KAIZEN

kaizen_logoWhile scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning one of those random posts that clutter your wall caught my eye.  I’ll link the actual article here for those curious of mind.  After reading the brief article and quickly scanning the Wikipedia page for KAIZEN, the idea of it resonated with me so I wanted to take a few minutes to write about it.

First off – lets just stick a pin in the thought that “KAIZEN” is probably the coolest word I’ve heard in a long time and how I immediately thought it would make for an excellent EVE Online name (yes, I’ve already checked zKillboard and YES – I’m late to the party yet again!) and lets just talk about the articles overall meaning.  In the article they focus on the “one minute principle” where they say that a person should focus on doing one thing for one minute a day and to do that one thing at the same time each day.  They continue to make the argument that even the laziest person can focus on something for 60 seconds.  But the long term effect would ultimately be that in creating this routine you will begin to extend the time you spend doing your one activity and do so on your own accord because you enjoy it and are seeking to perfect whatever it is even further.

I see what you’re doing there, KAIZEN – and I gotta say . . . I like it.

Funny thing is that I have recently found myself wanting to expand my universe a bit, so I have started reading more, watching the news more and even trying to establish a more healthy lifestyle by watching what I eat and make every attempt to get a little exercise in each day.  I’ve been doing this now for several weeks and it seems the KAIZEN method fits right into the little routines I have created for myself.  I also found myself agreeing with the articles assessment about extending the time you spend doing your designated activity.  I have already seen that in my own efforts.  Not because I made the conscious decision to increase my time reading, watching the news (which is VERY addicting, by the way!  Just saying….the girls hate it and roll their eyes when I change the channel on them . . . . but I’m getting off point – back to the story . . . ), or even writing here.  I find myself spending more time doing those things because I found a true enjoyment in them.

So what would you choose to do for 60 seconds each day?  If more than one thing comes to mind – GREAT!  Go crazy!  After all, you do have 86,400 seconds each day to burn through.  Might as well use two or three of them for a little self improvement – right?

-BK

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Texas: The Enigma

If you live in Texas long enough, you learn that the weather here is predictably unpredictable.  It is so unpredictable in fact that it brought to life a phrase all who live here know and have uttered multiple times.

“If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour – it will change!”

Case in point.  On the morning news today the weather forecast at 8:15amCT had this in store for us this week.

dfw_7df_09-jan-2017

A meteorological roller-coaster made all the more interesting when you know that from 6pmCT last Thursday (05 JAN) until 12pmCT Saturday (07 JAN) we stayed below freezing.  Yes, you read that correctly!  In Texas last Friday the HIGH TEMPERATURE for the day was a whopping 27° Fahrenheit.  At least this coming weekend brings rain, which always makes me happy when it is in the forecast.

This morning also brought one other interesting thing all about Texas that I thought I would include to round out this post.  It comes from the good folks at NASA – specifically US Army Colonel and NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough who Tweeted the image below of DFW as seen from the International Space Station (I.S.S).

dfw-from-iss_s-kimbrough-twitter_09-jan-2017

Fort Worth is at the bottom, so you’ll need to tilt your head to the left just a bit if you want the correct orientation.  Regardless, it’s an incredible sight and one I wanted to post/save here for posterity.

-BK

Annual Physical / The Sickness

This past Friday I had scheduled my annual physical.  I had been feeling fine all week long, but somehow woke up SICK that morning.  Who wakes up sick on the day of their physical?!  I kept the appointment, did the blood work and basics and then she sent me home with two prescriptions – an antibiotic and a steroid.

When I arrived home I found Summer in the living room who promptly informed me that Carolyn had already called and had come home sick as well, though with different symptoms (stomach cramps/pain).  I gave her my status report from the doctor (all good things, except for the illness), logged into work briefly to let my boss know I would be taking the day off ill and then as quickly as possible made my way to the bedroom where I slept for the next three hours.

When I woke up I discovered that we were getting our first real “winter weather” here in Texas.  Looking out the back door I saw flurries of snow bounding about in the air and what appeared to be sleet/ice on the deck.  It always amuses me the reaction people have to a little dusting and some icy patches here.  You would think a glacier had formed and that there was 15 feet of snow on the ground.  A friend of mine from the EVE Online community who also happens to live in Texas posted the following picture on his Twitter feed.  It is unbelievably accurate in regards to the local consensus.

txblizz2017

So far, an interesting start to 2017!

