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Ramps and Jumps

As a child of the 70s, one of the most interesting things to do was watch stunt men on TV doing death-defying stunts. They didn’t always go well. Probably why I was a nervous kid when it came to doing stupid things.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t do stupid things.

When I was really young, probably 4 or 5, I had a Big Wheel. If you know, you know. I would get going fast, pull the hand brake and slide to a stop. If I was feeling adventurous, I’d get going really fast and go over the speed bump in our apartment complex. Jumps weren’t high enough to do anything.

When we moved from the cities (that’s what you called Minneapolis/St Paul when you lived in Minnesota) up to McGregor, I got a bike. Took me a long time to get my training wheels off. I was never very coordinated or agile or smart. I was pretty much a scardey-cat kid who avoid pain as much as I could.

That didn’t stop me, once the training wheels were off, from riding down the dirt roads and jumping through all the little pot holes in the road.

Growing up, there were two kids that lived nearby, Dan and Jodi. I had an older brother and an even older step-brother (Jon and Doug), Jodi had an older brother and Dan also had an older brother. There were sisters for both Dan and Jodi, but we’re not talking about them in this story.

The other brothers decided to take a 2×8 we’d found and put a cinder block under one side. We each took turns going over our makeshift jump. Many times the board would slip and many crashes happened.

One time we took a sheet of plywood and two cinder blocks and put a ramp at the end of a dock where we’d go swimming in Big Sandy Lake. I was the most nervous about this. So, unlike the other kids who jumped their bikes into the lake at full speed, I went a little slower. The front tire went over the end of the ramp and I flipped over the bike into the lake.

Yeah, not very graceful.

We had a surprise ramp appear one day on a trail we would sled down. A tree had fallen across a path during the fall and gotten covered over with snow. We’d go down the hill and SURPRISE! End up in the trees, flipped over, or, if lucky, jump and keep going.

That leads us to the last ramp I remember from those days.

Dan lived at the top of a hill with a road that went down to the lake. After a turn to the left, and a turn to the right, you’d be at a boat launch. During the winter, this was where snowmobiles would ride out onto the lake. All of us were paid in hot dish (yeah, that’s MN food) to shovel the road because the snow plow wouldn’t go down there. We piled the excess snow on the sides of the road and the older kids had a bright idea.

We made a curved bank on the left turn.

We made a curved bank on the right turn.

A three-foot ramp was made at the bottom, because we had a LOT of snow.

Then, we took turns heading down the course. Well, all of them did. I was the youngest and the scaredest. I wasn’t about to go down that alone.

My step-brother, Doug, said he’d let me ride in front of the sled and he’d hold onto me. Well, if he’d keep me safe, why not, right? I pulled my hat down over my face and got in.

The “sled” in question one one of those roll-up plastic sheets with handles on the front. We took the left turn, I nearly fell off the sled, but Doug held me on. We took the right turn. With my hat pulled down over my face, I had no idea how fast we were going, but I knew it was fast because I could feel every little bump on the road.

We hit the jump.

I had that moment of weightlessness that felt like it lasted forever. I could hear all the boys screaming and cheering. I knew some of them had made big jumps, but no idea how far I was going or how high in the air I was. Thankfully I was well-padded from all my snow gear and there was about two-feet of snow on the frozen lake. I landed softly.

I jumped up and turned around. Now, I was much smaller back then, but I looked back and I was quite a ways away from the ramp. And the sled. And my step brother. The sled had stopped on the ramp. Doug went about two feet and landed on his face. Me? I shot off the ramp like a rocket and kept going across the inlet and nearly made it to the other side. Again, I’ve no idea the distance, but I went much further than any of the others had gone by themselves.

Yeah, I still don’t like ramps or jumps.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Audio Only: https://anchor.fm/jr-murdock/episodes/5-a-Day-With-Jay—0157-e14do9o

That time I found the Hindenburg Plaque.

