Have you heard this piece of low-brow philosophy: You can be happy or you can be right? Have you ever heard this? Well, I have, and I used to buy into it until something occurred to me: What a fat load of crap this is!

You can be happy or you can be right, but you can’t be both. Says who?

What they mean is that if you argue with someone, you can either continue to allow whatever it is you are arguing about to escalate to its eventual conclusion, where presumably both parties will go away with their feelings and – even worse – their egos battered. Or, you can just agree to disagree and move on, which allows both parties to feel that the other is a complete idiot and not worthy of logical, rational discourse.

That part, I don’t really have too much of a problem with. But it’s when this philosophy is allowed to penetrate into most other aspects of social interaction is where I draw the line.

“Let me please you” – Vina, Star trek “The Cage”

Too often I have seen others – myself included – allowed others to have their way because they wanted it, usually to my detriment. In this case, what you’re saying is, “I’d rather you were happy more than I want to be right.” Which is fine, but it’s really not.

Being “right” to me means to stand up for those things that you know are correct, not merely those things that you believe or feel to be correct, because there is a subtle but distinct difference between the three

Being “happy” on the other hand, to me means that you have allowed yourself to become subordinate to someone else’s desires, to their values, opinions, and even their whims, and usually to your detriment. Perhaps you’re a “people-pleaser, and people who know me what I think of that!

Being a “people-pleaser” is ultimately a self-centered behavior because its sole objective is centered on making others “like” you, or at least making them not be mad at you. People-pleasing has little to do with giving but it has everything to do with getting. You do some favor for someone and in turn you get safety from that person, safety from criticism, anger, or rejection, and you get to be – at least for the moment – liked by them.

The reality of being a people-pleaser is that you as a people-pleaser will find yourself sad much of the time with the identity of a martyr: “I do so much for others, and I do without, but I always do for others and yet what do I get from it?”

The “people-pleaser” starts out as a person or persons who are sad about their perceived self-worth and lovability. They have come to see themselves in a less than flattering manner and use people-pleasing to manipulate others into making them feel okay about themselves. There is a subtle but distinct difference in truly helping others and simply kissing someone’s butt. For example, would you prefer to read to the blind or do you want to continue to eat dirt from your family and so-called friends so no one will yell at you?

Sometimes, the people-pleaser speaks softly, and is often being asked to repeat themselves. This is because they believe that if they speak too forcefully or have opinions that are not in keeping with their alleged peers, that they might get into trouble. If the people-pleaser takes a stand, they might actually have to stand behind it and maybe risk the disapproval of others!

When you as a people-pleaser or not, allow your needs to become secondary to the wants of others, that definitely comes from a place inside you , a sad place where you feel powerless, unsafe, incompetent, unlovable, and definitely inferior.

You need to let yourself be heard, and take the risks of potentially alienating others because you need to be a somebody, not a something. People-pleasers are nobody in particular. They are just what others want them to be, and that’s sad that you would be so afraid not to be your own man or woman because you’re afraid that your friends would reject you. The only friends that would reject you were never really your friends in the first place, and you need to be good with that concept. Don’t be mad that they made you a fool, because they didn’t. You did that; all they did was to take advantage of your complete willingness to do so. If you want to blame anyone for that, blame yourself. But then know when to let that go. It’s good to take responsibility for your actions, but when the self-recriminations aren’t doing anything constructive, let it go, because it’s only going to hold you back.

In Conclusion…

So, the next time someone asks you, “you can be right or you can be happy,” just remember that what they’re really asking is, “you can be right or you can be miserable.” Maybe not in the short term, but definitely in the long-term.

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What I Don’t Get…

What I Don’t Get

Morales and Ethics

“A system of morality which is based upon relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” – Albert Einstein

I don’t get the so-called morality in this country, our alleged ethics, specifically as it applies to prostitution.

Why is prostitution illegal in the first place? Aside from sexually-transmitted diseases (which you could potentially get from anyone), what harm does it do? Of all the bad things you could do to a person, giving them an orgasm seems pretty low on the list! I mean, selling stuff is generally legal and sex is generally legal, so why is selling sex illegal? Why is it illegal to sell something that it is perfectly legal for you to give away for free? Why is paying someone for sex called prostitution and illegal, but if you get a permit and a video camera, it’s called pornography and that’s legal? Because at the core, the very essence is the same thing: Money is being exchanged for sex.

