The Importance of Knowing What’s Important

The Olympics have brought many surprises.

First the number of World Records that have been broken. Can you believe it.

But Second, the mean and nasty comments that have been aired to the world at large.

Gabby Douglas was attacked by African Americans because her chemically straightened hair did not represent the natural condition that God had given her.

Lolo Jones was the subject of an unwarranted attack by a New York Times writer who thought that she was more concerned over her appearance than winning.

These criticisms gave no credit for what was important, their accomplishments. The years of training and sacrifice that brought them to the Olympics as designated representatives of the USA; the very best that we had to offer.

Then there is the political scene with the GOP demanding that Obama show an official copy of his birth certificate and the Dems insisting that Romney produce his tax returns.

While I would like nothing better than to discover that Obama is an alien, maybe even from Saturn or Uranus (no pun intended, yeah right), does it matter?

No, what matters is that the country is suffering. Suffering from ideological and economic divisiveness. What is important is to work together to heal our wounds actual or imagined, and bring our country out of its doldrums.

I won’t discuss who are the winners and losers, only that the arguments are so deeply ingrained into our mentality and the chasm so deep that there must be some losers and some winners.

Again, what is important is Knowing What’s Important!

I don’t often get on my soapbox but I’m really tired of the fighting.

What do you think?

 

 

Doing “Writerly” Things

I’m back. Did you miss me? You probably thought I gave up on blogging.

With all deference to Kristen Lamb, who has taught me, “Blog several times a week”, I’m guilty and I have no excuse. I allowed myself to get ensnarled in a myriad of projects, anything but writing.

I thought that if I wasn’t going to write, I could do other “Writerly” type things.

What kind of things? Oh, you know–er–um.

  • Take out the trash
  • Buy a new battery for my Dana
  • Build a new website or
  • Improve the present site

The following item provided a push: I got an email from GoDaddy telling me that my Hosting fees were coming due. I was paying for hosting fees on both my website and my blog, and I thought

“Hey, this looks like the perfect time to eliminate my website and move it to my blog. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a techie like me.”

 

In my early days before the dawn of the PC I had worked as a programmer using Assembler language for the S360. I must have done a fairly good job as I was paid well.

 

Having said that, I sadly confess, (hides face in shame  and murmurs) “I am totally inept at WebPages”.

You ask, “Why”.

(Said in total FRUSTRATION)! “Because, I have no CONTROL!

At my age CONTROL becomes very important. My wife wants to CONTROL me; the government wants to CONTROL me. You have to fight for every last thing that YOU could possibly CONTROL, and I can’t even CONTROL where a picture is going to be placed.

I insert the cursor at the point where the picture should reside, I Insert image; it appears, filling the entire page. Oh well I can handle that. With great skill, I shrink the image to the desired size, yes that looks good.

No, I want it a little closer or farther from the text, it doesn’t matter which. The damn picture won’t move!

After throwing a minor tantrum, I realize that I have not activated text-wrap and therefore the picture is locked in position, I change the setting and move the picture to the spot where I want it. Success

 

So now I have a Word document to copy to my Blog site. I do a Copy and Paste from Word to WordPress.

Looks pretty good but where are the pictures. Oh right, I have to Insert them, No you can’t Copy and Paste them.

Okay, I find the jpegs and upload them to WordPress and then insert them into my Page/Post. The picture magically appears–but it’s not where I want it. I try moving it, nudging it, backspacing it, nothing works—-I go to edit the picture to see if I can set the location. Oh, yes there it is, Left, Center, Right.

How about 1/8 inch to the right of the text?

What do you mean I can’t do that! I used to manipulate individual Bits of a Byte, and you’re telling me I can’t do that. Programmers can do anything!

(With profuse apologies you say), “I didn’t realize that you had this extensive technical background; you can do anything you want using CSS.

What the Hell is CSS? Oh it’s another language like HTML, XML, Java, and Pearl?

