A Good Plan

A Good Plan.

I have a plan. I think I spent a good portion of my life without a plan. Just sort of walking along, not really expecting much at all, at least nothing good. I had a larger view of the world that said, “What happens, happens. It’s pretty much ordained, and so there is little I can do about it.” Does that sound ridiculous? Well, it does to me too, now anyway. But for most of my life I had that thought in my head and so, true or not, I believed it to be true and it became true.

Then one day I woke up. I woke up and I looked at the world and I thought “What the hell have I been doing? Why am I in situations I do not want to be in? Where the hell is this car going? Who’s driving?”

After that I went through a period of cynicism. It is the worlds fault. I didn’t have a chance, someone should have told me. More in that vein. Then I stepped back,looked at it and I realized I had had good breaks. I had seen things clearly. I had looked at it. And I had decided that I didn’t want to drive. I had decided to be a passenger. Well, you got to go where the driver is going then. You have eliminated all of your other choices.

So I made a plan in four parts. My plan was pretty simple.

One: I will retain all the control over my own life that I can. As long as getting that control doesn’t cause me to hurt someone, doesn’t become all encompassing. Doesn’t make me stop seeing that compromise is a part of life. I have thought out my actions rationally, without simply reacting during the heat of the moment. Man, I thought. There is a lot to do to simply have control over your own life. And how come I have to give up some of that control to have control. Isn’t that the opposite of what I wanted? It is, but it is the way the real world works.

Two: I will set goals and work toward them. In that way the things that are truly important to me are attained. Great. That is great. A clear path to a clear future, to…No. The problem is that we do not live in a vacuum. How do you set your goals and have them remain static? You don’t. At least you don’t if there are people in your life you care about. I remember someone asked me, what are your plans for the future, and I said well I plan to leave here, move to the middle of nowhere and live off the land as best I can. Maybe find someone who wants to do that and that would be great, a perfect life.

As soon as I said the words I knew I was not thinking rationally about it. If I love people that are in my life then they should count when I make plans for the future. Having lived most of my life in the vacuum that is alcoholism I had rarely ever considered others. Tough to admit, but true, so as I was saying the words they became untrue. I realized my family and friends were more important to me than anything else. And I realized I had to permanently alter my thinking. The people you love have to count. Compromise is a part of life. People who are living in the world know all about that. Those that are only in the world don’t really understand that. Which type did I want to be?

Three: Doors. I grew up on the streets. Yes, I grew up with a moral code, but chances are it was not the same moral code that most people that know me grew up with. On the street loyalty was a big deal. Men would say, “Hey, I’d die for you,” and they meant it. You could watch someone do the worst thing in the world and you would keep your mouth shut. Loyalty. It was a code. Somehow the cops became the bad guys and the bad guys became the good guys. Sounds like different subjects, but it isn’t. You are isolated from mainstream society. Disconnected: Mainstream society becomes incomprehensible. It makes no sense at all. Meanwhile the people you deal with come in and out of those doors you have. Those doors you can choose to open or close. Only you are so disconnected that you leave them open all the time and people come in and out. You become a doormat. You understand doormat. Doormat makes perfect sense. Use and be used. Except, when you come off the streets you still have the doors open. Wide open. You let everyone in, some you should, some you shouldn’t. Some who mean you grave harm, some who try to love you, but you don’t understand any of that. You only left the door open and the stuff is happening People are coming and going.

So one of the things I did was shut the doors. Yes, at first, all the way. Then I realized those doors are there for a reason. A door is meant to be opened and closed. On a warm summer night you can crack it a little to let some air in. In the winter you close it to keep the heat in. And life is the same way. Sometimes you can decide to let that person in. Others no. Still others, crack it just a little. Let that breeze in. Maybe leave the screen door shut to keep the insects out. Poor analogies, I know, but I was a street kid. A street kid who was far from stupid, but carried my ignorance like armor. I finally got it though, and I told my self that from now on I would choose how far I would open that door.

