Safety in Everyday Life

Every day I see gross violations of safety that put me and others at risk unnecessarily. I’m not talking about job safety or personal protective equipment. I could quote stats all day long but those are boring and subject to interpretation. These violations that I repeatedly witness are firmly based in the realm of common sense. I realize common sense is not as common as it once was, thanks to our anything-goes society. But these things really get my blood boiling, mostly because I do not understand the why of it. Let’s go through the list and then try to figure out the why.

I travel many miles a day between home, the base gym, and my small fitness studio on the north side of town. A few years ago, the state of Washington made talking or texting on a cell phone while driving illegal. Yet, I see people doing both every day. In fact, I’ve nearly been hit on the freeway and while riding my bike by stupid people talking on their phones and trying to drive at the same time. So what is it with people who talk and text while driving? To claim they do not know it is illegal is beyond ignorance. I say people who drive and talk or drive and text are anything but innocent. They are stupid, irresponsible, disrespectful, careless, I question their morals, values, and ethics, These talking drivers have zero integrity, and are very likely hypocrites. I can guarantee you, there is not one, not a single call or text, that is so important that you must risk my life while you drive with all your drama.

Oh, and another safety violation that is sharply on the rise – running red lights, particularly from left hand turn lanes. When did it become okay to routinely run red lights? What is your hurry? What is so important that you totally disregard safety and the law by running a red light? There is not one person important enough, not even the clown in chief, to warrant ignoring traffic safety wholesale. Who do you think you are?

I also ride my bicycle on the streets for a workout or to go to work. The last time I read the state drivers manual, bicyclist and pedestrians have just as much right to ride or walk along the streets and roads as motorists do. So what gives? Again, what is your hurry? What is so important that you must put me on my bicycle at risk because you can’t be bothered to simply slow down and move over to give me, or any other bicyclist, a full car width’s distance between me and your speeding car? I’ve had drivers pass by me so close that I could have reached out and touched their car. Why? Are you afraid to move over to the other lane? Do you even know that it is okay to slow down and give me extra space when you pass? Please explain to me why you are so careless about other’s lives. I suggest you try riding a bicycle one time on the streets and then you’ll know what it’s like.

This next one never ceases to amaze me. Speeding. Most of you do it. None of you has a valid reason for doing it. So what is wrong with driving the posted speed limit? It’s there for a reason, sometimes for a few reasons. Again, there is nothing so important, so imperative, that you have to speed and risk the lives of others just to get to where you’re going a few seconds sooner. How dare you. How arrogant. How many excuses have you dreamed up? No doubt “I’m late” is the number one excuse, or reason by your wacked out way of thinking. Well, guess what? You running late is not my fault. Nor should it be my risk. Did you know that it is okay to drive the legal speed limit so that everybody is safer?

What would you say to me if you caused me to wreck or if you injured me because you were on your precious cell phone, or if you ran a red light for being impatient? That you were in a hurry, late for your more important job, or that your phone call to your buddy could not possibly wait another five minutes? How pathetic. You better hope you incapacitate me because I will kick your butt for being stupid.

Whew! That felt good to get off my chest. No doubt I’ll sleep much better tonight. But seriously, if you or somebody you know is guilty of any of these common sense safety violations, pass the word and please slow down and think about it. Think how your actions affect others. Remember, it is okay to engage in situational awareness, to be courteous, to get up 10 minutes earlier so you are not late.

Please feel free to comment, but keep it polite and constructive.


The Value of support

I recently learned, or perhaps relearned, the value of supporting like-minded people and interests. Take creativity, for example. I discovered a couple of years ago that to feel better, you need to create something. You should spend time every day or at least several times a week engaging the creative side of your brain. This is not a scientific discovery on my part, though I’m sure there is some government funded research out there somewhere. No. I used my powers of observation at my typical male enhanced light-speed situational awareness-dar.

