Snow Fort

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The real deal in winter is having a snow fort. Nothing better in the snowy white world than having a place to hide from your enemies. Of course it’s a great place to cache a stash of snowballs. In the right kind of snow fort though, you can have every normal house comfort: heat, food, television.

Yes, you read that right. I said television.

Walls of snow, so you can’t exactly have outlets…unless you get really creative. Some people bring in the gas-powered generator, or the exercise bike with the pedal-powered generator.

When I built my snow fort, I went nuclear. Just a small nuclear-powered generator about the size of your average refrigerator. Half a cup of uranium is the main ingredient. Then for safety, bury the generator in lots of snow. Boom! The perfect, powered snow fort.

I didn’t mean Boom! as in Chernobyl or 3 Mile Boom. I was thinking it’s really swell, nifty, neato stuff, you know? I meant Boom! like a snowball catapult. I meant Boom! like a snowman with arms and legs. I meant Boom! like the best aspect of everything you ever knew or ever will know in the snow. Hockey, anyone?

Did you know that snow melts in strata? That means it melts in layers. The layers melt, but then the layers refreeze on top of each other. The stratification of melted snow is one of the reasons you get that wonderful crunch sound when you walk on it. It’s also one of the reasons people learned to make igloos. By putting a fire inside the hollowed-out space inside the snow they warmed the inner walls enough to melt. The inner walls melted, the fire died, and the walls refroze. Such a strong and efficient house building technic, we should all learn how to build an igloo.

Essential items for a snow fort:

Slingshot (and a pile of small stones for ammo).

BB gun (and lots of BBs).

Comic books (or a television with some good animation like Ben Ten).

Six bags of beef jerky.

A hollowed out portion with a snow door to be used as a cooler. Store drinks and perishable food stuff in there.

Firewood.

Firestarter.

Binoculars.

Snowshoes.

Snowball stash.

Sleeping bag (unless you’re really dedicated to authenticity and want an animal skin to curl up in).

Media Engine

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What!? You don’t eat meat?

Wait, what!? You eat meat?

You don’t understand politics? You don’t care for the same sports team as me? You don’t even do sports at all? You don’t care for the religion of the moment?

The world is full of people with views that seem to want to make you hate yourself. Where do they get off telling you how to think, how to live, what to believe, who to vote for, and what to eat? Are you not able to decide for yourself? And if everyone is told by someone, is it just an infinite circle of people telling each other what’s right and what’s wrong? Does it have no end? And does no one in the circle question the reality of what they’re hearing?

You don’t want to be beautiful? You don’t want to be popular? What kind of freak are you?

What do you mean you want to give up the crown and move to Canada? What a weirdo!

You don’t want to bask in the spotlight? You don’t want to show yourself off? You don’t want to strip in front of the whole world and let them all lust after your every freckle?

The most valuable attitude in the world now: What are you telling me!? Shove off, thought-Nazi!

“What do you mean you don’t believe in climate change?!” (Where did that religion come from anyway?)

What do you mean you want to commit social suicide? Don’t you know, having a different perspective will get you ostracized from every group ever? You’ll be friendless. You’ll have zero followers. You’ll get zero likes.

“What do you mean you don’t want the good life?”

Is it pure insanity to want to find your own way, to listen to few, to follow even fewer? Is it crazy to analyze before you make a decision? Does anyone do that anymore?

How did anyone ever get along in life before they had the social media engine telling them what to do?

 

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“Hey! You can’t paint like that!”

How Others Write

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Here’s something about how OTHER people write: I don’t get it.

I’ve read stories by, and studied writing advice from, Mister Ray Bradbury. He’s a fascinating character himself if you ever want to study the life of a writer. Ray Bradbury said he would take a word—a single word—and make a story out of it. That technic might work for him, but I sure can’t do it. I gotta have at least a sentence. I can’t grow trees with only dirt. I need seeds and water too. You know what I mean? Trees are the story and Ray could make trees out of dirt alone. That’s an amazing talent. Then again….I’ve read the majority of his stories—short stories and novels—and they aren’t all quality. Some of Ray’s trees made from dirt alone, well, regretfully, the dirt is visible. Still, you have to admit he is prolific.

Recently I’ve heard more than one writer say, “I write YA.” It’s short for Young Adult. So it sounds like they’re saying they only write in that particular market. This is a weird, foreign concept to me. How do they filter their writing like that? If they came up with a story idea, but it played out in their head like a murder mystery, would they dismiss it immediately? What if they got an idea for an Early Reader book? Would they trash it? I couldn’t do that either. I would at least save the idea until I was done with whatever I was working on, or I would bully through it whether my “current style” or “current category” allowed it or not. And no way would I ever start with the market first. I don’t believe anyone can write well if they’re writing categorically for the sake of the category. If we went back to the tree metaphor from before, it would be like shoving a dried-up, old stick in the sand and saying, “See, I planted a tree.” Categorically accurate, but not quite realistic. And not at all entertaining. Watching that tree grow would be the most mindless pastime.

