Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Flu Bugged.

Just an update here.

The fam an I have been sick lately.  And with this many people in the mix, that makes for a long recovery.

I thought I was over it enough today to go out and take a swing at the ongoing Jeep saga.

I thought poorly.

Now I'm about hacking up a lung and I've got that flu ache thing.  You know what I mean, right?  Where your bones themselves feel "yucky", like that green stuff you've been trying to keep out of your lungs is living in your skeleton.


We've got a few more major issues going on now too, which I won't gross you out with.  Suffice it to say 2016 is off to a rough start.

Hey, though!  I did get some pro-level feedback back, and about 2/3 of that is implemented.

(I can't mention any names without permission, of course, but) it's a very, very, VERY good thing when a professional editor starts out
First and foremost, I want to say that I think this is a great story. (And I'm a hard sell, so I don't say that lightly!) It's sophisticated and multifaceted, and you've created a fun and engaging world populated with memorable and exciting characters. I'm excited to hear where this book ends up, and I'm already wishing for the next part of the story!
I'm always one to be down on myself and think the worst.  "Do I even know what I'm doing?"  "Is this really any good?"  "Will anybody even like it - or be like 'yeah, whatever'?"
This news went a long way to temper my natural pessimism.

Now it's time to push it over the hill to get it published.

After I sleep off this germ.


Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Ultimate Goal

This is a typical post on setting goals that you might find on any self-help blog -- only with a twist or two you might find helpful.

It is something that I found in all those old papers I've been going through and getting out of the office, as I mentioned the other day.  Pretty old stuff I wrote straight out of college, but I thought it might be worth talking through to give you guys something to think about.

But before I get ahead of myself, let's chat about the basics a moment.

Suppose we have a big goal.  I'm going to go with "weight loss" since it's the first of the year, and that is always a popular one.

Two things we need to do to reach that goal are:
1) To have a specific result in mind.
2) To break that goal down into smaller, actionable steps.

First, we might say "40 pounds in a month" is the result we want to move toward.  Then break that down to action items: x diet and y exercise every day to get us there.

This should all be pretty obvious.

But what about a huge goal, like a major construction project?  Saying "I want to remodel the entire house" is a bit much to chew.  That's why my old notes mentioned something I called "goal paring"

Most people already knew the earlier stuff, and I'd guess this next bit is not completely unheard of.

The idea is, like if you were designing a car, there upwards of a hundred thousand parts involved.  Not even Rain Man could keep that many things straight in his brain all at once.

So how do they do it, then?  Sub-assemblies / sub-systems, that's how.  This is the engine here, the body there, and the electrical system over there.  Then they can even chop it down further, this is not only the engine, but here is the fuel delivery system, there is the ignition system, etc.

Goal paring, to recap:  Starting with a huge problem, you chop it into smaller and smaller chunks until you arrive at "What can I do today / right now?"

I drew this as  a series of boxes.  Each large box contains a series of smaller boxes.

(Eat your heart out, Picasso!)

If you looked closely, rather than scrolling past, you might have noticed something else I did there.  Where this all gets interesting (and this is the purpose of this blog post) is what happens when you go the other direction!

So I designed a car -- the very latest thing in Hupmobiles.  Now what?  How does that fit into my overall career?  My family?  My life?

Doing that could potentially prevent that tragic quote:  "I spent my life climbing the ladder -- only to find it was leaning against the wrong building."  -- A situation both sad and common.

Like, we're on a path, but we never look up and see where we're ultimately going.  Why is that?
Reminds me of when Ebenezer Scrooge says, "Ghost of the Future! I fear you most of all!"

The very outer box of my sketch says it two words.  "Your funeral."  That's where we're going, right?  Ultimately, we take one last ride in a tiny little box.  People cry, throw some dirt on our face, and then leave us there and go on without us.

Morbid, I know.   Sorry.

Really, though, I think we need even that uncomfortable reality to make the rest of the plan make sense.  We're only one tiny part of this big, big universe.  How do we spend our time wisely, to do the most we possibly can for the short time we're in it?

If you let it, that kind of thing can change your life.

Maybe spend less time designing ignition systems for Hupmobiles, and more time making friends and helping people.  Or, dare I say it, quit a lucrative job programming embedded systems, forget about amassing a fat 401K, and try to write things that will change the course peoples' lives, instead.


