Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time management

Don't you think that time management is a huge part of life? Sometimes you have a lot to do in a day. It's early in the morning, and your tasks seem like a huge wave approaching you. Will you swim with the wave--perhaps surf it? Or will you be swept under by it?

Time management isn't just the scheduling of time and tasks, it's also the prioritization of tasks. I think deciding what is truly important in a day is actually more important than scheduling your time effectively, but both can contribute to or erode away at your level of happiness and contentment.

Of course, in accordance with the saying "All things in moderation--including moderation", it's also important to take some time and just "be". I always try to take some time periodically to live in the moment, and make certain not to plan anything. Sometimes people don't understand this, but I find it to be very important to the maintenance of my sanity. Also remember the line from the "I Ching" that states (as translated by Syd Barret) "action brings good fortune". Unplanned time doesn't necessarily mean idle time, although it can.

Ideas for the next Hemlock book continue to come to me. I think this is a good thing (obviously). As I've discussed before, my process sometimes leaves me feeling a bit out of control in terms of how productive I'll be on the design of the story. The most I can typically do is try to listen to some good music and let my imagination run wild. As long as I'm true to myself and the story, and don't try to impose deadlines on myself or accept mediocre concepts, I seem to do ok. This is related to time management as well, because when I am centered, the ideas seem relatively unfettered.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Lot's of snow here in the past few days. Snow is such a complex phenomenon. In many ways, it is a terrible inconvenience. It slows down commerce, gets you cold, throws out your back, makes you wrestle with your snow blower, makes you skid while driving, closes your office, etc. On the other hand, it gives you unexpected family time, it creates an opportunity to see your neighbors (and maybe even to help them), it covers the world in a purifying layer of white, it deadens sound and makes you feel like you are living in one of those little snow globes, etc. I think, like many things, how you feel about snow all depends on your point of view.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why old Italian cars rock

I read a web page this week that really clarified why I love my old Alfa Romeo Alfetta sedan so much. Apparently, back in the 60s-70s, the Italian government taxed vehicles based on engine displacement. So Italian auto-makers were forced to aggressively explore new technologies in order to remain competitive. Also, the Italian road system--especially in urban areas--features a lot of narrow roads and sharp turns.
All Italian cars of the period handle well and are engaging to drive. My 1978 Alfa Romeo features a 2.0 liter engine (considered a monster in their line), which has fuel injection, hemi heads, DOHC, a timing chain, 4 valves per cylinder. In 1978! Think about what the US was building in 1978. It also has a DeDion rear transaxle with in-board disc brakes. It has a near 50/50 weight distro.
This is a car that you rev up to 4K on every gear change. And it makes you smile. It feels like a go-cart compared to modern cars, which I refer to as driving appliances.
There you have it: my vintage Italian sports car advocacy post. It's out of my system now.

New ideas

I unexpectedly got an idea for a short sci-fi story yesterday. This morning, I got more specific ideas about it and wrote down what I refer to as an inspirational blurb. This is a brief narrative of the scenes and background that have come to me, including any fragments or undeveloped ideas. My thinking is that I'll be able to expand this into a full short story at some point.

I have three of these blurbs completed. I might have to do a short story compilation sometime soon. Still getting a trickle of ideas about the Hemlock story, but that one appears to be on the back burner for now.

Reading Spook Country by William Gibson. His writing is so great at communicating a vivid euro-tech, hipster vibe. I read his books primarily to vicariously experience that sensation of euro-hip.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Drifting off course

It seems that the winds of desire are blowing forcefully in my life of late. I am being tempted by all manner of indulgences--mostly in the realm of vintage sports cars or arcade machines, which are my two principal guilty pleasures. But lately I've been seeing these hobbies as burdens in addition to being things that make me happy. Old items break and then they become projects. Projects complicate our lives and distract us from other important writing.
We also develop patterns of behavior in our lives, and these patterns are inertial. For instance, I've been in the habit of buying something really cool for myself every so often. It's been an expensive and self-indulgent habit, and a resonant one. It is resonating in my mind now.
Maybe I'll have to weave this mental struggle into a story. I think it has something to do with mankind's natural ambition to expand. Acquisition = expansion to the primate mind. And I never doubt the primacy of the primate mind.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome, Aliens, New Book

Welcome to my new blog! I've done my best to make it fairly presentable, but forgive me if it isn't particularly visually distinctive.
I have an older blog up at, which runs on a portal technology called DotNetNuke. I thought that it would be "cool" to have my own community with localized membership, customization and the ability to manage and install custom plugins.
As it turns out, nobody joined and my traffic was minimal. Also, I found the formatting to be less than desirable. So, I have decided to "go with the flow" and to use Google's blogging platform. I've heard good things about Wordpress too, but my inspection of this platform proved that it has everything that I need.
I came across an entertaining discussion of how we might relate to extra-terrestrial aliens. It is
here. If you watch the video, it seems like the speaker is having a bit of an existential crisis. I wonder whether he is an atheist, or what his concept of God becomes, if exponentially advanced alien intelligence exists? My view is that such an alien would be indistinguishable from a God to us. I haven't fully considered the spiritual implications of that...
I'm continuing to frame out the story for the next Hemlock book. I have a lot of the outline done already, but a lot of thought/work remains before I'll begin to write. I'm taking my time, and letting the story ideas come to me (rather than trying to force them). This is how I conceived and wrote Hemlock and the Wizard Tower, and I find it to be a very rewarding process (albeit lengthy). I feel close to "God" when I get good story ideas. I've written before about how I almost feel that I channel the story, rather than create it. Maybe I just want to attach an air of romantic mysticism to the process, but despite my concern that it could merely be self-indulgence that leads me to this description, I truly feel that channeling is the best word for my experience of "it".
Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment if you are feeling festive, happy, gracious, magnanimous, or anything in between!