Saturday, July 25, 2020

Two Thirds of a Trilogy








  In the Covid era of "writing" I have had the opportunity to put more hours into my craft while I remain at home caring for a parent susceptible to the disease. While the parent has not been a 24/7 "needs assistance" patient, they are in fact a 24/7 "needs assistance to be available" patient. The writing has come in shift, waves, periods of activity punctuated by medical appointments and medication requirements.

  The major project has received attention, to the point, where it is now approaching the editing process.  Each day, there are events occurring which retroactively, affect the construction of the "major project" and could add additional chapters to the work. I have had an addition this week, that if included, completely alters the storyline of the project - and thus it has to be omitted.

  From this work. That's not to say that it could not be added to another major project.

  And thus begins the second major project of writing, a sequel to the first major project.

  I was once told that whenever you write a major project, be prepared to turn it into a trilogy.

  I have two thirds now.



Friday, July 17, 2020

Marooned Until Dates Unknown








  The Covid-19 pandemic is beginning to affect productivity.

  I sleep in shifts now, maybe four to five hours at most. I rarely maintain a uniform schedule, in part due to the elderly parent that I care for, around whom I have to work.

  The flights to Australia have been diminished to the point that should something happen to my Father, I will not be able to get to the county, let alone to him.

  I have, indeed, become "marooned" - as I have have so poignantly written about previously. I am now stranded with 354 million others in the United States of America. The advertised travel on my web site has all been pushed back until "dates unknown".

Friday, July 3, 2020

Antiquated Technology









  In the past ten days, the entire infrastructure system of the grantmadden.com office has changed. Laptops, servers, desktops, keyboards, mouse, wiring, power.

  The desks remain the same, the staff remain the same, and the writing remains the same. The power underneath it all has upgraded from antiquated technology.

  Many years ago I upgraded from what was considered "antiquated technology" into a new arena and just did not have the same success. That was sailing, and the change in technology levelled the playing field between myself and the competition. I don't expect that will happen in the writing field.

  The Covid-19 issue still has the office, and the residing county in turmoil. Flights to and from Australia have been suspended indefinitely, and with the American Independence Day tomorrow, not a lot of celebrating or fireworks.

  Keep it low, clean and antiquated technology is sometimes the way to ride out success.

  Cheers and beers from the American Pioneer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Citizenship








  There are moments in a life - defining moments where you can identity time, date and place, where a life changed. Birth. Marriage. Death. While there are many others, I have uncovered a moment that I had not considered before.

  Citizenship.

  Many years ago, I left my native Australia and settled in the United States of America. I would never yield my native country, as it became more apparent that I would need to take on another country.

  In the middle of the pandemic, my approval to become a United States Citizen arrived. Poignant. While there would not be the same solemn ceremony, it was a "make best" situation.

  At Cabrillo Point earlier today, I swore my Oath and became a United States Citizen.

  The ceremony was captured and later reported in the various media outlets.

  The San Diego Union Tribune captured a still and quoted me in their feature article.



  Later that night, I appeared on the Fox 5 San Diego news broadcast, and later on the NBC 7 news broadcast.

  And for the Spanish speaking community, on Telemundo 20.

  In Charlotte, North Carolina, the San Diego citizenship ceremony made the evening news. The story was picked up and carried across the nation appearing in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Ohio, Georgia,   MSN, the Point Loma OB Monthly Magazine, and the Border Report.

  I am grateful for the well wishes, the supporters, and even the nay -stayers. This has been a long wait, and the next journey begins.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Citizenship Forthcoming








  Citizenship!

  The USINS has announced that their offices are reopening, and my citizenship ceremony has been scheduled for 24 June 2020.

  Fifteen years and a day after I was granted a Green Card, the long road has come to an end

  With the Covid19 situation in California returning to pandemic levels, there will be no fanfare, no open ceremony, no guests.

  A quiet introduction into my new country or origin.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Windows Vista Outlasts Them All








  Last week, the offices of grantmadden.com did an upgrade of the laptops. One of the newest arrivals is a Dell Insperion.  IT will be replacing an aging Windows Vista laptop. The laptop has been in service for almost 14 years.

  While doing the "swap out" I was surprised to discover some items on the old laptop, items of great sentiment.