You may have figured this out long ago but I am male and consequently have a thick skull. In other words, I learn slow but I learn well. Writing is one of my preferred creative mediums. I have recently finished the first draft of my first book, which I started writing back in May of 2009 while on deployed for the AF. Just as cooking is a stress reliever, and a healthier choice, writing is a creative release that makes me feel good after doing it.

As I got more into writing, I joined a few local writer’s groups and started attending meetings. It was the best decision I made regarding my desire to write a book. And then I met a local author who quickly became an inspiration and a pseudo mentor. I was surprised to learn how important he, and one other person I met through the same group, holds to supporting other authors. I thought it was really cool and I decided it was time I followed suit. Very unusual for me because I am quite happy on my own. However, in this case, I would not have finished my first draft without the writer group support.

So, now I support the groups and the authors and soon to be authors whenever I can. And this also makes me feel good. But I think it also makes me a better writer. Part of the support is to read and give feedback to what other’s are writing. It’s a win-win.

This sentiment is also why I admire Hugh Howey for his unwavering support for authors. It is fun to be a part of something. And because of this exposure, I have plans to not only continue writing but to write outside my favorite genre. Those out of the box (genre) ideas have yet to enjoy pen to paper but the ideas are lining up in my little male enhanced brain.

Point is, it’s fun, healthy, and moral to support somebody and something creative. It’s even okay to do so. So go create and go support.


Next book idea

I have not yet published my first book, CRASH COURSE, and already I have a back log of new and interesting ideas for more books. And much to my surprise, my ideas are for different genres. I have started making notes and the first chapter of my next project which is what I would describe as sort of a cross between Star Wars and The Hobbit.

I also plan to write a book about my experience as a maintenance technician for an apartment complex. I can’t wait to tell some of those stories. Yet another, more serious, book is about a middle aged man’s intervening years from military service retirement until he finds a new job during the worst recession (depression) in recent memory. This is where I get to hammer the politicians and the lame stream media and the affect it’s having on our society.

The interesting thing is, I used to think that I could and should work on only one project at a time. But I noticed that many authors work on several projects at once. Amazing. Or, they put out at least one big book a year, if not more. I reckon it takes some practice and that writing for a series helps in this regard.

So a friend of mine just posted that my first book is soon to be published, even as I start on a revision of the firsts draft. I reckon I’d better get to work lest I prove her wrong. Gee. thanks.  🙂


Just when you thought…

… that both sides of the Amazon-Hachette debate had been thoroughly debated, yet a few more arguments for and against surface, adding to, or perhaps muddling, the issue further.

I think some very good arguments have been made on both sides and from several different perspectives. To be honest, I am not quite sure who posits the stronger argument, Amazon, Hachette, or the various authors, both agented and indie. At first the issue was vague and riddled with speculation. Then folks like Hugh Howey offered some clarification. But now, it’s slipping back into the fog again. I reckon that is ok because, hey, my book is not quite ready yet for publishing on any platform.

Still, I believe a business or an author has the right to set whatever price it or he wants. But I also think that it is up to the author to decide how he or she wants to publish and should take the responsibility to negotiate a suitable contract. There is plenty of history and evidence to support a particular price point that makes the author and customer happy – I know it as the free market.

I read just this past weekend that the big publishers colluded to set ebook prices, however, I did not realize it may have been in response to how Amazon tried or wanted to dictate the ebook prices. I actually did anticipate that the price of an ebook would be less than a hard copy for obvious reasons. I was one of the first to receive the new iPad back in spring of ’09 and I thought it was the coolest thing. It meant I no longer had to make space for rows of books shelves in my home – I had a lot of books by the time the iPad launched. I was happy to donate my collection to the local library.

However, much to my annoyance, ebook prices were not lower, even though it seemed they should and could be. So maybe the collusion was forced, a defensive measure. In the grand scheme, I think there will be plenty of room for traditional publishers and multiple ebook platforms – enough to go around for everybody.

