Doing a Happy Dance!

I got a new toy:

I’ll put some comments up in a future post as I’m still learning how to use it.  It’s replacing a cell phone and a Palm Zire, but since it’s the windows version it’s a lot different.

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Learning New Media

I’ve been blogging for three months now, and I’ll tell you, it isn’t as easy as it looks. Picking a subject, I think, is the hardest part. I guess I could write just about my life but I didn’t start this as an online diary. Picking one subject seems to be the way to really boost readership, but I have too many interests for that. I guess I could do multiple blogs, but that’s just scary.

Thanks to pghbloggers and Podcamp Pittsburgh and STBD, I’ve really started to get interested in new media, such as blogs, podcasts, video, and so on. It’s not so easy, since I really don’t have a lot of contact with that world. I’m 36, which seems to put me on the outer edge of the age group that’s doing this stuff. I mean, I have a Myspace account and it seems like most of the people I know that are my age don’t.

I really like this stuff though, and I think it’s because it holds out the promise of using my creativity. When I was a kid I wanted to make movies or start a newspaper, but I never had the materials to get either going – and now, with New Media, it’s even easy!

But there’s so much to learn, being as the field I went into was pretty far from this stuff. So I’m stumbling along, working on baby steps, and trying to get to know some of the players around Pittsburgh – problematic, again.  And I feel like I’m so far behind the curve…

Anyway, that’s just some random thoughts for the day. Any ideas, comments, suggestions?

Thanks!

What I’m Thankful For

Tomorrow, of course, is Thanksgiving, and on blogs all over I’ve seen posts on what people are thankful for.  Since gratitude for what we have (and not worrying about what we don’t have) is important to our happiness, I wanted to note my list:

I’m grateful for…

My beautiful, intelligent, loving wife

My awesome son

My parents

My Gram

My sister

The rest of my relatives

My In-Laws

My job

My car

My apartment

My salvation

My friends

My health

My sight

My hearing

My sense of taste

My sense of smell

My sense of touch

My country

This beautiful world

And for so many other things.

When I look at how much I have to be thankful for, it reminds me that what I don’t have in material possessions isn’t that important.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Toastmasters – 1 down, 9 to go

Last night I did my first speech at Toastmasters. Called the Icebreaker, it is literally all about you.

I’ve done public speaking before, such as the occasional sermon at church, but the nervousness never goes away. I’d written my speech beforehand, of course, and I knew what I was going to say, but you still hope the audience will respond well to what you have to say and won’t be bored.

It actually went pretty well, though, and I got a lot of favorable reviews. Toastmasters has you do ten speeches to qualify for you Competent Communicator certificate, formerly know as CTM, or Competent Toastmaster. A lot of the people who finish go on to do public speaking. Darren LaCroix is one of these.

If you haven’t heard of the organization before, check out the link above. I recommend it because it helps you build your public speaking skills, and more importantly, your confidence, in a supportive environment. Both are skills that come in handy. Maybe you’ll never address large crowds but confidence helps anywhere and there will be times when you lead a meeting or interact with a group of people you barely know!

Bond…James Bond

My wife and I went to see Casino Royale this weekend and what can I say?  It was excellent!  Probably one of the best Bonds ever.

I was fully prepared to not like this movie, what with a blond Bond.  But Daniel Craig was very manly in the part – brutal, strong, totally ALPHA!  The women were beautiful, and Eva Greene actually made me like Vesper (when I read the book, I didn’t).  Eva portrayed her as intelligent, conflicted, and complex.  And of course beautiful!

The movie is a little over two hours, but you don’t notice.  the action scenes were well done.  This is the beginning of Bond’s career and he’s not as polished as he will be later.

I don’t want to spoil the movie so I won’t tell any of the scenes but there are lots of memorable ones.  All I can say is, go see it!  It won’t disappoint….

2007 Personal Goals

One of the things that drove me crazy when I first discovered the concept of self-improvement was goal-setting. I mean, it was easy to pick long term goals, i.e., be a gazillionaire when I retire, things like that. But the short term ones were the ones that I had trouble with. I tend to think big picture and long term, so thinking short term and at a lower level was more difficult. At the time, blogging was gaining in popularity but there still weren’t a lot of good examples of personal goals. So in case any one is in my situation, I decided to put these up. Also, it gives me accountability, now that I’m posting them for all to see.

There are lots of good blog posts out there on goal setting; just do a search. I’d recommend using Google’s Blogsearch for a start.

Financial / career
I will invest 10% of my earnings in an IRA
I will (at long last) buy a house
I will start an online business
I will maintain my Blog

I will Bench 200 lbs 10 times
I will trim my waistline to 32 inches
I will workout at least 4x per week
I will eat a better diet
I will begin taking Oomyungdoe?

