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From the Notebook

The store I work at is closing, and the amount of work involved in closing a store is surprisingly voluminous. So I’ve been incredibly busy as of late. There are only a few days left, then I still have to stay on for a couple of weeks to help with the clean out. I haven’t had a lot of time off since the announcement, so I haven’t had time for any projects. I did start a new novel just after Christmas, but I haven’t had time to really get it going yet.

Stuff:

- Listened to an old tape of Katie Goldberg’s writing seminar: Writing the Landscape of your Mind, held in the Twin Cities in the early 90′s. It was an interesting seminar, focused mostly on Zen-like stream-of-consciousness writing. Not really my thing, but I learn something from every writing how-to I ingest.

- Saw Captain America; The Winter Soldier. It was okay, I would have made a few changes because parts of the plot didn’t make a lot of sense. The ending was kinda stupid, and Hollywood clearly has no idea how to write for a character as ostensibly conservative as Captain Steve Rogers. But there’s some good stuff in there too. I’d recommend.

-In April of 2003, I decided to make a commitment to review every book I read and movie I paid money to see in the theatres, as a writing exercise and a way to keep track of whether I was maintaining my goal of reading a book per week and seeing at least two movies per month. Since then, for the last eleven years, I have done exactly that. I started out on Amazon.com, before moving everything over to blogger. I don’t think I will be doing that anymore. I want to devote more time to novels and other “big projects” and I’m also reading fewer books and watching fewer movies.

-Good friend John Stewart (of the “Night Writer” blog) was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He will be writing about the whole affair on this month’s Random Link:

http://nolongeriwholive.tumblr.com/

God’s Blessing to you, Mr. Stewart.

From the Notebook

I didn’t really get a chance to celebrate, so I’m going to do it again: Somehow I lasted ten years as a blogger. Over that time, I published over 5000 posts. This is an average of two posts per weekday, 50 weeks a year, for ten years. Also, between the three primary websites, I averaged just over two thousand hits per month over that ten years. I’m just a little bit proud of all that, even if it’s been an ugly and barely readable blog since 2009.

I have no plans for the future of blog. My goal is not to publish anymore junk. I want to produce longer and higher quality posts, stuff that I could publish later. Also, I want to get serious as a novelist, and this means most of my spare time will be spent on large products, not this blog. And I don’t think anyone cares enough about anymore to get all worked up over this.

Annual Traffic Report:

2014 stats

Nothing much to report, though it is interesting that there was a huge increase in December when I had a flood of posts as I tried to hit that 5000 post goal I set for myself.

Books Read:

Aaron Clarey’s Bachelor Pad Economics. It’s an essential purchase for young men. I’m hoping to give it a full review sometime later.

Proverbs (RSV)

Audio Books:

Pauline Epistles, Catholic Letters, Book of Revelations (KJV)

How I Write by Janet Evanovich. The story of her struggling for ten years to get an agent and a publisher should serve as an important lesson for any wannabe writer. As far as writing is concerned, her suggestions are similar to other articles and books I’ve read.

CEO of the Sofa by P.J. O’Rourke. I’ve read the book before, but the audiobook is fantastic. Very funny, if a bit dated.

Other self-education:

Kmart Forklift operation and safety training. So, it’s work-related. Sue me. Just be thankful I didn’t mention every one of the 104 other learning modules I passed.

Random Link:

http://playbooknovel.com/

From the Notebook

Books Read:

Still working through the Old Testament…

- 2 Chronicles (older-NLT)

- Ezra (Older-NLT)

- Nehemiah (older-NLT)

- Esther (w/ additions, older-NLT)

Self Education:

- Bitcoin module on Khan Academy. It’s interesting to get an in-depth look at how Bitcoin works, but I still don’t like any currency that lacks some kind of connection to the corporeal world.

- Buddhism by Prof. Malcolm David Eckel, From The Teaching Company’s Great Courses Series. This course was awesome, Prof. Eckel was a great lecturer, and I’ll probably end up listening to this course until the tapes wear out.

- Prehistoric Art History Module on Khan Academy. Fascinating stuff. Seriously. It’s amazing the kind of education you can get for free nowadays.

Weekend Reading

After I get done with the tenth year of the blog, I’m hoping to revamp things. One of those ways will be to offer readings and random links inside of these notebook posts, instead of standalone posts that clutter up the look of the blog.

Random Link

http://theoatmeal.com/

The Novel is Done…

And available, here.

From the Notebook

The Seven Liberal Arts by Marten de Vos, 1590

The Seven Liberal Arts by Marten de Vos, 1590 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been extremely sick over the last couple of weeks, feeling better now though, but I’m way behind in all those household chores and other projects. Not to mention the novel, which is still on track to be published shortly.

- I think I already wrote a quick post on this already, but I’ll say it again: The liberal arts have become a joke degree because the liberal arts are not about looking stuff up on Wikipedia, stealing the sources, rewording the articles and getting college credit for “learning”. The liberal arts are about an intense exploration of the great ideas and the great books. And this has been lost from the modern curriculums. The liberal arts are about lots of reading, lots of thinking, and even more reading. Since modern technology has made it possible to get a liberal arts degree without actually pursuing the liberal arts, and combine that with the watered down curriculum, and the idea of going to college to get such a degree is foolish on the face of it.

- After the novel is done, I’m hoping to write a series of posts giving tips and pointers on how to write a novel, since it’s something I get asked a lot about.

Self education:

- Completed the Discoveries Playlist on Khan Academy. These are groups of short videos containing almost no dialogue. They present the various possible ways things were discovered in human prehistory, including magnetism. Interesting stuff, good in conjunction with the more traditional science videos.

- Completed all the Reverse Engineering videos on Khan Academy. I really enjoyed these. Basically, a dude took apart some household appliances and showed how they worked. Good stuff.

