Science Made Fun by Mary Roach

Mary Roach

Mary Roach, sans plastic rectum and anus

One of the great things about living in Syracuse is the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series. A fundraiser for the Friends of the Central Library, the series brings in six authors a year, spaced throughout the fall and spring, to give lectures. I attended my first one last year, when Neil Gaiman came to town. Judging from the size of the crowd, I can safely guess that it was a sellout. This year’s lineup featured Erik Larson, Scott Simon, Mark Bittman, Daniel Handler, and Julia Alvarez. And science writer Mary Roach. Continue reading

Posted in Books | Tagged | Leave a comment

On Our Devotion To Sports Teams

The axe fell on my beloved Syracuse University Orange men’s basketball team last Friday. After an investigation that commenced when my oldest son was a high school senior (he is now a practicing attorney,) the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s committee on infractions handed down penalties that, by any standard, are quite severe. The Orange loses three scholarships in each of the next four seasons; coach Jim Boeheim, who is an icon in Central New York, is suspended for the first half of the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference schedule; a large number of wins (the exact number is in dispute) are stripped from the team’s record for the past 10 years; and the university must return revenues reported at more than $1 million. Continue reading

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Awards, and Why My Insecure Mind Wants Them







Chuck Wendig has a good take on the annual awards season in which we are now knee-deep:

Awards are not infallible.

The best book will not always win an award.

The best book sometimes won’t ever even be nominated.

Sometimes, it will be nominated, and it will win, and you’ll cheer — at the same time someone else boos that very same decision. The book you love isn’t a book everyone loves. And vice versa.

Awards are subjective, strange, and imperfect.

They’re not the whole elephant; they’re just a blood sample.

And at the same time: awards are awesome. The people who win them? Awesome for them. And deserved. Those who are nominated but lose? Awesome for them, too. And also deserved. Those who are never nominated? Hey, fuck it — awesome for you, because you’re out there writing books and reaching an audience and doing what you fucking love to do. You didn’t win an award? Most people didn’t. A hundred other amazing authors and books and pieces of art failed to win awards. Most failed to even score nominations. You’re in good company. Continue reading

Posted in General, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Kindness of Strangers

I think this is a wonderful story from The Moth. A celebrity reaches out to a stranger and does a very nice thing just when the stranger needs it most. This particular celebrity had a reputation for being a prickly personality. Just goes to show that we are all complex people with our bad sides and our good.

Posted in General | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Too Many Main Characters?

I have a problem with the novel I’m writing, and I think David Farland put his finger on it in his blog post yesterday:

The important thing here is to keep a limit on the number of viewpoint characters. Two or three main characters is plenty for an average novel of 80,000 to 90,000 words. If you try to handle six or seven, you’ll find that your novel expands to a couple hundred thousand words very quickly.

So keep the number of viewpoint characters down to a manageable level.

Continue reading

Posted in Books, Novels, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things I’ve Learned From My Latest D&D Campaign

Photo by Alan Alfaro. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 2.0 license.

My game group has been involved in a pretty good campaign for several sessions now. My character is a third-level dwarf barbarian  glory-seeker. Given that my character hasn’t been killed yet (despite the best efforts of my dice), it’s time to reflect on some of the life lessons the little brute has taught me so far. Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments

I Can’t Complain, But Sometimes I Still Do (or, My Pet Peeves)

I realize the big holiday has come and gone for another year, but I say, “Let’s keep the spirit of Festivus alive all year long! Let the airing of grievances commence!” Herewith, some of my pet peeves: Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My 5 Favorite Uses For Evernote

Evernote logo
I suspect many of you are like me in that you’ve come to increasingly rely on Evernote. It’s rapidly become one of my favorite apps, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways to use it. Some of these may be old hat to a few of you, but I hope you pick up at least a couple of new ideas from my list.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, Evernote is an all-purpose note-writing, note collecting, information-archiving application that runs on multiple devices. I have the app running on my MacBook Air, my iPhone, my iPad, and I can access my account via the Web from my PC at the office. I can make a grocery shopping list in Evernote on my laptop, synchronize it over my home wifi network, and have that list available on my phone when I grab my cart at Wegmans. That is an extremely simple example of what this app can do, however. Here’s what I like to do: Continue reading

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the New Year


I’m sitting in the Starbucks in Liverpool with my son, who is filling out internship applications, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is playing. It’s one of my favorite pieces of music, and it’s good for a writing background. For whatever reason, it’s inspiring me to jot down my hopes for 2015, now approaching the end of its second day.

I’ve been on vacation for over a week, a much-needed mental health break from my day job. It’s given me time to think about what I want to accomplish this year – professionally, personally, for my writing work, for my health, for a whole lot of things.

In some ways, I feel like the last two years were a time of running in place for me. I would not call them wasted – I produced some work in my day job that I’m very proud of, including a couple of continuing education courses that I conceived, developed and taught on my own. I now have steady freelance writing work, something I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time. My work on the two library boards is important to me. I’ve assumed the title of president of one of the boards, the first time in my life I’ve held a top leadership position in any organization. I take satisfaction in having stepped up to that challenge.

However, the novel I’ve been picking away at since 2013 is nowhere near completion. I’ve written myself into a few corners from which I’m not sure how to escape. My self-promotion efforts have lagged. I weigh too much. I need to do my day job better, to learn more, to blog more (both at work and at home), to podcast more. I need to grow more as a person. Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Blogger’s Lament

No Ideas

It’s been too long since I have made an entry on this site
And of great creativity I will not deign to boast
For in those stolen moments when jot some thoughts I might,
I find myself without ideas for what I’d like to post.

Oh sure, I could regale you ’bout my trips both near and far
Or vent about public affairs, with all their saints and sinners
Or treat you to another sappy post about my car
Or share pics of the mac and cheese that tonight I had for dinner.
Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged | Leave a comment