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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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August 10, 2015 at 10:03am
August 10, 2015 at 10:03am
Years ago, an aunt of a friend died. She left no will, but a house and all of her belongings behind. My friend decided to step up and execute her estate.

Between her and her brothers and sisters, they split everything up with my friend trying to keep track of it all. Since she didn't own a home, she decided to buy the house from her siblings.

In all her attempts to be fair and equitable, some siblings outright stole some of the aunt's items and accused my friend of trying to do the same.

Now after almost fifteen years past, some of her siblings won't have anything to do with her.

My familly was never close. We go months and even years without letters, phone calls or emails. In a sentence, there's a lot of emotional as well as physical distance.

However, if one family member needs something, or we have a family get-together, almost everyone steps up. I personally have never seen so much strife as to drive certain members away, at least not permanently.

Emotional distance or not, I pray that never changes, because family is something that can't be replaced. In the end, it's all we have. If we are to depend on anyone in this life, it's family. When I see families torn apart because of misplaced words or deeds, I cringe and want to weep. The last thing I want to see is something like that happen in my own family, because it doesn't drive just one person away. Such strife also forces other family members to take sides against others, creating an even bigger rift.

If I have any fears, that's near the top.

Family is where we're supposed to accept -- and yes, at times endure -- everyone else's strange behaviors (unless they're dangerous, of course) and perspectives on life. We don't have to like it; no one should expect that. But it's also okay to back away and not engage so strife, discomfort and family breakups can be avoided.

I have my own special quirks. I like to be accurate. Not because I want to be better than everyone else, but because that's how I'm made. I have a rational mind that salivates over concrete problems and solutions. My favorite subjects in school were math and physics, because no matter how many times I plug in certain numbers into a certain equation, I get the same answer. If I don't, I know I did something wrong.

I also love to learn new things, and I eagerly look for ways to see things from a different point of view. If someone comes along to correct my fallacies, I thank them. They took the time to show me my inaccuracy on a certain subject, so I can in the future be more accurate. I'm a better person because of it.

The problem is, I assume (often wrongly) that other people are like me in that they also want to be accurate. I forget that some people are more emotional (not a bad thing, mind you, just different from me), and the things I say and do are hurtful to them.

They see my attempts as trying to make them look stupid when that never even occurs to me. There is not a person on this planet I would call or believe to be stupid for any reason. We all are smart in different ways, and every person is a combination of unique and sometimes enviable abilities and talents. While I may know math and physics, try to explain electricity, organic chemistry, psychology, or show me how to ballet and you will get nothing but a blank stare. Those sciences and abilities are far too fluid for this brain of mine.

I know people who can empathize with others, an ability I know I lack (and sometimes forget I lack). If there's one thing I could change about me, it's that. I honestly don't mean to hurt people, so when I do, I'm sincerely shocked and dismayed that I caused anyone pain.

Doing so to family members is even more painful, because they are the ones who matter most.
August 9, 2015 at 12:53pm
August 9, 2015 at 12:53pm
No one likes to be wrong. No one likes people showing them they're wrong. Especially not in front of others or on a public forum such as Facebook.

Which is why when I see -- for instance -- a meme that is obviously incorrect posted by multiple people, I don't mention the specific meme, and certainly don't point fingers at the people who posted it (unless they don't mind said mistake being pointed out, and I usually know who they are). I instead make a general statement about how said meme is not to be trusted, and why. People often get it without having to feel insulted or embarrassed.

At least that's true some of the time . . . but that's getting off topic.

I am one of the latter. Does it suck being wrong? Absolutely. It's especially -- I wouldn't say humiliating, because I don't feel humiliated. Perhaps embarrassed is a better word -- when it happens around a group of people who also see how wrong I was. At the same time, when my wrongness is pointed out, I can be assured I'll not be wrong a second time with the same erroneous information.

Many of you know I'm a Professional Land Surveyor (to those that don't, now you do). Like the medical field, they call what I do the "practice" of land surveying. The main reason is, even though I know my field, I make mistakes. The last one was a doozy that my company is still working toward fixing (well over $200,000 later).

