Monday, November 22, 2010

November Update

So, life has been interesting lately. Sorry I haven’t been good at chronicling everything here, but I think some things are clearer in perspective.
First off, I am still working at the ER. I have grown more used to the job, and I feel like I am not screwing it up so badly now that I kind of know the lay of the land. Still, it is not exactly how I want to spend my life, so I have been working on applying to grad schools. Applying is honestly hard, what with the abject failures in the past few years. I worry that my effort is just going to go down the tubes again, but I have to hope otherwise. Research had always been my ultimate goal in any case, and I have felt far more committed to and excited about that career path than I ever did when I considered medicine.
Speaking of exciting developments, our new member of the family continues to develop right on schedule. He or she is doing well, and so is his or her mother, though she is very impatient for the little tyke to arrive. Little does the kid know that there is going to be some sort of holy war over who gets to raise it the instant it leaves the womb. My sisters and the new grandparents are going to spoil it rotten, and that’s not even considering the extended family. Ugh.
On another note, the old Quark writing group is reborn! Mwahahaha! We are meeting on Saturdays through the use of Skype’s conference call function. I think it has turned out to be a pretty big success. We have plenty of people submitting, a lot of good stories, and a minimum of bickering. Considering it’s a group I formed, that minimum is probably the best you could ask for, right? :) In any case, if anybody out there reading wants to join, just send me an email and we would be glad to add you to the group. Fresh meat always bleeds more after all. Heh heh heh…
All in all, life is going better than it has in a while. I have a lot of people to thank for it, for their patience with me and their constant support. Now I just need to make sure that their confidence does not go to waste. No pressure though.
Hope all of you guys are still doing well, and I will see you around!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Slacking Off

Yes, I'm still alive. I'll probably post an update a bit later on next week. Been busy with a few projects, working on a few things. Unfortunately, that has detracted from my work on this blog. Maybe I'll just go to one update a week; that could be easier to do.

In any case, sorry for the long sleep. Hope all is going well for you, and I will see you around.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Personal Space

So, one major aspect of my personality happens to be that I have a huge personal space bubble. As in, an enormous one. I don’t like being touched, and I hate it when people stand too close. It bugs the crap out of me, pretty much every time. I don’t mean like excessive touching or people who hover. I mean any actual contact or anyone who stays closer than two feet for too long.

I know, intellectually, that I shouldn’t be bothered by this kind of thing, but that doesn’t stop it from happening anyway. Any time someone puts a hand on my shoulder or my arm or something like that, I have to consciously restrain myself from jerking away. Heaven help anyone who grabs my knee or something. People who hover are constant distractions too, especially when they are looking over my shoulder or something. I feel like I have to constantly watch them, like I’m expecting them to try something if I don’t pay close enough attention. Maybe it is related to my sense of claustrophobia, but I could be wrong

There are very few exceptions to this little quirk of mine, such as my family, and fortunately, my wife. In case any of you were wondering why I had to actually learn how to flirt with her while I was dating, this issue would be the reason why. Friendly hugs also seem to be exempt, though I have no idea why.

Oh well, at least I never expected to be normal, so I guess one quirk like this isn’t bad. At least, it could definitely be worse. See ya round!

Monday, September 27, 2010

On Trail Markers

When I still lived in Connecticut, the Scout troop I was a member of used to have a tradition of hiking the Appalachian Trail every summer. We’d pack up a bunch of belongings and supplies, throw them in backpacks and march our way along the trail for fifty miles or so. It was something that I actually really enjoyed, since the hike was challenging enough to be interesting, and we got to see some pretty cool sights.

One thing we quickly learned to respect was the system of trail markers. Every so far along the trail, the path was marked with arrows or dots to show the way we were supposed to travel. Seeing one meant that we were still on track and not wandering through the forest on our own. Walking for a while without seeing one meant we started feeling a bit worried pretty quickly. They also acted almost like goal posts, giving us a way to measure our progress as we hiked.

The markers were more than merely reassuring, however, as we discovered quite a few times during our hikes. Once we missed a trail marker indicating a turn and wound up hiking halfway down a mountain to stop in a confused huddle at the edge of some farmer’s field. We ended up having to travel half a mile or so uphill, looking for the marker that we had so blithely walked by on our way down. Another time a portion of our group missed a marker and ended up at a random camp site while the rest of us passed them by. Since we had thought they were out front, the rest of us assumed that they were still marching along ahead and kept going, hoping to catch up to them. When they finally returned to the trail, they wound up having to chase the rest of us for a mile or so, and only really managed to reach us because one hiker decided to stop on their own. Missed markers were bad news, and pretty much all of us quickly learned to keep a sharp eye out for the little white splashes of paint—and learned to despise the clumps of lichen that imitated them on the tree bark.

I guess my thoughts have been wandering to this point in my life because lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been walking along the trail without seeing a marker for a while. The standards and guides that I used to use to measure my progress and keep myself on track have seemed to vanish, and I no longer seem to see the goals that once led me forward. The haunting fear of having left the trail and the dread of having to hike back to find it are creeping around with me, too. If such a course correction is unpleasant on a hiking trip, I can only imagine how bad it will get when I’m doing it with life choices.

Then again, sometimes markers pop out at times when you least expected or hoped for them. Perhaps that is what I need, right? :) In any case, I think I’ll post again on Wednesday and Friday this week. I promise to try to be a bit less melancholy and mopey. See ya round!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Fake Governments

So I’ve been working on the background for the next revision of Wolfhound, and my struggle to come up with a government that makes sense has given me reason to have a new appreciation for the U.S. Constitution.

I know that at least part of my problem is my own fault, since I am trying to blend two different sources from two different time periods, values and traditions as I work. The occasional clash between the two main inspirations for Wolfhound’s background manages to give me quite a big headache.

Another part of the problem is the scale of the government required. Our world can barely conceive of a government able to provide structure for the entirety of one planet; the concept of a government that could watch over multiple ones is a little mind-boggling. The models I’ve been relying on have come from much simpler situations, and simplicity would keep that government from growing too nebulous and obscure for my readers. That simplicity is hard to come by, though, without creating a structure that obviously would not work, which would break the readers’ suspension of disbelief.

Speaking of which, dividing responsibilities and creating a system of checks and balances is freaking hard. I have to create a blend of executive, judicial and legislative powers that doesn’t sound too horribly out of whack, while being fairly unique and adaptable to the situation in the Wolfhound universe. Trying to find that balance, even for a simple, fictional background, has given me a healthy respect for what the founders of our nation accomplished. I’m fairly sure that what I create would have so many holes and loopholes that it would never sustain itself, whereas they managed to form a system of government that has lasted for two centuries and counting. How cool is that?

In any case, I’m sure I’ll muddle through eventually. Hopefully by the time I’m done, the Celostian Union will make some kind of sense. Any suggestions will, of course, be appreciated as I try to come up with something workable. See you around!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Passwords

So for the past few years, I’ve been using a similar set of passwords for a large majority of my accounts and access points. I’ve felt reasonably safe relying on them because they were drawn from either background I never explained in my own stories, or other such sources, but lately I’ve been wondering if I should make a switch to new ones, if only for the sake of preventing the overuse of the original passwords and their discovery. At the same time, I don’t want to get into the situation where I have to access an account or email or whatever and can’t because I gave it some obscure password that I cannot remember. Also, the concept of changing the passwords that I have almost come to instinctively rely on definitely does not appeal to my lazy side. What do you guys think, am I being lazy by not changing passwords, or is my urge to shift them born of unreasonable paranoia? Hope life continues to go well for you all, and I’ll see you later!

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Writing Groups

So the past few weeks I have been genuinely missing the writing group back in Quark. It seems like that nostalgia would be a good source of a post, so here we go.

I first attended the Quark writing group almost seven years ago, at the instigation of my good friend Aneeka. Well, she’s a friend now; at the time she was just a vaguely terrifying, anonymous internet person who managed to notice that I had signed on to the Quark internet forum out of curiosity. She managed to wheedle the fact that I wrote as a hobby out of me and invited me to a meeting, where she became far more concretely terrifying. :)

In that writing group I quickly found a solid group of friends and fellow writers, one of whom turned out to tolerate me enough to marry me. The continued support and feedback I got from that group, as well as the social interaction and friendship, allowed me to view my writing in a new light and get serious about forming my stories into something much more effective. My writing group friends quickly became an inspiration to not only continue writing, but expand my abilities. I even began to first consider my lifelong dream of actually publishing something seriously after I was involved in the Quark group.

Now, however, my old writing buddies have scattered to the four winds, and I seem to be hurting for lack of a similar group. That direct encouragement is something I miss, although I’ve preserved it in some form by having some of my old friends read things over for me from time to time. Still, it just isn’t the same as having a group discuss a bit of writing together, with that same amount of discussion and support that comes from a direct meeting. Finding one here in Houston might land me in the middle of a bunch of teenagers writing Twilight fan fics, which is something I would not look forward to, but gathering the old group is more or less impossible. I doubt that everyone could make their way to one location from Japan, Utah, the West Coast and Houston to one place to have a writing group, and the wide diversity of time zones kind of stops any attempt at internet groups. Grg. I may simply have to resign myself to the fact that the Quark group was a unique opportunity for me in terms of my writing development, but it would be awesome to have some of that same motivation and inspiration right now. Oh well. To good editors and better friends, wherever they might be. May all go well for you, and at least one of us get published so we can all get bragging rights. :) See ya!

