Excerpts from my novel…

After receiving word that his elder brother Aidan has died, Lucian Lorne Macleod returns to the Isle of Skye to take up his position as his father’s heir. He returns home to find Lorne Macleod gravely ill and forces at work to destroy all that he loves, including his home Glenaire. (Chapter 1)

Lucian learns about his father’s illness. Excerpt from Always, Forever #novel #AlwaysForever #writing #excerpt #MacleodDoughlas

via Excerpt from Always, Forever: Chapter 2 — The Macleod / Doughlas Novels

 

Picture above was used with permission from the originator, Cherif Fortin

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Memories…

Family around the dinner table

I am finding just how important memories are, how important capturing them and digitizing the old vital. Not just for past generations, but also, for myself.  Snippets, minute filaments locked away and remembered with one small image.

Over Christmas break, I returned again to Pennsylvania and snooped around the old homestead.  I knew where Dad kept his slide collection and wanted to try to capture some of those images with my camera.  He has a viewer that I could use until I can get him a scanner for all of them.  I even recorded my parent’s voices.  I really didn’t have to record my mother’s because my sister and I have the uncanny inheritance of sounding just like her.  Many friends and relatives can’t tell us apart at times when we answer the phone.  For that, I am truly thankful.

Visiting Fort Ticonderoga

As time passes, I need the pictures to remember faces, try to recall voices.  Try to recall the vacations, the countless first day of school, and other events through time.  I struggle with reality, wondering if I am remembering the moment as it was or as it is recorded on the photograph.  No, I don’t know if Dad has any video; he is more of a photo guy.  I know others in our family have video, but not too sure how much of our family is recorded.

Why?  Why struggle to weed through all of these documents and media?  Nostalgia sure.  But I realized one day as I was researching my family history, the ranks are thinning.  And as I have said before, time is fleeting.  One day big change will be upon me, and I am trying to find a way to cope.  Trying to find a way to preserve something important.  Perhaps the last vestiges of my life as I know it now.  I need anchors.

I want to find those memories that are locked away deep in my mind if at all possible.  Maybe they aren’t.  Maybe they are gone for good because we just can’t store them up in our gray matter.  Or they are locked away in a hall of fogged mirrors and I need to find the key to waving away the density to reveal them.  I just don’t know.  It is hard to articulate my reasoning.

Life is a vague kaleidoscope of fragments, hinting at order and chaos.

trinkets of a life

Legacy…

Old Sucrets Tin

Old Sucrets Tin

Time is measurable. Over the summer I went back to the old homestead in Pennsylvania to visit my parents. Mom and Dad have reached that age where time is fleeting, and I dread that final moment. I cherish the time I have now, knowing time is our enemy.  I think every child does. We don’t recognize when we are young, just how fast time moves, even.  In the end, we all beg for more time.

My mind and spirit are entrenched in the 25-30 year old stage.  Years have slipped by with me just holding onto the leather strap, whistling a tune.  Sure, there have been moments of pure joy and sadness, but sometimes, I just feel like I’m coasting.  That I’m letting my legacy slip by without its proper due.  And as time grabs minutes from me, I look for objects to spur the old memories cataloged away in my file cabinet of a brain.  So I dug through home’s little hideaway and found items that I remember vividly from my childhood.

One was this gold Sucrets tin that my grandfather had in his chest of drawers.  When I returned to the States, after living in Scotland for almost seven years, I was tucking things away in my grandfather’s desk to be used as I researched, I found it.  I opened it up, and examined the small treasures.

img_0230 My grandfather was an active Mason in our local lodge and there was his fifty years of service pin.  I remember him wearing that same pin on his lapel.  I don’t remember the medal, but friends tell me it is also associated with the Masons.  I can understand that with the black ribbon and white enamel.  There are cuff links, and a necklace.

My mother’s baby ring, and some old ring that I have no clue what it is, but it is missing a gem.  I’m afraid to clean it or if I should.

Just small tokens of evidence that someone lived.  As time passes, these items shift into the mythic…a mythology of a life.3acbea82-b18c-4f80-b69d-5c18bb6937f0

 

Even my high school ring was in the box, and a few rare coins from the mid 19th century.  I don’t even think they are worth anything in the condition they are.  Maybe in another hundred years?

This is a legacy.  But legacy is so much more.  Sometimes it is hard to define.  Sometimes I wonder why we even have all of these representations of our lives as I try to process my parent’s remaining years.  Only two questions come to mind now:  1.  What will I be when they are gone?  2.  What comes after?

The first question has led to some poetry but I’m not ready to share that.

More questions ponder

Johnstown Magazine featuring Tom Getty

Small town spirit…

Johnstown Magazine featuring Tom Getty

Johnstown Magazine featuring Tom Getty

I received a copy of Johnstown Magazine from a friend today in the mail, pleased to see a hometown lad on the front Cover.  Tom Getty is an alum of my own school district and a ‘rising star’ in the film industry.  It makes me proud that someone from a small town can make their dreams come true.  He has written, directed and starred in the film Rising Fear.  I have seen it twice now and love the twists and turns, the unexpected nuances.  I love seeing my home state, and the places I know by heart.

But I am struck by something else.  The fortitude, the strength of spirit to endure, to create, to persevere is ingrained in the genes of those that come from Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Even though a host of us have moved from the area, and call other places ‘home’ now, I believe that spirit long continues and direct our lives.  We have suffered as others have suffered, and sometimes even more so.  Yet, here we are.

 

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Johnstown, Pennsylvania is my hometown.  At one time the town, the city rivaled Pittsburgh in making steel, digging and dragging coal out of the ground.  Those were our main industries, and at one time the sky above the city burned orange with the fires from the furnaces of the old Cambria Iron Works and others.  I can still recall those nightly heavens in my mind, and the stories of my family members working in steel.   Especially my grandfather who was one of the last men that could look at the hot steel and know when to tap it by sight.  Fact is skirting the edges of the mythic as time rolls by.

The city now is pot-marked by parking lots where houses and shops once stood.  There is fear that the last rolling wire mill will close its doors.  Miles of mills are closed, rusting and rotting away.  Brick buildings crumbling to the ground.  But there is life still rumbling in those hills.  You just have to look for it. The heart of the city is the diverse population of the city.  The soul is their combined spirit.

And so Johnstown Magazine is a representation of that body and soul.

A small town parcel of information and pictures depicting that endearing and enduring spirit.  Even with all its economic challenges, and aging population Johnstown manages to put out a publication to celebrate the town.  How many other towns can boast the same?  I live in a small town in Wisconsin with a similar number in population, a branch of a major university, an hour away from a major city, and nestled in slightly shorter hills along a line of water and lake.  The town, more so the university is economically constrained by budget cuts from the state, and lack of other industry.  And if that university is shut, the town will suffer.  Just as Johnstown has suffered from the loss of steel and coal.  But this Wisconsin town, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a magazine.

Johnstown will not let go of its potential or opportunity to market its resources.

The Johnstown Magazine plays on my sense of place and place attachment to my place of origin.  Events and personal stories are highlights of the pages.  Speaks to the branding of a destination.  A match to the mantra that is tourism.  I plan on using the publication in class this fall to illustrate how towns can market their town in unique ways.

