Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Image Source (includes printable goal tracker): https://www.happyorganizedlife.com/goal-tracker/

So, a quick note: yesterday’s blog post directly relates to my desire to simplify my life. It was a “quick hit” post, meaning that I didn’t have time to write a formal, longer post, but still wanted to get a post done for the day and out there, so when I’ve run out of time, I’ll use either the “quick hit” format, or the “potpourri” format to quickly write a entry if at all possible. That should both simplify my life and allow me more consistency with my entries. And now . . . back to the regularly scheduled posts.

Last year, especially in regards to school, I managed to complicate so many things about my life, from the courses that I took as well as the design philosophies of my own course. 2019 is all about simplification.

Weekly Goals

I’m okay at weekly goals. I generally have a sense of what I need to accomplish week-to-week and order my days accordingly. I’m not really awesome with Daily Goals, as sometimes I only achieve one or two, while making up for them earlier or later in the week. Generally speaking, I know what I have to do in a given week and I use the days of that week to get it done–again, how much gets done simply depends on my mood/time, but generally speaking, I accomplish weekly goals, even if I don’t always accomplish my daily goals. I’m using this to help generate rough drafts, character sketches, and pre-planning materials as well as submitting finished materials to markets.

Monthly Goals

This is (usually) where I shine. My mind is “pre-programmed” to think in “chunks” of months. From Pre-K until graduating High School, my uncle took me to the public library for books, every month. I say every month because the loan period at that time was 28 days, with one 28 day extension period (now it is only 3 weeks, with 100 renewal periods which doesn’t work for me and I don’t check out nearly as many books). My allowance was also monthly and I had to calculate my wants and desires to the monthly schedule my parents set forth. My brain is literally “hard-wired” to think in months as I have always had to decide what books I was going to read/buy in a monthly calendar, allocating enough time to finish them, or making them last depending on whether I was renting them from the library or buying them with my (limited) supply of money. I’m using these to finish stories (2nd and 3rd drafts), and draft longer works, like scenes in my Graphic Novel.

Yearly Goals

So, I’m only okay at yearly goals. Usually, these are too far out to plan for as I don’t know how much time I’m going to have available. It is easy to say in January that I will have a novel/screenplay finished in December, but there’s no way of knowing what will happen in the intervening months. So, rather than trying to focusing writing tasks around yearly goals which I’ve done is some fashion or form since the late 90s/early 2000s and been disappointed every time, I’m going to keep my writing goals nebulous. I hope to finish the Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel this year, but if I don’t, I’m not going to be disappointed and I’m certainly not going to give a time-frame. The first 3 months of the year, I know I need to be a reading, reading, reading, to prepare for a major test in the middle of March, so I’m not going to stress if very little in the way of writing happens during Jan-March. Something has to give, so there’s no need putting additional stress on myself by saying I need to write 3 scenes a week for 52 weeks or else. It isn’t going to happen, not with that very important test looming in the near future. Same with the nebulous screenplay and novel that I’d like to write. If it happens great, if not, no pressure. I do have two school related things that need to happen this year (one of them the test that I mentioned), and I’m going to put all my efforts towards those and if I happen to accomplish any of the writing ones as well then hey, bully for me!

So, finishing up, I’m really working on simplifying my life (esp. my writing life, but in other areas as well) to see if I can become a more productive writer and human being in 2019. Wish me luck!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)
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Walmart’s Running a Surprisingly Rhetorically Aware Ad (via Scam Awareness)

Video Source: Scam Awareness — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDfPhRbYYHKUbVgbaRfAUgQ?feature=embeds_subscribe_title

So, I was standing in line today at Walmart (I went to price TV stands for my apartment at school) and they had this ad running on their TVs over their Money section. I wasn’t really paying attention to it, but I happened to see the captions playing underneath the action and I happened to read it and found it to be very rhetorically savvy, especially for a store like Walmart (no, offense to Walmart or their customers is intended, rather Walmart isn’t, by its own admission and pricing structure, a Macy’s or Nordstroms, or other upscale retailers.

