Category Archives: essays

Why I Can’t Watch Movies Anymore

Over the years I have had a harder and harder time watching movies. I finally understand why. Television shows are designed to be broken up into segments. The acts in a typical TV show, whether a sitcom or drama, are neatly separated by commercial breaks. Of course, with streaming services, those commercials are typically absent, but the pattern of storytelling remains. You can pause a show at a particular point, perform some task, and then resume without really breaking continuity.

With movies it is different. Movies are designed to be watched end-to-end, as if you were sitting in a theater, eyes glued to the screen. Movies are immersive, and when it comes to story-telling, immersive is what I like best. So why can’t I watch movies anymore? Life, it seems, has become so fragmented that I can’t make it through a movie without having to pause it for some interruption. It is inevitable. I can’t remember the last time I was able to watch a movie end-to-end uninterrupted. As someone who tunes out everything else and falls into the movie, this is a problem.

Interruptions break that magic of the storytelling. I find myself pulled deeply into what I am watching, tuning out everything else around me so that a movie is much more of an experience than just sitting and watching it. The room falls away, the surrounding and sounds disappear, and when I watch a movie, I feel like I become part of the story. Interruptions break that spell, and once broken, it is impossible for me to reclaim that sensation.

This became clear a few weeks ago when I re-watched the Indiana Jones films. Those movies were among the most immersive for me. They are great fun (honestly, I don’t think they make movies like those anymore, everything I see tends to be dark, gritty, and humorless) and the perfect vehicles to lose yourself in for a few hours. Except that I couldn’t lose myself. The movies were fun, sure, but having to pause them every ten for fifteen minute was a drag and spoiled much of that fun. Like time-sharing on a computer, life has become fragmented into tiny slices of time that alternate activity and interruption, and make it virtually impossible to become part of the story on the screen.

Part of this is me, of course. As a storyteller myself, I need to be fully immersed in the story. Other people don’t have to do this. Kelly can watch a movie and do other things and enjoy both. She can and does often skip the slow parts of the movie. I can’t do this–for me, every part of the story has meaning.

There isn’t much I miss about movie theaters with the parking and prices, but if there is anything I miss, it is the ability to fully disappear into the story unfolding on the screen–unless I drink a soda or beer, in which case I’ll inevitably find myself sneaking off to the restroom during some pivotal scene.

3 Phases of Story Creation

This morning I finished reading Jason Schreier’s latest book on the video game industry Press Reset. These days, the overall process of video game development is very similar to that of making movies. There are three major phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. Thinking about this, it occurred to me that writing a story or a novel can thought of in those same three phases.

Pre-production, for me, is all of the intangible thinking and reading that goes into the creation of ideas. It captures what is most often the most difficult part of writing to describe to non-writers. Writing a story isn’t just about sitting down in front of a keyboard for a few hours a day and hammering out words. For me, at least, it is the part that comes before that. The spark of an idea may take shape in my mind over a period of years. During that time, I am not thinking about the story exclusively, and there are times when it is completely out of my head. But it shaped during that time, consciously and sub-consciously.

For those writers who outline stories, you might think that the process of outlining the story is part of pre-production. I disagree. An outline is a product that is the story in a compact form. It is part of the production phase. Pre-production, in my mind at least, is all what happens before a single word goes on the page.

Production is the creation of the story outside of the writer’s head. That could be an outline, or it could be a first, second, or fifth draft (betas?). The writer is producing something in the physical (or digital) world. They are taking what is in their head and putting it on the page in some form or another. It is the programmer writing code; it is the artists applying paint to a canvas. At the end of production, you have a more or less finished product.

From my perspective, production includes revisions, feedback from writers groups, all of the stuff that takes the idea in the writers head and turns it into a polished manuscript.

Post-production, is the process that takes the polished manuscript, and turns it into a magazine story, a book on a bookstore shelf, a downloadable e-book. In my experience, post-production means working with editors and copy editors who help put finishing touches on the polished manuscript. It means proofreading galleys. For a writer, there is often a lot of waiting in post-production.

