Administrative Announcement

Vashon Island is, apparently, a Key Lime free community. I looked, and looked again, but all I could locate were the big Mexican limes. No Key Limes, no Key Lime Pie. I was a sad panda for about seven and a half minutes. Then I got over it by eating a piece of chocolate.

Speedpaint #43 by Sylar113

A Broadspectrum Thank You

For my forty-third Birthday, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who took a moment to wish my good fortune.  This thank you is social medium agnostic and intended to trickle out into the ether for full saturation.

Now onto the first day of my next year!


Perlan 2 soaring to the edge of the atmosphere

In my book The Big Red Buckle, I image an endurance race of people soaring mountain waves at the edge of the Martian atmosphere. Humanity seems infinitely adaptable and well beyond our petty and violent squabbles sports are wonderful aspirational motivation. The thing is people don’t fight one another if there is a framework in place for them to constructively compete with one another.

Whether it’s pushing a body as fast as possible along the edge of aerodynamic science, figuring out how to travel across Austrailia on a tank of sunshine, or soaring a sailplane to the edge of space on a poorly understood atmospheric phenomenon I see these endeavours as critical elements in the continuing development of our collective capability. More needs to be done here, and more should be written about these sorts of ideas.

Today’s inspiration is the Perlan Project, which intends to soar a sailplane to 90,000 km above the surface of the Earth on a mountain wave.

Snapshot of America


I’ve got to stop doing this to myself. I am now parked at my favorite coffee shop on the island, after a very productive morning. I woke up this morning and the sound the ice maker in our freezer finally drove me beyond all forbearance. “Grind, click, grind, click,” all the time now. After cleaning out roughly a decade’s worth of dust accumulation from behind and below the machine I tromped to the garage and came back loaded for bear. Well, ice in any event. It took the heat gun and a screw driver, but the damn thing has been removed and now sits on my kitchen counter like the pesky critter it is. Maybe I’ll have it mounted and hang it over the fireplace.

So, knowing that I’d already been pushed well beyond my maximum patience threshold during the wee hours of the morning I came to the coffee shop and sat down preparing to write. A warm cuppa in hand, I sat down and opened up a browser menagerie. Facebook was front and center.

While wishing a few of my friends birthday salutations I glanced at Facebook’s trending window and “what the hell?” Out of pure disbelief, I expanded the window. “Wow!” I’m thinking to myself. “What a crazy place we live in.”

Perhaps, I should have stopped myself. Maybe I should have known enough to switch to Twitter or comb through the morning’s news stories via PRI. But three “stories” solely about Republican politics in American? This thing looked broken, and I’m all about fixing things this morning. I expanded the module in order to increase my sample size.

  1. Randy Weber: US Representative Endorses Senator and GOP Candidate Ted Cruz for President
  2. Donald Trump: Republican Presidential Candidate Announces Plan to Overhaul Tax Code and Cut Taxes
  3. Carly Fiorina: Republican Presidential Candidate Defends CIA Tortue During Bush Administration
  4. Munk Debates: Party Leaders Discuss Syria, National Security in Foreign Policy Debate
  5. Citizens United: Bernie Sanders Says Overturning Ruling Is His Test for Supreme Court Justices
  6. Elizabeth Warren: Senator Calls for Police Reform in Speech Delivered at Edward Kennedy Institute
  7. Carl Icahn: Billionaire Investor Says He Endorses Donald Trump for President
  8. UN Women: China Co-Hosts United Nations Summit on Women’s Rights
  9. NASA: US Space Agency Says There Is Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars
  10. Vladimir Putin: Russian President Meets with President Obama at UN Assembly Amid Syria Tension

Truth be told I know very little about the algorithm that governs this little module, my suspicion is that it’s a near-real time list of new-like articles trending in popular media bent toward my personal preferences. While the former seems to be true-ish, the latter seems contradicted. Of the ten articles trending at that moment I have only passing interest in half of them, all of them on the ass end of that list. Anything more than passing interests is invested in #9 and 10.

But wait, here’s an opportunity to understand how something in my world works (if only a little better). Yeah, I started googling. Sure, the internals of the code aren’t going to be exposed, I get that, but there’s plenty that can (should) be discovered by manipulation and deduction. I found this and it does a pretty good job of confirming some of my suspicions.

The good news is that the module can be taught. You’ve got to highlight the headlines you don’t want to see anymore and tell Facebook that they’re ruining your cup of coffee. Or go on ignoring the “click, grind, click, grind” of the damned thing a little longer, either will work and on balance they take about as much energy.