 - the last photograph of my eldest daughter.
 - the account of an ancestry hunt that I accompanied my Father on, in the the streets of Brooklyn, New York.
 - copies of a radio broadcast I appeared on speaking about "Fathering After Divorce".

  Writing about the upgrade was easy - writing about the memories contained on the hard drive was gut wrenching and generated some tears.

  Rather than dispose of the, now defunct, Vista laptop, it has been retired within my office where it will forever hold those memories.

  The girls have gone. Dad is no longer able to travel. The radio show has ended.

  The Windows Vista laptop outlasted them all.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Film Maker


 






  The new version of Blogger is coming.

  Wonderful.

  Another new platform that was fully functional, now has to be relearned.

  As a writer I occasionally am asked to take my "words" into another arena. This time it's into film. By the first week of August I have been asked to produced three short films based on an article that I wrote last year.  The films will be in the Imovie format for distribution to the entity that requested the service.

  Not a big deal, but I guess now I am a film maker.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Adsence on Memorial Day Weekend






  I had not seen any revenue from Google Ads in almost a year before I logged into my Adsence account today. Front and center has an advisory that my "earnings were at risk, you need to fix ads.txt to avoid severe impact to your revenue."

  My site currently doesn't generate the revenue of a small country, but I'm planning one day to have a larger presence. For the time being, I have to modify an text entry to correct an ad.

  That sounds simple.

  No it wasn't.

  I have never worked with html, instead using a copy and paste method to stand up the blog site, that you are reading. So now I have to start modifying code on a copy and paste site?

  Can't stand having to modify adsence ads to correct an entry.

  Good thing I have the entire three day of the Memorial Day weekend and the California Stay at Home Orders to correct this issue. I'll need all that time.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Happy Birthday Chickybabe




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  Happy Birthday Chickybabe

  Today, my eldest daughter turns 31.

  When I was 31 her mother and I had separated, and I went on to my best "role" as the divorced father of two daughters.

  Now, I'm just the alienated father of the same two daughters that I haven't seen in years.

  Perhaps when they read the Book, they will realize that their Dad never left them. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Day 54 Writting Material




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  Day 54. That was last Friday. I fractured a rib.

  I would love to be able to say that it was a result of some super human rescue effort, but alas, the reality of the rescue is more comical than expected. I fractured a rib reaching for the television remote.

  Over the back of the chair.

  On the floor.

  The sensible thing to do was move the chair and ergonomically collect the remote. No, I had to reach over and the sound of the rib cracking was heard, not only by me, but by another.

  There was no blog entry last week as I tried to establish how much damage was done. I could breathe - that was a plus. I was able to stand and sleep, but the moment I got into the car the following day, that's when it started. The Doctor at the Urgent Care that I eventually got to (the following Wednesday) confirmed the splintering of the rib by X-ray.

  "Nothing we can do to help you," she said.

  Why did I bother to go.

  As an author, this would be my first "writer injury", that which was incurred in the execution of writing duty. I should be awarded a purple ink pen.

  This week, the writing slowed down as the crevice that is inside me bruised up with the fractured rib.

  The only bonus to come from this is that a second work I have written has the protagonist in isolation for almost a year. Now, they too have a fractured rib.

  Writing material from Day 54.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

40 Days and 40 Nights




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  40 days and 40nights have passed since I personally went into isolation due to the pandemic.


  Accomplishments? Not a lot, other than surviving.

  Did I have to accomplish anything in this time? No.

  Did I need to accomplish anything in this time?  No.

  What happened was during this time, others who were in need turned to me for their safety so that they did not fall to the virus.

  And what did I gain out this?

  Nothing.

  But I wasn't expecting to. I just did my job, as an essential worker to the two people who needed it the most.

  And, I did write a lot more than I expected.




Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday and an Easter Remberance




     Easter was a (mostly) enjoyable time for me growing up.

     As a child, it was school break, traveling on the longest weekend of the year, and with the autumnal weather, cool enough during the day and warm enough at night to sleep.  Later, I found myself in the servitude of the Church during the Easter celebrations, the mostly holiest time of the year.

     As a teenager, Easter changed. In 1982 my father, drove north to Laguna Bay where my brother and I sailed in our first major regatta.  We were rank outsiders, two young kids, unknowns. Not surprisingly, we were robbed blind after the final race. We drove home that weekend with a new focus. I would go on to win seven (7) titles, but nothing would ever erase that memory of that Easter.