 

“Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept” *…

Discussing heritage and tourism on my student site…

Lost in Tourism

Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept ~ McCrone, Morris and Kiely (1995, p. 1)

As McCrone, Morris and Kiely assert in their seminal work on Scotland – the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage (1995), heritage as we know it today is not the same concept of heritage from hundreds of years ago. The depictions of plaids, and other Scottish icons can be traced back to the early 19th century (1822), to Sir Walter Scott’s pageantry of King George IV’s visit to Scotland. Scott was well ahead of his time regarding the marketing of a destination. He put Scotland on the map with his writings and romanticism of the country. I can’t blame him for he is reacting to the historical events that happened in the late 17th and 18th century that stripped the country of its pride and self-identity. I would say those events, to a degree, bent but…

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Grammarly web app...

Writing tools…

I am always looking for tools to aid my writing, and to pass on to students to help them.  One resource that just came to light, and I’m testing with editing the novel is Grammarly.

Grammarly web app...

Grammarly web app…

I signed up for three months subscription in order to finish off the novel.  The sad part is I didn’t have a great English teacher in junior high to teach me grammar.  I had an educator that used his own version or some weird system, that was more confusion than diagramming sentencing.  So this really does help me.

The only drawback is that I want even more functionality.

And the organizing continues…

Writing is a passion…I’ve been working with a partner to write a novel. We have taken our passions and applied them into storytelling. What have I learned over this process…here it is….

The Macleod / Doughlas Novels

Using Scrivener to map out Stronger Together Using Scrivener to map out Stronger Together

In the midst of editing, when time allows, I am organizing our brainstorming for our second book, Strong Together.  I have utilized several resources, and ideas, and refined them to suit my needs, my partner needs.

We both learned several lessons from our first steps on this journey.

  1. Writing takes patience, time, and effort.  Constant examination of our ourselves and our dreams
  2. Write, write, read, write, write, read, edit, write, edit, write.
  3. Make a commitment to the writing process.
  4. Keep a journal for ideas, and take the time to organize.
  5. Historical fiction needs fact checking, and understanding the time and space in which your characters live.
  6. Don’t be afraid.  Let your fears have their voice.
  7. Even a measured dose of failure, is a success
  8. Set realistic goals and objectives with a timeline of delivery.  Make them adaptable, and flexible.  This is about quality…

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Smith Corona Sterling Typewrter

I’m a gadget girl at heart…

Smith Corona Sterling Typewriter

My new, old gadget…Smith Corona Sterling Typewriter

I’m a gadget girl at heart. And as I grow older, I’m finding that I want to recapture my youth, and the past. For the past three or four weeks, I’ve been trying to get into a shop here in town to see the lady’s typewriters.

I’ve been searching for one particular brand for several years. The brand I remember from my childhood, that was my parent’s old model, that they used when we, my brother, sister, and I, weren’t even out of diapers yet.  A Smith Corona Sterling Typewriter.

The last memory I have of that particular technology was my Mother and I arguing over it as she typed up my final honors essay when I was in high school.  Boy do I wish I had those notes.  We had to do a comparison of literature, of an author’s works, and I can’t remember the author at the moment, but my parent’s still have the books up on the book shelves that are in our house.

I can vaguely remember the notepad, the red marks that my mother had penciled across the page, correcting my grammar and spelling, or making me do it.  I’m sure she made me do it because she was that kind of teacher.  I have a learning disability.  I can’t hear my vowels, and must memorize the spelling of each word no matter what.  To this day, I am thankful for those that invented the computer, but know that I must return to that age-old habit of proofing by hand.  Printing out a copy of work, sitting down and diligently reading the pages to find my mistakes.

Smith Corona Sterling Typewriter

Another view…

 

Typing on that, and this typewriter was and is a chore.  There is nothing like the tat-tat-tat sound of your fingers hitting the keys, and the typebars hitting the paper.  The ding of that bell when you hit the return mark.  The keys aren’t like a computer.  You have to work for the words, work for story to come alive on the page.  Writing takes an effort.

I had a Smith Corona Coronet as an undergrad at Penn State.  A yellow and brown, electric model from the early ’80s.  Cut the effort in half, but still you had to work your mind, work your fingers to produce the manuscript.  Two cartridges always at hand, or more.  One correction, and one black ribbon or black/red combination.  It was a dance when you made a mistake, spit out the black one, insert the correction, spit out that, and insert the black one.

Tener Hall had these large two-story common rooms.  The first part of the semester they were full of students because we were always overcrowded.  Eventually, rooms were found, and those in the common room were filtered out to other dorms.  I can remember staying up late in that common lounge and composing my English 15, 30 papers, the sounds echoing harshly around me.  To this day, I think I was the only one that had a typewriter or it was because my horrible roommate kicked me out of the room because of the sound.  Or I was polite, and left.  I’m sure the latter.  I just remember that model was a bitch to lug around.  And now I’m back to that Smith Corona model that was always tucked away in a closet…and yes, it is as heavy as I remember…and light…

I’m glad I found it.  It’s not the same as the one we had in the house for the space bar I remember was white, not blue.  Yet, I could be wrong.

Now I just have to find typewriter ribbons…and that beautiful, thin, onion skin paper that I was so found of…swiping from the box in my Grandfather’s bedroom… to use to draw upon, and even write…

Happy…

In the meantime…

Edits are almost complete on the first novel, and we’ve had some feedback from beta readers.  All came back with encouraging thoughts, that they are hooked from the start, drawn into our ‘world’.  That makes me at least of the pair of us, extremely happy.  As I work on the edits, and take much-needed breaks, I am starting to plan out our brainstorming ideas into a plot diagram or excel sheet.

Why?  Because of the few lessons I learned from composing the first historical romance novel ~ Always, Forever.  One it’s a massive, migraine inducing exercise to keep dates, people, locations organized.  This is where I wish I was friends with other historical writers to pick their brains and understand their process.  Second, I’m becoming a stickler for organization.  As if that OCD fact wasn’t bad the first time.  After all I am a Virgo and we do love our ducks in a row.  Third, I’m tired of having to ‘find’ stuff, even in what I think is my well-organized folders.  Time to get dirty with technology, because I’m tackling more than one writing project at the moment.  Scrivener will be pushed to the limit as well as the other tools I have.

So, I dove into excel last night to create a plotting sheet.  I took all of my ideas and mapped it out on paper, then walked away for a bit, and then returned with an idea, recalling the plot sheet that JK Rowling posted for OOTP book.  Yes, imagine seeing my palm hitting my forehead here when all of the lines merged in my brain…

jkrowlingpage

I am ever thankful that she posted it online so long ago…mine’s not the same…but I think will work well…and its got color!!!

 

Geometry

As a researcher…

Physics

Physics

Numbers…yesterday I saw a post on Facebook from a few fellow researchers about research methods, and design.  It was an old debate about experimentation, utilizing either quantitative or qualitative methods.  It brought back memories of grad school in the 1990s when I was working on my Masters.  Friday afternoons were devoted to seminar, and discussion.  And I can remember the heated, feisty debates, and it always seemed one gender against another.  There was the rock solid numbers on one side, and narrative on another.  At least in my mind now, that is what I recall.

