Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Governing Dynamic


Last night's post was really just for me, a couple of links that helped me establish what needed to be in the book I'm editing. Tonight, you get a video that's not a video but handy because it's got Synchronicity I followed immediately by Synchronicity II and that's an excellent way to listen to the two songs. 

I recently watched a movie about Jung and Freud with Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen in it. Keira Knightley was there, too, and the film wasn't all that good. Directed by David Cronenberg, too. Disappointing, really. It did bring me back to Jung, though, and his ideas about the collective unconscious and synchronicity and how Joseph Campbell related all that to mythic storytelling. 

It's amazing how much the novel had so many elements to it in the Zero Draft that I get to keep expanding upon, detailing things that - for me, at least - delineate the story. There's a definite mash up of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and synchronicity. I didn't know what I had until I put some distance between the writing and the editing. I was definitely in a Zone when I was writing because everything I need to tell a good story was already there. I'm just making it better.

So this post is dropped here because it means something to the novel. As a bonus, you get to enjoy music that's smarter than you are old enough to buy its own beer. 


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Replacing Electricity With Light


Replacing Electricity With Light: First Physical 'Metatronic' Circuit Created

The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.






MIT almost produces an optoelectronic computer  chip

The main advantage of using light is a huge reduction in power, and potentially a vast increase in bandwidth. In general, increasing bandwidth over an electrical connection requires more power. Computers already constitute a large percentage of humanity’s power needs, and optical interconnects could go a long way to keeping power consumption down in the long term. The same multiplexing techniques that are used to carry terabits per second over fiber optic networks would also apply to computer chips, too.

Shining Up

Image Credit: NASA / Found at universetoday.com
I love NaNoWriMo. The energy of the group that I write with fed me, sustained me like the sun does while I threw down word after word after word, trying to get my story out of my head. March is supposed to be the month that we edit those stories, but I didn't get into mine until May. There were other things that had to be done first and after all the energy I poured into writing more than 90,000 words I definitely needed the time away to recharge and come at the editing process with a clear head. The time I spent in November and December writing was maybe the best I've ever had creating a story.

And I'm having almost as much fun working on making the novel more coherent, more rich with detail, and in the end better. I dislike the editing process as much as any writer but this time it's different. I'm more invested in the overall tale than I have been in the past, even with other things I wrote or drew or created.

I've been adding scenes, cutting entire passages and rewriting tons of stuff as I'm going along. One of the things I'm doing differently is when I take out more than half a sentence, I'm dropping it into another document called Deleted Scenes. Not everything there is a scene, but when I go back to read through this draft I'll want to make sure that I know what I took out. The beauty of my word processor (Scrivener) is that everything I'm adding is automatically in red and I can drag and drop highlighted text from one chapter into the Deleted Scenes document at the end. I can then tell Scrivener to not count the Deleted Scenes document in the word count.

This means that I may add a thousand words showing something I told in a couple of paragraphs, move the old words and I can keep track of the new word count easily. I suspect that by the time it's all done, I'll have removed around 10,000 words and added another 20,000 or so. That'll bring the manuscript to right around 100,000 which is a nice length for a science fiction novel.

Like most other writers I know, I'm not really a fan of the editing process. I much prefer the act of creation, of exploration. However what I'm finding this time - with a story that I deeply care about - is that the refining can be just as satisfying. It's a process of exploration, editing is, just as much as the writing.

Well, almost.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adapting

These guys will both be in next year's theatrical
version of The Hobbit.
Last night was the last episode of the second set of the BBC's very popular Sherlock series. I'd heard of it sometime before last year's debut on PBS and I thought it was a damn entertaining re-imagining of Arthur Conan Doyle's singular detective. A lot of other people found it entertaining to - so much so that CBS courted 'creator' Steven Moffat to bring his update to American TV, an offer that he declined. CBS has gone ahead any way and is developing a show called Elementary that I can pretty much guarantee I won't be watching.

Why?

Simple, adapting an adaptation is almost always an unsatisfying thing. Especially in this case. I can't see any way that American creators  can take such a distinctly British character, transport him to New York and approach the classic stories in any more inventive ways than Moffat and 'co-creator' Mark Gatiss. (Gatiss writes for the show and also plays Mycroft Holmes.) It simply isn't encoded in American storytelling DNA to be that clever. And besides, all they're going to do is trade on the name Sherlock Holmes and hope for a hit. CBS already has a show that does all this AND stars a guy with a non-American accent. The 'creator' of that show has also acknowledged that The Mentalist harks back to Holmes.