I do want to point out that not enough attention is being paid to the gatekeeper role agents play in the published book arena. One could argue that self publishing floods the market with less than quality reading material. Knowing this makes it harder for an avid reader of any genre to find a decent read. One could also argue that this same flood of lesser quality material will dumb down new readers in the long run. I have no proof of this, it’s merely speculation. The same could be said for calculators, GPS (and maps), and common core. I reckon it depends on what generation you hale from.

I will press forward with my plans to e-publish my first book with the various ebook platforms, most likely setting a price I was familiar with growing up in the ’80s.  I hope Amazon and Hachette sort out their differences soon.


The flipside to ebooks and self-publising

Ok, so I met with some good friends last evening who are sorta, kinda, in the business, in one way or another. Of course, more discussion helps the conversation re Amazon-Hachette, as it’s become known, and ebook prices and author royalties. I should clarify my own position, or rather how plan to position myself and why. In my previous posts, I indicated I plan to self publish via an ebook platform for my first book, hopefully out this fall. Most likely, it will be with Amazon but that does not mean I won’t also choose other ebook platforms in addition to Amazon. However, my choice does not necessarily mean that I approve of Amazon’s position.

I do believe an author, or an artist, or a musician, or a singer, should be paid a majority percentage for his or her work. Why? Because the author has put in the time and effort, the creativity, the hard work, the hours on the keyboard, etc. to produce his book. He should not receive less than 51%. After all, if not for the author, not one publisher, agent, editor, and ebook peddler, would be in business.

I do believe, for the most part, in the free enterprise system. Which means the maker of a product or service should be allowed to set the price at whatever he, she, or they thing the market will bare. I think it is unfair for Amazon, who merely acts as a middle man, has any business dictating what prices a seller can or should set. Does the etail giant even make anything?

On the other hand, authors have more than one choice available to them so one does not need to sell a book via Amazon. I could argue that the proliferation of self published ebooks has added to the slush pile, saturating the Amazon platform with less than quality work. Let’s face it, some singers should not sing, some painters should not paint, and some authors should not write. This is where agents and editors act as sort of quality gate keepers in my opinion. Ensuring at least a decent minimum standard for readers. This is how it is for first time drivers, accountants, doctors, pilots, dentists, other technical positions and professions, and professionals. Our society needs minimum standards to achieve, to compete, and to excel. Why lower that standard?

I still plan to go the ebook route for my first book, however, I intend to pitch my second book to an agent and go both routes. For me, signing with an agent and hopefully a publisher, would be a sort of validation for my work, that and any resultant sales that follow. Besides, there is no reason I cannot do both.


What price to set

Thanks to all the debate surrounding the Amazon-Hachette issues, and also thanks to the excellent and relevant analysis by Hugh Howey, I have decided to self publish my first book on Amazon. But now I have to determine the right price.

There are a few factors to consider. I’m a new author, brand new in fact. I’m still in the revision phase which I’m confident will make my manuscript better and ready to publish. But I’ve read that .99c is perhaps not the best price to set, except maybe initially. Neither is the high end of 19.99 or even 24.99 like many of the new hardbacks. Somewhere in between, then.

There is some merit in getting paid for your writing, just like a painter, a singer, or a musician, so setting it too low yields very little but setting it too high also yields very little. The right price should be adequate to reward my efforts as the author and some for the platform of delivery, in my case, Amazon. It is hard to fathom the behind the scenes extent to which Amazon has gone to allow and enable authors to peddle their work. The potential audience reach is almost unlimited, thanks to virtual global commerce and the rather cool invention of the iPad and other similar devices.

I remember back when I first got seriously into reading books – fourth grade I believe. Thanks to my teacher, Mrs. Karstens, I love to read and I believe it has made me a smarter person because of it. When I was finally out on my own, making my own purchasing and budgeting decisions, I recall that paperbacks cost on average less than five bucks. Yes, I realize that reveals something of my age, but so what. The point is I feel strongly about setting a price for my work that is as easy as possible for folks to buy and read but still do right by me the author and whatever entity provides the platforms.

I’m thinking between 2.99 and 4.99. It will depend on the final outcome after I complete my revision, which I plan/hope will be no later than fall.