The Good Idea Cutoff Time…..

This is one of those posts that applies across a number of sectors, although in this particular case, it has to do with a project that I am working on. There are many sayings in the military that carry over into civilian life or are also used in standard civilian management teaching. Two of them are, “Setting a good idea cut-off time,” and the related concept of, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”  As anyone who has ever planned an event or put together a project knows, the closer you get to a deadline, introducing new ideas can cause everything from minor irritation to outright chaos. Yes, something can come up at the last minute, and yes, sometimes a really good idea did get overlooked, but at some point, in order to effectively plan and execute a plan (or complete a project and have time to properly edit/proof it), you have to stop adding in new ideas. I also agree that there are some forums that allow for last-minute/second changes so this rule might not apply, but in most cases, you do need to set a good idea cut-off time and be very careful about who you designate to permit additions after that. You do want someone to be able to permit additions to minimize the risk of rigidly rejecting what truly is an excellent idea when there actually is time to squeak it in.

As for the “good versus perfect” warning, that is not necessarily the same thing as, “Good enough for government work.” The core point is that while perfection is very important in certain mathematical, mechanical, scientific, and structural endeavors, many things in life can often be made better, but still be good enough at a certain stage. In this case, as I come to the end with a writing project, there is the temptation to do another revision, although in truth, the current is good and there will be future editions. Ergo, it is time to allow the good to move forward and not keep changing words, phrases, or swapping out photographs.

Accomodating,Acquiesing, and Doormat………

Let’s be real here – most of us say “Yes” at times when we want to say “No” for a variety of reasons. We’re accommodating someone because it isn’t terribly inconvenient or because there could be something beneficial in it at some point or because you are caught in a weak moment. We acquiesce at times because there can be that one person with such “puppy dog eyes”, the plea, or whatever other “guilt button” is pushed to make you feel like a total jerk if you say no. The problem can arise when saying “Yes” when you want to say “No” becomes such a habit that everyone begins to assume you will agree and makes their plans based upon the belief that you can be depended on without giving it a second thought. Worse is if you say “Yes” only because your think “they” won’t  like you any more if you say no. Therein lies the difference and while it may seem to be a subtle difference, it is important to know the difference. I’ve posted before about hating to turn people down (well, most people) and that has definitely stretched me to my limits upon occasion. (My husband and I differ on how often that happens, but it is my post, so I can say, “only occasionally” with a straight face.) For me, I can be seriously overloaded for about two months at a time and manage, but if it starts to creep beyond that, the stress level escalates exponentially and that’s when I know that I have to get back in control again. I have learned this through a difficult process and accept it as the reality that it is. I only need about a week of “breathing room” and I can go back to saying “yes” more often than perhaps I should, but not more than I can cope with. What say you, readers? Do you have a specific “straw and camel’s back” criteria or does it depend on the situation?

Those Blurry Lines…….

Alert! Musing content trending toward serious. In the miniseries, “Lonesome Dove”, the two main characters of Gus and Call were former Texas Rangers as was a third friend, Jake. Of the three, Call was the most rigid when it came to questions of good and bad, Gus was more philosophical and Jake tended to get into more trouble than the others. At one point in the series, Jake strikes out on his own, but it is dangerous territory and he winds up with two men who are in fact not averse to theft and murder. This was not Jake’s intent of course and as the tragedy unfolds, Gus and Call are forced to acknowledge that Jake is involved. During the intensifying situation, Jake protests his innocence about “having crossed the line”, with the exclamation of, “I didn’t see no line. I was just trying to get through the territory.” (Or words to that effect)

That is an incredibly accurate description for so many of us about many things. Seeing the line between right and wrong is often difficult and like in a rapid sport, it can be easy to step across the line before you realize it. In the realm of “right and wrong” though there is the complication of lines being blurred when you ask yourself honestly where a particular line is. Does the line exist because you believe it to, or because you have generally accepted it as a line? Does a line now exist where it did not before or vice-versa? What we once believed to be harmless fun, we might now come to see is hurtful. Or perhaps something that we once thought was inappropriate, we now put into perspective as no big deal. Yet in the desire to be “non-judgmental” do we run the risk of losing all standards? And where does “sticking to your principles” become an unwillingness to honestly examine a position to see if perhaps you should change? No easy answers here, are there?


If You Know People in the Arts…..

Light House in Biscayne National Park

Light House in Biscayne National Park

I attended a luncheon yesterday where the presentation was about the Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE) Program through the National Parks Service (NPS); in this case, specifically for the Everglades. For those who don’t know, we  actually sit between two National Parks – the Everglades and Biscayne, but most of Biscayne is on and under the water. Anyway, the Everglades is visited by millions of people each year and there are multiple entrances. It covers an incredible number of acres and has fascinating ecosystems throughout the area. The point to this post though is that in 2001, the Everglades began participating in the Artists in Residence Program where artists in many different mediums may apply to live and work in the park for a full calendar month. They are provided access to sections of the park sometimes restricted to visitors, and how much or little they choose to interact with the public and the park personnel while in residence is up to them. Visual artists are the logical choice, yet writers, musicians and even dancers are included as eligible. The artist agrees to base at least one work related to their stay and provide that piece to the Park within one year of completing the program. They are welcome to create more than one work and do as they wish with them if there are multiple works.

