Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wicked Winter


As much as I want to admit to somebody that I love winter just to be different from the 90% of humans who like summer better, it's just not true. I've been talking to my girlfriend about this as winter comes to a too-sudden close; I just love everything about it. I find myself counting down the days until winter comes, and it feels literally a fraction of the length of summer (because of the whole relative time thing, time flies when you're having fun, blah blah). My mood is significantly worse all summer long. I feel cranky, short-tempered, filthy, wet, oily, and often ill in hot weather. But let's not talk about the negative inverse of winter, let's talk about the positives of winter itself.

Snow.

That's the obvious one. Like most people I like playing in it, I like the way it looks, etc. But I also like the idea of it coming in unexpectedly and changing our plans. Forcing us indoors, forcing people to stay home and snuggle. Saving people from school and work. Decorating the trees with heavy glitter, all that good stuff. I like when places close and you feel like the human race is dealing with a catastrophe, but with that "we're in this together" sort of feeling.

Cleanliness.

Winter just feels cleaner. I sweat more than most people, so with the temperature extra low I can prevent perspiration as much as possible. I don't have to shower as often, and in fact showering too often gives me dry skin. So it's an excuse to be lazy, thus saving time in the day. The outside smells delicious, the sky is always bright with white clouds, the bugs take a break... etc. During the summer I can smell the dirty ground. The grass shoots little heat rays at me, like every blade has heat vision, throwing their sweltering stink up at my face. It smells like poop and gross vegetables. In the winter time I can run and around and exercise, and it'll only help me warm up--not make me even hotter than already was. That's another thing, it's easy to bundle up for winter. You can put plenty of clothes on, plenty of blankets, scarves..etc. But in the summer you can only go so far without getting arrested.

No sun.

Along with the bugs and bears the sun takes a pretty long vacation too. Most of the time the sky is gray, which is nice. That puts everything in permanent shade. I don't have to wear sun screen or sunglasses, or anything like that. Plus the days are shorter, which I actually like. I like to do things at night.

Holidays.

Winter holidays pwn summer holidays. Halloween, Christmas, Vday and Thanksgiving kick the asses of Easter, Independence Day, Patty's Day and even my June Birthday.

Preservation.

This is a weird one. But one thing I love about winter is it's preservative qualities. You don't need to worry about leaving food in your car during winter, it'll keep cool on its own. Things don't break just by being left around in winter like they do in summer. You can leave technology in the car in December, and sure it'll get cold, but eventually it'll thaw out and be fine. In the summer, a laptop could meet it's demise after a mere thirty minutes in the hot sun. Plus water is automatically crisp and cool in winter, you don't need ice to avoid drinking gross warm tap water. And this kinda goes with Cleanliness, but I also feel better preserved in the winter. I feel like I can last longer during the day without hygiene problems, sleep, exhaustion... etc. The more energy you exert, the warmer you feel. During the summer it's a constant battle to reserve energy. Sucky.

Icy entertainment.

Ice is fun to play with. We all know it. I'll be the first to admit it. It's fun to look at sure, but it's also fun to break apart and crunch. Stepping on ice puddles = satisfying crunch. Breaking icicles off of things = a blast. Stomping around in half-frozen-half-melted-snow = bizarre and entertaining. The simple concept of ice is awesome and interesting. Suddenly things that were liquid are suddenly solid. Slippery, sloppy bodies of matter that we can't do much with are now touchable, breakable, movable, etc. Bodies of water become walkable surface areas, rain becomes mountains, cups of fluid become crystal cylinders. One day someone will invent a flash freezer and we'll be able to freeze things as quickly as we can microwave them. Or an ice lighter, where instead of flicking a wheel to get fire, you flick a switch and get a stream of super-nitro-glycerin-ice, or something. That's probably impossible, but awesome to think about.

There are probably other reasons why winter is awesome, but this has gone on long enough.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sugar Water


Sometimes I think people don't take sugar seriously enough. Think about it, what flavor is superior to sweetness? I guess salty could go toe-to-toe up against sweet, but nothing else. Those are the only two rival flavors. We've been enjoying sweetness since the dawn of man. Let's look at fruit as an example. They're the ripened ovaries of plants, brightly colored, slathered in sugar, dropped from trees in abundance. It's like the plants throw their seeds at us saying "Look, I sugar coated my children, eat their surroundings! It's free! Just make sure you leave the seeds on the ground when you're done." If there's one thing we know we're supposed to eat, it's fruit. Everything else has to be carefully extracted. We pull of parts of plants, uproot them, pluck off their limbs; we shoot and kill animals, eat their eggs, process other plants to make bread... etc. You just eat fruit the way it is, plain and simple.

So from the glucose of fruit we move to sugar cane. There aren't many people who don't like sugar. And those who don't are either annoying health freaks or losers who like to sound cool by avoiding sweet foods. I like the idea of sugar, especially soda. We don't care about health. We market happiness. Little sparkly cans of color that do nothing but feed our basic pleasures. We sell them in MASSIVE quantities, with beautiful packaging. Don't think about the negative--the poor health, the addiction, etc. Think about the fact that we, as humans, have created a mass market of simple pleasures. And a lot of those pleasures mimic basic fruit flavors. Citrus, grape, orange, cherry. We're just capitalizing on what the plants throw at our feet, turning them into tasty canisters of sweetness. I'm proud of it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Strategy


I just finished my second full length novel. And by second, I mean second one that's actually worth anything. I've written roughly 6 or 7 books of decent length, but one two were written after high school. And, needless to say, I don't count anything I wrote before college. My last book took four years to write, this one took an eighth of that time. Reason? Diligence, more free time, maturity.