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Buffers

Okay, so many of the more consistent bloggers and webcomic writers out there have managed to build up a buffer for their work. This week has been a marvelous demonstration as to why that is a wise decision. Whether it is just plain laziness, travel plans or a sudden dearth of ideas, keeping up with this blog can easily suddenly become very difficult. As such, I think that I will need to start creating my own buffer in order to get around those sudden dead spots in my productivity.

This weekend we are at my brother in law’s wedding, and the slight amount of downtime that I have available, I will try and build up at least a week’s worth of posts so that I won’t suddenly run short again. Wish me luck; I hope that my efforts are not only successful, but also of better quality than they have been. What do you guys think, good idea or bad idea? Anyway, I hope you are all doing well, and I will see you later!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On September 11th

Well, I have to admit that I’ve found it hard to write about this subject. There’s been a lot in the news about the event that has more or less anchored the day in the American psyche. There’s the whole mosque stuff, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, and then there’s the preacher guy who spent a few weeks planning on burning Korans today. Both are excellent examples of jackassery that bigoted religious extremists can get up to in order to make some kind of political point, though it has been interesting to watch each of the sides try to support the one and boo the other. (Sidenote: My take is, they have the right to build the mosque, and they have the right to burn the books. It still doesn’t make either of them any less disrespectful douchebags, though.)

As annoying as that is to have happening on the ninth anniversary of the tragedy, I stumbled across an article that was far, far worse, at least to my admittedly narrow perspective of the subject. The author suggested that the United States was paying the price for overreacting to the Trade Center attacks. The casualties suffered in those strikes were weighed against the financial burdens and loss of life the U.S. has sustained in its retaliation. He treated the events like it was some kind of math equation, as if thousands of American citizens dead on our soil could have been weighed and dismissed through some kind of cost/benefit analysis. I wonder if he would have wanted others to do the same had he or some of his family been victims of the crimes inflicted on this day nine years ago.

Nine years ago, men went onboard four of our planes, intending to use them as missiles against civilian and military targets. They did so knowing that they would be killing civilians, that unarmed men, women and children would die, and yet to them those deaths were worth it, probably even desirable. The reason? They hate us. Osama bin Laden and his ilk despise America, despise its cultures, its traditions, its very existence and presence on the international stage. Al Qaeda lives by killing and stealing, by extending their power through fear and force, and America was one place that remained truly isolated from their reach. The simple fact that we were different and untouchable must have galled them, and so they attacked, and killed thousands. Are we now somehow ashamed to have struck back? Have we forgotten what happened to so many of us as the towers came down? What kind of patriots are we, to bear witness to the senseless, hateful slaughter of so many of us and say it is even possible to overreact?

Today, as I look back on the sacrifices and heroism of the passengers, firefighters, policemen and others on that terrible day, I have to wonder what they would have thought of those who they left behind. What would they think of the nation we’ve become, and would they think their lives still well spent? I can only hope that in some small way I might be doing my part to nudge that answer towards yes rather than the alternative. There is so much good still left in America, and I hope that we do not squander both that potential and the blood spilled to give it to us as we go forward.

May we remember today that the actions of evil men proved to us nine years ago that we should never underestimate the devastation that truly wicked men can cause. May we remember the loss of so many of our own, and resolve to always remain vigilant so that we never have to endure such things again. And as we go about our lives today, may we remember that even as a band of murderers tried to destroy the American spirit, men and women from all walks of life stood up to the challenge and showed what this country is all about. May we never forget these things, because the cost of forgetting is far too great.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Radio

One thing that has become clear to me as I have been driving back and forth between home and work is the fact that radio has now become extremely crappy. Unbearably bad, actually. If you spend any amount of time listening to a particular radio station, it will quickly become apparent that the DJs don’t have access to more than six or seven songs, which must be played over and over again each day. Occasionally they will sub in an older song or two, but mostly it will be that same half a dozen repeated continually over the course of the day. Whether or not the songs are actually entertaining does not seem to factor into which songs get played.

As if that repetition wasn’t bad enough, there are commercials. Said commercials are fine in concept; I mean, radio’s got to survive somehow, and I don’t mind the occasional ad here and there. The problem starts to come in when you have enough time to compare the length of the song time and the time the ads take up. In a good form of media, the amount of actual entertainment has more air time than the ads. This situation, unfortunately, is not how radio chooses to go about it. I’d say the amount of songs and the amount of commercials are about even, but I have a creeping suspicion that the ads are steadily getting longer while the songs get shorter. The final straw, of course, is the fact that the ads are almost as repetitive as the songs, which all combines to give me the feeling that I am stuck reliving the same drive again and again. Not a pleasant sensation.

Of course, the fact that one of the commercials is paid for by the state of Texas to encourage breastfeeding does not lessen my displeasure. Seriously, if I hear that “Healthy Baby, Healthy Mama jingle one more time, I may end up going crazy from the sheer combination of awkwardness, annoyance, and anger at their attempt at clumsy social engineering. I mean, if you’re going to try and program people, at least try to be subtle at it! Bah!

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Commuting

Okay, so the strain of commuting an hour each way to work is starting to become apparent to me now. In addition to being a drain on gas and time, it also seems to wear away at my resolve to get things done. For example, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my blog posts are becoming a bit more irregular now. :)

Part of the problem is that the difference between having seven hours free in a day and only having five and a half to six hours is enormous. It seems like I blink and my morning is gone, with the dreaded drive already waiting for me. Half the time I have to rush to get out the door, as my necessary departure time has crept up on me while I was unaware. It is kind of discouraging to sit down to write or get applications done only to find that you have to run around like a madman trying to find your keys instead.

The other part of the frustration is the traffic. I have never felt such an intense dislike for other motorists as I have recently. The fact that people in Houston aren’t exactly the safe driving champions of the world doesn’t help matters either. Along those lines, people who drive while talking on cell phones? You can all die in a fire. That’s right, I’m talking to you. You know who you are. And we both know you deserve it.

Along with all of that is the haunting specter of an unavoidable accident or breakdown. For some reason, the prospect of the car failing as I am trying to drive to work seems to hover just behind me whenever I get behind the wheel. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the drive puts so much strain on the car, or the fact that I am so dependent on the vehicle now, but this new stress is something I really don’t want to deal with. The nightmare of falling asleep at the wheel as I’m driving home at midnight is another worry that makes my drive less than relaxing.

I was going to discuss radio as well, but I might need to save that much venom for another post. Maybe multiple ones. Grg.

In any case, I have that wonderful commute to look forward to again today. Wish me luck; I will probably need it just to make it through the experience. See ya!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Extra Update

So, one last piece of news that we’ve kind of been holding out on until recently. We’re going to be having a baby!

That’s right, there will soon be a mini version of me or my wife running around. We are about ten weeks along, and the due date is supposedly set around April first, which just happens to be around my father’s birthday.

Today was the first ultrasound, and we were able to see the little kid for the first time. Looks healthy enough, doctor said everything was fine and that the heart was beating good and strong. As we were watching, the little one gave us a little kick/wiggle as if to say hello, so you can already tell that they’ve inherited our lack of ability for staying still. So, yeah, new Debenham on the way, and life continues as it always has. Who would’ve thunk it, huh?

Hope all is going well for you guys, and I’ll see you around!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August Update

Alright, I apologize for the lack of other updates this week. A combination of internet outages, scheduling adjustments and plain simple ‘flojera’ prevented me from posting more frequently, but my hope is that in the coming week I can be more consistent.

One of the factors limiting my time to write is the sudden addition of an hour long commute to most of my days. Driving back and forth an hour to work has definitely impacted my ability to focus on writing, and it has started to wear on other aspects of my life as well. Still, the move was definitely worth it. My dear, patient wife has been enjoying her job a lot more now that she no longer has to deal with said commute, and I have a feeling that this year will be a great one for her.

As far as my own progress, I find myself somewhat lacking. As you might have guessed from a lack of ecstatic updates, I am not going to be attending med school this year. In some ways, that fact disappoints me. In others, it leaves me grateful, since my experiences with my current work and situation have made me doubt that med school would have been the best course for me. The schedule, emotional demands and other aspects of the medical career just don’t seem to be what I would have looked forward to each day.

However, at the same time, my life now lacks a solid direction to head towards. I’m financially secure and employed, which probably puts me ahead of the game compared to a lot of what people are already calling the ‘lost generation’ but I doubt I would be satisfied simply settling for what I have already. Writing has been harder, and I almost feel that as others of my friends have gotten offers from agents and publishers for their stories that I am falling behind there. Grad schools look inviting, but I am plagued by doubts that I am drifting in that direction for the same reason I did med school—simply because it sounds like a good idea and not because I really want that kind of career. It is incredibly frustrating, so tomorrow I may need to sit down with the spouse and actually make some solid goals for me to shoot towards in the long term. Grg.

In any case, that’s kind of my situation as of the end of August. This time I promise not to fade away for a full week before posting again. I hope all of you are doing well, and that your lives are happy. Be safe out there, and I’ll see you around.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On Moving

Okay, so first off, I’m not dead. Sorry to disappoint many of you. :) We were just moving up to a new apartment this week and the preparations kind of took up most of my time the past week. I was kinda stressed, so writing blog posts just didn’t seem to work out that week.

