Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Check Out John Olson's "Crystal Servants" Story...Something I Worked On

Last week I was asked to help edit an audio file, a short story from author, and all-around good guy John M. Olsen. The short is titled, Crystal Servants, and it's from his soon-to-be released novel, Crystal King. You can learn more about the short and the novel by clicking: HERE.

Back in the day, I worked as a computer sound technician. My job was to clean up narration for a computer program. It was a cool, if not tiring (at times...) job. But since the late 1980s, I haven't had many opportunities to edit sound files. Immortal Works had me do a Flash Fiction Friday story a few months back, but I think that ended up being less than ten minutes. This one was over an hour when I got it.

I thought, "Sure. I can get that thing cranked out in no time.

Turns out, it took longer than I had anticipated.

This didn't worry me--I had a weekend coming up and it wasn't due until today. Still, last Friday I worked on it for several hours and only got the first 15-20 minutes done. I'm a bit hampered by the software I'm using to edit. It's called Audacity. It's not that bad, especially since it's free. Actually, since it's free and I couldn't have done the project without it, it's really good.

Another reason it took a while is because I'm a little picky. At first I was eliminating every breath. That takes time. After a while I kept many of the breaths in. I did try and remove as many pops and clicks as I could. It's amazing how much we pop and click when we talk.

I was able to finish up the project and I sent it over. Today Immortal Works is promoting it, and unbeknownst to me, they credited me as the Editor. They didn't need to do that--I'm appreciative that they did.

Give Crystal Servants a listen. It's free and it's good. And those are two pluses in my book.

Monday, October 16, 2017

When Facebook Thinks You're Someone Else...

Last week I snapped a picture of my daughter at her weekend job. She did what I did last year and the year before that, worked as part of the Hackenslash show at Lagoon's Frightmares. After our shifts ended I used the picture as my "Pic Of The Day," It was when I downloaded it to Facebook that things got interesting.

If you're unfamiliar with Facebook, you can download all sorts of things, pictures, videos, clips from movies, artwork. It's almost limitless. And the good people of Facebook have added another handy feature--they've set up a face-recognition feature so you can identify people in your photos. I imagine the reason for this is multi-fold. When a person "tags" another person in a photo, a message goes out to the tagged person as well as all their Facebook Friends. That way as many people as possible will then checkout the new picture, thus staying on their website and avoiding others. Like cars, you can only drive one at a time--you can only be on one website at a time.

I downloaded the picture and I got a familiar notice. Facebook asked if I wanted to "Tag" my son. The problem is, the picture wasn't of my son, but of my daughter. Except for two years when my son was on a church mission, I've lived with both these children all their lives. I guess there's a resemblance, but I don't think they look a like. In Facebook's defense, my daughter was not on Facebook at the time and my son was.

This changed today. My daughter now has her own Facebook account so I wondered if Facebook would recognize that the picture of my daughter I posted last week was not my son. I pulled up the picture and clicked the "Tag" option. Turns out the book of faces still didn't recognize the correct person. I'm not smart enough to understand Facebook's recognition software--I'm sure it's very technical. Just not this time...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thank You DeLille Cellars Winery...For The Excellent Service!

Last month my family attending a wedding in Washington State. My nephew married his beautiful bride and we were invited to the event. They chose an incredible location, the DeLille Cellars Winery in Woodinville, Washington. We first attended the wedding, but it was reception where the winery shined, at least for me.

First, I should say, this has nothing to do with the product the winery sells. Even though alcohol was available to the guests, my family did not partake. So how did this company impress me so much while we spent time on their grounds?

Good question.

After the ceremony we all retreated to tables and waited for dinner. Because my nephew and his family wanted their guests to have as good a time as possible, they asked weeks beforehand what we wanted to eat. We responded and let them know what we wanted to eat. At the dinner, our table was on the periphery so we were served later. That's when our wonderful server bent close to my ear and admitted that my youngest's son's meal went to a different guest, a little girl at another table. She apologized more than once.

We broke the news to my son. He was understanding, but a little bummed. I can understand. He was one of the youngest people there. If it was me, I'd certainly feel a little out of place, barely a teenager at such an adult event. My son was given a different meal, one he would not have chosen on his own, but it was what they had.

He tried his food--it didn't suit him, but he gave it a go. The server noticed he was a little down so she did something she didn't need to do. She went and got him food similar to what he ordered. I don't know where she got it, but she did. When the meal was presented to him, his face lit up and he enjoyed his food the same as the rest of us. By the way, my steak was so, so, so delicious!

What our server did impressed me very much. She noticed the youngest at the table and made sure his experience was as good as possible. She made the night special for my son, which made it special for me. I can't remember her name, but she served us at Abe and Stephanie's wedding back in September. Thank you for the excellent service!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

David Grann's "Killers Of The Flower Moon"...A Book Review


Last week I finished David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but when I do, I've found the books I've read to be fantastic.

Killers of the Flower Moon is no exception.

