Thursday, March 25, 2021

Reverse Psychology on a Cat

If you've been reading this blog, you know my son has a cat named Lily (see here, here, and here).

Now I go to bed kind of early. But Lily stays up. She used to come up (my bedroom is on the top floor of the house) and scratch at my bedroom door. Which was annoying when I was trying to sleep. So we started bringing her into the bedroom before I went to sleep and she would lie on the duvet and I would scratch her neck and pet her for a few minutes. That stopped the scratching at the door. A win-win because I enjoyed those minutes with her. She would come up to my bedroom and wait for my wife to bring her in. As I went to bed I would tell her I was going upstairs to go to bed and she should come up.

Then one day recently, she'd stop coming upstairs. I don't know why. She's a cat. So, as a joke, I tried telling her not to come up. "What ever you do, Lily, don't come up." And she started coming up again. That actually worked for a couple of weeks. I was amazed. But now it's not working.

Now she's not coming up but occasionally she'll scratch on the door. Which is annoying. Whether she comes up or not just seems random.

I might have to start bribing her with treats to come up and get petted.

Do you have a cat? What quirks does it have. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 18, 2021


Maybe it's getting older, but I have weird sleep habits.

After I retired from the corporate world (where I had to get up at 7 am every weekday morning) I thought I could sleep in. But for years I would wake up at 5 am and not be able to go back to sleep. I would spend that time watching the MCU shows on Netflix (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Punisher, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) then wake up my wife at about six or seven. Then I would take a nap at about two in the afternoon for at least an hour.

Now I sleep as late as 9 am. I still go to bed at about 9 pm so I'm sleeping almost 12 hours! That cuts into your day. I almost always wake up in the night to go to the bathroom (I'm old) and sometimes I have trouble going back to sleep. But I usually go back to sleep eventually. Lately I've been taking melatonin to see if that'll help me sleep. But it just seems to make me sleep longer before I wake up to go to the bathroom.

I go to bed at 9 because if I don't, I fall asleep in the recliner. 

I wish I could go to bed at ten or eleven and wake up 8 hours later, not 11 or 12. But my body seems to want the sleep at least ten hours or more. I blame my bipolar drugs, to be honest.

How do you sleep? Can you sleep through the night. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Research... Again

Back in September of 2017, I wrote about doing research on novels. Well, I'm going to do it again.

When I was a kid, my mother and I were watching something on television. She caught a factual inaccuracy in the program. And she said, "I hate when writers don't do their research. It insults the intelligence of their audience." At the time, I don't think she knew I wanted to be a writer.

I've always remember that so I always say that unless you lived it, you can't do enough research. And even then you might have to do some. I could write a novel about being in the Army at Fort Ord, California in the late 1980s because I lived it. 

You can't do enough research. But what you can, and shouldn't do, is show off in your writing how much research you did. "I learned this neat little fact about Fort Ord, I'm going to put it in the story!" No! Unless it's germane to the narrative, don't do it.

Now, with the internet and Google et. al., it's very easy to do research. I remember going to the Seattle library to look at maps for a story I was writing. But with online sources,  you have to be careful. You might run into someone's biased views. Especially on Wikipedia.

In my novel, Agent of Artifice, my hero travels to Key West and the southern most point in the

Continental United States. And I wrote about the waves lapping at the sand. Because I was unable to find any information on what the shore was like, so I assumed a beach.

Then I took a business trip to Miami and decided to drive to Key West to see this for myself. I found out two things: 1) the "southernmost point" is only the southernmost that's accessible. There's a Navy base that has farther south points.  And 2) there's no sand. There's rocks. So I had to change that in the novel.

So do your research and do it well. Or some reader might catch you in an error. And you don't want that.

But... Don't do research and never do the writing. Because that's the point: to write.

How do you research your writing? Do you think it's important? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

No Progress

I've talked about the progress humans have made before, from the beginning and from the 1970s. But in some ways, we aren't making progress.

This thought isn't original to me. I read it somewhere. But the truth is, we don't move any faster than we did 60 years ago at the beginning of the jet age. Commercial aircraft fly about the same speed now that the Concorde has been grounded permanently. Trains are slower from what I can tell. And cars go about the same speeds. In fact, in some places due to idiotic speed limits, they are forced to go slower despite being safer by every measure.

My mother told me that traveling to Portland, OR in the early sixties, my father was going 80 mph on I-84. Now the maximum speed limit on that highway is 70 mph and is 65 between The Dalles and Portland. And up until 1995 when it was repealed, the national maximum speed limit was 65 mph, 55 in urban areas. And before 1986, it was 55 mph everywhere. And yes, now there are places were the speed limit is 75 or even 80 mph, but they are rare. And, again, that's how fast my parents were going in the early '60s.

I was driving on I-84 a few weeks ago and on some straightaways I could see for miles and couldn't see another car. I had the cruise control set at 75 mph but it felt as if 80 or even 85 would have been perfectly safe.

Why aren't we traveling faster? Why aren't we moving at supersonic speeds through the air? Why don't we have bullet trains like in Japan?

The Concorde consumed a lot more fuel than a regular jet. Which is why it cost so much to fly on it.

The US is too big geographically and population density too low to make bullet trains practical outside of the East Coast population centers and maybe parts of Southern California (San Diego to LA).

Some companies are working on a "hyperloop" that can travel at 700 mph which is faster than commercial airplanes. But like high-speed rail, it's expensive and probably not practical in the low-population density areas of the country.

I don't know what the answer is. We need a breakthrough in speed. I don't know where it's going to come from. Maybe autonomous cars will go 100 mph while we sit inside and look at our phones. I don't know. That sounds almost as bad as flying on an airplane.

Why do you think we're not going any faster than in 1960? What do you think might help that? Let me know in the comments below.