I hate moving. I think I pretty much always have, even though during my childhood we moved all the time. Part of my dislike comes from the fact that I take so long to make new friends. Being introverted and quiet doesn’t help when you are uprooted and taken to a new place every so often, especially after only a year or so in one spot. It makes me feel like I just barely got to know people and then I have to leave and start the whole painful outsider phase again.

The second problem is that moving carries a lot of baggage with it. It isn’t just about relocating to a new house; it’s about going to a new school or job, adjusting to a new ward with a different schedule and style, and even changing sleeping schedules. I’m not someone who wants everything to stay the same all the time, but changing that many things at once just bugs me. I go from something comfortable and familiar to something strange and often awkward.

I guess the biggest issue I have is my own fault, though. I never seem to have the knack for keeping up with people or places once I move away. It’s simply a talent that I have not mastered quite yet, and so each move is almost like a permanent loss of everything I built up in my original place. I hate losing all of that in one go, but it seems to happen every time.

Oh well, such is life. More about the move next time. Don’t worry, it probably won’t be as whiney and mopey as this post. See ya!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

On Being a Loner

So in a lot of ways, this post is linked to the one on loneliness. Society in general tends to look down on loners of all types, painting them with a similar antisocial brush. I wish I could say that Mormon social circles were different, but it almost seems like the attitude is more pronounced there. I even saw a list of clues once, obviously not from a general authority, that included the ‘desire to be alone’ as a clue that you were not feeling the influence of the Spirit. Needless to say, that one irked me a little. Well, me being me, more than a little, but my lack of patience isn’t the point of this post. :)

The truth is that not everyone can be around people all the time. A lot of people are introverts, which means that simply being around people is exhausting. I’m one of the more extreme examples, to the point where I have a definite need to recharge after being around other people. Depriving me of that quiet time alone quickly leads to a lack of emotional health. My brother, by probable contrast is an extreme extrovert. Being around people energizes him, and when he is alone he quickly gets lethargic and grumpy.

It’s not that I don’t like people, really. There are plenty of people that I enjoy having fun with, or discussing things, or any number of other social activities. I just need a little time alone afterwards to recover. To sum it up, I’m not so much antisocial as I am a social hermit. :)

What occasionally bothers me, however, is the perception that not wanting to be surrounded by people all the time is automatically weird or gives some kind of outsider status. There’s a stigma there that I honestly don’t think is needed or helpful, spout whatever ‘humans are a social animal’ reasonings you will. As much as we are a people of groups and cultures, we are also a species of thinkers and ponderers. Needs for individuality and solitude do not need to submit to some kind of social pressure to always be surrounded by others in order to be productive or emotionally healthy, but that pressure always seems to be there. I wonder how many other introverts try to bury their own actual needs in order to fit in with other people’s expectations.

Oh well, yet another rant from me, huh? In any case, I hope you are all doing well. I will try to update again tomorrow, if laziness, stress and distractions do not foil me. See you around!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Writer's Block

Lately I’ve been having trouble getting going on writing. For some reason I am finding it hard to focus. Maybe it’s because I have been so caught up with looking for a new apartment, a new car, and applying to grad schools. It could also be that I haven’t worked on a sci fi story in quite a while; the style of writing can be really different. The fact that I will be rewriting for the first time in a long while has also given me some trouble, and there’s always the worry that I will edit some cool part into mediocrity, or wreck the story with inconsistencies and foolish decisions. Grg.

I think the main problem, however, is the fact that I have gotten a bit disconnected from Wolfhound. It has been a few months since I’ve worked on it, and I need to reread the whole story again to get back in touch with it. It will mean a slight delay will happen before I actually start the rewrite, but I think it will be worth getting to know Jacob again, along with the story of his journey aboard the Wolfhound. Hopefully I will be able to get that done this week, in addition to the fifty other things that are going on. Sigh. Oh well. Such is life; procrastinating it will only make the crush worse. I hope you are all doing much better than I am with this, and that life is treating you well. See ya!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Loneliness

No, don’t worry. You won’t need your emo-shielding to read this post. I’m not going to talk about how horribly lonely I feel or anything dumb like that. I just decided to post a few observations I’ve made of society recently.

It occurred to me one day that our perception of loneliness has changed from what it probably was in the past. Where people normally spent long stretches of time unable to communicate with people who lived twenty or thirty miles away with any kind of ease, let alone someone half a continent away, we are able to pick up a phone or a computer and contact anyone we want, regardless of distance. While people in older times were isolated by travel time and technology, we have the advantage of satellites, optical cables and engines to shrink the gaps between us and those we consider our friends and families. In place of letters, messengers, and the odd carrier pigeon, we have emails, Facebook, and texting at our literal fingertips. There are very few places that remain outside our reach, even as we simply sit at home.

Yet at the same time, there is the sense that we are more isolated and lonely than we ever have been before. We live in cities full of millions of people, yet many of us barely know the names of our closest neighbors unless we make an unusual effort or meet them elsewhere. All sense of community has seemed to vanish, so that even when we are surrounded by people we don’t feel their company. Where we would consider ourselves lonely, our ancestors might look askance at us and point at the nearest person. Or they would simply mention the fact that it would only take us a half hour to cover the distance they traveled to see their friends when it used to take them a full day. Maybe they would just shrug.

I can’t quite figure out what has happened to create this situation in our culture. It could be that as it has become easier to see people and communicate, we have allowed that to cheapen the value of our relationships. Or maybe what we term as ‘loneliness’ was just a feeling that our forefathers simply endured without complaint. It might even be that in earlier times people simply were more comfortable when they were left to themselves, or that they stayed close enough to their family and friends that they never felt cut off the way we do. It’s strange, and I can’t seem to settle on a simple reason for it. Oh well. I guess it is one more thing to ponder about as life continues to change. See ya around!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Immunolgy

Lately I’ve started looking up scientific articles online, and it has reminded me of something. Although molecular biology in general is an interesting subject, it has really only been immunology that has attracted my interest during my experiences in the field.

Immunology is the study of the immune system, how it works, how it develops, and how it can be manipulated for the benefit of mankind. The immune system is a fascinating part of our bodies, and the way it reacts to disease, parasites and allergens is incredible. It can change, adapt and evolve in a surprisingly effective manner, to the point where half the time it eliminates a problem before we are even aware that it is there. Each part of the system is so complex and the interactions so complicated that we are still trying to figure most of it out, and the potential power behind it means that we are looking for the most promising anticancer cures, solutions for genetic diseases, and other treatments by attempting to challenge it. The fact that the immune system is so effective can be dangerous as well, which is where a lot of autoimmune diseases, transplant rejections and the majority of symptoms associated with common illnesses come from. The entire field is like a treasure trove of possibilities.

I just wish I had more of an opportunity to research it. Unfortunately, with my current situation, I will continue to be limited to what articles I can find online. Still, it is fun to explore the subject, and that is encouraging. Even with the passage of time, my interest hasn’t been dulled, which I guess means if I get into grad school for it I’ll be just as interested as I was in college. Here’s hoping for that then. See you around!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Apartments

Recently we have been looking for a new place to live. I have not been enjoying it.

Part of the problem is the fact that both Emily and I are very hesitant about making a decision. When we moved to Texas, we made a somewhat hasty decision on where we were going to live, and that came back to haunt us as we struggled to adjust to Houston. We would very much like to make a better decision this time around, and hopefully end up with a better home because of it.

The other part is that our options are kind of limited. While we would love to have a two bedroom apartment at last, we can’t seem to find one in the complexes we’ve been looking at. At the same time, we want a much safer area than where we have been living, preferably in a neighborhood that doesn’t have break-ins all year round. Minimizing my commute would also be preferable, given that the area we are moving to will have me driving about an hour both ways. Combining all those factors makes for a situation that would give anyone a headache.

Then again, at the very least life will be looking up. In a short while, we will have a better home, and a better situation for ourselves. I suppose that although it is annoying to have to work this stuff out, it is better to be agonizing over two or three good choices than a packet of horrible options. Life could definitely be worse. :)

So, on another note, I’ve started to wonder if a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule just fits the natural rhythm of my week better than Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Let me know if you have any particular preference for seeing my mopey updates go up, and I will try to be accommodating. I hope all is going well for you guys, and I will see you around.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Revising

So this week has been a bad one in terms of writing. Part of the reason for that is the fact that I just finished a miserably long book that I was not excited about. (That’s right, I’m talking about you again, New Realm. *shakes fist*) I typically want to take a mental break from writing after such an experience, and this week I kind of fell prey to that desire.

The second reason is a bit more of a concern, however. It has been too long since I last rewrote something. Due to my job and other issues, I stopped rewrites on my other stories while I worked on New Realm’s first draft several weeks ago. I’ve gotten so used to working on new material that I am kind of weirded out by the process of revision, especially since when I write new material, I purposely avoid revisions in the process because I would take forever to get the first draft done.

I guess a big part of the problem is the major difference in mindset between first draft writing and revising. Writing a first draft is like running a marathon. No matter how much you might trip up or get tired, you keep plugging along because your goal is to stagger across the finish line at the end of the story. You’re not really concerned about finesse or how pretty it looks, you just have to get through it. Revising is more like a shopping trip. You have to take a lot more time to consider what you are doing and think about things more. Part of the process of revision involves trying things out, and discarding them if they don’t fit or don’t seem to be as good as your original choice. Rather than just slogging along, you have to experiment and reconsider when you get the results.