It's a powerful story, one I knew nothing of.

The book deals with a lot of history, dark history of our country. The Osage Native American Tribe were moved to land in Oklahoma, land no one else wanted. And because of a provision in the treaty, the tribe were granted rights to all minerals found on and under the land. This was both a blessing and a curse for those tribe members. What the land yielded was oil. It made tribe members rich--very rich. And because of this, they were preyed upon by those who banished them to the land in the first place.

The crimes that were perpetrated on the Osage tribe were brutal, despicable, and cowardly. The story centers around one family that suffered because others wanted their money. It also ushered in a new way to seek justice. When local and state agencies could not solve the murders, the federal government stepped up and did what others failed to do.

When I finished the book, I felt I'd gained a glimpse into a world I never knew, a world where people persecuted others, took advantage, and killed using greed as an excuse. I wish it never happened. I wish it didn't continue today. I suppose it's not just a story of what happened to a tribe of people in America during the beginning of the twentieth century, but a story of how we've treat each other. Hopefully, we can learn from their story. And I hope what I've learned form their story stays with me for a long, long time.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Maybe I Should Start Making Friday The 13th Resolutions...

Everyone talks about making New Years Resolutions, but I don't know anyone who makes Friday the 13th Resolutions. Of course, New Years is a perfect time to make changes in ones life. It's a new year,  after all with new beginnings, fresh starts. Plus, where I live, it's usually the coldest time of the year so there's a built-in excuse for not doing many of those "get in shape" resolutions.

Today, however, my wife and I got up and went to Farmington City's newest gymnasium. It's a very large space with lots of basketball courts. There's also a nice running track on the upper level. It's not well stocked when it comes to exercise equipment, but there's some free weights, an elliptical machine, and other exercise devices here and there. This morning no one was using them, including us.

What people did do while she and I walked was play pickleball on one side of the building while others did aerobics on the other side. Personally, I'm glad people are using the facility. Hopefully our family will be part of those who use it because last week we got a six-month pass. I know I need to start exercising on a regular basis. We went today for the first time after signing up.

No, I don't know many--if any--who make Friday the 13th Resolutions. We just might be the first.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fredrik Backman's "A Man Called Ove"...A Book Review

My mother-in-law loaned me a book a few weeks ago. "Read it," she said. "It's good." My mother-in-law has pretty good taste in books so a recommendation from her goes a long way. I finished the book yesterday--I even read the book as I walked from the train to my car as I maneuvered flights of stairs and fellow commuters walking by me. I was so close and the book was so good.

Who'd have thought as story about a recently-unemployed widow who tried again and again to kill himself could be so delightful?

But it was!

I'd never hear do Fredrik Backman, a Swede who wrote A Man Called Ove, and other novels. I doubt I'll easily forget either him or his book anytime soon. A Man Called Ove centers around a man by the name of Ove. When I first saw the title, I thought it was a play on "Love" and how this man may be lacking something that keeps love from his reach. As I began reading I realized it's from Scandinavia and they have somewhat different names than we have in America.

However, as I read deep into the story, there's something to my original thought. Ove is completely original. A grumpy man, he faces a life without his wife and his job, things he's relied upon for decades. Perhaps it's because I'm closer to Ove's age than the twenty-somethings in the story, but I identified with Ove, rooted for him, understood him, felt his pain. Plus, you throw in a rescued cat and Ove becomes someone everyone champions. In short, there's a little Ove (and, in some cases, a lot of Ove...) in all of us.

The book's voice is conversational, personal, human. We're introduced to those who enters Ove's life at a comfortable pace, and we get to love them as well. It's amazing how Backman makes us care so much for someone who is so unlikable.

If you get an opportunity, give A Man Called Ove a chance. You'll be surprised at how much you like it, too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Brie Gowen's Blog Post..."Is Satan Stealing Our Families?"

Yesterday my wife read me a blog post from last July. The author: Brie Gowen, the topic: how our modern society threatens families.

I'm glad she did.

The title, Is Satan Stealing Our Families? conjures images of a horned demon hiding in the shadows just waiting for the opportunity to abduct the family unit and drag them down to hell. That's not necessarily the author's point. No, her point is much more subtle, more unseen, and frankly, more scary.

Gowen looks at how we live, Americans primarily, but the message is universal. The way we're trained to look at success, the "normal" way of doing things, the American Dream, all conspire against us to undermine the foundations a strong family provides. I'm not going to go into too much detail (Gowen explains her point much better than I am...), but in short, she wonders if all the things we are killing ourselves to obtain--the cars, the vacations, the activities--steal time away from what's the most important thing, the thing we claim we're doing all those things for, our families.

If you get a second, check out her post. You can find it: HERE. After my wife read the post, I thanked her for sharing, asked that she send me the link because I wanted to share it, then I kissed her goodbye and left for a play rehearsal. Even if we consciously try and not let the world try and steal our family, it's hard to stop. It might be easier to avoid a shadow-hiding demon.