Languages, what kind of languages are those? What happened to Autocoder, Assembler, Cobol, and Fortran?

You never heard of those. What’s the world coming to?

Back to your languages, I know where Java is, do they speak Javanese? What about Pearl is that short for Pearl Harbor? I thought they spoke English?

Oh, you say it’s a programming language. Well, I should be able to master that.

I bought a book, WordPress Web Design for Dummies, I looked through it, I slept on it but it wouldn’t sink in. I needed a Rosetta stone to make sense out of this.

I sent a message to my mentor Laird Sapir who suggested a marvelous website W3Schools.com with tutorials and opportunities to practice the lesson. W3Schools.com was a big help.

Armed with my new knowledge I added fonts to my blog, changed font size, changed colors…..

But I still couldn’t place those pictures exactly where I wanted them.

In desperation or frustration over my inability to CONTROL I emailed Laird who readily agreed to help me. I felt an immediate sense of relief the moment I turned the problem over to her. In a week the pages were ready for publication. Her rates were very reasonable and I was very pleased.

 

So here I am writing this blog post to announce the new pages added to my blog site Donald Bueltmann

What do you think of it? Please let me know.

I have now been able to return to my WIP a trilogy about a parallel universe.

So what’s the purpose of all this rambling…?

You have to choose your role in life. Are you a writer, a publisher, a web designer, etc? Do what you excel at and give others a chance to demonstrate their skills.

One of my other mentors Harvey Stanbrough said this on his blog “I’m a Little Annoyed”

I think I’m going to listen to Harvey and remember this last experience and stick to what I know I can do and give others a chance to show what they know.

 

 

The Trials of Self-publishing Part 1

Why Self Publish

The first book I wrote was a travel narrative about a trip through Europe that my son and I took “Fulfillment is a Place”.

It was a fantasy trip, my fantasy, to see all of the places I had always wanted to see. Since my son lived in Columbus OH, the trip was planned over the internet, deciding what we wanted to see vs. what we realistically had the ability to see, the logistics of travel, etc.

We visited Athens, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Salzburg, Dachau, Colon, Paris, Monaco, and London. Most of the trip was taken with Euro rail Pass. We visited museums, churches, enjoyed great food and had an unforgettable trip.

I had planned on writing a book when I returned, so we took several cameras, a micro-cassette tape recorder and a note pad.

The trip fulfilled all of my hopes and I returned with a collection of museum books, about 500 photos, 14 cassettes, and a journal full of notes. Now all I had to do was put the book together.

It took about 2 years of research and editing and required a lot of time to review photographs, scan the selected ones, and determine on what pages they would look best.

I attended a presentation at a Senior Citizens computer club meeting given by the owners of a short-run printing firm. They were hoping to appeal to people who wanted to convert their genealogies to books.

This sounded like an ideal way to publish my book. I provided them with my manuscript and photos in digital format and the material I wanted used for a cover.

For $1000 I got 10 hardbound books with removable covers and 75 paperbacks. I was very pleased with the results. I gave the hardcover copies to my family. The paperbacks were mine. I sold about 50 copies at $14.

This is amusing; several years later I googled the title of my book “Fulfillment is a Place” and got a hit on Amazon.

At this time I had not released my book for sale anywhere. The listing on Amazon offered a copy of my book for $150 as a rare 1st edition signed by the author.

Of course it was rare, I only had 75 printed.

What were my advantages in self-publishing?

  • I had total control of the preparation process
  • There was no one to stop production
  • I had control of the number of books printed, I wasn’t stuck with a garage full of books

What were the disadvantages:

  • Since I was the publisher I had to purchase SBN numbers and an SBN barcode scan .
  • This was before the publication of Kristin Lamb’s  book “We Are Not Alone”  WANA; I was alone. I had no one to go to for assistance.

That was my first experience at self-publishing.

What kind of experience did you have?

What are your arguments for or against self-publishing?