Family
I will take my wife on 1 date night per week – need babysitting
I will spend one-on-one time weekly with my son
I will have uninterrupted knee-to-knee time with my wife daily

Friends
I will call some weekly
I will email the others weekly
I will have lunch weekly with at least one
I will make new friends and enlarge my social circle
I will earn my Toastmasters Competent Communicator award

Church
I will serve in some capacity
I will teach a Bible study
I will write a column for the Tidings?

Spiritual
I will read my Bible daily
I will pray at least 5 minutes daily
I will memorize 1 scripture per month
I will give a proper offering to God via the church

Miscellaneous
I will find a mentor
I will learn to Podcast
I will write a book

NaNoWriMo Reboot

I started over.  Here’s an excerpt:

Prologue

 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September

 

            “Well,” I muttered, “that could have gone better.”

            Currently I was sitting on the floor of a two bedroom suite of the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai.  The hotel was the tallest in the world, and currently we were on the twenty-second floor.  My feet were bound, and I was back to back with Carrie McNaughton.  Our hands were tied together.

            On the floor, not far away from Carrie and just in my range of vision lay Jesse Stone.  I couldn’t tell if the ex-thief was okay, but the gentle rise and fall of her chest assured me that despite the fact that her head was bloody, she was at least alive.

            “Yeah,” Carrie replied.  “That’s for sure, Cole.”

            “Guess you couldn’t have picked a worse time to go out in the field for the first time, eh?”

            “Enough!  No talking!”  The command came from a tall man who walked into the living room.  He held his pistol in a practiced grip.

            Carrie and I fell silent.  The man walked over to the windows and glanced out over the ocean panorama.  He was joined a moment later by an Asian woman.  “They’ll be here soon,” she said.

            “Good.  Did you tell them we have the package?”

            “Of course.”

            He turned to her.  “When they arrive, you know what to do.”

            She nodded, looking over at Carrie and me.  “No problem.”  The hatred in her eyes was directed at me, and I derived a certain satisfaction from knowing that I had caused it.  “What about the other one?”

            “She goes with us.  Tie her up.  I have a feeling she’ll bring a good price.”

            “All right.  If you insist.”

            “Get it done.  I’m going up to the helipad.”  He walked out of the room, and she turned and went into the bathroom.  A moment later, I heard water running and then she came back in, carrying towels and a washcloth.

            She began to clean Devin up, and as she did so she gave me a vicious look.  “She’ll make a fine pet for some sheik.  I don’t approve of this normally but since she’s a friend of yours I’ll make an exception this time.”

            “A little bitter, are we?”

            Her mouth tightened.  “You and her are dead.  I’ll do her first, so you get to watch.  It’ll be quick, I promise.”  I felt Carrie stiffen behind me.  “And then you.  I don’t have a lot of time, but believe me, it’s gonna hurt.”

            I laughed.  “You’re both already dead.  Do you really think you’re going to get out of here alive?”

            “You stupid moron, of course we are.  This was all planned in advance.  And forget about a rescue.  If your people were coming, they’d have done it already.  That was the only reason we left you two alive anyway, in case we needed bargaining chips.  Doesn’t look like we will, so as soon as I’m done cleaning up the little princess here, I’ll kill you two and get out.  Ten million dollars and I’m retiring.”

            “What kind of a way is that for a good Chinese communist to talk?”

            “A greedy one.  I’m heading for Aztlan.”

            Aztlan was the west coast of North America, in what had used to be the western part of the United States before the Hispanics had claimed it back.  La Raza tolerated the Chinese because there were so many of them in that area, and besides, the Triads worked hand in hand with M12 to run syndicates around the globe.  I had gone head to head with them in the past.

            But now, I had to think fast.  In a few minutes the Chinese woman would be done and she would make good on her promise.  Myself, I wasn’t worried about – I’d made my peace with God.  But I hated to see Carrie die and Devin sold into slavery.  My fingers were working frantically at my bonds, but I know it was too late, that I wouldn’t be in time.  Stubbornly, though, I refused to give up, and rather than dwell on our impending demise, my mind wandered back to where this had all begun, so many weeks before.  I’d been in Pittsburgh.  No wait, really, it had started before that, when I was in Prague…

NaNoWriMo remorse

Agh!  I’m now at 3000 words when I should be around 15,000!  And it’s not getting any easier.  Why didn’t I pick an easy one, like a James Bondish type book or something along those lines?  Instead I had to pick to do a suspense novel!  What was I thinking!

I’m still grinding away, though, as I try to figure out how to ramp up the suspense.  That’s the hardest part, I think; how to get from here to there.  In a mystery, it’s by clues, but in suspense and thrillers, it’s by getting the character in deeper and deeper.  I read somewhere that a mystery starts with death, and the thriller ends with it.  So that’s the angle I’m working, but how to keep the suspense up until the climax is the hard part I’m trying to learn to do.

Hopefully this weekend I can churn out a bunch of words!