-BK

Getting It Out: Last Night’s Epiphany

[ Written on 10 NOVEMBER 2015 ]

The first few minutes upon getting into bed each night are reserved for my wife and I to have quick and often silly conversations.  Most of the time they are comical and nothing really worth remembering except for the laughter and odd sounds our daughters hear coming from our room that I’m certain have been mistaken for other activities.  But last night the conversation sparked a thought in my mind that I haven’t been able to shake.  The actual subject being discussed was simply the fact that she no longer has to carry the on-call work phone for the first time in over a month.  However, to her disappointment they did give her another work phone to carry with her so they can still reach her if needed (yes, she’s still somewhat “new” to her job at this point).  I made the comment that I have been carrying a work related phone for 10 years now and that it’s not such a bad thing.  I then went on to say that I hope I’ll be carrying one for the next . . . . and that’s when it hit me . . . . . 20 years.

My initial intent was to imply that I hope to be gainfully employed from now until retirement.  Instead I found myself thinking about the fact that I have at least another 20 years of work before I reach the age at which I can begin thinking about retiring.  My mind instantly began thinking about what it would be like to be doing what I am doing today for another 20 years.  I do love my job and what I get to do every day for a living – so that idea didn’t bother me so much as realizing that what I have been telling myself all year long about my dream of ever having a writing career has been completely wrong.

This year I turned 40.  I assumed that if I haven’t written anything or been published by now that it’s too late to switch gears and even make an attempt at it.  My career path has been set and I should just coast to retirement – right?  I mean . . . I’m FORTY for Christ’s sake!  But then thinking about having 20 more years of work before retirement made me realize that I have TWENTY YEARS left in which I could actually write something and maybe . . . just maybe . . . even see it published someday.

That realization has brought with it basically three emotions.  The first being embarrassment that I never realized it before and was just giving myself an excuse not to write.  The next was excitement at the prospect that I still have a real shot and having a modest writing career because I do still have plenty of time left.  The last was sheer fear and terror at the thought of not really having a project in mind and that the clock is ticking.

It seems every year at some point between January to December I reflect on writing and what it would be like if I could do it for a living.  Ever since I was a kid back in elementary school I recall telling teachers I wanted to be a writer.  I have always loved being in my own head and coming up with stories.  My problem with writing seems to be lack of discipline . . . and finding the end or dramatic conclusion to a story.  I’m GREAT at finding or creating the beginning of a story.  I love creating characters, worlds, friends, enemies and the things that get the ideas flowing to start a project.  But then once the cast is assembled and the world somewhat illuminated I struggle to find the end or know where I need to go in order to write the story.  I remember J.K. Rowling said once in an interview that she knew from the moment she started writing the Harry Potter series where it would lead and how it would end.

What a bitch, right?

I mean, shit – give me some hope that I’m not alone with my dilemma and am not the first person to have this issue.  I’d like to think there are at least a few successful writers out there who often times start a story with no ending and eventually find it.  And not just any ending . . . a brilliant one.  At this point I would settle for finding an ending to a story that was “decent” enough to get at least one writing project finished.

I know I’m creative.  I know I’m happy when I put words to page.  It’s therapeutic for me and though I have no idea why, but I sincerely do find pleasure in writing when I actually take the time to sit down and do it . . . like now.  Maybe that’s why I never truly give writing a fully dedicated attempt.  I mean really, what are the odds that something that I find to be fun and entertaining could be something that anyone else would care to read or find equally entertaining?  In my experience the world just doesn’t work that way.  Maybe at the end of the day all I really have is a lack of confidence and that I fear my writing simply isn’t good enough.  Maybe I’m just afraid to try so that at the end of it all I don’t have to see if I would succeed or fail.  It’s one thing to wonder if I can do it and believe for some reason that I can.  But it’s another thing to actually try and be told that I am not good enough.

Then again, maybe not trying is even more of a failure.

Maybe I am just trying to find a way to psyche myself into writing more to get back into the habit again.  To find a story and to write it.  After all – I do find that I say I “keep coming back to writing” at some point every year.  Maybe I should just quit walking away from it?  Maybe that is what I should do and see where that takes me.

I kind of like that thought better than the one I had last night and this morning.

