Finally, Friday!

Well! It’s been a while since I looked so forward to the weekend, but here it is, at last.

I have plans, for a change! How ’bout that?

For one thing, I’m going to try and give my buddy Bryce Beattie a read-through on his story “The Journey of St. Laurent”, sequel to his pulp-horror novel “Oasis”. Can’t wait for that!

Next, I’ll be doing what I can to help my wife clear her cardboard boxes out of the house so we can set up the new school/craft area I just spent a small pail of money on. (AHEM!)

Maybe some grocery shopping, if need be.

Finally, Saturday (tomorrow), March 23, my newest short story eBook will go live on Amazon Kindle for FREE! It’s called “Shudderbugs”, and contains not one but TWO stories with photography themes! The book will be free from March 23 to March 27, and then it goes to its regular price of 99¢. So get your copy while it’s free!

Here’s the cover:

shudderbugs

If you do pick it up and enjoy the stories (they are older, though, and my writing has changed a LOT since then), please consider leaving a review on Amazon. It helps us, and makes me feel better. I mean, when it’s positive, anyway. But be honest! Always be honest!

Anyway, have a good weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday!

-jdt-

Grateful Whensday

He kept his voice hushed, but spoke without hesitation. He told her about his son; the boy is almost nine now, and won’t listen to him.

He says it’s because she coddled the boy, wouldn’t let the father discipline him. Now there’s defiance, contempt. Once, he related, the boy tried to get out of a moving vehicle. Another time, they drove to a the local strip mall to go to a drug store, and he got out and walked home. Not knowing or caring – the details were sketchy here – they decided to walk home too. Apparently, the car sat there overnight and to get to work the next day, he had to walk to the strip mall and pick it up.

He spoke to her of a day when he’ll make enough money on his job to walk out, leave the house to his wife, and not look back. I didn’t listen closely. I didn’t want to know. He wasn’t talking to me, only in proximity to me. I overheard most of it, and all of what I gathered were in snatches, pieces and bits I wasn’t willing to put together.

I got the gist even if I didn’t want it. A man with either hopes or plans to leave his family behind him.

When he walked away, I was careful not to let him know I heard. I’m sure he knew, though. I’m only one cube with no real walls away from where he spilled his bile. He surely didn’t care who overheard. But when he was gone, back to his own work location, I shuddered. I closed my eyes, and shuddered.

And then I prayed for him.

When I finished, I realized how grateful I am for what I have. A spouse who is a friend, lover, confidant, and partner in all I do. Supportive of me in everything. A son who, despite his questions about why things are the way they are, not being quite grown-up enough to fully grasp why things might vary from one situation to the next while being too grown-up for "because," still obeys. Still seems to respect me. Still honors me, even if he doesn’t like me. A son who has given his heart and soul to our Lord and King and who honors Him by cooperating with me. A daughter who seems to enjoy my company. A family who greets me at the door with shouts and hugs and kisses.

And when my eyes burned with tears I had to hide my face, because it meant so much. Yes, in that moment, but always. What I have, what I sometimes take for granted, is so precious, so special, so rare and delicate, and I am willing to defend it.

With my life, if necessary.

Today, I am grateful for when a man who is terribly unhappy at home reminded me of how terribly happy I am at home.

The Time Is…

Anyone remember POP-CORN?

I grew up in California, as most of you know. When I was young, we had a service called "Time." Time was a specific phone number you could call to get the current time in ten second intervals. A nice lady read the numbers off to you so you could set your clocks and watches, and have a friendly voice to talk to when you’re lonely. It didn’t cost anything — back in those days, all calls were local, which will give you an idea of what time period I’m talking about here — but later, when things weren’t so local anymore, they had different area code numbers for Time.

I don’t remember when I first heard the term "POP-CORN" for it. I don’t know whether I had emigrated to the Midwest yet or not, but I do remember being confused about it until someone showed me the number. It was Time, complete with the same lady’s friendly and familiar voice, but the phone number translated to the alpha-characters P-O-P-C-O-R-N. So, whatever area code you lived in, you could dial POP-CORN and get the time and date.

I guess the advent of cell phones and time synchronization via Internet, satellite and even atomic clock has made POP-CORN obsolete. Our phones update their times automatically now, and even update for Daylight Saving Time. Our computers do the same, so long as we have an open Internet connection available for them. And we generally use those to set our other devices which aren’t smart enough to do so automatically, like coffee makers and (oddly) alarm clocks. And what’s up with wrist watches that can’t do that by themselves? If a tiny cell phone can house the computing power it does and still do the updates automatically, I don’t see why a tiny transceiver for satellite can’t be built into a wrist watch for such a purpose.