It’s been a challenge to change perspectives after slogging through my last book, but hopefully I will get the hang of it again. At least, I hope I manage it before something else goes wrong….

Yeah, my chances aren’t good on that last bit. :) See ya round!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Expectations

You know, over the past few days, I’ve had several different expectations fall through for me. It’s been a disappointing week in a lot of ways. Medical school looks like a bust, Wolfhound will be harder to revise than I previously thought, and the future looks a lot less ideal and a lot more uncertain than I was hoping to find it in the final parts of July. As I was thinking over those events today, my thoughts sort of dovetailed with some other things I was pondering.

These days it seems like there are very few people who have real dreams for themselves. When you ask people what they want most, they respond with a cookie cutter picture out of the fifties. They just want a big house, maybe kids, and a lot of money maybe. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of drive in society to find a dream and see it through. Lots of people seem to want to fit into a niche and settle there rather than setting high goals.

So even as a lot of my goals are falling through and I find myself discouraged by my failures, I can at least console myself with the fact that I had the will to try it. My expectations might have needed to be a bit more realistic, and the road might be difficult as I try to reach those goals, but at least I am still setting them and working towards them. One bright spot in a pit of crap, right? Hahaha.

And on that downer note, I’ll see you around, guys. Have a great week (at least, better than mine has been) and I’ll try to come up with something a bit more cheery for Saturday. See ya.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Endings

It’s finished! Mwahahahahahaha! Done! Complete! No longer sitting on my shoulders like some sort of warped monkey-demon!

So on Saturday I typed up the last part of the New Realm book. It has been a frustrating experience to watch this story meander its way to a conclusion. The thing is monstrously long, horribly inconsistent, and will likely require several rewrites in order to be readable. In short, it’s the kind of novel that I will likely not be working on any time soon, and will not be excited to start again when I finally drag myself to the task.

By contrast, I am really starting to get excited about working with Wolfhound again. In fact, I already seem to be moving beyond the original story and have started planning out the sequel. It’s odd how different my reaction has been between the two stories, and that has made me take a look at myself as an author, and examine a little why I write and how I write.

First off, I’ve discovered that it takes more than an interest in the setting to keep me going. I love Realm’s setting, and it is an interesting concept to go by, but in order for me to get really going on the story I need a plot. Wolfhound was built around the events of the story, and the character and setting fit the plot more than the other way around. While I liked Jacob’s character and enjoyed coming up with the backstory of his setting a lot, it was the plot that drove my interest in writing it. That interest was something I just didn’t have while writing Realm, and the story suffered for the lack.

Second, I’ve started wondering if I should focus more on science fiction stories. While I will always enjoy fantasy, sci fi has always had its own kind of appeal to me, and the setting will often allow me to explore scientific concepts like alternative energy creation and medical techniques that the more logical side of me is already wondering about. At the same time, sci fi doesn’t necessarily have the same sense of magic and wonder that fantasy often has. It will have to be something I think about more as I proceed.

Third, I’ve decided that I need to outline a story more before I write it out. Part of why Realm did not work and Wolfhound did was the fact that when I started Wolfhound, I had a pretty good idea where the story would go. That fed into a solid story structure that held the book together even through rougher patches of the first draft. When I wrote Realm, I just started and tried to let the story go on its own, which may have let it get away from me. Probably not the best strategy. Oh well.

In any case, a project is done for now, and I am moving on with other plans. So goes life. See you around!

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the Sims

So this week my crazy brain decided to try and figure out the Sims. I’ve mentioned before how I occasionally try to figure out gaming systems and the like, but the Sims has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I could never understand the appeal of basically living a fake life through a videogame. There just didn’t seem to be anything exciting about it. No competition, no ultimate goals, just boring everyday life. There’s not even any science fiction or fantasy elements to make things interesting. I just don’t understand why it would hold people’s attention for so long. In an attempt to understand it better, I spent some time studying the game and came to some conclusions. They can be summed up in one sentence.

I still don’t get why the Sims is supposed to be fun.

No really. The best thing I can compare it to is a role playing game where you pretend to be normal, everyday people. Your character may level up a lot in Sitting on A Couch Eating Pizza, but that’s not really exciting. I mean, come on, sometimes you just sit and watch some guy watching TV, or watch them playe a fake match of chess. It’s not interesting at all to me, and I still can’t figure out why it would be interesting to someone else. If anybody can explain it to me, feel free. Otherwise, I’m just giving up on the whole concept, and assigning it to the same realm as soap operas and fashion sense. Oh well…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Five Signs Your Book Needs a Severe Rewrite

1. You get to the end and think ‘Hey, that’s a much better way to write the first half!’
2. Your wife suggests you listen to a podcast that gives suggestions for how to rewrite ruined books.
3. You decide to change the POV that you’ve been using so far, as you write the last fifty pages of the novel.
4. The only thing the same about your main character in the beginning and the main character in the end is the name.
5. You are excited to finish the book, not because it is an awesome story, but because it is over.

As you can tell, I’ve had a rough time with Realm this past couple of weeks. Sigh. Just a few more words to go… Grg.

Monday, July 12, 2010

On Wandering

I’ve decided that I don’t like books that wander too much. Stories that don’t seem to have a centralized plot, or ones that seem to jump randomly between events rather than following a logical plot, just fail to hold my attention and admiration for long.

That fact has been tormenting me lately. It seems like of the past four books I’ve read, only one of them has had a clear, definite sense of progression instead of a jumbled bunch of random happenings. While there may be a lot of folks that enjoy and even relish in the exploration these novels present, they just don’t appeal to me at all, and it has been frustrating to read them. Especially since, to my narrow view of things, I should get published if they can! Hahaha. Well, they must be doing something right that I’m not. I shall have to figure that out.

Have a good week, everyone, and I’ll see you around.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Time Flying

This past week has seemed to just fly by. Between working on the last parts of New Realm, working full time at the emergency room, and just trying to keep up with everything else, it seems like it was Monday just a day ago, rather than a whole week.

The bad part is that I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. I have a lot of decisions to make, both on where to apply for grad schools, med schools and the like as well as finding a new place for us to live come August. We’re still technically waiting on decisions from med schools, and it’s not like work is ever going to be less hectic. I might as well resolve myself to living life at a sprint for the next few months. Looking back at how lethargic my life was before, it is kind of a big shift to make.

Have any of you had this experience as well? I’m trying to figure out how to accomplish everything I had planned to do without running myself into the ground. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. In any case, I hope life is going well for you all, and that you are succeeding in your own trials. See ya!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Late Changes

So I’m about to finish off my New Realm book. I’m currently heavily dissatisfied with how it has turned out. Usually my first drafts need a lot of revision, but this time the story will need to nearly be entirely rewritten. Over the course of this draft, character backgrounds and personalities have changed, story elements were added or removed, and even the style of the book will shift wildly. To give you some idea, the most recent change I made was to start looking at other perspectives besides that of the main character. When the entire rest of the book is written from a single POV. Which means I’m going to have to rewrite the entire rest of the book to accommodate that change. Grg.

Oh well, at the very least I haven’t given up on it yet. It’ll take a long time to get done—the fact that it is much longer than either Wolfhound or Brellan doesn’t help—but the original story still interests me. Now I just need to finish the first draft and let my ideas stew a bit.

So how is everyone else’s writing going? Are you stuck in a mire, writing well like Joe, or somewhere in between? Have a great week, and I will see you around!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Awkwardness

Occasionally I run into other Mormons while I am working. This fact is very, very awkward.

There are a few reasons for that. First off, I work in an emergency room. The typical, happy-to-meet-another-Mormon mood isn’t exactly what people are expecting. They are there because their leg hurts, they are about to throw up, that kind of thing. It’s not very likely that they are going to want to chat about what ward they are in and where they are from.

Second off, in all likelihood after I realize they are Mormon, I’m going to have to ask them for money. That part of the job is awkward enough, thanks to my bumbling social skills and the constrictions placed on us in the emergency room. It only gets worse if I try to make friends with them or get to know them first. What am I going to say? ‘Hi, I’m LDS too, from such and such ward, which one are you from? Hey that’s cool, small world right? Now about that copay…’ See, just awkward.

Still, it’s pretty much ingrained in Mormons to greet each other this way, especially when we’re outside of Utah, and Mormons aren’t the most common people we meet. So every time I ask the question about their religious preference for our registration process (meant to help the hospital contact clergy members of appropriate faiths when the situation warrants it) and hear ‘Mormon’ I experience this aborted, knee-jerk reaction that I don’t know what to do with.

Oh well. I guess I should just put it down to my own peculiar awkwardness and bear with it. One among many, believe me. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Floods and Freezes

So yesterday and today, the Houston area has been hit by a few storms. There was a hurricane that passed very close by us on its way to Mexico, and the result has been waves of heavy rain that leave chaos in its wake. Highway overpasses have been flooding, and some of the low lying areas of the city have had some water related troubles as well.

What has surprised me is how calmly everyone here seems to handle things. Most of the mass transit like the light rail and the bus routes are running fairly normally, and the only precaution the hospital I work at had to take was to close down the basement levels. I guess lots of rain is common enough here that people just take it in stride. Not that we didn’t have the occasional rumors that the hospital was going to keep us overnight, or that the trains had been shut down, but even those were fairly short lived.

