Daily Thoughts 110: Persistence

Author's selfieAfter another night of disrupted sleep, I’m back at the library today. No challenge work today. I’ve been focused on library topics all day.

American Gods

Once I finish school I might have to watch this.

Persistence

It’s been a difficult couple weeks. I’m hitting the sack early tonight and I’ll give it another shot tomorrow.

Daily Thoughts 109: I’m late! I’m late!

Author's selfieMy squirrel mind thought it was hibernation season rather than spring and convinced me to stay in bed long after it was time to actually get up. In turn, that led to rushing around this morning to head off to work. It was very much the sense of “I’m late! I’m late!” as I fixed lunch, a mixed fruit smoothie to drink on the way, and some toast. I don’t tend to eat out often. I made some tea when I got to work.

I prefer to have my mornings last longer. Hopefully, tomorrow will go more according to plan. Between my late start, working late at the library, and then focusing on my studies, I didn’t tackle my challenges either!

I do have a late start tomorrow, so that may help!

Daily Thoughts 108: Hanging Out

Author's selfieOne of my favorite things in this world is the simple hammock. I have a couple variations from Hammock Sky—the large Brazilian hammock and a chair version. Both make me happy. I also have a Hennessy hammock, which is a great camping hammock. One of my fond childhood memories is spending time in a net hammock hung between two trees on a warm sunny day, reading a book, and enjoying a piece of Easter chocolate. I remember the sense of peace and satisfaction in that moment.

I’m spending time this morning hanging out in the hammock while reading for class.

Challenges

No challenge work today. I’m not feeling too well this evening.

The Idea Man

Cover art for the Idea Man

Writers get ideas and inspiration from all sorts of places. Often the process seems mysterious. Where does a writer find a muse? Where do you get your ideas? Here is one answer.

🚀

On a Tuesday, at ten in the morning under a bright new sun, the Idea Man materialized on the concrete driveway leading up to the writer’s rumpled split-level home. In the long lines and tight pressed creases of his dark suit the Idea Man managed to combine used car salesman, haughty auctioneer, and mortician. His distinguished gray hair was slicked back and combed, not a strand out of place. In one manicured hand he carried a monogrammed black leather briefcase. With his free hand, he reached up and adjusted his thin red bow tie.

The Idea Man had to close this deal, the powers-that-be had made that perfectly clear. Close this deal or the future as he knew it might not exist. He smiled his best thousand-watt smile and marched smartly up the driveway, across the concrete path to the front door, all the while stepping fastidiously around the cracks sprouting dandelions. He pressed the doorbell buzzer and waited.

The writer opened the door wearing dark gray sweat suit bottoms, a dark green sweat suit top and a gray bathrobe over the top. His dark hair stuck out in unruly directions and stubble covered his face like a case of black mold. The Idea Man held strong to his resolve and didn’t let his smile falter as he stuck out his hand.

“Sir, it is a pleasure to meet you.”

The writer didn’t shake his hand, instead crossed his arms and glared.

Undeterred the Idea Man lifted the briefcase. “I have something here that I think you’ll be interested in.”

“I’m not.” The writer moved to close the door.

The Idea Man put his hand out on the door. “Wait, sir, please! I’ve come from the future to help you.”

The writer squinted at him. “Future?”

“That’s right.” The Idea Man hoisted the briefcase again. “Please, five minutes. You won’t regret it.”

“Hell, I haven’t had my dose of crazy today. I’ll give you two minutes before I sling you out on your ass if you’re wasting my time.”

“That’d be fine, sir.”

Books dominated the inside of the writer’s home. The Idea Man couldn’t look anywhere without seeing books. Packed bookshelves lined the walls of the front room and shorter shelves blocked off the room from the stairs leading up and down to the different levels of the house. More books crowded the built-in shelves lining the stairs and ahead, down the narrow aisle between the front room and the stairs, the Idea Man saw even more shelves lining the walls around a dining room table swallowed by stacks of books. In the center of the front room squatted a worn wood table mostly covered with books except for a small pocket for a computer monitor. Two big leather chairs slumped beside the windows with books covering the small coffee table between them. The writer went into the front room and dropped heavily into the far chair. The Idea Man took the second chair and when it threatened to swallow him whole, he struggled up and perched on the edge with the briefcase balanced on his lap.

“Well?” the writer demanded. “How the hell do you plan to help me?”

