• My Life on the Road: Metrics and Mindfulness

    The campground we wintered at here on Vancouver Island was flat. You want that, when you're dealing with larger RVs and fifth wheel trailers. What might seem a gentle grade to someone in a car or a 20-foot long motor home can tear the front or ass end right out of a larger rig, like ours. It's very easy to bottom out. We've lost a tailpipe to it, once already. I'm not keen on losing another, anytime soon.

    However, flat sucks, at least for me, for exercising.

    In my misspent youth, I was dragged, by my ankle, for close to a city block. No, I am not going to tell you why—honestly, it's not a great story. What you need to know here is that the ligaments in my right foot are now largely composed of scar tissue. Running and jogging, are not in the cards. I can't wear shoes anymore. Meandering, for me, has been a boot-only affair, for years. It's not so bad. It gives me an excuse to invest in a sturdy pair of kicks like the Red Wing Iron Rangers I wear as my daily drivers.

    Anyway, flat is bad. One of the first things I was told after having a stent jammed into my heart in 2019 was that I need to exercise, daily. At the time, flat was fine. For the first few months that I was out of the hospital, it was all I could do to shuffle a few blocks before feeling the need to turn around. Much of this had to do with the fact that my brain is something of an asshole. Despite the fact that having an 80% blockage removed from my ticker had left me in better shape than I had been during my previous decade of self-destructive behavior, any exertion that left me winded or sweating and I'd spiral into a panic attack. My brain was insistent that I was dying; that my heart was giving out. I learned to live with this problem, in a couple of ways. With the help of my therapist, I trained myself to become more mindful of my body.

    "Jesus fuck, am I having a heart attack? No. Feel your body. You're safe. That pain is coming from a pinched nerve in your shoulder. It's radiating to your chest. Your body is safe. You are fine."

    On with the walk.

    The other part of how I talk myself down, is by paying attention to the heart rate tracking on my smart watch. As my body goes through imaginary death throes, I get all up in my mindfulness and, to reinforce what I'm explaining to myself, I check on the metrics the wee computer on my wrist spits out. If my heart rate gets too high, according to my watch. I stop and allow my ticker to slow before pushing my chubby ass forward again.

    Over time, I built up the mental and physical resilience to be able to walk for hours.

    On the flats of the RV park we stayed at this past winter and, while tromping through the wooded paths that surround it, I would walk for around two hours a day, as fast as I could, in an effort to increase my cardiovascular health. Some days I came home sweating with kilometers under my belt. On others my brain would throw frequent fits, insisting that the end was near. In such instances, I'd return home, pop a Lorazepam to get my body back in line and promise myself that I'd try again tomorrow.

    For two years, this pattern and these tools have shaped my physical well-being. Last week, I realized that the technology that has insinuated itself into every moment of my waking life was driving me insane. So, today, I thought I'd try a little experiment.

    The location where we're currently parked is half way up a cliff, overlooking the water on Vancouver Island. The road to get to our site? Not flat. Since we moved here at the start of April, I've walked the equivalent of 24 floors up and 24 floors down to the country lane at the bottom of the hill. After a winter of flat, it's been kicking the shit out of me. I love it. I do not, however, love how often walking the hill has my brain telling me that there's a grave for me and its time to fill it. At least once each ascent, I do the work to calm myself out of a potential panic attack. I talk myself down and reinforce it with metrics from my watch.

    On my first trip hoofing it up the hill, I used my tools and took the time to ensure that I was all right. I had to stop, twice. Each time, I gasped for air. on my second run up the hill, I turned my watch off. Instead of looking to it for reassurance, I gave all of my attention to my body, mindful of my physical pain and my breathing. I found that I could feel more and, more importantly, was better able to regulate myself in my uninterrupted mindfulness. Getting to the top of the hill, on my second go-around, I was less exhausted than I had been on my first ascent.

    While I'm wary of confirmation bias, I think I may be on to something. For close to two years, I've relied on my smart watch as a crutch, to such an extent that it has kept me hobbled. In turning it off, I was able to pay more heed to what my body had going on.

