Gratitude List #5

    1. Walking…
      I’ve had occasion to walk around the neighbourhood a few times this week. Nothing major, just 20 minutes or a  half hour. I love walking around on a nice Spring day with no particular destination or deadline. It makes my brain work better. The effect is multiplied exponentially with the presence of a dawg.
    2. Walking…
      Just walking because I can walk. I don’t need a cane or crutches or a wheelchair. I can just stand up and go to the store or to the mailbox or even just to the kitchen. Many people don’t enjoy that freedom. Those who do usually take it for granted. But if you can walk, maybe try to appreciate what your body is doing mechanically. It’s miraculous.
    3. Walking…
      In some parts of the world, people can’t just walk around whenever they feel like it. They might live where there’s a civil war or drug cartels shooting indiscriminately. They might have to worry about drones and “collateral damage”. They might have to worry about getting raped or abducted if they go out. They can walk, but they can’t go for a walk.
    4. Walking…
      A great actor who is perhaps best known for yelling “MORE COWBELL” on Saturday Night Live.
    5. Walking…
      It’s a kind of bassline in music, often associated with jazz. It sounds really cool and liquid.

Have a good weekend. Go walk your dog.

Gratitude List #4

  1. One of the best things about being me is my friends. All of them have one or more traits I aspire to. They’re all great. I can’t figure out what I did to warrant having such great people in my life.
  2. Kirkland Soft & Chewy chocolate chip granola bars. 100 calories of life-affirming goodness.
  3. Spring. Or at least “Not dead of winter”.
  4. The catering truck on TV and movie sets.
  5. Fountain pens.

Gratitude List #3

  1. Alice Pancakes has turned out to be a really fantastic doggy. She’s got a great personality and that makes it a complete pleasure to take her to the dog park. She gets along with all the dogs and all the peoples. Going to the park is the best part of my day.
  2. Queer Eye on Netflix. It’s such a positive and fun show. I want the Fab Five to come and help me out.
  3. My iPhone 6 is still going strong after three years. The battery life is still pretty reasonable, and that’s the most important thing for me. I’m doubly grateful for this because I don’t have any money to replace it right now.
  4. My gut tells me we’re done with the REALLY cold weather for this winter. We’re sliding into spring, and that makes me very happy.
  5. Eggs.

Gratitude List #2

Here’s my weekly list of things I’m grateful for.

  1. The new episode of Dave Letterman’s Netflix show with George Clooney is absolutely charming. When George’s father, Nick, welcomes Dave into his house, Dave says,”How are you?” and Mr Clooney says “Better for seeing you”. I find that to be a classy and warm way to greet to someone. So much better than “Fine, thanks.” I’m going to use it…sometimes…on people who I like.
  2. We got a Soda Stream for Christmas. I use it to make carbonated water and then flavour it with Mio. I’ve lost a few pounds by cutting back on Coke.
  3. My iPhone 6 is still going strong after three years of heavy use, meaning I don’t have to get jail raped by Apple for a new phone for a little while yet.
  4. Sun. It’s -17 right now, but it’s so bright and sunny that I don’t care as long as I can stay inside.
  5. Learning how to play guitar. I’m not very good anymore, but it’s nice to be able to pick up an instrument and play something simple and musical. It’s good for the soul.

Gratitude List #1

I asked my new friend Elan Morgan*1She’s funny and clever and thoughtful and generally interesting. You should visit her site and subscribe to her mailing list. if she’d mind if I straight-up copied her idea to post a regular “Gratitude List” of 5 things that I’m grateful for once a week-ish. She said it was OK, so here goes…

  1. I’m on a mailing list made up entirely of a group of people who’ve been friends since elementary school. There’s about 10 or 15 of us who keep in regular contact. We’re funny and smart and bawdy and lots of other good things that only come with 45 years of friendship. I love them.
  2. I know how to code HTML and CSS and PHP, but I don’t like doing it. WordPress themes mean I just click a button and my website looks new. Yay for that.
  3. I have mild OCD about music. Once I hook into an album or artist, I loop it 6-8 hours a day for days, sometimes weeks. Right now I’m unwilling and unable to escape the clutches of Clutch. It’s glorious.
  4. Words of encouragement from total strangers who have no vested interest in my well-being. It feels pure.
  5. Cell phone plans with unlimited long distance that allow me to talk to my daughter whenever I want. Or whenever she wants.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. She’s funny and clever and thoughtful and generally interesting. You should visit her site and subscribe to her mailing list.

