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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!

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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!

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By The Numbers – June 2021

Hey Howdy Hey Gang! This will be a short post. The video is also short cuz I’m a dummy and the camera died on me. <sigh> Were I a smart YouTuber, I’d have just swapped out the battery, but didn’t have it handy. Next time.

Let’s start with MONEY! Yes, I’m selling books to make money. That’s sort of the entire goal here. Bear in mind I’m doing almost no promotion other than my newsletter and a blog post that I share on all the social medias. The fact I’m selling anything at all amazes me. I won’t lie.

So, I’m happy with last month. I won’t be buying a new car any time soon, but I made $12.75 for the month of June. Given that I made only $3 in May, I’ll take that as a win. As I said, I’m not a rock star supermodel author with six figure book deals. I’m starting over from failing the last time I tried to get things going. I need to rebuild my brand from the ground up and regain the trust of readers I’ve lost over the years. This isn’t going happen over night. I need to keep repeating that more for myself than anyone else. The fact I sold 3 copies of my latest book and a couple of copies of back titles means I’m doing as well as I can.

Yes, there’s a lot more I’d love to see happen, but for right now at this moment in time, I’m writing books, and publishing on a schedule. Nothing more, nothing less. Once I get deeper into each series, say, with 3 books in each series, THEN I’ll start doing a lot more because those 4th books will blow people’s socks off and I’ll be crazy excited to get them out there.

One thing I’ve been thinking about doing and I should have thought about this sooner, is put the first chapter of the next book to read in the series in each book. Because I’m a dummy, I didn’t think about that until I was recording today’s video and then the camera died. <grumble>

At any rate, if you’re curious about the numbers, check out today’s video. If you were following along with my ‘story’ idea from yesterday, that will be starting on Monday! I will reserve Friday for getting folks caught up on what I’m doing on my writing. I think that’ll be a good point to do it.

I’m off to make words happen that I didn’t make happen this week.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

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Story Time.

I think I finally know what I’m going to do with my YouTube channel. I got to thinking, as I tend to do. I’m an author. I’m a story teller. There are enough people who ramble daily about their daily writing grind and handing out writing advice. That’s not what I ever wanted this blog or the YouTube channel to be about.

What did I want it to be about?


That said, I’m going to start using this blog and my YouTube channel to start telling stories about me. From my childhood, high school, Navy Days, Band days, my family. Yes, I’ll still talk about my writing and where it’s going. Just not as the main content. I’m going to branch out from what I was doing and tell more stories. Honestly, I think that’ll be far more interesting than “I wrote 3000 words today.”

I think that’s what’s holding back my ability to grow my audience. I’m not putting enough of ME into the content. Sure, there are some who are hear to listen to me ramble about what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m not forgetting about you. Honestly. I do plan on talking at length about my writing. Only once a week and not every single ding dong day.

My goal is to get back to 5 minutes a day. Short stories about things I’ve done, where I’ve gone, dreams I’ve had, stories I wanted to tell and didn’t and why. I’m going to do a better job of putting out shorter content so it’s not so much for one sitting. Seems everyone has ADD these days and I need to keep the content length down.

That said, I’m also going to resurrect Murdock Minute. I’ll get those up on YouTube and TikTok and YES it will be one minute reviews or less. I plan to keep my face out of the videos and put pictures up instead. I’ll still record audio for them, but I’ll be far more brief. I feel these will do better on TikTok than YouTube, but they’ll go in both places.

I’m going to keep this one short this evening. There is much to do and I need to get after it.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

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It’s all about the journey…for me.

Recorded early this evening. Worked out in the morning. Now I have the rest of the evening to do stuff.

Side Note: It appears that I neglected to click “Stream Now” and clicked “Record Now”. We’ll figure all that out later. Mistakes will happen.

On the writing front, Monday I wrote somewhere around 500 words. I wasn’t happy with those words. They felt forced. I re-read them and last night, threw all those words out. It wasn’t right.

I started over. <grumble>

But, my idea for the start, I feel, was much better. Jack, by himself, in his Yard/Lab working alone. Well, with Hudson nearby. I was going to write the entire chapter with no dialogue, but no, it needed some.

The words flowed like water. In less than an hour and a half, I’d written nearly 2000 words and got that over the Michell Plested so he could begin work on his chapter.

This is how we write the Jack Kane novels. Round Robin style. It’s fun. We can head in a similar direction and riff off one another. Bring in each others characters as needed for a scene. Then see what they other did.

One of the things Mike and I do (now) when preparing for these stories is to know where we’re starting, and where we’re ending. We’ll discuss story beats that should happen. That’s about it. On book 1, we tried to plot chapter by chapter and the story got away from us. It’s still a good story, but came out rougher than intended and needed a lot of massaging to get right.

Book 2, that sucker flowed well, and we did minimal plotting.

We found what works for us. We’re not 100% discovery writers who sit and “BAM!” story. With two of us in there, we need to have a general sense of where the story is going. We also did some research that’ll be needed in the story as well. I’m having fun looking at old time trains. I feel like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. Bazinga.

When I write stories on my own, I’m usually not too concerned where the story goes. I’m having fun writing and putting words down. I know and trust my writing enough these days that the story will get to where it needs to go. I’m more concerned with the journey the characters are on.

Yes, I take notes as I go. I keep track of names, species, ship names, hull numbers, identifications, and all that. I do my research before I write and put <insert research here> comments to keep me on track when I’m writing and need to fill something in I didn’t look up before sitting down.

What I’m saying is simple, I don’t let anything get in my way when I’m putting words down. I’ve written a good amount over the years. Nearly 2,000,000 words worth. I’ve read hundreds of books. I’ve studied though courses of those who’ve gone before me and found success.

The best part about this time around, I’m having more fun than ever before. I feel free not worrying about how many people are reading my blog or how many views my latest video got. Sure, I’m checking, but it’s not a driving factor for my current level of happiness. That’s all.

I’m off to enjoy the evening.

Until Next Time!

Stay Awesome!

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