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?

Friday, May 24, 2019

My Garden

It’s that wonderful springtime of the year again, and our garden is starting to slowly come into its own. We’ve had some heavy rains lately, but hopefully not enough to spoil anything. I’m more worried about gophers returning, frankly.

This year I’ve had the kids helping me, well sort of - they’re good at tearing up dirt. We have lots of tasty things growing this year. Corn, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, sunflowers, pumpkins, strawberries, and more. I’m definitely looking forward to later this summer when our crops start to get tall.

It’s fun having a big garden in the middle of crowded suburbia. It sort of brings the countryside to our doorstep. It brings the wildlife too, especially when the racoons and possums come through, but it’s all part of the fun. How about you? How does your garden grow this year?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Guest Blog Post Today

Hi all! Today, I'm over at Maddie's Ask the Author blog. Come on by and check it out!

Thanks! And I hope you all had a very Happy Easter! 

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Simple Life

Lately, I’ve been embracing the joys of the “simple life.” What I mean of course is not taking for granted the miracles of everyday life and enjoying them to their fullest. In the hubbub of modern society, it can be very easy to get sidetracked from what really matters.

Some of my favorite pastimes these days are gardening, taking my kids to the park and t-ball games, watching my favorite baseball team, and enjoying murder mysteries on DVD with my wife. And of course reading and writing. Small, but very important pleasures in life that I don’t think I could easily do without. It’s funny, but I’ve realized lately that no amount of money, success, fame, or any other possible attainment really means as much to me as these simple pleasures. No matter the circumstances, these are the things I’d like to do with my life, and fortunately they’re already a part of my life.

I guess it simply comes down to appreciating and enjoying what you have. I know I do. More and more every day:)

Friday, April 5, 2019

1500 Books Read So Far!

I’ve just read my 1500th book! Well, I’m at least that far, anyways. I keep track of the books I read on Goodreads, and although I’ve probably left some off, I’ve conservatively read at least 1500 books in my far.

My actual goal is to read 10,000 books in my lifetime. It’ll be quite a challenge, but I’ve been reading 3-4 books per week for the last several years pretty consistently, so I definitely try to make reading a central part of my daily life.

That being said, quality always matters over quantity, and not all books are equal. I also love to reread my favorites and other classics, especially during the summer. However, historical figures from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington number amongst the people who have successfully read 10,000+ books during their lifetimes. I hope I can reach this goal at some point in the distant future.

Monday, March 11, 2019


Well, the family and I just returned from the happiest place on earth, and it was awesome! It’s especially great when you can visit Disney with little kids, but also with the grandparents too. Everyone really enjoyed the time we all spent together. In addition, there were some fun surprises along the way.

One of them was discovering Trader Sam’s tiki bar at the Disneyland Hotel resort. I ordered a drink called the Krakatoa, not realizing what I was in for. They dimmed the restaurant red, simulated a volcanic explosion, rang a bell and an air siren, alerting the entire bar that someone (me) had dared to order the Krakatoa. Needless to say, it was pretty good.

It was fun to dissolve into a fantasy world of Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and Frontierland for a few days too. Later this summer the new Star Wars land is opening up as well, so we might need to plan a trip for next year. My kids are definitely already trying to convince me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Real Detective Poirot

Agatha Christie’s famed Inspector Hercule Poirot has become one of the great literary characters of the murder mystery genre. He’s also been in recent films and TV a lot as well. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh's version of Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express, and look forward to the next installment, which is set to begin filming very soon.

A French version of Agatha Christie’s murders has been out for a few years now on TV. While it recycles the same plots, it uses completely new characters (no Poirot, what?). The show actually isn’t too bad, but it is strange to see Poirot mysteries without Poirot in them.

The newest TV version of Malkovich’s Poirot is really the only one I cannot get behind. It’s just not done right. The feeling, the details, are all very wrong. Sorry, Mal.

