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July 23, 2005 S #
At the Summit...
I finished writing my book. It was almost two weeks ago, so that's far enough back that we don't get exclamation points of excitement. But it's written, and it was fun. I've reached the summit, so now I'm hiking back down the mountain. The trip isn't over until you make it back home alive. I have a few friends reviewing / editing it, Katie and Brittany being the primary reviewers among them. Then I get to integrate everybody's comments, and start calling publishers. Fun stuff.
Have you ever seen such intensity?
I've been pretty non-social the last several weekends getting this book done, but I was friendly to anybody who came by. Daryn has some hilarious commercials he's made and posted on his site.
I got some pretty cool pictures around my place when I took an occasional sanity break.
I had to check twice once I noticed that boom going straight through the tree. That's a fun job.
This looks like a fun job also... at least, it would be fun where the weather is always perfect for some good manual labor. Just good digging, lifting, moving things... all the stuff your body was meant to do, and accomplishing something with it. Mountain Biking is fun, but you always end up back at the same place you started, and everything is still the same. After this guy finished, we had new sidewalks.
And people ask why I'm not interested in surfing?
The 4th of July #
Fireworks are always fun. The 4th is always my favorite holiday, but I didn't get much of it this year because I was dead set on finishing my book. A week later I called Justin out at Pilot Training with the Air Force. In the middle of our conversation he had to stop and stand at attention while they played the National Anthem on the base. I heard the anthem played through his cell phone, right there at the training grounds for the people keeping our country safe. That was my 4th of July. A daily routine for the military bases. It really stands in contrast to the daily routine of complaining by some who rely on soldiers to earn their freedom to slander soldiers for earning it. War isn't an ideal form of keeping the peace, but it doesn't take much history to show that the are tyrants who won't be stopped by talking. Hearing the anthem muffled through a cell phone meant more than any parade.
Yes, the 4th is by far my favorite holiday. A celebration of the conditions we've earned to work and play as we choose; to live the lives we're willing to earn and enjoy.
I'm not a patriot for the team called "America," I'm a patriot for Life, Liberty, and Property. Being 200 years past the event, it's easy to forget how blatantly illegal the whole American Revolution was. The founders of this country didn't start their lives being "American." They started and lived their lives considering themselves English. However, they believed in the principles of Liberty and their right to their Property. They earned their own way, and allowed others to earn their own way. They didn't fight so they could "sacrifice their lives for their country." They fought for the right to earn what they were willing to work for, and to keep what they earned. They wanted that right for themselves, and granted that right to others willing to share that right. They didn't share their prosperity, they shared their rights. As they shared the right to earn and keep what they wanted, prosperity began to abound. Unfortunately, there are people who won't take responsibility for their rights, or are unwilling to share those rights with others. When they won't be stopped by talking, physical power become the only way to maintain the rights we claim and share.
The 4th isn't a celebration of our power to defend ourselves. The 4th is a celebration of our success in sharing our rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.
I ended up in Las Vegas last weekend. My cousin Rachelle got hooked up with free tickets to some concert and a free hotel, and called just before I left for work on Friday. I said OK, threw some stuff in my car, and split.
Diego and I had been planning on taking a weekend to go climbing anyway, so this worked out well.
From the top of one of the climbs.
This corridor in Red Rocks Nevada is cool... literally. It got up to 115 degrees that day, but from 6am to 10am, it's safe in here. It's a perfect series of 5.9's to 5.11's. Great climbing.
Check out those clouds in the sky. Pictures are cool because you notice things you don't notice while there.
That whole corridor is hidden back in this stack of rocks. I would've never guessed there was climbing back there.
Mike convinced us to go Bungy Jumping. This shot here is Doug.
This little Video Clip is Mike plunging . It was his 4th time. It's getting dark, so you can't see anything until a black silhouette suddenly drops in.
I always thought Bungy Jumping would be overrated. It's not. It was a blast. Back in high school, I'm glad I spent my money on climbing gear instead of a jump, but now that I'm making more money and have less time to climb, it was totally worth it.