Then there are those whose art is so riddled with spelling, grammar, and typo errors it’s painful to read. My heart goes out to these folks. Sometimes when you’re reading this type of art, you really must look past the errors and give them the advice of hiring an editor. Often, when reading the stories from someone who struggles with the art of the printed word, I try to read quickly to get the main idea of the story, then re-read to see if the problem is only with the reader. Story ideas are no less entertaining and fascinating when they have lots of errors, they’re only more deeply hidden. A story may stumble along with an inadequate vocabulary. A story can even fall on its own face with terminally ill grammar. The obstacles to the reader may be invisible to the writer. Or the obstacles to the reader may be as painfully obvious to the writer (this is where compassion should enter). Regardless of the obstacles to the reader, or the writer, a writer with great ideas deserves to be heard. There isn’t a good market for bad art, so the need for editing is absolutely necessary. The only reason I don’t understand this type of writing is when they deny the need for an editor.

Most writers need one or more of the following: beta readers, proofreaders, editors, and critics…and at least one friend who reads your stuff and says, “Wow, that was really good,” and never reads anything from you again.

Quiet Hours

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What do you do in the quiet hours?

Do you have any pastimes that are quiet? Do you have any hobbies which require space, or distance from others? Do you have time to meditate?

Do you even have quiet time? Or is your life full of manic sights and sounds? Do you feel like you live in the circus or one of those old time cartoons where all the characters are always bashing each other with a hammer? Is there a video screen or a television or a stereo or a sound system always on around you? Do you work in a noisy environment? Are you used to it, or does it drive you crazy? How can you get away from it? Is it time to get away from it all?

One possible solution is to find a pastime where you can go far away from all the digital and industrial noise.

Fishing jumps immediately to my mind. There’s a pastime with the possibility of getting far away from other people, far away from the city and the clamor, far away from the electronic mayhem.

Another possible escape is hiking. Even though you might be doing some hiking to get to your favorite fishing spot, you probably aren’t going fishing for the express purpose of hiking. Hiking for the sake of hiking is a totally different sport, isn’t it? Hiking quite often will get you farther than hiking to get to something, because hiking can be about the distance: head out somewhere then turn around and come back. Sometimes you can hike out to a scenic view, or hike up to the highest point, or hike around a large obstacle such as the ocean. Regardless of your objective, hiking can be a great escape.

Your pastime, tried-and-true or completely new, could be something as simple as blowing soap bubbles in the backyard.

You could fly a kite. Better yet, build a kite and then fly it. (Unless…well…more on kites later.)

Grow something. Gardening is usually quiet and allows time for thoughtfulness.

Writing. Of course writing can be done in a noisy area, but how well can it be done if the writer is distracted by bombs going off all the time? Not well.

Find some time for yourself. Find some space.

Meditate and create.

Recently Viewed: Solo

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You can NOT listen to the critics.

I watched Solo: A Star Wars Story and it was actually far better than most of the critics claimed. The sci-fi action is fun to watch. The characters are well played.

Do we owe the entertainment factor to Alden Ehrenreich who fits the part of Han Solo so well, Joonas Suotamo who does justice to the character of Chewbacca, to Emilia Clarke’s portrayal, to Donald Glover’s excellent performance? To director Ron Howard? To the writers?

The plot is pretty decent, though there were a couple of tropes thrown in which make it somewhat predictable. I tell you what though, the way Chewbacca and Han Solo meet is perfect. It was somewhat predictable, but as a viewer I wanted them to meet so much the predictability was forgivable.

An injection of jokes by L3 were seasoned and brief and well placed within the movie. They were just puerile enough to be welcome and satisfying for younger viewers. Had the jokes carried on too long, or been placed somewhere else within the film it would have been ruined.

The way Han Solo and Lando get along is exactly as it should be. Their friendship should always be hanging by the thinnest of threads. They’re both outlaws in a wild universe.

Stunt performers did a fabulous job. You can’t credit the stunt-men and -women enough for any movie. They make the action seem real.

For a while now, I’ve been worrying about Disney ruining a good thing. Star Wars can be a massively fun escape from reality. I can get into a movie and get into a galaxy far from my own, to view the sights and hear the sounds—sounds of a long time ago.

By the way, the opener with the introduction to the setting was all goofy. It starts out as it should: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” and then it goes from past tense to present tense, like so: “It is a lawless time. CRIME SYNDICATES compete for resources—food, medicine, and HYPERFUEL.” This is a lesson for writers. Don’t switch tense mid-paragraph. They should have written it like so: “It was a lawless time. CRIME SYNDICATES competed for resources—food, medicine, and HYPERFUEL.”

On this and many other films, I think I’ll listen less to the critics and make up my own mind. This is a great movie and I’ll watch it again sometime.