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How often have you brought up Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in conversation to make a point? Yes, I am that much of a geek. I don’t claim any great knowledge. Bits of flotsam and jetsam wash up on the wrinkled shores of my gray matter and are offered up to reluctant passersby. I might offer an oddly amusing (at least to me) quote from a movie. Just as easily, I may offer my opinion on some topic with which I have only a passing acquaintance. And if something sparkly catches my eye, I’m quick to jump on the computer to learn more.

On some occasions, this fascination turns into an obsession as if I had discovered a key to a lost treasure and intend to take off on a quest to rediscover the secret temple. A few of these mature into fully developed whale hunts that may last for decades, such as my persistent focus on writing.

Attending the San José State University School of Information has certainly washed up plenty of material for me to work with in the years ahead. From coding, games, design, and library advocacy, to globalization and human rights, going back to school has been great. I’d rather not have to take on the cost, and I could do without the grades or the deadlines and sometimes I find assignments too narrow and lacking in creativity. Mostly, however, it has kept me moving forward with a regular diet of new material I may not have discovered otherwise. Attending school again has been a bit like a storm hitting my mental beaches, leaving behind a trove of unanticipated discoveries.

Planning for Surprise

Classes end in less than two weeks and I don’t want to fall into patterns that narrow my vision. I need to create opportunities for surprise. For the unanticipated. I plan to continue learning, of course, but the danger is that I only focus on those areas of particular interest. I can’t keep polishing the same treasures—I need to get back out there and see what the latest storms have brought up!

Illustration and design are areas I plan to focus on in the weeks ahead. Both are key elements of my massive reboot to relaunch my novels and in the web and coding projects.

Even better, I need to visit other beaches. I need to explore things that I wouldn’t ordinarily pursue or things about which I know very little. It might be anything. I might take other courses. I want to learn to speak and read in other languages. Explore history. Improve my knowledge of science.

I want to play music.

I want surprises and I want to have fun.


Storms rolled through today with a destructive force that uprooted trees, downed power lines, and damaged structures. I left work and quickly turned around and went back because traffic was backed up every way out of work. A co-worker described power lines and downed trees. I ended up taking a long way home after waiting at work and ended up seeing lots of signs storm damage. I ended up posting late because the power went out. Surprise!