    Meeting a step count feels great. Being awarded a new badge for your fitness accomplishments? Great bit of dopamine, that. But neither match the wonder and frustration I felt today when I discovered that switching a supposedly helpful device off may well be healthier than leaving it on.

  • My Life on the Road: Losing it

    I've worked from where ever I've called home, for the past eleven years.

    In my old career, I worked in close contact with the public during Ontario's SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. Later that same decade, I was charged with creating a business continuity plan for a large private security company as the threat of Swine Flu loomed large. When I first read about the viral outbreak in China in late 2019, dancing with paranoia and anxiety as I do, I calmly headed to Home Depot in search of N95 masks and a number of pharmacies, to buy up the supplies I'd need to keep myself an my extended family well-stocked with homemade hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes, for months to come. On the way home I thought to myself that, without knowing it, I'd been preparing for a long time to deal what might be to come. My wife and I then fucked off to Africa on a working vacation, for a month. As we backpacked across Morocco, I kept up on the case count in Asia.

    We left Morocco a day before the kingdom closed its doors to air travel.

    We were only home for a few days when Calgary, where we staying with family at the time, was ordered into lock down. I made hand sanitizer and wipes. We'd just done a Costco run. We were worried, but calm.

    Most days, I spent time talking my sister-in-law down, after she watched our Prime Minister's daily COVID-19 briefing. I did my job. I prepared an isolation room for my wife when, while on her way home from a week's rotation at her job, she called to tell me that she had a number of symptoms that suggested that she might have contracted the virus. I brought food to her and monitored her condition over the next week. I prayed to Santa Muerte (we'll talk about that some other time) and brought my wife food and cold medication. She was tested. She was fine.

    We lasted until the fall in Alberta before making for Vancouver Island to winter in the RV.

    Setting up camp in relative isolation helped with the stress of living in a time of plague. We were fortunate enough to be surrounded by wooded walking trails. The ocean was a few minutes of driving away. We could do nothing, in so many beautiful places. We're still doing well, as the number of third-wave cases and an inept vaccine rollout fills hospitals and soon, morgues, across my county. We've laid in supplies again, hoping for the best, expecting the worse.

    At any time during any of this, I could have fallen into a deep depression. The isolation or the fear of simply breathing the air could have paralyzed me, despite the drugs I take daily to help me hold my shit together. It didn't happen.

    And then it did.

    Two weeks ago, all of the shit I had managed to hold on to, for over a year, got lost.

    I was surprised to find that it had nothing to do with sickness, worry over my family and few friends or how unbalanced I feel staying in the same places, for so long. I realized that I was fed the fuck up with technology. It's digging a hole and asking me to lay down and fill it.

    My days are spent in front of laptop, desktop and tablet displays. On the evenings that I write for this site, my screen time runs hours longer. I left Facebook and Instagram in a white hot rage. My interactions on Twitter with friends I have not seen for years feel hollow. Cruising CounterSocial for content reminds me of what Twitter used to be, but I'm not able to engage and know no one on the network. The news angers and numbs me, in turns. I have a smartwatch that tracks the meaningless moments of my life and a smartphone which, of late, only tells me things I do not want to know. It's all I can do to sit down and write. I started this post and deleted it five times, before surrendering. My first successful draft was crafted in longhand.

    I hope to find a way out of my digital despair. But, working in online service journalism for a living and currently having no other window on the world—due to the state of the world—I have no idea, yet, of what changes I can practically make.

    I'm looking at it as an experiment in mental health. I'll let you know how its going as things proceed.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of Jeff Myers

  • A toast to frozen margaritas: 50 years young

    My hands-down, favorite drink of all time is a zombie. Unfortunately, precious few bars that I've run across in my travels stock all of the hooch required to make one. Fewer still are the bartenders who can recall how to make one—it's an old alcoholic's drink from a bygone era that, given the amount of alcohol it takes to make one, is most likely better left in my past. I think about them, often. Sadly, that's usually as far as it goes. I was told, a couple of years back that, with the number of heart medications that I take daily, I shouldn't be drinking. Most of the time, I accept my fate. But, very occasionally, when the weather's fit to scorch a hole in ass of my pants while I sit and write, I cheat on my cardiologist's orders with a single frozen margarita. Today, I ran a damn fine account of the origins the beverage, written by Texas Monthly's Patrcia Sharpe.