I think what bothers me the most about this is that, in the aggregate, this is where some measurable majority of my fellow Americans invest their time and interest. It is possible that there’s some sort of deal to rest a thumb on American media to skew the news, but despite this possibility, news is a participatory exchange of information. Cream apparently isn’t the only thing that will rise to the top.

While I’ve got your attention I want to appeal to your better natures. There are less than two days left to push this petition onto the desk of the President and we’re so damn close to making this happen. As of 10:00 AM PDT only 4,412 moderately compassionate people need to be found.

I know you’re out there, I’ve got to trust that you exist. Please take a moment and click on through to the We The People site. Add your voice to the many Americans that want to do their part to help the incredible humanitarian crisis sweeping through Europe.

If, for some reason, you can’t find the courage to help people so clearly in need by allowing them a place in your country, then take a moment to help them in another way. Donations to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers go directly to refugee relief efforts underway in the region. They seem to be the only organization (despite existing mandates) making material and logistical impact directly to these people.

Not since the Berlin Airlift has anyone provided the same level of material aid and there’s still plenty of need, plenty of innocents dying. If we want the suffering to stop, we’ve got to be the ones willing to stop it.

Mid-Life, New Career

I’m only a couple of days away from my 43rd birthday. At this point, I plan on marking the affair with a key lime pie. That’s if I can find the actual limes and still have enough energy to make the confection post search. I have very fond memories of a key lime tree that grew behind a trailer I lived in near Vilano Beach. A slice of this stuff is like a very pleasant recollection of balmy mangroves and days wasted riding the outside break.

Facebook and every other app on my phone are reminding me of this impending date. Sometimes they’ll encourage me to look back on some of the memories I’ve made (and shared), more often they’re inviting me go buy some stuff.

It’s not that I’m opposed to buying stuff, stuff is made and needs to be bought. That’s how the Great Circle of Stuff works. And who doesn’t look forward to individualized birthday discounts on stuff? But this year the frenzy of stuff has me feeling pretty low. The reason is that, despite my rational mind, I’ve lived 43 years in a society that inculcates its members in the notion that the path to happiness is via a road paved with stuff.

And right now, as I attempt to reinvent myself as a writer, all that stuff is out of reach.

Today I will write a bunch more. I have edits in for Fire Weather too, so I need to dive back into that story line. I will call the tree guy again and hope to get his crew out to our place before the wind blows down that madrona. And as always, I have my little guy to keep me very, very busy. This morning, before school, we were walking around the house acting like villagers from Minecraft. “Hum.” The point is, I’ve got things to do. Plenty of ways to spend my time.

If I were a superstitious man I’d take this time to say that this birthday, above all others, feels something of an anticlimax. I peaked at 42 and have spent the last year slowly working my way down from the summit. This is a superstitious thought because it feels like I’m more than halfway through with it all, and we all know that I’m not in possession of a crystal ball. There’s no way to know the future, no way to figure out when my last day on Earth might be.

The thing is that, underneath all this age and the layers of key lime pie, I’m still that kid living in a single-wide trailer on Vilano beach. Which has me thinking about what it is I’m trying to do here. Why did I check out of a well-paying career job? Why did I burden my family with my aspirations? How come I gave up an ever growing pile of stuff? Why do I want to be a writer?

At conventions variations of this line of questioning get tossed around a lot. “What made you want to be a writer?” The answers that get tossed back are permutations on a theme; “I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a kid.” But this answer fails to tell the whole story.

I’ve spent decades of my life working for a living, doing the job before me, and not being a writer. As a kid I loved telling stories, I enjoyed reading them, and per the box of stuff my Mom just dropped off, apparently I loved writing them too. (Wow! I really could not spell. Not to save my life.)

Wanting has never been the problem. I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my life and writer just ranked high among them. This question falls short because it doesn’t delve into the notion of what motived anyone, especially me, to pursue writing as métier. The truth that no one talks about is that there is a vast gap between I want and I am doing. Becoming a writer is a bowel-clenching jump from solid ground, over an endless void, to a balanced rock standing precariously in a sea of nothing.

I suspect that I made this leap because I didn’t know any better. Because I’m still that kid who loved to surf his kayak with sharks and jellyfish in rip tides. And despite the face I see looking back at me in the mirror, the image I cling to is that kid who picked limes from the tree out behind the trailer.

Incidentally, if you’d like to help me increase the size of my pile of stuff you should click on through to one of my books or short stories. I’m still an independent author so views are important to me. Buy something I’ve written and you’ve bought me part of a cup of coffee, important because I’ve mostly replaced my blood with bean juice. Leave me a review and you’ve given me a gift more precious than gold.