Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Lexdate: This Week - Not Much Research, Plenty of Snark


I haven't accomplished much in the last couple weeks for the project. I've done a lot of reading and deliberation over some topics but not satisfyingly advancing in the matter. Not much to report.

I probably won't have much to report over the next couple weeks, either. Every two years I have to get enough Continuing Education credits to renew my insurance license in Illinois. I use the tactic to try getting half my credits in the first summer after renewal and the second half during the second summer. There are some exceptions when I can get most of them at once or I switch the season when I get them. I like to at least have down a plan of how many credits I want to get when.

I might just get all but a few credits over the next couple weeks. Those last few credits must be in-class ethics credits, which I plan to take the first chance for a free ethics class. For whatever reason, property disaster recovery companies host free ones frequently. They probably do it for marketing purposes, hoping that an agent will refer them to clients that need them. At the very least, they hope an agent will put them on a list since it might be unethical for an agent to refer just one disaster recovery company.

Companies that provide all types of courses -- online, take home, live class, etc. -- send a lot of promotional materials to agents when it comes to license renewal time. I already had enough credits for this renewal, so I figure I'll give it a shot to address my own schedule of summer credits for the new two-year term. We'll see how it goes.

That being said, I'll probably focus a lot of attention on that for the next week or two. I plan to do it, get it done, then move on with my life. I probably won't provide that many project updates because I don't expect to make TOO MUCH progress on it while doing this continuing education stuff. If I make any useful progress, though, I'll try to post it.


My Twitter posts on the other hand. . .I've gotten a little hot over the last couple weeks for reason I'm pretty sure my readers would understand. Without further ado (which I think might be becoming a catch phrase for me):

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Lexdate: Way Too Much Time Has Passed, Enjoy the Update Dump!


Well I haven't reported anything for about 2-1/2 months now. Some non-life threatening, non-disease, recoverable family stuff has occurred. It took my attention away from things I'd rather do with my time, but I had to attend to. It reached the level where I've had to take a staycation this week to try straighten out some space on my work table and in my mind while also spending time with MIchi and setting up some plans to spend time with extended family.

It's only Monday. I feel like my mind has already focusd on Wednesday. I don't feel like I"ve done as much as I would have liked to have done by today. This type of thinking isn't conducive to existing within the present of a vacation. I have to settle into chilling out (then probably start getting ready for work again).

I haven't done much on the project during the month of June except for reading a book on the bus. Add together getting a second degree burn on my left palm about three weeks ago (cooking accident) and my mobile falling into rebooting cycle and recycling until it gets pliugged into the wall, "external exigencies" have gotten distracting.

Reading through digital slush for Uncanny Magazine has taken a fair chunk of time, too. So much has come in and onto my "desk", I haven't had the luxury to read the latest issue that I have on my new phone ready to read.

Add onto all that, chores and spending time with friends. Some of these things I have to think of less as time sucks, rather more as enjoyable aspects of life. Any local friends, don't hesitate to distract me to hang out and stuff.

Nonetheless, despite the minimal progress on the project, I feel like I've gone into some interesting directions regarding peoples' need others and social contact, and how assisting others and interacting with others, if done in the right way, can lead to more health, happiness, and sense of meaning. More will come as I learn more, especially when I finally get this project done and ready for release.

I've had to put novel writing on pause. It's going to require a little more personal experience and research into other peoples' experiences and perceptions. Adding another particular character that has a lot of different characteristics than me takes me out of my realm of familiarity enough that I don't feel comfortable writing them until I have checked my perceptiosn and get some other ones to provide a more realistic understanding. Unfortunately, I have some other reserching to do, so this could end up taking some time. Oh I wish I had more free time.

Regarding all that pineapple I talked about in last entry, I stopped eating it. It pretty much ate away at my gums. It didn't eat away at my teeth like my dentist seemed to worry about, but my gums instead. Ironincally, the enzyme I wanted in my belly to help digest had been digesting my gums. Now I just take a supplement in cellulose to get the enzyme. So, folks, leasson learned: eat pineapple sparingly.

Watermelon, on the other hand. . .


So, without further ado, the reason I suspect you came to this blog entry, my Tweeting for the last couple months!

And 6 days after my Tweet saying that I don't remember knowing the name of a previous FBI director. . .

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Lexdate: Pineapple Creative Knob Turned Up & Welcome to the Surreal Politics & Society


Not much to report on the project front of things. Still working on editing for tightness of the novel. This process mainly includes comparing the current state of the novel to the attempt I made at a short story a few weeks ago by making a couple sections of the novel less wordy. I think this stage has gotten closer to over (working on it for an actual or two over the past weekend helped a lot), so I’ll have something for my beta readers soon.

