[PART TWO] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

My Fellow Americans (see what I did there?),

I get a lot of views on this blog from people around the world. I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem with people from other places. We are all God’s children. I admire aspects of other cultures. But I am proud to be an American, and I want to do my part to make it the best it can be. I think that that greatness will in turn make the world a better place. That being said, here are some recommendations for things that Americans can do for their country.

1. Buy American

From what I’ve heard, the most common reasoning for not buying American is the cost. If you buy things made in China or wherever, it may be cheaper, yes, but it still comes at a price. Commerce with other countries opens up the potential for reliance on other countries. I’m all about self-reliance, so I would think it would be better to be able to be more dependent on our own manufacturers, our own workforce as a whole, to generate the goods we need to get buy. Sure, it might cost a little more in the short term, but the nature of supply and demand and the capitalist system in general will drive prices down once we’ve make the investment in and the commitment to American Enterprise.

Also, you get what you pay for. In the triangle of cost, quality and time, you lose quality when you get it fast and cheap. If you’re willing to pay and wait, you can get something that will last longer. I don’t know why, but ballpoint pens stick out in my mind. If you buy a hundred cheapo stick pens, before long you’re going to wind up with a hundred cheapo stick pens that don’t work. If you spend the extra money on a pen and you keep track of it, you’ll spend less in the long run and you won’t have a pile of worthless pens laying around. I don’t know about you, but I hate when I pick up a pen thinking it’ll work and it doesn’t. It’s infuriating. Moving on.

The same goes for just about anything. Meat, produce, clothes. Support American Ranchers and Farmers. A word of caution on the clothes, though. I used to be a Levi’s man. They were the only pants I ever wore. At 6’5″ and 250 lbs. it’s hard to find pants that work, but for a while they were doing the trick. Somewhere in there, they stopped making them in America, or I began to realize that they weren’t being made in America. It was right around the time that the starting splitting in the crotch area after not having them for very long. Like I said, I used to be a Levi’s man. Now I wear Dickies. Born in Texas, made in Texas by Texans. Damn straight. 

Overall, just know what you’re buying, demand more from the producer, and buy American. I understand that you may not be able to buy everything and that nothing happens overnight. I also understand that there are many high quality items that come from other countries (Japanese knives come to mind), but just be more conscientious and explore an American alternative. You may be surprised what you can find. 

2. Complain Less

Nobody’s perfect. European countries aren’t perfect and they’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have. Our country isn’t even 250 years old and we’re still doing a damn good job of making it happen.

I know you probably don’t have everything you want in life. I know that things are hard sometimes and it seems like you can’t get a leg up. Trust me. I know this. But it’s not America’s fault and chances are it’s nobody else’s. Things happen. Choices are made and they don’t always work out. What are you going to do about it? Play the blame game or get back to work? If you get a flat tire, you fix it and get back on the road. Complaining about it won’t take the nail out or put the spare on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

I saw some statistic recently about the amount of time the average person spends complaining each day. Like nine minutes. Imagine how much more you could get done if you spend that hour a week doing something productive. You could start a blog. You could do any of the Five Minute Betterment exercises on this blog. Or, if you’re really that unhappy about the way the government is doing something, you could 

3. Become More Active in Your Community

Get out there and vote.  Or if you don’t think the candidate can do the job well, run for office yourself. Get involved in a charity at your church or with a non-profit that services a cause you care about. Or just go meet your neighbors. Build relationships and get to know the people around you. Make a change on a small-scale. The little things add up and you could wind up a part of something even larger. 

The internet (invented right here in America) has redefined what the word community means.  It has enabled us to connect to people great distances away without having to leave out homes or our hometowns. There is information and communication at our fingertips that was unimaginable fifty years ago.

Used correctly and responsibly, the internet can be a valuable tool in helping us to find out more about the people and things and businesses and places around us.  You can use it to find people who feel the same way you do or find out more about something. 

4. Learn More About The United States

The history books aren’t always accurate, but a lot of times the truth is much more interesting. We’ve done so much in our short time as a country, you could literally look up the History of American Anything and spend hours learning about how and why it started, changed, grew, or even failed on this soil.