Now I know that someone will say that prostitution is immoral, it destroys marriages and destroys the family unit, that prostitution is a real and ever-present danger to the concept of marriage. Personally, I think that infidelity is a character issue, or rather a lack of character issue. If someone is going to cheat on their spouse or significant other, they will do so regardless of how many reasons you give them not to. People are going to do bad things when they believe that doing so serves their immediate interests. You can see thins in other things such as drug and alcohol addictions, people (like cops) lying under oath (more about that later), and so on. People will use almost any excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or inactions. Calling something an addiction and then having addictions declared as a disease takes all the responsibility off of you; you don’t need to have morals, ethics, character, courage, or conscience because you have a disease and that’s beyond your control. When you remove Choice, then you eliminate Morality, and thus nothing is your fault.

But I’m a sporting kind of guy, let us assume for argument’s sake that prostitution is immoral and adultery is also immoral, yet only prostitution will land you in jail with a potential criminal record. Yet, adultery will not, so where’s the equality in that?

On a similar train of thought, in Canada, any adult can donate blood, marrow, tissue and plasma, yet it is illegal to sell them. It is illegal to sell something that you personally own that is perfectly legal to give away for free. Talk about wanting something for nothing! You have to give it away for free but the medicos still get paid because their time is valuable but your organs and blood are not. What kind of shit is that!?

Someone might say, “well, you can’t put a price on human life.” Really? Tell that to your life insurance company because they sure as hell don’t seem to have a problem doing so.

The Moral of the Story

It makes we wonder if there really is anything such as “morality,” or is it just another synthetic construction of society like the so-called “sanctity of life?” Is morality just one more thing created by those who were in power to keep those who were not in line and obedient? I personally believe this is the case.

To my way of thinking, morals and ethics encompass both legal and religious teachings blended together to form this somewhat abstract concept, but what if collectively as a species that we got it wrong somehow?

Let us suppose that among us as a species that there is a global, secular, sub consciousness, a kind of collective common sense where the optimum mode of survival of the species was mutual cooperation and tolerance? So, if this is the case then why do we also collectively ascribe a sense of mystical judgmental oversight to it? Just curious, is all.

Of course now, the current mode of human behavior seems to be one where people are doing what other people don’t do that they are supposed to be doing, like an attendance record at school or work.

I don’t believe that people should be rewarded for doing what they should be doing. Instead, why not shame and revile those who should be doing yet for a host of excuses, are not? Condemn those who don’t do what they should be doing, but at the same time, do not praise those who do. Only one of these behaviors is worthy of comment, both are not.

Oh and prostitution – like heroin, cocaine, and pot – aren’t legal because there’s no way for the government swine to gather at the metaphorical trough to skim off a few billion off the top. When this happens, these things will no longer be illegal or immoral. After all, they said gambling was immoral, and there are casinos and slot machines in almost every major populated area.

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Dragline, a historical fiction novel by Joe Harwell set

Dragline, a historical fiction novel by Joe Harwell set in the western Arkansas coal mining industry in 1973.

Copyright 2013 by Joe Harwell Publishing, LLC, P.O. Box 54213, Tulsa, OK 74155-0213

joeharwell54@gmail.com    www.indianrockvampire.com

This is a work of fiction, which includes references to known geographic locations, existing and closed businesses and deceased historical figures. Do not reproduce any portion of this novel without written permission of the author.

Cover designed by Forrest Campbell. Front cover model Rebecca Hibbs. Back cover photo taken by Jeff Mode, used with permission of Farrell-Cooper Mining Company, Fort Smith, AR.

Grateful appreciation to Mary Frances Hodges, Peg Livingston, Kris Gillham, Junior Grubb and members of the Unbreakable Spines writing group in Tulsa, OK.

Chapter 1.  The call

Sissy slowly became aware of an on and off bothersome sound interrupting her sleep. “Go away,” her internal voice complained when she realized it wasn’t part of a dream. Feeling a pillow close by, she considered pulling it over her right ear until the throbbing pain of a monster hangover pounding inside her head halted any thought of movement.

“Damn!” she murmured when the noise wouldn’t stop. Awake enough to realize it was the telephone beside the bed, her first thought was, “Screw it!” The next was, “What time is it?” Slowly opening her eyes, Sissy looked for the green fluorescent dots and hands on the face of the alarm clock, then realized she wasn’t even looking in the right direction.