“Ideas! Best-selling high concept ideas. Ideas from the future! No more struggling while you face the blank page. With these ideas you’ll write prescient stories that thrill and amaze your readers.”

The writer stared.

“Sir, this opportunity —”

“Opportunity? That’s what you’re going with? An opportunity? And what? I suppose you’ll want to split the money of anything I write with these ideas?”

“There are costs and hazards associated with time travel, of course, and our detailed outlines —”

“Outlines!” The writer jumped from his chair with such vehemence that the Idea Man shrank back into the chair that had threatened to swallow him. The writer jabbed a finger at the computer on the table in the middle of the room.

“I’ve got a book in progress on that machine. Over there in the dining room I’ve got another one going and a third downstairs in the living room! I have stories coming out of my ears upstairs in the small bedroom. Don’t even get me started on the projects in the basement because I haven’t been able to get down there in weeks! I’ve got so many fucking ideas that it isn’t humanly possible to write them all!”

The Idea Man tried to rally his courage. “But these ideas are based on future developments in science and technology!”

The writer lunged forward, grabbed the Idea Man by the arms and hauled him up out of the chair. He shoved him toward the door. “I don’t give a rat’s ass about the future! I make my own goddamn future!”

At the door, the Idea Man turned around. “I don’t think you understand the value of these ideas. If you’d let me show —”

“Tell me this, if your ideas are so fucking fantastic why don’t you sit your ass in a chair and write the goddamn stories yourself?”

“I’m an idea man, not a writer!”

The writer wrenched the door open and shoved the Idea Man outside. The door slammed shut behind him. For several seconds the Idea Man stood on the porch, blinking at the blinding sunlight before he faded away like the ideas he carried.

🚀

908 WORDS

Author’s Note

This story is the 92nd short story release, written in December 2010.

If you’re interested in longer works, feel free to check out my novels through the links in the sidebar or on the Books page. Next up is my story, Under the Bridge.

Daily Thoughts 107: Artificial Emotions, Florence Foster Jenkins

Author's selfieI didn’t get into bed until almost midnight last night. As a result, I didn’t wake up until almost 8 AM. Typical duration for me, I usually get between 7-8 hours of sleep, just shifted.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Self-portrait sketchI tackled a daily sketch again today. I want to make sure I’m getting in drawing time as often as possible. I spent time working on a self-portrait sketch.

Last night we watched Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.

I didn’t know anything about the story before watching the movie. From the little bit that I did read, it’s clear that details were altered for the film. One of the things that struck me about the story was her love of music, and desire to create. Even though she isn’t good, she is supported by those around her. There is value and courage in creating art. The quote used in the film captures this.

People may say I couldn’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.

I like that. I think it’s great.

Artificial Emotions

As we talk about artificial intelligence, I think we also need a better understanding of emotions and emotional intelligence. Here’s one discussion of this idea.

It is an interesting question. Emotions are present in all sorts of lifeforms, not just people. Data had the right idea.

Carnage

Available now via BBC iPlayer (not in the US), wish I could see it!

 

Daily Thoughts 106: Artificial Intelligence and Xenophobia

My son disrupted my sleep last night. He woke, scared by the wind blowing outside, at 3 AM. Although he tried to go back to sleep, that didn’t work so we were both up by 3:30 AM. On top of that, I’d gone to bed late. I dozed while he played and then later I was able to go back to sleep for a couple hours since I’d taken the day off.

Artificial Intelligence and Xenophobia

I enjoyed this short film, Rise. I hadn’t seen it before. It’s an extremely common take on the development of artificial intelligence and our fear of the other. At its heart, such stories are stories of xenophobia. Even of our children, who may adopt ways that are different than our own, extended to these artificial creations.

I have several audiobooks on my list to listen to that focus on the topic of artificial intelligence.

In reading more this semester about globalization, we see this same concern in regards to migration. Even though a strong argument exists for freer migration, we have politicians and others demonizing immigrants and wanting to make it harder for people to move—violating a basic human right of movement. In the US we’re seeing a further rise in this anti-immigration view with aggressive increases in restrictions and deportations. These policies cost the economy, violate human rights, and directly impact people’s lives. As an American, I’m able to freely move among the states. If I decide I want to relocate to Oregon, no problem. Maine? Fine. It doesn’t matter. I can move freely, seek other opportunities without restriction. It’s strange that people who enjoy that sort of freedom of movement would seek to restrict others. Of course, xenophobia plays a significant role in these responses to the ‘other’ and science fiction mirrors that with such stories.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Baby sketchFor today’s sketch challenge I decided to tackle a person. It’s a challenge getting people right! We’re so tuned to seeing people that getting it wrong is both obvious and not at the same time. Something might not look right, but until you have the skills developed to know how to correct it, it isn’t always obvious. There are observation skills to develop, certainly. In any case, as I’ve said. It doesn’t have to be good. I enjoy each drawing!

