Coping: The Cheese Sandwich Story (On whiners)

imageAs a kid, there were certain family stories passed down from father to son that ensure the continuation of the “Ure attitude.”

Many of these were fire house tales…the kind of stories that working men tell one another while grueling physical work is going on. 

Sure, firemen get the rush of going into combat at a house or apartment fire.  But the downside of the profession is the hard work that few get to see:  The endless drill evolutions – so everything can be done in the dark, bad weather, and whatever else may come.  Then there’s the washing of hose, and (in the old days) hanging it all up to dry in the hose tower.

One such story in particular has stood out in my mind for better than 50-years. A father-son lesson of inestimable value.

It begins with my late father who was stationed at Pearl Harbor as a fire alarm office operator during World War II.  While Americans were falling on unnamed beaches around the globe, my dad – through no effort of his own – had landed a job  in one of the very few bomb-proof and air conditioned buildings on Hawaii…the Ure family has always been lucky that way and the luck continues through today.

It turns out that the “boss” of the Alarm  Office was a salty old Navy Chief.

It helps to understand that people back then didn’t go out to lunch very often – most packed a sandwich, or two, from home, maybe an apple or some non-refrigerated treat, and that was it.

Day after day, come lunchtime in the Alarm Office this old Chief would get out his lunch.

Every single day – without variation – was a cheese sandwich. Day after day after day.

I hate these goddamn cheese sandwiches…” the old salt would complain.  The air would turn blue for anywhere from 15-minutes to two hours, depending on the old chief’s mood. He’d curse up one side of the sandwich and down the other.  My dad said that’s where he learned from of his best combinations of swear words.  The Chief was a master of ‘em.

Every day this would go on:  He would curse and carry on making sure everyone else in the office was clear on how much he hated the damned cheese sandwiches.

Finally, after about three months of this,. my dad had enough.  As the lunch hour arrived, George B. decided to confront Chief about this.  He went over, sat down, and looked him straight in the eye.

“You know Chief, if you don’t like the cheese sandwiches, why don’t you have your wife, or girlfriend, or whoever is making them simply make you something else?  The guys and I would really like to see you enjoy your lunch and we know you hate them…”

Then it arrived:  The terrible Truth about People.

“Why George!  I make these cheese sandwiches.”

– – – – –

The reason I share this with you is two-fold.

The first is that when I get emails from trolls (people who complain about UrbanSurvival content, our adventure tales in life, flying, travels, and such, maybe our take on social decline, and so on) I remind myself that there are people who have no brains to connect cause and effect. 

People come here for a variety of reasons; the stories, camaraderie, odd perspectives and occasionally new (occasionally even good) ideas.  We try to toss in a lot of common sense, too.

When troll mail comes in  (“Your site is awful – it’s no longer the same as it was 15 years ago – your article last week was the most stupid, boring.…yada yada..) it goes into the trash and has no influence on what we cover/study/digest and contemplate.

In a way, I feel sorry for them.  They have lost their ability to think and click.  They are Cheese Sandwich People.

The second point – and the one that relates to you – is that the cheese sandwich tale is hugely informative about how people really operate.

Even those that just complain about their circumstances in Life – even a bit – miss the point that we all have a lot more power and control over our environment than most people allow themselves to exercise.

In our family, we don’t complain – we act

Usually, even before a complaint forms as an idea condensing into headspace, we’ve already identified the irritation and have come up with half a dozen ways to remove it.  Then, all we need to do is pick the right option.  Whether it’s the least cost, fastest, least hurtful, most daring, or the problem that solves the immediate problem and a future one….well, that’s what being a Ure is all about.

So the next time you hear someone complaining about their “cheese sandwich” – smile and take it all in.  Think of yourself as riding Thunder Mountain Railroad down at Disneyworld – and these people are just part of the scenery passing by.

Petty demons in the vernacular of Carlos Castaneda.  Life’s full of them.

Here’s the oddity:  Without petty demons  to conquer and keep us entertained, are we really ready for the bigger problems sure to follow?

This is how I deal with trolls.

Offer ‘em another cheese sandwich and smile.  Few will understand but that’s their issue.  Petty demons aren’t particularly bright.

How Much is a Novel Worth?

Once again, you have been drafted into being on my Board of Directors.  This is a non-paying job.  We offer no corporate jet to Davos (although a prop job to Pascagoula could be arranged), and fancy meals are limited to a cup of not-terribly-inspired coffee.

The first Item on the Agenda is pricing of my novel DreamOver which is now in the “production stage.”  Chris up at The Chronicle Project who is good with art and graphics is doing a cover and one of the characters is the book (in Gig Harbor, Wa) is actually proof reading the book; the fellow one character was patterned after.

All I need to do is figure out this:  What is a good first novel worth, these days?