Sherlock, the BBC series, is clever and pays homage to not just Doyle's version, but also to the previous BBC iteration that starred the inimitable Jeremy Brett. There are little nods like camera shots that let the informed viewer know that Moffat and Gatiss loved that television series, too. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both inhabit their roles as Holmes and Watson respectively, with all the elements that make the characters interesting and deep but it's Andrew Scott's portrayal of the supervillain Moriarty that makes the series fun.

With his introduction in the third episode of the first series, Scott made Moriarty every bit the perfect opposite of Cumberbatch's Holmes. Except they're not really opposites, they just play on different sides of the street. (This is made exceptionally clear in the final moments of the third episode of the second series, but there's no spoilers here.) Scott seems to have pulled in not just Eric Porter's brilliant performance but also a bit of Orson Welles' radio version, too, while adding inflections that make the character his. I love watching him on screen and immediately recognized him from his very brief appearance on HBO's Band of Brothers.

Only the British can make this kind of clever update and adaptation work so well and be so entertaining at the same time. Well, and Joss Whedon, but he's not anywhere near this project. Americans don't know how to do this, which is why we watch BBC programming on PBS (Monty Python or Downton Abbey, anyone?) and why there's a British cable channel here. We recognize great storytelling, we just don't know how to do it as well as our cousins across the Atlantic. The British seem to have a sense of history in their storytelling that Americans don't often match.

Taking the time to adapt an adaptation is just silly especially since it already exists. The time is better spent in either supporting the adaptation by bringing it whole to America (which PBS does, though apparently there were a couple of edits for the American version of series 2) or in creating something NEW. It's also one thing to adapt an original property, such as Life On Mars, and another completely to adapt an adaptation. Sherlock is not new, it's updated. That's why I put the word 'creator' in quotes. The characters are the same, the setting is new and the stories are 'based on' Doyle's original work.

I'll probably give Elementary a chance but not much of one. I'll just wait for series 3 of Sherlock. And while I'm waiting, I'll read Doyle's stories again and probably watch the entirety of the Brett series, too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beastie-ary

I've been wondering what to say about the Beastie Boys and in particular Adam Yauch in the wake of his passing. This is the story of my evolution from dislike to love of the band.

Some of my older friends might be surprised to find out that I came around and eventually grew to not only like the Beasties but to appreciate their contributions to music. The guys in the band are all around the same age as me, a couple of years older. "Fight for Your Right" came out while I was in high school and I was snob enough to hate it and pretty much all rap/hip-hop at the time. Well, hate's too strong a word. It was more a dislike of anything that wasn't essentially prog-rock. Or what would later become known at 'classic rock', the first wave of it anyway.

But I digress.

I didn't much care for License to Ill and when Paul's Boutique came out, I didn't really bother to give it a listen. I was vaguely aware of "Hey Ladies" because it was part of MTV's heavy rotation at the time, but I was very much into heavy metal at that point and this was the 80s so it was mostly hair metal. I do remember the first time I gave them a serious listen was at a baseball game and I heard "What'cha Want".

That groove got into to me. I paid attention when their videos popped up on MTV, listened when I heard them out in other places but didn't buy a copy of Check Your Head until much later. I didn't know what I was missing.

It was the video for "Sabotage" that made me think maybe these guys were more than just some punky-sounding white rappers. My first purchase of any of their albums was still a couple of years off, though. I read about them in Rolling Stone and friends made fun of me for being so provincial. Sue me, I was making music of my own by then and taking it seriously though I was coming to the end of that career sooner than later.

Regardless, when I got a job working at a record store our resident hip-hop guy - Craig - played Ill Communication for me at closing. I listened. Craig told me a lot about the Beasties and how they played their own instruments and all the care they took in putting their songs together. I realized they were musicians worthy of respect. I saw an MTV awards show of some kind that had Chuck D. talking about how great the Beasties were and how influential they had been in hip-hop. I respected Chuck for all the things Public Enemy stood for and I even liked a lot their songs, too, so when he came out and gave the Boys props, I had to take them seriously. I mean really seriously.