This reaction, of course, is the exact opposite of the hysteria we saw in the winter, when it dipped below freezing for a couple of days. By ‘dipped’ I mean around thirty degrees Farenheit. You would have thought a second Ice Age had come to the South. I heard everything from the threat of frozen water pipes to frozen car engines. We had a ‘snowfall’ that pretty much melted on contact, and everything from schools to hospitals closed down. The whole time I was remembering being snowed in my house in Connecticut, and laughing.

It’s just funny the different ways people can react to weather so differently, I guess. For anyone reading who was worried, we’re fine though, and I don’t think our area is at any risk. I hope all is going well for you guys, and I’ll see you around.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Self-Control

So, recent changes in the structure of my life made my previous system of goal setting totally unworkable. The whole deadline thing was nice when I didn’t have a job taking up a good part of my life, but once it combined with the stress from work all it did was shut me down completely by putting too much pressure on me at once. Each time a deadline would fall through I would feel awful about it, and it kept happening all the time. Finally the deadlines stopped having any meaning because so many of them were just impossible to meet as my work schedule grew more demanding. I needed a new system that still rewarded me for doing thing I should be doing, while not pushing me to the breaking point quite as frequently as before.

Of course, the solution I cooked up was quite possibly the nerdiest system ever. I decided that I would break up the tasks that I had each week into two categories, one labeled priorities and the other labeled as extra credit. For each extra credit task I accomplished, I would give myself one point. For each priority task I did not accomplish by the end of the week, I would subtract twice the number of points. Priority tasks would be things like going to work, doing exercise, writing and the like, mainly just things I absolutely needed to get done. Extra credit would be things like cleaning the dishes, reaching a certain point in the story, and so on. Church tasks I made three times the normal amount of points, while writing and work related tasks were only worth two times the points.

As the points added up, I could use them to buy certain things. For example, ten points gets me a book, while five gets me a new iTunes song. My new laptop actually cost one hundred points. I’m going to make it so that once I play video games again, each time I play will cost me points as well. That way, I have encouragement to keep gaining points, since they get traded for something of value, even to my lazy side.

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered an unintended side effect. I’m a video game nerd, the kind who loves RPGs because you can gain points in them which can then be used to advance. Sound familiar? Points are like crack to me. I’ve started point hoarding already. One day I’m sure that I will curl up in some corner clutching a tally of my earned points and muttering ‘my precious’ to myself. It’s not a good situation.

Then again, if it helps me stay motivated and on track, I guess it couldn’t hurt. Right? Sigh. The things we do for productivity…

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Wildlife Control

So apparently Texas is being invaded by boars. I was not aware of this situation when we moved here, but the things have been breeding and overrunning the state for years. There were an estimated 1.5 million of the things here, and their estimated habitat pretty much covers all of the Lone Star State.

These aren’t the tiny little piglets that usually get shown on television, either. We’re talking the 100 to 400 lb suckers with tusks and a nasty temper. They are omnivorous, which means they eat anything they can catch or scrape out of the ground, and are responsible for about 800 million dollars of property damage each year. They’ve been known to eat sheep, goats and other small livestock, and while they don’t usually eat humans, an encounter with one could result in ‘blood loss, broken bones or dismemberment.’ According to one source I found, the recommended weapon for dealing with one is an AK-47.

They are an introduced species, and so, like cheatgrass and a certain ivy species I’ve heard about, they are quickly growing out of control, especially due to their large litters. Every season is hog hunting season here, and there was even an attempt to offer a bounty for the feral boars in order to stop the problem. People managed to down around 2,000 of them before they canceled the bounty due to lack of funds. The boars continued to root and eat, unfazed. From what I’ve heard, the problem has only gotten worse since then. Nobody seems to know what to do about it.

Of course, the only real solution is for people to start eating boar meat. That’s when the situation will really get under control. Can anyone say boar chops? :) Not that I have any ideas about that or anything…

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Futility

Nuts. I was going to try and figure out a way to embed a document on the Game into today's post, but I wasn't able to figure it out in time. Let me know if you have any suggestions along those lines.

On another, definitely unrelated note, my new laptop rocks. :) Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll see you later!

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Critical Decisions

I think my new laptop may be coming in the next couple of days, which means my computing power is going to expand by about an order of magnitude. This fact, of course, means I have to turn my thoughts to critical decisions I’ve been putting off for a long time.

Namely, what video games to buy for it.

The new version of Dwarf Fortress will be a no brainer. It’s a simulation of a settlement of dwarves that you have to build up and maintain in the face of goblin raids, elven assaults and ancient arcane horrors. And cats (don’t ask). Though it is horribly complicated and the graphics are awful, the complexity and challenge of the game is incredibly addicting. The fact that it is basically free is a huge draw as well, and now that I will have a laptop that won’t overheat just running the program, I will be much, much happier playing it. That, and half the newest additions to the game sound wonderfully interesting.

Battlefield Middle Earth is another game I have my eye on. It basically plops you down in the middle of Tolkien’s books and lets you control the various factions as they fight it out. Then again, it is kind of an older game, and I am not sure it will maintain its appeal in the face of some other, newer options.

Another option is a game that is a lot older, but still managed to catch my eye. Medieval 2 Total War is more or less a mix between Civilization and a tactical army simulator. You basically take charge of a royal family and their nation during the dark ages and try to bring that faction to power over the course of the age. The sheer possibilities in the game, as well as the depth of the details available, make this game worth it.

I’m sure there must be other games out there, but these are the main ones that I’ve fixed my envious eye on for a while. If you know of any other ones that seem good let me know. Or don’t, if you don’t want to aid my self-corruption. :) In any case, I hope all of you are having a good week, and I will see you around!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back in the Mission Field

I’m no longer in Utah.

I guess I had been somewhat isolated from that fact since I was unemployed for a lot of the preceding year. Unemployment has the effect of isolating you from people, and from the community at large around you. Well, that isolation has come to an end, and I am rediscovering the joys of being a Mormon outside the Beehive State.

Having grown up in Connecticut and other spots besides Utah, I had more or less grown used to being the token Mormon that everybody knows. It’s something you just get used to, and you try to do your best to represent the church well so that the next time your friends meet a Mormon, they don’t bring up all sorts of stories and such that don’t exactly paint the religion in the best of lights. In fact, I think the sudden lack of that responsibility to be an example is why a lot of Mormons from outside Utah act so disoriented and hostile when they suddenly end up inside the state, like at BYU. It’s weird to go from unique and strange to one of many.

In any case, if I had grown used to being in Utah, I am now finding some extra interesting twists on the typical theme. I brought up the fact that I had gone on a mission at one point, and was actually a little taken aback at how surprised my coworkers were when I told them the details of it. I guess I had been isolated from that since most of my post-mission life had been spent at the Y. The concept of not only being the only Mormon, but also the only married Mormon they know is different as well. I get questions about marriage and relationships that I never did before, so I guess I will have to get used to fielding that type of thing too.

It only goes to show you that life will never let you get used to the challenges you face. The moment that you grow accustomed to one thing, life will toss something new in your path. Oh well.

On a side note, my apologies if people have been checking and finding no updates for a bit. I’ve been slacking somewhat, so I will try and update once a day for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so that I can still get in three posts this week. Hope all of you are doing well, and I will see you later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The New Realm

So my most recent writing project is kind of a mix of things that I don’t think that I’ve tried before. It is kind of milieu story, which means that an awful lot of it is focused on the setting rather than the plot or character elements. The focus seems to be more on exploring the environment and the background than it is on anything else. Since I am more used to focusing on plot elements for the structure of my story, it has been a bit disconcerting to try and work with it.

Fortunately, the generation of the setting has been more than enough fun to keep me interested. It all started with Zelda. One of my first video games, the Zelda series has always been entertaining and interesting to me, especially the Ocarina of Time game that came out while I was in high school. In fact, I actually started up a small fan fiction once upon a time, and even dinked around with a few ideas along those lines in the MTC with a few other elders in my district.

In any case, my nerdity aside, at some point I came up with the idea that a Zelda game would be that much more interesting if the bosses at the ends of the dungeons could get out rather than sitting and waiting for you to come to them. I started building a world around that idea, tinkering with it and seeing if it would develop into something interesting. Eventually the world of the New Realm came into being.

Basically, it is a realm of magic that was abandoned a long time ago. The reason it was abandoned was due to an ancient war where a flood of demons tried to exterminate the inhabitants led by a great demon named Gogam. A group of warriors opposed Gogam, managing to lock away some of the demons before the final battle in the last remaining city drove the human inhabitants across the ocean. In that final battle, both demon and warriors vanished, while the refugees flooded into the shelter of more mundane kingdoms.

In the setting of the story, the people have started to come back to the Realm, colonizing it anew. The story follows some of the new immigrants and cataloguing the experiences and challenges they have in part of the New Realm as they struggle in a land of new opportunities and pitfalls. Without looking for it, they quickly stumble onto something deeper and darker than they had anticipated, and the story follows them as they try to protect their new home from the forces that would destroy it.

So what do you guys think? Interesting, or just another fantasy novel? As a coherent story, the book still needs a lot of work. Just looking at it as I finish the first draft, it’ll need at least two rewrites, and probably a lot more refining touches before it is anywhere near ready. Still, I think it has the potential to be fun, as long as I’m willing to struggle with it. Let me know what you guys think, and I’ll see you around.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to An End

So as of today, my laptop is on its last legs. Due to various circumstances, it has started to forget that it has a bootable hard drive when it starts up. Though I’m not a big computer guy, I can sort of tell that this is a bad sign for its future health. It may be time to replace it before I lose everything.