Because of that, I have an extreme desire to know when I'm wrong as soon as I make a mistake (and not after two years and an entire apartment complex is 90% completed before discovering part of the development is built on someone else's property).

I even thank our clients profusely when they point out an error. Because when I know of the error, I can fix it without causing lawsuits and forcing my employer to use its liability insurance -- which invariably goes up and decreases company profit.

As to the former, unfortunately no matter how many precautions I take to not point fingers, someone takes offense, and infers that I'm calling them stupid and showing myself as somehow smarter and better. I'm human enough to admit I like being right. I have a healthy pride that has more than once caused me trouble. Maybe the issue with the meme above was one such instance, however subconscious.

But it's never meant to be at the expense of someone else. It's not so much I like being right in the end, but that other people can also learn, just as I like -- and need -- to learn.

It's like having a big green booger on my face. I would want someone to tell me it's there so I'm not walking around all day with it wagging its gross little fingers at everyone who looks at me. Now that would be humiliating.

So if I'm wrong about something, tell me. I may not like it, but it's necessary if I am to grow into a decent human being. I will always be grateful in knowing I can trust you to tell me the truth and give me the facts, no matter how ugly and stupid it might make me look at the time.

Better to be wrong for a moment than wrong for a lifetime.

March 16, 2015 at 6:25pm
March 16, 2015 at 6:25pm
I had hoped the publisher I sent my manuscript to would respond by December 20th, or eight weeks after I submitted it. December 20 came and went with no response, so I figured they didn't want it.

Imagine my surprise when I received the following email:

Thank you for sending us your proposal for our review. While your project exhibits merit it is not quite what we are looking for at this time.

The immense number of proposals we receive, our full list, and the intense nature of the competition in the marketplace causes us to be highly selective.

We appreciate the opportunity and wish you the best in your search for another publisher.


Steve Laube

My initial response:

Aww. I bet you tell that to all the rejects.

After that, I merely shrugged my shoulders. Although I figured they didn't want it months ago, at least there's now no question they don't want it.

In the meantime, I did find a few other publishers that might be interested. Before I submit, however, I need to read a few other books they've published, so I can study the quality. If I think they're good enough, then I'll send them my proposal.

I wish I had more than two options, but like most of life, I'll simply have to take what I can get.
February 16, 2015 at 9:18pm
February 16, 2015 at 9:18pm
December 20th has come and gone with no response from the publisher. Disappointed but not surprised.

The biggest question: Now what?

I started searching literary agents that accept "religious" (see below for my reason for adding quotes) material, and most say, "everything except science fiction."

What is it about Christian literary agents and publishers that don't merely shy away from science fiction, but actively avoid it?

I remember the last time I went to a writers conference, I sat at a table of a literary agent (who I knew wouldn't accept my work, but I wanted to listen to what he had to say about the market), and he asked what each of us wrote.

When my turn came up I said, "Science fiction."

He grimaced and said, "Okay, next."

I was, for the most part, ignored the rest of the evening. I felt a bit like a pariah, like I had admitted to writing snuff-erotica. I wondered if he mentally held up a cross to ward off any demons attempting to possess him.

That's not to say there are no more avenues to explore. There are still a few Christian publishers that will accept science fiction, and I can always self-publish (in the true sense of the word, not vanity publish).

My problem is they're all smaller presses, and I will have to do the bulk of any marketing, which would be no different from self-publishing. The only difference would be the cost of printing.

It sucks, because I did think my book was a good fit for the previous publisher.

In thinking about it more, however, I wonder if they didn't want it because some of the scenes are a bit graphic. Not gratuitously (I didn't think), but one never knows what another person thinks is gratuitous or not. We all have different standards.

I can't give up though. I will eventually find right avenue to get my book to print, whether it be traditional or self. I will simply have to continue to submit, or plead God for a sign if he indeed wants me to go the self-publishing route.

Because the purpose is to get my words out there. The path I take to get there, while important, shouldn't be the primary consideration.
February 14, 2015 at 1:40pm
February 14, 2015 at 1:40pm
I don't really want to write about the books or movie of Fifty Shades of Grey. This is because I have read none of the books, nor have I seen the movie.

