“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

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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.

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#comingsoon

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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

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee

Did you know that when you cast a vote in the presidential election, your vote does not go to the actual candidate?  Instead, it goes to a member of the Electoral College who is anticipated, but not obligated, to vote for the candidate that you voted for.  Then, a month later, the electoral votes are counted and the winning candidate is announced.  Should the elector decide that his or her state’s votes would be better suited for the candidate that won the popular vote, they can vote accordingly, thereby negating the popular vote (Remember 2000?).  In its history, the Electoral College has overturned the popular vote FOUR TIMES! (Adams vs Jackson in 1824, Hayes vs Tilden in 1876, Harrison vs Cleveland in 1888, and Bush vs Gore in 2000).

Wait, what?  I’m sorry, but that just seems like a total crock.  Not to say that I disagree with how the elections turned out, but I just have a hard time understanding the reasoning behind the over-200 year old EC in modern times.  The author of the above article mentions that we shouldn’t get rid of the EC because even though there those four elections that didn’t go with the popular vote, every other election did.  I want to know why we still need it if the vast majority of the elections have just gone with the popular vote anyway.  It just seems like having that electionary middle man is getting in the way of our freedom.

I’m sure the Electoral College had a purpose two hundred years ago, when democracy was new and people didn’t know how the process worked or didn’t care, but this is the age of information and we all have a basic understanding of how this voting thing works.  Why do we need other people to pass the vote on for us?  In my opinion, we don’t.  It’s an antiquated system and it’s a waste of time.  Let’s simplify the process and let the voice of the people truly be heard.

I’ve spoken before about the importance of simplification.  If we are going to have a government that is going to be as efficient as we are ourselves, we’ve got to start objectively searching out and eliminating redundancies and other major time-wasters because time is money and government officials are burning through both like there’s no tomorrow.

This is a small part of a bigger problem that I will continue to discuss over time.  Topics to come will include welfare, unemployment, bipartisanship, Congressional reform, and much, much more!  Be sure to follow my blog for more insights and visit me on Instagram @thatmanglass for the visual accompaniment.  I appreciate your time and I know that together we can stop wasting it.

Thoughtfully,

D. Glass

If there was a worthy cause for to give to may I be so bold as to say ‘The givers not knowing where their money’s going is as sinful as throwing away'”

Or:  Where Has All The Money Gone?

The David Glass Guide to Fixing a Nation

Step Two:  Restructuring Government Spending

We’re broke!  Not we, the Family Glass.  We, the United States of America, are broke.  Beyond broke.  To the tune of just over $19 trillion.  That’s 19,000,000,000,000.  Twelve zeroes.  There are two sites I would really like for you to look at and I’m going to include the links:

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

http://demonocracy.info/infographics/usa/us_debt/us_debt.html

The first is a real-time National Debt clock for the United States.  At that site, you can sit and watch the estimated national debt climb at about $100,000 every ten seconds.  You can also watch estimations of increasing unemployment and student loans.  It’s all very nerve-wracking but also mesmerizing.  In fact, I’m going to go watch it get worse for a few minutes…

Ok, I’m back.

Whenever I think about outrageous outstanding debts our nation’s I think of a sagacious saying that my mother-in-law passed down to my wife which truly encapsulates our attitude towards unreasonable balances owed and the entities that attempt to collect them: “they can whistle for it.”

Example:

I went through the hellacious ordeal of ejecting a kidney stone maybe about a year and a half ago.  A trip to the ER got me enough of a prescription to get through about half of the week-long ordeal.  Dr. Jack Daniel’s took care of the rest.  That was maybe more painful than the times I’ve broken bones because there was really no relief and I couldn’t sleep more than a half an hour at a time.  Anyways, I didn’t (don’t) have health insurance because health insurance is a huge scam that I will cover in another post so I just got a couple of bills for the visit and the CT scan and everything.  A bill that has since fallen to the wayside.  Not that I wouldn’t like to pay them for their services.  I just can’t right now is all.  So, for now, they’re just gonna have to whistle for it.  Meaning that they can send all the bills they want, I just don’t have the money to pay that off right now.

