Saturday, July 30, 2016

Political Analysis

I found most of this through Slate but only got interested in writing about it when I found the Reuters/Real Clear Politics slide show that breaks down the results of their most recent survey of adult voters.  I found myself wondering how I'd answer some of these questions, and here we go.

It should be noted that a national-level poll like the one I linked above is essentially meaningless in the current political climate.  The election will be decided on a state-by-state basis in the Electoral College, winner-take-all per state.  This type of system typically favors Republicans--it was intentionally designed to give lesser populated "farm" states an out-sized voice in politics in order to prevent all power from devolving to a few highly populated urban areas--but the design is not working exactly like that in 2016.  New York and California lean heavily Democratic while Texas leans heavily Republican.  This leaves Florida and a few other, only comparatively large, states as the key "swing" states, and here we are.  Whoever wins Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is going to win overall.  This has nothing to do with farms and does not particularly favor the Republican Party in 2016.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Memoir Excerpt: Recruiting Visit

I've been writing a memoir about my family and my athletic career.  I'm not sure who's going to care about it, but this is a project that my wife and have been talking about for several years now.  Basically since my dad died.  In theory, we're going to sync our stories and talk about how we complete each other, how athletics and our marriage saved our lives.

Me and Sally in the Mess Hall during my 20th Reunion.
My half of this thing has grown to 55,000 words over about 150 pages.  This is the fifth book I've written, or the ninth if you count graphic novels, so at this point, I feel like I've got a system.  I started, as I normally do, by trying to tell a story to my kids.  Indeed, that may well be the future of this project; if it becomes little more than family lore, I'll be plenty satisfied.  I make it a goal to write for me, and if others have a use for my work, that's a bonus.  One way or another, writing is ultimately a lonely endeavor.

And yet, it helps to have a target audience.  Writing to someone, writing for specific effect, these things help frame the story.  It's easier to pick out what's important if you know who you're talking to and why.  Lately I've been writing to a hypothetical West Point candidate, a rising high school senior thinking about whether or not he or she wants to attend the U.S. Military Academy.  I don't know what such a person's life might hold, but I was them, I remember it well, and this is what happened to me.  Maybe that has some value.  I hope that it does.

West Point is a lifetime commitment.  Not because you'll necessarily serve in uniform for a lifetime--I certainly did not--but because your connection to The Long Gray Line is eternal.  I was on the phone with my old roommate just last night because he needed to talk, and that's what we do.  The guy has been there for me more times than I can count.  I love that son of a bitch.

That's life.  That's West Point.

I don't have a lot of family.  I have my wife and my classmates.  But you know what?  We're doing okay.

The excerpt below is the story of my recruiting trip.  To Harvard.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 20)

Our Story So Far:
Sneax and Elaina went to collect on a debt for Draks, but found more than they bargained for.  Luckily for them, they met Nathaniel, a half-fire elf mercenary, and his companion Maleeka, a giantess of unknown origin.  But it turns out that Nathaniel works for Draks as well, and that he's in Wanderhaven to take Sneax to Ellesburg, a tiny timber town lost in the hinterlands of the Kingdom's northern frontier.  Sneax soon finds herself on a ship with her new companions, her friend Elaina far behind.

But that's only the beginnings of Sneax's problems.  Soon she and Nathaniel realize that the so-called "deal" Draks worked out is really more of a rescue mission.  They and their companions soon find themselves heading north, into the trackless wilderness in search of the goblin bands who've been raiding the local logging settlements, cutting off the flow of valuable timber to the heart of the Kingdom far away.  


Sneax is nearly killed in her very first battles.  Her new friend Nathaniel revives her, but only by using his connection to the dark god Loki, Norglander god of lies and chaos...


Monday, July 25, 2016

Knights of Ren Concept Art


J.J. Abrams says that he'd like to see The Knights of Ren: A Star Wars Story.  Here's hoping, right?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Hangover and the Eagle

Yoga!
My least favorite aspect of aging by far is the way that my body now responds to hard workouts the day after.  I woke up this morning with blinding pain in my right eye, caused in an immediate sense by sinus pressure from the shit air-quality that we tend to get locally on peak electric load days as well as by a nasty knot in my neck.  It took me a minute to get myself going, and even after a couple of Advil, I still didn't start to feel better until Sally, my amazingly awesome wife, rubbed my neck to get that knot to calm down.  I then realized that the knot in my neck had been caused by another knot down in my upper back, which had pulled on the muscles in my neck overnight and triggered everything else.

How do you get a nasty knot in your upper back?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Tough News Cycle

Woke to some tough news this morning.  For a switch, it made me glad that my father is no longer alive.



