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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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,