In other news, which I’m sure you’ll all enjoy, I’ve decided to figure out a way to post the Game stuff on the blog, but not in the body of the post. That way you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, and I can start trying to put together a guide book of sorts.

Also, my body is very upset with me right now. I spent a lot of yesterday afternoon moving two families into our ward, and my scrawny, cross-country runner frame did not appreciate it. Grumble, grumble, grumble…

So, yeah, that’s how life is going. More of an update tomorrow I think. See ya round!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Game--Physical Skills, Part two

So I made some changes to the Physical Skills system that will hopefully help me resolve all of the problems I mentioned last time.

The first step is to allow for the system to be applied to more than just warrior. Instead of limiting things that way, I’ll widen the skill set to any particular craft that uses mostly physical skills, such as blacksmithing, trapping, etc. It will help my players branch out a little more, and allow for some interesting skills to be learned.

The next change is to modify the way levels are gained. Instead of instantly learning a new level each time someone teaches you, I’ll make it so that it takes a certain amount of in-game time to learn at a school. I’ll make it possible to learn from books as well, though the amount of time and practice will be doubled. I also want it to be possible to learn through ‘on the job’ type training, so that people who go into battle often tend to grow more skilled with their abilities than those who just practice in safety all the time. I would probably figure out a simple system where so many hours gives you so much of a percentage of the next level, while so much time in combat gives you a comparatively larger amount.

I’m also going to make it so that each level comes with a particular skill attached. Rather than just having the warrior skill apply to all weapons, for example, I’ll have it specifically applied to swords. I’ll make it so that players can use the skill they get from each level to develop personalized techniques as well, if that is what they prefer. For example, say your player has a particular move they prefer to use in battle. They can specialize in one technique per level gained.

The last big change I’ll make is allowing the players to develop a style after a certain number of consistent levels. Say a player specializes in offensive techniques and weaponry, they can develop an offensive style to go along with it and boost their offense. Alternatively, a person who works at making a particular craft with certain tools will develop a style along those lines for noncombat stuff. I’m also going to allow the players to retrain their skills and styles if they start to shift their preferences.

So those are the changes I’d planned up to this point. I’m not sure it’s very clear, but I’ll keep tinkering with it as time goes on. Hope all of you are doing well, and I’ll see you later.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rating Books

So my wife showed me a comment on a blog post the other day that talked about how crappy books have gotten in terms of moral decay. I guess up to that point I would have to agree. I mean, half the books that are published today have some kind of graphic violence or smutty sex scene in them, and it doesn’t seem like that trend is going to turn away from that kind of stuff any time soon.

The part where the comment turned interesting, however, was when the poster started talking about creating a ratings system for books. She talked about how readers have a right to know what is in each book without having to read it, and that parents need some kind of easy way to tell what is in the books their kids read. She felt the publishers were not helping to clarify what was in their books through their summaries, and that it was frustrating to have to spend money on a product that would have these surprise nasty stuff in them.

While I sympathized with her on how bad books have gotten, I disagree with her on the ratings system. I feel, first off, there is no right to know what is in a book without reading it. We have no inborn right to have someone screen what we read, and we certainly don’t have some kind of God given right to a ratings system. Saying that we do only feeds into a trend where we dress up what we want as an inborn right, and thus dilute the power of the actual rights that we do have. The thing that we want may be a good thing, but that doesn’t make it a ‘right’ like say, the right to free speech, or the right to bear arms. I hate it when people do that. Any day now I expect someone to say they have a ‘right’ to eat Twinkies.

Moving on to the actual ratings system, I don’t think there is any way that it would ever be effective or useful. Only two real results come from ratings systems; either they form a huge, faceless bureaucracy that overshadows and leeches off the industry while accomplishing nothing useful, or they are totally ineffective and roundly ignored by everyone involved.

The best example I have of the former would be the movie ratings system. Everything I’ve heard about it points to the group as some bunch of meddlers that make random demands and then slap a pointless label on films. Meeting those demands does not necessarily make a movie any more moral, and probably wastes quite a bit of money on the part of the producers, something the publishing industry cannot really afford. The worst part is how useless it all has become. Think of how many PG13 movies, especially comedies or romantic flicks, that you would actually want to see, let alone send teenagers to watch. The list isn’t long.

The best example of the latter form of ratings would be the food labels that the poster actually mentioned. She said that the FDA requires that a list of what goes into food be put on the side of everything, so why not a book? The answer is, nobody cares what is on the food labels anymore. The system of describing what is and isn’t in the product has gotten so incomprehensibly complex and obtuse that most people barely bother to scan what chemicals or other stuff is in whatever they picked up at the store. I can’t imagine books being any less complex to quantify and label, and I don’t doubt that the labels would quickly be ignored by most.

The best way to avoid bad books is to flip through one before you buy it. Anyone with any experience in books is going to figure out how bad one will be with just a short glance through. If you’re really nervous, check with a few book reviewers first; it’s not like the world is short on book bloggers who are willing to talk about what they’ve read. Establish a relationship with book authors and reviewers, and start figuring out who writes the crappy stuff so you can avoid them. If you need to screen what your kids read, just read through some of their favorite books. The same process applies to TV shows. If you want to know what your kids watch, go sit through a show with them. You don’t have to preview everything, just take a random sample and see how it goes.

Yes, every once in a while you’ll have to take a risk on a new book or series. There will be the occasional book that turns bad partway through, or the crappy novel by a formerly trustworthy author. That’s life. There’s no way to avoid stuff like that completely, and you just have to deal with it and move on. By deal with it, I mean toss the book and share the fact that it bites with everyone else you know, so that at least they don’t get tricked the same way.

So that’s my rant on the subject. What do you guys think? I hope life is going well for you, and I’ll see you later!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Game--Physical Skills, Part one

I’ll continue in my quest for eternal nerdity today, so those who are bored by these posts, please forgive my little indulgences.

The way physical skills were once handled in the original Game was fairly straightforward. You gained a ‘level’ of weapons training and such simply by learning it from someone new. You could only learn one level from one person, which encouraged players to travel or meet new people in order to learn more levels. Each level granted another bit of speed, skill and strength to the player in combat. Once enough levels had been gained, the player could start to specialize in various skills or techniques. There were no limits on how fast or how strong a player could get. As long as they dedicated themselves to learning the steps, they would continue to increase until the day they died.

In actual fighting, a player would merely describe the technique they were going to use, and I would match it up to what their opponent was going to use. If a player came up with a way to outmatch their opponent, they would win. If their opponent tricked them, they didn’t.

Unfortunately, while it was a good system to start out with, the physical skills system has so many holes in it that it needs a pretty hefty refit. First off, the players quickly figured out that if they could learn a level of warrior from anyone, they could just wander around learning weapons techniques all day long until they had about a hundred levels. I had to keep bringing up reasons out of nowhere to prevent them from taking that route. Also, long range skills such as marksmanship always seemed fairly awkward by comparison.

Another large problem is that it depended heavily on my imagination to direct how a hand to hand fight I imagine that most GMs are not interested in choreographing every fight on the fly, and that they would like a little more structure to combat. Further problems were found in the fact that everything was very generalized. Other than chosing a particular weapon, there was little specialization or customization involved in the process. It got very boring, until there was little difference in the skills of any particular physical fighter. Uninterested players who started off focused on physical skills soon moved to other techniques like Enchanter or Psychic once they were bored with getting level after level of bland warrior.

However, the physical skills also embodied a very important part of the Game, a part I don’t want to lose while I am remaking it: the cinematic feel of the combat. Many of my players enjoyed feeling like they were in an actual fight with an actual opponent, rather than continuing to roll dice to determine the outcome. They seemed to enjoy having to come up with their own moves and skills as well, rather than relying on a predetermined set of feats or techniques, especially since they could come up with a spur of the moment move to bring their enemy down. I have to come up with a balance that serves all these needs, so I will get to that in the next part.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June Update

Alright, so we are back from the wedding. There was much fun had, and much sleep lost. Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to catch back up on that, but my current work schedule makes that a doubtful proposition at best. In any case, I guess it is time for an update on my situation, in case anyone is curious as to what else I’ve been up to besides work, nerdy gaming posts, and family weddings.

First up, med school applications. I currently have four schools who could still potentially accept me, the same four that I have been hoping for since the beginning of May. Two of them have officially wait-listed me, which means that the spots they want to offer me are technically filled, but if anyone who is currently enrolled drops out, they would give me the slot. The other two still have me in the gray area where they have not said yes, no, or even the tentative maybe of a wait listing.

We had been hoping to get a response back by the end of May, but I guess the competition for these spots is particularly fierce this year, so we are going to be patient a bit longer. That is fine with me, though. The very fact that they have not rejected me yet implies that I must be near the top of their lists, and I would be certainly happy and grateful for the chance to go to any one of these schools. The anticipation is always a killer, though.

As for writing, I have been inching my way through Realm. This story is much longer than my others, and will need quite a bit of work, so it will be quite a while before I think it is readable. The fact that my newfound job has forced me to slow down the writing pace significantly has not helped. I am considering finishing the first draft, then turning my attention to either the next rewrite of Brellan, or maybe putting a quick series of finishing touches on Wolfhound so that I can start sending it out to agents again. I’ll probably make a decision on which of those two courses to take once I get closer to the end, which I hope will come around the end of June.