    On May 7th, 2021, the Frozen Margarita will celebrate its 50th birthday, brought into the world by restaurateur and liquor savant, Mariano Martinez.

    From Texas Monthly:

    Martinez, now 76, takes up the story he has recounted with gusto for five decades. "I tossed and turned all that night," he says. "The next morning I went to 7-Eleven for coffee and a pack of gum." While there, he glanced at the store's Slurpee machine, and "it came to me in a flash, like a gift from God." If that thing could make a slushy soft drink, surely it could make a frozen margarita. When the Southland Corporation, the parent company of 7-Eleven at the time, declined to sell him one, he and a mechanically minded friend named Frank Adams bought a used SaniServ soft-serve ice cream machine and lugged it to the restaurant.

    "We tinkered around with it," he remembers; they installed a stronger motor and compressor to swirl and chill the ingredients, and then Martinez experimented with different amounts of tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. A few days later, on May 11, as they were setting the industrial-looking apparatus on the bar, he recalled a bit of advice from his friend Norman Brinker, the brains behind Chili's. The restaurant guru had cautioned that people wouldn't pay much for a drink made by a machine. He'd also warned him not to destroy the mood. So Martinez covered the shiny stainless-steel box with wood-grain contact paper. The icy green slush that would soon emerge from it was about to make cocktail history.

    If you have the time, kick back with a frosty glass, mind the brain freeze and read the rest of Sharpe's story. It's fabulous.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of Bex Walton

  • Innocence isn't affordable for many Mexican families

    In some areas of Mexico, drug violence is so intense and so frequent that small communities are forced to arm themselves lest they get caught up in a cartel's crossfire or directly targeted for getting in the way of business.

    I hate that folks just trying to live their damn lives are forced to protect what's dear to them, with force. I'm saddened that these same people feel the need to train their children, albeit with fake wooden firearms and sticks, to be a defensive force—ready to watch over their loved ones at the cost of their innocence.

    This is in Mexico. You'll find it in far too many other places, as well.

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back on Kickstarter

    I never got around to watching the latest iteration of MST3K on Netflix, but I have fond memories of the original, insanely low-budget series and subsequent film.

    In 2019, Netflix, as Netflix does to so many of the projects they air, kicked MST3k to the curb. Now, series creator Joel Hodgson is back with a new Kickstarter to kickstart another season of the cult classic.

    If you're interested in helping to make it happen, you can check out the project, here.

  • My Life on the Road: The Jinn

    This is the trailer for an upcoming horror movie called The Djinn.

    Watching it reminded me of a story.

    Just before COVID-19 really came into its own in the winter of 2020, I spent a month on a working vacation. It was the last bit of traveling my wife and I were able to manage before the lock downs began. We flew out of Merrakech Menara Airport, one day before flights in and out of the kingdom were suspended.

    As part of our time there, we spent a week and a half living inside of the walled section, Fez Medina. Also known as Fes el Bali (old Fez), it was built somewhere between 789 and 808 AD. It was lived in and served as a market place and a refuge in times of war. The winding cobble and dirt pathways of the Medina wrap around one another like a Gordian knot, leaving newcomers hopelessly loss without the aid of a guide. These paths narrow, in many places, to an extent that it is impossible to tell whether or not the sun has set or risen, other than by the sound of the calls to prayer. It smells of smoke, urine, exceptional street food and should you venture near the tanneries, pigeon shit.

    I adore it.

    It did not take long for the missus and I to find our bearings in the city, thanks mostly to our Riad caretaker's insistence on escorting us around for the first few days of our stay. People were friendly, even in the areas where tourists seldom care to tread. Only once, late at night, were we threatened. A group of young men had blocked our path home and demanded money. An intense conversation had us back in the Riad in time for for a spot of mint tea before our host turned in for the night.

    As we wandered the Medina and beyond, I noted that many of the manhole covers and other portals into Fez's underground had been weighted down by large rocks, bricks or other heavy materials. The first few times that I saw it, I assumed it was a measure to keep children from gaining access. As the number of blocked portals grew, I began to feel it might be for some other purpose. Returning to our Riad, shortly before the end of our time in the city, I asked our host why so many of the manhole covers and grates in the roads had been weighted down by rocks.

