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Rated: 13+ · Book · Opinion · #1254599
Exploring the future through the present. One day at a time.

I hope I stay within budget

My website: http://www.almarquardt.com
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September 13, 2015 at 9:45pm
September 13, 2015 at 9:45pm
Like many other writers, my bookshelves are full of books on writing. And like most other writers I have my favorites that I try to read more than once so I don't forget the authors' advice.

One such book is "On Writing" by Stephen King.

If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do. It's equally about his own journey as much as advice to others. One of my favorite sentences is, "Never lie to your readers. They can always tell."

This is true in fiction as well as in non-fiction. It seems counter-intuitive to think lying in fiction is even possible, because isn't the entire story made up? Yet it can happen, especially when trying to twist a plot in a direction that doesn't seem plausible, or making a character do something that's beyond the character's capabilities or against his/her nature.

I know many can point out stories where something in a story seems off, implausible, etc. That is a form of an author lying to the reader.

Don't do it. Lies in writing not only insults the reader's intelligence, but is the height of disrespect.

Lying to a reader is even more glaring in non-fiction. As a fellow human being, I can relate to wanting to lie. We do it every day when, for example, we tell our friends that everything is okay at home when the truth is quite the opposite.

We lie because we don't want to burden our friends with our problems, or it's a matter of pride.

Years ago I refused to tell anyone I was in an abusive relationship. The main reason was pride, because I didn't want to admit I had made a serious mistake in choosing that person as a boyfriend. I was supposed to be much smarter than that. I left him eventually, but that's a story for another time.

The desire to lie in my own blog pulls at me every time I write about myself, the things I've done, or the things I failed to do. Part of it again is pride. I'm supposed to be smart, put together, and have at least a little wisdom -- especially at my age.

I think my readers sense, however subconsciously, when I'm not being entirely truthful, and when I am. Their comments or lack thereof prove how much they saw past my deceptions, even if they don't outright call me a liar. I can read between the lines.

Recently I went back through previous blog entries, some going back years. The entries where I held back my honest self resulted in few likes and comments.

The ones where I decided to let it all hang out, so to speak, I received a lot more responses. Most of the time those who responded shared with me their similar struggles.

I discover time and again how comforting it is to know I'm not alone in my struggles, and by knowing I'm not alone, I can exercise more bravery and continue to be honest in everything I write.
September 12, 2015 at 9:25am
September 12, 2015 at 9:25am
One of my most frustrating qualities as a writer is I wait for inspiration. I sit at my computer, watching that infuriatingly patient cursor blink at me, and expect a lightning-bolt of creativity to spur my fingers to type fantabulous stories.

You'd think after years of doing exactly that, I'd realize it rarely happens.

Does a photographer sit on the porch waiting for rare wildlife to saunter through the yard, or does he seek it out?

I need to seek out inspiration, to be intentional about it. To go places outside my comfort zone, to even talk to people I normally wouldn't. To read more books both inside and outside my favorite genres. I often find my creativity goes into overdrive spouting new ideas for stories when I'm reading.

Last week I attended a meeting of other volunteers for my church's upcoming restart of kid's ministry (Sunday school).

The director, Suzanne, encouraged us to be intentional in our faith. It means reading and studying the Bible, attending both Sunday services (which many volunteers set aside due to volunteering for the children during most services), as well as participating in small groups.

That's another area where I wait for inspiration to grow my faith. I expect God to talk to me, but I don't stop to talk to him first. I don't read my Bible as much as I should.

Oddly enough, I sometimes find the Bible intimidating. There are so many stories, so many books, I often don't know where to start. Should I start at the beginning with Genesis, the New Testament gospels, Paul's letters?

It's wrong-headed to even think that way. God knows what I need, so honestly, wherever I start is where I need to be. As long as I'm intentional about it.

I am reading "Jesus on Trial" by David Limbaugh. He puts Jesus and the Bible on trial to prove their authority. And he did his research. Even from a historical perspective, it's interesting stuff. He wrote it mostly for atheists -- he used to be one -- but even Christians will find it bolstering. Sometimes I need my own proof that Jesus is real and the Bible as a whole is authentic, both historically and as a means to bring us closer to God. I can be more confident when talking to others who also have doubts.

I'm sick of social media. Although I'm pointing out my own hypocricy here because of my previous entry, everyone has to spout their opinons on a certain topic. They make such a big deal out of it as if it affects their own life when in a few weeks most people won't remember or even care. It gets to be beyond tiresome.

Whatever a clerk does in a state I've never been is really none of my concern. Sure, I can have a bit of intellectual fun talking about what someone does -- right or wrong -- but if I'm tired of others doing it, surely others want to grit their teeth when I do the same.

Therefore I'm going to stop and instead write about the things that do affect me.

