Category Archives: Writing

2192 Days

2192 days

2286 articles published

5576 photos/images

50 videos

5 audio files

1999 comments (c’mon, someone be the 2,000th!)

The prize for the most comments, by well over a factor of three, is Jemima Pett. Thank you for the input, feedback, and conversation! (Wendy, you’re in second place.)

The article that received the most comments? They Crossed A Line, a screed about some truly ignorant and horrible astronomy in a Hallmark Christmas movie.

The article that’s received the most views? Still a bit of a surprise to me, but it’s the pictures I posted from the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, VA, with 575 views. (I notice when I search the site to create that link the “birthday” articles at “730 Days” and “1096 Days” also come up, so this may be a positive feedback loop I’ve just given another shove to.) Second is the article about First Landing State Park in Virginia (522 views), with a P-51 engine replacement being third (504 views).

I find it funny to see that the only “Flash Fiction” I see in the top fifty or so is the one titled “Gigantic Honkin’ Nipple Clamps.” I do miss the weekly flash fiction exercise that Chuck Wendig used to run. Also, I had figured that people were reading that Flash Fiction more than the others because of the title, and it very well might be. But I just re-read it and it’s not half bad.

Most of the articles in the Top Posts are older, having had some time to build up a number of views over time. I’m pleased to see one quite recent in there as well – “My Battery Is Low And It’s Getting Dark.

Looking through those 5576 photos & images, there are probably several hundred (I’m not going to spend the time counting) “images” from phone screen shots and a handful of images from the Internet when something or the other caught my attention. But at least 90% of those 5576 images are pictures I’ve taken.

Space. Airplanes. Critters. Travels. Clouds. Sunsets. Flowers. Lizards. Christmas lights. Fireworks. And whatever other stupid shit catches my eye.

I always hope for greatness, but some days I have to settle for not being boring. Thanks to all of you for following along, no matter where I am on that spectrum.

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NaNoWriMo – 2018

I mentioned at one point that it would be great to get a bunch of big projects behind me at work and at the hangar and at home so that I could spend November slaving away at the keyboard being creative with a NaNoWriMo project.

(For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s the National Novel Writing Month – in brief, slap 50,000+ words onto the screen as a “zeroth” draft of a novel. It’s not pretty, it’s not even a first draft, it’s simply an exercise in Just – Keep – Putting – Words – TOGETHER! and seeing what comes out the other side. I’ve done it three or four times, but being incredibly self centered and foolish open about my process I’ve put my work up here on this site – just do a search to see some of the crap I’ve inflicted on my loyal readers in the past. Actually, that might not be totally true – while being “zeroth” drafts, at least two of them had stories that I actually thought were pretty good if I ever managed to get past the NaNoWriMo stage, finish them, and then start editing.)

I also mentioned that while doing NaNoWriMo I would like to start running and training for a marathon again. (The two projects share a great number of similarities.)

Needless to say, the big projects at work were replaced with other big projects at work, everyone at the hangar is still pissed with me because I’m so hopelessly behind on the older big projects as well as the current big projects, and I’m still unpacking at home from the move that consumed my life from February until May, so there’s no NaNoWriMo for 2018. And there’s no running right now either.

Just me mired in projects like I’m in quicksand up to my chin, watching things I’m passionate about going zipping by like fighter jets doing low-level strafing runs through the Valley of Happiness.

See? Wordsmithing like that is why I should be doing NaNoWriMo. There’s still time, after all. I only need to do 17,000 words a day for three days…

Image result for so you're saying there's a chance gif

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A Thousand Stories

Well, here we are at the end of 2017. In a year where it felt like my head was spinning 24/7, my year-end thoughts aren’t any more organized, but I would like to take the opportunity to throw out a semi-organized rant. With that in mind:

2017 – what a cluster fuck!

It’s not that there weren’t any good things at all. To me it seems that it’s the contrast between the highs and lows that was the killer. The highs were higher but fewer and further between. (The August total solar eclipse, “Hamilton,” seeing Depeche Mode at the Hollywood Bowl, to name a few.)

Meanwhile, the lows were just unrelenting and grim on several fronts. Both my day job and my volunteer job at the CAF had time and workload pressures all year that were like trying to stuff ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag.

Over everything was the current US political and social crises. Looking back at the year in that light, the “good” news is that the economy hasn’t collapsed and we haven’t gotten involved in a nuclear war. But on both topics there’s a feeling of impending doom and the fear that the next word in the conversation is “yet!”

