Adversity to opportunity

About a month before I wrote this post I decided to take a break from doing the blogs. It was actually kind of a hard decision. I like doing my blogs, but other parts of the whole writing thing, and the rest of my life in general needed to be brought back under control. So, I did the hard thing and set down the blogs and got everything relatively back in order. And now I’m back…

Some of what went on in that time is documented here in my Forever Mountain Publishing blog. Other things might end up there eventually, but there are definitely changes that will be reflected here… I have decided after serious consideration that I owe it to myself, my faith, and you, my dear reader, to be braver in what I say; to really stand up for truth and not be lukewarm in what I say and do.

This blog is named Words Mean Stuff. I named it that because I believe words and thoughts have meaning and I always need to be making mine better.

So what are you going to do?

Well, as I said, I’m going to be braver in standing up for truth. I am also going to endeavor to be more focused on meaning, understanding and the choices we make. I need to do this dear reader; because, the knowledge and understanding we acquire, and the choices we make, are the only things we really own. We have our understanding of things, our ability to learn, our divinely given right and ability to make choices; and we have the consequences of our choices. That is really about it for the things that really belong to us in this life. And these are the things I need to talk about.

And you know what…?

Sometimes the things that seem bad can really be good, if you use your intellect and choose to respond to them in the right way.

An example…

One of the areas I’ve been working on is videos for my YouTube channel. Several of those videos require the use of my good old hard working rock tumbler…


Unfortunately I kind of put a hole in this cheap little nothing part that the machine just won’t work without….

At that moment the thought process went something like this:

Now I have to buy a new one, but the shipping is going to cost more than the part.

Can I find one on Amazon? If I can then maybe I can get free shipping… Yes, but there is still a time factor and I kind of want my machine back in action now…

Um, hey…! This thing is rubber kind of like the inner tubes on my bike. What if I used a patch kit to fix it?

I need to replace the patch kit for my bike too, so it’s still costing money.

Yes, but less than the new part and shipping. And it will probably get me running again until I can actually get the right part.

Hmm… The kit is available pretty close to me… I think I can do this!

And so… I chose to take the action that would get my shop running again and keep me moving. No, it isn’t a perfect solution, but it is definitely better than sitting around wailing and gnashing my teeth, or playing around with my tablet until a new part gets here (which probably wouldn’t happen at all if I was too busy messing around on the internet to order one…).

And then it hit me… I do shop experiments on the YouTube channel, it’s a lot of what I’m working on right now. What if I treat the patch plan as a shop experiment and make a video?

And there it was, the ‘show stopper’ problem with a ‘nothing’ part that was going to be more expensive to ship than to buy was actually a chance to learn and try something new, and an opportunity to add another video to my list (which was what the machine was helping me do in the first place!). Because I thought and sought to make the best decision I could I bought myself time to include the part in a larger order (which brings the individual shipping cost down); I got my shop running again faster (which means I get more done); and I found a new video to go up on the channel!

And… In the process of figuring out how to shoot that video I found a new setup that will help me do other videos better in the future!

So there you have it

Life happens dear reader. Good and bad things happen in our lives, but it is often the choices that we make and the knowledge we apply that determine whether an event is a show stopping problem or an exciting opportunity.

How we choose to interpret and react to the things in our lives; how we choose to use the things we know and learn in solving the problems we face; that is what this blog is about.

That’s it for this one dear reader. For now… Go, learn and do; and I’ll see you next week.


February 2018

As much as I love what I do… I occasionally find myself at that place where a project is behind, two more just got dumped into the time line, and naturally everything is an A1 priority. This usually happens when my wife is just adjusting to teaching a new class,  my doctor just proscribed antibiotics (without me even asking for them), and other family members are sending me emails containing exciting terms like “through and through puncture”….

So, I’m going to go see if I can find a couple of bigger cans (do they make a 110 gallon drum?) and try recanning a couple of these cans of worms (or at least get the projects under control). Hopefully I will be back with some good posts and good things to share in March. See you then dear reader!