We'll see how long it lasts, because who doesn't like to arm-chair quarterback?
September 9, 2015 at 10:43pm
September 9, 2015 at 10:43pm
As with everything that happens, people take one of two sides.

In this instance, people criticize Davis' defiance by saying she was elected to do a job, and to refuse to do it should result in her removal from office. Even though she claims religious objections to signing marriage licenses for gay couples, many Christians are frowning. They claim she's using her faith to get attention, and is not acting loving as Christ would. She's making it more about herself, and not Jesus.

Those who take her side, many of whom are also Christian, are doing so because they believe she's standing her ground on her faith, and that no government – state or federal – should compel her to go against her religion.

Part of my job description is to create and sign plats and surveys. I take data provided either through legal documents or surveys performed on the ground and create a new plat or description.

In calculating property boundaries, I use mathematical processes including significant digits. For those who don't remember, when calculating data, the end result can't show a greater accuracy than the least accurate number. For instance, if I have 34.5654 + 45.2, the end result must be 79.8, not 79.7654.

What does this have to do with Kim Davis? Keep reading, it'll all make sense shortly.

A client once asked our company to parcel out a piece of his property to sell. His original legal was described to the nearest foot. He didn't want an actual on-the-ground survey, but he did want the new parcel to be calculated to the nearest 10th of a foot.

I created the drawing, but I refused to sign it. My sense of ethics and correct usage of mathematics prevented me from putting my name on a document that was inaccurate and incorrect.

See where I'm going with this?

One of Kim Davis' objections was being forced to sign her name to a document that goes against her religious beliefs. Not only that, but when she was hired, the Kentucky State Constitution defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, and anything else is invalid (Section 233A). Still does, in fact, as it can only be changed or repealed via General Assembly.

What happened to her is similar to someone being hired as a bartender then told three months later that she must pole-dance naked. It wasn't originally part of her job description, so her objection is not unwarranted.

There's also the issue where Davis apparently prevented (or perhaps couldn't, legally) allow the deputies to sign the licenses, I didn't prevent another surveyor from within the company with signing the survey, which is what happened.

We also have to recognize that the SCOTUS decision created legal ambiguity with state laws and constitutions which will take time to rectify. I won't get into specifics, because the entry would be far too long. Nevertheless, the decision places people in untenable situations much like Davis where we have contradictory laws that make following one law without violating others near impossible.

It boils down to this: No government has the right to force or compel a person to sign a legal document that they find morally or ethically objectionable. By the same token, no individual has the right to force people to not sign a legal document they don't find morally or ethically objectionable.

Now for the religious component.

Davis' mistake (that could have been pushed on her due to national coverage which she may not have expected) was in digging in her heels and claiming (quite loudly) religious objections without first trying to find a legislative or legal solution. Her actions show less grace and more self-absorption, something too many – Christian or otherwise – are guilty of.

Adding to the controversy of religious objection in the workplace is the Muslim woman who is suing her employer for suspending her because she refused to serve alcohol:


In her case, she knew part of her job description is to serve alcohol. She had, after all, worked that job for two years before converting to Islam. Once she converted, she should have asked for reassignment where serving alcohol was not a requirement, or find different employment.

You could argue I'm picking and choosing my “outrage” (I place it in quotes, because I'm not outraged by either. This is a mere curiosity to me, but wanted to address it because it's on everyone's mind) based on the complainant – one being Christian, the other Muslim. But they are not entirely the same.

As I said above, the rules changed for Davis after she was elected, whereas none of Stanley's (the flight attendant) duties changed from the moment she took the job until she converted.

What would solve the dilemma with gay marriage in particular is quite simple: Marriage is a religious covenant with a specific meaning, so it should be relegated to churches. Governments should change the verbiage from"marriage" to “civil union” (as an example). The license signed and filed by the government would be nothing more than a legal contract between two people, and the gender of said couple no longer has relevance.
September 2, 2015 at 8:19am
September 2, 2015 at 8:19am
My first novel took a mere three months to write. My second, over nine. My third took another nine, if not a year. Since then, my subsequent novels are all perpetually incomplete.

The main reason (ignoring my chronic procrastination) is because I know more about writing well than I did when I first started.

When I wrote my first novel, I wasn't concerned about how well it was written. The story took precedence over technique, and in some cases, even grammar.

Now I pay attention to every word and sentence, and as such it takes me longer to get anything out. That same slowness inevitably makes me lose interest in the story, or I convince myself it's such a terrible story that I need not continue. I'm losing the story in favor of the words themselves.

This same issue has also spilled over into my photography. I still click away, although not as often as I used to. I plan more, and hesitate sometimes to the point I miss a good shot.

I also scrutinize each photo to the point that the shots I used to keep I now throw away, While I may save on hard drive space, I can't help but wonder if I'm being as overly-critical on my photos as I am with my writing, and I'm in the end missing out on some decent shots other people would love to see.

