in Dallas, we have produced some amazing work this year.  But this really is just the beginning.

What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad

Included on ClaxtonCreative.com over the next nine business days are going to be a series of videos that talk about “What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad.”  You can download a free copy for your iPad here.  If you don’t have an iPad and want to see how it looks on an iPad, minus the videos, which we will post here day by day, you can download a free copy of the .PDF version here.

This book isn’t meant to be critical of Apple.

Explained in our book is a basic important principle about Apple–they’re a hardware company. They don’t promote the software products they make. And they’re not doing that with iBooks Author. As a publisher, that frustrates the hell out of me. But think about this. Apple makes Aperture for photography. They make Pages as a word processing client.  They make Final Cut Pro and Express for movie editing.

When have you ever seen a TV commercial about any of those things?

Confusion Still Exists About Books For iPad.

We wrote, “What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad” for this reason.  As we’ve tried to market our 2012 book we’ve run into a wall of confusion. Apple has sold more than 100 million iPads, but at this writing, I’m not sure how many iPad owners even realize how cool iBooks 3 is.

I know what it’s like trying to explain one of our books to the man on the street. You tell them you’ve made a book for the iPad and they think you make words and stuff that appear just like on the Kindle or Nook.

We’ve called TV stations all over Dallas trying to just come by and show them that right here in their own backyard, “books” that are revolutionizing the way kids of all ages all around the world are being made, and there’s nothing.  One photographer suggested if we stood on a corner and assaulted a puppy with an iPad and then added that into a book, we might break thru the TV news ceiling at this point.  And of course, there’s also been the 2012 elections that have sucked up all manner of media attention.

Books Made With iBooks Author

But we feel, even for more than just our own business survival, that it’s important to help tell the story about a book that’s made with iBooks Author that appear on the iPad.

Apple received input from educators and publishers from around the world because Steve Jobs saw books for iPad as a way to make revolutionary changes to the way humans learn.  This was one of his major projects up till the very end of his life.

In January 2012, Apple released iBooks Author software to make what the company calls, “Multi-touch books for iPad.”  Books for the iPad and iPad mini include 3D animations, videos, multi-touch interactive images, puzzles, study guide notecards and now, with the release of the iBooks 3 app—social media.

Because of this development and the rise in published materials for these units now making their way into schools, we are on the verge of a major shift in the development of books and how they are used in the field of education.

Sadly, Apple just isn’t going to overtly promote the revolutionary developmental change in what we have come to know as “books.” They are waging a revolution in education and doing it quietly, but massively through the adoption and placement of technology in the classroom that is unparalleled and replacing the use of PCs and even Macs.

With the iPad mini, Apple is getting into more and more public school districts in America and around the world, which is going to have a profound impact on the way humans learn. More about that later in the series.

 

 

 

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Allens Green Beans and a Diet Update

Jun 7, 2011 by

Sorry for the break between posts.  Over on the Claxton Creative side of my life, things have been rolling.

Over the past two months I’ve been on a downward trend in weight loss.  Today marked three weeks since the last time I was in to see Carol Ireton-Jones of Professional Nutrition Therapists to talk about me, and to talk about their Website.

Bad News

Well, the downward trend stopped today.  I gained almost four pounds in the last three weeks.  Crap.

I think I can attribute that to a couple of things: Being on the road and traveling and eating at restaurants too much.  Though when I’ve been out eating on the road, I’ve tried to behave.

I’ve found myself eating later dinners, and well within the two hours before I go to bed realm.  (A no no.)

And when I haven’t been sitting in the car driving to and or from Alabama to Dallas, I’ve been at a desk or table working on something for my client, Digheon Healthcare, Inc.

Now that it’s hot outside, I have no desire to take a 10-minute break in the middle of the day and walk around the apartment complex.  It’s 96 degrees outside right now, plus there are bad air warnings, etc.

Before leaving today, Carol asked me what I’m going to do differently over the next two weeks.

Change of Plans

1)  A few weeks ago at The Dollar Tree, I bought some pills that are said to help burn fat and bring about weight loss.  Now that I’m up four lbs, those are going in the trash.

2) My friend, John Taylor, who I admire for taking some pretty significant steps to begin fighting his own weight battle, noted that the diagnosis for me includes, “More green beans.”  While in Alabama the past three trips, in staying at his parents’ house, Karen Taylor has been serving up some great and delicious green beans, which from Weight Watchers‘ days, you can “eat as many of them as you want and it doesn’t count.”  Except that Carol wisely pointed out today that each serving is about 50 to 60 calories, so if I’m on an 1,800-calorie a day mission, three, four, five servings of green beans are between 250 and 300 calories all unto themselves.  Throw in a few bread crumbs, a nice healthy piece of meat, and pretty soon, I’m at 1,800 and didn’t even realize it.

But John is right.  Green beans are definitely in my forecast.

Karen has a great recipe, too.  You get a couple big cans of Allens Italian Cut Green Beans and wash them off, put in a pot, cover with water and let them cook a couple hours trying to drain as much water as possible.  When they’re done, a purely subjective point, you add a tablespoon of Canola Oil (Go Omega 3s) and salt and pepper to taste, and watch it on the salt.

3) I’ve got to find a way to get some exercise in.  Unfortunately, after returning from my first trip to Alabama, I discovered that the Wii died.  No EA Sports Active right now, and that’s aggravating.

4) I’ve got to stop the later in the day meals.

5) I’ve been trying to keep my protein levels up so that I can keep a balanced blood sugar level.  I must keep doing that, but while I’ve been snacking on honey roasted peanuts (high in sodium) they have been helping with the blood sugar.  Only problem is, like with green beans, 1/4th a cup is 170 calories, so five or six of those a day in between meals and I’ve added almost 1,000 calories right there because let’s face it, you can’t just eat one handful.  (Hang on, I need to go get a second handful…..) Okay, gotta stop that.

6)  I’ve pretty much eliminated sweet tea from my diet.  It needs to stay gone.  And I don’t drink alcohol and it’s been 10 years and two months now since I had my last Coke, Pepsi or carbonated beverage.

7) Carol gave me a list of practical diet points and suggestions today.  Funny, there was no mention of a biscuit from Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. or the breakfast I had this morning at Cracker Barrel with Ron Rose with two eggs, hashbrown casserole and a biscuit or two.  Okay, two.  Only one had gravy.

But on the list were things like Cheerios for breakfast, and I asked and got approval for Steel Cut Oatmeal.  (You can watch me and the girls making it here.) Lunch I can have a whole 3 oz of some sort of lean meat, which seems like almost wishing you were going to have some meat.  I probably could eat 3 oz in a bite.  And then healthy snacks along the way through out the day to keep my blood sugar happy.  PNT is coming with a recommended list of suggested healthy meals that are practical.  I’ll let you know when they’re available over on their site.

8 ) If you remember the Violent Femmes, “I forget what eight was for!”

9) Carol said if I’m going to have a salad, some how I’m supposed to eat it with about a tablespoon of a very lite dressing.  I told her that’s not even enough to get the salad wet.  To which she said, if it’s just plain ole lettuce, I might as well not bother.  I should be getting something with lots of Romaine in it because Iceburg Lettuce isn’t going to help.

10) I’ve got to keep trudging along and not get discouraged by the uptick.

What are somethings you might recommend?

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