I kind of like this comparison between making video games (or movies) and writing stories (or novels). When I read a book like Schreier’s, I often find myself thinking, I wish I could be a software developer like those folks. The irony, of course, is that I am a software developer. But when I think about writing in terms of pre-production, production, and post-production, it makes it all seem much simpler in my head, a kind of mental gymnastics that allows me to think about the process of writing in ways that I have never before considered.

High Fidelity

Apple announced recently that Apple Music will now have an option for even higher fidelity music files. This did little to stir my blood. I realized long ago that the limits of my own video and audio perception are much lower than those technology is producing. This makes things like ultra-high definition and “spacial” and “lossless” audio diminishing returns from my perspective.

In a way, this is strange. My dad has much higher fidelity audio and video perception than I do, for instance. I remember when laser discs first came out and he obtained The Hunt for Red October. He had surround sound setup in the house and he danced something of a jig of excitement when the opening music played. Even much earlier, I remember a Buick he had sometime around 1980 or so that had a stereo system in the car. Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” came on the radio during Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown, and I can remember my day squealing with delight, “The bells! Listen to the bells!”

You would think such perception was inheritable, but if so, it was a recessive gene on both sides and I didn’t inherit it. I’ll admit that the first time I saw high-definition television, I noticed a difference in picture quality. It was a Mets baseball game (don’t ask) and I felt as if I could see the individual blades of grass on the infield. That impressed me. But when it came to movies and TV shows, I never notice the high-definition quality. It’s the story that interests me, and if the story grabs me, everything else including video and sound quality, goes by unnoticed.

It is even worse with music. Whether I listen to music on my AirPods or my Bose headset, the music sounds the same to me. Sure, I’ll notice a difference if I hear an old recording of a Bing Crosby song, say a 1931 rendition of “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day.” There, I can make out the whisper of a needle or the static of the recording. Actually, I think the sounds adds charm to the piece. But give me different qualities of music files and I can’t really tell the difference. It is too subtle for my senses.

Fortunately, this isn’t a problem when it comes to books. Sure, there are font differences on pages, which can make the page of one book differ from another. Indeed, that paperback and hardback editions have a different page numbering scheme can be confusing is true, but one version of the book does not “read” differently from another version of the same book just because of that. The story isn’t any different.

I’m happy for everyone who will benefit from spacial and lossless music, but I doubt I will be among them. I’m also a little bemused by the term “lossless” music. I know that it is a corollary of lossless compression, or lossless image files, but when I think of lossless music, I think of music that can never be lost. And frankly, I can think of at least some music worth losing.

Food and Phases

I tend to think of myself as omnivorous. I’ll eat (or at least try) just about anything. About the only things I won’t deliberately eat are yogurt and cheesecake. I’ve disliked yogurt since I was a young child and tried some plain yogurt. The awful memory of that has stuck with me and is too firmly ingrained in my tastes to warrant a retry. My kids find this amusing since I usually will try anything. “You’ll like it if you try it today?” they say. “I bet you’d like it if you didn’t know it was yogurt,” they say.

Well, a few weeks ago we had a salad and poured on the dressing that came with the salad, and took a bite. Something about the dressing didn’t taste right to me and my brain immediately flashed YOGURT! YOGURT! YOGURT! “I don’t about this dressing,” I said. “It reminds me of yogurt.” Kelly looked at the packaging. It turned out it was a yogurt-based dressing of some kind. This impressed my kids.

Cheesecake is another matter. I’m not sure why exactly I dislike it. I think it is just too rich for me. But that’s okay. Setting aside cheesecake and yogurt, pretty much everything else is on the table. Indeed, I like to try new things, despite being a creature of habit. The latter means I don’t try new things as often as I should, but I make enough decisions during the day and for meals at least, I try to keep decisions to a minimum.