I tell you this in confidence and hope that we’ve learned enough about one another by now that you understand that I’m not the kind of person that would purposefully shirk a financial obligation.  But times are tough and we need other things more than I need to pay off some ridiculous bill for hospital visit that worked less than a bottle of whiskey but cost a hundred times more.

I also tell you this because I think it’s important to prioritize one’s personal debt (I’m talking to you America).  Let’s look at it like this:  Yes, other countries, we owe you money and whatnot, but for now, [wait for it..] you’re just gonna have to whistle for it.  HA!  If we take some time and revisit how we spend the money we do have, we wouldn’t be so reliant on the global market anyway.

Here we go.

The government is too big and there are too many branches and agencies that don’t communicate.  A bunch of ‘elected’ officials [Electoral College rant to come] are being paid six figures to warm the leather (i. e. sitting in armchairs not doing anything. just made that up, by the way. feel free to use it.) and not make any real impact on, well, anything really.  Oh, and Congress can give themselves raises.  Because that makes sense.

I think that we need to weed out the redundancies in the government at all levels. There is too much time, energy, and money going into a government that isn’t really churning out much success.  We, the People, are like stockholders in a company.  We provide the capital, we should be able to expect dividends.  Obviously not monetary ones, but at least something more tangible than what we see now.  Maybe we should streamline the whole organization and have the government just provide basic services for now.  The military could stay and stave off any enemy attacks.  The USPS could stay to deliver the mail.  Maybe we could rotate out security/intelligence agencies so that each one can do an internal audit.  Because we need to be able to gather information regarding threats to our country, but they’re just doing kind of a sloppy job of it.  You know who needs some sprucing up is the FDA.  If you have a chance, just do a little research on how little research the FDA really does into companies and products and how limited their resources are compared to how many of their ‘approvals’ are coming out.  What else?  The Healthcare Marketplace.  The Department of Education (public education is awful said everyone ever).  The United States is ranked an estimated 50TH! in literacy rates worldwide.  The estimated literacy rate in the US is 99% but I think that’s a pretty high estimate.  The Treasury Department is worrisome.  The Department of Energy needs to embrace renewable energies.  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

It’s the same thing I said about culture and commercial products.  We have to have higher standards and expect more from the people to whom we give our money.  Or they will continue to swindle us until the proverbial cows come home.  Oh yeah! The Department of Agriculture! They give subsidies to landowners so that those landowners won’t grow fruit, nuts, or other vegetables on land that has been reserved for corn, wheat, rice, and I think soy crops.  Notice I said landowners because these subsidies (which originate from taxpayer dollars) go to (sometimes fairly well-off) people in residential areas who live on land that was once subsidized by the government.  Seriously.

But as I was saying, expect more from your government.  Let’s promote accountability and a more efficient system.  It’ll be good for America and good for us, too.

Fiscally,

Glass

P.S.- Just a quick reminder that I really do love being an America.  I think that being unhappy with the way things are makes me more patriotic than a lot of people because I know how great this country can be if we can get back in control of it.  America has kind of gotten away from us, but it’s not too far gone.  Not by a long shot.  God Bless America.

“Now did the Lord say that machines ought to take place of the livin’? And what’s a substitute for bread and beans? I ain’t seen it! Do engines get rewarded for their steam?” – Johnny Cash

[Gotta love Johnny Cash]

I read an article LinkedIn the other day that talked about how cell phones are the new cigarette.  The author compared the once-popular “got a light?” icebreaker to our tendency to pull out our phones when we have a spare moment or when we are in an environment that may be new or intimidating.  It’s kind of interesting to look around and see everyone staring down at their phones, focusing their attention on the virtual instead of the actual.