    "Some people," he explained, "they are superstitious." The Jinn, they live below ground. The weights keep them from coming to the surface."

    Feature Image via Wikipedia

  • Mark Zuckerberg loves him some Signal Messenger

    According to India Today, cyber security researcher Dave Walker managed to sort out that Mark Zuckerberg uses Signal—the encrypted messaging service you should likely be using, too—to yap online with whoever it is that uncanny valley-looking androids enjoy conversing with.

    From Dave Walker's Twitter Account:

    "In another turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg also respects his own privacy, by using a chat app that has end-to-end encryption and isn't owned by @facebook.

    Walker goes on to post the phone number (albeit partially blanked out) associated with the Facebook CEO's Signal account. So awkward.

    That the CEO of the largest social media platform in the world—a company that owns two supposedly secure private chat apps—turns to an encrypted messaging service created by developers from outside of his own company speaks volumes about whether or not any of us should trust Facebook with our private conversations.

    Original image via Flickr, courtesy of Anthony Quintano

  • Misogynists wrongly blame woman sailor for ship stuck in Suez Canal

    If you listen closely, you can hear the whine of a misogynist complaining about the imaginary incompetence of credibly competent women. It takes a spectacular stool sample of a chauvinist, however, to blame a woman for being the cause of a workplace incident that occurred while she far from the scene.

    According to Jalopnik, many such men have been doing just that. They've taken to social media to falsely accuse Egypt's first female ship captain for getting the cargo vessel Ever Given jammed up in the Suez Canal, late last month.

    From Jalopnik:

    Elselehdar, 29, is Egypt's first-ever female ship captain, and when the Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal, she realized that people were placing her at the center of the fiasco. People were using social media to share a doctored screenshot of an Arab Times headline that claimed she was at the helm of the ship at the time it was stuck. It appeared that the headline had been altered from a March 22 profile of Elselehdar praising her successes.

    There was just one problem with the He-Man Woman Haters Club's diabolical plan: at the time that the Ever Given was lodged in the canal, Elselehdar was employed as the First Mate on a different ship, hundreds of miles away.

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Say farewell to LG's occasionally wonderful smartphones

    I spent years toiling in the wordmines for a wide variety of tech publications before one decided that it would be a good idea to give me a salary and benefits. During my time as an independent contractor or as I fondly remember it, living on the cusp of poverty, I developed a lot of contacts across the tech industry. One of those contacts reached out to me today, with a whopper of a declaration:

    From LG Electronics Inc:

    …(LG) announced that it is closing its mobile business unit. The decision was approved by its board of directors earlier today.

    LG's strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.

    Current LG phone inventory will continue to be available for sale. LG will provide service support and software updates for customers of existing mobile products for a period of time which will vary by region. LG will work collaboratively with suppliers and business partners throughout the closure of the mobile phone business. Details related to employment will be determined at the local level.

    Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas. Core technologies developed during the two decades of LG's mobile business operations will also be retained and applied to existing and future products.

    The wind down of the mobile phone business is expected to be completed by July 31, although inventory of some existing models may still be available after that.

    I'm sorry to see that their sometimes weird and occasionally wonderful hardware won't be available anymore. LG brought a lot of innovation to the smartphone market. More often than not, the tech LG introduced was picked up by larger companies like Apple and Samsung to be used in more user-friendly ways. I'll miss the low that they showed to audio aficionados as well. No one did smartphone DACs as well as LG could. They made handsets that knew how to treat a pair of high-end headphones right.

    Most of all, I'm bummed that there will be one less brand for consumers to consider when the time comes for them to invest in a new handset.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of LG Electronics

  • Facebook leak exposes personal info on 533m users

    Security expert Alon Gal reports that the personal data of 533m Facebook users was dropped on the Internet. Some will loathe the fact that the phone numbers associated with their accounts were released for all to see, for the low, low price of free. Others, will likely be more irritated by the fact that they paid for access to the a lot of the same data, as reported by Motherboard, earlier this year.