   What I remember the most of that Easter was the weather. Old enough to remember, it would become the blueprint for all future Easter regattas I attended. Raining, wet, and despite the autumnal weather, cold enough during the day for hypothermia and not warm enough at night to sleep. My father would launch us off the beach, have warm food for us on our return, and relaunch us in the afternoon. He did more for my sailing history than I could ever thank him for.

     Here we are, 38 years later and the weather in Southern California this Easter weekend reminds me so much of what happened at Laguna Bay. The rain, the coldness, the thievery and the subsequent follow through. I am feeding two sick patients, albeit, not at the beach in the elements. However, I am currently on day 28 of isolation from Corona virus with the same emotions back then - there is nothing I can do to change what has occurred, but I will never let this happen again.

     Easter was a (mostly) enjoyable time for me growing up - I hope I have more enjoyment that this.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

California...feels like 1974.





  California, during the pandemic, fells like 1974.

  In 1974, my parents were living in the married quarters of the local army base. On a Saturday morning, my mother would drive about 20 minutes away to a large retail center where we would do our grocery shopping. The aisles were packed as trading on a Saturday ceased at either noon or 12:30pm.

  Up and down the aisles we would travel, filling the cart, amid the noise of people chatting. If you weren't in the store when the doors open, by the time you reached some sections, the shelves would be bare and from past experiences, you knew that they would not be restocked before the end of the day, so you moved on without that item.

  At the checkouts there were lines of people seven and eight deep, but there was room to move as each shopper gave a courtesy to the other occupants in the store. The groceries and items were bagged into a light brown paper bag, and placed back in the cart.

  The parking lot was multi level, so on days when you parked on the lowest level, when you exited the store, you couldn't tell what the weather was like. You would look down and see streams of water beginning to run downhill through the parking lot and you knew it was raining. If you were exiting the store at noon, the rush would be over, and you might see the other stores closing up for the weekend. By the time 1:00pm arrived, everything was closed. People were home, no one was on the street, traffic was non existent.

  California feels a bit like those Saturday mornings in 1974. With the health issue across the nation, the eyes that I have 46 years later take in a different perspective, but it still has the same feel about.

  Except that in 1974, those were some of the best memories of my childhood. Not a lot of memories from the Covid crisis that I want to carry for the next 46 years. 




Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fifteen Minutes At A Time







  I have established that, at best, while working from home, that I can work for a maximum of fifteen (15) minutes at a time.

  It's not that I lack the concentration or focus to enable me to perform for several hours.  It's the needless distractions that have to be attended to which limit my output, to fifteen minutes at a time.

  Today, I woke and sat down at my desk. Booted up the computer and during the morning email review, checked on the elderly parent that I care for. Thus endeth the first fifteen minutes.

  The dogs barked fifteen minutes later. Check and verify that they are barking at the wind.

  The cat started bitching about something. Get up and verify that the cat is just bitching about nothing.

  The landline telephone rings, it's a scam caller, so naturally, the elderly parent answers it.

  That's the first hour. I've risen four times for outside distractions, broken the train of thought and been distracted from my work.

  The second hour. The dogs again. Fifteen minutes later there's a truck driving by that makes a loud sound; and the dogs go apeshit. The usual swearing and cursing at the dogs hastens their retreat to the elderly parents lap. I no sooner return and the elderly parent is moving about in the kitchen - investigation required. Fifteen minutes later, there's a door slam inside the house - elderly parent has taken to their bathroom.

  While the current health situation has put a lot more people to work in their residency, there are a couple of thoughts about this. If we can work from home during a health issue, why can't we work from home after the health issue? The roads would be freer, the commute time would be reduced, people would still be earning an income.

  And then the dogs bark again, this time at a leaf falling...three miles away.

  And now I know why people go to their corporate office.  It's not so they can accomplish any additional work, it's so they are not working fifteen minutes at a time distracted by ridiculous home matters.  Far better to be distracted at work every fifteen minutes by the phone and loose two hours of your day in the commute back and forth, than to stay at home and complete the same volume distracted by..leaves falling every fifteen minutes. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How To Work From Home in a Pandemic




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  Across the United States, employees are being told to "work from home" as an attempt to stem the flow of the Corona Virus, CoVid-19. As people do so, they are some techniques that can be employed to ensure that you actually accomplish "work" while at home.

