One Shoulder or Two?

Man carrying ac backpack on one shoulder walking next to some rails in a city on a cloudy day.
Image Source: https://www.filmsupply.com/clips/man-carrying-a-backpack-on-one-shoulder-walking-next-to-some-rails-in-a-city-on-a-cloudy-day/99647

Question . . . do you wear your backpack (if you actually wear a backpack) on one shoulder or two? This is something that I’ve noticed over my years at school. If you wear your backpack over one shoulder then you are (probably) of an older generation (Gen X or early Millennials), but if you wear it over two shoulders then you are (probably) are of a younger generation (late Millennials or Gen Z). Now, obviously this is a gross over-generalization, and not at all scientific but this is just something that I’ve picked up on lately.

One Shoulder

When I was in college, starting in 1991 (& early when I visited college campuses in the late 1980s), the standard placement of backpacks was slung over one shoulder. It really didn’t matter whether it was over the left shoulder or right (probably corresponding to the handedness of the person wearing it), but I found that this was pretty much the standard. I think, at the beginning, I experimented with wearing the backpack with both straps, but it felt so unnatural to me, at the time, that I pretty much slung it over my right shoulder and that was that. As long as I didn’t overload the pack with too many books for class, it wasn’t really an issue. This pretty much was standard all the way up through 2008 when I started my 2nd Masters Degree in Education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (UTC). However, I think that began noticing that some students (maybe 40% or so), now wore their backpacks over both shoulders.

Two Shoulders

Fast forward to 2016 and then I came here to MTSU to study for a PhD in English. Now, pretty much EVERYONE wears their backpacks on both shoulders. The style of wearing the backpack on one shoulder is pretty much non-existent. I do see one or two people, every now and again, who wear their backpacks as I do–on one shoulder–but I would say this percentage is very, very small (sub 5% and probably closer to 1%), and (generally) consists of “older” students (students not in the 18-22 age range). Again, none of this is scientific, but as someone who remembers what a lock the style of “one shoulder” had on college campuses (the ones that I visited at least), I can say that the turn around is quite surprising and just shows that generational differences can be real.

What does it Matter?

In the great scheme of things, not much. However, it does have implications as it means that the style (norms) have changed and that differences that ascribed to different generations may have validity–that these differences are not necessarily made up. While actual research would have to be done on the attitudes and norms that people have in various states of their lives (and as they age), one can’t simply assume that one generation will think the same (act the same, do the same things) as another generation. Knowing what values, norms, and attitudes informs one generation could be helpful in ascertaining and predicting the ways in which another generation might act. For instance, I’ve tried the “two shoulders” regime when I first noticed this in 2016/2017, but it doesn’t work for me. Even though the weight is evenly distributed with two straps, because I didn’t get use to walking with this distributed weight, the bouncing of the book-bag actually throws off my stride and makes it uncomfortable to walk. Although all the weight is on one side with the “one shoulder” approach, I’ve learned how to walk so that it doesn’t affect my gait. As such, no matter how “uncool” it might look in today’s society, I will never move to the “two shoulder” approach. Such a difference marks me as “out of step” with my younger contemporaries, but so be it–I’ll put comfort over style any day.

This, I’m sure, isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting to note that generational differences are out there and may actually affect the way people of one generation may act in regards to other generations. Just something to be mindful of as we all try to coexist through this thing we call “life.”

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)
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A (Semi) Long Weekend

Image Source: http://fitnesscorner.ca/august-long-weekend-hours/

First of all, thank you to everyone who liked yesterday’s post. I really wasn’t expecting such a positive reaction to a fairly negative–okay, let’s call what it really was–a mini-rant, of a post. I’ve been dissatisfied for a while about the way creative writers are treated at my university and I’ve wanted to speak out, but knowing that several in the graduate school read these posts, I’ve been hesitant to speak out. However, I’ve had such a terrible and eye-opening week at the same time, that for good or ill (probably ill knowing my luck), I refuse to stay silent about it any longer. I’ll call it out periodically, but for now, I’m going to say thank you to everyone who responded and move on to a different topic.

Spring Break (Sort of)

So, my university’s Spring Break has come and gone (and I was sick for every moment of it), but my second job is at an elementary school and they’re on Spring Break this week. While I could have asked off for most of the week, I did not (& I’m glad I didn’t as I needed the diversion of something else to do thanks to the downright crappy week that I’ve had at my university). However, today we’ve finished all our tasks and a new supervisor is coming in on Monday, so we have the day off. Now, normally I would go home on Saturday mornings, but today (hopefully) I plan on leaving early and if so, will do some much needed yardwork on Saturday morning (when I’m normally driving down).

Taking a Break and Planning My Future

So, while I will (hopefully) get a little rest, I would like to also take a moment and decide on my future with the program. I’m 3 years into a 4 year program, so it seems a waste to throw those three years away, but I’m so unhappy right now, it isn’t even funny. I plan on playing a game or two, but mostly I plan on putting on some music and doing some much needed creative writing. After that, I’ll probably cruise the internet and see what my options are in terms of the schools, jobs, and the like. I have a teaching license that doesn’t expire until 2022, but I don’t really enjoy teaching at the K-12 level. So, realistically, I’ve thrown away 5 years of my life getting a degree (Master’s of Education) for a teaching job that I don’t really like (K-12 education). I really enjoy teaching college students, but I don’t enjoy all the extroverted “B.S.” that goes along with getting the degree to allow me to do that and advance. So this weekend is going to be a lot about figuring out what are my options. I’m also hoping to catch up on some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix, so hopefully there will be new content on media (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) soon.

