Slight Delay

Posted: June 27, 2011 in CYA News, General
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This was supposed to have posted earlier, but I just realized that WordPress, usually very reliable, failed to publish it. As you saw, there was no post last week and there won’t be one this week either. We had a bunch of stuff break with our cars and our house all at the same time. Meanwhile, we’re also trying to get Project R finished up. Consequently, the blog has taken a backseat for the moment. I apologize for the delay in CYA News, but the posts will resume next Monday. Hopefully, we’ll get the Facebook page updates figured out as well.

Again, sorry for the delay. See you next week.

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I apologize for the flip-flopping on the posting schedule. I’ve been testing things to see when the best time is to publish the posts.  We’ve also been fiddling with the Facebook fan page to get things right. Bear with me, and we’ll get it nailed down with less variation in the future.

My Mom’s Favorite Movie
There are few movies that have real staying power. I enjoy plenty of movies over a swath of different genres and even rave about some of them, but few truly stay with me long after I’ve watched them. Gladiator is one of those movies. This and The Last Samurai are my two all-time favorites. While there are some similarities between them, the differences are enough that I will cover Samurai in a later post. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversational FUBAR
I don’t know how often this happens to other people, but lately it’s been an issue for me. Have you ever been in a social situation and, in your mind, you respond to something in a perfectly appropriate manner, but what comes out your mouth is completely different? Take, for example, the other day at Tae Kwon Do. Throughout a single class, a typical student will say, “Yes, sir!” roughly two dozen times. We’re halfway through the class and one of those “Yes, sir!” moments comes up. And what comes out of my mouth? “Yes, ma-” I stopped halfway through the word “ma’am” because I realize there’s been a breakdown in the internal communication between my brain and my mouth. Now, you could explain this one away because a female instructor had taught the previous class I attended, but you would think a mistake like that would happen at the beginning of class, not the middle, right?

Then there are the moments when you mean to say something that has a full line of logical thinking, but what you say comes across the wrong way. At Christmas many years ago, my brother and I were to receive our own wallets. One of them was made of nice leather and had a cool strap that kept it closed. The other was a cheaper, faux-leather number, but was still fairly nice. My parents gave me first pick since I was the oldest. Now, my younger brother is horribly prone to losing things, even to this day. He’ll put something down, forget about it for about two minutes and then spend the next hour or two trying to find it. So, my thinking was that it would be less costly to my parents if the faux-leather wallet was lost than the nice (and more expensive) one. Perfectly reasonable, right? I could have explained this line of reasoning, or simply said, “I’ll take that one.” Even pointing to it and grunting would have been an acceptable option. Instead, what came out was, “I’ll take that one because it’s more expensive.” My aunt laughed her head off, and my folks chewed me out because I sounded like a total snot. They nearly made me take the cheaper one. I had to do some serious back-pedaling to explain why I said what I did.

What’s worse is when the disconnect happens, and I don’t even realize it! I’ll be rolling merrily along in a conversation with my wife, and she’ll suddenly give me a weird look. She’ll ask me what I mean, and then I – unaware that I’ve made a conversation fail – will procede to explain what I thought I said thus confusing her even more. Then she’ll say, “That’s not what you said a second ago.” Me: “I didn’t?” Her: “Um, no.” Is this an early form of aging? I am approaching 30, but I didn’t think I’d start getting senile yet.

Ugh. Well, at least I can always trust my writing to be solid, right?…Guys?

Weekly Showcase: OpenOffice
A word processor has taken the place of pen and paper, and the typewriter as the writing implement of modern-day writers of all kinds. Unfortunately, word processors can tend to be either A) very good, but very expensive or B) very cheap, but very terrible. Luckily, Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) developed an open source office application package that works beautifully. The best part? It’s completely free. It boasts a collection of six applications that can be thought of as stripped down version of their Microsoft counterparts. Now, while they may have fewer advanced features than MS Office, OpenOffice keeps the lion’s share of the stuff for everyday folks like you and me.

The Writer program is their word processor, and I began using it toward the tail end of The Thief and the Red Mandolin. It made formatting so much easier and even has integrated conversion to PDF feature. This is especially helpful to me when I’m designing the final interior of a book and uploading it to CreateSpace. What’s more, it can save and open a wide variety of file formats (unlike the other word processor). But, my favorite thing is that it doesn’t try to think for you like Word does. I feel less insulted by the software. Now, it’s the only program I use for writing books. Both Istburn and Project R were written exclusively on OpenOffice Write.

Calc is OO’s spreadsheet application. It functions in much the same way as Excel, but you see more differences in the user interaction here than between Writer and Word. However, it’s still a wonderful program and fairly intuitive. I use it for our personal budget and any time I need a spreadsheet.

I haven’t really dug into the rest of the applications, but I hope to at some point. Impress is their version of PowerPoint, Base is comparable to Access, Draw is much like CorelDRAW or MS Visio, and Math is similar to MS Equation Editor.

Alrighty, this issue in now in the books. Have you had any memorable conversation goofs?

Next week: Gladiator and John C. Maxwell

A History of Violence…erm Training
From the moment my parents put me in Judo at the age of five, martial arts have been an integral part of my life.  While I have practiced a variety of styles  – the aforementioned Judo, Aikido, Boxing (very briefly), Escrima – the primary art I have dedicated myself to is Tae Kwon Do (TKD).  It’s become a very popular sport, especially here in the US, and as such can be watered down at some schools.  Luckily, I went to a very good school growing up.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Crap List
When you grow up doing a lot of air traveling like I have, you tend to have favorite airports; places that provide a nice diversion or two from an otherwise long trip. The Singapore Changi International Airport is among my favorites as is Orlando International. But, what truly helps you appreciate those airports are those that are downright horrible. I’m sure this list is by no means complete given that millions of people travel every day through airports I’ve never even heard of, but these are the ones that I’ve experienced and will dread if I have to go back through them.

Read the rest of this entry »

What the…again?
This blog has been sorely neglected for a good while now.  I got it all nice and spiffy looking and then completely ignored content.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with what to do about it, but kept coming up dry.  Just so I was doing something with the blog, I recently ran back through the archives to clean things up, typos and whatnot.

A few things happened as I read those old e-mails and posts.  My first thought was, “Geez, my writing sucked.”  My next was, “Geez, I sounded whiny.”  But, within each subsequent post, I saw maturity slowly develop, and then I was struck by a rather convicting thought: I am no longer as open and honest with my blog writing as I used to be.  As negative as I was and as typo-ridden as those early writings were, at the very least I tried to make them entertaining for the five people who read them.  And (here’s the kicker) I actually had fun doing it. Read the rest of this entry »

Project R Update

Posted: April 18, 2011 in General
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Just a quick update on Project R. The book is nearing completion. The cover design is finished as is the interior template. There are probably two more rounds of edits to finish up. I’m shooting to have it all wrapped up and sent to the publisher by the end of the month.

It feels weird. I’ve been talking about and working on this book for about a year and a half, and the finish line is now in sight. It’s a shorter book than my first two, but I put a major emphasis on getting it right. In my first edit, I chopped out something like twenty pages worth of text. I’ve since added more pages back in as other parts of the story took precedence, but even then I’ve hacked out a bit more. It’s been a fun and very experimental book to work on. I hope you guys enjoy it when it comes out. Stay tuned for a release date.