GET DRESSED
  You wouldn't report to workplace in your pajamas, nor should you report to your home work station in the same clothes you slept in. While you may not exercise the same dress standard as the work place, getting dressed is a psychological tool to differentiate between being at work, and working from home.

HAVE A PLACE TO WORK
  Even if you have to clear a spot at the dinning room table, have a dedicated work station. Sturdy chair, flat surface, lighting and ventilation are the hallmarks of establishing the invisible boundary from home and work. Coaches, beds, and floor space are not work stations.

KEEP A SCHEDULE
  Your mind functions better if it maintains a schedule of events. If you are an office worker with office hours, maintain that schedule while you work from home. Your employer will still need to reach you, your co workers will need to collaborate with you and your subordinates will still need to report to you. While you may no longer have to clock in and clock out to the minute, don't be the guy who misses the video conference because you weren't "at work".

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
  This is, in my opinion, the most important. The access to you by other family members may be taken for granted, or that movie you haven't seen may be starting in ten minutes. When you are "working from home" you're no longer available to attend to the domestic chores or ask, and a television should never be on in your work space. It is too tempting to be distracted b the comforts of the home when you should be working.

EXERCISE
  In the workplace, you walk between offices, the lunchroom, maybe tour the facility in order to get your steps in, or to stretch out from your work station. Maintain this approach and ensure that during your "work day". that you try to maintain the same level of physical activity. Walk the dog, leave the car in the garage if you have to go outside, but make allowances that let you continue to exercise. Long hours sitting at your desk and hen flopping into bed is counter productive.

   There's a method to how I work from home. I maintain the same schedule: rise, breakfast dress and report to my work station prior to 7am. Email are no more than 15 minutes as it's too easy to be distracted. I break for lunch at noon every day and return about 30 minutes later. Around 1.30pm I get up and walk the dogs, come hail, rain or shine. Returning about 2pm, I check emails one more time and write till about 4.30pm. There is no television near my work station, although I have a CD player I occasionally put on low volume.

  Jacob, the cat, is my sole co worker at home, and I often engage in workplace conversations with him. Though working from home can be a solitary assignment, there is no reason why you have to be "alone".

Saturday, February 29, 2020

29 February





  Deadlines come and go. Occasionally, I will not start a project or submission until the deadline is approaching. Having a deadline is a good thing - the time constraint to be done by a prescribed moment keeps the work on focus.

   This week I was talking with a First Fan when I mentioned that I had two deadlines looming on the same day - February 28.  (It turns out, it wasn't the same day, one of the deadlines was in fact February 29, as 2020 is a leap Year. But for the sake of this entry, the deadline was "the last day in February".)

  The second deadline was finished with with...a day to spare. The first deadline zoomed right by me without a word being written.

  On the last day, that is, February 29, I was in my car mentally revising the submission made on February 28 when I come to the conclusion that a lot of submissions I make center around transport and traveling. Some of my best published non fiction has the critical element of "traveling" in-bedded within the story. Then there are other good fiction stories that I have had published where traveling, or rather, "the journey" has been the strength of the story.

  Looking back, I began to recall some of the "transport" focus of my youth. In the Police Department, I wrote a paper for the National Transport Road Forum on truck driving hours. In College I wrote an assignment of early transports affecting education in the outback. In High School, I wrote an English assignment which documented the travels of the protagonist. (It might have been Jude The Obscure.) In primary school I did a project on Transport for the new schools open house, that featured a model railway and identified thirty seven different means of transport. Even earlier, than that, I was collector of the Weet Bix cards that featured motor vehicles.

  A writer of travel. Who would have seen that coming?

Monday, February 24, 2020

I Am Done







I am Done.

A letter today from the California Department of Child Support Services reads "According to our records, your support obligations are paid in full ....Do not send further payment."

It is almost 23 years to the day since I was divorced. Along the way I have battled the Commonwealth of Australia, set precedent in the San Diego Appeals Court against the Dept. of Child Support, had my fight against the oppressive Child Support machinery published locally and in Australia, and been on radio talk shows.