Books Read:

Worthless by Aaron Clarey. Some of us made a huge mistake in the majors we chose to pursue in college. We were given no guidance, and we were not warned of the economic forces about to destroy the idea “Any College Degree Equals Comfortable Middle Class Existence.”

The Bubble Gum Card War by Dean Hanley. This was an interesting book, not only for the information regarding the creation of the modern baseball card, but for businessmen as well. How can a startup company defeat an established company? The right people, the right product, and a little bit of luck.

Medititations on the First Philosophy by Rene Descartes. This is the first step toward existentialism in Western thought, as well as an interesting introduction to skepticism and ontological proofs for the Divine. While the ontology part of this work is now discredited, the first parts dealing with “what can we know and how do we know it” are still considered essential philosophic reading.

Novel Update

Met with some of my draft readers the other day, and after lots of discussion, I decided it was about time to invoke the 90-90-10-50 Rule. Basically, the 90-90-10-50 rules states that on any writing project, 90% of your goals are achieved in about 90% of the time you’ve allocated for the project; but to achieve the other 10% of your goals will require 50% more time above what you’ve already put into it. Vince Flynn uses this rule as a stopping point, once he achieves 90% of his goals, he stops all creative work on a project and focuses on getting it published as fast as possible. I agree with Flynn in this regard, and also try to stop tinkering with a project at the 90-90 mark and move on to the next project. It’s simple pragmatism, I’d rather publish more novels than get stuck trying to make one novel absolutely perfect. I’m now at the 90-90 mark with my current novel, so I’m going to focus on getting it published as quickly as possible. Thanks to all my proofreaders for their feedback.

From the Notebook

Fairly boring month, did some work on the novel (which is still on schedule) and watched a lot of movies. I also got a new job, so things are looking up.

- Seriously, I’m hoping to write a blog post every weekday for the next year. The blog is nine-years old tomorrow, I’d like to have a good year to finish up the decade I’ve spent blogging. I’m not sure why.

- If you have someone who is entering the “college” stage of their life, be sure to tell them about Straighterline.com, a website that offers real college courses, online, for pennies on the dollar.

Books Read:

- Vince Flynn’s The Third Option; Sometimes Vince writes stuff I can’t put down, and other times he gets lost in meetings. This was the latter. There were so many “meeting” scenes in this book that it took away from everything else. I know meetings are part of life, but I don’t want them in books about Mitch Rapp.

- Newt Gingrich’s Rediscovering God in America; Short little volume about the history of belief in the US. Gingrich makes the case that we’ve overreached in dividing Church and State. I agree, but this book is more about making Gingrich money than it is about, well, anything. I wouldn’t buy this book.

From the Notebook

Happy New Year! I’ve been really busy the last six weeks or so, thanks to the job at Walmart. Since retail gets really crazy this time of year, I’ve had to put in a lot of hours. Which is good, since I’m temping. As such, I didn’t get a lot of anything else done. I discovered just how hard it is to do continuing education while working full time at a tough, labor-intensive job. [My temp period has ended, btw.] I’m still trying to get the novel done and into Amazon.com for everyone. I’m currently waiting on some reviewers and there’s always an endless stream of proofreading to do. I’m hoping to get everything done in January. Quick overviews of the books I read this month and my self-directed coursework is below…

- Audio Course from the Teaching Company: History of the Supreme Court by Professor Peter Irons. This comprehensive course surveys the entire history of the US Supreme Court, focusing on the major personalities that dominated the court and the important cases that defined the Bill of Rights. The course is taught by a very knowledgable professor who admits a left-wing bias (he’s an ACLU guy). Personally, I really enjoyed the course, a lot of emphasis was put on the civil rights movement in the latter half of the twentieth century. I would not recommend this course as an audio course for use in the car, the details are too technical and numerous to be absorbed during drive time. But I would recommend the course for people interested in law, but smart enough not to go to law school.

- “Marco Polo, If You Can” by William F. Buckley. This spy novel starring Blackford Oakes deals with events around the downing of an American U2 spy plane in Russia. (The 1960 U2 incident). This book includes some interesting theories regarding the historical flight, as well as fascinating portraits of Ike, Hoover and Kruschev. But I found it less enjoyable than the first Oakes novel, Saving the Queen. But I’m not giving up the series, which I will continue to read through until I’m finished.

- Audio course from the Teaching Company: Explaining Social Deviance by Professor Paul Wolpe. This short, ten-lecture course on sociological theories of deviance was very interesting. As someone who studied psychology, I think most of sociology is bunk. This course didn’t really shake me of this attitude, but being introduced to the methods of sociologists is invaluable to understanding how some of these intellectual ideas mold political thought. But, if you’re looking to find out why people do bad things, go somewhere else.

Personal Update

I hope everyone is enjoying their Holiday[s]. I can tell you this time of year is way different for those of us on the retail side of things. My temporary employment with Walmart ends on the 28th. I hope to be able to spend some time completing the novel and cleaning the house after that. Who knows, I might even have a blog post or two worth publishing in the near future.

Personal Update

I’ll be taking a bit of a break after the election. My pWP stat did great, it was over 94% accurate in predicting the races where I was keeping track, and that’s a higher percentage than the model itself would expect. The model only failed to be predictive in races where there wasn’t regular polling (North Dakota). I’m hoping to write a long and detailed analysis of the 2012 election and codify all the lessons I learned in using pWP to create a guide for future elections. But I’m going to start a new job here very soon, so I may not get to any of that at all. There will be a few posts on here, from time to time, but for now I have some other big projects to get to. I’m still working on the final draft of a novel, which should keep me plenty busy. Thanks everyone for your interest in my pWP stat, I hope my Republican friends learn to embrace polling as another tool in winning future elections.

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