Anything But Idle

My Regular Mind, posted on July 30, 2013 at 06h46

My alarm vibrates against my ankle.

5 am.

My instinct is to snooze, but I remind myself:

Discipline.

I get up, have cereal, pack my lunch, kiss I. goodbye. I have to leave by 5:25, but today I was late, so I had to pedal faster. My goal is to reach work before 6, so that when I’m off before 2, I can focus on other things I have to do. Things that will help my overall goal, things that will help me succeed creatively.

Updating this site is not among those things.

Not due to idleness, but discipline.

Copper

Briefs of Fiction, posted on November 28, 2012 at 01h00

Now, I don’t know ’bout other folks, all I know is for me, but copper never hurt so much. Sure I was hurtin’ before they gimme the copper, too, I guess, but not as bad as that, no way. And it was gettin’ worst, and worst, like it was burning through me but I couldn’t let go. Folks always say it’s what gets you in the end. Could be you been shot a bunch’a times, could be you been gutted open head to toe, but until that copper gets on you and you pay that damned ferryman, you ain’t really dead. Continued…

Trolling

Briefs of Fiction, posted on May 15, 2012 at 10h32

There are children playing in a park. One of them, a soldier, shoots! Another, a spy, his shoelace untied, dodges the bullet by diving behind a bush! He rolls down a bank and under an old wooden bridge. The soldier calls for help and approaches the bridge cautiously, he knows how sneaky this particular spy can be. Fingers pointed like weapons tremble as he gets closer, until finally, right beside the bridge, there’s nothing but darkness.

“If you want to find your frrriend,” a voice in the deep shadows tells him, “he is in here.” Continued…

Important Conversations

My Regular Mind, posted on April 5, 2011 at 12h13

I’ve been thinking about important conversations lately. Presently in my Great Big Project, a main character is having one of those Important Conversations. Once this conversation is over, the climax will unfold, and shortly after that, it will all conclude. I’m fairly certain how the story will end, and I’m equally certain that a fair amount of what I want to say will be left out.

It’s a minor torment. This story has been on my mind for nearly seven years, and in that time I’ve thought of many details. It feels like a shame to have wasted that time, though I do understand that it wasn’t all a waste. Many details have now become unnecessary, except to explain the backstory, which leaves me with ample material to work from if I ever have to write a prequel. I hope not to.

We never really know when one of these Important Conversations will happen, do we? Nobody tells you at the time, so it’s not until perhaps years later when you realize the impact it had.

I’m going to be busier than usual these upcoming few months. As excited as I am, the thought that I’ll have less time to work on this nearly-completed project is frustrating. I can nearly see the end. It’s right there.

The Riddle

My Regular Mind, posted on March 25, 2011 at 01h50

My local favourite coffee shop usually has a riddle posted at the counter, and when I went in this morning, the riddle was this:

What is most useful when it’s broken?

I scratched my head for a while as I thought it through.

Finally, I asked, “Is it a piggy bank?”

It wasn’t. Or at least, he said, not the answer they had. I stepped back and thought it through again. Finally, when my tea was ready and I had no more guesses, I asked for the answer.

“An egg,” he said.

“Aww, that’s not right,” I replied. “Piggy bank’s a better answer than egg.”

This is my reasoning. An egg brings life into the world, which to me seems like the most useful application of anything. If it’s broken, it’s completely useless, except of course – as the riddle implies – if you’re eating it.

Whereas a piggy bank contains money, and when it breaks, you can buy something awesome. Seriously, you can get anything you want. A broken piggy bank could even buy more food than what you’d get from eating a broken egg! Even math agrees with me!

The barrista, however, did not. And since it’s his place, he gets to decide the answers to his riddles.

But since this is my web site…

The correct answer is piggy bank.

Comicle #10: Natural Hunters

Comicles, posted on March 14, 2011 at 11h37

Believe it or not, eating wasn’t always as easy as going to a restaurant and picking something from the menu. In fact, there was a time when humans didn’t even have grocery stores! Yes, I know it’s hard to believe while sitting in front of your computer only steps away from your refrigerator, but it’s true.

Popular science has a fairly convincing timeline that, for humans, begins around when we started to create tools to obtain food. We used these tools for hunting, foraging, and of course primitive fondue parties. As our tools became more sophisticated, our agrarian civilizations began. Fast forward several thousand years and we can barely recognize ourselves as coming from such hard-working ancestors as those. Today life is so much different that given the same tools that were available back then, most of us probably wouldn’t survive a week.

Despite this, some people assert that humans are natural predators, which is often used to justify modern non-predatorial eating habits. I used this argument too when I was an omnivore, even though I rarely ate the animals that I killed. Nowadays, I tend to believe that humans used to be natural predators, but if we actually had to hunt again, I don’t think it would come naturally. We might know what to do, but actually doing it well enough to survive is a different matter indeed. These days the most fighting we do for food is over the last slice of pizza.

Regardless of the few physical characteristics that might put humans in the ‘predator’ category, I think it’s pretty obvious that ordering a hamburger isn’t the same as tracking a cow by smell and ripping her apart with your teeth. We might like to think of ourselves as the superior species at the top of our food chain, but perhaps it would be more accurate to use our current habits to define ourselves now: former predators (once removed) whose diets revolve around the weekly value menu and marketing. Oh, and whatever Oprah’s eating.

Five Quick Writing Tips

On the Topic of Writing, posted on March 8, 2011 at 10h09

Recently a friend asked me for some writing advice. Truth is I don’t really have any advice of my own. Writing isn’t easy, and there really aren’t any specific checklists you can follow. It can take years of work to create art, and even at its end it may never be perfect. Writing is more of a commitment than a straightjacket.

