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The idea that it is necessary to go to a university in order to become a writer, or even a man or woman of letters (which is by no means the same thing), is one of those phantasies that surround authorship. -- Vera Brittain
It recently came to my attention that more people than I knew read my little web site here. I'll call them Gladys Kravitz. And for a few reasons, I'll be making some changes to beatcanvas.com.
What's the purpose for this web site? I don't write and post and create here to drive traffic. Not my goal. I'm smart enough to know how to do that if I chose, but my purpose is more personal. Some day, my kids and my grandkids and all of their kids will wonder more deeply who I was and what drove me. A few of them will be interested to have this time capsule of my thoughts and activities and read through it. I hope to give them the value of my insights. Principles, considerations, provocations... what I wrote and all of the comments bundled up for them to peruse when I die.
Personally, my greatest joy about the web site is with those who comment. PR, Bella, Kelly, Annette, Rich, Jeff, IC... I love the conversation. And so, at some point in the next few months, the blog portion of beatcanvas.com will disappear behind a privacy wall. I'll let each of you who want to be a part of the conversation not only comment, but post here as well. The purpose will be to dig deep and really get into it. Conversation. Exploration. Creativity.
For those who want to join, I'll give a request form on the site and if I choose, you'll be allowed in. I'll give a custom RSS link if you choose to view and interact via RSS, but I'll be monitoring that to ensure that it's not a shared link.
My goal is not traffic or to boost my street cred. My goal is to pass along to my subsequent and inevitable generations a lot of well-considered and passionate thoughts. To spur them. I want them to know how I love Tamara and how greatly I cherish family. To learn what I find successful in life. I want them to know PR's thoughts, Bella's optimism, Kelly's wit, Annette's bravery, and so on. And others who wish to join in for honorable and honest reasons.
More than a simple diary, I want this to bring forth my life to them as much as I can. A portfolio, if you will.
What I don't want is to catalyze a reason for me to not be me.
And at the appropriate time, I'll surface a new and public blog for a different purpose. It's not time now... but even after that, the discussion and sharing at beatcanvas.com will continue.
At this moment in my life, everything moves as though it were made to move just as it is. It's the most sensational and delicious feeling. I want to take its picture, capture its fragrance in a bottle, dust its fingerprint and preserve it for future view... evidence of the summation of all my life's choices and efforts and fortuitous timing.
I'm in hot pursuit of my dreams, and my legs have never travelled faster.
How good it is to be happy like this, when everything is possible.
Posting is gonna be light for a while, I think. My political animus is lightened by the American right's half-hearted choice of John McCain. Oh well...
My work on the 247Toolset is moving fast and crowding my free time. The good news: every business that has seen this relationship enhancement tool wants to use it. No exception. Currently, there are three businesses that will definitely use it, and maybe soon to be a fourth. And I haven't shown it that much. The marketing is coming, though... maybe April, when I have all three existing customers installed and using it.
The second "business" that wanted to use it is a portal for non-profits. I'm keenly interested to see what 247Toolset can do for that... if you want to see a prototype of it, let me know and I'll send you a link. I'm donating the engine for local use. If it causes waves and gets bigger, I'll monetize the use, but for right now, it's fun to see it used in this way. And I believe in the person running it. More about that when it nears launch.
So, my brain is a-whir and busy and posts will come stingy. Back to coding...
My two favorite attorneys, Brett and Rush, have tagged me on the meme "7 Things You Never Knew About Me."
I once had a shotgun leveled at my head at about 10 PM at a rest area along I-5 near Yreka, California. Thankfully, no trigger was pulled.
The only time in my life that I attempted hang gliding was on a windy day, and before I could step into the harness - but was standing on the bar to stabilize it while my friend screwed tight the last wingnut - the hang glider tilted upward, caught air and lifted quite fast. I jumped to the ground, but not before I was nearly 20 feet into the air. The hang glider flew about a quarter mile and tumbled harshly into a fabric and metal heap.
At the age of 17, I rode through the streets of Sioux City, Iowa, on top of a white Catalina station wagon while being chased by the police. Sioux City is mighty hilly, and those hills are, um, best experienced at 60 mph outside the car.
Miles from a friend's house and with no way to get there but walk, I once jumped onto a slow-moving train that I knew would pass near my friend's home. The train sped up. I managed to only sprain my ankle as I got off the train.
My son, Nick, would have been named Reni has he been a girl. Reni Erk was a friend of ours when I lived in Corvallis, Oregon, a place I consider "home" more than any other city.
My sergeant when I was in the Army was nicknamed Yibba Yabba for his difficulty with the English language. Sergeant Yibba looked every bit like Gary Coleman. He married a German woman who spoke almost no English for the lone reason that her near six foot frame would give his kids a fighting chance at above-average height. She married him because she wanted desperately to be an American. They had twin boys, whom she typically carried like footballs under each arm.
I've never taken a single computer class, and, in fact, never graduated from college. Come to think of it, I nearly dropped out of high school twice, and certainly would have were it not for the night class in world history I was able to take as a junior to gain the single credit I needed to graduate high school as a junior. If I were to go back to college today, my major would probably be economics.
With all eight kids in our blended family with us on Christmas, my daughter, Bari, took all of them to a portrait studio and had pictures done of everyone. She's so wonderful and thoughtful. What a great gift for Tamara and me.
Tonight, we got the finalized pictures. Here are a few:
My friend, Annette, writes a summary of her year. She's had a great year... I love it when the story turns out so well as hers has.
Borrowing from a few of her questions, here's my summary:
What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? My wedding is a close second, but I would have to say Christmas morning. All eight of our kids were with us that morning and we all had the best of times. "Magical" is the only word for it. And while my wedding was absolutely that, Christmas morning was the culmination of everything of Tamara and I have built in the last year together. I am in love with our children.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being the husband and father my family deserves.