When that’s your standard for “good,” i.e., not having thirty or forty million people unemployed or not having three hundred or four hundred million people dead, it’s hard to feel giddy about the accomplishment.

Personally, one comment stood out and has stuck with me as I’ve been spinning and trying to juggle priorities with too little time, too little sleep, too little money, and too much stress. At one point this year, while trying to sort through priorities at work, my boss commented something to the effect of, “You probably have a thousand stories written, but none of them have a final chapter.

That stung – particularly because it hit so close to home. She was offering an honest, constructive criticism and I never thought that she meant it literally. (I don’t even know if she knows that I write or have written.) But in the broader sense she’s absolutely correct – at home, at work, and at the CAF I do have dozens and dozens of various ongoing tasks at any given point and it often takes forever to actually get them finished. Some never get finished, just dropped to the wayside, with the intent to get back to them “soon.”

So while I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions (for all the reasons that make them artificial and useless and a waste of time) I will be trying to remember to be more focused and to always be more conscious of the “finish line” in any project.

For example, largely due to time pressure, there are a dozens of “loose threads” with articles I’ve written here. Have I shown any more of my series of travel pictures lately? A quick search shows that my New York pictures had parts #14 and #15 posted in April, part #16 posted in May, and part #17 posted in July. Since then…crickets.

What’s up with that?

Did I ever share the full stories and pictures and video from the eclipse in August? That would be a big, fat “no!”

Focus.

I’ve written about running marathons and how I’ve found it to be about 33% physical and 66% mental. If you do the training, you know that you can run that far and you have a decent idea of what sort of time you can accomplish, along with a goal that you would like to push yourself to. Despite that, there will be a dozen times (or a hundred) along the course where your body just wants to quit. Your brain is being assaulted by stimuli and pain and it would be just a short jog along the path of least resistance to simply pull over and get on one of those buses that will take you back to the finish line.

But mentally, you have to have trained yourself to Keep. Going. Anyway.

You know that the finish line is out there and until you reach it, you Will. Not. Stop.

One of the things I found after starting to run was that I could use that same mental ability in other, non-physical aspects of life. Such as handling an overwhelming work load or an impossible deadline.

I’m not doing that now.

In both the physical (running) and the non-physical (getting a project done) worlds, it’s a pain in the ass, a full on horrible bitch of a time when you’re in it. You HATE it. But it is so incredibly satisfying when you hit that finish line, even more so if you’re able to meet or exceed your goals. So while you swear during the process that you will NEVER do this again, that sense of accomplishment will call you back. Especially if it’s something like work or something you’re passionate about. You’re going to be doing it (or have to be doing it) anyway, so why not set a goal, hit it, and get the self-satisfaction of the accomplishment?

I haven’t run in a while. I’ve lost that discipline, and it shows in several ways, most of which I’m not satisfied or happy with. I need to get it back.

Focus. Regain that “runner’s mentality.” Reach those finish lines.

Write those final chapters.

Even if that doesn’t help get rid of the festering cancers we have in Washington and their legions of vile sycophants that are now crawling out from under the rocks where they’ve been hiding, at least I’ll be in better shape to fight them, both mentally, physically, and financially.

Kick 2018’s ass!

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Filed under Paul, Politics, Running, Writing

Halloween 2017

When possible we celebrate Halloween by bringing out the telescopes and binoculars and throwing a star party on the front sidewalk while handing out candy. It has on occasion been spectacular.

After a year or two in which there wasn’t a lot of easy stuff to see from the bright, light polluted city, tonight was going to be great! The quarter moon was high and a trivially easy target. Saturn was up in the west and by the time it set Jupiter would be up in the east. Easy peasy.

Not tonight. The weather gods hate us.

Did anyone see the World Series Game Six from Dodger Stadium, which is about twenty miles from here as the crow flies? Drizzle, clouds, occasional light rain? Most of the actual rain missed us, but the clouds had us totally socked in.

The neighborhood knows us and we got asked all night about the telescopes. Sorry, I don’t have a radio telescope. If we have to stick to the optical wavelengths, tonight it was nothing but listening to the Dodgers game and handing out candy.


Also, in an hour NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts. As much as I enjoyed participating in past years (just search this site for “NaNoWriMo”), just as I was forced to admit last year, there’s no way this year that I have the time to even think about participating.

Not surprisingly to me, having participated in both activities, NaNoWriMo reminds me a LOT of running a marathon. Just as I am melencholy watching the LA Marathon every year when I’m not running (which is most of them these days – I ran in 2011 and 2012, trained but didn’t fun in 2013 and 2014) I will no doubt be wishing that I was writing every day in November. The reality of my schedule and multiple other commitments is little consolation.


