Dog Ear
Hiatus (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 20 December 2017 22:04

ome of you might have noticed that the site has gone largely dark over the last few weeks. No updates. No opinions. No grousing about the sorry state of entertainment, media and literature lately.

Most of you haven’t, of course.

I’m keeping track of names, just like Santa.

Anyway, the reason for this wasn’t a failure of courage or and onset of writers block. Nope. Carpel Tunnel. I have it in my left hand, not because of typing or anything, just hard use. So the bone and cartilage in my left wrist tightened up around the nerves and suddenly I couldn’t feel my left index finger tip – just the end and the nail. Strange sensation, especially when playing Go left handed (I don’t remember why I was doing that – the board placement, I think). I’d pick up a stone and feel most of it, not all of it. Crazy weird.

Saw the hand doctor and he told me, yeah, he could fix it right up. The implication was that I’d be inconvenienced by all this for a day or so. Scheduled the surgery, went in, conked out, and the next thing I knew I was smooth-talking the recovery nurse in finest continental style (my wife said I was a babbling idiot). But besides that, I found my wrist in a splint from mid-forearm down to the wrist. Worse, on my palm there was a convex piece of hard plastic. This mean when I put my wrist on a table, you’d hear a clunk.

The worst part of all this was using a keyboard. The first two days (with my fingers swollen like ball-park franks) I had to type right-handed (friends on Facebook might remember that low-cap phase I went through). But even after the swelling was down and the sling off, I still had problems. When I typed, my left palm-splint would bump against the lower-left keys – shift, caps lock, alt, control and the windows launcher. So I’d be trying to type in two or three simultaneous IM sessions and update excel and a dozen other things all while windows were popping up, the text was centering, the font was changing. In the evenings, I’d catch the bus to the train station and stand reflecting about things on the platform. And I’d look at my left hand and think, Fuck you.

Writing was no fun. That short story I was working on, shelved. That game my friend and I were developing, stalled.

But now the splint is off. Now I can type (though my thumb is tired from long disuse). But I’m writing again and I can feel all the tension and stress drain out as I do.

So yes, I’m back.

With caps and everything.


Clearing the slate Again! (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 November 2017 20:13

t’s hard to covey just how bad my work day was – this is the middle of three days of Program Increment meetings, the hardest one for me. Today my team has to figure out what it needs to do. We have a limited time to task up our board. Management is forcing work on us (regardless of the principles of non-intervention in Agile). And as a scrummaster, I’m running from room to room, up and down stairs, trying to pull everything and everyone together in this shambles of effort over four hours without lunch (well, cold Olive Garden spaghetti) while people keep changing their minds, other people won’t give timely information, and some people are as hostile as junkyard bitch-dogs (yeah, if you know me and my workplace, you know who I’m talking about). Ugh.

So after a long day, 8am to 5pm nonstop, I was dead. People saw me and asked if I was alright. I could only shake my head. But guess what – I’d cycled in today and now I’d have to do it going home. I wasn’t looking forward to this at all.

Decided I’d “Amsterdam-Cycle” home, i.e. take it easy. And that didn’t last long. Within a quarter mile I was pumping along, smiling up at the moon in its darkening sky, just refreshed and enjoying myself. And all along every major road, people honked and fumed and made the world a worse place.

I thought about it in the ride, of this difference. And maybe it’s something like reading books vs reading Twitter or Facebook updates. One of them provides a deep and moving satisfaction, a satisfaction of completion, the general feeling of well-being. And the other is quicker, more convenient  but certainly more frustrating and irritating. Yes, you might get a lot read quickly but in the end, you are jittery and on-edge.

So, you need to determine what sort of life will be yours. The bike or the car. The book or social media. Which makes you a deeper, happier person as opposed to someone who is no better off (if not worse) at the end of his “session”?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go finish my book In the City of Bikes. Watch for the review!


Clearing the slate (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:00

ast week I wrote about coming up flat for a blog entry (actually, I rallied and got a respectable piece out of it). But I’ll confess that even after lumping it out over lunch at the desk, I was still zombiefied for the rest of the day. Drones were lining up at the desk, the IM light was flashing and some poor sod even tried my phone. When I got home, I slept four hours before even trying to rustle up dinner.