No matter what, though, I’ll remember fondly the days of POP-CORN and the warm, friendly lady’s voice who told me tirelessly what the current time was in ten second increments. Another piece of my youth which has passed into the twilight of memory.

Kind of like my flat stomach and 29 inch waist.

Have a good weekend, y’all.

-jdt-

Friday Frolic

Well, Friday has finally gotten here! Not a moment too soon, and perhaps many days too late, but it’s here just the same.

I’ve been banging my head over an interesting problem with attachments and emailing through Lotus Notes from an intranet site. The one I support is largely built with ASP, which was from about 1996 or so, and replaced with ASP.NET in 2002 and after. The site I support was built in 2004, but hey, I didn’t get to pick the technology. My predecessor also had tied hands over what he could spend, probably, and how fast it had to happen.

So it’s my ball of fun now. I have a page which faithfully sends Lotus Notes email through the local machine’s Notes session, but the user can’t attach files to those emails. So I’m struggling to find out how that happens.

I’ve found a lot of information about how to do it, but none of the scripts I located seemed to work for my situation. Or I simply couldn’t figure out how they worked, which was bothering me no end. I can’t support something if I don’t get it.

So I thought about moving this to ASP.NET, but there’s a lot involved in that. I could move just this one page, like I’ve done before, but so far I’m not finding anything I can use “out of the box” (and I really need that, at this point).

So after a week of dizzying highs because of great success with VBA, it’s a hard crash back to reality with ASP.NET/VB.NET. I’m just not there with my skills. I’m just…not quite. Again.

But the weekend is upon us and I’m going to relax and enjoy it. I’ve got to get back to my videos eventually, but really need to think about what I need to see and how to approach my learning to best give me the results I need.

What are you going to do this weekend? Any big plans?

If you’re a Kindle user and are just sitting around reading, all my books are either on sale or free. You can catch ‘em here if you’re interested. (I ‘m no responsible for the Ch’od Action Figure, though. Sorry, WIGSF.)

Have a great weekend, y’all!

-jdt-

Not Quite

Every day, I run across something that makes me wonder if I’m capable.

Usually, it’s a computer programming something or other. I try to do my job and while I have soaring victory sometimes, a lot of times I have pallid, miserable failures. I come up short way more often than I come out on top, and when I do, it sends me plunging back into the books and videos in hope of finding that silver bullet, the one I need to make me a full-fledged computer programmer.

But it’s true in other areas of my life too. The one where it hits me the hardest now is when I read someone’s writing and it makes me feel deficient, incompetent, and stupid for just trying. The words on the page seem to flow, and I sit there longing with a fiery jealousy in my heart burning a hole in my soul. The words, the voice, the structure, the beat – all of it is exactly what I hoped, dreamed, I’d be by now.

All I can do is keep trying, but it doesn’t ever seem to make any difference. I can’t sit and write enough to make a difference. I have no idea how I’d do that. I used to think I had raw talent, but now, I dare not. I dare not. I don’t come close to what I want to be, and some of the people I’m envious of are exactly what I want to be. How do I bridge the gap? How can I get from here to there? I just…can’t seem to do it. I can’t be the writer I want. I can’t find the voice I want.

I get so frustrated sometimes I want to cry. Other times, I just want to give up, forget it all, move on.

My dad used to say, “There’s always someone out there better ‘n you.” Whatever you think you’re the best at, there’s someone out there a little more skilled, a little more practiced, a little more polished, a little more talented…whatever. A little more. And I never seem to be the one who’s the better one.

I’ve been on top of the world last couple of days because of something I did at work. Something my predecessor never did, maybe couldn’t do. But he had the benefit of speed on his side. He could get it done. He did get it done. So whenever I get a little too big for my britches, I try to remember that. He did it in hours, or days. I take weeks or months, if I can do it at all.

And I guess I had it coming this time. I was bragging today about what I did, but then, when I got home, I read a little something. Nothing big, just a snippet from a deviantART writer I happen to watch. It’s amazing to me how good this guy is, and yet, he doesn’t do much of anything with it. For all I know, the months he spends between his posting are all spent polishing and honing that one piece. Never know, right?

Still, his finished work is what I want mine to be, and I can’t seem to get there. I can’t seem to hit my stride. I can’t seem to find the voice, the verbiage, the style I want. I struggled that way with comic art too. I struggled that way with martial arts. I struggled that way with everything I’ve ever tried, it seems. I’m always second fiddle, next best, not quite.

You ever feel that way? You ever get a little depressed because you can’t…quite? Just not quite?

I bet most of you never had that happen. Maybe you can look in admiration and not be envious, because you know you’re awesome at something.

What is it you’re awesome at? What do you want to be better at? What are you “not quite” with but struggle for every day?

-jdt-