Find out more about the people that have done the things that interest you.  Connect with others with the same interests in your town, state, or other parts of the country. Take a trip to a local historical site or plan a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Learn about the good and the bad. Find out what Americans have done wrong and what Americans have done or can do to fix it.  Most of us wouldn’t completely write someone without knowing the whole story. So learn the whole story. 

If you learn all you can and you’ve done all you can and you still don’t like it here, 

5. Move away

That may sound harsh, but it’s true.  If you truly think you’d be happier somewhere else, then go there.  You’re an American and you still have the freedom to leave. Maybe you’d prefer somewhere where they have Universal Everything. Maybe you’d like a different climate, or Communism, or another language or culture. That’s fine. Go ahead and go. You have that freedom here and it’s a beautiful thing. 

– –

In the end, you deserve to be happy. You deserve to pursue your happiness, but no one’s going to give it to you.  So get out there and do something that’ll make your life better and make our country and most likely the world better if only a little bit.

Use your freedom but take it for granted. Work hard and reap rewards.

God Bless America.

Patriotically

Glass

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[PART ONE] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

JFK.  Definitely one of my favorite presidents.  I did a nice homage to DDE a while back if you’re interested.  There’s just something captivating about the office of the President, and it’s always intrigued me.

I couldn’t be President, I can tell you that right now.  Definitely not in modern times.  All the news networks dissecting what you say and over-analyzing the minutia of your every action.  You know, it wasn’t always like that.  Sure, you’d hear him on the radio or see him on the TV, or read about him in the paper, but it didn’t seem so.. nit-picky.  People didn’t get their feelings hurt because they didn’t have time to. A hundred years ago, the world was in the throes of the Great War.  Fifty years ago was Civil Rights Movement.  This year?  The media is lambasting President Trump for getting an extra scoop of ice cream.  That’s not to say that there aren’t more important things going on.  THERE ARE.  But where is the attention paid?

Not totally unrelated, but the term ad hominem refers to a personal attack, or “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.”  Apparently, there’s now a term called ad feminam  which appeals to prejudices about women.  Okay.  I’m going to come back to this, but there is something you need to know before I go on.  I am married.  My wife and I have two daughters.  We encourage them to do the activities they want to do.  Because this is America.  But they don’t get free reign over the whole house.  Because we’re still the parents.  Moving on.

I’d like to touch on another phrase now, from our very own Declaration of Independence: the Pursuit of Happiness. If you have time, I would suggest you Google the origins of the phrase. I know most people agree where Life and Liberty came from, but the old PoH is a more widely disputed nugget. Check it out. Life and Liberty are pretty straightforward in my mind. No one should end your life and no one should imprison your mind or your body.

These are part of the wealth of rights that as Americans are blessed with at birth. Rights that people in other countries aren’t. We can believe what we want, marry who we want, speak out against the things we don’t agree with, stand trial when we are accused of a crime.  The list goes on.  It is the government’s responsibility to protect those rights. But it is not the role of the government to provide.

I’ve talked about this before.  Charitable acts should come from charitable organizations. Not the government. When the government (or anyone else for that  matter) tries to make everyone happy, then no one is.  When the government removes itself from the daily and personal lives of it’s citizens, the citizens are free to, you guessed it, pursue their happiness. 

I know that the pursuit of happiness of not promised by the Constitution, but as a foundational and somewhat universal idea in our culture, I want to base the following notion off of it.  The PoH implies an action. Or rather, a lack of hindrance. The government will not stand in the way of you pursuing what makes you happy.  More importantly:

The government is not responsible for providing you with happiness.

Bold and italicized because I mean it. The government is too big and too focused on giving people things when we all were given one of the greatest gifts in the world: American citizenship. I understand that not everyone can break out of the situation that they were born into. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the chance to. Hard work is a beautiful thing and it seems like a lot of people are more content to complain than to do something about it. See my previous post about hard work for examples. 

We take a lot for granted here and I feel like a lot of times we don’t give back. In fact, I feel like a lot of Americans speak badly about our Great Nation because they haven’t achieved their happiness. That’s not the government’s​ fault. And it’s not my fault either. Spend your time and energy not demanding what the government can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.  We’ll discuss next post what you can do for your country.

God Bless America.