Nor do I plan to do either. There are better uses of my time.

Instead, I want to talk about other people talking about it.

Most agree it's a terrible movie. Even so, many are predicting it will break movie-going records. It could be due to morbid curiosity, but according to what I've read so far, people also find it entertaining.

Sexual, physical and emotional abuse is entertaining, apparently.

But I get off topic.

Those who despise the books and movie are upset -- and rightly so -- that the writers and producers are glorifying such abuse and trying to make it appear mainstream and even something to strive for.

What bothers me at the moment is who they're blaming for the acceptance of such behavior.

It ranges from blaming the abused to the abuser, but they also blame society and the so-called rape culture; how it's all the fault of male-controlled society and how men are teaching women they deserve to be abused.

While on some level that may be true, it's also used as an excuse for the individual abuser to shirk his/her responsibility for their own actions. Many abusers say they're not responsible, because they themselves were abused or grew up watching other adults abuse their significant others.

If it were the fault of males in general, why, then is the writer a woman, and that the books and movie are purchased, read and watched by a larger percentage of women than men?

I have even read social media posts from women proclaiming their undying love for Christian Grey and how they want to find their own version of the man.

What. The. Hell.

I'll even go so far to say that the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon is showing that more women are perpetuating the idea that a man taking sexual control of a woman is sexy more than men are.

Now I do have the question: What is it about these women that they believe they deserve to be treated like trash? Is it society's fault? Is it their parents? Magazines and entertainment that proclaim that if women don't fit a particular look are unworthy of true love and respect?

I do believe it's a factor, but let's not use it as an excuse to not rise above what society tries to dictate. Let's hold the individual responsible for his/her actions.

As one who lived in an abusive relationship for a few years, I do sympathize with people in similar situations. They are incredibly difficult to get out of, because the abuser is so -- at first -- subtly manipulative. It starts by breaking down the person's self-esteem, while at the same time using the abused's pride and self-importance that they can change a person into something else -- something better. By the time the abused realize the trouble they're in, they are so broken down, they believe that they are incapable of escape, and that they don't deserve anything better.

I wish I could tell every one of those men and women in abusive relationships that they are beautiful, smart and strong; that they are worthy of real love, compassion, kindness and respect. A person's manipulative sexual, physical and emotional control is not sexy, or even right. It's also illegal -- and worse -- results in long-term physical, emotional and spiritual damage to both the abused and the abuser.

There are no easy answers, because again, it's all about individual responsibility. I can't control other people's actions; I can only control mine. I get to decide every day how I treat someone, and I have the power to stay or walk away from someone who treats me well or badly.

I just wish there was a way for me to tell every man and woman they do have the same power of choice (in most countries, anyway). The fact I can't is what frustrates me the most.
January 21, 2015 at 5:25pm
January 21, 2015 at 5:25pm
Part of a land surveyor's job is to get involved in land disputes. Yep, we purposely get in between feuding land owners.

And I on purpose decided over twenty years ago to be one.

What, oh, what was I thinking?

Right now I'm dealing with one such dispute where both sides hired me and both sides keep calling me with he-said/he-saids about what I said to the other he. Much of which I never said. Yet since it's all hearsay, I can't determine who is lying.

My biggest gripe with this particular situation is being accused of lying or making a mistake and not admitting to it. It's infuriating to the point I can no longer count how many more gray hairs I've grown since this started back in October.

In the end I have to take a step back, because another duty of a land surveyor is to speak for the evidence. I not only work for my clients, but part of the oath I took when I earned my license is to protect the public. That includes any adjoining land owners.

If I find my client is in the wrong, I am ethically and duty-bound to tell them so.

This particular case is an encroachment that is the fault of neither land owner, but previous land owners who knew about the encroachment, tried to fix it at one point, but never followed through (I won't get into the details, because it'll bore you senseless). Yet each current land owner is blaming the other for the problem. Errgh.