There’s One Born Every Minute–Conclusion

There’s One Born Every Minute—Conclusion 

The purpose of this blog has been to show how serious addictions can be. I don’t think I ever heard of a 12 step program for car addicts. LOL

In my last post I said that I had to get rid of the MGA. In a very short time it would need major surgery and the government wasn’t providing insurance coverage on vehicles.  LOL

What to buy, it couldn’t be just any car, I had to make a statement. These were the days of the foreign car; there were Skodas, Maicos, Anglias, Gogomobiles, it was a veritable potpourri of imports. But these were all too common—and then I saw it:

A 1960 Hillman Minx Convertible, the colors were Moonstone (an iridescent blue with a light lavender cast), blue vinyl top, and blue vinyl upholstery. So why did this car meet my standards:

It had a 4 on-the-column shifter.

Did you ever hear of this?

The convertible top could be lowered completely or

(ready for this)—

it could be retracted so that only the front seat was open the back was covered.

How cool is that?

I kept the Hillman for about four years until my wife and I decided we needed a more suitable family car, a 1964 Chevrolet BelAir. This behemoth had a manual transmission, no power steering, no air conditioning. It was very Spartan but it had a huge trunk that would hold a 4×8 sheet of plywood.

I won’t bore you with the remaining litany of vehicles but over the next 34 years 11 new cars passed through my hands. That’s an average of 3 years per car.

In 1996 I was driving a beautiful Toyota Cressida and when it was time to trade, I was informed that Toyota had decided to stop making the Cressida.

There wasn’t enough difference between the Lexus ES300 and the Cressida (other than price) so they hoped to move drivers up to the Lexus.

I wasn’t happy about this decision, I figured there was no way I could afford a Lexus but an eager salesman showed how I could.

I’m a sucker for a salesman!

I found myself behind the wheel of a beautiful ES300.

Strangely enough I kept this car for 12 years. Buy quality and you’ll be happy.

In 2008 I was ready for a new car. Every time I took my Lexus in for an oil change they gave me a loaner car, a new ES350 (such evil people).

My wife told me that since I was going to be 70 I could buy one for my birthday. I looked at all the options, sunroof, heated and cooled leather seats, (hey, I lived in the desert), GPS, Bluetooth, Headlights that swiveled, automatic wipers, power rear window sunshade.

Do you think that was enough, no I didn’t either. I added chrome wheels.

Do you have any idea what the price tag on this boat was? I’m not going to tell you.

Was I happy now? What do you think?

Yes, for a while. But two years later I realized that the car was too big, the payments were killing me, taxes were atrocious—and—it just wasn’t fun to drive.

You won’t believe my next move. I took my beautiful Lexus and drove to the Honda dealer and bought a bright red 2010 Honda Fit Sport. This is a really fun car to drive and is very flexible. And a lot less expensive in all respects.!

 This is the end of my car chronicles, at least I hope it is; but who knows?

Tell me about your vehicle adventures.

 

There’s One Born Every Minute Part 2

So I was 20 years old and I had a new 59 Plymouth Belvedere. It was beautiful, bright shiny red, sparkling white vinyl top. Was I happy?

No         .

What did it take to make me happy?

 

 

First, it wasn’t the car I wanted, it wasn’t the beautiful bittersweet car with the 8 cylinder engine and the pushbutton transmission.

The beautiful red Belvedere with a 6 cylinder engine was  so underpowered a 49 Ford could take me leaving a stop sign.

So what?

This was very important to a 20 year old.

About this time some of my friends were buying sports cars, one had a Jaguar XK140 convertible, another had a Karman Ghia.

What did I have     ?

A crummy 6 cylinder Plymouth!

One weekend several of us went to the Road America sports car race in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin. It was an unbelievable experience Jaguar introduced a new car, the XKSS. Briggs Cunningham was testing a new Osca, and a new class of race car the Formula Junior was introduced.