Of course, the greatest televised version of Poirot, however, remains and ever will be, the incomparable David Suchet. This guy becomes Poirot on-screen, and even Christie’s living ancestors claim they think Suchet’s portrayal is the closest to what Christie herself would’ve envisioned for the famed, fictional Belgian detective.

Case closed. So what’s your favorite portrayal of Poirot?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Speed Networking with College Students

The other weekend I was down in sunny San Luis Obispo (albeit it was a bit rainy that day). I sit on the English Department Advisory Board for the university of Cal Poly, and as almuni from Cal Poly as well, my wife and I love going down to SLO every chance we get. Last weekend, we had the opportunity to speak to over 50 English students about pursuing various careers in writing after they graduate.

Needless to say, we had a blast. Speaking both to groups and one-on-one with students, the speed networking conference helped us give each student the information they were hoping to learn. As both a Tech Writer (by day) and a Fiction Author (by night), I really enjoying emphasizing to students that they can truly use their English degree to become whatever they want. Other alumni present also shared their experiences in everything from UX writing to teaching, and more.

I truly enjoy giving back whenever I can, both to my alma mater and to other local schools in our area. I find that the more I can give of my time, the more fulfilled I feel. Even with the effort of juggling kids, a career, writing, and all the other things that come along with today’s modern, busy life, it’s something I definitely intend to keep doing as long as I can.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Demise of Google+

So Google’s social media experiment will be ending in a couple months, and I was curious how my fellow bloggers are approaching this deadline. Do you care? Does it matter?

My only real concern is if there will be any ill effects on my Blogger account. Hopefully, not, but since Google+ required Blogger comments to use their service for a time, all those old Google+ comments on my blog will likely disappear. Other than that, I’m not anticipating any major issues.

How about you? Are there any known issues to be aware of? Any precautions you are taking?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Guest Post Today

Hey everybody! I'll be over at Shelley Workinger's blog today, where I've posted about the historical culinary backround in my novels. You heard that's all about what people ate and drank back in the day.

Come on by and check it out! Thanks:)

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year’s Resolutions & the Gimlet

You’re probably wondering right now what the heck a gimlet is? Well, if you’ve been reading lots of old noir detective novels, you probably already know. I read enough Chandler books to take his advice literally and found this old time drink needs to come back. Plymouth gin, rose’s lime juice, a touch of lime, and into the cocktail shaker it goes. What comes out is pure-tasting noir in a glass.

How does this relate to New Years? Well, there are a few things I wanted to tackle this year. Running a half marathon or marathon (I’m prepping by doing Bay to Breakers first this year). I also wanted to get better at exploring the wide world of drinks and authors. Yes, you heard that right. A lot of authors actually lace their novels with info about their favorite drinks. Hemingway made “Death in the Afternoon” - which tastes great, but is basically a bad hangover waiting to happen. For the gimlet, I have Chandler to thank. But there’s much more, and I intend to slowly explore more cocktail options via the writers of the past as I read more of their work this year.

So, other than marathons and drink mixing, what are some of your goals for the new year?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Doubt in Writing

As I continue to read about many of my favorite authors, I’m intrigued by the continual battles with doubt they each wrestled with during their entire lives. A few that come to mind include Herman Melville, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Mikhail Bulgakov just to name a few. Each of them, whether “successful” or not, nursed deep doubts regarding their writing abilities and many died with some of their most famous work unrecognized within their lifetimes.

Melville of course penned Moby Dick, one of my all time favorite novels. The book sold few copies and was out of print by the time Melville died. Both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, despite the success of their noir novels, feared that their work was only considered pulp and anguished over every sequel they ever wrote. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was written off as a nostalgic period piece, and even fellow authors thought the book showed that he had lost his ability to write. As for Bulgakov, he never thought The Master and Margarita would ever see the light of day, the manuscript having been suppressed by Soviet authorities until well after his death.

To me, it is very human to doubt, and I find it very inspiring that many authors not only struggled with doubts, but used it to fuel their writing careers. They turned a very natural disadvantage into the grist for their mill, infusing their own characters with doubts that make them very human and relatable. So how do you deal with doubts in your daily life?