Doug (above) and Mike (below) had no intentions of coming to Vegas when they woke up. They gave in at work when I suggested they come.
The coolest part of this picture is it was totally a bad shot. The background was almost black, and Mike was beyond bright. But I was able to doctor it up to where it's now legible. I love image filters.
And this make my other cousin Alex look like the Devil.
Mike insisted we catch a water show at the Bellagio before we left. It's worth seeing if you're ever passing through. They're every half hour from noon until midnight.
Writing a Book #
I learned something ... well, a few things, while getting closer to finishing this book.
While writing for myself, I can write whatever is interesting to me, and I can use words and phrases that only I understand. While writing for others, I am seeking to write according to their interest and understanding. Finding where these four objectives coincide is the goal. If the thoughts aren't interesting to me, I won't enjoy writing, and consequently the reader won't enjoy it either. That's a useful thing to understand. If I'm not having fun, then I know that I'm not producing good writing. It makes a good filter for what to include and what to discard.
The second half is the more difficult part, writing according to a readers understanding. I have to use terminology they understand, and keep thoughts flowing in a path they can easily follow. If there is a concept or terminology that they may not already understand, then I have to illustrate that concept / terminology. This is where books can become very, very, very long. It often takes a lot of background to define the meaning of a word, when applied to a particular context. To fully and accurately illustrate a new concept of behavior, motivation, interaction, and so forth... it can take a whole lot of writing. That being the case, often the best thing to do is simply bypass the concept. It's a disappointing thing to do, but when I acknowledge that the reader probably isn't sufficiently interested in a supporting concept to spend an extra 30 minutes reading about it, it becomes clear that it doesn't belong in the book. Just because this concept is very valuable and interesting to me doesn't mean that the reader will share that interest. Furthermore, I need the ability to write clearly enough that they will be able to understand adequately. It can be a difficult thing to illustrate an abstract concept unambiguously.
The scenario is comparable to people's relative interest in climbing a mountain. They're interested in pictures from the summit, and maybe a good three minute story of dealing with a raging storm, but they're not interested enough to climb the mountain themselves. They don't want the full understanding of the experience. They just want to understand the highlights. They'll never fully understand what it is to experience the story they're being told, but they're content to estimate what the experience probably feels like, by extrapolating from their own related experiences.
I enjoy the challenge of illustrating a story that coincides with the interest and understanding of myself and others, but I was reminded how I enjoy writing for my own interest and understanding. This especially hit me when I re-read this section on Do What You're Passionate About, after I had already decided that I couldn't include it. But I was able to justify including this section on Being Interested by Circumstance. If I could justify a whole chapter on Being Interested by Circumstance, I would have done it. But that would have only lost and bored most readers, and that isn't my objective. Often, I just enjoy writing things like this from last night, sorting out things so I have a handle to understand what I want to do with my life.
July 27, 2005 W #
My married friends have been sending pictures of their kids lately. I guess I can't blame them. If I had kids I'd probably be throwing pictures of them all over this blog. But it's fun getting pics and updates from time to time.
These two are Kate and Isaac Stahlecker, the offspring of Shonn and Tisha. Shonn and I have been buds since... sometime back in early high school. The first time Tisha came into the picture was at BYU. It was at one of those dances that are sometimes a lot of fun, and sometimes really lame. A Halloween dance actually, so everyone was in costumes. Shonn had been attracted to her for a while, but he was too chicken to talk to her. Tisha was certainly pretty, so I asked her to dance. She was fun too. I must have been drastically out-classed though, because Shonn didn't wait much longer to dance with her, and they ended up taking a long walk home that night. Now look at what happened.
July 29, 2005 F #
Thoughtless Intentions Gone Awry
When people don't think, or can't think, waste and digression are bound to happen.
When I left work today, there were two managers, three engineers, and two technicians, all standing around doing nothing.; stopped dead in their tracks, waiting.. We have a major test on our payload coming up soon, so they were moving the necessary test equipment into our thermal-vac chamber. All our other preparations bottleneck around this simple installation. This isn't flight hardware, just test equipment for communicating with the payload. They have their procedures to follow, and they were doing so, when out of the blue they get a phone call from a lady in the control room where I was programming.