I was totally intoxicated by the roar of the engines and the smell of the nitromethane.On the return trip I made up my mind to get rid of the Plymouth.

I really wanted a 1959 Austin Healy 3000 MKlll but just couldn’t make it happen. Then I saw an MGA roadster, black, red leather, wire wheels with knock off hubs, beautiful.

 

 

I had to have it.

 

They were willing to take my 59 Plymouth in even trade for the 57 MGA.

I’m sure I lost out on the deal but I didn’t care. It was mine..

I didn’t even notice that the spare had most of the spokes broken and that the tires were worn badly.

I had a lot of fun with the MG I’m surprised I didn’t get more tickets or kill myself.

I kept the MG for less than a year because the clutch needed to be replaced. This was extremely expensive.

Bye bye MGA.

I may have been a sucker, but I sure had fun.

Did any of you have a sports car that you will never forget?

Write me let me hear what kind of cars you had. I love to talk about cars.

There’s One Born Every Minute

There’s One Born Every Minute

If you remember from my earlier blogs I have an obsession for cars. Friends joked that the gestation period for a car was 9 months. I didn’t wreck the cars, I just got bored. I needed a new car to pique my interest.

I couldn’t really afford to change cars that often but I made a decent salary for a 19 year old—Oh yes, my father was the loan manager for a bank and never turned me down. I just moved from car to car and transferred the unpaid balance. My poor suffering father couldn’t believe my recklessness.

In 1959 I walked past a Plymouth dealer and saw a red Plymouth Fury. I was stunned, it swooped, it dipped, from the headlights peeking out from under their arched eyebrows to the rear fins and the trunk mounted continental tire. I was enticed into the dealership by the colors and the geometric forms.

 

 

 

 

 

As you would expect, the beautiful red Fury convertible was beyond my grasp. However there was a Fury sedan, painted Bittersweet, a beautiful cinnamon-orange color, had a  pushbutton transmission (what the heck was that) and a powerful V8 engine.

When the salesman saw that I had already sold myself, he told me that he could get me into the car for $150. I wrote a check for that amount and the salesman told me that the banks were closed for the day why didn’t I take the car and drive it over the weekend and we’d sign the papers Monday.

Perhaps I should have questioned this transaction. Who would turn over a new car to a 19 year old?

I didn’t care I drove out of there, before they could call me back, in a brand new car.

I had a great time over the weekend showing off my new acquisition to my friends. My father just shook his head; I figured he was jealous because I had a newer car than his.

I drove to the dealer’s after work Monday, eagerly rushed in looking for my salesman, he signaled that he was busy and to sit and wait. I waited for about an hour and he finally came over.

He was not smiling. He told me that the bank had refused to accept the deal and wanted more money down. I had no more money; I had used all of my available cash for the $150 down payment.

I said I was sorry and I guess I’d have to take my car back. His response was that it had already been promised. I would have to get another $300 somewhere by tomorrow or surrender the car. I didn’t know what to do. I drove home feeling like the biggest chump in the world.

It was time to call in the marines. I called my father and told him about the entire sordid deal.

I picked him up the next day and we drove to the dealer.

I had always thought of my father as being a pacifist who would do anything to avoid a fight. He lit into that salesman and informed him that I was a minor and had no authority to enter into this agreement. He further stated that his bank would no longer wish to do business with such a shady operation.

The Sales Manager came out and said that it had all been a misunderstanding

Somehow my black Mercury reappeared and we left as if I had never been in that place, nor would I ever enter it again.

Since I was determined to get a new car, my father took me to a Plymouth dealer that he knew and trusted. I was unable to get a Fury with a V8 but I did drive away in a new 1959 Plymouth Belvedere, it was red (the same red as the Sport Fury) and had a white vinyl top, no automatic transmission and a 6 cylinder engine.

But it was mine and how many 19 year olds owned a brand new 1959 car?

Was I happy? Oh yeah! Would I stay happy? Probably not.

Did you ever do something stupid and have to call in the marines?