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See that image over there? I did something a lot of other people didn’t.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. For the benefit of my own ego, I will give myself this virtual pat on the back.

I wrote 59,000 words in the month of November, as part of National Novel Writing Month. That’s around 200 pages, give or take on the font. It’s not that good, but I’ve sure as hell come up with a few ideas for how to make it better, which I’ll be doing soon. I actually need to finish the book. I’m about 95% done. But, for the purposes of NaNoWriMo, anyone that writes 50k+ words is a “winner” so goooo me. Says nothing about the quality of content, but I think when it’s done (which will likely be in several months… yay editing and re-writes!) it’ll be liked by at least… three people. That’s right, I am making the bold claim that there will be at least three people besides myself who like more than they dislike (which technically counts as “liking” something) the book that I just finished writing. Once I’m done editing and rewriting parts of it, that is. I hope that you all hold my feet to the fire on this one. Don’t let me get out of my lofty goal.

All joking aside, it’s been a crazy experience. I swear I’ve only used the thesaurus maybe a dozen times, the dictionary dozens more, and I am going to go donate some money to wikipedia after this post because being able to look up articles on things like the nyc subway was invaluable to adding little references to things that I’ve never even seen. Google street view is awesome, too. Like I mentioned in a post the other day, I feel so lucky to live in this unprecedented age of technology. Every generation likes to feel like they’re special, and we do have many similarities to those who have lived and died before us, but we really do live in a remarkable era, absolutely unparalleled by any other time in all of history.

I think a lot about what caused my dad to do what he did, and I believe a lot of it was a loss of hope. It’s how he and I will always differ, because I (despite all my bitching and criticism) am an optimist. I believe that things will work out. Right now, we’re at this weird point where we’ve had a vast rush of technology, and our sense of ethics, our idea of responsibility, hasn’t caught up. We’ll get there. And if not, the planet will still be here. It will survive.

When I die, I believe that my conscious existence will completely cease. Some will remember me. They too will eventually die. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to do something worthy of being remembered. Some day, even that will fade into obscurity. Regardless of how long I am remembered, or how quickly forgotten, the atoms that compose my current existence– what I believe is all that I am– will persist for a very long time. I take comfort in that.

I went on a tangent. Something I do. You just have to put up with it. I blame the blog-as-confessional thing I had going in October.

Coasting through life

You are probably expecting some kind of introspective ramble about how my life has been one straight line to the next, plotting the paths of least resistance from point eh to point be.

I am not that predictable! Instead, I just wanted to post a quick update. Today is Black Friday, and while Americans nationwide will be standing in lines and elbowing for a better spot at the checkout lane, I’ll be playing with my dog and getting sand in my shoes. Going to the coast today, where I will enjoy a light rain and fifty degree weather. One of the many perks of living in Oregon is that I can go to the ocean pretty much whenever I want, and I am doing just that!

Also, I won NaNoWriMo last night. All that really means is that I’ve passed the 50k word mark. Sitting at around 50,100 words. It feels good to accomplish a goal, even if it’s a mostly arbitrary one.

To close, here’s a picture of Giles from one of our previous trips to Seaside. He’s such a goofy dog. I really love him :)

He makes the best faces.

Born Loser? Not me!

Don’t worry, it’s not genetic.

Last week, as I procrastinated yet again, desperately seeking distractions from the novel I’ve been working on, I stumbled across a website run by a guy named Andreas. He lives in Germany, and likes to collect records. I was surprised to see that he found a record in a thrift store that my dad recorded in 1969. I was sad because the MP3 links no longer functioned, which is to be expected from a post that is over 2 years old. I emailed him, and was pleased when I received a response today, complete with Mp3 files attached!

I’ve included them here, for your listening pleasure. The first two are from my dad’s record, and the third is a cover that my brother and I did of the second song (I only did the vocals).

Dan Marshall – Born Loser – 1969

Dan Marshall – Lesson From A Rose – 1969

Cover – Lesson From A Rose – 2001

I remember listening to these songs when I was a child. Lesson From A Rose has always been one of my favorite songs, because of the idea that beauty is fleeting but that love can last forever.

My dad committed suicide in 1990. On one hand, it’s nice to hear these songs. It’s been easily over a decade, and I’ve been sitting here listening to them on repeat for the past hour of my lunch break. On the other hand, listening to Born Loser (That’s Me), where my dad sings about how he was born a loser, and never seems to win no matter how hard he tries, is a reminder of the way he viewed himself. He definitely dealt with a lot of difficult things in his life, but I also believe that he helped to create many of his own problems. While I can’t blame him for it, since I know that he wasn’t right in the head, I’ve always felt that he just gave up, rather than continue to fight.

It’s the opposite of how I see myself. I’m not a born loser, no matter how many bad things happen to me, or the trials that life throws my way. I’m a survivor, a winner, tenacious as all hell. No power in the ‘verse can stop me. I will never give up. I feel very fortunate that I live in an age with such technological progress and wonder. It’s so very different from just a short time ago, such a stranger experience than what they went through. We’re more, and sometimes less, connected than they were, and have access to more knowledge in an instant than they could’ve imagined in a lifetime.

