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Showing posts from 2015

Thankful to be Home on Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. I am immensely thankful to be home.
We left on July 14, 2015. After 3.5 months on the road, we returned to L.A. on November 2nd.
Was the trip good? I dunno. My feelings are mixed. If pressed for an answer, I would say no (reluctantly), but that’s too simplistic. It fails to represent the nuances of the experience.

The Great American Road Trip is heavily romanticized in pop culture. The idea is inherently enticing: the freedom of the open road, the prospect of adventure, and the hope of rejuvenation. Those cool parts are there indeed, but romances typically sell the happy while ignoring the sucky. People want to report their travels as fun because that is the socially and self expected answer.

All the road trippy things I raved and whined about in my previous post, which dated one month into the tour, still held at the end. Basically, countless beautiful sights and interesting folks, but also plenty of aggravations.

Some of the downside were unexpected. I knew I was …

I'm So Tired

As Donald Trump would put it, I'm a “low-energy” guy.

My partner and I have been on a cross-country road trip for over five weeks, and I am homesick. Terribly.

Not that the trip hasn't been interesting. It has. We have seen some beautiful sights, met many really nice people, and learned a lot. But easy it ain't. Fun? Sometimes, but not always.

What were our motivations?

The main one was to explore the big USA, which has many parts we know nothing about. So we revved up our little car in LA, climbed up the Rocky Mountains, cruised through the Plains, and are now dipping our toes into Lake Superior. Next we'll swing through more of Canada, see the autumn colors of New England, roll down the East Coast, dance into bluegrass country, and return through the South. (Since we already traveled through the Pacific Northwest on a previous trip, this time we're skipping that region.)

The secondary reason was to scout out a new place to live. Don't get me wrong - I love L…

Mandy More More More

Mandy is a four-year-old pit bull mix.

Life has not been easy for Mandy, a deaf dog who has survived cancer. Regardless ...

She is happy. The second time I took her for a walk, she licked my face all over like a lollipop and wouldn't stop. A little gross, but I was happy too.

She is calm. One time we passed a little dog that lunged and barked furiously at her. Mandy just stood there, calm as a buddha.

She is curious. Mandy likes to look at all kinds of things for long periods of time. Usually I can't even tell what she is staring at. During one walk, we passed an abandoned construction site. She insisted on stopping to scrutinize some John Deere heavy equipment. For minutes.

What she is not: an exerciser. Forget running. Mandy doesn't even like to walk. She is more of a lounger. It doesn't matter where we go. Whenever she gets a chance, she lies down. We were crossing a street once, and Mandy flopped right there in the middle of the intersection.

Alternate Cover for Morocco, Maybe

The cover for Morocco, Maybe took me forever to design.

I browsed thousands of stock photos and hundreds of fonts. After narrowing down the images to two finalists, I made mockups and showed them around. About 25 people voted, and the result was close. The majority chose a photo of blue steps from Chefchaouen. That became the final book cover. The runner-up was a picture of Moroccan lamps.

I liked them both. In the end, I could've gone with either one. Too bad I couldn't let my readers pick their own covers.

The blue steps image has a lighter, cooler, and travel feel, even though it doesn't really evoke Morocco. One beta said it reminded her of Greece, which I agree.

The lamps picture is heavier, warmer, and more evocative of Morocco. The glow of the lights amidst the background blur projects wistfulness. However, some people said that the red and green color scheme appears too Christmassy.

After deciding on the image and the font, I played with them. For the words, I…

When Do You Stop Wiping?

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Life usually gives you clear signals about when to stop doing something. When you cough, you stop smoking. When the light turns red, you stop moving. When the tissue appears free of skid marks, you stop wiping.

Writing is trickier, if one has obsessive tendencies. Call it perfectionism (to be polite), OCD (to be clinical), or analness (to be Freudian). It's hard to know when to stop rewriting. Even when I write a casual email, sometimes I read it multiple times before clicking that scary "send" button. It's like farting: once it's out, you can't suck it back.

A friend once said to me that analness is good because anal people keep planes from falling down. True. When planes don't fall from the sky, the engineers know they got it right.

With writing, the standard is more elusive. When I thought I was done with my novel, I kept tinkering with it.

Sometimes, I obsessed over a tiny issue of word choice or punctuation - it was not …

Mes Aynak: The Crisis Worsens

Brent Huffman, the filmmaker behind the documentary Savings Mes Aynak, has written an update on the status of the archaeological excavations to save the ruins. It's sad enough that the pace of preservation has been slowed while the start of the mining approaches. It's worse that some of the archaeologists have reportedly looted the site.

Desi Walks the Walk (for a few minutes)

We were told that Desi was high energy.

When I first entered Desi's cage, she was jumping all over me. I could barely get her walking collar on. I thought, oh, this dog is gonna be a handful.

And she was. Desi walked fast, pulled on the leash, and tried to pounce on other animals. I had a good workout just trying to restrain her. Dogs are always stronger than they look.

Ten minutes later, Desi strolled like a geriatric, practically zonking out.

And she had runny poo, which was nearly impossible to pick up. Argh. All poo should be like M&Ms - not melt in your hands.

Desi is a good dog. And I'm happy to report that, since this picture was taken, Desi has been adopted!