Where was I at that time?  Arguing for mix-methods, for a triangulation of methods because one supported the other, and vice versa.  I knew from my methods courses that the prominent and preferred design, aka quantitative (especially in the USA), couldn’t get at the heart of explaining phenomenon.  I questioned drawing generalizations and affixing them to a general population.  To this day, numbers in this sense, can only describe that specific sample, unless the sample is so large that it can explain behavior of a greater whole.  But how big does that sample have to be?  Again, the debate continues to this day.

For some reason something clicked in my mind back then, and the ambiguity, to a degree, clarified.  Everything fell into place, and uncertainty diminished.  (Ironic using terms associated with statistics…isn’t it…)

Statistics

Statistics

Quantitative methods exist in time and space.  Numbers confine you to a particular snapshot of behaviors.  They are myopic, and lack flexibility.  They really don’t get at the heart of understanding.  You’re locked in a box, not of your own making, or perhaps it is, and the walls have no give, or even a door, to allow you to explore beyond all those walls.  Intuitively, you know that there is something that lies beyond your self-imposed entrapment, but your stuck.  Numbers have more finite qualities than you think, even if we go to that largest number possible.  There is always more…always more.

Whoa, Einstein, you’ve placed a picture of physics equations up there hot shot…come on…explain.

You know the symbol for infinity?  ∞, the one that is usually associated with numbers.  Yeah that one. 

Well, way back in eleventh grade chemistry I stumped Mr. Lantz when he was trying to discuss the atom.  I remember sitting there listening, and then raising my hand, as probably a host of students do at this point, and asked, “What else?”

He looked at me quizzically, and I repeated the question.  “You’ve given us all the parts, but what makes up them?”

He tried to answer, and I still shot back, “And what makes up that?”

Trying not to sound like a broken record here, but you get the gist.  I was the two-year old asking the ‘but why’ question.  Frustration thickened the air, and I can still see Mr. Lantz’s red face.

Back to .  The universe innately has that complexity.  We don’t know if it exists beyond a certain point.   We assume so, and affix that darn symbol.  It’s the best explanation we’ve got so far.  We don’t know beyond a certain boundary, even at the micro levels, or the inner spaces at the neutron level, the nano level.  And to me infinity is not a number.  It is that complexity that exist beyond the confines of numbers.  It is the unanswered questions.  It breaks the walls apart and gives flexibility to what could be a concrete form.

It allows us to imagine, and envision potentiality beyond normalcy.  Beyond what we do know.  It is answers, and more importantly it is questions.  It reaches the fringes of the mind, and reverts back to its starting point to tease out currents of thought, and devise explanations.  Sometimes the simplicity of the answer is hidden in the complexity of the question.

It demonstrated the connections, and the elasticity of integration, interfacing ideas.  It is a window, exposing the landscapes beyond the walls that we might dare to explore, and see that we may have just skimmed the surface of potential.

Okay, back to my original thought.  Research has to be more.  It has to be more than just quantitative methods.  But a triangulation of methods that exposes the soft underbelly of thought.  That gets to the heart of hypotheses, but more importantly, breaks the walls, and sees farther, further than what one method allows.  That there is breadth, depth to explaining phenomenon that numbers can’t explain alone.

Nothing is concrete.  There is too much dynamic functionality to this world to compartmentalized or even marginalize.

So the debate continues…

Sense of Belonging…

Understanding Sense of Belonging

Lost in Tourism

Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar
Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

So my tourism class has finished up for the most part motivation and I am sitting here reflecting on what we talked about.  I tried to convey to the students that they have to develop their own understanding of the functions of motivations for their own career aspirations.  To apply what we learn to their own passions, and how this will aid in becoming a better overall manager.  Yet, I continue to ponder the questions in my own life as a tourism researcher, as a tourism educator.

Why do people travel?  Why do we feel a kindred spirit with certain destinations?  Why are we tugged towards something that we have never really been before, and feel at home?  Why do we have a physiological, psychological, and cognitive response to a destination?  Finding out those answers is gold for a destination marketing organization.  If…

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On the road again…

The history of tourism…

Lost in Tourism

Horatio Nelson Jackson Horatio Nelson Jackson

And in tourism, we are talking about the history of tourism, and how the tourism umbrella, the value/supply chain has evolved in organization and complexity over the thousands of years it has been in existence.

Students are assigned a discussion question after watching the Ken Burn’s documentary about Horatio Nelson Jackson‘s road trip across the United States in 1903.  The documentary is called ‘America’s First Road Trip’.

Jackson, Crocker and Bud the dog, in their 1903 Winton Jackson, Crocker and Bud the dog, in their 1903 Winton

The film depicts Horatio and Sewall K. Crocker, and eventually Jackson’s dog Bud criss-crossing the continent in a 1903 red colored Winton.  Throughout the film, the students will see the lack of roads, the lack of services, we take for granted today.  A real authentic experience.  How many of us have packed up the car, and gone on that long road trip?  My family did just that when I…

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Heritage, Image and Branding…

Place attachment is an important concept in tourism…

Lost in Tourism

So the first week of the Spring semester has come and gone.  We have skimmed the upper ice berg of the definition of tourism, and now diving below the waterline to see all the complexity associated with that definition.  Today, my 8am class (I know, ugh 8am), was awake and raring to go.  I had taken the time to map out some of the concepts we had been talking about, and diagram out the pieces we needed to start to examine before they arrived.

Mapping out tourism Mapping out the definition of tourism, tourism umbrella, and diving into the tourism system

I posted the tourism umbrella, leading to the three environments in which resources, tangible, intangible are drawn from.  From those three environments we also derive our stakeholders, guests, host community, employees, governments, investors, and other.  These stakeholders have a vested interest in our industry, even if they are arm-chair travelers.  In today’s…

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Veterans Day

So I talked about how I would use Outlander to explain tourism, and I have started over at my other blog, The Hero’s Journey. Here is the first post from the beginning of the semester.

Lost in Tourism

WWI Vet by Lost in Scotland (bap) WWI Vet by Lost in Scotland (bap)

Today is Veterans Day (thank you to all that serve, or have served our Country), and another opportunity to dive into different market segments, and motivations for tourism.  Over the last few weeks we have been studying travel motivations, the tourist, and social & economic impacts of tourism.  After we finish social impacts, we are going to immerse into marketing, and promoting tourism and a destination.  On this day, I am reminded of my own family, my ancestors that have served their country in the armed forces.  Stories of their times as soldiers, stories of the campaigns, and other historical events shaped my life.  As I discussed earlier in the year, we are all products of three environment, social, economic, and natural/man-made.  Events that exert forces against those three environments shape the realities in which we form opinions, our understanding of a greater…

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STARZ Outlander ~ Jamie Fraser

Some times inspiration comes in unusual thoughts…

STARZ Outlander ~ Jamie Fraser

STARZ Outlander ~ Jamie Fraser

When the idea comes to you on how to write, don’t slam the door on his face. Allow the muse to walk in and take a seat. Let him sit there and be quiet, and on occasion ask you relevant questions.  No, I’m not inspired  {at the moment} by Jamie Fraser to write, though Sam Heughan, the actor that plays him on TV, is definitely handsome and perhaps inspiration for a future character.  I’m trying to devise a way to use Outlander, the TV show, to explain tourism concepts, and tourism promotional strategies.