A man’s voice groaned beside her, saying, “Are you gonna get it?”

As reality pushed through the hangover, Sissy slowly rolled onto her back next to him. When Phil stayed the night, he always ended up on her side of the bed. As the phone kept ringing, Sissy reluctantly moved to answer it and the hangover gave all it could as she slid across Phil’s hairy chest. Focusing on the clock while reaching for the phone, her vision cleared just enough to see it was almost three-thirty. Phil groaned and moved as Sissy stretched her hand toward the phone, knocking the alarm clock onto the floor.

“Stay still!” she protested, while re-positioning herself to grab the phone.

Playfully placing his hands around her hips, Phil said, “It’s probably Victoria callin’ to see if you’re alone.”

“I know, but I have to answer it.” Stretching toward the phone again, she pushed it into the lamp, barely managing to catch the receiver as the base crashed to the floor. Phil laughed and managed to grab the lamp before it fell too. Sissy quickly placed her other hand over his mouth and put the receiver to her ear.

Before she spoke, her mother’s voice came through the phone. “Sis, are you there?”

“I’m here. Why are you calling in the middle of the night?”

Victoria didn’t immediately respond, and Sissy was sure she could hear her sniffling. “Is Phil with you?”

“Goodbye Mom!” Sissy responded in a groggy but defiant tone. “I don’t appreciate you calling me like this.”

“Don’t hang up,” Victoria pleaded. “I have something important to tell you that he doesn’t need to hear.”

Phil stabilized the lamp and Sissy took her hand off his mouth and reluctantly turned on the light. She moved off of him and Phil got up and headed down the hall to the bathroom. When the door closed, she said, “It’s just me, Mom. What happened?” The sniffling coming from the receiver grew louder as her mother’s voice broke into crying. Sissy asked, “Is it about Dad and Papa?”

After a moment, Victoria replied, “The State Department called. Their plane is overdue at its next stop and there’s been no word from them. The man said they may have gone down in some mountains and they’re launching a search. I need you over here right away.”

Her father and grandfather, Jake and Marlon MacKenzie are in Colombia consulting with the government and private firms on coal mining techniques.

Slowly sitting up, Sissy struggled to gather her thoughts, and then said, “I’ll be right there.”

“I don’t know what to do. I just know it’ll to be up to us to save the company if they’re gone. Your uncles and the lawyers will swoop in like buzzards if Marlon’s dead, and if your father is gone….” Her mother’s voice broke into sobbing.

Leaning forward, Sissy picked up the base of the phone. Seeing it was already broken, she dropped it, causing the ringer bells to clang when the base hit the floor, and she said, “Have you called anyone else?”

“No, just you. The man from the State Department said he’d call back every few hours and won’t release any information until he’s sure about what happened. Why the hell did they go anyway? It’s just some ridiculous favor for Bill Fulbright or a payback he arranged for them with parties and golf.”

“Stop it, Mom. Do you think we should call Fulbright?”

“The State Department is calling him. That’s why I want you here. I can’t deal with all these people and can’t even begin to think what we’ll do without your dad and Marlon. You’ll have to threaten Phil to keep him from saying anything.”

“Don’t worry about him. I’ll be right over.”

“I love you, Sis. Please hurry.”

“Love you too.” Sissy laid the handset down on the remnants of the phone’s base and wobbled to her closet. Grabbing an overnight bag, she stuffed jeans, work shirts and tee shirts into it before going to the dresser for underwear.

Cracking open the bathroom door, Phil asked, “Where ya goin’?”

“Mom needs me. Get outta here and don’t ask questions.”

“OK, OK,” he replied.

Sissy quickly pulled on her clothes and looked for shoes. Not immediately finding them, she mumbled, “Screw it.” Grabbing the overnight bag and her purse, she headed down the hall to the kitchen with her head pounding harder than ever.“There you are,” she said, pulling a nearly full pint bottle of Vodka from the refrigerator. Before dropping it into her purse, she removed the cap and drank two large sips. “That ought to do it,” she said, replacing the cap before slipping the bottle into the purse. Picking up the overnight bag, she headed to the back door, knowing the Vodka would help her get through the day. She crossed the porch and stepped onto the driveway, pulling keys, a pack of cigarettes, and a lighter from the purse. Opening the door of her red, 1963 Corvette, she tossed the overnight bag and purse onto the passenger seat and set the cigarettes and lighter on the console as she slid into the car. Placing her left foot on the clutch as the key went into the ignition, the engine roared to life. She slammed the shifter into reverse, released the clutch and backed the Vette into the street.