I graduated high school in 1987. In August of that year, I joined the Navy. I spent a couple of months in Boot Camp in Orlando before heading off to me ‘A’ school in Pensacola, FL. At the time, the Navy needed people to go into my rate. Because of that, there was an incentive to sign up. I was what they called a “push button” 3rd. Meaning once I completed my ‘A’ school, I was awarded the rank of E4, a 3rd class petty officer. I was proud of that accomplishment.

I wasn’t, however, excited about the fact I was about to go on a Navy vessel. I was terrified of open water.

So, Jay, why did you join the Navy? Isn’t that kind of what they do?

I’ll cover that another time, it’s not important to this story.

Upon completion of my ‘A’ school, my either class, and the class behind us, were told there were now too many 3rd classmen of my rate. Therefore, the fleet didn’t need us at that time. Instead, we were all to be sent to security guard duty and we would be relieving the Marines that were currently doing security guard duty on Naval Weapons Stations.

Whew. No ship for me!

Some of my classmates and I climbed into a giant car, six of us if I recall, and we drove from Pensacola to Pittsburgh, PA. One of the guys was from there and wanted to stop off and live it up before we reported for duty in Lakehurst, NJ where our Security Guard School was going to be. I’ll tell a story about PA another time. Yeah, everything was a story in the Navy.

The lot of us spent a month in Lakehurst. Now, being 18, I knew very little about Jersey let alone Lakehurst. I didn’t know the history. I knew nothing about the place. I was young, dumb, and ….

Every day we’d walk from the barracks across the large field in front of two massive hangars. Inside of one of the hangars was an entire flight deck of an aircraft carrier. When I say massive hangars, I mean wow were they big. It’s difficult to describe their size or how small you’d feel walking past them.

The field was mostly concrete with patches of overgrowth all over. One day while crossing the field, I tripped on something. I had no idea what it was. Being early as we always were, I took the time to rip up the grass over what I’d tripped on. Color me surprised when I uncovered a plaque.

Now, if you look at the plaque online, you’ll see something very different than what I experienced. The plaque had been placed in the spot where the Hindenburg went down 51 years before. The plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary. I don’t know why it was overgrown or why it was allowed to become overgrown. All I know is what I tripped over.

When you look at pictures of the plaque online, you’ll now see it surrounded with anchor chain and a long stretch of concrete and lots of nice landscaping. Back when I tripped over it, that wasn’t the case.

That’s how I found the plaque.

Until next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Audio Only: https://anchor.fm/jr-murdock/episodes/5-a-Day-With-Jay—0156-e14c0ni

Expanding My Platform.

Let me start with saying…I’m not a smart man. By no means an I tech-tard, but there is so much new technology, that I’m trying to keep my head above water with it all.

Tonight, I decided to stream to Twitch. This won’t be my first time, but it will be the first time I’m talking. I don’t even know what I have on my channel over there. What I do know is that I set up my account to allow me to stream to it. I hooked that key into my OBS software, and, if all went correctly, I was streaming while I was recording.

I know I’ll need to get on a schedule and try to record at the same time each night. We’ll see how that goes.

Why? Why am I doing that?

To expand my reach.

Yes, yes. Jack of all Trades, Master of none. I get that. I’m having fun and still learning. I know Twitch is mainly for streaming games, but there are talk shows over there as well. I won’t be able to compete with any of them, but that’s not what I’m trying to do.

I know everyone consumes content differently. I’m exploring options for content delivery.

To that end, I’m also looking at converting videos to upload to IGTV (Instagram longer videos). I’m looking at doing shorter 1 minute videos for both TikToc and YouTube shorts, possible even for Instagram stories.

There are so many options for getting content out there and much of it I can repurpose. I need to take the time and figure it all out.

Why? Why you ask?

Because I’ve got content, writing content, coming out and I want people to easily find me and what I’m doing. I’ve got a short story coming out tomorrow. So, I’ll mention it in all the right places.

Like here!

I’m LOVING what My Favorite Daughter did with the covers. You may hate it. I get that. What this cover will do is start out in the crowd. When I have 9 shorts out, those 9 covers will piece together to make the cover for the collection of those 9 short stories. And that pattern will keep going! I’m super excited about doing this.