But it was getting home that made all the difference.

You see, unlike virtually everyone else on the planet who trudges out to their cars and joins the great double-terminator rush with billions of cars fighting across too little asphalt, dawn and dusk, I rode my bike yesterday.

Now, granted, as I pushed the bike out to the loading dock and heard the rumble of rage from the nearby boulevard, I wasn’t overly thrilled with my lifestyle choice. I wanted to get home. I wanted the day to end. But then I got out and eased across the first obstacle, the Keller Warpath, and a strange thing happened. As I rode down quieter streets and my legs transferred energy down the spokes to the pedals to forward gears to chain to rear gears to the motion of the wheel, as the torque spun up and the bike found its equilibrium in the world, as the pavement rolled past and the wind crackled and the birds chirped and my smile broadened, things got better.

Yeah, I was still tired and people will still trying to kill me in their distracted disinterest, but suddenly my head was clearing. While scanning for hooks and crosses, I found myself thinking of my code and my writing again (and in positive terms, too). The office miasma was behind me and optimism in front of me. Things were clean and clear once more.

So there might be a lesson there – if you have to write, need to write (or compose, construct, or cogitate) and you are in a muddy emotional hole, get out. Take a walk, ride a bike. And leave the phone behind – Facebook will not clear your spirit (no, it will actually cloud it). If you have a dog, take it for an energetic walk. If you have a cat, play with it in delightfully unexpected ways. Just a couple of minutes. Get out of that rut.

Then come back to your desk, your easel, your symphony and make magic.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:37
Dog tired (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:16

always say that there are days when you won’t feel like writing. Like, say, today.

It’s Thursday and I owe the vast consuming maw of the internet another short piece on writing. In that perfect world, I should have been developing a bit earlier in the week and refining it in my various downtimes (like when driving or even biking). Wednesday I’d take a break at work to compose something that I would review Wednesday night and post up Thursday. That would have been the plan.

Reality is bleaker.

In my reality, I’m playing with a couple of game design ideas, things I want to put together, some experimental stuff. And this means I’m thinking mostly about them, all the way through to midnight. This morning (for the second night in a row) I woke up at 4am, tired by wide awake, my mind spinning away with its rooster wakeup call. Yes, I did wake up with some new ideas (I wrote about doing that very thing in a recent Dog Ear). The solution is neat. The depredation is not. And I haven’t put a bit of effort into the blog post save some preliminary thought on it a couple of days back. So Thursday AM, no piece yet.

At work, we’re under a crunch  and for most corporations crunch brings out the micromanagement in their hierarchies. So I’ve had meetings all damn day. 9:15. 9:30. 11:00. 11:30. And I still have a 2:00 coffee-gulper and possibly another loose meeting floating around like a ghost. The problem with these meetings is that it breaks up the day into useless chunks. I’m only writing at lunch because it’s all I’ve got. When I get home? I’m going to bed. Still dog tired from this morning.

As for what to write about, yeah, I did mention I had a good idea of a piece a few days back. When this happens I generally write email to myself so I can remind myself. Looked in my drafts (where I keep them). One email. One word. “Audience”.

That’s it? I remember it being something profound I’d thought it, something that was sharp and relevant. But now I couldn’t even guess what the reference was about. Since you guys are my audience, do you have any ideas on this? If so, let me know.

So yes, I’m tired and meeting-mush-headed and clueless. Perfect to write something about writing.

But write what you know. And so I am writing. And what’s the point?

(A)   Often you are not going to want to write. Home and bed are looking really nice now. And…

(B)   Also, often you are going to have to write on a topic with very little prepwork.

But the good thing is that I wrote this on the fly and it seems to be holding together. It’s not my masterpiece but it does capture this moment in my life and provides a tie-in lesson to writing. I have heard of authors who get a deadline crunch to produce vast amounts of creativity in a short span. For Fire and Bronze, I had two days to proof it. That’s writing. That’s life. I could turn this into a piece about childbirth and babies and it would probably read the same.

Anyway, if you are a writer, get ready for this sort of thing. You have to be able to find that “writer’s soul” even when life has plucked it from your body. Good luck!


Not a bad piece if I do say so myself

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:35

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