Give me time…I need to map this out…

Research

NaNoWrMo2015 Word Count

NaNoWrMo2015 Word Count

General Grant display at Ford's theatre

Ford’s Theatre display about Lincoln, the Civil War, and his assassination.

I’ve reached past the word count for NaNoWriMo2015, and can now coast to the end, hoping to reach 90,000 by the end of the month.  I have a host of ‘irons’ in the fire, because my brain is running on varying paths.  I am having to stop, and use my journals to catalog ideas, and questions that randomly pop into my head.  I think this is why I have several computers, several journals going at once.  It’s a delicate balance.  Sometimes I wonder if that 1% Italian ancestry isn’t Leonardo da Vinci, and his complex multi-tasking abilities.

So, the distraction for the writing on several fronts today is mapping out an idea I had from a dream.  The time period is focused on the American Civil War, and has been running amok in my head since May.  I am so glad I got to visit Washington, DC this summer, and hike over to the Fords Theatre.  I knew from living in Alexandria, VA at one time that the theatre had a great display on the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination.  Well, in the years that I have been absent from our Nation’s Capital, the display has certainly grown, and developed into something unique.

I think I spent close to two hours walking through the displays, reading, taking notes, taking pictures for later.  The only disappointment was the gift shop.  I wish it had been bigger, with more books.  But I kept reminding myself, that I had only so much room in my suitcase, and that I could always scan the title, and order a Kindle edition.  I should have found the nearest bookstore, like Barnes & Noble and sifted through their aisles.  Oh, well, lesson learned.

Lincoln's Desk

Lincoln’s Desk

So I devoted my time to research, and really studying the exhibits. Jotting down ideas in my Moleskine reporters notebook, and even adding ideas for the story as they came into my mind. I played the ‘what if’ game that writers do.

I have been intrigued by the idea of spies during the war, and hashed out several plot arcs to that effect.  The question that I kept returning to was ‘hasn’t this been done before, how can you make it your own?’

But never toss out any idea, write it down and revisit, after it incubates.  And usually it means more research.

Research is the crux of any good writer.  I follow the author Dan Brown on Facebook and am amazed at the depth of his research for his Robert Langdon series.  The man gets down and dirty with his subject, and that is a good sign of a successful writer.  Some days, I am not as devoted, and sooner or later that lack of attention come around and bite me in the ass.  Well, this time, I am going to be devoted to the subject.  I can write, but I need that detail for depth.  So…on with the research…

NaNoWriMo 2015 ~ current word count 11/5/2015

It’s the annual NaNoWriMo Challenge…

Well, it’s another NaNoWriMo challenge…and I’m participating.  I have been at it since November 1st, and making good progress.  I could definitely use some sleep, but will chug on through.

The challenge target is 50,000 words, and I am hoping to accomplish 90,000.  I will definitely make it, currently at 29,824 word count on the fifth day.

NaNoWriMo 2015 ~ current word count 11/5/2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 ~ current word count 11/5/2015

If you have never done this challenge, and you want to polish your skills as a writer, or even accomplish a dream, go for it. It helped me finish several projects, and improved my confidence.

I know I can create a large project, having completed a doctoral dissertation. That was well over 85,000 words, and the one novel I have finished with a friend, that we are editing is currently at 170,000 words. I just wish I had a connection with an editor to help us. We will manage, and finish it soon.

Working it out..

Developing ideas…

Original ideas

Original ideas

Writing.  I love it.  I love to create original ideas, and map them out.  I love working with dreams, with daydreams to flesh out a story.  I have a good friend that has joined me in this endeavor.  I used to do fan-fiction, but realized, why am I working with someone’s work, when I can do this on my own.  It just takes practice, research, and perseverance.  In the end, dreams are what you make.  You are the captain, and you have to take the helm.  If you don’t know how to do something, you better research and find out how to make that dream come true.

In the end, anything possible.  And that is what I tell my students.  You are all on a journey, and you must be the navigator.

Caspar David Friedrich - The Wander above the mist

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

I have been knee-deep in the new job, and acclimatizing to the new town, new community, and new university setting.  The journey so far has been exhilarating and frustrating.  Life shouldn’t be complicated.  But sometimes, you stand at the plate, and you’ve got Elf on the mound, throwing baseballs at you in rapid succession.

I am trying to swing as fast as I can, or duck and protect my body, and still getting pounded.  Believe I was fast approaching the moment, where it just wasn’t worth it, and ready to walk away.  But I have persevered, and remained.  There are just too many variables I like that keep me getting out of bed in the morning.  And well, I needed to give it some time, maybe there were other issues going on behind the scenes, that needed an explanation before I dropped the bat.

And there were.

Every job has its nuances, and so you must take the good with the bad, and endeavor to try to make it better.

So I’m back on the rocky road, and still cruising at my speed.  I’m bound and determined to establish a posting routine.

Morning Sunrise

Just morning…

Morning Sunrise

Morning Sunrise

Waking up, I noticed a pinkish cast to the blinds. I quickly dressed in something appropriate, grabbed my iPhone from the nightstand, and peaked through the blades. A nice salmon sky greeted me, and I snapped off a picture, because a few seconds later it was gone. The leaves are already changing this far north in the mid-west. Too many have already told me I will need good goose down coat for the winters, something I’m not looking forward to. I have been in harsh weather before, both in Pennsylvania and Scotland. But I can just imagining cocooning my body in such a coat and wanting to find the nearest spot to fall asleep. Goose down is my friend, and have my duvet on nine months out of the year on my bed. My ideal temperature is roughly 55-65F. It will be interesting to see how deep the snow falls here, and see how I survive my first winter.

I need to get back to the writing….

Mabel Tainter Theatre

I’m back…finally gainfully employed

Mabel Tainter Theatre

Mabel Tainter Theatre

Well, I’m back.  I have finally found a job, and moved to the area.  I am still exploring and getting my used to the new compass points.  One item I will definitely need is a new winter coat.  Winters will be brutal. But I’m from the Laurel Highlands, I should manage.  So, the next evolution of this blog is going to be two fold.  At the moment it will be to help my students understand tourism and its sectors.  Other parts, well, more of my musings.  So sit back and enjoy the show.

Continual refinement…even thoughts

Meetings Mind Map

Mind map about meetings and technology for presentation

Working on another presentation for an upcoming interview.  Have to get thoughts down visually before I even attempt to construct the Power Point slides.  So this presentations will examine Meetings and Event management, and technology trends, handling the nuances of ‘big data’ and attaining positive service execution.  Thought I’d give you a sneak into the mind map.

My top 5 technology/software favorites…wish list.

I was traveling this past week for an interview and was thinking about the technology/software that I love to use.  How I might give you insight into what I find to help me in all that I do. So here goes:

  1. Scrivener

    Scrivener for Mac and PC

    Scrivener:  Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft–Literature and Latte At $45, can’t beat the price or the functionality.  Only drawback is I and many others are still waiting (God grant me patience but hurry) for the iPad version.  I think it will be a long wait still.