I was fortunate that I knew how to read law, prepare briefs of evidence, compile witness statements, and handle a court room. I became schooled in the Hague Convention Child Support rules, and put a stop after their financial gang rape. But at what cost?

The swiftness of the system to take is not replicated on correcting their errors. I've not owned a house, but their mother bought a beach house with my child support. My credit report is obliterated, had my drivers license in peril, my passport attempted to be revoked by a foreign country not authorized to, and worst, emotionally hurt another women as I failed miserably in a relationship.

I was lucky - not everyone gets to win almost all their fights. Others may not have had the knowledge, or the staying power, or maybe they were beat down more than I was and could not go on. The one I truly needed to win though - is a loss. My daughters are now 31 and 25; alienated from me by their mother. I last saw my eldest when she was 18, her sister - when she was 12.

It's too late for my girls. I am done.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Fifteen Years





  Fifteen years ago, today, I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac at San Diego International Airport.  There was no one there to meet me.

  Today, I am still working alone on much the same arrangement that I had when I first arrived in the United States - commissioner per submission.

  Along the way I have had moderate success.

  I'd like a little James Patterson success in the next fifteen years. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

One Submission Is Better Than None






  On the last day of the first month, I made this years first submission to a publishing house.

  Not a great track record for a writer, but one submission is better than none.

  As the "First Fans" are aware, the care of a parent is draining my time away. Being accountable for a toddler in an adult frame is a time consuming job, You can't just instruct on what it is and what it should be, - because they are elderly.  Instead, grace is needed.

  After spending two days and a night back and forth to the emergency room of a local hospital, it was late yesterday when I realized the deadline was approaching. Unsatisfied with the third, or fourth version, I submitted the version that I thought better -but not award winning.

  One submission is better than none.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

James Patterson Writes in Pencil





  For those that came in late...when I write, I write with a pencil.  Always have. There is something about the lead of the pencil on the yellow of the legal pad paper that makes the writing seem... historical. It feels alive as I scribble it down.  

  As one of my goals for the year involve more published works, I began taking online lessons in Masterclass. Masterclass is a series of video tutorials given by experts in their field of expertise. One of the contributing authors is James Patterson. Patterson has multiple books that I have read (as a fan) where his protagonist (Alex Cross) is employed in an industry that I once was.

  About the fourth lesson in, I was not enjoying the tutorial as much as I like. Though the format was similar to Stephen Kings "On Writing" book, I was not enjoying Patterson's class as much as I had enjoyed his book.

  And then it happened.

  James Patterson said that he writes in pencil on a legal pad.

  James Patterson writes the same way I do...or more accurately, I write the same way as accomplished author James Patterson does.

  And suddenly I was enjoying Patterson's class much more. I went back and started his Masterclass again, and although the links to a number of discussions with previous students is broken, the class became more poignant to me. It became more real as a one on one class because....James Patterson writes in pencil.

  I am hopeful that one day a fan will have the same connection that I had when they relaize their favourite authors (that would be me) writes n pencil.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020





  In 1999, I purchased my first computer in Australia, a Hewlett Packard Compaq computer from a big box home store. At the time, I also purchased one computer game to accompany the purchase. The game was a city building strategy game called Anno 1602. The game was a ground breaker in that the Artificial Intelligence progressed in accord with player development.

  At the time, I was divorced and not in receipt of enough income to make my daughters life more enjoyable. The girls and I played that game. Endless hours was spent with my little one sitting in my lap as her older sister cursed at the non player characters (NPC) when they destroyed something she had spent an hour creating.

  When I moved to the United States, one of the few things that was not lost at seas in transit was a box that contained this game. Last week while unpacking I found the game, still in it's original box, and did a Google search on it. In so doing, I discovered that the publishing company had a new version, titled Anno 1800. The game was available by download only, and for less money than I paid for the original game, I treated myself to my first game purchase in about eight years.

  Wow.

  The reviews justify it's nomination for Game of the Year. The graphics are immersive, the game play addictive, and last weekend, I lost both days off playing the game into the wee small hours of the morning.

  The girls are gone from my life - grown up and moved on. Late nights playing Anno on the computer are not the same without my youngest sitting in my lap pointing out the "bad guys" for her sister. Still, what I lost in the companionship with my children, is retained in the memory of the original game.

  20/20 - a year and hindsight.