"What are you doing? You can't do that without DCMA here. You have to stop until DCMA gets here."
DCMA has nothing to do with this equipment, or moving it, and if they did, they couldn't do anything but stand and watch while the same crew moved it in the same way.
I don't know how this lady hasn't been laid off. Her function is to stamp procedure steps in a book when other people have completed them. It's a quality assurance measure. The theory behind her role is good, but when you put a brainless person in any role, the role become a liability. She doesn't have the understanding to know if the person actually did the step or not. She just puts her stamp on papers when people tell her it's time, and raises a fuss if all the circles don't have stamps in them. She lacks the mental capacity to understand the equipment, and along with that, she lacks the mental capacity to understand the results of her actions. And no, I'm not exaggerating.
Now that we've identified her uselessness, we'll move on to her personality.
She's a nice lady. She's happy 90% of the time, is quick to laugh, and doesn't complain much. She enjoys doing her job, and enjoys doing what she feels is a good job. Wonderful traits in a person... but she entirely lacks any kind of mental foresight. Just being in the room with her, you can feel her beaming full of innocent girl scout pride in what she is doing. She loves talking to people, and loves following rules. Following rules makes her feel great.
Today, she saw an opportunity to do what she enjoys, and she took it. She got to talk with people, and follow a potentially existent rule. I live the same way, but by what I enjoy. I like exploring, and if there isn't an insurmountable obstacle stopping me from exploring something, I'll dive in. With this lady, if there isn't a rule saying a potential rule doesn't apply, then she'll apply that rule to everybody around her. It's what she enjoys.
This lady doesn't think about what she intends to accomplish by her actions. Of course her expressed intention is to make the program work, but she doesn't think about her concrete intentions, or rather, the results of her actions. She just does what feels good. Are her actions useful to anybody? No. Not at all. They are frequently an impedance. She's not smart enough for her rule following to be useful. By the time I left, she had already cost the schedule two hours... and did so right in the middle of smooth running progress. It isn't her intention to retard progress, but those are the immediate and long term results of her actions.
This is why I spend the time I do evaluating my decisions and actions. Just because I'm smarter than this lady does not make me immune to innocently causing negative repercussions. Even though I can see further down the trail than her, we're still as good as blind if we don't have a compass. I evaluate my intentions for both the immediate and extended scenarios. I consider the results for their influence through time, and through the systems that will be influenced. All these things interrelate, and are all affected by the actions of all individuals living throughout them. I try to avoid being an idiot, and hope that others make the same effort.
Further on this thought...
The Aerospace Industry Future (Vacuum)
The average age in the Aerospace Industry right now is 54 years old. The way averages work, it takes three 64 year old engineers to average out a single 24 year old. It takes six 59 year old engineers to balance out another 24 year old engineer. That's 10 old guys for two young guys. This is an old industry. No wonder we have so many managers and so few real engineers.
This industry is going to be experiencing a tremendous vacuum of talent over the next decade.
There are two things I see that can happen.
1) The vacuum gets filled by young talent.
2) The infrastructure collapses under the pressure of the vacuum.
This is an opening for a lengthy discussion about several things worth considering for anybody going into engineering, and especially anybody remotely interested in Aerospace. The commanders of the industry will soon be retiring. Likewise, much of their work is rapidly becoming obsolete. We have entered a new space age. We have entered a new age of warfare. We have entered a new age of not only communication, but of intelligence. We can command more activity with fewer people, but we need smarter people at the helm of that command.
The one certainty I see in the coming Aerospace Industry is instability. Wherever there is instability, there is opportunity. The old structures will be fighting to keep themselves alive, and they have existing strongholds at their advantage. There will be new ground to be broken and claimed by competitors rising in the industry. The consumers of the industry will likewise have to find the changes in their needs, which changes will not always be easily apparent. Our generation is right here at a turning point similar to that experienced fifty years ago. Many individuals will decide what we build from the opportunity.
* * *
Maybe I'll use this space for something.