“Strength shows, not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hello old friend.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I have four good friends, including my wife.  She’s the only one who lives close and out of the four, I’ve known her the shortest, although most of the time it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.

The next closest is the one I’ve known the longest (going on twenty years now, buddy!).  He lives about three and a half hours away.

My next closest geographically, and the one I’ve known the next longest (what is it? 13 years now?) lives about eight and a half hours away.

The farthest lives about seventeen hours away by car and I met him a few months after I met the last guy.  We made that drive once.  From there to here.  It was an amazing experience.  We drank caffeinated beverages and ate No-Doze like they were candy.  We drove through a exaggeratedly-lit tunnel in and under Alabama that I still see in my dreams sometimes.  We skated across the foggy swamps of Louisiana in a fog of our own.  We jammed Tom Waits and Modest Mouse and whatever else the burned CDs and iPods had in store.  It was something else.  Surreal but Hyper-real.  Life-changing to say the least.

We don’t talk as much as we used to.  Life’ll do that.  But he’s still one of my best friends and when we do talk it’s always a treat.   I talked to him earlier today.  I’ve had a whirlwind of a past year or so and I’m trying once again to start over for the last time so I needed some feedback.  Do you know what he left me with at the end of the conversation.  Verbatim:

“.. get the blog back!  Its been almost a year man”

Damn, Bones.  You got me again.  So here it is.

I didn’t know what to write about when I started this.  I just knew that I wanted to get it going again.  Make some changes.  Do some things more and and some things differently from here on out.  Restart.  Start again.

It’s been a rough year.  We observed? celebrated? the one-year anniversary of my Dad dying a few weeks ago.  I’ve dipped in and out of depression and anxiety and anger and fits of manic happiness and numbness.  I got fired from my job for not doing something that I was never told to do.  I got another job and have since nearly double my wages.  My wife and I had another beautiful baby girl, born on what would’ve been my father’s 69th birthday.  I’ve been beaten and lifted and soothed and then beaten and lifted and soothed all over again.  It has been, in my own words, “a landmark year.”  But I’ve gotten through it.  Not flawlessly or expertly or effectively and sometimes just barely.  But I’ve gotten through it.  So far.  I don’t think the struggle will ever go away.  I don’t necessarily want it to.  But I’m changing the way I react to it.  I’m going to struggle regardless, so why now struggle for what I want?  For me, my wife, our family.  I’m starting anew and I’m starting here and now.

My wife, my best friend told me today to “choose my hard.”  She said it’s all hard: going to work, doing the things, why not pick the hard that works for you?  Goddamn brilliant.  So I’m choosing this for her, for me, for us, for anyone and everyone and no one.  I’m choosing my struggle and carving out the life that I think is worth struggling for.

Here we go.

 

Again,

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

“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America

I want you to re-read that quote.

Done?

Read it one more time.

Now I would like to take a moment to talk to you about the state of individual liberties in this country, and the effect that it will have on you, Dear Reader.

This post has been a long time coming but I felt extra compelled to discuss individual liberty after all this talk about Obama and the UN trying to take our guns away.  What you have to understand is that this removal of rights did not start with and will not end with guns.

Let me give you a brief lesson on the mental development of human beings from the standpoint of a parent and now-former teacher.  There are many techniques that one can use to modify someone’s behavior, but they can all be classified into four categories: Type 1 or 2 reinforcement and or Type 1 or 2 punishment.

Type 1 (positive) reinforcement refers to the application of a desirable stimulus as a reward to a desirable behavior.  This is pretty much a reward system; you get a treat when you do the right thing.  In children, this tends to be an external reward, like a toy or a sticker.  It is a very common method used in classrooms across the nation.

Type 2 (negative) reinforcement is when an undesirable stimulus is removed when a desirable behavior is performed.  An example for this would be applying ointment to a bug bite or a scratch.  When you take care of your body, you will not feel discomfort.  When you clean your room, your parents will stop bugging you to clean your room.  If you get your term paper written during the week, you won’t have to work on it over the weekend.