I’ve snooped through essays and interviews of my favourite authors, and from this I’ve whittled down their advice down to five convenient mottos that make sense to me.

Please yourself. If you don’t like what you’re writing, why should anyone else?

Explore every possibility. Consider that characters have minds of their own, and they might not react to a situation exactly how you might expect. Let them surprise you.

Reveal or advance. In a story, every word is important. You want to get to the point as quickly as possible, so every single sentence should reveal a character or theme, or advance the plot. Respect the reader’s time.

Kill your darlings. When an author comes up a story, it often comes along with specific ideas they want to incorporate, like a character, some dialogue, or even an entire scene. As the story develops and they don’t quite make as much sense in the story, they’re hard to let go. Kill them.

There are no rules. This is kind of a writing advice wildcard. Do what you want. Colour outside the lines, think outside the sphere, let your imagination loose. That’s what a reader really wants.

Restlessness

My Regular Mind, posted on February 28, 2011 at 01h48

Some time last week, I didn’t sleep well. In the middle of the night, I heard a loud, loud noise that sprung me immediately to my feet. I stood beside the bed confused, adjusting to my surroundings. My girlfriend tends to sleep lightly, and yet she was undisturbed. Had there been no loud, loud noise at all? Was it the sound of my feet hitting the floor that sounded to me like thunder? Hesitantly, I returned to our bed, and eventually, once again, to sleep.

And then yesterday, after a slightly delayed flight and then a long drive, I was back in my home town. I did not sleep uninterrupted. Once again, I woke up in a similar confused way, slowly adjusting to my surroundings.

Something similar happened years and years ago. I can’t imagine what similarities between then and now might be causing this unusual restlessness. At times, I worry about things like sleepwalking, even though I’ve never had a history of it. Never even an incident. But the thing I worry about is not knowing if perhaps there was.

911 Was An Inside Job?

Thoughtful Thinking, posted on February 17, 2011 at 08h01

Recently I saw some graffiti that read, “9/11 was an inside job.” I couldn’t help but take a photo and disagree. See, I don’t think that this slogan is entirely accurate. I would have written something like, “9/11 Was Never Fully Investigated.”

As is the problem for most advocates, the people who are already on board with their idea nod enthusiastically, while the people who aren’t tend to… well, disagree. Engaging people long enough to hear your opinion is difficult, whether it’s completely substantiated or not. People want to feel comfortable, and conflicting opinions generally don’t inspire that feeling. I think that the best way to achieve this is through art, which can warm someone up to a level where their mind is provoked willingly. Graffiti, especially this particular graffiti with this particular message, will probably just turn someone away, possibly forever.

Granted, there are a great deal of effective graffiti artists out there. Banksy, for one, has a style that leaves people to figure out the message for themselves. I think that most people who see his art don’t feel as though their beliefs were intruded upon. A slogan like “9/11 was an inside job,” however, sort of feels intrusive. It’s an opinion presented as fact, and people can spot those kind of shenanigans from 1.6 kilometers away.

Personally, I think this idea runs along the same train of thought as the assertion that Kurt Cobain killed himself. The people that believe this generally look at his struggle with addiction and depression and use that as Absolute Proof, but it only takes the slightest peek at the surrounding facts to realize how suspicious the entire incident was. And regardless of one’s opinion, an official police investigation was never done, and the only definite conclusion that anyone can come to is that he died.

Case in point, the only definite conclusion that we can come to about 9/11 is that the World Trade Center was destroyed, many innocent people were killed, a vague definition of terrorists were blamed, and countries that may or may not have been involved were attacked in retaliation. And then, because of this, many, many more innocent people died.

It’s hard to believe that this year will be the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. Some people are satisfied with The Official Story. Some people aren’t. But as each day passes, that difference of opinion becomes less relevant; eventually, as history goes, what did or did not happen becomes subjective to who tells it. Meaning, of course, opinion. Presented as fact. Only in this case, the shenanigans are harder to spot.

I think it’s important to be skeptical and objective. This world’s a crazy place, and some opinions aren’t necessarily true just because they’re asserted. Just like this one.

Mostly the Story of Avi

My Regular Mind, posted on January 30, 2011 at 11h53

Almost a year ago, I had finished eating an avocado and decided to put the seed in a planter. A few months later there was a stem sprouting from the seed, with some little green leaves flourishing at the top! I was fascinated by the insistence of life, which is what inspired me to plant a balcony garden. I’ve taken pictures of Little Avi’s progress over time, such as the day he got his own place. He loves his new digs.

On the way home last night I shared a taxi with an Austrian couple. They’d been in Vancouver for six months, and I asked what they thought about it so far. In Austria, he said, he only paid fifteen dollars a month for the equivalent cell phone package he has now. Here, though, he pays sixty. To be honest, mine is even more than that, which is all very absurd. Those companies must return substantial profits.

There’s a lot of growth in that industry these days.

Leave it to a night at the bar to remind me why I spend very few nights at bars. When I was younger, I didn’t mind that the music was too loud, and I didn’t mind that it was too cramped. I guess this is one of the hundred other indicators that I’m getting older.

Avi too. Just under a year old, and just over a meter tall. He’s a perfect reminder that if the conditions are right, you have to use the opportunity to thrive. Do something you love doing long enough and it’s bound to pay off. Otherwise, who knows, maybe you didn’t really love it as much as you thought.

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