Head Into The Cold

So, just past one month in my new home in the Midwest, and I get my first head cold in over 2.5 years. That’s right. I was just minding my own business when **bam** I spend the better part of 3 days in bed alternating between DayQuil, NyQuil, Mucinex DM, water and Gatorade. Fluids in, fluids out. Keep it out of your chest by any means necessary.

I have been a good boy. I have been eating better than usual. A teaspoon of local Iowa honey each day, a good multivitamin and plenty of rest. Exercising more and trying to be a good boy. But I learned that none of that seems to be able to counter inconsiderate people.

So, to the lady sitting to my right, who sneezes 12 times a day, ever day, at 2pm. And to the lady to my left who sneezes and doesn’t cover her mouth. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me why, sometimes, it is good to just work at the local gas station or library, away from the thousands of people carrying millions of germs, who don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze, cough or wheeze.

All that aside, I am kind of glad to catch it early in the season. I am going to be living in this area for a few years at least, so making it 1.5 years means my body is doing something right. And I do believe it will build up the proper resistance to keep the nasties at bay long term.

But for now, I cough, blow my nose, and cough again. And sleep. Sleep, perchance to dream.

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Happened To Me. U2?

Happened To Me. U2?

Wow. Just….wow. The public outcry about the free U2 album provided to anyone and everyone that has an Apple device (or uses iTunes, btw) bordered on wingnut crazy! I read some of the comments on a few of the tech blogs and at one point a person was basically making the argument that by Apple forcing them to download and listen to something they didn’t want was tantamount to a violation of their privacy.

Huh? Look, for the record I am a hardcore U2 fan and loved the idea of getting an album for free. But that bias aside, I read that statement, and just had to log off the Internet and go to bed. I am just not very tolerant when it comes to sweeping statements to make a point. First, I had to do a couple of Google searches to find out how to actually get the album, so I can tell you first hand that Apple didn’t force me to download it. Second, I had to take an action to click on a song in order to listen to it, so Apple didn’t force me to listen to the album.

Look. I get that people who aren’t U2 fans could get all bent out of shape about one of their albums popping up in their inventory. And I get that they should be able to express that displeasure and get Apple to fix that, which is what happened when Apple released the fix to remove the album. That’s it folks. It isn’t a conspiracy to force you to download and listen to music you don’t want to hear. It just isn’t.

What it is is a genius marketing move by U2. They reportedly got paid $100 million dollars for an album that had zero digital media to press, instant distribution to 500 million people and free advertising as part of Apple’s big launch of the year. That’s just smart business. Sure, it could be the start of a slippery slope of mega bands giving music away for free and driving down sales of indie musicians, disrupting their ability to make money for a living. But I think we can see by the backlash on this promotion, that just won’t be happening anytime soon.

And, for the record (no pun intended) the album was mediocre, and the first real disappointment from one of my favorite bands. I am not going to remove it, but I’m not going to listen too it again anytime soon.

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Blue Bayou

Blue Bayou

For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been blue. From the blue skies above to the blue walls of most of my bedrooms. The bright shades bring happiness and joy, the softer tones comfort during times of sadness and the deep tones a sense of regal pride.

My father, and by extension me, was a big Linda Ronstadt fan. That thought just popped into my head because of the title I gave this entry, and gave me pause to reflect and smile. The magic of that color blue I suppose.

But I wonder how many people are out there missing all the different shades of blue? It still amazes me how much time people spend with their heads buried into a smart phone, never taking the time to pause, reflect and enjoy the natural beauty around them. I carry a nice phone, I use it to communicate with family and friends and play an occasional game of Words with Friends.

But when I am walking down the halls at work, walking down the sidewalk on the street, or walking through the gigantic mall behind my hotel, I watch people. I try as often as I can to make eye contact, mouth a silent hello with a smile or heaven forbid, strike up an actual conversation.

I also get to see all different shades of blue in clothing, decor and of course, the big, gorgeous sky.

I’ll never be blue. My dreams come true. On Blue Bayou.

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Apartment Hunting

Apartment hunting is not a fun task.

I have spent the last 1.5 years living the big life in a hotel, with the majority of the expense covered by a per Diem while I worked a contract job. That was the life I planned for the foreseeable future, until I messed up and actually liked the boss and team I worked with and decided to pursue the job full time and start a second career.

One month in, I am 110% certain I made the right decision and look forward to the hard work ahead of me. The opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained over the years and being compensated at the appropriate level for that work while I learn even more is awesome. The ability to save and invest for retirement is awesome. The cost of living in a hotel is not awesome.

There are so many different apartment types within a 10 mile radius and while most I have looked at are close to what I would like for the next few years, I haven’t found that one yet. I do not want to settle but at the same time I do not want to be paying such a high rate of rent. There is a home purchase in my near future and for that I need savings.

Tomorrow I take a tour of what looks like a promising place to settle for the short term. I have said that numerous times already, and perhaps this time it will ring true. While I certainly don’t live a totally spartan lifestyle, I am also not looking for the Taj Mahal. A simple one bedroom with a lot of space, or a two bedroom to adequately separate my living and my writing are the main criteria. The other would be a top floor, ideally in a two story complex.

