Category Archives: General

What’s in your woodpile?

It’s fall, and up north that means putting the deck furniture away and stacking the firewood high. My personal woodpile is not one of necessity to stay warm during the winter months, nor one that was actually assembled with much effort. Throughout the summer I leisurely cut and split about a cord of wood in preparation for the maple syrup season the following February.

A few days back I posted a picture on Facebook along with the Thoreau quote: “Every man looks upon his wood pile with a sort of affection.”  As I kept checking back to see how many likes and comments it generated as validation of my self worth, I began to reflect back on the pile and its genesis. It did have something to say…

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Bacon Sausage? Mmmm……

I’m not prone to grammar and punctuation policing, mostly because I’d be throwing stones from my glass house. But, a recent visit to a Pennsylvania diner got me thinking about commas and the like.

Scanning the menu, “Bacon Sausage” caught my eye! I wondered what bacon sausage was? It sounded awesome! Then I realized that the anticipated awesomeness that I was about to order was the result of a missing comma. Bummer.

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Thoreau’s Walden turns 160

I know… yawn.

It’s an old, boring book you were forced to read in high school, written by some bloviating crank in old clothes prattling on about ants, swamps, and the howling winds of winter. I get it.

Walden can be a bit of a slog to get through at times, but Henry David Thoreau’s view of the world just may be the perfect antidote if you’re looking to make sense of today’s hyper-connected, fast-paced, complex world.

This month marks the 160th anniversary of the first publication of Walden.

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The quick return of the sun

It may not feel like it, but spring is officially here, and with that, the days continue to get longer. I’d always assumed that we either gain or lose a couple minutes of daylight each day in a more or less constant rate throughout the year. But, it seems that particularly during March, the amount of daylight hours increases at a much faster rate than, say, January. It turns out it’s not just wishful thinking.

Let’s look at the extremes…

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Get things done in 2014

It’s the end of the year, time to start thinking about buying a treadmill, learning Spanish, and watching less garbage television. Oh, and being more “present” and “in the moment” (I hear that’s all the rage these days).

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to finally get more organized, what’s really worked for me is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Like many of these types of systems, his full-blown plan for getting your life on track can be a bit overwhelming, but there are four takeaways for me that, without much effort, have provided a nice payoff.

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Got some free time in November? Write a novel!

I’m not a marathon runner, but it sure feels like I’ve signed up for one.

November is National Novel Writing month, which is less a 30-day celebration of the written word and more a torturous slog through the process of drafting a complete first version of a new novel.

The annual “event” dates back to 1999 when San Francisco freelancer Chris Baty and 21 other Bay-area writers challenged themselves to each complete a 50,000-word novel. The project, known as NaNoWriMo, and its associated web site and community has grown steadily in popularity with 341,375 writers participating in 2012. Roughly 10% of those who tried last year ended up reaching their goal.

The purpose of the event is to help motivate those of us who have “always wanted to write a novel” to at least get a rough first draft done. To that end, writers are encouraged to think “quantity over quality” as they make their way through the month-long challenge.

Mostly it’s solitary work, pounding away at the keyboard, but there are local groups in different cities that host kickoff parties and “write ins” at cafes and libraries to give fellow writers encouragement, advice, and most importantly, to actually write!

Some start totally cold with just a germ of an idea (that would make you a “pantser” for writing by the seat of your pants with little prep). Others outline their plots, research, and do character studies before actually starting to write.

The process is pretty simple:

  • Sign up for free on the web site
  • Write an average of 1,667 words a day
  • Check in daily to log your word count
  • By the end of the month, you’ll have a novel

Dang, if only it was that easy!

I’ll be one of the pantsers. All I’ve got in my head at this point is a family coming together to spend a week walking the shores of the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. Family drama type stuff in the style of Jonathon Tropper, conflict between parents and adult children, broken dreams, hope, and an as of yet undetermined crop of local characters they meet along the way.

I seriously don’t know what I’m getting into, but that’s half the fun! We’ll see what happens…