During the wedding I also ran into a couple of former players from the older version of the Game. I asked them what they liked about it, and what they hated. They told me they liked the fighting, the satisfaction of beating personal adversaries, and the chance to build up awesome bases and such. The only thing they didn’t like was having to get me to let them play. Figures that I was the one problem with the system, huh?

Everything else is going alright for now. My wife’s job just came to a close, and that means we’ll be able to see a bit more of each other, which is nice for me and annoying for her, I’m sure. We haven’t heard of any hurricanes moving towards Houston, which is also nice. So yeah, we’re just still plugging along here. Hope all is well with you guys, and that your lives are enjoyable. I’ll probably post something nerdy on Wed, so until then, have a great week!

Friday, June 4, 2010


My brother is getting married on Saturday, so it kind of takes me back over the course of my own relationship with my wife. It has been an interesting road so far, and it was nice to relive the memories.

As a lot of you already know, I met my future wife my freshman year at Brigham Young University. I had been settling into my first semester there, still kind of weirded out by the feel and culture of being in Utah (more on that another day). I had joined the Quark forums on a whim, and wound up being contacted by the leader of the writing group out of the blue. She convinced me to attend a meeting, in spite of my anti-social tendencies, and I decided to try it out.

When I arrived, I think that there had been a side activity planned. In addition to the traditional ripping apart and rebuilding of stories, there was a game of four way chess. It was at that point that my wife to be caught my eye. You see, we were all talking of nerd stuff as we played, just laughing and joking around. I noticed that this one particular girl to my right kept muttering to herself as she planned out each move, and in my own annoying way, teased her about sounding like an evil genius. She laughed, and I discovered quite possibly the world’s most beautiful smile.

We quickly became good friends over the rest of the school year. To be honest, she was half the reason I attended half the Quark activities I went to, from film forums to writing meetings. The discovery that occasionally, when I was walking to the building where the group met, I would meet her on the way and get to walk with her and talk for a while was only another golden opportunity, as was the fact that we randomly ended up in the same Humanities class together.

It was blatantly obvious to pretty much everyone that we developed feelings for each other fairly early on. It soon became a joke to try and get us to go out, to the point where the characters we created for a group writing project somehow got shoehorned into a romance. Before I left on my mission, however, we were both still too uncertain, nerdy and awkward to do anything about it. So I left for two years, not really sure she would be there when I got back, but really hoping she would be.

My hopes were buoyed by the fact that she wrote me while I was tromping around Mexico, even sending me a package or two along the way. One of the best gifts was a mug that had a picture of the writing group on it, which I still have. I quickly grew to love getting letters from her, and some of the darkest times of my mission were when she stopped writing for a time. I think I still have them all tucked away somewhere.

When I got home, of course, my mom asked me who exactly all the letters were from. I got kind of evasive, since I hadn’t even seen her for years, which gave my mother a clue that this one was special. I came back to the Y, and she visited my apartment, and despite some awkward moments (looking at you Lambson) we started up our friendship again. Soon enough we started to visit each other (though she’ll tell you I took forever) and then started dating. We were exclusive about five days after she mentioned that she had gone on a date with someone else, and engaged a few months after that. The August after my sophomore year of college, we were married at the St George Temple.

Our relationship has been a wonderful blessing, and though we’ve already had our ups and downs, I have never doubted that she is the best thing in my life. I’m a lucky man to have her as a companion, and my fondest wish is to be by her side forever. So as my brother and his fiancĂ© take this new step in their own relationship, I just want to wish them all the best, and hope that they are able to deal with the struggles and challenges of marriage at least as well, if not better, than we have. Stick with her, bro, she’s worth it.

And to the rest of you having to deal with the sappy reminiscing, oh well. Deal with it. :) I’ll get back to blowing things up in my imagination on Monday. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you around.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Game--No Dice

Now that I’ve given off a burst of indignant rage for the week, it’s probably time to cool things off with a surge of pure boredom. Might as well talk about my plans for The Game, then. :)

One of the chief problems I have facing me as I try and hammer this system together is how I used to resolve combat and other such things. Rather than rolling dice, for the most part I just matched up what I thought the enemy was doing against what the player was planning on. While it worked well for me, I don’t think other people would enjoy a system like that since it requires a lot of planning and effort that a casual GM wouldn’t want to deal with.

At the same time, I don’t feel like putting things into a full on dice system. I don’t like the idea of having to use specialized dice or complex math systems just to figure out what happens next, especially when it comes to combat. The last thing I want is for the cinematic feel to be broken up by somebody having to roll like thirty dice.

What I’m thinking of doing is allowing the resolution of the various encounters play out a bit more with quick comparisons between skill levels. For example, if a player encounters someone who is far less skilled at hand to hand fighting, the enemy will telegraph the attacks and blocks they will make. The player can then figure out a way around them, say by feinting or dodging, or use more specialized techniques to counter them. If the levels are more equal, then the guesses are less sure, while if the player is at a disadvantage, there’s little chance that they will be able to figure it out. That way there is some math, but it won’t involve dice rolls to determine everything.

I think I will remain stubborn about not using hit points, though. That aspect of some games always seemed like it broke the realism too much to use. I’ll stick with a realistic damage system, where if you get stabbed in the arm, you can’t use the arm, etc. It tended to give players more pause about just throwing themselves into the enemy if they knew a chopped off arm wasn’t just going to come back with a little sleep. Besides, other games like Dwarf Fortress seem to use it effectively without too much loss.

So those are my thoughts on that. Feel free to contribute your suggestions if you want. I’ll just keep tinkering with this as I go in the meantime. See you round!

Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorials

So when I heard that there was going to be a mosque put up near Ground Zero, I was kind of upset. After all, 9-11 was not the happiest time for me, or for anyone living in or near New York, and the idea of mosque going up at such a…shall we say sensitive? bothered me. Of course, further checking into the situation told me that the mosque was pretty much just a previous mosque being rebuilt a few stories larger, so it wasn’t such a big deal to me anymore.

What is kind of a big deal is the fact that Ground Zero is still a big hole in the ground. Nothing’s really been done other than clearing up some of the debris. I think the mosque thing wouldn’t be such a big deal for anyone if we had put something up by now to commemorate those we lost that terrible day. I’ve heard that there are various plans and ideas, from a series of smaller towers to a park to a community center. Some have even said that the simple elegance of the hole left by the Towers’ destruction is memorial enough to the tragedy.

I disagree. While not a New Yorker myself, I’ve been able to get to know plenty of people from the city while I lived in Connecticut, and such simple memorials are in no way really representative of the character, courage and charisma of the Big Apple. It just doesn’t fit either the tragedy itself, nor the city that bore it to leave things as they are, and I’m kind of dissatisfied with the plans that I’ve heard to remedy it.

Then again, my own personal idea of what an appropriate memorial would be might be considered a bit extreme. I envision three new towers, two of which are more or less replicas of the old. They would be called the New World Trade Center, and they would be places of business, commerce and enterprise, just like the old ones. I want all three of them to be full of stores, offices and headquarters for police departments and fire stations. I want them built back just the way they were, with the extra tower standing to the west, just a little smaller to not overshadow the replicas of the originals. I want them back, with one real difference to make sure we never forget what happened. You could call it a personal touch.

I want the South Tower to have murals on the ground level showing the wars in Iraq, the beginning of the democratic process in that country, and the defeat and trials of Saddam Hussein. The North Tower would have a mural depicting the struggle in Afghanistan, the defeat of the Taliban, and the democracy that is starting to form there. On the bottom of the third tower, I want two murals. One to show the trials, imprisonment, and executions of every single person responsible for what happened that day with the centerpiece being whatever suitable fate we eventually give Osama. The other would show the heroes that stood up in spite of it, the firemen and police that went into the Towers before they fell, and then a depiction of the Towers being rebuilt, story by story, floor by floor.

The last touch that I would want would be an empty field to the east. There would be no fences, no benches, nothing but grass and a single stone plaque facing east. On it, with words engraved in both English and Arabic, would be a single message. “There’s room for a fourth, you bastards. Signed, New York City, United States of America.”

That’s the only memorial I could ever find appropriate for the World Trade Center. Give me that, and you can build whatever you want around it, I won’t care. Then again, I might be satisfied with something else, if the politicians ever stir themselves to do something. Cause the hole in the ground is something they made. It’s not a memorial. When a terrorist attack claims thousands of American lives, something needs to be said by us, the ones they left behind. And a park just doesn’t cut it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On Sleep

So the past couple of weeks I have been having issues in terms of sleep. My current work schedule has me staying up extremely late. While I wouldn’t normally be bothered by that, for the past six months or so I have been getting up in the wee hours of the morning to send my wife off to work. It also hasn’t helped that I don’t sleep very well when there is any kind of light outside.

The combination of the two has not gone too well. I’ve either been konking out for a couple of hours in the morning and waking up a little groggy for the rest of the day, or I just don’t sleep at all after my wife leaves, and end up going from early morning to late night with very little rest.

