Category Archives: Writing

Crime time

The total eclipse happened. It was neat to see in my cereal box pinhole viewer, but because I didn’t see the totality, my life wasn’t changed.

Podcasts

I’ve begun listening to a few true crime podcasts. My favorite so far is True Crime Garage. It’s hosted by a guy named Nic and another guy who calls himself the Captain. Their research seems solid and they are personable. They begin each podcast by sampling a craft beer. It makes me want to try a few interesting beers, but I don’t think I like beer well enough to spend any money on one.

Another one I like is the Thinking Sideways Podcast. It features two guys in their 40s and a woman in her 30s. They aim to look into mysterious events-not necessarily only crimes. The content here isn’t as in-depth as in the True Crime Garage, but they are entertaining.

I was listening to one called Crawlspace which I think is pretty good. They turned me on to Nic and the Captain so I’ve all but forgotten about this one.  I should get back to it.

Night Time: Canadian True Crime and Mysteries is one I’ve tried, but it hasn’t gotten me hooked yet. Perhaps I prefer shows with more than one host. This one is a solo effort, but he does interview guests.

There’s one called Casefile True Crime that I haven’t listened to in a while. Serial Killers is supposed to be good, but I haven’t tried it yet.

The bottom line here is that I really like the true crime genre. This has eclipsed my interest in the paranormal-for the time being at least.

Art

After spending hours making wrapped loops, I have attained an intermediate skill level. Practice really does make you better! So I figure if I practice drawing, I can get better at that too. I’ve been drawing hands. I don’t know that I’ll ever be a drawing master, but I can get a little better. There’s not enough time to get good at everything. Writing should be my focus.

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Work

While I’m on the subject of writing, I’ll mention my last Science Node article. It was a simple overview of the Citizen CATE project. The project was the National Solar Observatory’s (NSO) effort to collect images of the recent total solar eclipse. Volunteers across the country used telescopes and other NSO provided equipment to get images of the eclipse. The goal was to create a 90-minute video of the event.

I’m moving on to the next story. I wanted to do something on data art, but the paper I found about it was published too long ago for my editor’s liking. Instead, I’m covering research that some people are doing in Switzerland on software that makes creating computer animation accessible for novices. I’m hoping I can get past the more difficult technical bits and write something interesting. Gotta read the paper tomorrow!

Harvey

The hurricane has devastated Houston and other parts of Texas. Could things get any worse on this planet? I’m going to try and stay away from the news and keep my head and heart up.

A Plan

I have too many blogs. I update this one most frequently. It’s kind of a general-purpose place to document my doings. I have one that’s supposed to be about me doing mixed media and other types of art. There’s another one dedicated to my making and appreciating jewelry. I’ve had many a notion over the months to write in each one of these, but you know how it goes.

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The Opposite Direction

bigmansculpture

Jake sat in the grass at the foot of the great statue. He didn’t know what the statue signified, but he was drawn to it for some reason. Every day at lunchtime he would leave his office on the 15th floor of the shiny blue building, walk across the courtyard, and take a seat beneath the stone giant. Jake would lay out a hand towel on the grass and then place his sandwich, chips, and soda on top of it. Some days, today included, Julia, from the 12th floor, would sit with him and eat her bagel and cream cheese. They would discuss the doings on the 15th and 12th floors. Jake managed the A-L accounts, and Julia handled M-Z. The conversations were not at all interesting.

They sat and ate until Julia abruptly stood up and pulled Jake to his feet. His sandwich dropped to the ground, and he looked at it forlornly. Julia swiftly kicked the sandwich away and looked pleadingly into Jake’s eyes. He understood her request and answered with a nod. The pair then ducked under the statue’s parted legs and strode away in the opposite direction of the office building. They did not look back.

A response to Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner, Week 3. 199 words~

 

Must be in a dream

Photo of winding mountain highway.

The woman found she was on her feet and walking along a winding highway. She could see mountains in the hazy distance. She looked down at her feet to see shoes that she didn’t recognize. The shirt and jeans she wore did not seem familiar either. She thought she must be dreaming, because when a person finds oneself in an unfamiliar place wearing strange shoes and clothes, that person must be in a dream.

The dream was boring, so she decided to make something happen.

She moved to the shoulder as a light blue sedan rolled to a stop beside her. The front passenger-side door opened. She looked and saw that there was no driver. She considered getting in and going for a ride. That didn’t seem safe, so she decided to do the driving herself. She walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. To her surprise, she saw herself sitting behind the wheel. With a feeling of relief, she went back to the passenger side and got in the car. The car began moving forward. The driver and passenger glanced at each other and smiled knowingly. They would soon reach their destination.


Response to challenge from Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner (196 words)

Listening

I love audio books. I’ve been an Audible.com member since I found out about it sometime in the early 2000s.  Before that, I was a frequent consumer of the public library‘s books on tape and cd.  These days I get my library audio via the Hoopla app.

I recently decided to listen to books with the word girl in the title.

  1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  2. Girl on a Train – AJ Waines
  3. The Girl in the Ice – Robert Bryndza
  4. The Girl with No Past – Kathryn Croft
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz

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I listened to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn a while back, so it doesn’t count as part of this “girl” spree. The same can be said for Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl.

I ran out of mystery/thrillers with “girl” in the title, so I had to move on.  I listened to The Night Detectives by John Talton, and after that, I was happy to find two more Mary Kubica books, Don’t You Cry and Pretty Baby. After that came Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant. My current listen is to Durrant’s Remember Me This Way.

