Whatsername

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Lately, I’ve been considering a retreat from social media. The train wreck of political angst that Twitter has become usually leaves me raging mad. There’s just soo much stupid out there that can be expressed with 240 characters. Volumetrically, that’s what most of it is so even if I intend to focus on the better bits, invariably my attention will be ripped away by yet another red-hatted asshole spouting off about the Deep State or whatever. UGH!

With a Twitter vacation, my mental health and diction can only improve.

And then there’s Facebook, the granddaddy of the old school services, which I’d like to talk about specifically. I’ve been an infrequent FB user for some time, and lately, I’ve been thinking about why that might be.

One reason is that I’ve consciously rejected many of the older media models — television, cable, even newspapers — because those models are all powered by advertisement. I can’t stomach the idea that I’m paying for all that bullshyte twice. First with my time/attention and second by subsidizing the service in question. As is the case with YouTube I’d happily pay a reasonable subscription fee to *AVOID* endless advertisement custom designed to twist my pants in knots.

Facebook has been slipping in advertisements into our feeds for some time, and it’s annoying and wrong, but that’s not the biggest reason for my withdrawal.

I think it was 1988 when I asked Daliah to go to a school dance with me, she was the older sister of my middle brother’s buddy, and we all used to carpool to high school in my tiny 1972 Honda Civic. If I remember all that correctly. Anyway, I believe it was a Homecoming dance, and the theme was jeans and flannel or something like that because I’m pretty sure I still have a picture of the two of us which I uncovered while helping my folks move from Colorado. Ultimately it was this picture that reminded me of that night and what a good time we had together.

The picture also reminded me how scared I was to ask her. How excited she seemed when I did. How enthusiastic she was about going with me in the weeks before the dance. I know that I’m probably scraping the bottom of the barrel of my memory, but because of this one posed glossy in the 80’s I’ve now got a pile of good times and memories that I get to sort through.

Since leaving high school in 1991, I’ve not seen or heard from Deliah. Other than a chance meeting with her brother in the early 2000s this photo was the first time I’ve recalled her or that night. I’ve been positively wallowing in the nostalgia of it all.

Thing is that I’m not “connected” to either of these people on Facebook. Even though I have searched for them, they don’t seem to be around. Consequently, my imagination has been freed, I’m able to wonder “whatever happened to Deliah” because the question apparently can’t be answered.

That freedom is actually exceptionally liberating. Time, distance, age — all the things that change us — they’re still variables for her in my mind. Did she grow up and buy a boat? Is she even now single handing the Pacific in search for adventure? Is she happily ensconced in an Eastern Oregon commune happily raising a brood of Brown Coats who worship The Whedon? Is she a cutthroat capitalist quietly managing the board of some weapons manufacturing company? I don’t know!

Honestly, the more I think about it, I don’t want to know.

Facebook was great at first because it did connect me with people from my past. At first, lifting of that mist was enjoyable. “Oh hey, you’ve got two kids and a happy marriage. Good for you. And you too.” “So sad to learn of your loss or mistake.” But it turns out that the uncertainty and disconnection preserved plenty of precious moments like amber. The insect trapped a million years ago inside the sap of a tree is a focal point for the imagination, cut away the sap and you’re left with a crunchy mosquito.

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Adulting

I just dropped A-bear off at school for his second day of second grade. This morning slipped away about as fast as summer seems to have disappeared. The vine maples are turning and there is an undeniable crispness in the air that I’d bottle for later consumption. This is, without a question, my favorite season of any year.

Right now I’m sitting at my local coffee shop trying to get the words flowing. Back at base camp, I’ve got about fifty unfinished projects demanding my attention. Some of them should be addressed before the weather gets colder or wetter or windy. Others, they’re just part of the process between the start and the end.

That’s what most of much of this is, isn’t it? The milestones that mark our lives are more often than not just piles of folded laundry or a freshly mopped kitchen. Transitory tasks completed in a moment and lost to time as quickly as a season.

This autumn I’m okay with that, I’ve made my peace. Don’t curse me, don’t condemn me to live through interesting times.

Refactor

This morning has been productive. I did some work with the bees (corrected an issue with the installation I created … sorry girls), took Aral to school, spent some time at the coffee shop talking with friends, even made a decision regarding the usefulness of yet-another-EEG.

I think the most important takeaway from this morning are some rules I wrote for myself for my writing. Since last year’s river of rejection left me feeling all my attempts to write were worthless I’ve had a very hard time doing the necessary. Still, I’ve got ideas, whole worlds that are banging on the inside of my skull demanding to get out. But I haven’t done what I need to write any of this down and that’s a problem. I need to start writing again as a practice, but the rules I follow regarding this craft also necessarily must change. I can’t write and write only to feel like what I’ve written is a piss poor result for all that time.

New rules are written. They’re simple and the mean that my practice becomes a much more self-contained experience.

Rules to Live By:

  1. Stop seeking criticism from people with no skin IN YOUR GAME. The rule is to write what you want, what you know, and what you’ve planned as fast or slow as you can.
  2. Build the world for “Distance,” “Winter City,” and “Friend of Bees” and other stories methodically and from scratch. Share and talk about ideas only with people you trust.
  3. Begin each story by outlining its plot and understand how it fits into the timeline.
  4. Take your time, spend as much time reading/editing what you’ve written as you spend writing.
  5. Get good at editing your own work.
  6. Remember that publication is only a milestone along any story’s trajectory. It’s not a goal, nor is making money. Keep this in mind when it feels like you’re wasting your time. You’ve written books, and not a lot of people can say that.
  7. Love your stories.
  8. Stop caring so much about a world that doesn’t give two shits about you.