One thing that bothers me at a restaurant is how granular the servers can get when I order my food: “Cheeseburger,” I’ll say. Then comes the flood of questions: how would you like that cooked? What kind of cheese? Onions? Pickles? Bacon? What kind of side would you like with that? Fries, you say? Regular or sweet potato? I’ve taken to revising my order as follows: “Cheeseburger, medium rare, with everything.” Enough questions.

I get into these phases with breakfasts and lunches. I’ll go for a few months eating the same breakfast and lunch day-in and day-out. Over the winter it was Stofer’s lasagnas for lunch. This spring it has been a turkey, bologna, and cheese sandwich. Sometimes, it is peanut butter and jelly, day after day after day. I don’t mind. It is one less decision to make each day.

Dinner is where I tend to branch out, especially if we go out to eat (there hasn’t been much of that over the last year, but I’m hopeful now that we are fully vaccinated). I like all kinds of meats. I’m particularly fond of lamb and duck. The Little Man has taken to duck, but Kelly shudders at the thought of either. If there is something unusual on the menu, I’m usually willing to try it. On a date night a few weeks back we had an appetizer that included charred cauliflower that was outstanding. I remember an appetizer of buffalo octopus a few years back at bar in Santa Monica that was also outstanding.

I like Caesar salads with anchovies. Servers never believe me the first time I ask for the anchovies. (I also like anchovies on pizza, but rarely order it because no one else eats it.) I’ve had my share of unusual foods as well, from turkey nuts to durian fruit (in the parking lot of a hotel at a science fiction convention).

Writing about food right before lunch has made me hungry for something other than my usual turkey, bologna, and cheese sandwich. Alas, I’m tired today and don’t feel like making a decision about what to eat. I think there might be some leftovers in the fridge. Maybe I’ll just eat that.

Deck Reading, Deck Napping

Reading and napping on the deck

Yesterday was a gorgeous day and I spent a lot of time out on our deck, reading. We have a deck tent for shade (and to keep mosquitoes and other critter out) and I took my book, and a root beer and lay on the couch and read. It is a pleasant place to read, with the sound of birds and nature around, and no distracting noises from television or video games.

After a while, my eyes grew heavy. I set down my book, and flatted the pillow I’d been leaning on, a dozed. I’m not sure I fell completely asleep, but hovered in that comfortable place just above sleep. It is possible that I fell completely asleep because Kelly came out looking for me and startled me awake.

I took my lunch out there and read while I ate. Later in the afternoon, when the sun had crossed the sky and started down in the west, I went back out, lay down and read again. Then, eyes growing heavy once more, I set my book aside and let my mind drift. It was relaxing. I don’t do that often enough, just let my mind drift like that.

We’ve been in this house nearly 2 years now, and our deck is one of my favorite features of the house. Spring is a great time to use it. The weather is warm enough to be comfortable, and not too hot to be unbearable.

It is overcast today, but I plan on heading back out on the deck as soon as I finish writing this. I may even nap a little in between chapters.

Scatterbrained

I find myself feeling scatterbrained on this lovely Saturday morning. This happens from time-to-time, a kind of phase that I go through, my own personal 1202 alarm that occurs when I’ve got too much going on inside my head.

It started yesterday when, after outlining all of the great things I had to read, I couldn’t settle on anything. I started and then stopped half a dozen books. I still haven’t settled on anything at this point, and not knowing what to read next always unsettles me a bit. I can’t force myself to read something I am not ready to read. And apparently I have not been ready to read any of the books I thought I was interested in. This is not uncommon, although it tends to come in phases. It usually resolves itself, but sometimes it takes a few days.

I have been working on a personal archiving project that has finally gained some traction, but there are many moving parts to it and I can’t figure out which of these parts to focus on. That doesn’t help with the scatterbrained feeling.