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All this reading/listening has me wanting to write a thriller. I want to do the work it takes to create characters and place. I want to construct a story that hangs together and ends well. As I listened to these books, I had ideas for ways they could have been better. It’s not even about becoming a published author. It’s about going through the process. Of course, I don’t have time to write a novel and make jewelry and art. Maybe I can make time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craving Attention?

Our performance at Gen Con on Saturday went well, although the audience was a bit quieter than in previous years. I’ve decided that I won’t do this gig again. The other troupe members attend the conference for all four days and dance in busking fashion at various spots in the venue. For the past two years, I have only participated in the Saturday performance. I drive from Bloomington to Indianapolis that morning and return after the performance. It’s a lot of trouble for twenty minutes of dancing. Plus, over the past few years, I just haven’t gotten much of a kick out of performing. I want to keep dancing, but my desire to dance in front of people has diminished over the years. I may have outgrown the need I used to have to be the center of attention.

Is it true that I no longer crave the attention of others? No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be blogging, and posting to Instagram if I didn’t want to be viewed favorably by others. It wouldn’t matter to me if my posts got no views and no “likes.” Honestly, it does matter a little.

I’ve been listening to a podcast called SPONTANEANATION WITH PAUL F. TOMPKINS. In the podcast, the aforementioned Tompkins performs a monolog and then interviews the show’s guest. The guest is asked to come up with a location for an improvised narrative sketch to be performed by the assembled group of improvisers. Some sketches are funnier than others, but to me, the show is always entertaining. I love doing acting improv. That’s the kind of performing I would love to do at this point in my life. I don’t see that opportunity coming along any time soon. If it did, I’m sure it would be too time-consuming an activity. When would I write and make art? When would I exercise to stave off the MS symptoms?

Speaking of MS symptoms, I found that despite the fact that my legs have been doing really well, I had trouble on Saturday because the stress of the performance caused some spasticity. It wasn’t terrible, but it was disappointing that my effort to get really hydrated that morning didn’t pay off as much as I had hoped. That’s another reason performing isn’t fun. I just never know quite what to expect from my body. Maybe the answer there is better stress management strategies.

That’s the size of it. I’ll talk about audiobooks and digital humanities in my next post.

Illustration of woman on stage 

 

Superhero Speech

This is a speech I wrote for a Toastmasters meeting sometime in the early 2000s.

Life is hard. Do you know what I’m talking about?
I’ve always suspected that this might be true but in the back of my mind I thought things would get easier. Things didn’t get easier.
With each passing year my life becomes more complicated.
I’m faced with so many choices that I end up not choosing anything, which is actually a choice in and of itself.
That’s kind of ironic
But not all that comforting.

They say comfort is
Comfortable
I like that.
Life is hard
I think we need more superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Spider-Man (the list goes on).

Illustration of a generic superhero.

Spider-Man, he does whatever a spider can.

I know what you’re thinking “those are just fictional comic book characters.”
But how can you be so sure? Just because you’ve never seen Superman in person doesn’t mean he’s not real. What about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy? You believe in them, don’t you?
Of course, you do.

Now all of those famous superheroes are great but they only come in handy for major catastrophes like fighting off giant atomic waste lizards on rampages through Tokyo.

Illustration of T-rex.

How often does that happen? Once every 17 years or so.
Or is that cicadas?

I’m interested in superheroes for the common man. In my ideal world, there are myriad of super guys and gals just waiting to help get me through the day.

Come here.

Let me introduce some of them to you.

Let’s start with Slumber Man. He’s a guy who’s at his best after a good 8 hours of sleep, and he wants to help the whole world get a good night’s rest. Using his patented Yawnometer, Slumber Man is able to detect a yawn from as far as 500 miles away. Within seconds he arrives on the scene, whisks the sleepy person off to bed, tucks them in with a teddy bear and sings a short lullaby. Oh, he does have a beautiful voice.

Illustration of sleeping man.

Sandal Girl has a different but no less important objective. It is her sworn duty to help people with ugly feet find sandals that can be worn in public. This is a difficult task because each day she is forced to view hundreds of hideous misshapen hairy feet. But what would we do without her?

Illustration of a sandal.

Speaking of Feet, have I ever told you about Ruler Man and his plucky sidekick the Thermometer Kid? These two heroes are great for home renovations and turkey roasting.
Thermometer Kid can even convince your Mom that you’re too sick to go to school.

Illustration of thermometer.

When you need to have a document certified but don’t want the content of the document disclosed call on the Masked Notary. This hero with government certification wears a mask that covers not just his face but his eyes as well. He can sign, but he can’t see. Useful for those not-so-legal activities.

Captain Celibacy keeps you safe from those nasty sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Divorcee will come to your house after the divorce is final and say awful things about your ex. The Pale Geek gives lessons in UNIX system administration and the Melodious Manager sings your performance evaluation to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

Illustration of person using a laptop.

There are amazing things going on inside my head.
All of you are welcome to join me in here and find your own superheroes.

If you can’t decide which hero is right for you, don’t worry, you don’t have to decide. Whenever you need help with life’s difficulties, you’ll find your hero. Just look for the guy with the cape, mask, naïve young sidekick and the positive attitude.

And if you believe in him–he’ll be real.

 

 

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