Writing 101 Day 7

10 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take
Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.]

 

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’ve known you longer than anyone. I thought we’d have shared everything, but after what you just said, I don’t think I know you, at all.”

 

“Come on! I’m the same person I’ve always been. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

 

“The big deal?! How can you say that? There is no proof, none, nada. How can you believe in such a crazy notion? I thought you were sensible.”

 

“I am being sensible and logical. You are not listening to me. Can you calm down and listen or just shout at me with indignation?”

 

“Alright, I’m sorry. I’ll listen. Go ahead.”

 

“We both know the law; matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. They can only change form. Can you accept that?”

 

“Of course! It is law, irrefutable.”

 

“Okay, so once we are conceived, we, as beings of matter and energy, grow by converting matter into energy and back.”

 

“In a way, yes I agree.”

 

“So, when we die, the body stops growing, mostly, except for some hair and nails, but the electrical energy that makes the body move and carries thought into action disappears. It *must* go somewhere; it simply cannot disappear. It is not converted into matter. In fact, some studies claim that the body actually loses a little weight when bodily functions end.”

 

“I have heard of those studies, doubtful though some of them were. I agree that the matter and energy is not destroyed, but …”

 

“Wait, wait. You agree that the energy must go somewhere, so why is it so hard to accept that the energy could change form and continue to exist?”

 

“I have no problem with the energy persisting after death, but to postulate that the released energy could or would exhibit some form of cohesion and stay together instead of expanding into the space at large, is unproven and not logical from what we know of energy released into an environment.”

 

“Because there is no massive, or even detectable, release of electrical energy, or any other form, at the point of death to account for the conservation of energy, what I’m proposing is that when the body cannot contain the energy, it is transformed, by some unknown process, and the energy slips out of our physical realm, into another dimension, a dimension of thought.”

 

“You are proposing that these ghosts and spirits are the remnant energies left over after someone dies. What you have not explained is how, once the energy has slipped out of our dimension, even if I accept, for the sake of argument, that this strange dimension enables these puddles of energy to maintain some cohesion, some people claim to be able to detect this energy in the form of a spirit.”

 

“I don’t have all the answers, but can you concede that my argument has enough logical basis, even though we may not understand all the processes, that I *could* be correct?”

 

“Damn! Yes, I have to concede that because I cannot positively refute your notion, it *could* be correct. Well, at least you are not one of those crazies that believe that the Zombie Apocalypse is possible.”

 

“Well….”

 

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Writing 101 Day 5

8 June 2014 Leave a comment

[You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects ywriting-101-june-2014-class-badge-1ou deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.]
Impressed on the letter, my sole, adding to the wear and tear. Impressed on my soul, words of regret, opportunity lost, desire and love eternal. Tears falling, staining the paper already creased and refolded, ink fading. The envelope, a step away, but unreadable, faded beyond hope, yet stamped, never to be mailed. Looking around, only one person. Turning at my touch on their shoulder, they see the letter first, then meet my eyes. Recognition, through the years, four eyes bright as matching tears fall. They say, “At last, now you know.”

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Writing 101 Day 4

6 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Today, write about a loss.]writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-1

I heard it said that any technology that exists when a child is born will be natural to them as they grow, requiring no more thought to use then does a light switch. Similarly, parts and layout of houses appear normal to a child until either someone mentions them, or the child grows up and realizes that no one else has that bathroom in the detached garage.

 

My paternal grandparents’ house was perfectly natural to me growing up. It was not until I was in college did I, suddenly, realize that other people’s houses didn’t have exposed red brick walls in the den with a very small window high up on the wall, overlooking the kitchen sink. Obvious to me after that point was that the den had been added to the original house, but instead of covering the preexisting exterior brick wall in sheet rock, they had left it. Now seen as “retro” and attractive, then it was just odd.

 

I never really knew my paternal grandfather, PawPaw. I hear stories that he was the playful one when I was very small, getting in the floor and playing with me and my brother while MawMaw looked on. I was ten, or maybe nine, when PawPaw had his surgery and in the 1970s, “open heart” or bypass surgery was not as common as it is today. When PawPaw had his surgery, he never returned to the playful man he was before because I have no memory of him being like that. Most of my memories of him are of him in a nursing home. We lived a couple of hours away from MawMaw and PawPaw, so visits were spread throughout the year, but the memories were of hospital-like settings, antiseptic, institutional green and white walls, and of a loved man confined to a bed.