Then there is writing. I couldn’t figure out what to write here this morning. Nothing leapt to mind, and nothing on my idea list seemed particularly appealing to me as I sat down to write. Those ideas included:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Useful things around my desk
  • Filling out forms
  • Things I’ve found in my bed
  • Complaining
  • Acquired tastes

There are other things on the list but those were the most interesting and they fill me with inspiration this morning.

In addition to this, I am finally forcing myself to learn how to use Vim the right way. I have re-enabled Vim mode in Obsidian, using a Vim plugin that allows for a .vimrc file, and I am forcing myself to use it correctly, without resorting to the arrow keys and maximizing effect with minimal keystrokes. This is slow-going, but effective. For instance, as part of my archiving project, I am trying to locate versions of all of the stories I’ve ever written, and convert them to plain text (markdown) dating the files based on actual creation dates. Once in plain text, some of these files need some tweaking. In one instance, every paragraph was indented one space. I managed to use 4 keystrokes to fix this across the entire 30 page document. Try to do that in MS Word!

There are other random tasks I have to take care of that occupy space in my brain, nothing urgent but things I have been putting off. Put all of this together and it provides a good background for why I feel so scatterbrained today.

In A Hurry

Some people are always in a hurry. Other people are not. I tend to fall in the former category and Kelly the latter, which makes our morning routines with the kids interesting. For instance, I take the girls to school on Tuesdays, Thursday, and every other Friday. Kelly does this Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday. It is a good way to share the load. On mornings when Kelly takes the girls, the feeling is casual, and no sense of urgency, which I admire. The girls are up just before 7 am and out the door by 7:45 am at the latest. (School is a five-minute drive.)

On my mornings, however, the feeling is much different. The girls are up as early as I can manage to get them up. Sometime between 6:50 and 6:55 am is usual. They eat their breakfast with my constant reminders that we have to be out the door not later than 7:30 am. I try to have our youngest dressed and ready by 7:10 or 7:15 am at the latest. She can then spend 15 minutes watching cartoons, which makes her happy.

At 7:25, I ask them to make sure they have their shoes on and to grab a mask. I’ve already taken their backpacks and lunch boxes and put them in the car. We are in the car at 7:30 am and I’m pulling into the drop-off lane at school 5 minutes later. If there is a car in front of us, I undo the seat restraints in the car seat of our youngest so that were are not just sitting there doing nothing. When I push the button to open the door, I remind both kids to take their lunches and have a good day. Usually I am back home before 7:45–the time Kelly is normally leaving the house to take the girls to school.

But not always. Because not everyone is in a hurry like I am. Take this morning, for example. We pulled into the drop-off lane at school just as a car in front of us came to stop to drop off their own children. They were not in a hurry. The driver’s side door creaked slowly open and the dad inside got out, stood, stretched. He took a final look at the sports page he’d been reading and tossed it back into the car. In the course of getting his two children out of the car, he managed to open all four doors in the car, and the trunk. Apparently, the kids sit in the back seat, while a lunchbox rides in the passenger seat and a backpack rides in the trunk. He managed to walk around the car twice doing all of this and then spent what seemed like hours saying goodbye to his kids. He made his way slowly back to his car. He closed three doors and the trunk. He retrieved his paper, slid into the car, started the engine, checked all of the instruments to make sure the car was running properly, and finally drove off.

I may be exaggerating a little, but this is a good example of someone who is not in a hurry.

Ideas and Execution in Storytelling

I am reading Andy Weir’s new novel, Project Hail Mary, and enjoying it quite a bit. It is the first science fiction novel I’ve read in a while. As I started it, however, something seemed vaguely familiar about it. If you are not familiar with the book, here is part of the publisher’s description:

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him.

I seemed to recall once writing a story years ago about a person waking up from suspended animation to find the rest of her crew dead on their star ship. I wasn’t certain, but I thought I had. It certainly sounded familiar.