Things That Interest Me

These are things that have gotten my attention lately, listed in no particular order. For the most part, they are people, ideas or technologies that are influencing what I write.

  • Bajau: This is a culture of marine nomads that mostly hang out in the tropical waters around the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Some of them live in pole houses off the coastlines of land masses, but many live on houseboats or other vessels.I love seeing and reading about these people because they’re giving me insights into how some cultures will adapt to sea level rise in a climate changed world.
  • Bamboo Railroad: I first learned of these abandoned rail lines running through the hinterlands of Cambodia when I randomly found the video below. Seems the rails are a relic of French colonialism that the indigenous people have turned around for their own benefit.Apparently, the rail cars are mostly constructed from bamboo. The wheels and axles are often scavenged from tanks left over from Cambodia’s eight-year-long civil war. The complexity of the social system that allows operation of these simple carts has to be amazing to witness. How you flag a cart down? How do carts pass one another on the same line? Who manages line maintenance? What happens in the event of a washout or flood?Technological primacy in a post-climate-change world is what I getting from here. Imagine what we’ll scavenge and convert when the power of our government is severely limited by its current ineptitudes.
  • Mycotecture: The material science of growing things out of mushroom mycelium. There’s so much potential for sustainable and even innovative goods being quietly developed these days. Other than the sterility requirements, accomplishing this on your own appears to be completely within reach which means that open sourced techniques for developing your own material — say, interlocking bricks for building or “leather” for clothing — are right around the corner.
  • States’ Rights: By concentrating power at the state level, proponents of “states’ rights” believe that policy can be more accurately tailored towards the needs of that locality’s citizens. But the concept of States’ Rights was incubated in a world that was not simultaneously host to multi-national corporations or the influences of fast and ubiquitous global trade. When considered from the vantage point of the general welfare of a country it’s easy to see that this ideology is both self-concerned and short sighted.The problem is that this ideology has become the dominant paradigm in American government. Hell, we just elected the Oompa-Loompa and Chief and he’s seen fit to use what little mandate is in his possession to fill each of his cabinet posts with an antithetical choice of what that post requires. In other words, Donald Trump is very much like Casey Jones except that he intends the wreck.

    The power will, then necessarily reside at lower levels of government. Whatever will we do?

    As I’ve said previously, I think the thing to do, given the situation, is to adapt. So I’m exploring ways in which people, and by consequence, myself can adapt to a major shift in government. Places with long traditions of bigotry, authoritarianism, and ignorance will likely become more like those places. But that social geography doesn’t prevail throughout the land, does it?

    I also imagine “Cascadia” rising from the trees and frankly, I think that this is where people should be building coalitions and doing their best work. Working this into fiction is more or less my full-time job.

Kindergarten Practice

There are roughly twenty-five days of summer left for A-bear. Once they’re gone, he’s going to Kindergarten. This is a big new experience for our little guy, and so I’ve been examining our options. The duel questions — how can encourage him to be excited in anticipation of this new experience (even though it sometimes seems overwhelming and scary) and how can I, in parallel, continue to carve out enough time for me to write, has been riding on either of my shoulders.

Aral_lunch

Practice Lunch

Today we woke up sorta late, but that’s okay because practice Kindergarten didn’t open until 10:00 AM. Our Island Library is librarian-ed by late risers apparently, and that’s not a bad thing because practice Kindergarten should allow for late summer mornings.

Aral_train

Fire Train

Right now he’s happily working on a rather complicated maze and deeply engrossed in the activity. Unlike the iPad I have to stop what I’m doing from time to time, but the interactions are all part of the process. It’s just going to slow things down for me a tad. The library is an optimal place to do this because the expectation is that he will moderate the volume of his voice. There are rules as well as social expectations here that he doesn’t necessarily encounter elsewhere, and learning to live (if not thrive) within these confines is going to be one of his chief challenges once school begins.

Via a convoluted path, I suppose, this all gets back to empathy. Teaching children the ability to imagine themselves in a situation, one in which they comprehend how other’s think and feel, is a HUGE challenge. It’s also a skill that they have to practice to perfect.

In a little bit, we’re going to head out to the adjacent park and eat lunch and play with the other kids. An obvious reward for working so hard this morning. I’m pretty excited to see what we can accomplish together in the time we have before school starts.

Picking out some books to read

Picking out some books to read

IOTD

Grey Knight by hammk

This is a perfectly random find from DivArt, just popped up in my undiscovered feed this morning. It moves me in several ways. First, I love how he’s used square brush strokes to compose the smoke and fire. From a distance, it fools my eye into imagining it’s almost on fire, even though it’s static.

Next, the hammk has re-imagined an old idea. I dig the power armored paladin marching into the field with his vibrating polearm at the ready. It’s something that seems to draw on Games Workshop at its genesis while being an idea unto itself. This guy is not a space marine. He’s something different, perhaps more complicated and conflicted. He marches for justice or chivalry but eats at a round table.

Finally, his religious regalia runs throughout the gallery. Yes, there’s a whole collection. For the most part, it seems unique. It’s as if hammk is creating his own saints and zealots. It makes me want to write space opera.

Well done!