Fortunately, the early mornings will come to a stop soon, so I won’t have to worry about that for much longer. Now if I could just get used to not being up before the sun…

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Crappy Beginnings

I think that one of my weaknesses as a writer is the beginning of a story, especially when it is a new story and the first draft. I feel like no matter how hard I try, I never figure out how I want a story to be until I am like 60k words in. It’s like it takes me that long to figure out where I want the characters to go, what structure I want the plot to follow, and what major events I want to happen by the end. Even the setting feels like it takes a while to solidify, whether or not I am writing a setting heavy story.

I have no idea why I work like that. It isn’t like I don’t bother trying to outline a story before I start, and I usually have some idea of where I want to go an what I want to accomplish. Still, I always end up rewriting the first half to around two thirds of the first draft completely. It’s like I have to play around with the story a bit before it really makes sense to me.

The reason why I am reflecting on this problem of mine is the fact that I am at about this point in Realm, where I can tell that virtually all of the first two thirds of what I have are crap. It’s taking just about all of my will as a writer just to keep going and finish the story rather than turning back and rewriting all of the inconsistencies, crappy details and unnecessary bits out of the beginning. Come to think of it, I had to go through this with Wolfhound as well. Don’t even get me started on Brellan.

So does anybody else do this? Or are your rough drafts pretty much right on from the first? Just some random musings on the state of my writing before I head out. Have a great week, guys, and I’ll hopefully write something more in depth on Friday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Game--Battle Magic, Part Two

So, here is how I’m planning on fixing this system. You know, for all those people who are actually interested. :)

The first move would be to get away from the linear progression in terms of development. I want to give each magic type three different paths of progression, built around Attack, Defense and Special Effects. That way each magic type can be free to develop the types of spells that most interests them, whether that be primarily defensive techniques, offensive spells, castings based around more odd-ball effects, or a mix of all three. Now instead of just grinding through the spells you hate to get to the ones you actually want, a player can choose the path of their own progression. Hopefully that would lead to more interest and more connection to the techniques they get.

The second move is to change the energy base the magic is based off of. Rather than having each spell run out of juice individually, I’m going to have a central pool of Magic Points that each player uses up for all of their spells. That would force them to choose during battle between the spells they are going to use, maybe even hold back a bit so that they won’t find themselves out of juice during an important moment. A small fix, but an important one.

Finally, I’m going to take out the late spells that were basically stronger versions of earlier spells. I think players always grew a bit bored when things like that happened, and it made them less excited for a new technique. Rather than having that, I’m going to make it possible for the players to use the Tech points they gain from spell usage to enhance the spells they already have. That way if someone likes throwing a plain bolt of lightning, they can upgrade it. Someone who doesn’t can just save the Tech points and get a new spell. I’m also going to make it so that Tech points can be used to increase the pool of Magic points available to the user, or to increase the recharge rate of those points.

Along with some changes to spells and such, I also decided to work in some item creation. Another, unmentioned issue with Battle Magic is that you could never make anything with it. While other abilities gave you access to items and enhancements and such, Battle Magic was only about firing shots. To make it more interesting there, I’m going to make it so that Battle Magic users can create magical artifacts, materials and spell books. This way Magic users who reach the rank of Channeler can have a lot more in the way of crafting when they aren’t blowing things up.

One last random change is that I am going to include something new in the system. In each of the branches of this revamped version of the Game, there will be a point where you will be able to choose to advance on either the side of Good, or the side of Evil. In Battle Magic, that choice will come up fairly late in the progression, as the first two ranks (Caster and Channeler) are considered neutral. Once a Magic user has reached the third rank, they will be able to choose to become either a Mediator, who uses Peacecrafting spells to further the cause of good, or a Necromancer, who uses the chained spirits of slaves to access Death Spells for their own ends. The highest rank, that of Mage, will also be associated with either side, and will still be able to design and create their own spells.

So those are the new ideas that I’ve had concerning this part of the Game. Let me know if you guys have any way of making it better than it currently is. If there is anything interesting about it to you guys, just let me know as well. Thanks for your patience, and I’ll see you around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

On Balance

So, I’ve come to the end of my first week of full time employment, and I think I need to readjust my expectations. Perhaps writing 10k words while also working 40 hours in an emergency room is a bit much. (Yes, I really did try to do that. No it didn’t end well.)

As I make the goals for next week, I will have to be a bit more conservative in what I attempt to accomplish. I focused a bit too much on trying to keep up with all of the house chores that I had been doing during my lack of employment, with the result that I planned on cooking a meal nearly every single night along with cleaning nearly the entire apartment by myself. The only reason why I didn’t go nuts sooner, I suppose, is because my wonderful wife kind of sensed I was driving myself over the edge and helped out a little.

Still no word from med schools or the like, though we now are nearing the end of May. Grrr. Oh well, such is life. I suppose I should be happy that I have a wonderful opportunity to work, and that my main worries involve finding constructive ways to relax rather than where my next meal is coming from or how to make ends meet. Far too many people have those kinds of concerns these days, and I am fortunate indeed not to be among them.

So, yeah. Maybe if I feel extremely motivated, I might post up the second part of the Game stuff later on tomorrow. I just know all of you are looking forward for more of that. Hahaha. See you around, guys, and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Game--Battle Magic, Part One

Alright, so I thought I’d start this analysis off with Battle Magic. It was one of the more distinctive systems of the Game, so it’s a decent enough starting point.

Battle Magic was partially based on the magic system in a game called Chrono Trigger. It was a Super Nintendo RPG, and one of my favorites as a kid and even now. One of my first efforts at writing involved writing a corny fan fiction for a Chrono Trigger sequel. The game had four different magic types (Fire, Lightning, Water, and Shadow), and seven characters, some of whom had no magic and some of whom doubled up on one of the four. I didn’t think that was fair, so in my fan fic, I added three types, Sonic, Wind and Earth, to make up for the deficiency. When I started the Game up, I transported that concept over to make up the basis for Battle Magic.

Anyone who played was automatically assigned a magic type based on how I viewed their personality. Extremely independent types got Lightning, Shadow went to people who were focused on having really cool abilities, Water went to people comfortable with stable social situations while Fire was given to people who constantly tried to shake things up. Wind went to people who cared a lot about imagination and ideals, while practical people got Earth. Sonic, which was kind of a grab bag, went to people who wanted balance, or who were balanced themselves. It worked out alright, and gave me a pretty good mix of players and magic types.

I included a few other extra bits and pieces to it as well, though they didn’t all work out. I gave Battle Magic a weakness, so that if it was used at extremely close range it became as harmful to the user as it was to the enemy, and perhaps more so. I made it so magic could pass through friendly troops without harming them, and made it so that the players could learn new spells by using their old ones. There were a total of thirty one for each magic type, and each type had its own characteristic spell set. I made it so that you could run out of ‘shots’ of each spell, to encourage them to use them carefully. I even included combination techniques that two magic users could join forces to use, a kind of homage to similar techniques in Chrono Trigger.

Unfortunately, there were some problems with this system. First off, the players never used the combos, and they were soon dropped simply to avoid having to deal with them any more. A much more severe problem was the limit placed on the player’s progression. I’d set up the list of spells so that you had to progress in a linear fashion through them, which meant that it was more or less a grind for the players to earn each new spell. There was no real personalization of the techniques, and the players usually just wound up saying ‘I use my most powerful attack, then my next most powerful…’ and so on until they were out of spells. They didn’t really care about conserving their attacks or using them tactically, since spamming spells always rewarded them with advances towards the next level of spells, and most spells were just a standard blast attack. It just wasn’t as engaging a system as it could have been.

It didn’t help that between the seven types, I had more than two hundred spells to organize and remember. Keeping track of them all was difficult, and nearer the end even I lost interest in memorizing the exact effects of all but the highest level. What I needed was a more customizable system with interesting spells, one that allowed the player’s progress to be based on their own choices and encouraged them to be more selective in how they employed their powers.

Next time I’ll get into the details of how I am planning on fixing these flaws. I promise. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

On Employment

So as of today, I am once again among the employed. Huzzah!

Having a job is kind of different. It’s more a mindset thing than anything else. Writing is now no longer a priority so much as a hobby, and that is strange. I’ve grown so used to having to struggle so hard to focus on my stories that it is hard to break out of it. Fortunately, the pace of my job can be pretty intense, so that should help me to keep my eye on the ball rather than wandering in the corridors of my imagination.

Adjusting the expectations I have of myself is another issue I’m facing. I won’t be writing 20k words a week any more, and I probably won’t be able to divide my attention between various projects like I have been. At the same time, lowering my goals has left me feeling like I’m slacking off, which I’m not. I just have a different reality to get used to. Rather than having to fill up empty time with lots of work, I’m going to need to plan relaxation so I don’t wear myself out. That is new, but probably better for me mentally.

The job itself should be interesting and fun. I likely won’t discuss the specifics of it much, given how easily stuff can be taken out of context online, and I wouldn’t want to screw up my chances at such a beautiful opportunity to work just because I waxed whiney on my blog of all things. Suffice it to say that I was able to get a position where I was once volunteering, the people I am working with are fantastic and patient with me, and I feel like if I need to I could stay here for a while. That, and the emergency room is a pretty crazy place, but that’s kind of a given. :)

So yeah, no other news yet on my applications to med schools. I am thinking of beginning the application process to grad schools at this point, but an awful lot of my future career still depends on what answers I get back in the next few months. I’ll let everyone know when they finally come in, whatever they may be. See you around!