I am hopeful that I will find what I want and optimistic that I will find something close enough to what I want that will suffice as a new temporary home. The hotel lifestyle has been a unique experience and would not trade this experience even if the chance arose that I could go back and do it differently. There is something settling and comfortable living in a dynamic environment when you have relocated 800 miles from home.

But that was the short-term vision and I have to think long. It is a good mindset to have as you sit down to plan and write a novel. It doesn’t happen overnight and certainly won’t come to fruition without that long term focus and commitment.

Perhaps the search for an apartment is just what I needed to fuel the fire of writing.

Perhaps.

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Routine

Routine is the key to success, in writing and in life.

I would put quotes around that statement, if I knew who deserved the credit, however, I just typed that out of my head, so it may just be me. I imagine I read that somewhere and don’t recall but regardless, it rings true in how I approach my writing and my life.

So today marked the first day in re-establishing my writing routine, in preparation for NaNoWriMo in November. Early to rise and early in to work, knowing the day would be a busy one, but also knowing my evening routine needed to be established. True to form, work was a busy day and there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed, and they served as a reminder to me that I spend a great deal of time writing during the day. That writing is structured and focused to assure I am respectful of the time of others. In a way, real life training for writing a novel.

Home from work about a half hour earlier than normal and straight to the exercise room for 30 minutes of exercise. Physical activity needs to be part of the daily routine regardless, but especially when I know that I will be spending a good deal of time applying the BIC principle from yesterday. A quick shower and a bite to eat, then getting down to business taking care of the left over open items from the days to-do list. The exercise tonight is kicking my lazy rear from the last few weeks, so not as much done in this regard, but it should improve.

The way it is looking now, I should have about two hours a night to commit to writing, more if I hit a groove, then off to get some sleep before starting a new day. One thing I will consider is writing some in the mornings, if I am awake early enough, or have even 15-30 minutes to spare. Something to get the creative juices flowing and maybe spark some plot twists when I find time during the day.

I am getting excited for the challenge ahead and encourage anyone reading this to consider working towards the goal of participating in NaNoWriMo this year. It is definitely a daunting task, but if approached with organization and the right attitude, a doable and educational experience.

Here endeth today’s BIC exercise.

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Butt In Chair

Dusting off this blog is the first step in preparing for NaNoWriMo in November and I have a good friend of mine who is publishing her first novel next month to thank for the best advice I think a writer can hear:

Butt In Chair (BIC)

Three simple, but effective and critical words for writing success. So, here we go!

Idle time is the devil’s workshop. My mind was wandering the other day when suddenly an idea for a new novel popped into my brain. I usually consider this a good thing, and I believe this one has real potential, but that thought ignores that I already have two novels “in the works” with no end in sight.

In 2013 I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and flames ignited from the spark of writing that was living inside me. But I entered that challenge ill-prepared, with no research and no outlining, and it sputtered out after about 32,000 words. At the end of the month, I decided I did not like the work in progress so I shelved it for a rainy day and then spent some time reading and learning how to effectively outline and prepare for writing a novel.

I started my second novel during the bitter, cold winter of 2014. I spent time creating a working outline, and did some initial research into the time line and physics that were critical to the storyline. When I started putting pen to paper however, I found that my research was a bit lacking and I allowed that to create excuses to stop writing and do research. It was during this research block, that I came up with the idea for my third novel. The details are still sketchy but there is excitement in my head that wants to flesh this idea out and give it a go.

So I now have six weeks to outline, research, re-outline and structure my new novel and then sit down and churn out the words. I know my November travel schedule this year, and I know how to plan my word count so that I complete the requirements of the challenge by the end of the month.

BIC only works if you are organized and make writing every day a priority. I have 1.5 months to figure out the best times in my days for writing, and get back into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Fun times ahead!

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Novel, Process, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Android vs iPhone

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be the very first blog to ever tackle the hard hitting issues behind the Android vs. i Phone debate. What’s that? There are already hundreds of thousands of blogs doing this? Oh. Well, what the heck.

I recently took the $99 challenge of dropping my HTC One and going with an i Phone 5S for two weeks. And while I am still recovering a bit from the experiment, thanks to some major iOS 7 bugs and iMessenger, I am glad it was something I was able to do.

At the end of the day, there are really only two major things that seem to be important between the two warring factions. Camera and Screen Size.

Sure, i Phone users love to brag on the ergonomic features of the tiny i Phone that fits perfectly into your hand (it does) or snugly in your shirt pocket (never worried about it falling out) but i Phone users are invariably “taking a look” at a friends HTC M8 or Samsung Galaxy 5 and seeing for the first time just how important a big screen really is. Which leads us to the camera.

I phone’s used to have a monopoly on camera quality. From pixels, to lens, to industrial gorilla glass protection that shot pictures of amazing color. Tied into the retina display, it was pretty awesome. But then something strange happened. Android, led by Samsung (no doubt thanks to some dubious tactics at best) caught up.

Nowadays, discussion of camera quality is down so far into the technical levels that the average consumer can see the clarity and quality of the new zit on little Susie’s nose, immortalized forever. They could care less about, as one of my old bosses would say, “Giggawhammys”. They look almost the same.

Bottom line is personal preference, and a nod to the Android manufacturers for sticking with screen size and fine tuning performance. It isn’t there yet, but getting better all the time.

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