That said, I still have to proofread. And progress is painfully slow. For being a prolific writer, I'm a terrible reader. I often find reading to be tedious, unrewarding, and even difficult. It's hard for me to concentrate and retain, even though literature is, like, my purpose in life. The reasons for my reading struggles depend on the book. Sometimes it's because I've been assigned to read the book by a professor, sometimes it's because the literature is ancient and therefore completely dull, sometimes it's because the book is too modern and poorly written and not worth my time, and often it's because I'd rather spend the time writing or doing something besides reading somebody else's work. I know it's bad, I should read a lot, right? The legendary John Green always gives this advice to aspiring writers: "read!" So I fail in that sense.

Luckily retention and focus isn't an issue during proofreading attempts. But motivation is. It's easy to write; it's fun, it's rewarding, it's progressive. Proofreading is lame. Nothing much gets done. I fix a comma or restructure a sentence maybe once every paragraph. I have a bad habit of thinking it's pretty good writing, even during proofreading. By that I mean, I don't notice errors because I'm the one who wrote it, so obviously I didn't think I was making an error at the time I wrote it. Well, okay... either I'm impressed by my old work and don't think it needs much editing, or I haaaate it and want to start over. This unpredictable dilemma of extremes also contributes to my procrastination. But I've started a new strategy where I can't do anything mindlessly entertaining until I proofreading a whole chapter from the book. i.e. I'll edit a chapter, watch a YouTube video, edit a chapter, play a round of Plants vs. Zombies. Etc. So far so good. I've edited almost 10 full chapters today. Progress!

I'm not sure how people will like this new book. It's realistic, but complicated. It's got a lot of characters, but they all know each other so it never has too many tangents--I hope. We'll see. It's the first thing I've ever written that isn't fantasy or science fiction. Big steps forward, right!? Hahaha. Okay, this blog counted as a task in between chapters. So now I have to go edit a new chapter in order to be allowed to do something else fun.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Caramel


I've decided there is no better tasting flavor in the world than that of caramel. I think some people mistake the flavor of caramel as simply caramelized sugar--assuming that the caramel itself has no particular flavoring other than being "sweet." I know from experience that this isn't true. Libby (my girlfriend) and I have caramelized sugar in a pot recently in order to emulate those delicious Girl Scout cookies, Samoas; and while the melty outcome was delicious, it was completely lacking that delicious salty, syrupy, creamy caramel taste that is so sought after. We agreed it more so resembled toffee, because it had that fancy bitterness that so many sweet toothed aristocrats seem to be fond of.

We're not sure what the recipe was missing, but next time we attempt the Samoa challenge we're going to skip the middle step and simply melt down some pre-constructed caramel cubes. It may seem like a failure, but I still have no idea where to acquire that indescribable flavor. Is it some sort of spice or herbal ingredient? Like butterscotch or marmalade? Everyone knows the caramel taste, but few people can pinpoint exactly what it is.

Maybe I should look this up, the ingredients to caramel, I mean. But that could take some of the magic out of it. Have you ever shied away from knowledge because you were afraid of the information? Like, afraid that the information would shatter your childlike, perception of how strange things work? Sometimes your imagination should do the majority of the work.

Caramel is gold for imagination, in that case. I like to pretend it comes from some beautiful plant root, like root beer. Root beer also has an unmistakable, yet indescribable taste; but I know where that comes from! Is there a caramel flower? I bet it would be gorgeous. And when the bees pollinate it, a little cube pops out of the stamen. That's absurd, but fantastic. Also how do you make it chewy? Gum, rubber, all that stuff? Our caramel hardened into the consistency of a sucker, or a hard candy. I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll just enjoy caramel for what its worth and leave the recipe to the factories. We'll melt the aftermath and call it good.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Post

This is my first official blog post.

I have trouble being open about myself because I feel self-involved. That's not to say the act of blogging or introspection is self-indulgent, I mean I, personally, tend to examine myself in a way that seems egotistical (or so it appears to me.) You know, things like "I finished this product and I'm happy with how it turned out, but I'm not sure if I should put it on the internet for other people to see. I'm worried people won't like it as much as I do. Oh, I have so many trivial problems...etc." That sort of thing. And look, I'm posting this on the internet for other people to see! So we know how that dilemma was resolved, don't we? I'm going to avoid using emoticons. I'll allow myself just one, then it's over. XD Okay, done.

Today I was snowed inside my house. This is a travesty for me, because I visit Panera Bread literally everyday. And while there I take excessive advantage of the free soda refills and get work done on ye olde laptoppe. But today not only was it too dangerous to drive around, but the establishment was CLOSED. I didn't even have the option of walking. But I did venture out to find soda to bring back home. So I walked to a Family Video, stocked up, came back and started a blog. Yay progress! More later. :D CRAP! Emoticon! I can't go back and erase him now. Look how happy he is. He's existentially content. I can't take away the right to exist from anything that happy. Fail.