Since last year was the 10th anniversary of AIRIE in the Everglades, they had a special exhibit of quite a body of work. It is certainly an intriguing program and has become quite competitive. The web site for this specific program is www.aire,org and information about other parks can be found through an internet search of the National Parks System.

It certainly isn’t for everyone, yet it might be exactly the thing for someone you know.

Why You Find Mistakes in Books…..

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about how tricky it really is to edit a book. To start with, there are two types of edits – content and grammatical. The relationship between an author and editor is like many other relationships and there is a chemistry involved. I made the mistake in my first book in thinking that I could self -edit and discovered that while there may well be some authors who can, I am not one of them. As best I can discern, I can get to about the 85% mark when it comes to the grammatical edit and rarely any better than that. The primary reason is because as I work with a manuscript, I know what should be there and it becomes too easy to read what you think is there as opposed to what is actually on the page. For example, when typing, it is so easy for “she” to become “he” and it will slide by Spellcheck because it is both spelled and used correctly. It is not, however, correct according to the context.

Backing up though to content editing. Having that other set of eyes is vital. The way you portray a character, a scene, the flow of events can be viewed remarkably different than you intended at times and that is what a good editor does for you. That is also where the chemistry comes in. If you and your editor are not on at least the same sheet of music as to tone and style, then it isn’t likely to be a good match. If the editor is suggesting changes practically on every page, that’s an indicator that it probably isn’t going to work well. On the other hand, if you have a character respond in a certain way to a situation and the editor points out that it seems out of character based on his/her view of that character, then the editor may be correct and it’s something to consider changing. And the bottom line truth is virtually all first-time authors will need a professional editor. Okay, circling around again as to why you find errors sometimes in even best-selling authors’ books published by big publishers. Depending on how many different edits – there are usually three to four – items get overlooked because as you get closer to “print” time, it is easy to miss the stray “he” that should be “she” and after all, by this stage if there really was an error, wouldn’t someone else have caught it? So, the next time, you’re reading along and a mistake jumps out at you and you think, “How did they miss that?”, you know the likely answer.


Adults Make Trade-offs…….

Serious Content Alert! In a number of conversations over the past few weeks, I have solidified my belief that goals, dreams, and fantasies are a good way to measure maturity. One has dreams and sets goals to achieve those dreams and who doesn’t enjoy thinking how one would spend that $560 million dollar lottery winning? I’ve written other posts on this subject before, yet there are constant permutations to the theme. Recent events have caused us to once again take a look at plans we’d made for our future and begin to make some adjustments. Those are not the subject of this post since a) we’re just beginning that process, and b) multiple factors are involved and we don’t know for sure how they will play out.

The point, however, is that in the real world where most of us dwell, a time comes when it is important to differentiate between dreams and fantasies. Mature thinking means that you sit and realize, “Okay, this is the likely scenario of what our real resources are and what we can accomplish/have/do.” Clinging to a fantasy of what you want to have “someday” even when you are faced with limited resources of money, time, or availability, is a path to disappointment and stress. In some cases, it can also damage relationships as you seek to “blame someone or something for preventing you from having what you want.” That, my friends, does not always mean giving up on a dream – there are times when some adjustment, a slightly new angle of looking at something, a change here or there might still make it happen. However, you may also have to take a hard look at, is it a dream, or has it crossed into the realm of fantasy? Years ago when I had my ROTC assignment, there was a sign in the Business Department that said, “1968 – If I could just make $40,000 a year, I’d be on Easy Street. 1988 – They moved Easy Street.”

If you are indeed faced with Easy Street (or whatever the equivalent is in your situation), having moved, it’s moved. Do you work longer, do you change some plans you had, do you adjust some priorities? These are trade-offs, and for your and your spouse/partner/significant other’s, sake if you are required to make some of those serious trade-offs, then do so consciously in the least painful way possible and then understand it for what it is. Genuinely come to terms with it and understand that a little grieving may even be in order. The loss of a dream is a loss. Not on the scale with some others, but there can definitely be a pang of longing. It’s better to feel and recognize that moment of sorrow than to bury the resentment where it might well fester. Life happens and letting go of the dream of making a cruise around the world doesn’t mean you can’t take shorter trips to other places you’d like to visit. Will it be the same? No? It means you add that cruise to your fantasy list and enjoy the good things in life that you do have,

Crashing on Deadlines…..