 

Though I don’t have many memories of the man in life, I remember the funeral. The family held reunions in the family cemetery, so the place was known to me. I remember not feeling sad for the loss of a person I didn’t know very well, but sad for the friends and family that were already missing him like he had gone or gone for a while, especially Dad and MawMaw. Their grief was familiar, like a comfortable suit.

 

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Writing 101 Day 3

5 June 2014 Leave a comment

Share three songs that are significant to you.
As a twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

The twist of today was to write for 15 minutes uninterrupted and commit to a writing/blogging habit. Fifteen minutes really is not that much time, most of waste more than that just trying to figure out what to watch on TV or listen to on our music players. So I will go on record right here and now ans commit to writing 15 minutes a day and we’ll just see what dribbles out of my head before we are all done. 🙂

Tasked with picking three songs – just 3? out of the thousands I have in my player and my terrabyte library drive – that mean something to me and why they do. This was very hard and I know that as soon as I hit PUBLISH, more will pop into my head that … wait, I just thought of one I forgot about until just now. NOW, I have to think about do I add it or replace one in my list….
OK, I have replaced one in my list with the newly remembered one. If I can only get through the rest of the 15 minutes without thinking of another, I’ll be doing great! Now I have to get to which songs I picked and why they are important… Oops. Another replacement. Just a moment….

THIS time, I just had to add the song, so now I have four in my list. I have to get to the topic at hand before I think of something else.
In the order that I thought of them, which happens to be reverse, chronologically, about when they made an impression in my life, the list is:
Just a Dream” by Nelly, covered by Christina Grimmie, Sam Tsui, and Kurt Schneider
Leadfoot Getaway” by Blue Stahli
Singing in the Rain” by Gene Kelly
Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra

Before they were hits and garnered fans via TV, Radio, CDs, and concerts, I fell in love with Sam, Christina, and Kurt for their retakes on existing songs and their creativity, but mostly for having the courage to practice their art to the unblinking, unforgiving eye of the internet. Giving us all the opportunity to share in their gift is, in my opinion, one of the bravest things a person can do. Their bravery inspires me to share my writing to the internet. This song, “Just a Dream,” is, IMHO, better as a duet than the original. There is a point about three minutes into the song that gives me chills every time I hear it. There is something about the combined music and voices that makes me think of regret, hope, love, and desire, all at once.

The next song on my list, “Leadfoot Getaway,” is an instrumental by Blue Stahli. Listening to the song reminds me of the feeling I get with the windows down on a summer day, driving on country back roads as a young man in my early 20s, not a care in the world beyond the next curve and hill. The song makes me feel, in music, the way the driver of Rush’s “Red Barchetta” must have felt.

Moving backwards down the number-line, “Singing in the Rain” speaks to my love of old movies, especially of the grace and sheer joy Gene Kelly always seemed to have on the screen. It was like he felt the joy and his body just moved on its own, very much unlike the awkward teenager watching him.

I didn’t realize it until I was a parent myself, after getting some of my old baby things from my mother for our baby boy, that my favorite music box played “Fly me to the Moon.” I had always remembered the tune as the box played it, and did not associate it to the original song until hearing it as an adult. In my head I can still hear the music box tinkling out its uneven tune, knowing that the real song is much smoother, but the rhythm of the music box takes me back to before I had any visual memories beyond vague impressions. Still, the music has always been with me.

I have many more songs that speak to me, usually they remind me of people who have passed through my life or special, to me, happenings, but these four give you a glimpse into me.

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Writing 101 Day 2

4 June 2014 3 comments

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-1If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I have two places pop into my head when asked this question, one of comfort from my childhood and one of peace from adulthood. I once tried to combine them into one place, in my mind, the “best of both worlds” but it quickly fell apart, so you get two for the price of one.

From my childhood, I would appear in my Grandfather’s den in the family farmhouse. The floors are hardwood covered in a rug that has seen years of feet wearing paths into it. The rug is a plush dark green. The white brick fireplace opening is covered with a sheet of tin and a propane heater sits on the hearth, its blue flame keeping the room warm. The dark wood of the Grandmother clock complements the room and contrasts with the white brick mantle on which it sits. The constant “tick, tock” sooths something deep inside me. The light in the room comes from a single lamp on my Grandfather’s desk. The lamp is dark green, like the rug, and sits next to an old radio, its wooden cabinet lighter than the desk, floor boards and wall paneling. The radio emits a soft glow from the dial and plays an announcer at a sporting event, most often a college football game. Also in the room are the desk chair, two comfortable rocker/recliners a coffee table spread with various outdoors and hunting magazines, and a small television in the corner, that only seems to play static.