The Best at What It Does

This is an (older) tagline for Wolverine, the marvel anti-hero who is now an icon in popular culture. As a pure brawler/warrior, Wolverine styled himself as the “best at what he does.” The same could be said for this advertisement/PSA as it truly does what I have tried to do in this past semester. I won’t bore you with a scene-by-scene breakdown, but it challenges the viewers perceptions in terms of ethos (credibility of the speaker), pathos (appealing to the viewer’s emotions), and logos (a logical, fact-based argument). I actually want to start with the last one as it pulls a “fast one” by giving a statistic, but then not giving any source for that statistic, but trusting in the viewers’ ability to be swayed by simply throwing numbers/statistics around. The ad acknowledges what it did in a very clever way: it straight tells you what it did and then leaves you, the viewer, to draw your own conclusions from that knowledge. It then makes you question your assumptions. Similarly, with ethos and pathos, the ad makes you question the speaker–is this a “good” guy, does he have my interest at heart or his own, is he trying to scam me or is he just informing about scammers, etc. The authors of this video play with ambiguous lighting, a morally “gray” character, and verbal trickery, to try to mimic the ambiguous nature of scammers and their scams and the inclusion of bits of truth mixed with lies in order to throw you, the mark, off target.

Too Guillible

Right now, many of our youth–I’m speaking generally here as there are, as always, exceptions to this rule, are simply too gullible when it comes to matters of credibility. They confuse entertainers and having a good time with being a credible source. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t make them credible, and yet, I see it all the time in class. So many students defend stars or people whose methods don’t yield results, simply because they “know” of them, or because they “enjoy” them, but denigrate those who do get results because they are unknowns or because their styles are not a flashy or flamboyant as the “stars.” While I intend to use this commercial/PSA in future classes, I don’t think that it will do much good until we can get students to understand the fact that just because you like what they have to say, doesn’t necessarily make them “credible”–not until you do some digging around on your own to see if they are really as credible as they want to appear to be to you, the viewer.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Happy 2019: Annual State of the Blog Report

First off, Happy New Year! Hope that you’re having a great start to the New Year and that it treats you well. Let’s all resolve to make 2019 a great year!

Top Ten Posts

10. Nostalgia Review: AD&D Pool of Radiance (SSI Goldbox AD&D Game) for the Commodore 64: This one is fairly surprising to me as D&D is still popular, but this game was the beginning of (successful) translating of the D&D rule-set for computers that is also a great game. SSI, the company making it, had cut their teeth on war game, but they really knocked it out of the park with their “gold box” D&D games.

9. Commodore 64 Nostalgia: Kung-Fu II: Sticks of Death (or Caveat Emptor): If the number 10 post was surprising, this one was pretty much shocking. I never thought that anyone would be interested in this particular post and/or game, as this was a shocking example of misleading advertising. This game, among others, helped teach me the value of independent reviews.

8. 250 Words = 1 Typed Page: This is the first one on the list that I’m not really surprised to see in the Top 10 posts. We all are crunched for time, and a fully typed page seems so long, but when you add in the correct font and the correct spacing, a fully typed page doesn’t have a lot of words, only 250 words. Just think–1,000 words is about four full pages. Now we just have to turn that knowledge into Action!

7. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season’s Greetings: So this is the post I did for 2017, but many people found it relevant for both years. Christmas wishes and holiday greetings are ALWAYS relevant!

6. Black Panther vs. Spider-Man: Learning How to Navigate Social Interactions through Comic Book Trading: I’m glad to know that both the characters of Black Panther and Spider-Man are enjoying a resurgence. They were massive popular in the late 80s/early 90s, but faded away with the popularity of anti-heroes like Wolverine. It’s good to know there’s still a place for true heroes in today’s anti-hero loving world.