I asked Craig which album I should listen to next. Paul's Boutique was the one. I started picking out all the samples as it played and that brought me even further into their world. The song that made a capital-f Fan of the Beastie Boys was "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun". It was rock. It was rap. It was cooool. It took me knowing more about the band in order to appreciate what they did on that song, and being a musician myself to get what they were going for. I had to find my own way in to enjoying their music and that was the song that did it.

I bought copies of Paul's Boutique, Ill Communication and Check Your Head. I still couldn't bring myself to buy License to Ill, though. I heard it, it just didn't click with me and never really has. Craig tried to convince me: he played Some Old Bullshit and that didn't really do it for me, either. I cadged onto a copy of The In Sound From Way Out and played that at home for people who wouldn't appreciate the rap elements of the Beasties. Hello Nasty came out and I was there soon after because the video for "Intergalactic" was hilarious and what I'd come to expect from the Boys. I sold my copy (along with quite few other CDs) a couple of years later when I needed a bit of cash, but replaced it as soon as I could.

To the 5 Boroughs was the last Beasties record I've purchased. I bought it the week it came out.

I was excited to see that the guys were going to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Despite my misgivings about the Hall, I thought they were doing a good thing with this honor. I hadn't heard that Yauch was sick, though.

So twenty-five years after high school, I was saddened by Yauch's death. I didn't stay on top of what they were doing every day - I don't do that with any band or writer or creative person/celebrity-type, I just don't - but I was a Fan. Not hardcore, but a Fan. Though the group wasn't as prolific as I would have wanted them to be, we have a great body of work to revisit as often as we want.

The Beasties are one of my favorite acts ever. They're up with the Beatles, Pink Floyd, King's X, Metallica and all the others that are too numerous to list here. I never got to see them live except on TV. I wish that I'd taken advantage of the one opportunity that presented itself. The Beastie Boys made it okay for me to listen to other rap/hip-hop groups and to appreciate them. Chuck D., too.

I've got the records. I've got the music to listen to. I'll miss that the Boys won't be producing new work in the future.

Rest in peace, Adam Yauch. You put yourself out there and took chances and you inspired a lot of people. I'm glad I have your music.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Oak Tree Metaphor

Not the same tree, but one very like it. Found on
Flickr.
There's an enormous old oak tree in my memory of the house my father built for us. A lot happened around that tree. There was a tire swing on it, it helped hoist engines out of cars, offered shade during the day and sheltered the cat when he got scared. (Of course he was blind and had to be rescued every time he went up, but those are stories for another time and another place.) My brother fell very hard once out of that tree and my parents had to take him to the emergency room. I have pretty vivid memories of that day, in particular, though they may be inaccurate now given the decades that have passed since.

I don't recall that we ever trimmed that tree. It was maybe forty feet high (maybe higher) and allowed to grow in any which way it chose: wild, tall and full of branches that cross and occasionally some that are dead. I have three trees on my property now, one old one in the front that provides shade and comfort, especially in the summer, and two that do the same things for the back of the house. 

If I don't get out and trim some of the interior branches, when a storm comes the entire tree could be terribly damaged. I have to thin out foliage so that the wind can breathe through the tree. I need the leaves to diffuse the light rather than block it, because the grass in the yard needs sunlight, too, as do the flowers and bushes we've planted.

My novel, The Cold Distance, is a lot like that tree: there's a lot going on in it, it's full of untamed branches that cross over and sometimes die and it needs to be trimmed so that the story can breathe. It provides too much shade in some areas and not enough in others. The light must be diffused so that the entire story can grow healthy and strong. 

Ugly pruning that's even worse-looking in real life.
I'm in the process of editing it now, trimming and pruning in order to shape the novel into an elegant tree that one would be proud to have in the yard with a tire swing on it. A tree that would be enjoyed its entire life. I'm not going in and hacking away at it to save the power lines that are adjacent to it, though. The result of senseless hacking is something ugly though still functional. 

Rather, I'm making art out of words. Or at least that's my intention. Right now the book is functional, it tells the story and does well enough at that. I'm picking words and sentences and various combinations that reveal truth as far as the story is concerned. 

So the goal is to have a nice, full tree that is something to be proud of. I'm doing the work to ensure that whatever pruning comes next isn't going to result in things like any of the examples here. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Deletions & Additions

I'm editing.