I have often wondered if long-time actors completely forget about a role they’ve played. Stephen King has written that he doesn’t remember writing much of Cujo, I believe. So it is not unheard of to forget, I supposed. Despite all of my efforts at record-keeping, I was never great at keeping a list of stories I’d written. So yesterday, I went on a digital search to see if I had, in fact, written a story with a similar opening to that of Project Hail Mary. I turned out that I had.

The story, called “Wake Me When We Get There” was written sometime in late 2004. Here is the opening of the story:

Day 3. I have decided to write these notes as a way of facing this situation rationally and avoid the panic that crept upon me as I came out of the Sleep. It’s the training: in an emergency, take stock; thus these notes. Here is the situation, as I understand it:

1. I came out of the Sleep two days ago.

2. My sleep tank has malfunctioned and I have been unable to get it to work thus far.

3. The other sleep tanks appear to be functioning normally and the crew’s vital signs are stable.

4. The ship is still ninety days from earth, still traveling at 99.9% light speed.

As you can see, my memory was not perfect. In my story, the rest of the crew is still asleep, not dead. But I remember the conundrum now. My main character can’t wake them without risking their lives since if she wakes them, she may not be able to get them back to sleep.

This is a great example of the problem many writers face. Very few story ideas are unique. What matter in these cases are execution. Weir’s story reminded me of my story in the similarities of their opening–astronaut wakes from sleep far from Earth and can’t get home–but Weir’s all around execution is far better than mine was. He pulls off his story with verve, while mine has many amateur elements about it. (This story was written over 2 year before I made my first professional sale.)

Indeed, it was this story that Sheila Williams at ASIMOV’S rejected in 2005 by pointing out how Allen Steele had pulled the idea off to much better effect in one of his stories. So apparently, I was a newcomer to an old idea, and Andy Weir is an even newer-comer to the same old idea. Allen and Andy could make the idea work and I couldn’t. Some might be bitter about this, but I am glad that they made the idea work because it makes for great reading.

And besides, there are always plenty of other old ideas to try out.

Coding and Sewing

Not having to work this weekend, I spent some time doing things around the house. One of those things was repairing the deck tent. The tent, which we got last spring, was damaged in some recent strong winds. Eight Velcro straps sewn into the tent ripped off during the wind storm. They weren’t sew on well to begin with. But rather than go through the trouble of finding another tent, I decided to fix this one.

The challenge was: I’d never really sewed anything before. Determined to fix this myself, however, Kelly pulled out a sewing kit she has and proceeded to show me how to sew. This included threading the needle, tying it off, and the actually process of sewing. I then set about sewing back on the eight Velcro straps that had been pulled off.

Very quickly, I noticed something. Sitting there, threading the needle in-and-out in what sewing experts probably would likely frown upon, a calm focus settled in over me. It was a time-consuming process, in part because it was new for me, and in part because I was determined to sew them on better than the factory had. But it was also hypnotic. Time seemed to disappear as I focused on each strap, and the feeling I had when I finished one an emerged from that focus was familiar.

It was, I realized, the same feeling I have when writing computer code. All of my concentration goes into it to exclusion of everything else. When writing code, the focus is often the concentration that comes from trying to contain the whole program in my head, how all of the pieces fit together, and how one change impacts something else. With sewing, the concentration stemmed from the physical aspects: the dexterity (or lack thereof) involved in handling the needle and thread; the focusing on my vision on my target. In both cases, the word fades away and only comes back once the task in completed.

When I finished the job–it took some time–I was pleased with the result. I immediately went out to the deck and reinstalled the tent, fastening the newly resewn straps into place. It was the perfect afternoon to test out my work, breezy enough to shake the tent about once I had it up. It seemed to hold. I guess time will tell. In any case, the tent is back in place, which is good, because the weather calls for much more time on the deck. I ate my lunch on the deck today, instead of at my desk. And now we can use the tent again, too.

The repaired deck tent
The repaired deck tent.