5. Author’s Note: Here Be Monsters: I’m actually not sure why this one has made the list. HBM is one of the stories that I thought would sell based on the amount research that I did for the story, but it is one that I’ve sent out approx. 5-6 times this year, but publishers didn’t decide to take it. It has been accessed quite frequently this year, however, so I don’t have an explanation for it.

4. “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain”: This is sorta’ my “statement of purpose.” Sci-Fi and Fantasy are a huge part of my life and THE reason that I’m such a great reader–I found my niche as a reader early in my childhood and now I just need to find that love of reading and being a successful reader into my love of writing and becoming a successful writer.

3. The Outline’s the Thing (to Catch a Story) Redux: This post is the one that I’m very glad is so high on the list. This is part of my own personal writing philosophy (& my teaching philosophy). While I understand the writing process is different for various writers, I contend that the outline gets an unfair rap as something that is restrictive or binding and shouldn’t be used, especially for creative writing. Outlines allow you to tell the story to yourself first and then look for places to dramatize the story.

2. Great Actors in Small Roles: Madalyn Horcher as Sgt. Leach: I’m really gratified that others are reading this post as I thought Madalyn Horcher’s performance was something special, but I haven’t seen her in other mainstream projects (that I follow, at least). It’s easy to give your all as a “mega” star, but to give your all in a small, “helper” role, is truly the mark of a great actor.

1. Ranking Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Movies–My Take (2018 Edition–now updated with Thor Ragnarok & Black Panther): This, again, is the number one post of 2018. Right now, we really, really like Marvel movies. During the month of April, there was fever pitch excitement for Avengers: Infinity War and it translated to this post’s viewership. I feel like I let the reader’s down as I actually didn’t get a chance to see this one in the theaters, but I might try to get there in 2019 for the 2nd part as I see the readership really like Marvel! To quote the late Stan Lee, “Make Mine Marvel!”

Well, that’s all that I have for today–a look back at the OtherWorlds blog through the popularity of the posts. I hope everyone has a great, productive, and successful 2019!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

“I Need the Rest”

tired meme: dog sleeping
Image Source: https://www.frankiesweekend.com/2016/01/what-im-doing-wrong-on-rest-days.html

The title of today’s blog comes from Tommy Lee Jones’s character at the end of the movie, The Fugitive. He gave 110% trying to catch Harrison Ford’s character and then pieced together the puzzle of the mystery at the heart of the movie (yes, it’s an older movie, no I won’t spoil it for those who’ve not seen it).

The image above (thanks, Frankie’s Weekend) is a visual representation of me during this semester. I gave 110% in terms of trying to teach my classes while taking classes as well as working part-time. I’m sorry that the blog took a “hit,” but to be honest, it wasn’t the only thing. My creative writing also suffered during that period. When you’re grading papers at 3 am in the morning, after trying to write a 15 page paper and study for an exam within two days of each other, things just get a bit dicey.

2019 — Trying to Get Back on Track

Before the end of the semester, 2018 had a lot of great refinements to both the blog and my creative writing. My goal (or resolution, if you prefer) is to continue to build upon the successes of last year. While I’m striving for a daily blog, I may have to realistically aim for 3 entries every week, and use the weekends to “stockpile” entries for when I get overburdened with school/classwork. I’m also trying to find a consistent time to write–these shorter times work for blog entries, but are unsatisfying for short stories. I’m still in search of the perfect writing time/space.

2019 — Creative Writing

So, in 2018, I wasn’t able to publish any of my creative writing. I also didn’t really finish any new pieces, although I started on several. I did, at least, find a way to submit work and to keep it circulating to give myself a chance at publication, but the stories were the older ones that I finished that most publishers just don’t seem interested in while the ones that I’ve started are in various stages of “production,” but none are really ready to market (in my opinion), so I have to keep submitting the older ones. One good thing is that I found a “system” that works for me: I submit my stories “weekly” now–write on the weekdays and submit on the weekends. I’ve been able to keep 1-2 stories out each month, for the past two months using that system. As I finish newer stories, I can add them into the rotation, and hopefully, they’ll see publication by sticking to this system, so that’s one area where I can now say that is no longer broke, so I don’t need to fix it anymore and I can put my energies to figuring out other areas of concern in my writing process.