As noted previously, being a responsilbe adult can suck.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather, Writing

Appropriate Slang And Acronyms

The failure of yesterday’s article to actually show up and look like it hadn’t published (maybe it did, maybe it didn’t – wait for it…) had me thinking about some of the appropriate slag and acronyms that we use in such situations, often to make our response somewhat more socially acceptable in polite company.

FUBAR is a military term, meaning “Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.” I’ll leave it to the rocket scientists in the group to figure out that most military term used a word other than “fouled.” You may make the same assumption pretty much anyplace you see an “F” in these examples. Which in and of itself is…

SNAFU! “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up!” I remember learning this one from my dad at a young age, probably six or seven, and it serves as an excellent benchmark for just how naive, sheltered, and Catholic schooled I was. (I’ve gotten better, thanks!) First of all, it was high school before I finally figured out that thing about “fouled.” Secondly, it took years for me to figure out that it was satire – how could things be “normal” when they were “all fouled up?” That’s not how things are normally.

Now I’ve learned that “normally” we have a “Charlie Foxtrot” situation. For the uninitiated, that’s a “ClusterFork,”, sort of. (Nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more! I’m trying to keep this site halfway PG, saving all of the outraged vulgarity for the other site when I write there.) I’m not sure this one makes any grammatical sense, but it does roll off the tongue with a certain panache.

Given my lack of sleep and overabundance of stress these days, my first leanings on the root cause of last night’s error went to PEBKAC, an all-time favorite having done some time in tech support. “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair” is a good way of describing at least 70% of the computer problems I get to diagnose – and many of them that I get to diagnose I’m troubleshooting on my own behalf.

Until someone pointed out (thanks, Barney!) on the Facebook post for that article that the link in the FaceBook post was was broken. Which brought out a strangled, “Dafuq!!” The spelling is socially acceptable, the pronunciation pretty much what it looks like and thus socially unacceptable.

Troubleshooting it, I found that the URL posted to FaceBook and Twitter (and Google+ and Linkedin and Tumblr – wait, I forgot to post to Ello?) contains the string “2017/07/19” while the post on WordPress has “2017/07/18.” Furthermore, I can’t change the URL on WordPress, only post a (manually) corrected URL on social media. All of which makes me think that the article did in some way post yesterday.

But no one in this dimension saw it. I’m going to believe that it was front page news in the Twilight Zone Times-Picayune!

Now, quick, before something else goes wrong, where’s that “Publish” button?

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A Belated Birthday

Yesterday was this website’s fourth birthday. None of you need to feel guilty about not bringing cake and/or ice cream (that new Byers/Dryers double chocolate with peanut butter cups in it is EXCELLENT!) since I forgot the occasions myself until I got a “congratulatory” email from WordPress.

In past years I’ve done a scorecard of sorts – not this year, I’m too freakin’ busy by at least an order of magnitude, if not two. That’s a good thing, especially since I started this site to keep myself occupied while I was unemployed. I thought the employment issue would go away in a month or two – again, off by an order of magnitude, so the fact that I’m stressed and busy is A GOOD THING! (…he said, sounding way too much like he was trying to avoid being sent to the cornfield by Anthony…)

I will note that after those 1,461 days, this will be post #1564. I remember as a child my mother once referred to me as having “diarrhea of the mouth” since I was always talking and telling stories. If she only knew that it wasn’t obnoxious, it was training. Okay, it was obnoxious, but it was also training!

On a probably unrelated note, tonight The Long-Suffering Wife asked how old I was. Call me crazy (that’s your cue), but isn’t that the sort of thing spouses know about one another? Perhaps between this and that there was a small rift in the space-time continuum?

Whatever. Happy birthday, WLTSTF! Everyone have some ice cream!

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Scalzi & Doctrow

If you have a favorite author and they’re doing a book tour, take the opportunity to go see them.

Tonight at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena we saw John Scalzi (center) with Cory Doctrow (right), hosted by Amber Benson (left).

The Long-Suffering Wife waiting to get her copy of Cory Doctrow’s new book, “Walkaway,” signed.

She got to spend a few minutes talking to him, while I waited to get my copy of Scalzi’s new “The Collapsing Empire” signed.

Go see your favorite author on tour. They rarely bite, are (mostly) housebroken, and it really, really does give them some good, positive feedback on their work after all of the hours, days, weeks, and months spent in isolation writing that favorite book that you just put away in two days.

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