Working on my own amazing and creative ideas from wherever I happen to want to work from.
Running. Reading. Writing.
Twenty-Fifteen: I’m doing something I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m getting serious about reading, again. I’ve dusted off my paperbacks and charged up my Kindle. It’s time to take the time to feed my poor television-adled brain with a selection of healthy, nourishing fiction. So, read on, little brain. Read on. We’re going Book to the Future!
We had this book sitting quietly on our shelf, waiting to be read, I having picked it up from the discount rack at the bookstore a few days previously. Karin says to me one day having spotted it there: “Why did you buy THAT book?”
Uh… what? Then I got it…
“Because it’s not THAT book.” I said (or something along those lines.) “It’s another book. Not THAT book.” And all the while wondering if author Jasper Fforde is laughing with tented fingers, or crying himself to sleep each night, because he happened to have released a book with a wee, single, tiny word of difference of title to that of another much more widely-read, if likely much less regarded, novel than his own.
That said, his novel is not (yet) a feature film.
That also said, this is the first time I’ve ever used the dust jacket from another book to hide what I’m reading from prying eyes on the train.
So, that’s a really roundabout way of saying I’m not reading THAT book. I’m reading “Shades of Grey” by Jasper Fforde, author of many postmodern fantasy-type novels, including this one, set in what seems (from –actual– dustjacket description and the opening chapters, at least) to be a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel set around the idea that in the future, some people are just better than others… and we know that because they can see a bigger chunk of the spectrum than the rest. The riff-raff see in just shades of grey.
So you know that’s gonna be a problem.
visions of my future? coworker tells “horror” story of coping with t’nage daughter on commute this am #4letterwords #ifnh8u #lessthancute
a mash-up of television & strength
I recall a conversation I had with a friend in high school.
This was a time of VHS tapes that stored, at best, eight or ten hours of subpar-quality, standard definition video on a cassette roughly the size of six iPhones stacked together. An entire season of our favourite show at the time and the subject of the aforementioned conversation —Star Trek: The Next Generation— dutifully recorded from broadcast television (in real time no less) would require (to be safe) five tapes, and all seven seasons would have required in the neighborhood of thirty to thirty-five tapes… and, of course, a small shelf on which to store them.
The gist of my high school conversation was a kid-type debate on the merits of going to the effort (which one of our mutual acquaintances actually had done) to record every episode of the show. Or, to just resign ourselves to the hope that — and I quote — “when we’re adults we’ll just buy them all at once on a drive that will fit in our pockets.”
While I’ve never bothered buying that particular television show in any format, I just checked and yes, they are available on a relatively small DVD collection, and yes, they are available as a download which would presumably fit the whole thing on a thumb drive, and yes, I could watch the whole thing streaming from Netflix on one epic multi-week-long binge viewing and have that effort take up no space whatsoever in my home at the end of it.
Binge watching is a thing because my generation grew up long for (and apparently predicting a future when) we as consumers would have the ultimate control over what we watch, when we watch it, and how long we watch it for. Few are the entertainment options that require patient waiting, week-by-week for the next episode. Sure, broadcast television still operates that way –it almost needs to physically and financially– but then that’s what digital recording cable boxes are for.
But has this on demand, when-we-want-it type of culture made us weak as consumers of entertainment? After all, as the old adage says “patience is a virtue” but when we think of television how many of us still think of it as a toy that must be measured out in precise time-slots, caught at the exacting moment that its signal flares down our cable wires or across our airwaves, or meticulously planned via a paper schedule (that also used to be one of the primary reasons our house subscribed to a newspaper) the television guide.
Perhaps its a good thing that we are no longer tethered to those devices that demand we plan our lives around a centralized schedule, but are we really more free? Can any of us really say we’re better able to dollop our time into more acutely reasonable packets. Or are each of us sucumbing to the urge to watch “just-one-more” before bed, because cliffhangers, the kind that built your resolve to continue watching when the next season started in September at the end of the summer, are now just annoying plots that didn’t wrap up neatly before the credits rolled.
I suppose if we consider patience and planning strengths… if we consider virtuous an old-fashioned narrative that could spread itself across weeks and weeks and hold our attentions without the ability to pause, rewind, rewatch, or immediately follow to the next episode… if we consider weakness a kind of servitude-to-the-plot in our freedom-to-watch-our-way that defines the inner nature of binge watching culture… then yes. We are weaker for it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, another season of House of Cards is out in about a month and I want to rewatch it all again before that happens.
Run. Work. Blog.
I kinda like where I am now.
The easiest road in life will usually be the least rewarding.
Living more in the present in a world with a sadly uncertain future.
I optimistically assume that the best is still ahead of me, so stopping my memories here and now, and never making new ones seems like an epic loss.
I do think there is value in everyone and anyone setting specific life goals. And just like I think every adult should have a list of things to do before they die — a bucket list, some might call it — so too every child should have a parental-supported list of things to do before they leave the age of innocence and become a teenager. I decided to write that list down, and from my daughter’s fifth birthday until the day she turns thirteen we’re going to try and do them all.
5. Learn the basics of a second language.
My baby girl (*sniff*) starts into the first grade in a matter of days. “Real school…” as we’ve referred to it quite a lot recently.
Playschool was a big deal… until it wasn’t, really.
Kindergarten was a monumental event… until we realized it was just a slightly glorified play school.