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Writing Update: In Defense of Unrequited Love

I’m writing a memoir about my family and my swimming and triathlon careers.  It’s an open question who’s going to care about it, but some parts of it, at least, I think work pretty well.  I hope they do, anyway.  I am the worst judge ever of my own writing, but this particular project still feels like a worthwhile experience, even if I still wish like all Hell that I felt like I could trust my own judgment about it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Astro Gallery of Gems

The Astro Gallery of Gems is one of those places that could only exist on the island of Manhattan.  Located at 417 5th Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets, the gallery is a three-thousand square foot space dedicated to the sale of enormous crystalline geodes and other geological oddities the likes of which I’d only ever seen previously in museums.  Sally and I were on our way to meet some friends when we happened by it, and we stopped in because we were running early and the sheer sparkling colors and overall oddity of the place caught our eyes.
Located on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Mystic Aquarium

My wife Sally and my daughters Hannah and Emma visited the Mystic Aquarium a couple of weeks ago.  Hannah then filed this report for the "NYC & the Area" series.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 19)

Our Story So Far:
Sneax and Elaina went to collect on a debt for Draks, but found more than they bargained for.  Luckily for them, they met Nathaniel, a half-fire elf mercenary, and his companion Maleeka, a giantess of unknown origin.  But it turns out that Nathaniel works for Draks as well, and that he's in Wanderhaven to take Sneax to Ellesburg, a tiny timber town lost in the hinterlands of the Kingdom's northern frontier.  Sneax soon finds herself on a ship with her new companions, her friend Elaina far behind.

But that's only the beginnings of Sneax's problems.  Soon she and Nathaniel realize that the so-called "deal" Draks worked out is really more of a rescue mission.  They and their companions soon find themselves heading north, into the trackless wilderness in search of the goblin bands who've been raiding the local logging settlements, cutting off the flow of valuable timber to the heart of the Kingdom far away.  


Sneax is nearly killed in her very first battle, and that's only the beginning.  Trekking north, they find an abandoned logging camp and a pack of worgs stalking their trail...


If you're wondering, this chapter is my favorite part of this particular story.  All things considered, that almost certainly means that everyone one Earth who's not me will find it utterly indecipherable.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

I feel like I've been neglecting the blog a bit lately, and at least some of that is by design.  Sally and I started working on a joint memoir a few weeks ago, and it's taken up most of my concentration.  For better or worse, nothing derails writing projects like other writing projects.  So the blog's been on the back burner.  I am, however, sorry if you've missed me.

Not sorry I didn't have to do 5 Things on a Friday last week, though.  Yikes!  What a week.  We all need to learn to do a better job learning to live together.  It's a tough world out there, but if this nation can ever come together as a single community, we'll be more than a match for whatever they have to throw at us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2beans

My new favorite Manhattan coffee shop is 2beans, an upscale coffee and chocolate bar located at 100 Park Ave, about a block south of Grand Central Station.  Sally and I wandered in last week on our way to meet some friends at Reichenbach Hall and came away with much more than we bargained for.  
It was a memorable experience to say the least.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 18)

Our Story So Far:
Sneax and Elaina went to collect on a debt for Draks, but found more than they bargained for.  Luckily for them, they met Nathaniel, a half-fire elf mercenary, and his companion Maleeka, a giantess of unknown origin.  But it turns out that Nathaniel works for Draks as well, and that he's in Wanderhaven to take Sneax to Ellesburg, a tiny timber town lost in the hinterlands of the Kingdom's northern frontier.  Sneax soon finds herself on a ship with her new companions, her friend Elaina far behind.

But that's only the beginnings of Sneax's problems.  Soon she and Nathaniel realize that the so-called "deal" Draks worked out is really more of a rescue mission.  They and their companions soon find themselves heading north, into the trackless wilderness in search of the goblin bands who've been raiding the local logging settlements, cutting off the flow of valuable timber to the heart of the Kingdom far away.  


Sneax is nearly killed in her very first battle, and that's only the beginning.  Trekking north, they find an abandoned logging camp and a pack of worgs stalking their trail...

These next two chapters are my favorites, for whatever that's worth.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Stray Thoughts: R-Day 25 Years Later

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of Reception Day for the West Point Class of 1995.  25 years!  As I wrote on Monday, that day seems like a part of a different life.  The last day of one life and the first day of another.  I can't say that I have a lot of happy memories, per se, of Beast Barracks, but we got through it.  That's what counts.

This was taken during one of the Parents' Weekends way back in 1991.
I'm in the center.  I got down to 140 lbs that summer, more than 55 pounds lighter
than I am right now.
The Class of 2020 reported Monday this past week.  They're headed into an interesting world.  I wish them luck.