Monday, July 12, 2021

Helping Graduating English Majors

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the past couple of years haven't been easy for anyone, but especially so for graduating college students. Fortunately, there are ways to give back and help out. Several years ago, I was tapped to join my Alma mater's English Advisory Board, and I was just down in San Luis Obispo this weekend as we brainstormed new ideas and programs to help newly graduated English Majors navigate the working world. 

As both a Technical Writer by day and a published fiction author by night, I really love helping Literature students find their way after graduation and discover how they can use their degree in order to make a life for themselves. Whether it's technical writing, marketing, teaching, fiction writing, politics, publishing, etc., there's something there for everyone. I especially enjoy giving confidence to students who perhaps though their English degree wasn't as useful as some other pursuits, such as engineering or business. I've certainly found my degrees to be both valuable and valued in the years since I graduated from university.

In these uncertain times, as we emerge optimistically into a post-pandemic world, I really think that's when people sometimes need help and encouragement the most. I'm proud to be a continuing member of the advisory board at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and I encourage others to get involved with their former Alma maters any way that they can. After all, the most rewarding activities I've found in life are usually those in which we help others. Hope your summer is going well and that sunny days lie ahead for all of us! 


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Gereon Rath Mystery Series

I just finished reading the fifth, and latest, novel in the Gereon Rath mystery series. If you haven't had a chance to check out this historical mystery series written by Volker Kutscher, I strongly suggest it. It's also known as Babylon Berlin, after the title of the first book and the TV version available on Netflix. Although the TV version has its good points, it deviates from the books, which I consider to be much better just as they are.

The gist of it is, Gereon Rath is a police detective in Berlin in the waning days of the Weimar Republic. Communists, rising Nazis, and a host of other social issues constantly get in the way of him simply doing his job of catching thieves and murderers. Charly, a progressive young woman in the department, often teams up with him as they solve cases that powers in authority often want to see ignored. 

What really makes this series especially engaging, is that it has fantastic noir elements, but its background social commentary on Germany in the 20s and 30s really resonates in the world today. It shows how things don't rapidly change overnight for the worse, but that a frog can be boiled slowly instead, if that reference makes sense. I find it both alarming and comforting to read a mystery set in this historical time period. Mainly, because I see how the rise of fascist elements today echo certain aspects of that time almost a century ago, but I also see where we have deviated for the better, and are (hopefully) not going down the same path that a democracy like the Weimar Republic once experienced. Anyhow, check it out for yourself, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Renewed Optimism

I never thought I would go almost an entire year without blogging, but of course the last 12 months have been extraordinary in the extreme. It's one thing to read about history, but it's another entirely to live through it. Between a pandemic, politics, remote work, remote learning for our kids, and a whole other host of things we've all lived through over the past year, I don't need to tell you what a surreal ride it's been.

But I come to you today with a renewed sense of optimism. Most of the problems the world has confronted are still with us today, but things are changing, and for the better. I know more and more people who are getting the vaccine as literally millions around the globe continue to be vaccinated every single day. Like I said, all our problems haven't been solved, but the necessary conditions required for things to get better have come about, and that gives me a renewed sense of hope and faith.

As far as writing goes, it seems almost unthinkable to discuss literature and creative writing when people are literally dying around us or struggling to get food for their next meal. But I think it's actually necessary to continue to create and share art in the days ahead, because we don't exist simply to exist. Art is as necessary as breathing for any soul under heaven, and I hope to share more in the days ahead and to read more from all of you. 

Stay safe and keep spreading the love. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Stories for My Kids

It’s been a while, but I’m back. The writing's been good, but the last few months of the previous year had just a little too much going on for me to get to blogging.

One thing I’ve been up to lately is writing stories for my kids. Now that they're old enough to understand (and read), I’ve found that I can write short stories specifically for them. It’s really satisfying to see their faces light up as they read a story I’ve written about them (either as pirates or explorers or something they’re really into that week). They really like it when I insert them and family or friends into the stories too.

Not only does it give them a love of reading, I’ve found it to be some of the most satisfying writing I’ve ever done. It’s really inspiring to be able to hash out a short story, print it out the next day, and see you readers getting so much joy out of it. I think I need to make this a habit going forward.

Friday, October 11, 2019

A Manual-Type of Guy

I’ve been trying to come up with a new term that describes my penchant for manual-type devices. Maybe you can help. I’m not a luddite. In fact, I like technology. But I have a definite preference for technology that enables human and machine to work together, i.e. where the human has an element of control and independence in relation to the machine. I’ll give you some examples of what I mean.

I drive a manual transmission car, and really enjoy shifting my 6-speed and controlling exactly when and how my car moves through the gears. I also get improved performance as well as great mileage out of it as a result - 40mpg easy.

I also like “automatic” watches that self-wind (which is a bit of a misnomer), but also have no battery or crystal to power them. They are independent of any external power source and can function forever if properly maintained.

In addition, I recently inherited my grandfather’s manual typewriter. It works great and isn’t networked like a computer (obviously), so I can type on it with no need for electricity or internet. I control exactly how it works and it will continue to function flawlessly so long as I maintain it.

So I guess I’m trying to come up with a term that accurately describes this preference I have. Retro? Hands on? Self-reliant?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Just Checking In

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged, so I figured I’d post an update. Summer has been quite busy and with the school year on the way, it looks to get even busier. I’ve been writing and reading too, but I admit that none of that is what has kept me away from blogging these past weeks.

Unfortunately, I lost someone very dear to me this summer. Frankly, it’s difficult to get enthusiastic about some of my online activities as I once did, in light of this. I generally don’t like to get into anything too personal on my blog, but I just wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten about all of you. Some things just take a long time to come to terms with and that’s what I’m doing now.

There have been of course many positive things going on in my life too, and I hope to blog about those in the future. But for the time being, if I’m a touch late in responding, I appreciate your patience. Thank you.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Going Sailing

Well, summer is in full swing in California, and I’ve been sailing out on the bay lately with my dad. We even took my grandparents out one day! They’re doing pretty darn well for their 80s if you ask me. I’ve really enjoyed getting out on the water lately, and the westerly winds on San Francisco Bay make for really excellent sailing weather under the summer sun.

We of course have the garden going too, many of the plants are already taller than the kids. We’re definitely looking forward to BBQs and the 4th of July as well. Somewhere amidst all the excitement, I’m still managing to get some decent writing in each day too.

So, how’s your summer shaping up? Any big plans?