With the rights granted to me as an American Citizen by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution I sign this

Freely,

David Glass

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.” – Lou Holtz

 

I used to watch a lot more Notre Dame football.  My mom’s side of the family is Irish Catholic so there was usually encouragement to ‘marry a redheaded Irish girl’ and go to Notre Dame.  I didn’t do either of those.  I married a beautiful half-Mexican brunette and went to a smaller Catholic university in Central Texas.  When I got older, my brother and his friends and I would celebrate (yes, celebrate) the start of each football season with a Game Day gift exchange and a whole lot of beer.  Then, we’d celebrate each game after that without gifts, but still with a lot of beer.

Within a few years, my brother went overboard with the drinking and prescription drugs and a whole lot of bad decisions and some of the resentment has kind of rubbed off on the Notre Dame experience.  It’s totally irrational, I know, but it’s just one of those things.  So I haven’t watched a whole lot of games these past few seasons.

That’s not to say that I don’t still bleed Blue and Gold.  And that’s no to say that I don’t still enjoy that rich history of one of the longest-running football programs in the nation, which is why I chose to use a Lou Holtz quote for this post.  But this post isn’t about football necessarily, it’s about hard work.

If you’ve read the last post, you’ve probably pieced together that I work with/supervise some guys that are terribly hard workers.  It’s hard for me to understand why someone would go to work and not do work.  My parents taught me the value of hard work and the joy of completing tasks and I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting in hard work.  It makes me worry about the future of the human race when I see people who move in slow motion or who sit around all day and talk or do nothing.

That’s why I like this quote.  I wouldn’t necessarily call these people ‘losers’ but I think it a person’s attitude towards their work really speaks to their character.  If you sit and complain about having to do your job, then why are you there?  What makes you think that anyone owes you anything if you’re not doing anything in return?  What makes you so special?

I’ve had a lot of difficult jobs.  I’ve worked twelve-hour shifts stocking beer.  I’ve worked sixteen hour shifts at a psychiatric facility for children.  I’ve taught in the projects.  Every one of those jobs and the handful of others that I’ve had all had their difficulties.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever really had an ‘easy’ job.  But I always made it a point to get after it when I clocked in.  I pushed myself to learn and grow in the job and if it wasn’t a good fit, then I would find something else.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have my moments of slacking off or being off-task, but I always got the job done.

If you sit around and you don’t get anything done, you start to feel like your job is worthless.  Which isn’t true.  You’re the one who’s worthless because you’re not doing your job.  If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, that’s fine.  Find something that you are passionate about (more about that in the next post).  But if you’re at work, do work.  It’s simple.

Isn’t it?

I think that this attitude is a symptom of a greater disease in our culture.  This idea that showing up is enough and that competition is bad.  You can’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  We have to take care of everyone.  Welfare.

Whatever happened to “no such thing as a free lunch?”  The way I see it, there are plenty of people that are getting free lunches because a bunch of other people are working their butts off and pumping money into these social service organizations.  Why is the government providing handouts for people who don’t want to work?  Why are the rest of us footing the bill for people who have no intention of even trying to remove themselves from the government teat?  Where did we as a nation go wrong?

The fundamental role of the government should be to protect, not provide.  Charity should come from, you guessed it, charities.  Let people choose where their hard-earned money is going.  Because this is getting out of hand.

But I digress.  My point is that hard work built this country.  Hard work is good for you.  Hard work is good for everyone.  So get out there, pick something worth doing and get to work.

 

Diligently,

David Glass

“So we’re gonna walk through the roads of creation.” Bob Marley, ‘Exodus’

[Four Windows by David Glass available in the Kindle Store HERE]

 

Before I get into the bulk of this post, I want to take a moment and say thank you, Dear Reader for all of the time that you’ve spent perusing my blog.  धन्यवाद to my Readers in India. благодарю to all of the Readers in Russia.  This month I celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog, and while I have not found (made) much time to write posts, I have told myself that it’s time to get back into it and hit this writing thing hard.

Fun fact: The United, India, and Russia are my three largest readerships, however, in 2015 I had views from 50 different countries I believe I have some additional countries to ass to that list from the past two months.  I share this because it blows my mind.  I have a hard time visualizing other people reading this around the world, but it warms my heart to know that they do.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hope you continue to read and enjoy this journey with me.