Well, that’s all I have for today. Have a Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2019!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

A Physical a Day . . .

Image Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/getting-physical-examination#purpose

Sorry for the awful title–I tried to think of something clever, but words have failed me. Today’s blog entry will be shorter one today as it is the 18 year anniversary of the death of my uncle–the same one whom I have often spoke about in these blog entries (See the entry for Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain for a quick intro on how influential he was to me as a person). Yesterday, I wasn’t able to blog as I was at the Doctor’s office for my annual physical. The day before I had to upload the grades for my students and I was completely exhausted trying to make sure that I had accurately graded all papers and projects.

You Should Always Have a Physical

I rarely give advice in these blog entries–preferring to relate the events and things that happen to me and let the readers decide how and what to make of that information for themselves. This is the rare time when I would suggest that everyone, if at all possible, have an annual physical examination. Why, you might ask? I feel fine, you might say. Well, I know from experience that it is important to have your health checked on a regular basis.

The High Cost of Medical Care

So, I’ve lost a family member and a friend, both of whom did not go the doctor because of the cost of medical care. My family member was an uncle, who died in 2000 due to colon cancer. I will always remember that time and it crystallized the need to have annual checks as a doctor mentioned that the disease would have been treatable if it had been caught early enough. A few years later, when I was working on my Master’s Degree in Education, I had a fellow graduate student who wanted to be a teacher, but wasn’t technologically savvy. He asked for help on improving his “technology” skills and, since we’d previously had a class together and I knew he was good guy, I agreed to help him. The last part of that class was comprised of a technology “presentation” and he told me he would call me so that I could run him through PowerPoint and show him how it worked . . . but the call never came, then came his time to present and he wasn’t there . . . and then the professor informed us that he had passed away. He had told me earlier that he wasn’t feeling well, but that he didn’t want to go to the doctor because of the high medical cost.

Annual Checkups are Necessary

So, to end this blog entry, after these two deaths, I’ve come to believe that annual checkups are necessary. I have missed one or two (due to unforseen circumstances), but I try to make sure, whenever possible to make my annual checkups and I encourage everyone to take one as well. Have a great day!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)


Dead Stop

Image Source: https://www.americasmarketingmotivator.com/dead-stop-the-value-of-a-time-out/

It seems like I’m forever apologizing for not working on the blog, but this time I had some very good reasons as to why I haven’t posted in a while (over 3 weeks, I think). Basically, it’s because I haven’t been writing—not creatively, nor for the blog.

Work-Life Balance

So, the thing to understand is that my work-life balance is completely out of whack. I could go into the many reasons as to why this is the case, but to sum most of the reasons up in a short, pithy way: school. The classes that I had to take this semester were intense (one was reading intensive, while the other was watching films, both in and out of class, so it was time-intensive). The two classes that I was teaching were Monday, Wednesday, Friday courses at 8:00 am, so it was hard (and became impossible) to both plan lessons and write blog entries at the same time, and lastly, the Chromebook, while necessary to do my work, isn’t really conducive to “writing” as its keyboard is horrible in terms of feel for touch typing. I find myself making double or triple the amount of keystroke errors than I make on my (now ancient) 2008 Macbook Pro. The Chromebook does not make for a good writing experience—in fact, outside of short one or two paragraph feedback entries for my students, I now actively try to avoid doing any extended writing on the Chromebook as it is such a frustrating and dismal experience.