I'm pretty well-focused on getting The Cold Distance in good shape for a second round of notes and eventual targeted submission to publishers. It's going pretty well as I'm cutting words, phrases, sentences, entire paragraphs from the Zero/First draft that I cranked out last November and December.

New scenes - entire pages - are being added, too.

See when I was working away during NaNoWriMo, I was just doing my best to get the story out of my head and onto a digital page. I needed the story to be as complete as it could be. I have a tendency to bog myself down in the initial draft by drowning in details. I've learned over the last four or five years to not do that any more but that makes going back just a bit more tedious than just culling and changing words here and there for clarity. It means I have to get back into the headspace I was in last winter. Fortunately I left myself some excellent notes as to what I needed to do. Here's an example:

Dee was attending school on the next planet out from Ffeine in the Pirous system. It had taken some time for her to be placed with Madame Skartarine, but Dee liked the older woman immediately. Madeleine was in her early thirties, a human the same as Dee and beyond smart. Dee was treated as a daughter by Madeleine, given clothes, an elegantly appointed room and an education she never would have gotten if her parents were alive learning about politics, math, science and literature encompassing more than just the human experience. Madame Skartarine was concerned with as much of the galaxy as she could figuratively put her hands on. 
There was something about Dee that Madeleine loved immediately upon meeting the little girl, a connection that was electric. 

Ah, telling rather than showing. (I got called out on it in the first round of notes, too. I LOVE my writer's group!) I needed to have scenes of them actually meeting, not just a quick montage of images. At the time, it was enough to keep me from bogging down and overthinking everything. Now, with some distance between me and the original draft I can see that each sentence is at least one scene. Will each of them survive the culling in the second round? I dunno. I'll figure that out when I get there.

For this draft, I'm adding a lot, taking a lot more out and seeing what I've got afterwards. Hopefully it'll be a tighter story with even more emotional punch than the first time around. That's the goal.

So there's the update. Have a great day everyone.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wheels Turning

Rodin's The Thinker.
I feel better than I have in a few weeks. I've got my appetite back, I'm sleeping deeply and restfully (at least the last couple of nights), and my brain is ticking again. Things taste good again. Ideas for stories are burbling up. I'm THINKING.

I can't say that the ideas are any good, but they're all worth exploring. The brain juices are seeping out, covering the ideas with possibilities. The Magic 8-ball even says that the outlook is good. We'll see.

For now, I'm taking care of business and devoting time to writing. I'm near completion on a new short story that I'm looking for markets to test with. It might be the springboard for a series of shorts that could eventually be collected, too. It's more supernatural suspense than science fiction.

But I've got an SF story percolating, too. A kind of return to my days of making comic books as it involves a couple of my favorite characters from my mini comics run. You don't have any of those, you say? That's all right with me. I'm building that tale to explain why the characters are where they are so you won't have to have any previous knowledge to enjoy it. I promise. I'm going to start writing that one this week.

The novel is getting some attention, as well. I've edited the first two chapters and I think it's pretty damn good with a lot of potential. This one has me THINKING, too.

I've turned in one story (waiting on notes for that to come back) and I'm waiting on a cover for another story that's begging its sequel to be plotted and begun. I can't wait to announce those things but I'm supposed to wait...

I'm a patient guy. I'll wait for things to happen but right now it's time for me to push a little, to ensure that things are going to happen. Even if they don't happen exactly the way I want them to, they still need to happen.

The reluctant hero is answering the insistent call to adventure. My life feels a little like a Joseph Campbell text except I don't have a thousand faces. Only the one. Glad my wife likes it.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

If I were in Los Angeles, I would go to the BluJam cafe
because the food on their website is mouth-watering.

To my mother, my wife, my mother-in-law and all the mothers among my friends, I wish you all a happy Mother's Day. May your children surprise you, delight you, and reflect back all the love you've given them. Forgive them, encourage them, teach them how to be the best they can be. We children who become parents have usually figured out what our mothers went through with us and if we haven't told you we understand, you should know that we do. And we're grateful for all that you did, especially holding back that time or two you really wanted to strangle us.