But this is my job, and one I signed up for. Now to convince my employer I deserve hazard pay . . .
November 23, 2014 at 12:32pm
November 23, 2014 at 12:32pm
Sometimes I get sucked into conversations on forums, especially when people slam God or churches.

I understand people hating God, church or religion in general, because they were burned at one time. I, myself, have been angry at God and left a church because they didn't treat me or other people as they should have.

What irritates me is those same angry people lump every Christian and every church into the same mould.

They are also the same people who yell at Christians not to judge their own bad behavior.

The worst and most frustrating part is no matter how much I try to point out their own preconceived notions, and to open their minds enough to see not everyone is the same, they in effect close their eyes, cover their ears and yell, "La, la, la, la, la, HYPOCRITE, la la la la, RACIST la la la la, HOMOPHOBE, la la la la la."

Jesus warned me against wasting my time like this in Matthew 7:6 (in part): "Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."
October 20, 2014 at 6:49pm
October 20, 2014 at 6:49pm
What's so special about that day?

It's no one's birthday. No one's death, not even a wedding anniversary.

It is, however, the day I should find out if I suck as a writer.

That's right. I finally sent off my manuscript that I wrote -- get this -- nearly 14 years ago.

April, 2001 is when the idea of my first novel hatched and spent the next three months writing. Sure I spent three months vomiting all 103,000 words of my idea on paper, but I spent a lot more time than that editing, rewriting, editing some more, let sit and collect dust for a few years only to edit and rewrite again -- and streamlined down to a mere 94,169 words.

Even if it doesn't pass muster with this publisher, I have no regrets. I learned more about writing and writing well with that book than most of the others I've written since.

For the next eight weeks, I will remain hopeful, but not expectant.

That doesn't mean I'm above praying for a specific outcome, however, and I'm sure you can guess what that is.

October 5, 2014 at 2:58pm
October 5, 2014 at 2:58pm
Not really, but I just finished doing what I didn't want to do.

I wrote a proposal letter and back cover copy for "Traitors" to submit to Enclave Publishing.

Doing so was difficult, but only because I had it in my head that everything would turn out terrible. How does one break down a 95k manuscript into three short paragraphs, let alone one sentence, and make it sound like the best book ever without saying, "It's the best book EVER!"

I'll admit as I started writing my prayers sounded a like a drowning person begging for a life preserver. I'm sure God was shaking his head at me and saying, "Calm down. It's not that big a deal. Sheesh."

Turns out, it wasn't so horrible. It didn't even take me very long -- less than an hour. Do I think I did a good job? Not yet. I want to give it a few days and look at everything with a fresh eye. If I still think everything looks and sounds okay, I'll send everything off -- along with another "I must be drowning" prayer.

I'm trying not to get too excited. My manuscript has been rejected before, so there's really no reason for it to not be rejected again. I could be one sucky writer, and am the only person in the world who doesn't "know" it yet, but for which the editor or said publisher will be gleefully happy to tell me just how sucky I really am.

Okay. I'm exaggerating a tish. But only a tish. The inevitable rejection won't sound gleeful at all.

I know, I know. The book may not be rejected. I just don't want to get my hopes up, and end up crushed when it's all said and done.

Been there, done that. Don't like it one bit.
September 16, 2014 at 6:31pm
September 16, 2014 at 6:31pm
If I wake up in the morning feeling off as if something bad is going to happen, I try to ignore it. Doing so often makes the feeling a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Not today. I felt off from the moment I woke up. I just knew it wasn't going to be a good day.

As much as I tried to ignore it, turns out my intuition was correct. I found out this morning that one of our employees is leaving. For a small company that can barely keep up with the work load as it is, one person leaving creates a big void. The worst part is I will now have to pick up the slack, and I'm already overworked as it is.

When people are overworked, they tend to make mistakes. This year, I've made a few doozies, partly because I'm so busy I can't spend the time required on any project to make certain it's done right.

That's one of the big problems of living in an area with less than 3% unemployment. Everyone who wants to work already has a job. New employees simply can't be found, especially in an industry such as mine. We need someone with a specific set of skills, and -- again -- those people already work.

So, yeah. I was a grump today, and for once I was justified in being so.

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