Election analysis from a red state citizen

This is a guest post from a friend of mine who lives in the heart of Mormon country. For the sake of his anonymity, we’ll refer to him as Joseph Johnson.

Now that the election is over, and people have calmed down some, I want to give my opinion on why Mitt Romney lost. Before I start, I want to state that I am an independent voter. Before I voted, I researched all the candidates, and voted for two republicans in local elections. I tend to lean liberal, but am by no means a democrat. I believe a two party system is not the optimal situation, but I am also a realist. Right now, a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. While I may agree with a third party candidates views more than a Republican, or a Democrat, they have zero chance of winning a presidential election. I am glad that, on a local level, more and more third party candidates are winning. However, in a national election, a third party candidate just gives another party a better chance of winning. I would rather vote for either a Republican or Democrat that more closely resembles my viewpoint than allow a candidate that I totally disagree with to win. I voted for Barack Obama, but I do not believe that Mitt Romney is an evil person, or that he had some hidden agenda to destroy America. No candidate runs for office with the intent to do anything other than what he or she believes is right for this country. That being said, here is why I believe Mitt Romney lost the election. It all started with the Tea Party “grass roots movement.” Continue reading

Lightcap

I wanted to give a brief update, since most of my writing over the past several days has been dedicated to NaNoWriMo. I’m over 13k words into my novel, which I’ve tentatively titled Lightcap.

If you’re interested in checking it out, I’ve posted a synopsis and several excerpts, which you can read by clicking on this link. Keep an eye out for more news. I hope to have a finished product by the end of the year, or by early 2013 at the latest!

This is both the end and the beginning

For the month of October, I wanted to kickstart my creative side by writing a post every day. I’ll be very honest, I didn’t think I would finish. I’ve struggled with follow through for my entire life. It’s not that I don’t have a passion for creating– in fact, it’s probably the one single thing that has brought me the greatest amount of joy– but rather that I tend to be easily bored and am prone to distraction.

As I get older, I find that I have more of a desire to DO something… Something worthwhile, something lasting. Maybe this is just simply an acknowledgement of my eventual demise, a desire to make an impact before I fade away into the obscurity of history, whatever you want to call it. Labels aside, I’ve taken a little bit of time each day to write something, and now I’ll be branching out to other projects. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be working on my first book, as part of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been playing guitar more, reading more, listening to podcasts. Basically trying to stimulate my mind, maybe rousing some long-dormant neurons and spurring them to activity. Continue reading

I am now officially a daywalker!

Science is not just a candle in the dark, it is the spotlight that can shine light upon the darkest corners of the human mind.

Today was my first 8am day. I had a great morning. Still woke up too damn early, but I figure it will take awhile to get acclimated to waking up later. I spent some time hanging out with the dog, then walked down to the transit center and rode the light rail in to work. Standing room only made it difficult to stand there and read, but I was able to make it through a few pages of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Given the difficulty of holding a Kindle on a packed MAX, I decided that podcasts and audio books would be a good supplement to reading materials. So now, I am subscribed to the following podcasts: The Atheist Experience, The Non-Prophets, Godless Bitches, The Geologic Podcast, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Common Sense with Dan Carlin, and the Think Atheist podcast. I’ll be looking for some audio books tonight, but I’m open to any recommendations. Same goes for podcasts. Continue reading

News from the internet

Today is my birthday. I took the day off from work, but I still plan on posting something. That said, it’s my damn birthday, so I’m taking it easy today. I figured I’d just throw together some smaller snippets to make today’s blog post.

I read a great piece this morning by JT Eberhard, I am voting for Obama. So should you.  I wish that I could make every conservative I know read every last word of this piece. It highlights several of the problems that I have with Obama, and why I’m voting for him anyway (spoiler alert: it’s because Romney would be much, much worse). I’m not happy with drones killing people halfway around the world, with the idea of people being indefinitely detained, and with how secretive his administration can be, especially since he ran on a platform of more transparent government. However, I would be just as (if not more) disappointed with these things under President Romney, and there would be the added uncertainty of having a religious zealot in the White House who wants to decimate many of the safety nets and social progress we’ve won since the early 1900s. Continue reading

A different kind of day 1

Almost 4 weeks ago I posted Day 1, the beginning of my blog-a-day goal for the month of October. In terms of raw output, this may very well end up being the most creative month of my life. In addition to getting myself into a mindset of creating, I’ve learned a lot and made several new friends along the way, and found the confidence to commit to even more writing next month.

Spending more time behind the keyboard next month presents a problem. Namely, I need to lose some weight. I wore my suit last weekend for the first time since the summer, and it was immediately apparent that I’ve probably put on at least 20 pounds since I last wore it. It was a wake-up call for me, making me realize that I have a choice behind finding something that works for me or living unhappily and likely ending up in an early grave. I’m fortunate to have a gym at work, but with my early schedule I had difficulty going in before work to use it, and I usually want to go home after my shift is over. Continue reading