Dog Dreams and Sales Targets

I was watching Alice Pancakes twitch in her sleep. I wondered, “Is the weirdness of dreams linked to waking intelligence at all? What about for dogs?”

There have been times where I ‘ve awakened from some profoundly weird dreams that were weird enough that I thought about them for a couple of days. Weird enough that I had to ask friends what they thought.*1Something that weird has to come from somewhere and mean something, doesn’t it?

What happens if a dog has a dream that weird? Can a dog even have a dream that weird? Is the weirdness relative to an animal’s IQ? Like maybe for a dog, a profoundly weird dream would involve flying, whereas, for humans, a flying dream is cool.*2…and too rare, in my experience. If there’s a God, I can’t even imagine what it would dream about. I don’t have the intelligence.

Do dogs dream that they can fly?*3I bet cats do because they kind of can. Cats probably dream about killing things, so they need to fly and drive Mad Max cars and shit like that

Do they have recurring dreams? Do they have recurring dreams of flying? Do they have dreams that, while not recurring, share a theme like a specific location or activity?

Do you watch your dog twitch while he’s sleeping/dreaming? Do you assume he’s playing at the park or chasing squirrels? Or do you assume, as I do, that while his meat machine is still here on earth, there’s some sort of quantum entanglement going on between his consciousness and his meat, so despite the fact that his awake consciousness is currently powering a different meat machine in another dimension, there’s some signal leak into the sleeping one in our dimension. When his legs twitch here it’s because he’s running in the other dimension.

Even if a dog could make English language sounds, would we understand what they were talking about? Or is their reality completely different (but complementary) from ours? If a dog could speak, would it be gibberish to us? Or would her ideas sound like utter madness?

Anyway, this is the kind of thing that prevents me from having a successful career in the business world. I’m thinking about things like this while the boss is talking to me about sales targets and other “important” businessy things. I’m hardly ever NOT thinking about stuff like this.

It’s not that I’m easily distracted.

It’s the opposite.

I’m difficult to engage.

You need to bring brain food to the conversation. While I love having conversational deep-dives about music and comedy, I’m agnostic regarding the topic if the person I’m speaking with has a good take on any subject.

I like to talk, but even more than that I like to listen and ask questions of people who know a lot about something I know nothing about and have a cool and enthusiastic way of explaining it. Everything is interesting to me. Unless the topic is sales targets. Then I don’t give a shit no matter what.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Something that weird has to come from somewhere and mean something, doesn’t it?
2. …and too rare, in my experience.
3. I bet cats do because they kind of can. Cats probably dream about killing things, so they need to fly and drive Mad Max cars and shit like that

Goals For 2018

Here’s what I’m aiming to get done in 2018

  1. I’m going to go offline for a 24 hour period once a week – Saturday evening through Sunday evening. Phone calls will be answered, but that’s it; no social media or texts or anything like that. We’re going to go to movies and have game nights and go for walks and such. I also need more time dedicated to reading.
  2. “He does not suffer fools gladly”. I want people to say this about me. To that end, I pledge to be less accepting of nonsense. I predict there will be some crying involved because I see absolutely no reason to be gentle when assaulted with stupidity. I will be bringing a gun to all knife fights.
  3. I’ve seen a few videos on Facebook in which people assigned themselves 100 days to accomplish something, then they track their progress and post it. It’s essentially crowdsourced motivation. This seems do-able, even for a lazy prick like me, so I’m going to try it with the following:
    1. Going to try juggling and card tricks again…
      They didn’t get a fair shake in 2017
    2. Planks and pushups…
      Let’s see if I can get some muscle tone back in this old body. At the very least, improved core strength should help with my posture and general well being. I like the idea of being physically intimidating as well as intellectually intimidating. It’s not bullying if people are scared of you because of their own insecurities.
    3. Cursive writing…
      I’ve recently developed a love of fountain pens. I’d like to have the kind of handwriting that compliments a quality writing instrument.
    4. Sweep picking on the guitar…
      This has no practical value for me other than to show off to my friends and anyone who might be listening at the music store, so if anything has to be sacrificed because of time limitations, this will be the first to be abandoned. I’m pretty adept at finger tapping, but my right-hand technique has always been sub-par. I’m fixin’ to rectify that.
    5. Banjo…
      I got a banjo for my birthday a few years back. While I’ve noodled around with it a bit and can fart out something resembling music, I’ve never really dedicated myself to getting the finger rolls going. That’s where the cool, Earl Scruggs sounds are.