Was I a better writer and photographer when I didn't know anything?

It's a question I can't help but ask. I sometimes wish I knew less than I do so I could actually enjoy writing and photography as much as I did when I first started.

I know I'm not the only one, because many have said to make sure to turn off the internal editor while writing (or taking pictures). Sounds easy, doesn't it? But it's not. My internal editor is so loud and obnoxious, I can't ignore her.

Dang it.
August 31, 2015 at 7:46pm
August 31, 2015 at 7:46pm
From this article:


To the response from the pregnant meteorologist against nasty emails:


And the videos of Planned Parenthood showing how they're pushing women to abort in order to sell baby parts.

I can't help but wonder if there is a concerted effort to force women to not answer the call to motherhood.

For most of my young life I had no opinion on whether or not I wanted children. When I married Dave, the decision was made to not have any, because he was adamantly opposed to having children.

During that time a woman told me, "You don't know love until you have children."

Since I didn't want any, I was actually insulted by her comment. It implied that I couldn't love someone fully and completely without children, that my life would always contain a void and I would die regretting never having known that kind of love.

It wasn't until I saw my son's face for the first time that I understood what she meant.

That's not to say every woman should have children. It's a choice every person should make, and they have every right to make it, just as I did, and just as I and my husband changed our mind. Nor does it mean a woman can't be complete without children. I know too many women who decided not to, and have never regretted it.

The problem I see is how society seems to be pushing women -- and even young girls -- away from having children. Society encourages both boys and girls to wait until their 30s -- if ever -- to get married and procreate. It implies that everyone should, "live first," then "settle down" when they've had all their fun and established their career.

It also frowns on anyone who has more than 2 children.

I married at 22. These days that's considered too young. I'm willing to bet some believe I threw away my life the moment I said, "I do."

Speaking from 23 years of married experience, I have lived a more full complete life with Dave than I ever could alone. I grew up with him. I cried with him, laughed with him. We've endured hardships together that we could have never survived alone. Without him, I would not have the career I have. I wouldn't have the joy, happiness and even self-esteem. I can be 100% me around him without fear of being judged or shunned. He knows what I'm thinking and feeling without having to say a word.

And I wouldn't have the greatest love on earth, and that's of my son.

While some women do have horrible pregnancies, and some have even died, for the most part, the benefits of bringing forth new life far outweigh the risks. If they didn't, we would have died out as a species before we ever got started. Even those who endured difficult pregnancies, if you asked all of them, a greater percentage have no regrets than those that do.

I loved being pregnant, and not just because I had a new life growing inside me.

For society to push people against experiencing the greatest joy of bringing a child into this world is not only cruel, but will eventually kill us as a species.

The conspiracy theorist inside me believes that maybe that's exactly what some people are after. Otherwise why is society pushing us toward ignoring and in some cases act outright hostile toward our natural desire to give birth to new life?
August 29, 2015 at 8:54am
August 29, 2015 at 8:54am
August 28, 2015 at 7:50pm
August 28, 2015 at 7:50pm
Well, I called it. I did indeed take over 1000 photos.

The good news is I managed to cut out the worst ones leaving me with 50 upload-worthy. The bad news is 50 is still a lot, and it will take me a while to add them to my Flickr page. Not only that, but do I really want to force people to scroll through 50 pictures? One of my irritants (not quite a pet peeve) is when people dump hundreds of photos at once, especially when they all look the same.

I think mine are a bit more interesting than that, but your time is more valuable than mine. Looking through 50 pictures seems a bit too much to ask a person to look at at once. Kinda reminds me of the movies where the proud mother digs out twenty photo albums and force her teenager's date to look through 18 years of photos, all while said teenager gets ready.

Then again, I'm not forcing anyone to look at my photos, so really, does it matter?

It's my Flickr page, after all, and I can upload whatever I darn well please, darn it.

Of my three cameras, one has been modified to receive infrared light instead of standard colors you and I see. For instance, since vegetation blocks most, if not all, infrared, it shows up as white. The sky and water look almost black (because they both absorb infrared). Even freckles, moles and other blemishes on a person's skin doesn't show up, because human skin also blocks infrared.

The pictures end up looking quite surreal.

Those are the pictures I'll be working on next. Those need a bit more modification on the computer than standard photos, because straight out of the camera it looks even stranger. I won't get into the particulars because this is a writing site, not a photography site.

My next entry will have links to my vacation photos, hopefully in the next few days.

I hope you all had a great week, and an even better weekend!

August 16, 2015 at 9:26am
August 16, 2015 at 9:26am
Tomorrow we're leaving to spend a few days at Yellowstone. Tom has wanted to go since last year when we watched a documentary on it.

Some of my best memories growing up were the road trips we took which included Meteor Crater and Grand Canyon. It wasn't so much the destination that I remembered so much, but the trip itself and camping at KOAs on the way.