Solutions

So that this post doesn’t turn into a “gripe” post, I wanted to provide some solutions that I’ve been musing over during the unintentional sabbatical that I’ve had to take and you’re actually reading the first one—changing the time when I write the blog. Every weekday, M-F, I have approximately 30-45 minutes of usable time that I used to try to use for my creative writing. However, I was ultimately frustrated by the lack of progress that I could see myself making in those short sessions. I’m taking that time to write this blog entry. While I can’t actually find and place the images, nor upload it as I’m not on the internet as I’my typing these words, still the time (in my mind’s eye) fits better as I can write these words now and upload them sometime tomorrow—yes, I’ll still have to spend time finding images, linking them, and sourcing them, but at least the majority of the work will be done ahead of time. I still have to find a place to move my creative writing, but I’ll experiment with a couple of times I have in mind on the weekend to see if those times work better and allow me to actually finish drafts. I’m also going to use Scrivener to try to help out. I can see the word count at the bottom of the page (494 words so far), so I’m aiming for the 500 word mark. Some posts may be around 400 words (or even shorter if I’m tired), some may go long (600 words or more), but I’m going to try aim for 500 words, with a hard 1000 word cap. This, too, should help with getting these posts out of my mind and onto the blog in a timely manner. And, as I’m quickly closing in on that 600 word mark, I think that I will close for today with my family’s most adhered to adage (along with my personal addendum); If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (but if it is broke, fix it until it isn’t broke anymore, and then leave it bloody well alone!)

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)


Enjoying the Holiday

Image Source: http://moderndayms.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-with-ms-enjoying-a-healthy-holiday/

So, regular readers of the blog will realize that I’ve been spotty (at best) for the past couple of months.  I apologize.  I’ve wanted to work on it, but to be completely candid, I’ve managed to fall waaayyyy behind (on pretty much everything).  I wanted to take time away to catch up, but there never seemed to be enough time in the day.  Then the Thanksgiving holiday (in the US).  I thought that would be the perfect time to catch up (on life, universe, and everything).  Sorry, that’s a Douglas Adams joke–sometimes I think I’m much funnier than I really am–again, apologies.  Anyway, I had hoped to catch up on blog entries, grading, reading for school, etc., and pretty much everything, but I decided to just “take the holiday off” as it were except for some light reading for class.

All Things in Time

Rather than try to do all of these things at once, I decided that it is simply a matter of time.  Right now, grades & grading come first.  I will try to work on the blog daily, but for the next three weeks, I’m not going to make any guarantees.  I have a list of topics that I want to cover on my iPhone.  I hope that I will have time to work on them as I do have an hour each day that I currently haven’t been utilizing for that purpose.  Luckily, December 17th is the day that grades are due, so even if I’m spotty over the next weeks, it will only be for a short period of time.  This blog entry is being written in hopes of getting back on track–I personally love writing these entries daily as it helps me to be inspired to write creatively at night.

Short Update on Projects

I’m running low on time,  so I wanted to give a quick update on my writing as I haven’t done that in a while.

DSRV: Ship of Shadows: Graphic Novel–This is the project I’m actively writing.  I’m on page 32 of the graphic novel.  I will be working on it until I reach page 56 (basically all of December) and then I’ll switch to finishing The Indpendent.  

Project Star: Finished the “Rough” draft a couple of weeks ago.  I need to go back and write a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd draft for the story.  This will probably take place next semester (Spring 2019).  I probably need to change the name though–there is already a graphic novel with the name I want to use as well.

The Independent: I haven’t quite finished the 2nd draft, I would like to finish the 2nd issue of DSRV before finishing the 2nd draft–I intend to leap-frog the two projects (drafts of The Independent and DSRV).  I really enjoyed working on Ryn’s character and I’m having fun putting her in the story.  During the 3rd draft, I hope to improve the setting and the problems of the story.

I have several other projects in the works which will make an appearance from time-to-time, but right now I’m focused on my Preliminary Exams–and I pass them, my dissertation is next.  I’m so glad that I enjoy the writing process as I will be doing a lot of it both creatively and for school over the next year or so.  That’s all I have time for today–have a good day!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)