But, I have one more plot twist up my sleeve.

You could take what I've said so far and run with it.  You could re-arrange your life and make the world better, (and thanks for it) but ultimately your story ends the same way.
"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
A valid question. 

Jesus also equated eternal life with the story of a guy who heard about a "pearl of great price".  He went off and sold everything he owned to buy it.   I compare that to something like, "TV mogul Ted Turner makes you an offer.  'I'll trade you everything you own, for everything I own.' "  Would you do it?  I would!  Though giving up my home and all my stuff might be uncomfortable, there's no doubt it would be a good deal.

That's the sort of context for that question in red.  I admit I was holding out a little on you for emphasis, because immediately right before that:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 24-25)
This is the ultimate outer box when it comes to planning our lives.  You could take what I said before and become a "nice person"... and then die regardless.  Or, you could make following Christ your focus, and live forever.  Even if it cost you everything, the second option would be a bargain in comparison!  (Literally, the deal of a lifetime!)

So, guys, I'd like to challenge you (and me) this new year to take a step back and take a look at the big picture.  Get that vision of where we're ultimately headed, and to re-assess whether the things we're consuming our precious hours on are really getting us where we want to be.

And if not... CHANGE! :)

Live YOUR adventure!
  - E.L. Fletcher

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lost Skis and New Years Resolutions

I confess I haven't been writing much lately.

The last little bit has been about trying to get things caught up and cleaned up around the house.  For instance, the washing machine valves are rebuilt and doesn't leak.  Also, the back path is chiseled out, and so you can get to the door without risking life and limb.

Yesterday, I also did drag the old dog sled I made out from the back barn.  That way when I go out for groceries we can "mush" them up the hill.  (Rear wheel drive van has no chance of making it up anymore.)

The only problem with that last thing is that a couple years ago when we were playing with it last, I got some old used snow skis to go on the bottom.  And, do you think I can find them?

You know it's bad when you can lose and entire pair of skis!  Amiright?
I mean, they're rather long, so there's only a limited number of places they could hide.

The other big thing I've been working on is attempting to slay the paperwork monster.  (Though really at this point, it's barely a flesh wound.)  Homeschooling this many kids, as well as more than 15 years of programming notes, tricks, inventions, and ideas, I've got quite a pile.  I'm busy cutting down notebooks and filing assignments, and scanning and getting rid of as much as I can.

The "new years resolution" that volunteered itself is to go completely paperless (except for records).

As a visual:  Right now, as I type this, my desk makes me feel like Godzilla trying to blog update between Tokyo skyscrapers!

Though we have a lot of snow, the greatest avalanche danger is inside.

Well, that's it for now.   If you don't hear from me, send out a search party. ;)

Live YOUR adventure!
  -E.L. Fletcher

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Future of Pants Cuffs and Yeti

Well, I'm back.  Glad to see all your smiling faces again.  (In the abstract sense, of course.)

But, hey, I slapped a few good keys over the Christmas break, so hopefully that might put me a step or two closer to another book.

Meanwhile, the other drags on.  And on.  And on.  It feels like a trackhoe slowly grinding its way down the road with all the speed of plate tectonics, meanwhile I'm like a nervous Chihuahua barking ineffectually at its heels.

Such is life.

Mostly though, I've been digging, digging, digging the snow.   We live on the mountainside directly across the valley from a ski resort, so you can imagine.  The driveway is very long, very steep, and very icy.

First rural'd problems:  When your driveway actually has switchbacks!

In anticipation of your question, yeah, I sometimes regret it.  But as soon the dreaded white stuff quits falling and the road melts back a little, I'm back to happy.  Then it's all "Winter Wonderland" like Perry Como don't know!

Why... just the other day I awoke to see the first frosty rays of dawn silhouetting a ma yeti and her calves wandering through our back yard.  So beautiful!

In completely random other news, I've suddenly taken to rolling up my pants cuffs.

I don't know why.  Kind of hard to explain, but it seems like they aren't "jiving" with my shoes the other way.  They chafe the shoes.  The shoes chafe them.  They get all wrinkly and weird when I tip my toe up.   It just seems... better this way.

So, I'm either on the cusp of a fashion breakthrough that will turn Vogue upside-down next season... or I'm just having some kind of psychological "moment" and I'll soon forget all about it.

You decide.

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher