Tomorrow I Turn 42

Yes, tomorrow I turn 42. Which, in case you did not know, is the answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything.” And this, in case you were unaware, is one of my all time favorite books. I loved Douglas Adams’ fiction the same way I love pie; with an unhealthy, gluttonous fervor that plays in the borderlands of insane mania. There lies a true poet of our times. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us crave perfectly normal. Without trying he described the fundamental nature of our generation. He gave us the Salmon of Doubt.

In celebration of my 42nd birthday I plan on reading through the whole of his compendium. So long and thanks for all the fish.

Let’s Wage a War on X-mass

This is what happens when the world allows, nay even encourages, guys like me to wield the awesome power that is Twitter.

Need Some Space

I just knocked out about seven hundred words on a new Dispatch. Well maybe this one isn’t a Dispatch, maybe it is just a short story. Already it is 3,000 something words long and I’ve only gotten to the first reveal. But what ever it is, it is fun, and I’m enjoying writing it.

That said, what I wanted to talk about today has more to do with parenting. This week has been a challenge for me. Tess has been in Ohio all week solving software problems. I’ve stayed at home with the little guy and the dog. As the days have progressed I’ve found myself wanting for even a little time alone. Time to myself.

Aral has been doing his best to be a three year old. And most often that means that Dad gets absolutely no time to himself. For instance, yesterday I crawled through 283 words of this story that should have written themselves. While he is at school today, I breezed through nearly a thousand in the same amount of time and with this blog post I’ll likely double that word count before I need to go pick him up and feed him lunch. Clearly I am not as effective as a writer when I’m distracted by parenting responsibilities.

Aral has recently started asking to do things independently. For this I’m super glad, but often he wants me to watch him doing these things on his own. I get to play audience, but Thor help me if I offer to help. Today he put on his own shoes — three times — before we made it into the car. I patiently watched him put the same pair of shoes on each time, commenting only about what a good job he did all on his own.

Friday is here, Tess is on a plane back to the Puget Sound, and the pair of us have made it through yet another week. I’m a pretty proud Daddy most of the time and while my parenting has a palpable impact on my writing I am super glad that I get the opportunity to do this. Yesterday, after a particularly challenging parental situation (kids arguing over toys) Aral walked over to a sign hanging on the wall of the coffee shop and said “Dad, that’s an ‘E’.” Later in the day he was knocking out letters I’m certain we haven’t yet covered. The whole time I’m standing there in awe saying “Fuck yea” to myself because he’s three and I get to appreciate his accomplishments vicariously.

So yeah, I need a little time to myself, but I get to give him my time and attention, and feel that much better for it. Right now, Aral is teaching me a new kind of patience. Often I have to delay my own gratification for extended periods of time. The pay-off, however, is amazing.

Getting Out There

Race to Alaska

I have been toying with an idea for a while now, since before my appearance at DetCon1 last July actually. Human powered endurance sports tend to exist on the bleeding edge of materials science and efficient design. I like to use this in my science fiction writing because it is not much of a stretch to imagine pushing these two contributing factors just a little bit further in the pursuit of glories we already seek.

Today I realize that when I was much younger and had far fewer responsibilities I was living an optimal science fiction life style. Working on the White River National Forest as a back country wilderness guard was the beginning of my pursuit of an ultralight backpack. That first summer I showed up with a huge haul ruck for mountaineering and enough extra stuff that I walked out on my first patrol loaded down with fifty or more pounds strapped to my back. I was young and stupid, but equally motivated by avoiding pain. As soon as that first trip came to a close I realized that I needed to shed weight and bulk rapidly. It was easy enough to repurpose lighter gear from the back of my Subaru hatchback and soon I was skipping down trails thirty-five miles a day. My consistent experimentation was rewarded with easier travels and more miles.

The rest of the family is down for some sleep, and I just got back from a run around the block. Now age is a governing factor in that equation. But I still envy those guys that do amazing distances under their own power.

Gavin McClurg and Will Gadd just flew the length of the Canadian Rockies vol-bivy style in thirty-five days. Heather Anderson powered out a sixty day Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. And the venerable Jefe Branham bike-packed the Divide in sixteen days and change. When people at Geek Fan Expo asked me what are my favorite sports this weekend my reply was “anything single-stage, self-supported.”

My problem is that, while I enjoy watching others do amazing things, doing so fills my pants with ants. Tour the Divide has been an itching welt on my conscious for quite some time. So too each and every PCT segment and thru hike record on the books. Writing about these kinds of things only helps for a little while.

And when I get a bug for long distance races they are very difficult to squish. Right now I’m thinking about how I might enter Race to Alaska. From my seat at this desk I’ve got less than a year to get back into long distance shape for a crossing I should have attempted twenty years ago. Tomorrow the roof top tent goes on the block to generate some seed money and right now I’m trying to calculate my realistic exercise speed given calm conditions.

Ten days. Can I afford that time? Can I afford the hours of training and the gear costs that would put me in a position to compete? Good grief I love and hate it when a mania like this takes hold.

After Action Geek Fan Expo

It’s over, but wow what can I say? I got to spend some extra special time with Jim C. Hines, Rob Paulsen and Timothy Zahn. In addition to all the panel time and and three readings there was Guests Against Humanity, a dirty little game of epic proportions. I laughed myself silly along with the rest of you. Add to that the VIP dinner and martini and you may see why I had such a great time. Finally, I got an opportunity to participate in what I think will turn out to be a really fine podcast interview with all the folks over at The Rack.

I’ll end this with a quick thank you to all the guests that showed up. You guys made this event and my visit to Detroit super awesome. Your love of all things fiction was palpable and it felt wonderful to be embedded within your loving ranks. Thanks, from me, for showing up and tuning in. I am pleased and blessed to have met you all. Next year bring a friend.

I will write a more detailed account of my time at GFX, but I wanted to say thank you before I jump on the plan and make bee-line back home. You guys rock!

HLD Allegheny

Zane, something like this but bigger. Things dangling off the bottom. There could be two levels of balloon too. Perspective is off here too, it needs to be wider almost panoramic.

Now that that is out of the way, you’re looking at one of the very many reasons I’m not an artists. My friend Zane, who is a very talented artists, knows this and helps me out because he’s good people.