 

Speaking of writing, I was looking at my Kindle Direct Press report again, realizing that my marketing skills are, well, apparently non-existent.  I keep saying it’s not about the money, so I’m giving them away one at a time for free.  Starting now:

– – –

Exodus Mining Company

The Exodus Mining Company was founded in the southern region of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1959 with plans to capitalize on the restructuring of the Egyptian government after the World War II and the subsequent British occupation.  With the creation of the Republic of Egypt looming, the EMC’s founders thought, not unwisely, that the demand for building materials would blossom alongside the burgeoning government.  Exodus’ owners dumped their life savings into the equipment necessary to mine the region’s younger and older granitoid deposits and persuaded the existing interim officials to look the other way as they began making preparations to dig.

It seemed like a foolproof plan.  The granite served a number of purposes appropriate to government building.  Sculptures to heroic new leaders, memorials to the fallen, veneers on buildings and the buildings themselves would all require a substantial yet aesthetically pleasing material with which to be constructed.  The market for abundant reservoirs of said material was set to boom, and Exodus was set to be at the forefront of that financial upswing.

Work began as planned at the end of their first year, but it wasn’t long before unforeseen obstacles slowed the EMC’s progress in the desert.  Despite the fairly consistent makeup of the rock, the machinery could not seem to penetrate more than a few meters.  Explosives malfunctioned or failed to detonate.  The rock itself seemed to resist all attempts to excavate it.  Workers, family members of the founders, began to disappear from the makeshift lodging that had been constructed as temporary housing.  Some of them were found dazed atop the mountains, muttering and clawing at the dirt and stone with raw and bloodied fingers.  As the vehicles had not been moved, the rest of the workers were presumed to have merely wandered into the desert, their trails erased by the blowing sand.

Even stranger were the visitors.  At first it was just people from the surrounding villages claiming to be drawn to site.  Then people from other parts of the region, then the world.  Men and women of all ages arrived unscathed from the direction of the deep desert sometimes with children in tow.  Some of them seemed normal enough, but others seemed to have been pulled like loose threads from the fabric of time, as if there being in the present were more uncomfortable than their barefoot journey through the sand.  Within a week, the only thing common among the visitors was the pull they said that dragged them there, not like a pleasant aroma but like a hook in their heart, as if the only relief was proximity to the exposed stone.  Like the stone itself held the cure to some deep and destructive disease.  And so the came, hundreds of them, drawn into the mountains to find a peace they only understood on the most profound levels.
Another month or so passed and the Exodus Mining Company quickly eroded into history, forgotten by most like the dust is was birthed from.  As for the visitors, their trip into the mountains Sinai was as fragile in their minds as the path they took, but the peace that remained was a lasting vestige of their departure into the desert.

– – –

Seeing as how the whole thing is up, I thought I’d also share some commentary about this piece.  I came up with the general idea years ago, that someone had mined Mount Sinai and turned the rock into concrete which was then used to build a structure that drew people from all over.  Originally it was a highway overpass and there was a sort of homeless modern Moses prophesying from under the bridge, so to speak.  People would be drawn but (a la Cassandra) people would balk at his words until the end of the story when the proverbial camera pans out and people are seen walking en masse to the site as the sun sets over the overpass aaaaaand scene.

A few aspects of this approach didn’t work for me, ultimately leading to a total restructuring of the story.  First, the focus was too much on the man.  The idea was supposed to be that the stone, not the man, was drawing the people and the overpass version veered away from the stone too much towards the end.  In that same vein, the whole idea of a structure at all became a problem.  I thought: overpass, no; street or highway, no; then settled on a government building.  The problem with a highway was that I had originally wanted the story set in the US, but couldn’t conceive of a concise and reasonable way to explain why the US would import Egyptian granite for the building of the any sort of American road when there is plenty of rock here in the States already.

Some research needed to be done around this time to make sure that I was being geologically accurate and establishing a concrete foundation (no pun intended) for the semi-religious premise that would float above it.  The actual site of the Biblical Sinai is not universally agreed upon, so it took so reading to decide which site or region I wanted to use.  Also, I needed to confirm the uses for the materials found in that area.  Finally, after deciding on a government structure as the focal point of the religious aura, I had to find a time in Egyptian history that would facilitate the need for extensive mining of raw granitoids.  I got it all sorted out and got ready to start writing.