The Practical Value of Reading Biographies

I read a lot as a child and as a teenager. Most of what I read was fiction, and much of the fiction I read was science fiction. In school, I read what we were given to read which was usually either some classic or, in high school, something a little more outside the norm, but generally fiction. Shakespeare, Dickens, some Vonnegut, some Kosiński. The bulk of the nonfiction reading I recalling doing was either in text books, or clippings of essays from works of philosophers, or the occasional report we had to do.

I suppose my reading influenced me somewhat in what I wanted to do when I grew up. Early on (in first grade), I came across a book called The Nine Planets which turned me onto astronomy. I thought I wanted to be an astronomer. Later, reading science fiction made me want to write science fiction. In both cases, I knew nothing about what it means to be an astronomer or a writer, I knew nothing of the mechanics of the job. Nothing I learned through high school taught me more about this.

Looking back, I find this disappointing. Beginning late in my college career, I began to read biographies and found, to my surprise, that they were an excellent source of what a certain career was really like. The first of these was Isaac Asimov’s memoir, I. Asimov, which I read in my senior year of college when it first came out, just after Asimov’s death. I learned what being a writer was really like, and I learned even more from Asimov’s lengthier 2-volume autobiography, In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt which went into painstaking detail on the life of one writer.

Eventually I branched out and read more widely in biography. I read many biographies of presidents and scientists. I read biographies of other writers. I read biographies of buisness leaders, technologists, journalists, soldiers, teachers, astronauts, pilots, engineers, software developers, and countless more. In many cases, I read enough in an area so that the extremes balanced out and I got a good sense of the profession as a whole. Each time I finish one of these biographies, I come away, more often than not, thinking, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up.” I thought that this very morning as I finished up a biography of J.C.R. Lichlider.

Why don’t schools encourage more reading of biographies? In my experience, a biography is great way to learn, not about one person’s life, but about a particular career path. Students get a sense of what the life of an astronomer, or lawyer, or software developer, or police officer, or cow hand is really like. Reading multiple biographies allow students to compare and contrast different possible interests. It seems to me that students well-read in a variety of biographies will find that they enjoy some more than others and will pursue those more and more. By the time college arrives, there may even be a realistic inkling of what field of study that student wants to enter.

My own choice of major–political science and journalism–was made out of a lack of other ideas. It seemed a general enough for anything. Besides, I had my computing skills to fall back, which I ultimately did. But if I have read more biographies in grade school and high school, I think I would have been better prepared to make a decision about a field of study than I was when I entered college (a physics major, originally!).

Looking at the books that my kids read in school, I don’t see much biography involved so I suspect things haven’t changed much. I’ve tried to encourage the occasional diversion into biography, but the truth is, I’m just happy the kids are reading anything and don’t want to discourage that.

To me, biographies are much more than histories of people. They are practical guides to life and careers based on lived experience, and I try to take away something practical from every biography I read. For a 12-year old, there may not seem much practical in reading a “boring biography”, but I’ve rarely encountered a boring biography, and as a 12-year old, the practical value is in learning what life in a certain kind of career is really like. It helps form opinions and make decisions further down the road.

Visualizing History and Science

Yesterday, I walked across the Beringia with a branch of Ancestral Native Americans, ancestors to the First Peoples. Later, I boated with them down the western coast of North American, several thousand years earlier. In both cases, I took note of what I saw around me, even though none of that was described in the article I happened to be reading in the May issue of Scientific American. I marveled that this was all happened 15,000 years before what history books typically describe as history. I watched as some of the people stopped to form settlements while others continued south. I watched their struggles a they emerged from colder climates into more mild ones. I couldn’t understand what they said, but I saw an occasional smile, heard and occasional laugh, or a shout of anger.