A quick story:  At the end of September 2012, after almost seven months of being unable to find a job and unable to pay phone bill, my phone got cut off.  As tragic as it was at the time, I really feel like it was a blessing in disguise.  I had had whichever iPhone was new at the time (I think a 4S), and I was very much accustomed to being on it.  A lot.  I would be on it at work, either playing mindless games or writing and I would do a lot of the same when I would get home at night.  It was beginning to have a negative effect on my relationship with my wife and infant daughter.  So, like I said, it got shut off and I wound up spending the next two years without a cell phone.

[Once I got a job, we could’ve afforded one, but we lived so close to where I was working and I was always either at home or at work, that it wasn’t Incredibly necessary.  I have a phone now because I work farther away and we’re in a much bigger city, but I have a flip phone so it’s pretty much for calling and texting.]

I pay a lot more attention to the world around me and it’s an amazing feeling.  My wife and I have always been adventurers but not being buried in my phone has opened the door for more spontaneous sidetracking.  My mind is clearer and I feel like I’m more focused when I get going on a project.  I also fell out of touch with a lot of the websites I would spend a bunch of time on, so that time was spent on my family or my work.  Definitely a good feeling.

Mrs. Glass and I are really big fans of the TV show Parks and Recreation and particularly of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, respectively.  We recently watched Offerman’s American Ham comedy special on Netflix and it was pretty damn good.  There’s a part in there where he talks about how foolish all of this disconnected connectivity (my words, not his) is and how it really takes the life out of situations, even those like shoving your way through busy New York streets, that really make up the human experience.  We have to put down the screens and pay attention to what’s happening around us.

[We also recently started watching a lot of Grounded For Life on Netflix which is a really nice middle-of-the-road sitcom if you need something light to binge on.  In one episode, the dad’s vexation towards cell phones, especially when they are being used in public places.  They flashback to a time in a restaurant where the dad has a really over-the-top fake conversation to mock a guy at an adjacent table who is eating alone but talking loudly on the phone.  Good stuff.]

This goes much deeper.

I don’t want to get all Terminator here, but our reliance on technology has some pretty menacing implications.  Automation is king these days and it eliminates the need for human employees in a lot of industries.  I saw something else recently that said it takes six weeks to make a Rolls Royce and a few hours to make a Toyota.  It was meant to be inspirational because quality takes time and everything, but it kind of freaked me out.

Why should it only take a few hours to make a car?  Where is the attention to detail or even just the human element in all of this?  I don’t mean who’s manning the machines.  I mean which person is getting their hands dirty building the car or growing the food that is going to maintain the well-being of the individual.  Machines are supposed to be tools and tools are meant to be extensions of the person, but there are millions of machines out there replacing  human in the workforce.  You can train one of those people to maintain the machines, but the math doesn’t work on that.

Look:

Let’s say a ballpoint pen factory (whatever; I’m just using what’s around me) has ten workers who assemble the pen parts into the finished product.  If they are each replaced by one machine, then there are now ten machines with maybe one or two of those original people to maintain them.  In order to completely counterbalance the unemployment of the remaining eight or nine people, you would need forty or ninety new machines!  To make pens! Who is going to use all of the pens that these machines are cranking out?  And who is going to make the machines that make the pen-making machines??  It’s too much!

Sorry.

I’ll take a deep breath and we’ll continue.

My ultimate concern is that 5.5% of Americans (8.6 million people) are unemployed as of last month and these numbers haven’t changed much from previous months.  If we could take a bilateral approach and create jobs AND reduce the number of jobs that are eliminated by technology or outsourcing or whatever and get everyone squared away, I think that inherent increase in production costs would most likely be diluted and would make for a higher quality product as well as less waste from inferior products.

So.  We need to get away from our screens, look at the world around us, and demand more from it.  There is hope out there.  And it’s handcrafted, made not machine-made.

Productively,

David Glass

P.S. – If you’re looking for a good read, try Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano.  It really delves into the notion of machines replacing humans and the resulting social and psychological implications.

P.P.S – Here’s a picture of my old school flip phone and the other rather high-quality/low-tech items I carry around everyday.

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Every single day. #everydaycarry #carry #gerber

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