Four: The plan. I will sit down and look at what I really want out of life and begin to work toward it. I will realize that, long before I attain it, something might happen that will cause me to want to change my plans. I can not be so rigid that I can not look at it and realize that it needs to be changed. That my needs have changed. That someone in my life has needs that will affect my own needs and that I may have to sit down and do it all over again. Set a new goal. Come up with a new plan; that it’s okay to do that. That if what you are doing no longer makes sense you need to do something else.

That was how I came up with my plan. My plan was a multi year plan. Save my money. Then go in one direction or the other. Land or sea.

Sea: Buy a boat. A big boat. Cast off and spend a few years, as long as I can, sailing. After all, the price of a house, it is about the same.

Land: Buy some land in the mountains. Build another house, I have done that before, and that’s it, retire. Walks in the mountains. Maybe do the Appalachian trails. Live as close to my characters lives in my books as I can.

Then I mentioned it to people in my life. By the time I got their reactions I realized that I may just have to scrap both plans and start over. Not because any of them said anything to dissuade me, but because I realized how much I loved them and would miss them if I did either of those things. How life really is about compromise. After all, I can rent a boat, can’t I? I can rent a cabin in the sticks, can’t I? I can walk the Appalachian trail, I don’t have to live there to do that. So I made a new plan. My new plan is not to make any other plans until I sit down and think about the people I love and how it will impact them and me.

Hope you had a good week…

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MXQ PRO Quad Core Android 7.1 Smart TV Box

Hot MXQ PRO Quad Core Android 7.1 Smart TV Box 1+8GB HDMI WIFI 4K Media Streamer

Ordered this on eBay, I wasn’t expecting much at all.

It sat on my desktop for over a week because I was sure it would turn out to be like my Amazon Firestick; cranky, sucky and I couldn’t get my PLEX server to work on it. It has been like that always.

I was going to get ROKU instead, they are about 35.00 and work great with PLEX, Netflix, etc., but I saw this box and realized if it actually worked I could do a lot more so I paid my $22.00 and waited, and then I was still so convinced it wouldn’t work I let it sit on my desktop.

I would have to take my 40 inch HDTV off the wall, and it is an old one and weighs about eight thousand pounds, okay, maybe not, but it is heavy. Then I would have to plug in an Ethernet cable, and an HDMI cable and the adapter, kick it up after removing the Firestick; which at least allowed me to watch Netflix, and of course it wouldn’t work and I’d spend half the damn night lifting the TV on and off the wall (It’s held on with two drywall screws and I know the day is going to come when the tensile strength of those two screw will prove inefficient and CRASH!!! I will have to make a trip to the big city, find a crackhead and purchase a new/old HDTV on the gray market; probably get arrested and then go to prison where bad things could happen in the shower.) only to have to hook it all back up as it was, file a claim against the seller, ship the box back and wait for my money to come back… Sigh…

However, none of that happened, because I read the directions. I know, novel idea, right? And I’ll probably lose my Man Card when all my male friends find out.

So I took about three minutes to gather the box, Ethernet cable and HDMI cable: Lifted the TV from the custom drywall screw hangers, plugged everything in, turned on the TV and… ? It worked. Wow.

It actually works a hundred times better than my Firestick did, and it will run chrome, so there is my PLEX connection, and IPTV, and since it does the Chrome browser I can access about a 100 open directory movies and series I have links for.

It will work with WIFI, and I have WIFI, but I plugged in a 1 gig Ethernet connection and it flies. Hooked in Netflix and it works great and very fast.

As I said I paid $22.00, here it is (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hot-MXQ-PRO-Quad-Core-Android-7-1-Smart-TV-Box-1-8GB-HDMI-WIFI-4K-Media-Streamer/143356508998? ).

Worth the money and works very well. Accepts SD cards, USB x 4. I hooked in a mini keyboard that has a laptop type finger pad and it works great. As far as Netflix goes, it is near instant, no load time, no lag, the sound is synced perfectly too, the Firestick was way off.

As always, I review what I buy or like, no one pays me to do it and my opinions are my own: I do hope they are helpful, Dell…

Rain in New York

Well, Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: The Zombie Plagues is available now. I gave it away over the weekend. Usually that is about 150 books or so for me, but this came to several hundred. I hope those of you who downloaded it enjoyed it.