Merry new year, ya’ll. Let’s plan on grabbing a coffee or lunch soon.

 

2017 Goals: Reviewed

Get published.

Fail. In hindsight, however, this was an ill-considered goal. My goal should have been to write enough material to make it worth paying a content editor and a line editor to get it ready to be shopped to a publisher.

Find reliable news outlets, and stick to them.

Success, although 2017 made this easier than it should have been due to the astonishing and utter train wreck that is the Trump presidency. It wasn’t necessary to find news sources because Donnie Two-Scoops delivered his nonsense directly to us via video and Twitter. It’s not necessary to confirm things when they come straight from the horse’s mouth.

That being said, The Intercept is where it’s at. Jeremy Scahill’s weekly podcast is a must listen.

Adopt a dog.

Unqualified success. Alice is a fantastic doggy.

Make a significant life-change, hopefully in the form of a new job.

This was thrust upon me when I lost my job at the end of May. I’m still trying to figure out what to do next. I know for sure that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life commuting to a job in a cubicle with a bunch of other people who hate their jobs just as much as I do. I can also live without having a psychopath for a boss.

Learn how to juggle.

Fail. To be honest, I only tried to learn this for a couple of days before forgetting all about it.

Learn a few decent card tricks.

Fail. Didn’t even try.

“He made you feel like you were the only person in the room.”

I think I made strides. This is an ongoing goal, and I can’t be the one to decide when or if I’ve succeeded. It’s for you to decide.

Writing Is Hard

Writing the Z&TG stories is way harder than I thought it would be. The first two or three basically wrote themselves. It was new and exciting for me. These days, it feels a lot like work except I’m not getting paid. I don’t know that I’ll ever make a single dollar doing this, which makes it even harder to stay motivated.

Getting the tone right in a short story is exponentially harder that it was when Z&TG was just short snippets of conversation I posted on FB. Those didn’t have to be very long. They didn’t have to be thematically connected. I could just barf out eight lines of dialogue and call it a day.

I know my stories don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good. They have to satisfy me or they don’t stand a chance of satisfying you. I now understand what all my favourite writers mean when they say how hard writing is. It’s super hard; maybe the hardest thing I’ve tried. There’s no measuring stick that informs me how good of a job I’m doing other than my inner voice saying, “Yup…that works” or – more frequently – “That. Is. Awful”. There’s nobody else “in the band” to get creative input from. It’s just me, my ridiculously underpowered brain, and this laptop.

The only other thing I’ve done that compares is writing songs, but I find that easier. It’s patterns and repetition and a quantifiable rhythm. Once you have a good hook, you can build it out with a couple of other sections (verse/chorus/bridge), then repeat sections for four minutes. Writing a symphony is probably closer to writing stories, but since I’ve never written a symphony I can’t be certain.

Perhaps running is a better comparison? All of us can run the first 500 metres or so. We’re fresh, we’re excited, and it feels like if we can stay motivated, a marathon isn’t that far away. It’s do-able. There’s a defined distance. You’ll know when you’re done.

I’ll never know when I’m done*1It’ll be an educated guess at best., and I’m currently sitting on my arse at metre 501 wondering what the hell made me think this was a good idea. I’ll never be Stuart McLean or Kurt Vonnegut.

I’d get a job, but the results of my efforts so far makes it clear I’m not even capable of writing a good resumé.

The only thing that’s keeping me going is the knowledge that I don’t want to ride transit every day to get to a cubicle in an anonymous office tower to put in 8 hours a day with a bunch of other people who hate their jobs as much as I do. That’s no way to live.

So I guess I’ll keep hammering away, hoping beyond hope that 10% of the words I write are good enough to appeal to somebody with a few dollars of disposable income to spend on the stories of a guy and his talking dog.

 

 

 

PS: It took 15 minutes to write this post. It’s 500 words long. If I could manage that with the Z&TG stories everyday, I’d have three stories a month. So what’s the problem? It’s extremely vexing.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. It’ll be an educated guess at best.