I was going to be a little more clever and talk about the great mothers of science fiction but it seemed a little too silly. Maybe I'll do that next year. (Or maybe I'll just link to a year-old article on Wired that's a reprint of an article from the year before. My list would be slightly different, though. Next year.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Distractions

I meant to be up earlier this morning because there are household chores to do, a short story to finish, another to plot, the novel to edit, and other work that has to be done. However, sleep has been elusive but that's neither here nor there. These things happen in cycles as one gets to a certain age. It's happened before and it'll happen again.

What I need to work on are how to manage those times when I'm dog-tired and need to sleep but can't. I haven't tried writing because mostly to this point I've been a morning writer. I like that schedule a lot but during NaNoWriMo, I'm capable of writing at any time during the day. (And that's a month when I don't sleep a lot, either. Dunno why.)

So, back to this morning. I got around, poured coffee and flipped on the TV. (This is, of course, my first mistake if I wanted to get anything done.) Harry Potter was on HBO and I kept flipping through the channels looking for something to watch while I ate breakfast and eventually I made it to TCM. Here's the trailer for the movie that was on, The Ministry of Fear:


Ray Milland in a story based on a Graham Greene book directed by Fritz Lang. Yeah, I'm in. When it started, I checked both my local library and Netflix to see if I could get it on DVD to watch later so I wouldn't have to be - you know - stuck in front of the tube for an hour and a half. No such luck. If I wanted to see the film I didn't know existed before this morning I'd have to watch it now.

And yes, I did watch the whole thing. Is it great? Well, not great great but watchable and an enviable precursor to later films like North by Northwest but not quite to that level. That's one distraction.

The next one is having to write something about the film because I don't want to forget it. Like I said, I have a lot of work that has to be done around here. However, it's a Graham Greene story. I've got a copy of The Third Man from the library right now to watch (along with Mr. Arkadin [AKA Confidential Report] and The Desperate Hours) and I love Graham Greene stories. I couldn't turn it off. Lang makes it less about the feelings of Milland's character than about the actions of the spies, which isn't quite what Greene does in his writing. Greene is all about how people feel and how those feelings then inform their actions. If you haven't read any of his stuff I highly recommend The Heart of the Matter and then The Quiet American. Any collection of Greene's short stories will entertain you, too.

But I was talking about distractions keeping me from working, wasn't I? I suppose I ought to put down the laptop and get to work. Things have to be done to keep the house running. I'll probably watch The Third Man when I get some stuff done and before I start writing. Then again, I've got a copy of Michael Mann's Thief (with James Caan and a cool soundtrack by Tangerine Dream) to watch, too. Here's that trailer to keep you distracted:




Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I Write

From the ultimate soft SF series, a plush Dalek.
Found here if you want to buy one.
Blogging as a warmup to the actual writing I'm doing later...

I tend to write what's known as 'soft' science fiction. That is to say that I write things more about people and their interactions in the spaces they occupy more than about science itself. Gene Roddenberry was the best - maybe most popular - example of this kind of writer with his TV series Star Trek. It's always been my most favorite kind of SF, too. (Not necessarily Star Trek per se, just more stories about people.)

I'm not a scientist though I love to learn science. I'm not an engineer though how some things are put together sometimes fascinates me. As a reader I don't need to know everything about the world of the story, either. I just need enough to fill in the blanks with my own experience which allows me to build expectations and thoroughly enjoy the tale being told. I've said that before but it constantly bears repeating, don't you think? Give me enough to visualize the world and enjoy the story but don't bore me with technical details.

That is, of course, how I approach my own writing. I've said this here before, too. I'm much more interested in people and how they interact than I am why the interactions work or don't work. People are irrational, illogical, mistrustful, deceitful, sometimes transparent or naive, and way more complicated than they should be in some situations. Motivations are more interesting than anything else to me. I like to be surprised by the reactions of characters in situations. Back story matters.

Where the science part comes in is when I'm building the settings for the stories. I need to know that certain things can happen. If they're possible. They have to work logically in the stories but they don't have to be 'real'. The science I put in my stories has to be 'real enough' and plausible. I don't pretend to be some kind of seer or visionary, just a storyteller. I'm not Jules Verne or H.G. Wells or Arthur C. Clarke or anyone else like that. I want interesting people using reasonable science to get out of situations.

