The Gentle News

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Happiness & Comedy: Oil & Water?

December 5th, 2011 · Potpourri

The quest for wisdom & stoic joy can be detrimental to the quest for a career in comedy. The best comedy usually springs forth from discomfort or misery, and the more centered and peaceful one becomes, the less likely one is to even be irritated by the little things that serve as the genesis of humor. So it is very important to retain a small, realistic awareness of how painful life can be, even after you have reached nirvana and become so one with the universe that a stubbed toe is more likely to generate a 1200-word blog entry on the falsehoods inherent in our expression of emotion than a very loud “OHFUCKMEOHGODTHATHURTSLIKEFUCKINGBALLSCHRIST!”

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The Middle

November 30th, 2011 · Potpourri

I find myself so completely in the middle of most political issues that I cannot even relate to most of my online friends and family. The hate, thinly veiled in cynical humor, thrown from afar (or, worse, from around the corner) at the Occupiers by my so-called conservative friends is downright depressing. But, I have to admit, sometimes I can smell the urine, body odor, and patchouli through the LCD screen when I read and watch some of the Occupation activities, and the futility of their undefined goals start to seem completely divorced from the laws of physics and social reality.

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September 28th, 2011 · Potpourri

OK, that didn’t work out 100%, but it’s a start.

Why was my title all wonky? Why did I have to copy only the HTML text within the < body > tags? It seems to me that, unless there is a plugin for Scrivener that will take what I give it in Markdown, convert it to WordPress-friendly HTML, and post it directly to WordPress in an aesthetically pleasing manner, I will still have to manually cut out the doctype, < head >, and < body > crap. That ain’t me. I’m not a damn HTML coder, I’m just this guy who desperately wants to write stuff without thinking too much about how he’s doing that.

How much do you reckon Merlin Mann would charge me to come sit fully clothed on my office futon for a week and give me notes while I try to juggle my soul-sucking job and my quest to show people stuff that’s in my head in various formats?

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This Is The Title Of My Blog Post

September 28th, 2011 · Potpourri

This Is The Title Of My Blog Post

I’m going to post an entry on my blog. The temporal language might be confusing, since your reading this would seem to imply or require that this has already occurred. Don’t lose any sleep over it, since it doesn’t really matter.

Here I am again, writing about writing instead of just writing. I’m still stuck in a tool-rut. People who think they’re giving encouragement will say, “Hey, it doesn’t matter what tools you use, just do it.” And they’re right. But they can go straight to hell. I know myself, and I know that each time I try to get back in to the swing of this, the tools get in my way and I develop just enough dread over starting to write or finding where I last left off to justify procrastinating myself into oblivion.

So I’m going to try using some combination of no more than three writing tools. If there are plugins available, I’d like to get it down to one tool that I actually have to manipulate.

What I want to do is write in Scrivener, using Markdown syntax, and then hit a button (or short series of buttons) to review it and then publish it directly to WordPress. My google-fu is failing to find the special sauce required to do that, but it appears that I can add an extra step to compile in Scrivener from Markdown to HTML and then select-all, copy, and paste into WordPress. We’ll see how that goes.

(Pardon me while I try that.)

(It didn’t work. I must be missing some Markdown plugin for Scrivener.)

(I also need to learn the Markdown code for italics. Or do I mean emphasis? Man, I’m probably way off on both. I have a shitload of reading to do. Mostly about Scrivener, which I paid for, Markdown, which I think is free, and WordPress, which I have used for almost a damn decade and still get mad at frequently.)

This is getting pretty bad. Let’s recap the progress:

  • I have written some words.
  • I have not learned anything about the tools I have decided to try to use for continuing to write word.
  • I need a job that gives me more free time to read about these things enough to be productive with them.
  • I have some awesome links with my own commentary in the Research section of my Scrivener file about how to fix all the problems I’ve discovered so that I can just use Scrivener for blogging.
  • I think I’m still missing some magic to let me compile Markdown -> HTML from within Scrivener.
  • No, I’m not, it’s in the “Compile for” drop-down in Scrivener.
  • I need to figure out my file workflow. A new Scrivener file for each blog post, or separate Binder items in one big Blog file in Scrivener?
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August 18th, 2011 · 9to5, Stories

My house, like many other houses in my plastic, suburban neighborhood, sits on a subtle hill of poorly-laid topsoil in such a way that overwatering my own lawn results in moistening the pavement of the back alley and reinforcing the moisture at the base of my neighbor’s house’s hill-bottom. Unfortunately, that neighbor doesn’t overwater, so the relationship isn’t exactly symbiotic. I don’t have a sophisticated irrigation system in my yards, so the health of my lawn and the integrity of my house’s foundation are only as good as my discipline at twisting nozzle handles and periodically relocating cheap sprinklers. It’s been hot as hell for many weeks, so finding the time to manually water my yard and slab has been futile and inconsistent.

A section of the ceiling in my garage has been slowly separating from the joists for a little over a year. It’s one of those things that I’ve told myself I would get around to fixing (or having fixed) when work is less demanding and finances are less demoralizing. This weekend, while my father and brother were in town just for the hell of it, most of that particular sheet of drywall fell right off the ceiling. Just for the hell of it. For a few minutes I thought, “Hey, this is great timing! I’ve got two of the most awesome dudes in the world here, and they would be glad to help me fix this.” However, it’s been hot as hell for weeks, and the thought of the three of us standing on various ladders and dubiously makeshift step-stools to patch the hole (never mind the cutting, prepping, and temporary garage door removal) quickly put the kibosh on asking them to actually do anything about it.

In other words, my house is old and busted, and I’m too lazy or busy (take your pick, I’m fine with either one) to do anygoddamnthing about it.

But I like this house quite a bit. I know that I could start now to take better care of it, and in less than a year things would be better, but there are no truly urgent problems motivating me to do so. The water heater is barely a year old, the air conditioning keeps inhabitants mostly comfortable, and the only things leaking are the ancient soaker hoses I use to at least attempt to keep the foundation from crumbling in the cracked, grassless earth.

The front lawn is watered, in part, each morning by a very convenient watering timer. I used to have a similar device in the backyard, but the last freeze this winter destroyed it and I have yet to shell out the cash for another. Also, the leaky hose in the back, again quite conveniently, keeps my sister’s dog’s water bowl full most of the time when one of us finds the motivation to at least pretend we’re watering the yard.

This afternoon, at the top of the sixth inning of today’s employment adventures, I decided to take a break. I poured myself a drink and walked out onto the triple-digit heat of the concrete jungle that is my back patio. Something inspired me to find a shaded spot for the sprinkler and open the nozzle as wide as possible. Immediately, the water pressure turned the big hole in the soaker hose next to the rose bush into a giant hole. Water arced halfway across my back yard, irrigating a nice chunk of my singed St. Augustine. Frustrated that my equipment was malfunctioning, but appreciative of the hydrating side-effect, I did what any sensible, adult homeowner would do in such a situation:

I ran straight into the geyser of water and soaked myself, jumping around in it for many minutes as if I were participating in some neopagan ritual thanking the municipal watergod for the opportunity to look and act like a complete buffoon behind the shield of my cedar privacy fence.

Summer. I like it, and you can’t take it away from me.

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