Last week or so I’ve done some intense online preliminary research into trying to hone in on my actual argument. It actually feels more like a vocabulary search, trying to think of the right words to encapsulate my feelings and thoughts. The latest word, contempt, seems to go a long way to getting closer to my ideas. Heck, it has me flashing back nostalgically to 2001 or 2002, thinking on my 3-layer futon mattress bed on the floor, poking holes into the articulated academia about utopianism that I could find out there but couldn’t figure out how to legitimately say something about it in a bachelors project. Having that kind of flashback must be a good thing, right?

In the meantime, I have had some interesting experiences with my attention. I’ve done a lot more hyperfocus than typical lately (at least typical over the last few years). My thoughts envelope me, especially when it comes to creative ruminations about my project, writing, or just pretty much anything that I’m finding interesting and want to figure out. I’ve tended to tune out the outside world a bit and just do some intense thinking.

I get a little frustrated with myself when I come out of it because I like to stay aware of the outside world. At the same time, though, I think this kind of intense internal focus and non-harsh ruminating leads me toward more creativity and problem solving. It has done some good for the academic side of the project, I believe. In a week or so, when I get back into actual writing of novel, not editing/revising, I’ll see how much my creativity has increased its flow.

Pineapple might have something to do with it. I started ingesting pineapple on a semi-regular basis a couple weeks. My tummy is a point of self consciousness for me (as it probably is for most people). Through my inductive process, I’ve come to believe that pineapple might help address it. Soon after ending ingestion of pineapple regularly awhile ago, people and I began noticing the tummy. Can’t hurt any

I stopped eating pineapple back then because my dentist discouraged eating acidic stuff, and my gums weren’t the happiest. This time, I wanted to test the pineapple theory real good, plus have much better dental hygiene habits now. It really hasn’t done anything for my belly, but maybe creativity has gotten better. I’ve even started dreaming a bit more. I had read something somewhere about pineapples having melatonin and other good sleep stuff in them.

The pineapple has caused some mouth issues, though. Some parts of my gums have gotten sensitive. No wonder. From what I’ve read elsewhere about pineapple, bromelain acts as an enzyme to break down proteins. People use it to tenderize meat after all! To remedy this issue, I have started juicing the pineapple with our Ninja juicer/blender that we had inherited from some friends a few years ago, then I drink it through a straw. It seemed to work good at first, but again, more mouth soreness. I’m trying to increase the dental hygiene immediately after drinking the pineapple to see if that will help. The increase started today, though, so I probably won’t know if that helps for a couple days. Hope it works!

In case you didn’t know, fair reader, I’m a bit of a food science nerd. I guess you probably have to be when you want to remain healthy on an ovo vegetarian diet. A friend back in high school once mentioned that it seemed like I was trying to gain super powers through good eating, though, so I think this nerdery has a little something more to it.


The span of time since my last update has been something of a doozy, so I’ll get right to it by embedding a Tweet that time-wise would have been appropriate in my last blog entry. It caused a kerfuffle on my Facebook wall then, making me not want to re-visit it by posting it here. Now I have the compulsion to post it, and I think you’ll understand why.

And after the US military dropped the MOAB in Afghanistan and a scorpion found on a United plan (per a headline), I’m going to try taking it easy this Easter weekend and try to spend some more time around some like-minded people. Honestly, though, if Jesus comes back this weekend, could he please give Trump a good thrashing?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Lexdate: Grinding My Week into Sandwich Filler for Your Reading Digestion

Nothing too exciting with my writing over the last week or so. Mostly just grinding away.

Completed the consistency edit of latest drafted parts of the novel. Over the last couple days, I took out that “marketability” edit I did a couple weeks ago to revise the master draft, taking what I want from the “marketable” then leaving everything else. The amount that I’ve taken surprises me a little. It’s an interesting exercise to separate the useless awkward from the stylistic awkward that comes from the world building and also to figure out how much awkwardness the audience can tolerate.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Project and Politics/Social Justice Update: Interesting Edits, Breakthroughs, & Politics/Social Justice Snark

Well last weekend got busy with a bunch of social stuff. Fitting in chores and regular priority stuff became difficult. I had to stretch out those things over the nights of the last week. Unfortunately the weekly update came in last on the list of things to do. It means I get to stuff two weeks of writing/research and political/social justice updates into one blog entry. Not a really a big deal.

One night I worked on editing down a part of my novel to make eligible for submission to Boston Review Call for Submissions: Global Dystopias. About three quarters of the way in and two hours of life used up, I aborted the project because it felt like gutting the story.

With so much focus on reducing the word count, I didn’t know if it helped or hurt. With that much involved and about 2,000 more words to get rid of, I didn’t feel comfortable going further with the project.

It didn’t help that I would end up paying a submission fee. Don’t get me wrong, the journal has legitimacy. Just some of the names of contributors give the journal legitimacy (more academic essayists, politicians, and public personalities than fiction writers, mind you). The combination to pay for submission and feeling like I had chipped away at the soul of the story just didn’t feel right, though.