This will be closer to a tweet than a blog because I am in my second straight week of crashing on what was two and became three critical deadlines all due by either yesterday or today. More to follow with a decent post tomorrow that will be entitled, “Making Trade-offs (Updated)” since that topic is closely aligned with what is going on at the moment. Ah well, we can’t always control the timing of things around us.

Root of Responsibility……..

Musing content alert! We are fans of the series, “Game of Thrones”, although we haven’t read the books because, quite frankly, I tried and the body count was simply too much for my taste. The series is bad enough with that and I will attempt to be careful in writing this so that if someone hasn’t watched the last few episodes, it won’t be a spoiler.

As a quick summation, the “Game of Thrones” refers to the constant jostling among the seven major houses (kingdoms) as to who will rule and sit on the Iron Throne. The king who had brought everyone more or less into line died and an event occurred that caused a war to erupt with the claim that the very young (and quite unbalanced) King is not the rightful heir. His maternal line is the powerful house of Lannister and so far, they’re managing pretty well to retain their hold on power. It is the grandfather who not only wields the real power, but who understands the machinations and has outmaneuvered those he considers a threat. Which brings me to the point of the blog.

In the season finale, a brutal event is set into motion by the grandfather and one of his sons questions the lack of honor in the action. “I did it to stop this war,” is the answer. “Why is it considered more honorable for 10,000 men to die on a battlefield than for a dozen to die thusly?” (I just paraphrased that). Okay, that would seem to be a good question and you think, well, yes, perhaps that would be justified. Except – the core point is that while the war was launched by another house, it was the specific action of the young King that precipitated the response. And, if the grandfather was willing to face the truth, he would learn that perhaps the young King’s hold on the throne is in fact dubious at best. Ergo, his claim of desire to end the war (while ensuring his family stays in power) fails to address where the actual responsibility lies.

I will grant that in this scenario, admission of responsibility is likely to end in significant bloodshed, but in the metaphorical sense, the “bloodshed” can mean adverse career or relationship impact. It is, too often, the wish to avoid those impacts that cause individuals to obscure responsibility when an action he or she goes badly.

When You Want a Sports Bar……

Keg South, Hwy 1, Homestead

Keg South, Hwy 1, Homestead

When it comes to a hard business to run, restaurants are right up there at the top. There are so many different things to juggle that have nothing to do with your ability to cook or how much you enjoy dining out. So we always have a fond spot in our hearts when someone takes that big step and is willing to put their heart and soul into making a place a go of it. Keg South is a local sports bar that we knew about and had intended to visit, but also had in the “Get around to it” category. I had written a piece about them for the weekly paper, but had been there around 11:00 in the morning – too early for a burger and beer. Our actual first time to visit was in fact connected to a radio show.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, my husband is a big NASCAR fan. And the Country and Western station, FM 100.3, Thunder Country, does a live broadcast, “The Octane Hour”, every Thursday at Keg South at 7:00 p.m. While the show is devoted to NASCAR, they also provide generous time to community and non-profit event promotion. I have been involved with several such events during the past year and so have been on the show multiple times. A lot of guests of course just come to do their spot, then head out, but for us, it was the perfect combination – supporting whatever cause it was, a little publicity for me as a writer, an hour of NASCAR talk for my husband, cold beer, excellent wings and burgers. I mean, what’s not to like? Keg South is in fact, a family place as much as it is a sports bar and there is nothing fancy about it. What it does have is good food run by a good guy who has much of his family involved with helping to run the place. The guy took it over from a man who had, quite frankly, let it slide apparently and he’s been re-building ever sense. He’s made it past that tricky first two years and that’s important. So if you’re in the mood for the environment of a sports bar – Keg South is a good one to pick.

Interesting Walk This Morning……

One of the pleasures in walking here – other than the fact that it is very flat – is the wonderful fauna and flora that I often mention in either a post or a tweet. Today was no exception, although some encounters are more enjoyable than others. There is the large flock of green parrots that lives in the general neighborhood, so that we have them fly overhead a couple of times a day and I always see them when I walk. The number that I see tends to be the only question. Today, for some reason, there were more than I could count – some flying quite low. They gathered in a couple of trees though and were so well camouflaged that I could hear them squawking away, but could see only one or two. That was fine and then as I was passing by, there was this intriguing reptile that I had seen once before. I’m not entirely sure what he is and he won’t stay still long enough for me to get a photo. He is either a really juvenile iguana or perhaps another reptile in that family. He’s too large to be a lizard unless it’s one I am just not familiar with and he is very bright green. The neighborhood flock of ibis was also poking around in a couple of the yards.

While I very much enjoyed all of the above, the snake in the grass – literally – I didn’t get such a kick out of and the two rats I saw scurrying from one clump of bushes to another, definitely not. On the other hand, perhaps the snake could make his way to where the rats were. It wasn’t a very large snake though so I don’t think he could take them. As I said, you never quite know what you will see around this place.