I decided even before Tom was born that I wanted to give him similar memories. We won't be staying at KOAs on the way, but as far as Yellowstone goes, we did rent a cabin for four days. The best part: No cell or internet! There is only one landlline on the entire lodge property meant for emergencies only.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. No drama from Facebook to deal with, and no phone calls, texts or emails from my employers. Boy was my boss disappointed when he asked if I would be available by phone and my response was a rather gleeful, "Nope!"

My only concern at this point is whether or not I have enough room on my memory cards in my cameras (you read that right. Cameras. As in plural. As in three). I plan on taking literally thousands of pictures with all of them. I am so going to look like the quintessential tourist with multiple cameras hanging from my shoulders.

It's gonna be awesome.

I will also bring along my laptop, so I can at least download my pictures at the end of day.

Don't worry, I will link the best ones when we get back. In the meantime, you all have a terrific week!

August 14, 2015 at 6:33pm
August 14, 2015 at 6:33pm
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

“Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.”

Fighting with a friend is never fun. There's always the fear words spoken in anger will be the last words spoken, and each will turn away forever burned and embittered; to die never having made amends. Both will carry the pain of believing the other is full of hate, never able to forgive or be forgiven.

These are burdens no one should carry. They only grow heavier as time goes by.

The last few days were rough as I had an unfortunately public disagreement with a friend who also happens to be a sister-in-law. She sent me a few private messages expressing her angst about how different we were, and that (I inferred) those differences were irreconcilable. From her words, I again inferred we would have to stop being friends because of those differences, which I feared would negatively effect our husband's relationship. I explained this further in my previous entry "All in The Family so I won't get into any more detail about that here.

She apparently needed a few days to calm down, because yesterday afternoon, she sent me more private messages basically expressing her sorrow over what happened, and that she hoped it wouldn't tear apart our husband's friendship, because they've always been close.

Based on her words, it seemed to me that she was giving up on any possibility of a continued friendship on our part. We simply didn't have enough in common anymore.

I don't hold to that by any stretch.

Many of my friends and family members are on the opposite political and religious spectrum, and I get along with them just fine. We can sometimes discuss those differences, other times we have to avoid them.

I even told her, “Though we may disagree, that doesn't effect my opinion or love for you, either. Like you said, we simply have very different outlooks on certain subjects.

"That's not necessarily a bad thing. Aside from our husbands, I know there are many things we still have in common; we just have to find out what they are. I'm kinda looking forward to discovering them. You with me?”

She seemed to like the idea.

Hence the first quote by Nietzsche. My sister-in-law and I went through a rough patch that could have killed our relationship. Because it didn't, we can now build a stronger one based on a mutual understanding that though we be different on certain things, we are the same on many others.

The second quote I ran into while searching for the exact wording of the first. I had to add it, because it also applies here. Strong relationships aren't built upon agreeing on everything. It's those very differences that can make friendships more interesting and deepen our understanding of the world and each other. Sometimes they can't be reconciled except to agree to disagree, but that's when friends choose to close their eyes. They do so in order to protect that friendship, because while we may not have a choice when it comes to love, we do when it comes to friendship.

Few things in this world are more beautiful and profound than that.
August 12, 2015 at 12:16pm
August 12, 2015 at 12:16pm
Did you know 10,000 - 1 = -10,001?

Many people tell me -- have told me -- that I'm a good person. Some have even said I'm beautiful. While they may all believe that without question, I know better.

Because I have also been told I'm mean, and I'm ugly. Sure not as often, but the words have been spoken, and spoken honestly.

Since I like math, let's say I have received a total of 10,000 compliments in my life.

Those don't count because of the one time someone pointed out the mistake I made. That one time outweighs everything else and in fact turns every good deed into a negative one. Therefore, I can't be a good person. I am evil, through and through. As the mathematical equation above shows, one wrong action takes away the 10,000 good actions I've done and actually turns that +10,000 into -10,001.

Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Mathematically impossible, even?

It should, because none of what I said above is true.

Yet it feels true. Whenever I make a mistake, I mentally flagellate myself into a near depressive frenzy, and I convince myself that nothing I do will amount to anything worth, well, anything. I am a useless, horrible human being.

Sometimes it gets so bad that even when I receive compliments meant to make me feel better, I want to scoff them off as only meant to make me feel better, and they're not actually true.

So how do I convince myself that one wrong act doesn't wipe the slate dirty and gross?

For one, it's not a contest. Nor is anyone is keeping score -- except for me.

Worse, when I don't accept people's compliments, I'm calling them liars.

As with every other person on this planet, dead, alive and in the future, I am both good and bad. I've done good, and I've done evil. Because of my humanity, I will continue to make mistakes, both on accident and on purpose until the day I die.

I have to remind myself that I am still lovable and worthy of being loved in spite of all my evil deeds, and not hated because of them.

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