Glimpsing her reflection in the mirror with her long red hair tangled in every direction, she thought, “Mom’s gonna raise hell when I show up looking like this.” Just as the car reached the middle of the street, she hit the brake and depressed the clutch again, bringing it to a stop. The possibility of her father and grandfather not coming back rushed in and she momentarily rested her forehead on the steering wheel.

Phil had made his way to the kitchen and turned on the light. Sissy saw him standing shirtless, looking out the back door, and reflected on her relationship with this man who was now separated from his wife and children because of her.

“Phil freakin’ Biazo,” she thought. “Papa was right. What the hell have I been thinking? This is going to end badly.” Looking over at the cigarette pack on the console, she mused, “You’re not the only bad habit I’ll be breaking today.” Her thoughts turned to things Marlon said before leaving a week ago, starting with, “Run the company like it’s yours while we’re gone.”

Pushing the shifter into first gear, she turned the wheel, let out the clutch and gave the gas pedal a hard push, burning rubber as she sped away.


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A childhood memory, I think

Sumtime b4 eye wuz 5, we livd in a houze on Pearl street in Poto that had a hi front pourch.  My mama gru red rozez and had big roze bushez all aroun the puorch.  I got a new green trisikle for my birfday from S n H green stampz cauze mama had savd them stampz since b4 I wuz borned.

I namd mi trisikle S n H and rode him in on the pourch alllll the time.  1 day I rode S n H realllllly fast and kudent stop and me and S n H  both went flin’ off the pourch rite n2 mama’s biggggest, purdiest, thornziest red roze bush and mi lil sistur went n toled on me.  S n H wuz on top of me and I kudent get looose.  Evur time I muved the thornz stuk me sumwheres an I kried reeeeel loud.

Mama and r next dor naber layde Ms. Burket kame out n got S n H off me and pult me out of the roze bush.  It seeeemed like mama spend a hour pullin them thornz outta me and doktorin’ me up. S n H got a bend in hiz frunt whiel and my daddie n Mrs. Burket’s huzband Jake fixt it 4 me az best thay kuld.  After that, mama and daddie sed my daze of ridin’ S n H on the pourch wuz over.  The end.


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I came to a startling realization this week.  It was something I was unaware of but had only admitted to a few.  I didn’t even know that there was a term for it but when I opened my email there it was on my screen.

Gets up to his feet.

Hi! My name is Billy Vincent and I have LapsedNoWriMo.

According to an email I received from NanoWriMo’s site, it is a disturbing condition.

LapsedNoWriMo: symptoms include a dwindling of your daily word count, and a persistent tallying of the months until NaNo starts again. Contagious if not treated with strenuous writing.
bustSince November, I have written very little.  A handful of blogs but that is it.  When I began writing The Next Big Blog Hop I realized that I could hardly remember my characters or my novel.  Everything was kinda a blur. 

So I have made a decision.  In order to fight this condition, I will choose to write more.  I will choose to write more blogs and work on both of my novels in progress, Armor Al and Means To An End.  I also have some ideas for short stories that I need to get written. 

So there it is.  A plan of action.  The only thing left is the action.  This blog is the first of many steps in a long journey. 

You can reach me on Twitter @Billyvincent72

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This is something we all have.  I don’t know about you, but I have about a zillion of them.  I came across one just today.  It really had my blood boiling.

I love to read.  A lot.  I really like reading series novels.  That said, I like to read them IN ORDER.  At the beginning of the book, there is usually a page that tells you what the author has also written, giving the names of all the books in the series that you are interested in.  Okay!  No problem.  I picked up a book, opened the book to the author’s previous publications page, and..hey, this book was the first one listed.  It’s the first of the series, right?

WRONG!  The publisher listed the books in REVERSE order.  Meaning that this was the LATEST book in the series.  Which, of course, totally screwed me up.  Had to go to the author’s website to find the reading order.   I’m reading book #18 instead of book #1.

Hello!!!! In what universe do you list the last book first?  It drives me CRAZY!!!  Okay, crazier than I already am.

