Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

The following is a post I wrote for my previous blog when we were in China adopting our daughter in late 2010. Remembering it makes me laugh – maybe it’ll do the same for you.

When one culture attempts to translate their language into another for the benefit of tourists from a second culture, there will inevitably be some degree of confusion.  In some cases, that confusion can manifest itself into high comedy. (more…)

The Published Writer

Today, I got published.

No, not six-figure book deal, private jet, book tour published.

Not self-published on this site either, where I control the editorial staff with an iron fist.

But published – somewhere else.

Somewhere that someone else controls – which requires knowing somebody on the inside. (more…)

Clean Your Plate

My parents grew up during the Great Depression.

That experience taught them the importance of not wasting anything – and they passed that on to me.

At meals, they impressed upon me the fact that somewhere in the world, starving kids would be happy to have leftover boiled potatoes (again?!?), so I’d better eat mine.

I took that lesson to heart, and now I have an innate aversion to throwing food away.

I hate wasting food, so I always clean my plate.

The problem is that I used to load my plate with more food than I really needed, which sadly caused my waistband to expand at an alarming rate, and led to an urgent need to change my behavior. (more…)

Let Them Eat Cake – In Their Underwear

Today my lovely bride and I went to the mall to get me some new clothes. I’ve lost 26 pounds in the last 60 days, which made my slacks a bit saggy, so she insisted. On our way back to the car, we walked past Victoria’s Secret (which, in case you didn’t know, is a place where women go to purchase frilly covers for their naughty bits).

Victoria’s Secret is in the habit of plastering their storefront with skyscraper sized posters of happy-go-lucky underwear models, photographically frozen in various poses specifically staged to not look staged. Whenever we pass this store, I make it a point to look the other way, while my wife makes a point of making sure I look the other way. But today, one poster in particular annoyed her more than usual. Once we were safely in the car, she asked me:

“Did you see the model eating cake?” (more…)

“Spread Out!!”

In the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way But Loose, Cholla, the leader of a gang of outlaw bikers called The Black Widows, always barks the same order when his men make their entrance to a scene and dismount from their hogs:


This is pretty good tactical advice, if you’re expecting a fight and you don’t want to get bottled up in a corner. It allows you to cover the exits, prevents opponents from easily flanking you, and establishes control over a wider area.

The only problem with the tactic was that Cholla’s men were idiots. (more…)

Let It Out

Completely drained.

That’s how I felt about writing today.

As I opened my laptop this evening to write something – anything – I realized that my heart just wasn’t in it.

I’m still struggling with yesterday’s news, and the struggle has seriously impaired my enthusiasm for writing.

Tragedy has a way of stealing the joy from every area of your daily life, to the point that you don’t want to do much of anything for a while.

It tends to lock you in place, and threatens to hold you there.

You lose focus, and begin to dwell on the loss, the sadness, the pointlessness of it all.

I did a bit of that today, and in the midst of my funk, I couldn’t find a good reason to write.

Then I thought about what helped me through yesterday.

Writing. (more…)

Requiem For an Old Friend

Yesterday, an old friend lost his life.

And though I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in more than 17 years, the news today still hit me like a kick in the gut.

We weren’t close friends.

But we were brothers in arms – stationed together in the military, we shared a common experience and a lot of good times. We shared good friends, people who knew each of us better than we knew each other, and that seemingly thin bond made us a permanent part of each other’s life story.

We shared beers, barbecue and very similar work experiences – and when it came time for me to leave the Air Force for civilian life, we went our separate ways. (more…)

Significant Progress

I mentioned in an earlier post how writing every day for this site had unexpected side benefits.

I had been using Klok to track my time working on editing projects, and found it to be very helpful. After I started the writing challenge, it occurred to me that tracking my time on other projects just made sense – so I started tracking them with Klok, too.

That was February 22nd.

Before then, I had absolutely no idea how much time I was spending on (more…)

Delirium Cogitans

How do you know when a habit becomes an addiction?

It’s when the cessation of that habit causes discomfort, pain or irritation – real or otherwise.

For example, I am hopelessly addicted to coffee – which I lovingly refer to as the elixir of life. If I attempt to abandon coffee for even a short period of time, say two hours after I wake up in the morning – I‘ll suffer crushing headaches and a general feeling of anxiety. Give me my coffee, though, and my head stops hurting, the clouds part, and the world looks like a much better place.

I know I’m addicted to the stuff, and I know addiction is generally a bad state of being, but quitting coffee (at least right now) is pretty low on my list of self-improvement needs.

I have thought about it, though. (more…)

Trust Yourself, and Believe

William Kamkwamba could have surrendered.

He could have listened to the people around him who said it couldn’t be done.

He didn’t.

William lived in abject poverty in Malawi during one of the worst famines in that country’s history. They had so little food, at one point they were forced to eat the corn husks they collected from the parched fields near their home. His family couldn’t afford the $80 tuition needed to keep him in school, so he had to quit.

He had almost no education, no money and no way out. (more…)