Nonetheless, a couple good things came out of the endeavor. I re-read parts that got me excited about the story again and reminded me that I could write well, if I could just make more time to do so.

Some of the word cutting improved things a little, too. I saved both the original text and the skimmed down version. In a week or so, I should have a round of consistency/update edits done for names and details added in non-linearly. I might as well look compare the original text and the word cut edited text then incorporate the edits where appropriate and adds to the soul.

The current essay had a breakthrough, too. For the last 8-10 years, I had tried finding the motivation or at least a theoretical rationale for steps taken by a historical figure to accomplish their goal. It took an interesting path.

It started with me realizing that I couldn’t find good biographical facts or explanations for why this historical figure believed the things that he believed. This frustration has even led to frustration with myself over the years for not journaling or cataloguing my thoughts, events, and other biographical data in case people in the future, after I pass away, ever want to understand my actions. Frankly, having such a journal or catalog could help me in the future when I have a hard time remembering. I know reading my journals today help me a bit in understanding myself.

Looking up biography at Wikipedia, I ran into an interesting line in the section about modern biography that stated that the fields of psychology and sociology made their ascendance in the early 20th century, which affected the genre quite a bit. The historical figure lived in the first half of the 19th century, so I came to realize that he had a completely different idea of how people developed morals, appropriate social behavior, and sense of responsibility.

His view in these topics plays a big part since he has the biggest part in crafting the utopian community in question, decides when to call it quits, and down the road reveals his frustration with the masses of people. His frustrations come off as surprising since he had so much optimism when it came to people and also expressed some sense of responsibility to helping people grow and find a place in society. At the same time, in his community, in all the books I’ve read, no where have I found anything about him elaborating any theory on how to make it work or even any record of him doing anything direct to make it happen in his community.

The man had interesting ideas about the development of humans. He teeter tottered between the need to assist people to learn and become more moral and having a belief that people had an internal moral compass that would lead everyone who thought about a problem to the same exact conclusion (at times, some type of sense that connected their conscience to God). It felt like a contradiction. On the one hand, people needed help to reach a state of right conscience that they wanted help to do, but when it came time to craft a utopian community, he expected all the adults in it to reach the same final conclusions about their responsibilities and place in it, no matter their biography.

This contradiction sent me into a researching spiral. I searched deeper into essays he had written, trying to parse his words to make sense of his contradictory arguments. An essay of his that sparked a major controversy between him and a mentor and a couple religious ministry cohort generations led me to an introduction to Samuel Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection written by James Marsh.

James Marsh’s introduction led me down a Wikipedia/WWW spiral to try shining some light onto the epistemology of the American Transcendentalists, European/British Romantics, and Samuel Coleridge. It led me to some interesting Wikipedia entries, like: Romantic Epistemology, Coleridge’s Theory of Life, and Romanticism and Bacon. All very interesting, but it only got me halfway to where I needed to go.

The WWW spiral led me to ”Coleridge’s American Reputation, 1800-1853”. This article helped make sense of the questions on epistemology that I had. In addition, though, it cited, multiple times, an introduction to a translation of philosophical works written by a Frenchmen. I read that introduction and perfect! I found the rationale for my historical figure’s actions and reactions.

At the same time, I feel a little infuriated. I had touched upon this book of translation years ago, but I didn’t go so far into the “Introductory Notes” as I should have. Instead, I had read the “Editor’s Preface”, which didn’t get into any of theory and rationale. The historical figure had edited the translation, so I figure he would have wrote the importance of this theory and rationale in that preface. I thought the original philosopher had written the “Introductory Notes”. But no, that wasn’t the case, The historical figure/editor had written the “Introductory Notes” where we find the real important information.

It took me a year’s long roundabout journey to reach this point with the help of a more modern essay and its footnotes. Before this point, I hadn’t understood the unclear conventions of translations and compilations until this point. I had a similar experience reading essays by this historical figure and others in a magazine they published because they didn’t have bylines, signed off with initials, or even used aliases when publishing. How very frustrating!

Years ago, a teacher friend of mine had reassured me that when I completed this whole project, I would have gained useful experience and skills that I could use later. I guess we can find some truth in that reassurance.

Honestly, though, I’d like to know if there’s any reference material that points out conventions used in magazines, journals, and books in the past that I could have read awhile ago that could have cut down on this journey. I know in today’s world, we have plenty of style guides for different types of publications. Knowing if they exist for publications in the far past would be very helpful.

For now, though, yay! I made a breakthrough and plan to make some progress with it.

Otherwise, I did some more grinding with the fiction editing and outlining for the current essay.


And now onto my social media snark fest, this time with some Facebook screenshots.

(If you can't read the below Facebook snapshot, click on it or save then open as a file)