Recreating the beach?

Long time readers of this blog know that I have also started a You Tube channel to support some of my writing. Well, I’m back at it with some new videos and as much as I hate to admit it I’m finding myself reopening the can of worms known as craft writing.

At the time of this writing I have also just released my first new video of the year, one talking about making your own ‘beach’ glass. It’s something that’s gotten a bit of a response on my channel and so I’m finding that I need to do some of the other projects I’d considered in the area. (Check out the video… and maybe a few of the others on my channel… Seeing this stuff explains what I’m doing over there better than I’m going to do it in this post…)

This isn’t a long post dear reader, but the take home is heartfelt. Sometimes the way forward is to move forward into new things. Sometimes the way forward is to go back and revisit the things you’ve done before. In any case the thing is to move forward.

So, we’re back to making stuff and back to doing videos. And you can expect to hear more about it in the future dear reader.

See you next week.


Don’t want to be bored? Don’t be boring…

Back in November I was working on a novel and the soundtrack that I listen to when writing and editing for that series. In the process I rediscovered some old friends the Pet Shop Boys. In particular I was struck … Continue reading


Being brave

I know a lot of people who work very hard. Don’t get me wrong hard work can be a good thing, but have you ever known someone to work hard simply to avoid doing something that scares them? I know a few people like that too…

Hard work can be a good thing, but sometimes it’s more of an effort at evasion than something that will actually give us the progress we want. Sometimes hard work is just a way to avoid scary work.

Scary work

At the local university I know a number of professors that will do all sorts of unnecessary calculations and manipulations to avoid learning how to use the gradebook in the universities online learning management system.

I had an uncle who repeatedly got demoted because the scut jobs that low ranking enlisted men did scared him less than actually having to be in charge of anything.

I myself have occasionally been known to mark a project as ‘needing more research’ just because I was unwilling to actually go on the record and do something.

We all have things that scare us. Sometimes that fear is a quite rational thing. Some situations are dangerous to life and limb. But, sometimes that fear is because we are about to expose our own weaknesses: the things we’re not good at, the things we don’t know, the things we might be wrong about, and so on.

The really dangerous scary things should sometimes be avoided, but sometimes they are absolutely necessary. Yes, facing off against a rabid animal might be scary, but if you’re doing it to save your child it’s important.

The second set of scary things includes our opportunities for growth, our chances to exceed what we have done before and become better. That kind of scary is marking the things that will probably be hard work (in the beginning at least), but have the potential to pay off big. You really might want to do those…

Scary not edgy

Scary doesn’t necessarily mean edgy.

Scary includes things that we are afraid of doing. Edgy might include those as well, but also includes things that are just flirting with poor taste.

Doing edgy things is something performers do to get attention.

Doing scary things can lead to growth.

It is really a question of purpose and discernment. Do you need to be doing X? If so why?

If your purpose is good, then do it.

If your purpose is just to get a rise out of someone, then you might want to reconsider.

Doing hard things can be good. It certainly isn’t anything to be ashamed of.

Doing edgy things may attract attention. But they might not be worth it in the long run.

It’s doing the scary things that helps us grow.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Next time…

What can we learn from a song?



This Sunday is not just any Sunday. It’s Christmas Eve. There are many people in our country for whom Christmas is a genuine religious holiday. There are also those for whom it is not a holiday, including a subset that tends to be offended by Christmas, the idea of Christmas, or anything related to Christmas. If your intention in reading this is to find fault and/or reason for offence I invite you to go elsewhere, you have been warned and your wrath is not needed. If you intention isn’t to cause harm or contention you are welcome here regardless of who you are and what you believe; please read on!