I am currently working on Fig Street and Hurricane. Tomorrow I will start work on another Outrunner book. For a guy who dropped out of school and lived on the streets, could not read or write because of that and had to be taught by someone, it amazes me that I spend all of my time either reading or writing now. If I don’t have a book I have either written or intend to write running around my head at any given time, something is wrong.

It’s raining in  New York. Heavy, cold rain. Christmas nearly here and the winter is firmly established. I thought I would share part of my past week with you…

I use Windows Seven for my operating system. Not because I like Windows Seven, but because Linux is not universally accepted yet. So I use Linux as much as I can and then Windows Seven when I have to.

I purchased a new machine a month or so ago and it came with Windows Ten. Oh, I could write a whole blog about how I hate Windows Eight. And I do. It compromises you and your information on every level, because it insists on having it. It insists on knowing everything there is to know about you. Do you have five freckles on the inside of your left thigh? That would be about the only thing it doesn’t ask or know about, but I would not count on the fact that it doesn’t know, it just might. Anyway, for me, too nosy. I buy the software and so I guess that means I am supporting the invasion of my privacy. But I would like it to be more like a car. A Toyota will drive me anywhere I want to go, but, so will a Ford, or a Chevy, or a Dodge, or, well, you get the idea. So why is it we only have Windows? Where the hell is the support for Linux? Or something else? Okay, that’s all I have on that.

So, I deep-sixed the machine I bought because, as it turns out, you can not easily delete Win 8, at least on this machine. It would not allow me to install my Win 7. I struggled with it for a week. I decided in that space of time that there was not any redeeming quality there and so one day I went online, ordered the parts from eBay to fix my old machine. Kicked myself for not doing that first, and once they came I spent a few hours fixing the old machine. Once I was done I unplugged the new machine, stuck it back in the box and slid it under my desk. It made a great foot rest until my mother’s machine locked up the other day.

Moms machine was my old machine. I wrote several short stories and my first novel on that machine, a lawn sale item I had all of 40.00 dollars into. “Well, how would you like a Windows Ten machine, Mom,” I asked? For her it’s great. She is a social animal, Mom is. I think something like 600 face book friends. She has all her on-line shopping places, her Kindle account. Huh, I said to her, people actually use computers to socialize? Mom just laughed at me. She figured out Win 10 immediately and has no problem with it. Humph…

I use Windows Seven and it makes me money, or helps me to make a living. It’s a tool I use to run the software that makes my living, and allows me to access the publishing services I need to be able to make my living. It also allows me to buy and sell on-line if I so choose, use software to listen to music, manipulate my artwork and create Artwork too. Record Music of my own. Read other E-Books (Yes, I read other authors, not just the ones here at independAntwriters). In short I spend a great deal of time in the Windows Seven environment and all I ever do is complain about it, uh, sort of like I am right now. But once I got a load of Win 10 I decided I would embrace Win 7. No more complaints from me.

So, last week I went to Google for a translation for a phrase spoken by one of the characters in  Earth’s Survivors Three: Candace Loi. Candace Loi is Japanese and African American. Her Grandmother spoke Japanese. I remembered the pronunciation for Grand Daughter in Japanese, but did not want to hack the spelling. And, growing up and hearing it, having an idea in my head what it meant, and then what it really means are different things sometimes. I went with Magomusume instead of Mago. Magomusume is more formal, and not really used often. But, I didn’t want to confuse things, it’s not like the character can launch into a long explanation about why it is not usually used in the Gender specific form.

So, I found it, but, when I had searched, it had also shown me a few images of people that indirectly related to my search. Japanese life. Yes, for once, not porn that always seems to pop up, but actual people… With their clothes on. I was awed, and I did something I rarely do, I spent about four hours more on Google looking for more pictures of people from all walks of life. So when you read Earth’s Survivors Three and you reach the point where Candace explains Magomusume you will know that as soon as I wrote that I then spent four or so hours Googling stuff. I went ahead and clicked the ‘Images’ link on Google. Like I said, usually I am Leery of it, but this time I carefully restricted my keywords and was rewarded.