One last thing was bothering me, however.  I didn’t want to religiously idolize any government entity and, again, take away from the fact that it was the stone that held the residual-ish power.  So it all came down to the mine.  I had the time and the place,  I created people with a general backstory (focus on the stone) and worked to keep the narrative on the effect of the stone versus anyone or anything in particular.  I chose Exodus as the name of the company because of the Book in the Bible of the same name and because I think it added some connectivity and clarity to the piece.

It was a real joy to research and write and I am very proud of it.  I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to share it with someone you think might enjoy it as well.

Thank you as always, Dear Reader.

More to follow.

Deeply,

Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” – Shigeo Shingo

[Click here to read more about Shigeo Shingo and here to learn more about the Toyota Production System of lean manufacturing]

Let’s keep this healthy pace going, Dear Reader, and follow yesterday’s scintillating teaser with a Classic Glass (Glassic?) Five-Minute Betterment!

Today I want to revisit a topic that I’ve covered in a post a while back:

Simplicity (also here)

I am a fan of streamlining, which I think is part of the reason why I write such short stories.  I don’t like meetings that cover things that don’t pertain to me.  I don’t spend time with people who are toxic or who drain more than their fair share of my time or energy.  I have a hard time doing redundant tasks or ones that don’t have some purpose to them.

I think that we live in a society that can be wasteful.  We waste time on our phones or on Netflix (guilty!), we waste technology, we waste food, resources, energy, etc.  The whole point of FMB is to take baby steps toward a better you so I’m not expecting you to eliminate all of your wastefulness in one swoop.  Just start with your wallet.  Or purse, or backpack/computer bag or whatever you carry around with you.

I have on my person the following items:

my flip phone (what up); chap stick; ‘wallet’; keys (on a 300-lb rated tow clip, not a carabiner); two folding knives; a bandana; and Gerber multi-plier on my; instant emergency rappel belt.  Oh and my comb and a pen.

Believe it or not, I use just about every one of those things on a daily basis.  That’s why I have them with me.  You know what I don’t have?  I bunch of gift cards with less than a dollar on them or business cards from a guy I met at a job fair once or old receipts or notes or other junk.  I also don’t have what most people would consider a wallet.  I carry all the things I do because I use them all the time and also because I started to recognize the early warning signs of Piriformis Syndrome and decided that I needed to nip it in the bud.

I encourage you to do the same.  Give your butt, back, legs, shoulders, neck a break and streamline your #EDC (everyday carry).  It may give you the momentum you need to tackle this year in a less wasteful way.

Efficiently,

Glass

Just a taste

Hello, old friend.

I posted a while back that I had published a collection of short stories on the Kindle store and I sold some copies.  Not a lot, but some.  I stressed in that post that it’s not about money, it’s about getting them out there so I thought I would stir things up a bit and share some samples from the piece and see what you think, Dear Reader.  The first snippet is from the first story, entitled “Volunteer Astronaut.”

Enjoy,

Glass

– – – –

Volunteer Astronaut

    It had been almost two years since Winston’s familiar key had met the unfamiliar lock that his wife had installed in the door of their small, older-than-they-were home.  Under most other circumstances, this might have been alarming, possibly even generating a five step retreat to assess the edifice and ensure that it was, indeed, the right house.  On the day in question, however, the layer of his scattered possessions that coated the lawn had been a preliminary indicator the last straw had, indeed, broken the proverbial camel’s back.  It was shortly after the abandonment of his belongings that Winston had finally gotten off the fence separating him from earth and space.
The Unidirectional Manned Space Initiative (UMSI) had been all the buzz on the radio (that Winston never listened to), television (that Winston rarely watched), and the internet (that had been disconnected days before), but to Winston, the UMSI billboard that loomed alongside the highway, the one that he had passed daily but never really looked at, displayed a proposition that seemed like a message from the heavens.  UMSI was quite literally, a one-way ticket out of a world that Winston felt had given up on him shortly after his arrival in it.

“Four Windows” by David Glass is officially available in the Amazon Kindle store

I have written a collection of vignettes called Four Windows which can be found here for the ultra-low price of $0.99.

#comingsoon

A post shared by David Glass (@thatmanglass) on

The collection is called Four Windows because it gives the reader a peek into four very different scenarios, each one intended to more or less give you the feels.  Please give it a try and share it with someone you know and feel free to comment here or write a review on Amazon.  Thanks in advance, Dear Reader and enjoy!

Briefly,

Glass