Daily Thoughts 105: President Against Libraries

Author's selfie Today was another day of prioritizing sleep. In part because I woke up in the night and had trouble getting back to sleep. By the time I did get up, there wasn’t much time left in my morning before heading off to the library. Tackling my daily challenges had to wait and I ended up not making time for my writing. I’ll try again tomorrow!

Daily Sketch Challenge

Landscape SketchAs I’ve said before, it doesn’t have to be good.  I just keep having fun. I keep trying different things. None of this is anything that I’m worrying about. When I get done with this semester I plan to do additional drawing and painting outside of the daily challenge—eventually building up to creating new original cover art for all of the 20+ books in the reboot!

President Against Libraries

Next up on the block to be eliminated: Institute of Museum and Library Services. The American Library Association issued a statement.

The range of services provided to millions of Americans through LSTA grants is matched only by the creativity of the libraries that receive them: veterans transitioning to civilian life, small businesses seeking to expand their business online, summer reading programs, resources for blind and hearing-impaired patrons, resume writing and job skills workshops and computer coding courses to teach youth 21st century job skills.

The mission of the Institute of Museum and Library Services “is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making.”

 

Daily Thoughts 104: Fiona, Warcraft, and Writing

Author's selfieThis morning I prioritized walking. It was a terrific morning for it. The moon was out and bright enough that I almost didn’t need my headlight (this was just before 5 AM). I did end up running out of time to do much else this morning.

That’s fine, it just means taking care of things this evening instead. I started with my daily sketch challenge.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Sketch of baby hippo FionaI enjoy drawing animals. They’re interesting and fun to draw. I enjoy drawing people too, but when I watched the latest video with Fiona, the baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo, I had to make her the subject of today’s sketch! I’d liked to have had more time to work on it but there wasn’t time if I was going to have time to write too.

Warcraft

After spending time on my sketch, I spent a little time playing World of WarCraft with my son watching. He wants me to get to the Darkmoon Fair next month with a new character, so I’m working on that when I take breaks.

Daily Writing Challenge

I continued working on my story The Order today. No clear idea what I’m doing with this, exactly. It’s not a science fiction story. It’s a mainstream story with a non-gendered character. In the video you’ll see that I’m cycling through the story at points, going back up to earlier parts tweaking and working on the story before continuing.

The Secret Scripture

This looks good, sad, and interesting. I think I’d like to read the book first.

Daily Thoughts 103: Recording Writing Challenge

Author's selfieI prioritized sleeping again this morning, which meant that I didn’t have time to go take my walk. That’s a trade-off, sleep or walk? My default answer is to walk, but when I really need to get more sleep I try to listen to my body.

Daily Writing Challenge

Screenshot of Write!Along with sketching, I’ve been working on a writing challenge with a bit less success. I decided to go ahead and record the writing session, much as I’ve done with the sketching and see how that went. I’m using Write! for this story. It’s a distraction-free text editor that I’m trying out. It has a number of features I like, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Sketch of PoppyI had about 15 minutes this morning to work on my daily sketch. I picked one of our dogs as the subject today. This is Poppy. I used a reference photo from when she was much younger. She’s 17 years old now!

Daily Thoughts 102: Newt Scratchmander

Author's selfieToday my focus has been mostly on my classes. I have several assignments due today. Since I worked yesterday, I have today off. It’s important to have a balance between work and everything else.

I spent the first part of the morning (after my walk and sketching) working on a Scratch game, Demystifying Dewey. It’s a simple Dewey-based matching game with a simple gameplay mechanic. Different badges are awarded at the end, based on the player’s score.

Screenshot of the Dewey Scratch game

I spent more time than necessary on the assignment. I created custom animations and sounds. As my first attempt at using Scratch, I think it went okay! I would have loved to have this sort of thing when I was a kid.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Newt sketchI spent more time on the sketch this morning. Rather than listening to music, I put in my earbuds and listened to the end of Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I enjoyed the series. I have too many books in progress right now, so it’s good to get one more done!

I’m calling this guy Newt Scratchmander.