    Facebook's take is that the data got leaked and anyone savvy enough to find it can now get their rat claws on it for free. But, it's cool as the leak actually occurred waaaaaay back in 2019 (remember holding hands? Standing next to someone in a public bathroom without having a panic attack?) So, you know… yeah.

    From The Verge:

    Troy Hunt, the creator of the Have I Been Pwned database, said on Saturday that "I haven't seen anything yet to suggest this breach isn't legit." In the data, he found only about 2.5 million unique email addresses (which is still a lot!), but apparently, "the greatest impact here is the phone numbers."

    Hunt, who does not want you to be pwned, has already loaded the snatched Facebook data into Have I Been Pwned. However, he's still weighing whether or not to make the phone numbers searchable, as a service to those who may have been caught up in the data breach. So, you may soon be able to see whether you've been pwned.

    Image via Thought Catalog

  • Upcycling gave me an iPhone case I absolutely love

    I've been using Moment's lens system since the company was a scrappy Kickstarter startup. For a fella keen on traveling with nothing more than the pack on his back, they were a great way to get shots out of my smartphone's camera (I first used them with an iPhone 5S) that sucked significantly less. I'm still using them, albeit under different circumstances.

    Most of the time I now roll with a Sony RX100 III. It's a great little point-and-shoot that's scored me some amazing photos. As such, I don't rely on my iPhone as my primary travel camera, any longer. I use it to store images from my Sony and, in some cases, edit and upload them for publication. On a very rare occasion (I took the photos for this post with the phone. Honestly, they're kind of shitty,) my smartphone gets used as a backup to the RX100. That's when the lenses come out.

    One day, I may buy a new smartphone that can replace my camera. Right now, I use an iPhone XR as my daily driver. It's good enough. It's also getting old, for a smartphone. I bought a case for it, with a Moment lens mount baked into it, several years ago. This month, after much abuse, the case finally became too beat up to trust my handset to it. I considered buying a new case that's compatible with my lenses. But spending a good chunk of cash on one, for an aging phone, didn't feel right. So, instead, I did what any aging fellow with a Dremel would do: I cannibalized my broke-ass case for parts and slapped said parts into a new, inexpensive replacement.

    The new case in question is an Otterbox Commuter. I found it locally for half of its online asking price. That it was green, is a win. My wife owns an iPhone XR as well and keep is in a black case. No one deserves to deal with that sort of confusing bullshit.

    After cutting the Moment lens mount out of the old case, I sanded down its rough edges. Good enough. Next, I turned my attention to the Otterbox. Its camera orifice was just a little too small to accommodate the lens mount. Again with the Dremel: I carefully removed a few millimeters of plastic from around the orifice—just enough to let me wedge the lens mount into it. Happily, I've been sober for close to two years. So, when the mount was set into place, it was perfectly aligned with where the iPhone's lens is. Never drink and Dremel.

    The whole process took me less than an hour and twenty bucks. It might not be pretty, but it works great.

  • I've been writing a book for 25 years

    I've been writing a book. For twenty-five years.

    1996
    I discovered the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Brendan Behan. I was in journalism school, at the time. I was dirt poor, with no financial assistance from my parents. I hobbling years of my future with student loans. The trauma of my childhood had come to define me, without my ever knowing that I had been traumatized. Everyone's afraid to swallow a pill when they're nine or ten. Everyone's father beat them to the ground yelling for them to swallow the fucking pill as they cried, afraid that swallowing without chewing would kill them and confused by the sudden flurry of strikes.

    I'm saying I had a lot of wrong going on.

    Red Harvest, Confessions of an Irish Rebel and Farewell, My Lovely calmed the anger and sadness that kept me from caring about my course of study. I didn't have money to party. But, I trade music for booze. So, I did, All nights but Sunday. I came to class smelling of the night before. You could still smoke in pubs then. My breath tasted of ashtray and Jameson.

    In the spaces between class, sleep and the bars, I started writing a novel, in longhand. I had no voice to speak of. I stole what I could from the writers I admired: authors who had written books at the start of the century I was at the asshole end of.

    It was garbage.