Type 1 (positive) punishment means that an undesirable stimulus is being applied when an undesirable behavior is displayed.  Spanking, traffic fines, and being yelled at by someone are examples of positive punishment.

Type 2 (negative) punishment refers to the removal of a desirable stimulus when an undesirable behavior occurs.  This is also a common form of behavioral modification and takes place in the form of time-out (or, to a higher degree, jail time) and the taking away toys/privileges/cell phones/computer time (/gun rights/personal freedoms)/etc.  Type 2 punishment is also called removal punishment and is more or less based in fear.

[click here for the Wikipedia article on psychological reinforcement which I’ve paraphrased here]

Parents magazine has an article called Top Ten Toddler fears that, as you can imagine, lists the most common fears that young children face.  The five that apply most to our discussion are: the Dark, monsters, strangers, separation,and Being Alone.

 I can remember the one or two times that I got separated from my parents in the store when I was little.  I can remember it because it was one of the most terrifying experiences ever. I can also pinpoint times in my childhood where these other fears have stood out, at times dominating my psyche.  

[I am still, to this day, weary of strangers, especially ones in vans because of the whole Stranger Danger thing in the 80s.]

Anyway, the core of the negative, or removal punishment is fear of removal. It is said that time out generates in a child a fear that they are being separated from their parents. Taking toys and things away can generate a similar response of loss or separation. This is referred to as a fear of removal. Our government has, ironically, used fear to convince us that removal is the answer. 

The state of our union is no doubt a fearful one. We are inundated with news coverage of violent, gun-related crime against the innocent citizens of our country. We are quietly and repeatedly told that taking away is the answer. That people’s safety is more important than their freedom. But freedom keeps us safe from the people that really want to hurt us: the ones in power that want to put restraints on the citizenry.  The ones casting the shadows in Plato’s allegorical cave so that we will sit chained and accept a reality that is nowhere near real.

It is a falsity that we fear. 

A falsity that robs us of our dignity. 

A falsity that we must reject and replace with the natural truth that was bestowed upon us not just by the fathers of this great nation, but also and more importantly by our Father in Heaven. 

The Truth is that we stopped being slaves the day we followed Moses out of Israel and that we must stop bowing out heads to the kind of dictatorial government that would lie to us because it thinks that we cannot handle the Truth. 

But we can and we must. If we want to shake free the chains of our fear-mongering  oppressors and demand solutions that do not sacrifice the freedom that we were given at birth.

Read that quote one more time.

Then ask yourself what’s more important.

Freely,
Glass

“I understand the large hearts of heroes, the courage of present times and all times.” – Walt Whitman

I found this quote tucked cleanly between the introduction and first chapter of a collection of American Tall Tales that I found in my childhood-ish closet.

Let me explain.

I spent the night at my parents’ house this past Thursday night because I was accompanying my parents to my dad’s doctor’s appointments on Thursday and Friday. I couldn’t sleep that night so I went through the closet in my childhood-ish room and reminisced and threw a bunch of stuff away (and found several interesting trinkets along the way).

Let me explain further.

Last Tuesday, I started the day with a call from my dad.  In that phone call, my dad informed me that had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The news was devastating.

Somehow, the last 8 days have felt like 8 years and 8 minutes.  Time doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  This whole situation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’m trying to wrap my head around of this and do as much as I can to help.  But I’ll get back to that.

My dad is the toughest guy I know.  He played high school football.  He served in the Navy for seven years.  He was a mailman for a while when mailman were still called mailmen.  When my brother and I were born, my dad continued to work his way up in the retail realm to provide not just the food, clothing, and shelter that we needed to live, but also whatever basketball stuff my brother needed or musical stuff I needed for band.  At one point, he started his own company out of our house.  He put us in good cars and taught us how to fix them.

Everything I fix with my own two hands is thanks to the spirit that my dad instilled in me.

Every truly manly thing I’ve ever done is thanks to seeing my dad do it first.

