A post about lack of… posts

If you’ve browsed through my post history or are subscribed to this blog (I know, I know, you’re probably not) you may have noticed a lack of posts. Or perhaps an increase in low effort posts. Well it does not mean I’ve lost interest in blogging so fear not! (Ok, ok, I’m sure no one is panicking or even noticing really) In truth, I’ve simply found myself with very little free time on my hands.

At work, things are picking up, new responsibilities are being thrown at me, new fires arise daily that require my attention, and my willingness to help my coworkers with their own conundrums are keeping me running around the office more than usual. Though I don’t mind it and it does seem to come with recognition and reward as well. Outside of work, summer has been in bloom for a couple of months now and I’ve been making a point of enjoying the sun. Biking, golfing, half marathon training (coming up in September!), BBQing, and taking my dog for more strolls around the neighborhood are keeping me away from my computer (but not enough to get a few hours of The Witcher in each week). Alongside those outdoor activities I’ve also began hitting the gym again which is something I’ve meant to do for a while now. All in all, time outside of work seems to be slim as well.

Though in the few weeks that have passed, I have used what little downtime I have had to chip away at my blog projects. However, many of these are long term ideas as opposed to a snappy Simpsons shitpost I can whip together in a couple of hours. I’ve got plenty on the go that will eventually make their way on here as anytime a stupid idea (or maybe a good one every six months) that pops in my head I do jot down and file it for later. This is a list that seems to be growing as opposed to shrinking though. Anyways that’s really all I wanted to say (also, I’ll consider using less parentheses).

My delightfully chubby husky

I’ve been lacking on posts as many of which I’m currently working on are time consuming and I’m making little progress. But I thought I’d share this picture of my dog, Lira, because I find it hilarious. While she is a couple of pounds heavy (vet assured us it’s nothing dangerous though) the way she’s sitting coupled with her thick winter coat makes her look extra tubby in this snap. Also the look she’s giving to something out of frame is the one she gives when something captures her interest. I absolutely love it.

RIP Pen

For the first time in my life, I’ve actually ran out of ink in a pen. Normally I’d lose it long before it’s even halfway done. In school, at work, at home, I’ve never ran out of ink before. I’ve had this bad boy for years now in the office I work in and the other day it finally kicked the bucket. I gave it a proper burial in the office garbage can.

Who is actually in the zoo exhibit here?

As I was sitting at my desk a something moving caught my peripheral vision. When I looked over I saw this guy just chilling and peaking into my office. With the little park beside the building, with the rocks and trees, and the blinds reminding me of bars it felt like I was observing him in his habitat exhibit at a zoo. Then it hit me that he was doing the same thing, observing a human in his office exhibit (where sometimes I feel like I live unfortunately). I’m not sure sure what I should’ve felt when this dawned on me, but it left me slightly perplexed.

Unexpected suggestion

Tilted my head and noticed this written on the roof of my golf cart. Nice try (apparently popular) vandalism guy, I was actually emptying the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of chips. Though I did take your suggestion and made a pit stop at the clubhouse and grabbed a drink as it was a hot day.

Notes on short story writing

 

One of the creative outlets I’d like to attempt and explore for this blog is short story writing. At the moment I have none on here, my progress has been extremely slow on them I must admit. But I’ll eventually get there, I hope. I’ve no formal education in creative writing so I’m not overly sure how to approach it, but I figure even if the end product is poor I will enjoy the process as I fumble my way through it. As I wanted to explore fiction with a horror/Sci-Fi theme, I decided to pick up a couple of Stephen King’s short story collections, specifically the first two from his earlier years called Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. I thoroughly enjoyed them and found that reading them I gained a few pointers I could apply to writing my own stories. Whether these are the messages he wanted to convey, or whether I put them together only in my mind, here are a couple of tips I’ve learned.

– You don’t have to explain it all. One thing that somewhat holds me back from completing a story is that I feel obligated to explain the antagonist or evil that exists. I’ve noticed that on multiple occasions, there is no origin or explanation given and the reader simply has to accept it. A clear example of this is Mr. King’s story “The Raft”. Nothing is mentioned regarding how this blob floating on water came to be, only what happens if you touch it or stare to long at it. Where it came from is anyone’s guess. I feel knowing this tidbit gives me more freedom to write creatively and not worry about explaining all the logic to the reader. After all, it is fiction.