Outside the front door, the mountain reaches up and away to the left, as the rocking chairs on the porch look out over the gravel driveway and the fields beyond. Row after row of growing things wonderful to eat. The air is cool on this Spring morning, the last of Winter’s chill finally receding.

Flash forward a few decades and I’m standing on black volcanic rocks rounded by time and endless waves. Tidal pools contain an “ocean in a bucket” complete with fish, algae, urchins, and other strange sea creatures. Looking west, over the Pacific ocean, from the west coast of Maui, only two puffs of white cloud interrupt the complete blue of the sky. The water has a slightly blue tint, but the bottom is clearly visible, interrupted only when one the small breakers crash against the beach.

Whereas, the farmhouse speaks to comfort and family, the beach speaks to me of solitude, peace, and the timeless nature of the world, and my small place in it.

 

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Writing 101 Day 1

3 June 2014 Leave a comment

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2Writing 101. Auspicious sounding name. Here is where I learn to write, or refresh the basics of my writing. I have not had a 101 course since I was a freshman in college.That was a LONG time ago, too long to easily account without paper and pencil (muttering, carry the one…).

 

Anyway I am tasked with writing for 20 minutes and then post the stream of consciousness (dribble) that trickles out the side of my head in my blog. Well it will be a blog post if nothing else.

 

I heard that the only way to get better at writing every day is to write every day. I am also reminded of Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I should be writing” which I really enjoyed when I drove more, had lots of free time, and listened to more podcasts.

 

I aim at being a writer and keep beginning things, projects, papers, partial stories that I MEAN to become books or at least podcast novellas.I am good for the first 10 or so pages, but then, like I am with exercising, something interrupts the flow and I miss a day or two. Fully meaning to return to the activity and pick up where I left off, I promise myself, making deals with myself in order to get back to my promised activity. A day turns into two, then a week, then a month, and before I know it, I think of myself as a writer, but fatter I am and with no more words on the page to show for it.

 

Now, I am curious to see how much I can write if I forego the soda I want, and the chocolate sitting just out of arm’s reach as I stumble on for the requisite 20 minutes of writing for this exercise. I am using my new Chromebook that I have configured with a script, actually the script runs in my Google Docs folder on my Google Drive. The script takes all the documents in my writing folder, compares them to saved earlier versions, and counts the words I have accomplished for the day. Then the script sends the word counts on each document to my Evernote writing notebook, so I have a historical of how I’m doing (or mostly in my case, not doing).

 

I have been typing for 10 minutes, half way there. My back is telling me to move and my legs are wanting to stretch. The odd itch here and there causes me to pause in the flow to scratch. Anything to interrupt me. I am trying to not shave the yak. Do you know that phrase, like I’ve suddenly began addressing you (the reader) like we are having a conversation. Must be because I talk to myself as if I were speaking to someone else, so I have become accustomed to it. Anyway, back to Shaving a Yak… In case you didn’t know (which you probably did), means to do something, anything, EXCEPT what you were supposed to be doing. So when I am supposed to be writing, I find that particular moment is the perfect time to clean off my desk, under the thought that if I clean the desk now, I’ll be able to concentrate better for writing. However, once I finish cleaning the desk, it is time to move on to something else and there is no time for writing. Chores to be done, dog to walk, high scores to be conquered, driving lessons for the teenagers to be given… anything except what I promised myself I would do.

 

So I glanced at the clock and I am nearing the end of the 20 minute exercise of writing, and as I try not to, but still do, glance over some of the text on the page, I am rewarded with being right – dribble, but it was good to set a goal and actually follow through.

 

The funny thing about that last statement is that the assignment was given YESTERDAY morning, and here is it late in the day on day 2, before I start the assignment for Day 1. I hope I can catch up with the assignments as the days go along, because I really want to become a better writer.

 

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Little Brother Redux

29 March 2014 Leave a comment

I love Cory Doctorow’s writing! The honesty, the insight. I have read & listened to Little Brother before (yes, both read and listened), but am listening to it again after I purchased the Humble eBook Bundle 3. The bundle included, at the $15+ level, the audiobook version of Homeland (the sequel to Little Brother). What made the deal even sweeter was that one of my favorite actors, Wil Wheton, did the recording.

So, I am re-listening to Little Brother, to refresh it all in my mind before I lay into Homeland.

As an Information Security Professional, I am really encouraged by the good ideas, privacy, and advice written into the story – Thank You Cory!

I have turned my college-age sons on to Little Brother, as a must read/listen.

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