This whole cancer thing is scary because my dad was still operating in Beast Mode prior to being diagnosed.  My parents babysit my niece and nephew while my sister-in-law is at work, so he was still being called upon to be the main positive male role model for those two for the majority of their week.

[I think that’s pretty awesome though and good for everyone involved.]

We all still need him around.

My dad had surgery on his neck when I was a teenager.  I remember it not just making me nervous, but really shattering my worldview, because I began to see really see my dad as a human being.  While I understood the glory and infallibility of his enormous heart, I remember the realization that my father’s body, like mine and everyone else’s, would be eroded by the sands of time.  It was a total mind-cuss and has kind of lingered in the back of my mind since then.

{I have shared this story somewhat recently with my best friend in El Paso, whose dad has also undergone multiple back-related surgeries and he felt/feels the same way.  The impact that a man’s father poor health/injury can have on that man is, it seems, staggering.  He and I are both younger brothers, though.  I wonder if that might have something to do about it.  I should investigate.}

Through it all, through different jobs and parenting teenage boys and good times and bad, my  dad has shown the overwhelming size of his courageous heart.

What amazes me now, is that he is, in many ways, staring down this diagnosis like it’s a flat tire or a leaky faucet.  Not in the woe-is-me way that others might, but like it is just another problem that needs to be fixed, so where do we get started?

My own coping has developed from four different sources: the courage of my father, the courage to put this and everything else into God’s hand, the power of knowledge and credible research, and the love and support of my wife (who is always there for me, even when I’m not feeling very courageous at all).

This has been the longest short road so far and we’ve still got a ways to go.  But we will stay courageous, ever courageous.

I’ll keep you posted.  Please keep us in your thoughts.

Courageously,

Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “Ah, how good it feels! The hand of an old friend.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Old friends.

Most of my friends are old friends.

Or not my friend anymore.

I admittedly have a hard time keeping up with other people.  Especially lately, it just seems like there are so many other things going on in the Glass House that the days slip by weeks and months at a time and I can’t remember the last time I checked in with people.  I only really have a handful a friends: one lives in town, one lives an hour away, one lives three hours away, one lives 600 miles away, and the other one lives 1200 miles away.  I used to consider a lot of people friends but, hey, we all make mistakes and so often my mistake was thinking that a lot of those people were worth a damn.

Chill, man.

Alright.  What I want this FMB to be about is maintaining relationships by keeping in touch with friends.  I want you to take a few minutes out of your day to let someone know you’re thinking about them.  In my mind, this person isn’t someone you haven’t talked to in ten years.  I would encourage you to make that phone call or send that letter/text/e-mail when you have more than five minutes to put into it.  And I’m not talking about liking a picture someone posted or whatever.  Ideally, it would fall somewhere in the middle of that.

Like I said, it’s not going to be a huge thing.  It should only take about five minutes.  But imagine being on the receiving end of a random text of kindness.  It’s a really good feeling and it helps to keep the friendship alive.

Human beings are social creatures.  According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Love and Belonging are the needs that follow physiological and safety related concerns.  So if we’ve got our water, food, and physical safety covered, the next thing we need would be human companionship.  Even the more misanthropic of us (myself included) are benefited by sort degree of human contact.  In fact, I dislike other people(‘s behavior) so much that it makes me really enjoy the company of my handful of friends!  It also makes it really special to hear from them or see them, as it doesn’t happen very often.  If you’ve streamlined your group of friends to a select few, then more power to you.  Just make sure you’re taking a few minutes every now and then to check in on them and see how they’re doing.  It’ll do you both some good.

Your friend,

David Glass

Secondhand Sunday

#secondhandsunday

Today’s SHS post features a pretty sweet tweed briefcase and a ‘golden’ frame that Mrs. Glass and I found at an estate sale in San Antonio, TX.  The briefcase has three accordion-style sleeves and a couple of pockets on the inside.  It’s lined with suede (maybe) and has a numeric combination lock.

The frame is a 8×10 and is just overall awesome.  Thanks for stopping by.

Inside that amazing #secondhandsunday briefcase

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