    2003
    You can wind up in a lot of the worst places during a six-year span. I hurt folks because I was hurting. I lost myself in alcohol. My father took his time dying. He'd driven my mother to madness. Smothering him with a pillow as he lay in bed would have been a kindness to the family.

    I somehow managed to make it through university, better equipped to make a living as a writer. Newspapers were dying. Online journalism had not yet found its way. I returned to my home town, finding work in law enforcement. I found it easy to be unkind. I did my job. I went home. I drank. The bars in town had no ear for my music. I tried to find a chunk of normal to cling to.

    Normal was four years my junior, from a good family that ate together as they laughed and talked of their days. Short into the relationship, her mother and I shared a quiet moment together. Her mother asked me why, if I had a gone to school for journalism, was I working at a mall. I could not tell her that what I had seen and been through had left me without a word to share. I found the nerve to tell her daughter, however. She listened to where I had been. She heard about the things I'd done.

    She left me over email, before it was cool.

    Afraid of the anger inside of me, I had a colleague admit me to the local sanitarium. He led me out of my home in handcuffs. I was so grateful.

    While in the puzzle factory, I was taught that better living was possible, through chemicals. The sense of loss and being lost remained. I returned to work. I requested midnights, and was granted them. Between calls and patrols, I pulled out the novel I'd started in university for the first time, in years. It was difficult to separate feeling like shit from understanding why what I had written was shit.
    I got there.

    I started reworking my pages as a way of distracting myself from the open sore of my days.

    A year later, I found that I could not stay in a city so full of ghost. I had saved my money. I would move to British Columbia. A co-worker who I had counted as a friend laughed at my plans, saying that the province chewed people up and spit them out. I would be back.

    He was wrong. The book travelled with me.

    2010
    I had been working in corporate security intelligence for a number of years. The Olympics were in town. I was a member of the Joint Intelligence Group. There were challenge coins to be had and daily briefings with pastries. I could not talk to my partner at the time about what I was privy to. I did not want to. Her addiction had foiled and fracture us. I spilled myself into my work. Somehow, I always found stress. I craved it and the pain it brought me.

    One day, I sat down to use the bathroom. When I stood up, the bowl was full of blood. I didn't know what to do. So, I went back to work. I had an inkling that perhaps I wanted to die. I hoped for illness. I was diagnosed with anal fissures. At the end of the Olympics, my employers, not entirely sure of what I was doing for them, decided that I needed a raise. During the meeting where it was offered, I blurted out that I had a book deal and was giving my two-week notice.

    I would love to say that it was my novel, but I'd be lying.

    I was offered $9,000 to write a book on how to use an open-source CMS. I had never used the CMS before. I faked it until I made it, desperate to be something other than what I had become. The publisher's editorial process was a clusterfuck. I went broke waiting for the money I was promised. A friend offered me my first gig in tech journalism, posting news stories for $15 a pop.

    As I slowly became a better writer and found more work. I pulled out my book, once again.

    I would finish writing it. I would be fine.

    2014
    I was ready to die. I've written about it here, before. I won't write about it again.

    I'm still here.

    I left the poisonous relationship I had been in. Somewhere, amongst the kilometres of travel and the few cardboard boxes that contained my life, I lost the book I was working on. It was almost a relief.

    But not quite.

    The plot, refined over decades, chewed at me. I was writing for everyone else, but myself. To do so is both a blessing and a curse. My reputation as a journalist was such that, even as a freelancer, I was able to make a comfortable living. But, shunning treatment for depression and, with so much work coming in, I had no energy left to start the book anew. I took plot notes. I threw out plot notes. I bought books of paper to write my draft in. They sat unused on a shelf in my office, mocking me.

    2021
    The world is a fucking mess. I'm still a fucking mess. But we're both getting better.

    My wife sees my mess and accepts it, content in knowing that I'm doing what I can to clean it up. I lose my shit at therapy. I cry, often. But I am no longer lost. My anxiety gave birth to heart problems in 2019. I take so many pills, daily. I found full-time employment as an editor, that same year. I am good at my job. I'm liked by my team. I feels uncomfortable, but not unwelcome. I started writing my book again, last summer.