  2. Mind Mapping software:  I currently h ave Mindjet, Inspiration, and Scapple (another Literature and Latte product).  I like them all for their own reasons.  Each has a different price tag, but Scapple is the cheapest at $15 with limited functionality.
  3. Adobe CC/Dreamweaver, Muse and Photoshop.  I wish I could afford the full Creative Cloud (CC) package, but right now just working with Muse.  I love Adobe products and wish I had bucket loads of cash.  I could really have some fun, but then I would need a better MAC or PC to run the software.
  4. Windows for Mac/Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.  Each has its’ nuances and I use them for slightly different functionality.  Window versions of Microsoft is better than Mac in my opinion.  But then I revert back to Scrivener, and do a lot of writing there when I am on the desktop. I have an iPad and over the course of two years, have written a lot of words, well over 2 million.  Still need that better small size, portable desk.
  5. Technology, as referred to in number 4, I need something I can work with.  iPad’s are great for one thing but not what enough.  I want a surface but can’t afford one at the moment.  And I need the higher end model for the writing.  I wish I could kit out a desk as I want, with unlimited funding.  Not going to happen, so must work with what I have.  iMac, iPad, iPhone, and traditional pen/paper.

So top five for now…

Thesis/Dissertation Mind Map

When on a roll, don’t stifle your creativity….

Scrivener Thesis/Dissertation Template

Creating a Thesis/Dissertation Template

One of my philosophies is when you’re on a roll, don’t stifle your creativity.  As I await for feedback on my Enhanced Novel Template, I’ve working on three things.  Two presentations, and a thesis/dissertation template.  The later stems from a mind map I created from reading and utilizing the Guide to Successful Thesis and Dissertation Writing.  I found this book rather helpful in my graduate education.

Thesis/Dissertation Mind Map

Thesis/Dissertation Mind Map

I wanted to take the mind map a step further and utilize Scrivener.  I had seen other templates floating around the net, but I figure, if I interface what I gleamed from my own studies, writing, and implement them, I could come up with a pretty good template that might even help with composing journal articles, and future research.   So it’s in the works.

Again, how does this help me with my job hunt.  I have a digital portfolio.  I can’t just sit around moping, feeling sorry for myself.  I do have days like that, but then I end up criticizing myself and kicking my posterior to do something.  I can only accomplish so many applications in a day and need to go on to other things.  I hone my skills, and I am thinking about writing.  And I realize, I might just be organizing all the stuff that is in my head, getting it out in digital form and creating something I could utilize in that said portfolio.

So when on a roll, don’t stifle your creativity.

Scrivener Template

What to do in the mean time…

Scrivener Template

Made an enhanced version of Scrivener’s novel template.

So, been busy with the job hunt, writing, editing, creating to keep myself busy. I wanted to take that organization of writing to the next level. Over the years, I have researched the process and developed, enhanced and utilized a host of tools. I’ve now had the time to put them into Scrivener and create an enhanced version of the novel template. I’m still tweaking the results, and figuring out how to get feedback.

How does this help for the job hunt.  It hones my skills and what I can do with technology.  It helps to extend my writing capabilities and enhances my time management.  And I am being constructive in my down time between research jobs, sending out resumes and interviewing.

Notes

Thinking in the wee hours of the morning

Had another interview today with a great Tourism and Hospitality program.  Of course, preparation for the interview started the day I received noticed about the interview.  I acquire the names of those that will be a part of the interview, delve into the university, look at old and new clippings from the news, etc.  I print out as much as I can as well as the employment announcement, my letters of intent and my cv.  Since it is Skype, I log in and accept any invitation, test the system, and clean up the office/bedroom.  I explain to my parents that I will be unavailable from what time to what time and since we live in the mountains, ask Dad not to play on the computer or his other devices so I have maximum WIFI access.

I am a detective during this time period.  I survey the evidence and develop questions, anticipating the committee member’s line of thought.  I write down the questions and try to answer them or prepare key words to deliver my thoughts.  If it is an extensive announcement, I write down their minimum and preferred requirements and again construct key words and examples to address these areas.

This morning as I lay in bed at 0612 I was thinking on two examples and visualizing the interview.  Questions about research were bound to come up as it was part of the announcement and they are a research institute.  And yes, I did make several mistakes but no one is perfect.  I utilize several different methods that the traditional teaching of T/F, Multiple Choice assessment.  I use a three prong approach to teaching of collaboration, communication and critical/reflective thinking with creative, innovative elements.  I use projects and case studies.  I love written communications, because I know the students are going to have to write for the rest of their lives.  And I try to bring in news, what is trending now into the classroom, each and every day.  Information, after all, is the driver of our industry.

So, one thing popped into my mind.  Social media and the proliferation of people posting their receipts online from restaurants.  The question that had me up, that couldn’t let me fall back to sleep was and have posted on my social networking sites…

How many hospitality and tourism companies are now writing up extensive policies for the use of social media by their employees? How many are overhauling existing policies and making them more in-depth? How many have discussed this with their employees? Really considering, once I find my new job, writing such a policy into classroom etiquette.

So, I hope the interview went well.  I really like this university and think I could really contribute to their program.

More later..have a great holiday!

The Journey

Stepping off into Magic


Cuillins from Kirkibost
Originally uploaded by bruiach1

Wrote in 2010:

I wrote several years ago, well seven, actually about my meeting an elderly gentleman at Inverness Bus stop. At the end of our conversation, we parted as friends and he said something strange about gifting me with magic. That conversation has stuck with me the longest. I don’t know really why. I can only guess.

I fondly remember returning to Scotland from the States. How the moment my feet touched off the plane onto the ramp leading up to the airport proper, a grin spread wide across my face. I felt the anxiety of travel slip away as if some hands pulled away a clinging shawl. I wanted to run through the airport, customs and out into the misty Glasgow morning. But I took my time. I took my time, savoured each step.

I dreaded gathering my luggage but knew that soon, I would be out on the road back to home.

Today, I live in the middle of the corn belt in Illinois. I have to say that I miss the green and the rain. I miss the magic moments that seem to creep upon me without any announcement. As if there was this boundary, only Scotland creates. And it reaches out with strong hands to pull you in and to keep you there. There is no stagnation. There is always energy. I looked for all those thresholds and eagerly stepped off into the magic. Even loving the moments of wet socks and drenched clothes. Sometimes the reward was worth searching for that elusive elixir.

The boundary though is transparent. Scotland needs not exert any control. It is understood. It exist without explanation. It knows that you will be back.

Today, as I drove the length of the road from one town to the next and back again, I noticed the browning fields of summer corn. The leaves are turning and falling as the chill of autumn sets in. Some days, summer tries to reassert itself but autumn is just laughing. I think it is a patient task master, knowing the full the cycle of things. He sits down, draws his breath slowly and sighs. I wish there was more bite to autumn, like back in Pennsylvania. I don’t know. There seems to be something missing. I have no idea what it might be or what it is. Even now, at my favorite time of year, I feel lethargic from lack of choice.

I hate to be so detrimental to this area. I hate that I’m becoming entrenched in my old ways, complaining about everything. I hate that there isn’t more laughter.