The novel itself is an adventure (think Cussler or Fleming).  It runs 93,000 words and in MS Word it’s 334 pages in Verdana 12.

A couple of opinions have come in:

You’re an author – you should get paid:  $11.99 on Kindle, $19 Hardback.

Sell it for $10 as an ebook – it’s quite good.  Besides Ure an established writer.

No…$4.99 because that would get more buyers


How about $2.99…because that is where ebooks are these days

Do it $0.99 and flood the market with Ure name

Somewhere in here is where we will land.

As to whether we will do a hardbound version, or trade paper, that too is up in the air and open to discussion – so send along price point ideas to

If you’re a publisher looking for print and tour-ready fiction just in timed for Christmas, please call nine oh three fife for nein tree ate seben for.

I haven’t written up the plot summary – since writing the book first made more sense.  But now that it’s done, it goes like this:

Commander David Shannon is a covert US electronics specialist who awakens on a black ops submarine from an odd dream.  While shaking off the sense that “someone is watching him” Shannon goes ashore in Everett, Washington for his next assignment:  a favor for the well-regarded senior admiral who runs Naval Station Everett.

After completing that mission, Shannon reunited with his gorgeous (and rich venture capitalist) wife at a rustic lodge on the west coast of Vancouver Island where they celebrate their anniversary.

As Shannon dozes off after an evening of fine dining (and even finer sex), he suddenly becomes aware of an alarm clock.

Upon waking, he realizes that he’s no longer David Shannon.  Instead he’s Richard Sperry, a retired Wall Street trader who lives in East Texas.

Visits to a psychiatrist follow until a chance meeting on a jet to Orlando with the same senior Admiral who he’d encountered (as Cmdr. David Shannon) in his dream changes his life forever.

Confronted by hard evidence that his dreams are real, Richard Sperry sets off on a journey of self-discovery.  What he doesn’t know that is that the Office of Navel Intelligence has him under surveillance because of something he mentioned to the Admiral…

What follows along with National Security Letters is a lightning-paced series of discoveries about how humans connect in dream states leading to a surprising conclusion at a waterfront Seattle hotel and the Shannon’s home on Lake Tahoe.

Any ideas on pricing this book would be appreciated.  It would also make one hell of a movie since Shannon is a James Bond /Magnum P.I. sort of fellow and Sperry is somewhere between the aging Nicholas Cage and Robert De Niro type.

There’s something for everyone in the book:  pilots and flying, medicine, woo-woo, computer surveillance…there’s even an LBGT subplot in one part.  Drones and a 4K GoPro.  Yet at its core, it’s a fast-paced action adventure on the frontier of Reality.

Writing it was a pleasure…Never done long-form fiction before.  I found in writing the book that I can go into a “writing trance” and the book just sort of “appears”.  All I have to do is watch the “movie in my head” and capture it as it goes by.

A second novel (based on the Shannon and Sperry figures) is planned.  That one will take on a concept we often discuss around here: Directorate 153 and the “shadow government.”

OK, off to make a cheese sandwich now.  Which was my chief point, wasn’t it?

Write when you break-even,



Coping: The Cheese Sandwich Story (On whiners) — 17 Comments

  1. Love the story concept. It’s a nice variation of “am I a buttertfly dreaming I’m a man or…” I suspect that the reader will learn a lot of interesting craft detail (electronics, etc.) along the way, a feature that a lot of us readers appreciate.

    One way to help choose that price point. Pick an initial price like $5. (Yeah, I know, it’ll be $4.99.) Now consider that if you dropped it to $4, the increase in books sold would have to be more than 25% greater for $4 to be a better choice. Increase the price to $6 and if the resulting drop in sales is less than 17%, you’re ahead. (Taxes neglected in these examples.) Listen to what your gut tells you about the likelihood of these percentages actually occurring.

  2. always been lucky that way….the fastest, the finest sex, etc….Navajo proverb: Man can’t get rich if taking care of family

    Do I smell a screaming narcissist?

  3. Maybe old school but I do enjoy turning the pages on a good book so my vote is on the hard, or soft, cover. Besides it’s hard to get an autograph on an ebook.

    Damn trolls are everywhere and I think you handle them well. But you know we have to have some trolls around to show us how the good things really are. Had a recruit once who had a rep from his class for being a real whiny b**ch. First night out he never shut up bit&*ing about everything. Stopped at a corner and told him to get out and check a door then drove off. Left him there for a half hour or so. When I got back he never bit^&ed again. To me anyway.