Christmas is a Christian holiday and a day that has some definite conflict around it, which saddens me because Christmas is never and was never about conflict. It is about the good in people and bringing good into our world. To borrow from a Christmas carol, Christmas is about peace on earth and good will toward all people. It is a time for home and family, and helping those around you.

Christmas is about giving not receiving. It is also about being grateful for what we have been given and those who have given to us, which is best marked by ‘paying it forward’ (I’m not known for using that term, but it is appropriate here).

So here it is dear reader. Christmas is not a time for ego. It is not a time for contention or self-gratification. It is not a time to get big headed about what we have, or jealous over what we don’t have.

Christmas is a time to do unto others as you would have them to do unto you (to quote a very old rule…).

Christmas is a time of inclusion, a time to help others and remind them seemingly forgotten that they are not forgotten, and that there is still hope in our word.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Merry Christmas…

God bless us every one…

And get out there and do some good!


Average isn’t every…

“Average” it’s a word we hear a lot. “The ‘average’ person…” “On ‘average’…” “My ‘average’…” It’s a word we use a lot. But it is also a word with a danger attached, we should never assume that average is what we’re supposed to be. Average is only a description of what seems to be the most common or most typical based on a (usually limited) sample.

Average is an occasionally scientific wild guess at way to describe people. In the mathematical and statistical sense it is a measure of central tendency, an attempt to identify the central ‘most typical’ value of a group of numbers. In the mathematical and statistical sense the average is heavily influenced by a number of factors that can cause an average to be misleading.

In the personal description sense ‘average’ is in about the same spot as mediocre, or ordinary, in terms of meaning.

You can use an average to determine where you are relative to the group, but even then you have to understand a bit about what you are comparing and who you are comparing yourself to. Would you rather have you school grade point average above or below the ‘C student’ average point? What about the interest on that student/home/car/credit card loan, would you like your interest rate to be above or below average? What about your weight? (Actually that one can be a problem if you’re too far out in either direction so being in the ‘average’ range might not be all bad…)

Something they often don’t tell you is that average might not even matter! Just because the average person does or has something doesn’t mean that it is necessarily right for you and your goals. As someone who has a diabetes diagnosis if I were to eat the amount of carbohydrate in the ‘average’ American meal very often I would be running into health issues and probably have to go back on insulin.

Just because the ‘average’ American adult drives a car that doesn’t mean that you need. If you live somewhere like New York City with lots of traffic and little parking you may find other solutions much easier regardless of what the ‘average’ person does.

Like many things in our world the concept of ‘average’ is a tool that we use for describing, measuring and making decisions. It should never be considered what someone ‘has’ to be. Usually we aren’t average in some way or other, and that’s ok. We as human beings are unique beings unto ourselves.

We aren’t always ordinary. We have our challenges to overcome, and we have things that we are really really good at. It is those differences that make it possible for us to grow, improve and help one another.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Be better than average,

Be what you can become.


NANOWRIMO from the other side…

Well dear reader, it’s over… NANOWRIMO 2017 is finished. I for one am pleased and terrified by my success. I put in a solid 75,000 words toward Jamie’s Sacrifice, which really is going to be a trilogy it seems… I have written in excess of 40,000 words from the point of view of a 14/15 year old girl (she had a birthday in the process) as well as a significant amount of storytelling from the male lead’s point of view.

Did this have an effect outside the book?  You mean like two Sundays ago when we were having nice weather for November and I thought it was March…? (That’s the time frame for the book) Of course these things have an effect dear reader, sometimes it’s even a good one!

Now that we’re on the other side of NANOWRIMO  it’s time to look ahead, both to editing the thing’s we’ve written (for those who do the whole writing thing…) and to a new year (for everyone). We really do have a new year just a head and we have the opportunity to shape it into something amazing, and greater than anything or any year we’ve had before.

One of the biggest things that NANOWRIMO has confirmed once again to me dear reader is that we can do hard things if we put our minds, wills, and efforts into the.

There are opportunities ahead of us if we will just seek them, prepare for them, and take them when they come.