I now know what it feels to return with the elixir and you’ve told your story. You’ve reached the end of a great adventure. It has changed you for the better. And yet, I think Vogler and Campbell, didn’t express this sufficiently. You can again, enter into that stagnation, waiting for something to come along and pull you again onto the road.

A road that leads to that magical boundary….

While I wait…

Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve

Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve

Well, while I wait and prepare for a phone interview this morning, I zipped over to Faith Popcorn’s site, Brain Reserve.  I use Popcorn’s site both in my understanding of current trends and issues, as well as within the classroom.  I am all about the future and like the game of anticipation.  I love examining what is trending, what is going to happen, even predict the future, especially with technology.  But to know how technology is going to change or expound our dynamic world, you need to know what is going on out there; how people are changing.  That means trawling for information, dissecting the mass of words and envisioning, visualizing, what is going on.

Faith is predicting that women are on the cusp of cultural authority.  That they are again, stepping out of the shadows and taking the reins of most decision-making.  Hasn’t that always been the case, but were behind the gossamer veil that is the shoulders of most men.  Women were the silent child, eyes narrowed, always looking for the nuances of the world and stepping forward at critical times.  Now, even more so, we are exerting our voice, in better way than the feminist revolution of the late 60’s and 70’s.  We are exerting our brain power.

I agree and disagree with Faith on certain aspects. I know we are on a precipice of change, and we are exerting a great deal of energy fighting against the tide.  I have been at this precipice since 2003 or earlier, looking over into the differing shades of the abyss, or back at those that are behind me.  Technology has been a major player, a companion beside me.  The medium is prompting questions, making suggestions, and gritting its bytes for us to see potential and make the leap.  The early explorers (visions of the Life Cycle) have already leapt out over the edge and are navigating through the next generation.  Those active involvers that are still immersed in old technologies, are feeling the fingers tickling at their psyche’s to ditched the old and return to that fun first stage; throw caution to the wind and fly.  And those reaching the pinnacle and/or stagnating, afraid of what is coming, need to ask the question, that many do not ask themselves, “What are you afraid of?”

This could harken back to self-identity and self-awareness.  That there are those unwilling to even think about the opportunities and possibilities of the future because of the loss of something innate or even traditional.  But what is tradition?  Maybe the definition of tradition, the authentic needs to change.  Maybe it is not about the people, but about the action?  For instance, I had dinner yesterday with my Greek family.  We had a traditional dish of gravy meat and Greek noodles, called Stifado (I think).   The stew, much like my own mother’s ‘golfer’s stew’, had at its bedrock in wine, cinnamon and the cooking process.  I enjoyed it immensely and made sure I thanked the cook, several times.  At the end of the meal we had a traditional talk as the grandkids, nieces and nephew went on their way to play.  At one point, recipes were compared or I should say finished dishes.  What I am getting at, is this is a traditional dish.  Culture exists in its varied forms, and conveyed in different styles.  A simple recipe card passed down from one family to another is a tradition.  We don’t necessarily have to have the same customs present.  The dish is the tradition.  The act of sitting around that table is a tradition.  We don’t lose our identity with change.  As Darwin, expounds, we adapt, we overcome and we persevere.

If we jump off that precipice that is looming on the horizon, that edge that we are inching closer too, what are we afraid of losing, giving up, or see disappear?  Are we not ourselves, made better?  Are we not captains of that adventure, that journey that can control and not, the internal and external forces that push and pull at us?  We cannot be afraid of change.  We may balk at its first steps, but at one point, we need to turn the light on and throw caution to the wind.

 

Notebook

Study finds that students learn more from non-tenure-track instructors | Inside Higher Ed

Study out today from Northwestern University that students learn more from adjunct, non-tenured professors than tenure track professors. “it says that the study may provide evidence that research universities benefit from more teaching by those who don’t have research obligations.”

I think is a good point to ponder. That we are losing sight of the true needs of today’s students as well as academic professionals.

Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed



Study finds that students learn more from non-tenure-track instructors | Inside Higher Ed
.

I would agree, but also add that the tenure track really needs to be examined. I think that there are those educators, like myself, that feel it is more important to educate the next generation than try to juggle so much. There has to be a balance, and the right questions asked for professional advancement. As a student, I wanted the professor there, and not always a grad student. I think there is a need for grad students to gain experience but to totally rely on them, is not acceptable. I feel that it was my duty to my students to teach to facts, to today’s trends and issues than rely on the book. There is a delicate balance needed for today’s students and we just can’t utilize the old ways of teaching, that have been the mainstay of years past.

I am passionate about what I teach. And it seemed that the students enjoyed that more than just lecturing to book information.yet there are universities out there that may not truly value and appreciate experience that some people bring to the job. Again, I think it is about achieving a balance and discussing professional aspirations with each faculty member. Research is important, don’t get me wrong, but again, I refer to that balance.

Let me give you an example…now I use a host of stories in all of my classes, Lauren can attest to that. I love teaching ethics. In ethics it is always difficult to keep political biases out of the fray. I talk to the students, of which I think a lot of professors do not accomplish or know how, explain that life is ripe with political bias and constipation (yes, constipation). It is difficult to trawl through the varying voices, even for me, to get at the heart of the decision. That is why you need to develop skills of listening, ask the right questions and understand that life is not black and white, there are varying shades of grey, colors, that will mix in, diversify a conversation. You have to know what is at stake, what it means for a host of people, those decisions you do make. But you have to be decisive ones, you have to go out there and sometimes not wait for an answer from someone or someone else to make a decision. Only through your own hard work at understanding where you are, where you live, what you do, your work, etc, can you make a decision. Sometimes your gut will tell you to do something and you have to make that instantaneous decision. A good mentor will sit down with you and discuss what happened, ask you what you might have done better, have you done anything you would change. They would use it as an educational moment for you in your development as a manager. And that is also someone who is in education is, in my opinion, to do as well. It’s not just about grades or achieving a certain grade. It is about a journey for both educator and student. We all have a stake in this…I could go on..

Final job hunt template

Scrivener Job Hunt Template

Final job hunt template

Final job hunt template

So I finished the template. I still think there is more I need to do. One, I need to figure out how to import email messages, without too much headache.

Unfortunately, Scrivener can import PDF’s, but I can’t move it to the appropriate folder. And I can’t sync my Yahoo folder for the job hunt with that of Scrivener. The question that then pops into mind is “if you have a host of research correspondence in email, how do you get it into Scrivener without copying and pasting?”

So still working…

Using Scrivener in the Job Hunt

So today, I needed to organize the job hunt. I have this great program called Scrivener and use it for my every day writing projects. I thought, why not the job hunt, to keep things organized and in one place. But I wanted this special, so first I went online and found some new icons to add to the graphics in the program. I found some really good Moleskine ones at Devaint Art.

First, I opened up Scrivener and started a new project, labeling it Job Hunt.  I used the blank format because I didn’t want to migrate all of the other writing stuff into the program that is associated with the different templates.  I needed to organize this to my own specific needs.

Then, second, I imported a folder I had created on my desktop called relocation that has all of my job hunt materials, even applications to-date.  I need that information for the unemployment to validate any activities for ‘looking for work’ requirements.