  4. Not to be a nit picker, but for the sake of accuracy, Carlos C. term was ‘petty tyrant’

  5. Consistent with the Ure attitude, Abe Lincoln is alleged to have written and said that, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Always seemed about right to me. I was reminded of the quote twice today, first when seeing it painted in a mural on the wall of a Venice Beach building on the PCH on the way to a Santa Monica Court appearance this morning, and then reading your column when I got back to Falcon Hill. JFK famously said that life is unfair (and, in the end, his probably was), but my friends and I disagreed, because we always said that while life would unfairly dish out circumstances, how you deal with it is usually up to you, and that usually made the outcomes fair, even if the circumstances were not.

  6. I am not feeling it, maybe it’s just not my time to be reading this novel, maybe later, but right now it feels, wrong it doesn’t feel it sounds, wrong it doesn’t sound, what is that ingredient that it is missing, all I know it it’s on the tip of my tongue, I’ll never sleep I’ll never wonder I’ll always be in this trance until something comes upon me that breaks this mold then it happened it came to me I saw it it was right there and yet it’s still on the tip of my tongue what is it

    • In reply to the question on what to charge $1,000 for the first novel and for the next 999, then after that a sliding scale

  7. …$4.99 for Ure e-book..that’s the great mid-line price!
    l don’t mean to sound troll-like, but l think you meant “petty tyrants” re the Castaneda reference… “petty demons ” is good, too, but l think “tyrants” implies that we are often subservient to these controls.

  8. I would say stay on the low side. Let me back this up with interviews that James Altucher has had with two young men who are making a living with books on Amazon:

    Steven Scott — Non-Fiction

    Hugh Howey — Fiction

    I think you have a handle on how to get a book out of your head and onto the page, and this book may give you some extra pointers for the future. Your readers may appreciate this content more than you do:
    Tucker Max — just published in August
    The Book In A Box Method: The New Way to Quickly and Easily Write Your Book (Even If You’re Not a Writer)

    Your plot sounds good — I’m looking forward to it. Will buy and review as soon as it comes out.

  9. You didn’t include the gunfight at the hi Q corral? Since everything is a business model, I recommend $8 for the ebook, $4 for those of us on a cheese sandwich budget but still show our deep appreciation and faithfully subscribe to Peoplenomics.

    As for “trolls”, let them eat cheese and concentrate on what you do best which is an incredibly long list.

  10. These “whiners” or trolls are part of the 85% that are genetically UNABLE to resist propaganda or mind control. Eventually enough “alternative” information changes from entertainment to reality in their world, and their belief system starts to implode, which is a very frightening thing for anyone. So in an attempt to maintain their belief system, they go into attack mode, some merely with attacks from the keyboard, while others grab weapons and we see a shooting. I think I saw somewhere that there have been 297 shootings in the USA the last couple of years where the shooter killed more than one person. A person using lots of terms of mental illness like crazy, insane, madness, nuts, vice grips (grin) are bleeding off this pressure safely, but it does not bring peace of mind. Just keep in mind, if you can see it out there, HOW you see it is because you have it in you as well. The other 15% HAS A FINITE TOLERANCE FOR LIES. So this insanity can come down on both sides of the fence.

    This world behavior was predicted by Joseph Chiappalone in his article Terminal Madness in the End Times which can be found here. Note the date on the article.

    This was actually written earlier, but never got traction until Rense posted it. I was fortunate enough to read it when it was first posted, and took the time to research it, all the while hoping this guy was just a nut case. Keep in mind that the context of when this article was first written, somewhere around 1985. It has since been expounded on and modified, but I am one who found it strange that I felt great peace from reading this original version at the time. Once I put on the Chiappalone glasses, this whole world situation made sense to me, and continues to make sense. It makes life like watching a skilled surgeon remove a life threatening blood clot from a brain, bloody, queasy, gross, but with a logical and pleasant result.

  11. Concerning pricing.

    From an article I read:

    Andy Weir, author of the wildly popular sci-fi novel “The Martian,” is living the publishing dream.

    It didn’t start out that way though. “The Martian” began as a series of self-published chapters on Weir’s personal blog.

    Then Weir decided to put the book on Amazon, selling it for the website’s lowest possible price ($0.99).

    And that’s when things snowballed.

    It topped Amazon’s bestselling list of science fiction. Then it debuted at the number 12 spot on The New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction books. Right now it’s number one for paperback trade fiction. Ridley Scott is directing the film adaptation starring Matt Damon.

  12. Thanks for the smile today. Next time I’m in a situation of a troll (be it online or face to face), I will quietly say to myself “go eat a cheese sandwich.”
    In reference to the book, $7.99 pops to mind. I can’t wait to read it. You really know how to intrigue a person.

  13. Reminds me of the trolls I see commenting about what The Weather Channel posts. If it ain’t what (they) wanna see, they discredit it severely. Closed minded people “they” are.
    Personally, I take what I need from the abundant plate you serve. I’ve always been grateful for your insight and humor. Thanks George. ?