    This time, it is my book. It does not belong to Behan, Hammett or Chandler. It is not a thing of desperation. It's a work of fiction. It is a work of the sum of my experience. It's a work that, despite writing, every day of the week, I still find the time and energy for. I write each chapter, in longhand. Once written, it goes to my computer. Once entered, I read it, once, and set it aside. When all of the chapters have found their way home, I'll read it again. A red pen will be involved. I'll find an editor. They will cut the fat, leaving the words that are left, close to the bone.

    Perhaps it will find a publisher. Perhaps you might even read it, one day. I'm not sure that either of these things matter.

    I've been trying to write a book, for twenty-five years. It is a thing of wonder that I may finally understand how.

    Image via PXhere

  • Ride a motorcycle? Love living? Get this

    The more protective equipment you wear while riding a motorcycle, the less of a chance there is that someone will use what's left of your helmet to scoop you into a body bag in the aftermath of an accident. Airbags for riders? I'm all for it.

    However, I'm all for bringing this technology to other pursuits, as well: as you try to slide to public transit wearing a pair of dress shoes, you lose your balance. Away you go, ass over tit. You could land on your back, bruised, concussed and bleeding. But not is the airbag you're wearing inflated during the second before you hit the ground.

    Am I the only one that wants one of these things paired with an accelerometer, and built into their winter coat?

  • Mac users: turn any webpage into an app with Fluid

    I've been using Instapaper for a long time. Typically, I read the stories I save to the service it one of my tablets. There's an app for that. There is, however, no dedicated Instapaper application (although the service can be accessed by a wide number of RSS readers) that allows me to get into my Instapaper account on my MacBook.

    "What's the matter, Bellamy? Firefox not good enough for you?"

    No, it is not: I receive notifications from a number of websites on a regular basis. When I'm reading, I don't want to deal with that shit.

    The best solution for getting around this, that I've found so far, is Fluid. It's a free app (although it has enough utility that you really should spring for the $5 unlocked version) that lets you transform any website into a standalone application.

    Getting your own, custom app sorted out, couldn't be easier: download the app, install it and let 'er rip. You'll be asked to enter the URL of the site you want to create an app for, its name and where you want to store it in your computer. Fluid will even grab the website's Favicon for you, so it looks snazzy in your Mac's dock.

    I have no idea of how secure any passwords or information plopped into a Fluid-made app might be. As such, I don't plan on creating a Protonmail app with it any time soon. But for a low-risk service like Instapaper or Google News, it's a pretty sweet deal.

  • This five-year diary is my new favorite thing

    As a fella that's been hit in the head, a lot, I tend to forget things, a lot.

    I've got the same stuff going as a lot of folks do: I frequently walk into a room and forget why in the hell I'm there. However, my forgetfulness typically goes a helluva lot deeper than that. My partner asks me to do something for her? It passes through my skull faster than shit through a goose. I wear a smartwatch to remind me when to take my meds and when to prepare for work meetings. There are sticky notes on our refrigerator that ask me 'Have you checked the fridge' for leftovers before I pull out anything from the freezer.

    While I'm a fucking savant at remembering terrible shit that went down two decades ago, I suck at retaining memories of wonderful experiences or what I've gone over with my therapist during a session. For years, I've relied on photographs and using an app called Day One to keep track of my life.

    My favorite feature of the app is that it tells me what events have occurred, in years previous, on the same day. So, while I'm writing about what happened on October 19th, I'll get a reminder that shit went down on October 19th two or three other times, over the years.

    My least favorite feature of the app is that it's, well, an app.

    As I spend up to ten hours each day sitting in front of a computer, the last thing I want as I wind down for the night is to find myself tapping out a journal entry on my laptop or phone. Sadly, an analog iteration of what DayOne offers me has eluded me… until last week.

    While cruising Wonder Pens, my favorite stationery supply site, I can across the 5 Years Journal from Midori. That it's made by the same company that produces my favorite notebooks got my attention—their paper does things to fountain pen ink that keep me coming back for more. What clinched the deal for me, however, is the way that the diary handles its entries. Each day of the year has its own page, which is subdivided into five sections. This year, I'll write in the section at the top of every page. During year two, the next section, and so on.

    Goodbye Day One.

    All I need now is a sticky note to remind me to write in the diary, every evening.