I’m nearly halfway through the book.  Lovely.  It kept referring to things in the past.  At first, I thought the author was just setting some background information, but more and more stuff was insinuated to, and that’s when I went to the author’s website.

I wish all the publishers did it the same way, that way, we’d have an idea what was what.  Or, if the would number the books.  That would help, too.  I could pick a book off the shelf and it would say, “The Blood Stops Here”, by Anyone Author, Book # 8 in the Blood Series.  That works, right?

Oh well, enough of this pet peeve.  Now to discover the next one.


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I sit and wait for…who knows what.

I hope that someone will come.

I sit and wait for….who knows who.

But no one comes to my door.

I sit and wait for….who knows when.

Nothing happens.

I sit and wait for….who knows where.

I don’t leave my house.

I sit and wait for….who knows how.

I keep hoping someone knows.

That I sit and wait.

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Remember Me (a poem)

Now I lay me down to sleep

My soul in Death’s eternal keep

So sad my life has reached it’s end

But Death comes to all my friend

I’ve just one thing of you to ask

A tiny, insignificant task

Please don’t forget me when I’m gone

I realize that life goes on

Work and play and family

But one request, remember me

It doesn’t have to be each day

I know that life gets in the way

Just take a moment now and then

To think of all that I have been

I hope it isn’t hard to do

And even brings a smile or two

Remembrances of you and I

Fond memories of days gone by

I do not wish to make you sad

Remembering the laughs we had

Please don’t cry, I beg of you

For time is short and days are few

How long we have no one can say

But I must go and you must stay

Just promise me, I have to know

That till it comes your time to go

You’ll keep me in your heart and mind

Then I’ll survive and you shall find

That Death can not claim victory

As long as you remember me

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Possibly the last of the turduckens

What can I say?  We did it again for the 3rd year in a row.  Went to Hebert’s in Tulsa, otherwise know as Cajun Ed’s and bought a large turducken for Thanksgiving.  Yes, they come in sizes.  Also, someone pointed out that the first four letters don’t sound so tasty when I posted this picture on Facebook.  I have VERY observant Facebook friends.  The good news, it was the best tasting one ever and because it’s nearly boneless, you can eat darn near every piece of it.  The bad news, it was more expensive than ever coming in at a whopping $92.19 with tax.  Jeeze Louise!!!  I never really knew what Jeeze Louise meant until they told me the price of this multi-meat bird delicacy.  Anyway, unless book sales REALLY pick up in the next year, 2012 may be the last time we break the pig to buy a turducken.  Maybe we can just go shoot something for next year, like they did in the old days.  Something legal, of course.

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Lessons Learned


NaNoWriMo is almost over. A month of concentrated writing culminating in a 50,000 word first draft. I signed up. I started out strong. I failed miserably! Am I upset? No. I learned something about myself.

I am not NaNoWriMo material.

It’s not that I don’t really have the time. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I lack discipline. Plain and simple. Writing is hard work for me. Very rarely do the words flow from me like a river. It’s more like getting blood taken at the Doctors office. With my small veins, I usually get stabbed in each arm before they have a go at the backs of my hands where they (hopefully) get a slow stream of vital fluid flowing. Yeah, that’s a very good description of how I write…painfully, torturously slow.

You don’t even want to know how long it’s taken me to get this far!

It’s not that I don’t like writing. But I have to admit, I would much rather “have written” than “be writing”. There are lots of other things that I like doing better. So many ways to be distracted. I confess, sometimes I go looking for distractions. They aren’t hard to find. Life is full of them. Despite all the distractions and lack of discipline, I do still get some writing done. I managed to write 4,000 words before I threw in the NaNoWriMo towel. I know, it’s not much, but it got me working on a story idea I had shelved and I am 4,000 words closer to the end of that story than I was before.

NaNoWriMo hasn’t been a success but it hasn’t been a total waste of time either. I’ve learned about myself which is always a good thing. Will I try again next year? Probably not. There are some distractions that I refuse to let my writing distract me from. It does make me realize that I need to try harder to squeeze in a little writing time though.

Discipline. That’s what I need. And before I get any offers from all you freaks out there, I’m talking “self” discipline. No, you can’t watch. Move it along, there’s nothing to see. I just gotta make myself sit, open file, think, write. Sounds simple enough, right?

We shall see. I’ll get back to you on that.

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