And don’t forget dear reader, even when we fail we can learn to do better on our next go ‘round.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Next time, back to our regular schedule (for about a week and then the holidays happen…)



I’ve gone back and forth on doing NANOWRIMO this year. For a while I told myself “I’ve already ‘won’ twice, so why do it again? I’ve got other things to do.” But recently I find I have at least 50,000 words to go on the story I’m working on, so why not (that’s new words not counting what I’ve done so far…). I also have a friend that hasn’t done NANOWRIMO that wants to try, so I’m wanting to do it to support a new writer in the process.

I thought about all this aannndddd realized I really want to do NANOWRIMO this year. It’s hard work (and you do have to treat it as work if you want to win), but in some ways it’s a vacation for me. When I do NANORIMO I clear my schedule for the month. That means work wise it’s just me and the story. I don’t have to worry about other things. So, it’s hard work, but very liberating.

I’ve talked about some of my other thought on National Novel Writing Month here and here on my other blog, and I stand by what I said there.

I also invite and encourage others who want to write a novel to dive in and join us. Writing can be a good thing (and if you want to be an author it’s a mandatory thing…).

That’s it for this one dear reader. I’m taking the next month off for NANO, so see you in December.


Moral Fidget Spinners…

There was once a word, morality, that meant a doctrine or system of moral conduct, or conformity to ideals of right human conduct. It was a good word, a strong word. It meant “This is what I believe is right; therefore, this is what I will do”. It really was a good word.

Unfortunately there came a time when someone (male, female, black, white, brown, plaid, purple, gay, straight, or all of the above (it really doesn’t matter!)) decided that morality should be defined as: a commodity. For those not familiar a commodity is an economic good, or something subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market. Someone decided they could sell ‘morality’, or at least the idea that some editions of morality are valid (while others are not…) for money. That someone managed to make fairly good money at it…

Unfortunately someone else (still doesn’t matter who…) noticed the individual making money and decided to get in on the act.  Now, the first ‘flavor’ of ‘morality’ was already for sale and that meant a new ‘flavor’ of ‘morality’ was needed for the new peddler to get into the market. And this second person sold the newly invented ‘morality’ for a tremendous profit!

But, with that new flavor, and the attached profits, came an open door for other vendors of ‘morality’, each wanting their share. And so, morality fell victim to niche marketing.

And so it is dear reader that we (or I at least) find ourselves (myself) in a world where ‘morality’ changes based almost entirely on what online polls say the consumer is buying…

Within the past weeks I’ve watched people waffle back and forth on guns, ‘liberties, ‘taking a knee’, and a host of other issues. It honestly feels like ‘morality’ can be found in online auctions or as a prize won in arcade ‘skill’ games right along with stuffed animals, team jerseys, and fidget spinners (remember those?).

Unfortunately ‘moralities’ and moral positions seem to be abandoned as fast as those fidget spinners. This is part of a cycle dear reader, a long painful cycle that can and has caused the deaths of nations (along with a few hundred million people at least…). It is a cycle that needs to be broken.

Morality is not a fidget spinner dear reader. It is not something that can be bought, sold, packed, given away, or won in an arcade game. Morality is a personal code. Morality is the way we choose to act toward one another. It is something to be carefully considered and then lived. Yes dear reader, there are many flavors of ‘morality’ out there, and it can be hard to sort through them all. But it is necessary. It is a part of life, a part of growing up, a part of the reason we are here on this earth.

So that is my challenge to you dear reader. Find your morality (or if you have it, evaluate how well you live it…). Draw closer to a way of life that makes life better for you and those around you. Draw closer to things that are good and true dear reader. Don’t be bought, played with and forgotten like last spring’s fidget spinner…

That’s it for this one dear reader. Next week I will present a few thoughts about NANOWRIMO, and admit that I goofed…

P.S. thank you to for help with the definitions portion of the post!