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.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I’ve been a busy li’l bee at work this morning.

We had a major upgrade — a full build — to one of our enterprise systems. Everything went swimmingly over the weekend, when the new build was deployed. Then came Monday morning, when, you know, people tried to use that system.

And it promptly crashed.

As of this writing (about 11:46AM my time), there’s no resolution to the issue. They keep sending out updates, but there’s no fix in place yet. Nice.

So, to prepare for the new system — because, in theory, it will eventually be resuscitated — I’ve had to do a few things alongside my regular Monday morning reporting routine. So I’ve been haggard. And last night, my charming, trailer-trash neighbors decided to have some sort of outdoor gathering at all hours of the night, not to mention the banging and thumping like someone dribbling a bowling ball. So today, I’m tired and a little grumpy.

Nevertheless, I’m only halfway through my day and still busy. I’ve finalized a VBA macro already, and tested it (enough…I hope). And now, I’m off to launch my IDE so I can fix some pages I “fixed” last week which, y’know, aren’t fixed.

Over the weekend, I became the proud owner of a brand-spanking-new digital SLR. It’s a Nikon D3100, and so far, I love it. Now, I just need to learn to take pictures. Then the REAL fun begins…Photoshop the pics to make ’em look better! W00T! Can’t wait there.

I also have to get back into my training videos in a more serious way. I’ve really slacked off on how diligent I am about them for a few reasons, but primarily I’ve been doing Photoshop work and (re)publishing my stories on Kindle to keep interest up. So far, so good. I didn’t get one done last weekend though, so this week I’ve got a pair of stories going up which should make me feel better. It also gives me an excuse to do Photoshop work. How bad can that be?

I’ve decided I love Photoshop, and if I could be a professional retoucher and ebook cover designer and charge people enough to make a living at it, I’d be happy doing it. Unless, you know, it ticks me off. Then it’d suck.

Anyway, I hope you had a nice weekend, and, you know, I’ll see you next time.

-jdt-

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-

Writers are Artists, Too

A few years ago — five years ago now, I guess — I was very active on the deviantART website.

If you don’t know — and why would you, really, unless you’re an artist? — deviantART is MySpace or Facebook for artists. It provides a community and showplace for artists to display their work and, if they get lucky enough, receive feedback on their displays. Comments, however, can’t be moderated or controlled — anyone can say anything they’d like, not only to the artist, but to any commentator as well. (This is an issue, in my opinion, and something dA needs to look at modifying.)

Now, dA allows almost anything to be posted as "art" — things which could be considered masterpieces, or at least the work of modern masters — to borderline pornography, to children’s drawings (or worse) can all be uploaded. The medium isn’t very limited either. Raw Photoshop files can’t be uploaded, but they can when converted to PNG or JPG images. SWF files can be uploaded, too, and so can film clips (!) and short films in various movie formats. It’s wide open.

Among the many visual art pieces out there, of course, are photography and photo-manipulation pieces. Paintings done traditionally can be photographed and uploaded, or pieces created digitally can be converted and uploaded. And writers have their own creations there too.

There’s no problem with providing artists a way to get their stuff seen. But until recently, writers were treated as second class citizens in the art community.

I wrote about this extensively before. I don’t remember whether here or elsewhere, but for the most part, attention isn’t evenly divided among artists on art communities. The priority seemed to be hand-created artwork (whether traditional or digital), then photography and photo manipulations, and then any other visual art remaining. When all is said and done, writing and literature is at the bottom of the list.

Before I stopped actively posting on deviantART, things were being done to help level the playing field, but honestly, not much inroad has been made in that regard. For one thing, a lot of writing is ignored on art sites because people go there for…well, artwork. The problem lies, in my humble opinion, with the definition of "art" as a base.

Words are the most abstract form of art there is. Think about it. If I write the word "hand", your mind can visualize an actual hand. But that’s because you’ve been taught to associate that particular word with that particular object. It took training, practice, and a lot of positive encouragement for you to learn the letters H-A-N-D mean the five-digit appendage at the end of your arm. But the letters H-A-N-D don’t look anything like the thing they describe, and therefore, it’s not considered "art" — despite the fact it’s a series of lines which describe an object. Just like a drawing would, or a painting would, or a series of pixels might.

The art of language is so abstract, it might take several thousand words to describe what a single drawing, painting or photograph might render. It is, to borrow an analogy from the immortal Mr. Spock, akin to building sophisticated electronics with stone knives and bear skins. Yet, when the discussion of artists comes up, the writer is left out in general. Oh, great writers are discussed with similar tones, but honestly, they’re not often considered in discussions of art.

I suspect this is due to "art" being defined as visual creations of a less abstract nature. In general, we admire most images which closely represent the objects of which they are representative. That is, in Homer Simpson speak, things which "look like the things they look like." The more true the image is to the object it represents, the more we (typically) like it. But, even more abstract "visual art" — you know, paint blotches and swooshes all over a canvas and hung in the MOM in most major cities — finds more favor than the abstraction of words.

Literature, as a result, is classified on it’s own, separately from visual media.

Should it be?

Your voice matters to me. Tell me what YOU think.

-jdt-

“Great Gams” is Now Live!

Great Gams Cover 1 ReducedI’m happy to announce my latest release, a short story called Great Gams, is now LIVE on the Amazon Kindle store!

And even MORE good news – starting today and going through the Ides of March (which is March 15, 2013, if you don’t know), it will be FREE for the downloading! After that, it goes back to its regular price of 99¢, so get yours while it’s FREE!

Click the image to get yours today!

-jdt-