-BK

The Mid-Year Slump

*Dusts off home page*

*lowers head in shame at the amount of time that has lapsed since the last post*

*grabs keyboard and begins . . . . *

The length of time that has passed since I last logged in here and wrote anything is embarrassing.  And to think I like to call myself a writer!  Sure, I’ve been writing but how would anyone possibly know if I don’t mention it here from time to time.  Ridiculous – but let’s move on and forget my oversights for the moment.

170SleepsTillChristmas2014“The Mid-Year Slump”, as I like to call it, is in full swing.  The year is officially half over and as of today there are only 170 sleeps left until Christmas.  It’s that time of year where there are no good holidays on the horizon, the mercury is inching closer and closer to the 100 degree mark and once it does it won’t loosen it’s steamy grip until the sweet release of Autumn in late October.  Texas . . . you either love it or leave it, there really is no middle ground.  I can already feel myself yearning for the mornings when you step outside and feel a true coolness or even slight chill in the air that lets you know the summer is over and restful sleep is on the horizon.  No, I don’t sleep well during the heat of the summer months.  So as I told my friend today – I need a distraction.  Something to take my mind off the heat and monotony of clear sunny skies and the hot/dry weather.  Sunny days are boring.  Give me a good stormy day and I’m a happy boy.  But that’s a subject for another day and I need to get back to my original thought here.  I think this year I may try being more diligent in my writing here and elsewhere to keep me distracted until I can stop drinking iced coffee every morning and get back to the good stuff.

I have two writing projects that I am currently working on in my spare time.   I love both story concepts and I also love that they couldn’t be more opposite from each other if they tried.  In addition I have given myself no deadlines, no pressure and no limitations or requirements.  Only that I write – and so far I have been able to keep that very simple commitment.  Best of all the fact that I have given myself complete freedom to just write whenever the mood moves me has made writing that much more enjoyable.  Guilt free is the best method by far and I highly recommend it.  However, I am hoping that I will not only continue to write and reference that work here once and a while but that I will simply just “Blog” more too.  Random stories of something that did or didn’t happen.  My ridiculous obsession with the World Cup this year (thanks, Chad) or just a random picture of my family playing a game together.  Our flavor of the month lately has been RISK and has been the cause for some very heated debates and war-like tension in our home.

There is always something to say, something to share, or something to discuss.  I just need to stop being so darn lazy and make time to keep this place updated.  I’m paying for it, I might as well USE it from time to time.

Till the next time . . . whenever that may be.  I have work to do and the Germany v Brazil game is starting soon.

-BK

Talking Shop With The Campus Author

Today was the first day back to the day job for 2014.  Fortunately I am afforded the ability to work from home, so I chose to do that today to ease myself into the “New Work Year“.  I will brave the office tomorrow and hear all the stories of co-workers Christmases, New Years celebrations and other things they did whilst we were on holiday – today was about me finding my rhythm and getting back into the work mindset.

That got me thinking about my writing, which to be honest wasn’t far from the forefront anyway.  As I was powering up the work laptop this morning I couldn’t help but pause and think how great it would have been if I were powering up my computer instead and that 2014 was the first year of being a full-time writer.

As fortune would have it, Caitlyn (a.k.a. The Campus Author who wrote A Common Language) was in town and came by for a visit so we could catch up and talk shop.  I don’t have many people with whom I can talk about writing, so it’s always a welcomed diversion from the daily grind when the opportunity presents itself.  It was fun sharing ideas, tips, discussing our individual approaches to “Zero Drafts” and what I call “The Bucket Theory” and of course sharing books we have read recently that the other should pick up.  As I worked my way through the 400+ emails I received whilst on holiday we carried on our conversation for most of the afternoon.  It was the perfect way to get my year started.

I think about writing all the time.  Actually writing is something I need to be better at finding the time.  In talking with Caitlyn this afternoon I expressed my concern with the fact that I feel so rusty at it that I know whatever I write will be shit and most likely will be shit for a while until I find my rhythm there too.  She shared a brilliant idea that I am going to use where I write something that will never see the light of day and use that to “grease the gears” so to speak.  A short stories collection centered around a single character or characters, a never ending saga that spins into oblivion – whatever it is doesn’t matter.  It will be beautifully horrific!  Exactly what it is meant to be and I can’t wait to get started.

So here’s to 2014.

A year of a lot less thinking and a lot more doing.