So what I write is by nature if not definition 'soft' SF and I'm okay with that. I want the reader to be as entertained by my stories as I was writing them. I can tell when I'm slogging through something and I'm sure the reader can, too. However I can't abandon stories any more. I have to finish them after they're started. Completing the thought is just as important as having it and I always learn something from having done the work.

Soft SF or 'hard' SF? Which is your favorite? Who's your favorite SF author? Tell me. Eventually I'll have time to read some more stuff so lay your suggestions on me, willya?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Hype and Hyperbole

www.agentofdanger.com
Man, there's so much to talk about but most of it is still under wraps and I'm waiting along with you guys. So I thought I'd come in and talk a little about hyperbole.

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of hyperbole is "extravagant statement or figure of speech not meant to be taken literally".  When I was growing up hyperbole was usually indicated with a plethora of exclamation points (!!!!!) to show that what was being said wasn't meant to be serious. Stan Lee back in the old days was a master of hyperbole.

In the last twenty years or so, the word hype has come into being, primarily as a shortened form of hyperbole. The meanings are pretty close to one another, though they have separate entries on the site. Check out what they say: "exaggerated publicity, hoopla; a swindle, deception or trick".

So when one is publicizing their wares (books, music, videos, film, art, etc...) the world now demands not just marketing  but rather hype. You can't just tout the high points of your work or the things you're offering for sale, you have to make it the MOST ATTRACTIVE THING IN THE WORLD OR NO ONE WILL BUY IT. If you or your work doesn't STAND OUT no one will notice you.

Why? Short attention spans. Because of short attention spans, the product can't just speak for itself or depend on word of mouth any more. The internet has opened up opportunities for every single person in the world to sell you something you need but didn't know was available. In some cases this is good, in others very bad. (You can come up with your own examples, I'm sure.) So to STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD you have to make every choice available to you and use hype over hyperbole.

The backlash at risk is that overhyping, or using too much hyperbole, will cause people to ignore you because all you're doing is trying to sell them something they don't necessarily want. I know the world isn't perfect, that things don't work the way they used to but come on --- shouldn't they?

I mean, you don't want me to just come out and say that you should buy my book, right? You want to know what it's about, where you can get it and how much it costs. That's all you need. I could ask you to tell your friends or purchase a gift copy for someone, but that's shilling rather than hype, hyperbole, or marketing and that's just between us.

What I'm getting at here is that I want the people who read my work to read it because they want to. If it was suggested by a friend or a review or something, that's great. I don't want to actively sell you my work. I don't want to say "Buy my stuff or I start in on the kittens" or anything like that, either. I found books in the days of bricks and mortar stores by browsing covers on the shelves. I want to put out work with an attractive design that draws you in enough to read the descriptions and then you can decide if you want it.

That's how things SHOULD work. I don't want to shout at you, you're busy and you've got things to do and limited disposable resources. I respect that. I respect your choice to hang out here with me and to buy my stuff when you can. All I'll do is tell you that stuff is available and that you can get your mitts on it. Is that enough?

Friday, May 04, 2012

Superfriends

I've always been a Superman guy, but Hawkman's in this
picture so that's who I'm identifying with today.
When it's you against the world, you need friends who will tell you what you need to hear whether you want to hear it or not. These friends will then stand with you when you need them and in turn you have to stand with them. I'm very fortunate that I have some excellent friends who will buy me a drink or hang out with me and be supportive when I need them. You know who you are and I'm saying that I'm grateful for each and every one of you.

Some of them follow me on Twitter (along with a thousand others) and some of them are Facebook friends (nearly three hundred there) and some are in both places. It's in the real world that it counts, though. Friends who aren't in the same city as me who message through FB or Twitter are doing what they can and that's all I can ask for though I don't feel like I should ask for anything.

I was taught that I need to stand on my own two feet, be my own man and do things for myself.  That I have friends who buy me a cup of coffee or listen to me ramble on about my problems or distract me are the kinds of friends who I cherish the most. I'll tip my hat to them all and when they need me for something, I'll be there for them. 

So far the best advice I've gotten is to just breathe. I'm repeating myself and rambling a little here so give me a second.

Whew.

Yeah, that's better. It's been hard to concentrate on writing for a while, but I think I'm going to be okay enough to finish off a couple of things and do some stuff I've been meaning to. So if you, dear readers, stick with me, I hope I'll have some news to report that'll be worthy of your attention.

After all, we're all friends here, right?