Poor, Gypsies, Vietnamese, Japanese, Native American, African and African American. One simply led to the next. And, why look if you don’t intend to keep? The reason I thought of that is because I know a man who, whenever I visit, has his desktop machine (A MAC, Ironically) set to show different life scenes. And this is on his office machine, so, while I’m waiting, I watch the picture show. I have been there enough times to know the pictures, and so I anticipate certain ones.

I sit in the padded leather chair, in his office, in America, where even the very poor do not starve to death in the streets, or get shot or terrorized by soldiers, or shot, killed and dumped in a ditch somewhere. At least not as the normal course of a day. Violence does happen here too. Having both grown up poor, and spent time actually living on the streets as a teen, I understand that what we see on the surface is only a poor reflection of what is under that surface. But I sit in his padded leather chair and I watch scenes from all over the world. People, Artwork, Animals, Architecture and more. It’s pleasant to watch. Soothing. I suppose it is for him too.

But the images I discovered that day were people who knew nothing at all about me. My life. My computer. The life I lead is so far from their life that it might just be incomprehensible to them. In any case, for most of them, they will never live this type of life. And, they don’t look all that unhappy about the possibility of never living this life to me.

Yes, in some instances I’m sure they are. When their basic rights are violated, when they are oppressed, when they are hungry. Not our version of hungry, I mean when they have not eaten. Maybe for days. So, their life is not all roses, but they don’t miss what they have never thought about, seen, or experienced. And I looked at the pictures and I thought this is what I need to look at every day. This is what can keep me connected to the real world. That is important to me. Being grounded. Staying grounded.

So I spent about four hours and downloaded every picture that I came across that I liked. I put them in a folder and I have added to that folder a few times now when I have thought of other people I would like to see. Then I set my desktop to that folder and voila. I Guess I am bringing it up because it affected  me in some unexpected ways.

First, I have quad monitors, so as I work I can see the pictures change, for the most part. The only time I can’t is when I have something else up on the other monitors. But, I found that I tend to leave a monitor blank most of the time now. And that, throughout my day, I am watching the faces pop up. A mother in Africa with her baby. A band of Gypsies exiled by Hitler before or during the war. He hated them as much as he did the Jewish people. A proud but poor Father in Mexico posing outside of a house most of us would not want to step inside of let alone call home, with his family. All smiling. Looks like they have a lot of love if not money.

A young Native American mother sometime back in the 1700’s staring wide eyed at the camera, her child held in her arms. She looks so young and scared. A little Boy smiling up at the camera, tribal scars on both sides of his face. He looks so happy. His smile is genuine. A mother nursing. Rebels posing with Machine Guns on a road in a jungle somewhere. A young Vietnamese woman making her way through the ruined streets of some Vietnamese city. A Chinese woman with her child on her back, wrapped and looking at the world go by as mom makes her way to where ever she is going. And more…

A family on the road. A father carrying his children. Images of war, images of peace. Images I have no context for, only the people looking into the lens of the camera, or away: Caught unawares. I realized it really was keeping the world in my mind. Why is that father carrying his children? What does that mother feed her children? Do they know about the western world? What do they think about it? I like it. It keeps the world on my mind. The part of the world that is important.

I don’t mean our jobs, bills, house payments aren’t important, I am only saying that people are more important. Seeing these people from all over the world. Some surely still living, some long gone away, keeps me grounded. If only because of what I just said. I know some are gone; and some still here. It reminds me that there were times with my family, friends, I wish I could have back, had cherished more. Some of those people are gone now. If I remember them as I look at the pictures it’s like they never left. And, there are the questions I have for those I see in the pictures  too. It keeps the important things in the world in perspective for me.

It has been an interesting week, and I am glad I made the change. It even makes me grateful, yes, grateful, to Microsoft for this desktop where I can watch those changing pictures. Or whoever came up with the idea. Does that mean I can’t complain about Windows anymore?