The other thing this will do, for my readers, is give them a visual cue that this isn’t a novel. I don’t want people to drop .99 and be like “Pfft, this isn’t a book.” No, it’s not a book. It’s a short story and it’ll stand out because of that. Hopefully people will get it.

Also, this cover will stand out dramatically when in a huge list of other stories and books. If you scroll on Amazon looking at the top 100 of any category and saw this cover, it’d stand out in dramatic fashion. One of these things is not like the other.

I want people who are scrolling to stop and look and wonder…what’s this? And hopefully click on it, read the blurb and be intrigued enough to buy it.

That’s the plan, at any rate. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. This is the first of many short stories to come.

I’m off to go study the back of my eyelids.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Audio Only: https://anchor.fm/jr-murdock/episodes/5-a-Day-With-Jay—0133-e10njgo

By The Numbers.

My apologies for missing yesterday. Let me say, I’m doing much better today. Thank you for those that asked.

One of the things I’ve been saying all along, I want to be transparent on this blog. I’m going to show you all my behind the scenes numbers as we progress. This post may be dry for those looking for entertainment. It might be interesting for those writers looking to launch their writing careers. I’ll let you decide how it works for you. As always, feedback is appreciated.

The first April number for you is the magical number of 0. As I’ve said many times before, I’m starting from 0. What do I mean by that? I mean my total sales for April were 0. Yes, I sold a few in March and February. For April, that was a normal month. Zero. Nil. Zip. Nada.

I won’t cry over my 0. It’s entirely of my own making. This is where we’re turning this ship around and work on selling books. Each month I will report out how many books I’ve sold. If you really would like me to, I’ll break it down by book, but for the time being, we’re going to use one number for all book sales.

Short stories, also zero. This is no surprise as I haven’t published any short stories. This number can only go up, right?

Now, where am I not starting at zero from? Let’s look at the number of published books I currently have. For books I’ve Indie Published, we’re at 12. Well, 13 really, but one of those will be coming down soon enough. Let’s call it 12. To do along with those 12, we’ve got 2 that are traditionally published. When I report out books, I’ll lump them all together. When I give book counts, that will not include trad pub as I don’t know those numbers. Unfortunately.

Next, platform. Let’s talk all about platform. Where are people finding me and what I’m doing? As of the end of April 2021, here as my counts across all the platforms I’m currently active on (active to any degree).

Twitter1227
Facebook (personal)701
Instagram314
LinkdIn300
TikTok177
Blog subscribers104
Facebook (author page)56
YouTube40
Newsletter31
Anchor2
Tumblr0

Nothing amazing or astonishing here. Why I post on Tumblr still, I have no idea. I’ve never had a follower and I doubt I ever will.

Anchor is a new platform that I’ve launched on. This is where the audio from my 5 a Day videos goes and gets distributed to places like Spotify (am I the only on that pronounces id Spot Ify?).

The newsletter and YouTube subscribers have grown since I launched 5 a Day With Jay and started blogging daily. To that end, so have the blog subscribers. The first two went from the low teens since August and the blog went from the low 80s. I’m convinced that posting with regularity has caused those numbers to go up all on their own without any effort from me other than doing the posting.

The rest, they’re fairly static. I’ve rarely looked at those numbers. But that’s what I’m going to start doing going forward. Track my Social Media stats and see how they’re growing and if they’re growing. I’ll be doing this toward the end of the month of the 1st day of the following month to get more accurate numbers.

I’m NOT doing this to encourage anyone to go follow me everywhere. I don’t want to flood you with the same notifications over and over again. Pick one, you’ll get a majority of my works. YouTube, this blog, and my Facebook author page are the best places to get publishing news. The others, follow me if you like. I don’t post much elsewhere, yet.

As I’ve said many times and I’m sure I’ll say it again, this is all a learning experience. If I post it here, I’ll be able to refer back to it should I need to clear my head and look to see where I’ve been and where things went right or wrong.

There you have it. The starting point for this stage of my writing career. I’ve had many false starts and it’s time to put my foot on the gas and not let up.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

Audio Only: https://anchor.fm/jr-murdock/episodes/5-a-Day-With-Jay—0125-evsosm