– A little backstory on a character can help the reader connect to them. Certainly not all protagonists or antagonists require a comprehensive backstory, but adding a little background allows the reader to empathize with the characters. I’ve noticed this used repeatedly, and sometimes the background can connect to the main story or display a character’s motivations. But sometimes it’s just to give a little realism or flavor to the story without being utilized. While that may violate the Chekov’s gun principle, I still find it can be effective in getting the reader engaged when they’re more familiar with the characters.

– An idea, even if partially absurd or dull, can come from anywhere. Many of the short stories I’ve read from Mr. King can have very simple premises, and in Skeleton Crew he explains some of the inspirations for a few of his short fiction works. For instance the idea behind “The Mist” came to him standing in line at a grocery store with the thought of how could someone defend a place like this? But this is only a starting point. After the initial idea, expanding it is important and the writing, of course, can make even a mundane idea a gripping read. Take a simple idea or thought that pops in your head and follow a train of thought. It might go off on some wild tangent and you could have a great idea on your hands thereafter.

– Write. This isn’t necessarily a lesson I’ve learned from reading these collections, but rather a general guideline that Mr. King seems to live by. Besides his classic horror stories, he’s also know for the pace in which he completes them, even George R.R. Martin has praised Mr. King’s pace. The point is to keep doing it and make a habit of it, with this regular practice your work will only improve. Slightly related to this, is to keep writing even if you’re not happy with the progress, you can always go back and edit it later.

These are not the “be all or end all” tips for short story writing. But for me they offer a couple of options that can get me over my hurdles that prevent me from writing. Another pointer that sometimes kicks me back into the writing mood I received from a comic book writer at Fan Expo Toronto back in 2016. It goes along the lines of this: If you’re discouraged about your idea, walk into any book store and look around at how many books there are. Then remind yourself they can’t all be amazingly great and yours is probably comparable to many of them or could even be better. But the difference is the writer sat down and went through with writing the whole thing. That’s not a word for word quote and nor can I remember the writer’s name (I would gladly give him credit if I could), but it does sometimes reassure me to use an idea or finish a story whenever I feel the negative self-criticism creeping in telling me it’s trash. I hope that if you’re working on a story and are stuck or questioning it at times, that at least one of the points above can help motivate you to work on it.

Painting my Pokemon GO Plus

So a while back I wanted to paint my Pokemon Go Plus a darker colour. Maybe it’s because I just like darker colours, or maybe it’s because it’s less noticeable when I have it with me and it’s slightly embarrassing if I’m a man in my thirties. Either way, I decided to give it a simple black paint job with the bonus of hiding some scratches on the original red and white scheme.

I did have a smaller Phillips screwdriver that I had previously used on other electronics, but by replacing the battery previously, I noticed I would also require a .6mm Tri-Wing Y screwdriver to completely separate the front panel that I wanted to paint. I got this yellow one for fairly cheap off Amazon.

The first step is fairly simple, unscrew the Phillips screw on the back and pop out the battery. Here you can see the three Y screws located on the inside, one on the bottom of the panel and two were under the battery.

With those three taken out, I took out the electronic piece and everything else came out along with it. Here you can see all the parts completely separated. There’s the front and back panels, electronic component with vibration mechanism, the screws, a small square nut the Phillips screw sits in, a seal that goes around the edges, the button, and a button seal. There was also small grey rubber piece that simply sat near the bottom and holds the square nut in place. I actually expected a little less for removable parts, but still it’s not too many to lose track of.

I had some automotive grade black spray paint kicking around, so I decided to go with that and save a couple of dollars. I wasn’t expecting a perfect finish, though I did wipe down the front panel rather thoroughly before I applied it. Then I covered it with a small plastic container to let it dry overnight. The purpose of the container was that since I let this dry in my basement, I did not want any dust to fall on it while it was drying. To allow a little airflow in though, I did cut a hole on the side of the container. As you can see from the cardboard, the paint would bubble up if applied too think. So this took a little bit of trial and error to get a decent finish. I ended up using some fine sandpaper to smooth out the initial bubbles a couple of times. From there I started again but with only applying a thin coat and waiting for it to dry before adding another.

And here’s the final product once reassembled. I’ve seen some pretty nifty Pokemon GO Plus custom paint jobs, but I just wanted to go to a darker colour. It’s nothing fancy but I’m quite happy with it.