And now: first grade. And an era of real curriculum, real homework, tests, learning, full days of sitting in a desk or at a table learning real things begins.
While neither my wife nor I are particularly adept at any sort of second language, a regretful outcome of a very North American attitude towards the “optional” nature of language instruction and cross-cultural communication, we’ve opted to run our daughter through the rigors of a second language immersion program, specifically: French.
We live in Canada, after all, and our two official languages are English and French. The opportunity for travel, work, community and life in general seem obvious as we stand here looking into the foggy distant future of our daughter’s adulthood. And we know full well it’s going to be an uphill struggle for all three of us, her because she’s a stubborn kid, and us because we’ve both tried learning French — have been trying to re-learn French — at various points in our lives and still find ourselves picking up no more than scattered nuggets of overheard conversations, always existing a step outside of it all when the opportunity presents.
Our daughter’s second language, at least while we have say, is going to be part of her educational process. And after two years of “play” school, both “French Immersion” classes, I’m thinking — standing here on the cusp of a more solidified curriculum — that second language is going to very quickly become a much bigger part of our lives.
Despite the mountains of rational evidence to the contrary there are still a lot of folks out there holding to the claim that come December 21, 2012 the ire of the universe will refocus upon the planet Earth and cast us all into an end-of-the-world scenario of some kind. If those folks are right then I’ve a mere half-a-week left to get some hard-earned advice out to my readers before this blog goes offline… It’s time for another Week of Lists!
While you might be able to squeeze a few precious hours or days out of any stored up battery power, eventually the power is going to fail on that laptop or iPad and your days of blogging are nearly as dead as those poor saps who didn’t get out of the way of the blast front.
Not that it matters how much electricity you’ve conserved; The Internet is bound to be fried, zapped, subsumed by a rouge intelligence or — at the very least — reduced in an innert tangle of wires and routers.
But any survivors of the end of the world who’ve spent the last few years neck deep in social media will may be interested to know that blogging existed long before the web. It was called keeping a journal, writing a diary, publishing a “zine” or manually hand-cranking out a manifesto-come-newsletter on one of those old-fashioned printing presses. The skills overlap: writing + making it pretty + sharing.
So, I guess what I’m saying… bloggers: you don’t need to stop writing just because society has collapsed. Your skills — our skills — will serve purpose no matter the apocalypse. Need a few suggestions how? Read on…
1 :: Live Blog the Fall of Society… but on Paper
Alright, so maybe getting the “live” part of your new paper blog up to par with the instantaneous gratification of a now-extinct Tweet or a never-to-be-updated-again Facebook status is going to take some work. It might be nigh on impossible. But the raw emotion of unfiltered writing, in the moment, scribbling every thought and impression without so much as a filter — that’s a skill that can capture the “live-ness” of the fall of society even as it is happening. Someday, somehow, someone will read it — at least the possibility is as good as anything else you’ve put online — and it is sure to evoke that “there-ness” of emotion that follows even the most gratuitous Apple launch event live blog.
But perhaps you’re not an “original content” kind of blogger. Perhaps you’re one of those dudes who’s blog consists entirely of links to “check this out” articles or reposts of other people’s content. Don’t be blue: your days of blogging aren’t over either. Before cut-and-paste made your creative outlet possible on the Internet, the same skill was applied manually on paper with the help of the original cut-and-paste: scissors and a dab of glue. In the days following armageddon the street is sure to be littered with the blowing contents of thousands of newspaper boxes. Those same newspapers will be peppered with poignant headlines and insightful articles detailing the story of humanity’s demise. And someone needs to preserve those last fragments of history before they are gathered and turned into nesting materials for the millions of small rodents that will soon rise to dominion over the planet.
3 :: Letters to “Whoever Finds This Note”
If popular culture has taught us nothing else, it’s that as the world collapses into chaos and ruin, numerous influential people are busy penning valuable letters addressed to some random stranger who will stumble upon it in the distant future. Those letters will offer insight into a lost society and they are almost always sure to shape the destiny of some young post-apocalyptic hero of the future. You always wanted to be a role model — an influencer — didn’t you? Get writing. And be sure to sound cryptic or prophetic or at least profoundly vague.
One step up from the profound note to the future stranger (from option 3 if you skipped that part) is a detailed journal of your last days on the planet. You’ll need to scrounge around a bit to find a high-quality, leather-bound notebook (I keep a spare Moleskin handy in my apocalypse tub just in case) and a high quality pen. Just like a quality blog, you’ll want to set aside an hour or so every couple of days, making sure to write only the most relevant details and insights into your survival so far, your opinions on the events that transpired in the days and weeks before the manifest end, and of course, you’ll want to think out a few clear and methodical solutions for the redemption of humanity to write out either (a) just before you run out of pages or (b) in your last entry before you face your own certain demise. If you have the strength, be sure to remember to trail off your last few words with a scribble or a smudge across the page.
5 :: An Historical Record For Civilization 2.0
Of course, if you manage to pull through and once your own survival is guaranteed — maybe following a chance rescue by some kind of military agency or once that imminent threat that crushed the other ninety-nine percent of the population has passed — the next logical step to paper-ware your blog is the full-on historical record for the future society, the same society for which you are now a founding member. There are a number of forms this can take, so use your imagination…
This post is part of my (satirical) Seven Days of Apocalypse Week of Lists countdown to (almost certainly not) the end of the world. Share and enjoy.