I can only speak for myself, but this is what happens inside my head when I read. Whether it is a novel, a book on the history of computing, or a science article on genetic and archaeological discoveries about how the Americas were populated, they somehow come alive in my mind. Reading an Isaac Asimov essay on, say, an electron, I am swept into its orbit, where the electron itself appears as a big world. Reading an article on supernovae, I don’t see the words, but instead, I’m hovering somewhere on the outskirts of the unfortunate star, impervious to harm, but able to witness the blast, and see the shock waves forming.

Thinking about those people crossing the land bridge into North America, I imagined them seeing deer flitting about. In my mind, their reaction wasn’t much different than the reaction I had this morning when several deer crossed my path on my morning walk. I paused to observe them, I watched their movements, curious about their behavior.

Maybe this is what is meant when someone is said to be a visual thinker. It is just how my mind has always worked. Science isn’t a bunch of equations and theories in my mind. It is a narrative, a story that unfolds as I read, and one that I see as clearly as I see the stories that unfold from novels, or history, or virtually any other type of reading I do.

When I think about evolution and genetics, it is less about the theories, though I think I understand them quite well, but more about the practice. There is Darwin, hip-deep in muck, collecting samples. There is Mendel, bent over his garden, gnarled hands touching every budding pea plant.

In science articles, timescales often become incomprehensible. How it is possible to imagine 15,000 years, or 14 billion years, when I haven’t even lived half a century? My mind plays little tricks to convey these distances, but I doubt any of them really get the message across in a comprehensible way.

There is so much history and science to read that it seems impossible to come close to scratching the surface on most of it. Perhaps one of the most profound and delightful reveries I have when considering these vast histories is that they are just a spec in the potential histories out in the universe. If other intelligent life exists somewhere else, just think of the histories they carry with them, multiplied over and over again. Are there common threads? Is Romeo and Juliette a uniquely human story? Is the struggle for rational thought a battle fought again and again, in those rare and delectable places, as Throeau once wrote, “in some remote and more celestial corner of the system, behind the constellation of Cassiopeia’s Chair, far from noise and disturbance”?

A Do-Nothing Weekend

This is my first weekend off work in a month. My big project has rolled out and the first week of its use went well. I don’t have anything to stress over on that system anymore. I can at last relax and enjoy my weekend. It is a do-nothing weekend at last.

Of course, do-nothing weekend, doesn’t mean do nothing. For instance, there is catching-up to do so maybe I should call this my catching-up weekend. There is a pile of unread magazines on my desk (and several more digital versions on my digital desk) that I have neglected and need to catch up on.

A pile of unread magazines on my desk

Then there is the cover to the deck tent. I pull it off the frame before a recent wind storm and noticed that some of the Velcro straps that attach to the beams separated from the cover. They weren’t sewed on very well. Indeed, 7 of 8 came off and I need to sew them back on so that the whole think is more secure. That means I have to find the needles and thread, and well, maybe watch a YouTube video or two on how to sew.

We have gutter covers on all the gutters, but I still like to spot-check them once a year to make sure nothing managed to find its way inside. That requires pull the ladder up from behind the shed. It’s a cool day today and so I’ll probably save this for the afternoon when it will be warmer out.

I’ve noticed a few light bulbs out around the house, including one of the two over the sink in our bathroom. I need to replace that. When in Florida a month ago, I stocked up on t-shirts, and now my closet is overflowing with more shirts than the hangers will hold. I have to go through and get rid of the ones I no longer wear, and put them in the box of things to donate. The utility closet downstairs could use some spring cleaning. Eventually, I’d like to put a spare freezer down there, and maybe add some shelves to the walls.

I’ve already managed to tackle a few things on this do-nothing catch-up weekend. I got out for an early morning walk, timing it perfectly just as the overnight rain stopped. When I got back home I emptied the dishwasher, and put the accumulated dishes in. Looking at all of the things I need to catch-up on this weekend, I realize I’ll need more energy than I have at the moment. I think what I’ll do is take one of these magazines, and read for a while, and then take a nap. After my nap, I’m sure I’ll be ready to start catching-up in earnest.