Why Scrivener?  I hate having to look for things and I had reached that saturation point with the job hunt.  And I wanted to do something more.  Back in my mind, ideas are coalescing into a potential book of experience.  As I visit with family, looking for jobs in the “Big City”, I am finding others reaching out for help and consultation.  Maybe their compliments, have a meaning, that I should be mentoring others on this?  God, knows I have had to look for jobs before, on several different occasions and have a host of experience.  The book sounds awesome!  I don’t know, if I could write this or not, maybe something for a Dummies book, “Using Scrivener for Career Building, Job Hunt????” Hey, maybe a best seller in my future.

Adding Icons

Adding unique icons to Scrivener

Third, To add the icons or change any icons, CTRL-click(right-click) on the folder or the page, and scroll down to Change Icons, then in the second pop up box, manage icons (now I am using a MAC so it will be different for PC). This box will appear, and you want to use the top box to add these icons permanently to the program.  I don’t know if this is right or not, but on the next change, I saw my icons listed.

Fourth, now to organize what I have imported into specific folders.  I know I have to keep track by week, my search and other activities for unemployment certification.

Specific labels, folders

Creating specific folders, labels for template

So I am thinking, that the top folder, where it usually states manuscript, could now be labeled leads.  Here I could create folders by applications and the materials I sent, notably, the cover letter.  Dates are important to unemployment, and so this might be the best bet.  Then I have to think of changing the meta-data to reflect these unique circumstances.  Is the hunt under application stage, under review, interview, 2nd interview, offer, follow-up, etc.  Now I realize I need a whole breadth of terminology.

This is going to be an afternoon project and I think will be very fruitful endeavor.

Stay tuned!

A letter from Fred

Moving tribute to 75 year old love story….

I found this on Yahoo today and I’m sure others have. But it is worth a look. Great story…and have tissues…

Buy “Oh Sweet Lorraine” on iTunes! https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/oh-sweet-lorraine-feat.-jacob/id676472051 GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Green_Shoe_Studio_Oh_Sweet_Lorraine_feat_Jacob_Col?id=Bwynwhkhgilvifufeaaj45io3tu

A short documentary telling a poignant story of life, love and music.

http://www.facebook.com/greenshoestudio
http://www.greenshoestudio.com
http://www.twitter.com/greenshoeinc
http://greenshoestudioblog.blogspot.com

Hank Butitta converts a bus

Day 11: Epiphany…

Sorry, haven’t posted in a week. Final push to get the move finished. The pod was booked, delivered and packed with stuff for storage. It was picked up and driven off by the company last night. Needless to say, had several minutes of anxiety. How tethered we are to our meager items. I know I am. Those items, beside family, are all that I have on the face of the earth and some of the items, though inconsequential, have important meaning. Yeah the old cliché here, ‘what is one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure….’ yada, yada, yada.

Hank Butitta converts a bus

Hank Butitta and his bus….

This morning, waiting on carpet cleaners, and some new appliances the landlord wants to put into the house, I did my usual, troll through the various news reports. As I take time out to scan several of my RSS feeds and Yahoo News, I come across this cool Master’s thesis by Hank Butitta. He is a recent grad from the University of Minnesota in architecture. He converted a bus for a living space and well, much more. This takes the small housing trend to a new level. Yeah, you could say it was just a glorified motor home, and I would agree. But could it be more? Yes. I like this idea. I’ve always wanted an airstream that I could pick up and go beyond the normal caravanning holiday, explore the world, learn about it; learn about yourself. Wouldn’t it be great to accomplish a master’s thesis with this much creativity, instead of the old standard? This should be an epiphany for all master’s and doctoral students everywhere, step out of your comfort zones, out the mundane and into something refreshing. Demonstrate your skills at a whole new level.

See a video of how the concept came to fruition:

He is chronicling his journey on a blog (Hank Bought a Bus), testing out the bus on a month-long journey. This will inform him, if his design has merit as well as the shortcomings and recommendations for the future versions. Either way, brilliant idea and A+ for creativity, innovation. Just think if any tourism or hospitality student could come up with a research question that could interface this idea with their own. How could this play to several concepts, including authenticity, self-discovery, and self-identity? Digital storytelling of a journey, discovering a sense of place? Branding of an idea? Even job hunting, because this hints at digital portfolio. Oh, the reflective practice. All of this…Outstanding.

And I see my favorite journal…Moleskine…

So, I will be back with more after the next few hectic days are over. I will try to sneak in a post if I can. Till then…happy moving …

Front of House

Day 4: Packing

Packing has commenced in-depth to get finished by the end of the weekend.  So, the job hunt has been put on hold.  I shouldn’t have put this off for so long, but well, change is hard as I said.  But the I am bound and determined to get the kitchen done today, and the living room.  So that all of the heavy stuff is ready to go by Saturday.  And what doesn’t get packed, gets pitched or off to the charity shop!

Don’t make excuses, just get started.

So, today is going to be a short post, because I want to get tucked in and finished.  I am really learning a great deal about myself, and how much you really do need.  Really, not that much.  If I could manage a 550 square foot flat in Scotland, I could manage to downsize here.  I really wish that the next place I go to I am able to settle, find a small parcel of land and build a Tumbleweed house or this one I drew a while back.

Something that is small, and just for me.  Something that lets is a lot of light and has spectacular views.

Doesn’t hurt to dream, back to packing.

Enjoy your day.

Caspar David Friedrich - The Wander above the mist

Day 3: Time management….

There are just not enough hours in the day for me at the moment.  My strategy is to devote the morning to social media, job hunting, resumé and cover letter construction, and blogging.  I have a three prong approach, just like in teaching.  The three areas are:

  1. collaborate
  2. communicate
  3. critical thinking/creativity

and maybe a fourth, innovate or innovation.  Which brings me to my devotion this morning to my skill set to put the final touches on my industry resumé.  I need to move on to the cover letter and such, time is a wasting.

Skill set

Skills set, is it finished?

As I have done before, I have mapped out that portion, and now have a broader listing.  I need to convert that listing to a dialogue of a few sentences each because my resumé is already three pages long; one page too many.  I have researched online the different examples and several have appendices for experience, publication and references.  How pertinent is that for my industry?  I know some jobs might want samples of writing and I have that chronicled on my digital portfolio.  Which just takes me off on a tangent about my digital portfolio.  Do I need to revamp that for industry or construct the material in such away that it would be viable for both areas?  Again, I am faced with decisions.

This just brings me back to the skill set.  I don’t think I have them all there, especially as it pertains to the skills I learned during my 30 years in the tourism/hospitality field.

Am I constructing walls where I shouldn’t?  Walls that hinder my progress through the day.  Which begs me to rethink about time management.  I really need to chronicle my time, and see how efficient and effective I am completing tasks.  Which then leads me to thinking of creating something or finding something in Excel or Bento.  This has now led me into that realm of thought about the comment I got from a viewer.  Have I ever considered writing an eBook about this process?  Yes, even considered public speaking.  My students have told me in the past that I should consider motivational speaking because I really encourage them to organize, plan and devote some of their time to thinking about their careers.  Another iron for the fire.