What was your biggest failure? Can I rename that to disappointment? My biggest disappointments were the times I wasn't who I know I am and who I want to be. That's why each day is so important. A new day, a fresh start...
Whose behavior merited celebration? My in-laws. They are really, really wonderful and good people.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? A relative of mine. Utterly embarrassing.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? My budding new business project.
What do you wish you'd done more? I don't think I'd change anything.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Color.
What kept you sane? Seeing things as they are.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I never do. We're all just people - they just have the misfortune of celebrity, so I feel sorry for them.
What political issue stirred you the most? Mike Huckabee's religious bigotry in presidential politics, and that of his disciples.
Who did you miss? My Aunt Onie.
Who is the best new person you met this year? I got to know Rich Novak.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. I'll name three:
Be the best human being you can.
It's okay to state your own point of view.
Don't do others' thinking for them.
What was the nicest thing someone told you about yourself. My wife told me I'm a "beautiful man."
The most touching experience you've had this year? Watching all of our children play in the snow in our backyard the day after Christmas from our upstairs bedroom window while holding Tamara and knowing that I have the most fabulous life a man could ever dream of.
What did you like most about yourself this year? Persistence.
What did you dislike most about yourself this year? Occasional panic.
Was 2007 a good year for you? Very much so, yes.
What do you want out of 2008? I most want my new business to take off and do well. I've been around start-ups long enough to know that my development work only scratches the surface of the effort needed... marketing comes next. We'll see how I do, but I certainly hope to see good reward for my work in this. I'll reveal more about this in the coming weeks.
And here's a song to accompany my feelings for the year past and the year ahead:
Someone who has been close to me in the past has spent the last year being nothing but an affront to me and, more weightily, to my wife. No one messes with my family, I don't care who you are. You cannot suggest that you care for my family and act like that.
The person called me this morning to "make amends," but evidently knew nothing of what that means. I said that before I could move forward, I needed to understand why I saw the hurtful behavior that I did.
"I don't want to get into specifics. I just want to move on." "I need to know why you chose to act as you have. I need that to know that it won't continue." "No, I don't want to get into that. I'm just calling to make amends."
No conversation, no discussion. It was more a desire to sweep it under the rug and pretend it's all over and that we're past it. I can't play that game, and said so.
Without any evidence that something is changed, different, improved, reformed, etc, I have no recourse but to believe that my wife and my family will be subjected to the same behavior we've experienced. I have more respect for them than to allow that.
Growing up, my mother always use to say, "I don't want you to merely 'say' you are sorry, I want you to mean it, and show me that you are."
What's ironic is that we all take for granted the powerful intentions behind two little words that our society applies to just about every situation in a cavalier manner. From the most egregious offense to accidentally bumping into someone, "I'm sorry" has become our generation's catchall: an exonerating phrase that we believe will cleanse us of our "indiscretions."
Sorry folks, but according to experts, in order for an apology to hold any credence, it must be an earnest expression of a sincere sentiment. Professionals point out that owning up to our errors is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, they profess that acknowledging your responsibility, and seeking and asking for forgiveness, not only benefits the offended individual but also helps you make peace with yourself.
The following are basic guidelines for implementing an appropriate apology:
Live Up To Your Responsibility: Don't justify, rationalize or project blame onto someone or something else. Remember, we all have control over how we act. Acknowledge that you're at fault, caused pain, and take the blame that belongs, rightfully, to you.
Own Your Error: Fully accept that you were wrong and that you realize the unnecessary aggravation, pain, and hurt you brought about. Showing this kind of understanding offers the other person confidence that you are not merely offering an obligatory apology but are in fact aware of your offensive actions and their detrimental effects.
Be Explicit: Experts recommend avoiding simply apologizing for your behavior. Be specific about which actions you are most concerned about and the impact (you feel) they had. This allows the other party to feel comfortable about you assessing and examining the situation and offering them the confidence that you will try to curb it, or get professional assistance to deal with it.
The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth: Be honest with yourself and the person you've hurt about EXACTLY what you've done wrong. Examine and discuss the root of the problem, as well as potential alternatives and solutions. Show the other party that you've considered the gravity of your actions and WHY it triggered such a negative response. This in-depth understanding offers confidence about your sincere desire to get to the root of the situation and move forward without ever looking back or repeating your actions.
Let Your Guard Down: Be prepared to have the other individual express their disappointment, frustration, and even anger. According to experts, refrain from getting offended or defensive. Remember, YOU were the initial instigator. The other person's feelings are valid and legitimate, and they have a right to be angry with you. Offer them that right and make it a priority to make your apology heartfelt.
Avoid Conditional Apologies: Refrain from "qualifying" your apology based on only certain things you felt where hurtful. Place yourself in the other person's shoes and try to understand how what you did or said affected them. Experts also suggest avoiding words and phrases such as "but" and "if."
If At First You Don't Succeed: Apologize more than once if you have to, say experts, especially if the offense is "serious" enough and the person needs a little extra convincing. Wait for the right time and choose your words wisely. Consider also gestures that will exhibit your sincerity.
You mess with my family, you are persona non grata; I don't care who you are. If you apologize from the heart, and it's obvious that you regret your actions, no worries - we move ahead.
The person actually said this to me in an email afterward:
My intent was to make a sincere apology without anger or attitude.
Here's a clue: if your apology risks delivery with either anger or attitude, then you had no heart for an apology in the first place and nothing is any different than it has been. The rest of the email was just more of the same venemous hubris shown to us in the last year.