Caspar David Friedrich - The Wander above the  mist

Caspar David Friedrich – The Wander above the mist

There are a host of questions and I am reminded of one of my favorite paintings by Caspar David Friedrich — The Wander above the mist.  I stand upon a precipice of change, with a host of opportunity before me.  There is a lot to choose from, several paths to venture onto and survey.  There are a lot of ‘awesome’ out there.  Which path is muddied by not only your own ambitions, your internal strife, but also outward forces that exert their own conflict?  Which one do I choose to take, the ‘well worn’ one trampled by many or the more scraggy one, with no distinct markings?  I could easily be waylaid by these internal and external forces.  And those individuals, that I value most, can be part of that conflict or not.  Life should not be rushed when a multitude of decisions are before you.  When the waters are a bit murky and you don’t know if you are in a deep or shallow end.  Recall, I don’t have a compass.  I have myself and my internal gage to weather the path.  I need to find myself, not allow others to find ‘me’ for me.  Self-discovery is not a finite proposition if you want awesome.  Your identity is dynamic, adaptable and evolves over time.  What you did yesterday, is not what you will do today or tomorrow.  You can stand on that precipice and continue to look or you can do several things–take a the well worn path of average or as Robert Frost has said:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken Mountain Interval

So back to my task for the day.

Lost

Day 2: Pick yourself up…

Been filling out forms this morning and making phone calls.  Then went in to help a friend with the scanner/printer I sold her, made sure she was set up and ready to go.  As I stood there, directing her how to use her computer (MacBook) and how to download the driver, install the software (not that she couldn’t have figured this out on her own, but still, if you sell someone a product, you should give them at least a bit of help).  I was standing there directing her and realized, I do enjoy helping people with the technology.  I remember back to my semester at Strathclyde where I taught incoming first years basic computer skills.  At that time, as with any time, even now, I do feel the pendulum of anxiety swinging from calm patience to ‘come on’, you should know all of this already.  That people should already have basic computer skills.

So an area to work with, work on my patience.  This I guess harkens back to my ‘growl’ feelings with today’s students and I don’t mean to journey on an ‘ego’ trip here, but how come more and more people just don’t play with technology? Again, not tooting my own horn, but it is natural for me to want to investigate.  I guess that means I have a natural affinity for research, that I like getting on the computer, immersing myself in the technology and ‘getting lost’.

Lost

Lost

I am all self-taught in terms of computers. I’m not that great, not an advance programmer. I would say I am an advance beginner, and I wish I had more time to devote to php, java, and other languages. I don’t have to speak computer languages, but write them. I try to learn Gaelic, German and Italian through different apps, but I don’t have an ‘ear’ for such languages. My Spanish is equivalent to my high school education. Another skill to add to my ‘to-do’ list and get lost in a program.

Then, as now, I realize, or remember that what my grandfather always told me, “Learn something new every day.”  He was a man with an eight grade education that could read and decipher college level chemistry books at his job in Bethlehem Steel/US Steel.  He was one of the last men to know when to tap the molten steel by sight.  I can remember watching him doing puzzles constantly every day of his time with us.  He worked his mind, his spirit and body (even though he was heavy, he would walk every day, until his physical ailments prevented it).

Take the initiative.  Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do.  Do it yourself and take pride that you took that first step, even the road might lead in failure.  Pick yourself up and start again.  I have been doing that a lot lately.  Again today, I got a rejection letter in the email for another job.   So I start again.

PS and another skill, proof reading…definitely proof reading.

Working it out..

I am unemployed….

Well, I’m unemployed.  I now have to work out how to get a job either back in academia or industry.  And on top of that I am moving, trying to find a place to settle in; a place that has more opportunity than my current middle of no where.  Boxes litter the floor, half packed and empty.  I am overwhelmed by all of it at times and bury my head under a pillow and silently scream in my head.  I need someone to come in here and tell me, pack that, pitch this.  It isn’t easy, never is.  Change is hard and wonderful.

I have had to make some decisions–a lot of them.  My to-do list would be several pages long if I really committed to paper everything.  But I know that I have to eat this elephant one bite at a time or I’ll not be able to accomplish anything.

Right now I am stuck, stuck on how to create a new resume/CV to obtain a job back out in industry.  I just don’t want to take any job.  One of the reasons, I took my past job because it came along and I was tired of playing the waiting game that is academia.  I learned my lesson.  I should have listened to my own inner voice that you have to play to your passions.  I tell my students that every day and now need to live up to that mantra.  You just don’t take a job for the sake of taking a job, unless this is that purgatory, that station between the bad and the good.  This time around I want ‘my job’ not someone else’s job.  Or what someone thinks I should be doing.  This is for me and no one else.  Not my parents or my siblings.  This is for me.

So, take deep breath, and try to navigate about the waters.  I have no compass, I have no map or guiding force.  It’s just me.  But I still don’t know where to begin.  So, I went to the first place I knew, the Internet and Amazon.  I purchased two books.  Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters [Kindle Edition] and “So What Are You Going to Do with That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia [Kindle Edition].  I started journaling certain exercises to narrow down what I want to do.

Working it out..

Working it out…

I realized that one phrase from the first book stood out–“People do not know what (insert age) looks like to you…”. Truthfully, no one does and as Acuff points out,

“Ninety-nine percent of the people on the planet do average. The road is well worn, the decisions are obvious, and the next steps are crystal clear.”–Acuff, Jon (2013-04-23). Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters (Kindle Locations 343-344). Lampo Press. Kindle Edition.

I don’t want to do average anymore.  I want to do awesome, my awesome.  Getting there is now the battle.  I have to ask myself some basic questions, and map it out.  I just hate doing it.  I wish I could plug-in my brain and download all the stuff, baggage and not, from it and put it out on paper so I could see just what is there.  I wish I had a video tape of my life so I could pinpoint the stuff I loved to do, the stuff I hated.

So I guess I’ve invited you all on this journey.  Right now we are sitting in the station, figuring out if this is steam power or nuclear, and the right buttons to push, the right ones to turn and what fuel to add.  I know I’m behind the eight ball but damn if I’ll remain there long.  God, grant me patience but freakin hurry.

Wish me luck…

British Airways--India advert.

Hints….

 There are hints at the shifts in service quality, in the reinforcing and rebranding of British Airways.  I was alerted to this by a friend on Facebook (power of social media) and went to the video.  Digital storytelling is taking on new art forms.  Are we willing to sit down in front of the tv, on YouTube, Facebook, etc and watch such advertisements.  Does this demonstrate not just the promotional power of branding, storytelling, but also, authenticity of the global dynamic world in which we exist?  Is there a dose of mythology?  Does this highlight self discovery and self-identity?  Does British Airways allude to a sense of place, immerse us in social CRM?  This may or may not be a new strategy, but it tugs at the heart-strings and makes you think–when was the last time you were home to spend time with your parents and have one of your mother’s home-made meals?  (And to think that BA would hold a seat for some one to make a meal to send to their child…whoever thought of that idea, brilliant!!!–sign me up for one of my Mom’s chocolate cakes and wings!)  A host of questions could be extracted from this alone.