Anyway, thank you all for listening and have a great weekend!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • 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)

Working on a Project for School

Project_KentState_University

So, having posted everyday this month, some might have noticed that my posts have been posting later and later in the day.  So sorry about that–for this past week, I’ve either been sick or brainstorming for two projects that I have (one tomorrow, Thurs. 3/22 and the other on Mon, 3/26).  I’ve been working really hard on them, esp. the one for Thursday and I’ve let the blog slid a bit.  Unfortunately, it won’t get appreciably better until at least April where I have a little more “space,” but even then I have an Annotated Bibliography and 2 papers to write (in addition to a Final Exam).  So, in other words, April may be “touch-and-go” as well.  So please, bear with me as school exerts its inexorable hand and causes the blog to a little more “spotty” than normal.  Push comes to shove, I’ll try my best to get a shorter entry (like this one) out as a “update” as to what is happening, but the longer blog entries (like the one I wanted to write on Spoilers which I have outlined and ready to write for today) will just have to wait for a more “convenient” (i.e., less project intensive) time.  Sorry!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program (or in this case, my “break” is over, back to getting that project done for tomorrow’s class).

Sidney



Apologies for not Posting

Last week was not great for many reasons. From forgetting the charger for my computer to my car not starting intermittently, last week was a real challenge. I should have posted to my blog, but I wasn’t able to do so easily while dealing with life.

Car

So, the car started up, but wouldn’t crank over. After two days, it finally started and I was able to get into a shop. I hope that the repairs will be enough to get me through semester.

Hacking

So, over the weekend, it appears someone is trying to hack my email account. After doing online research, it looks like someone is trying to use my email address to gain access to my Apple iCloud account in order to lock me out of it and hold it hostage for ransom (probably bitcoins). Here’s a news story on this issue. I’ve taken measures to keep this from happening, but I have to say that Microsoft helped to make this an issue. I noticed that my “gmail” account had been “cloned” via Microsoft account (not sure how it was done), but when I called their account services, they basically told me not to worry about it. I could have avoided this had they taken action and locked this renamed “gmail” account on their Microsoft email servers. When this hacker renamed this gmail account to an “iCloud” account on Microsoft servers, I decided to take action.

Writing

I lost a week of writing, but I hope to get back into the swing of it this week, fingers crossed. This blog post is a part of that desire to get back to a writing life.

Sidney

Trying Something A Little Different 


I’m trying something a little new with my writing–I’m actually trying to write daily, but since I don’t have my computer (more on that in a different post) I’ve gone back to pen and paper.

What I’m trying now is to write a little bit a day and then over the weekend when I have more time take the writing on pen and paper and transfer it to the computer.

This is actually only the first week that I’ve tried this so I’ll report back here next week on how well I thought it worked out. I’m trying to be a more reflexive writer and be more aware of what works and what doesn’t.

I need to work on my consistency–I’ve known this for a while now, but I haven’t really put any strategies in place to help me, so I’m trying this out in the hopes of becoming a more consistent (and successful) writer.

“Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain”

warrenspahnsaidlithograph_Vintagesantiquesandcollectibles
Image Source: Vintages, Antiques, and Collectibles

“Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” is an old baseball “rallying cry” that has been shortened into this nice, pithy saying.  If you want the full details on this saying, there is a great synopsis of it on billjamesonline.com.  My uncle used to say this to me, not often, but every now and again.  According to Bill James, there are two interpretations of this saying: 1) Lack of pitching depth on the Braves’ roster, so praying for rain to help you get back to your most consistent and valued pitchers, or 2) praying for rain so that you wouldn’t have to face these two reliably dominant pitchers.  My uncle most definitely used it in the 2nd sense: Go out with your best!

Sci-Fi and Fantasy are my favorite genres–be it books, games, movies, television, comics, what have you.  Generally speaking, I’m going to gravitate to those genres before everything else.  So it makes sense that I’d concentrate my writing efforts on those genres as well.  I love the sense of adventure and wonder that Sci-Fi and Fantasy allows me to have in a mundane world of bills, intolerance, rudeness, and a general lack of concern for one’s fellow man.  Now to be sure, you can find those things–and more–inside the wrappers of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but at its best you can find true wonder and adventure as warriors fight mythic beasts, starship captains struggle to keep their ships and crews safe, and young boys and girls grow up to be powerful warriors against the struggle of tyranny.

If I’m going to go out, then like Spahn and Sain, I want to go out leaving everything on the field and giving it my best and trying find a way to do so at a consistently high level.  Just as Spahn and Sain were masters at their craft, so too I strive to be a master at mine.

That’s why I continue to both read, watch, play, and write things that are Sci-Fi and Fantasy related.

For the sheer wonder of it all.

Sidney




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Star Wars: The Key to the Force is Belief

star-wars-1

This week I find myself ruminating about the power of Belief.  I received my first rejection back for my story “Silence Will Fall.”  The story came out as well as I hoped.  It differed from my dream slightly (the ending), but matched the tone that I wanted.  I decided to submit it to a larger publication for SF, but alas, as always it seems, it came back fairly quickly.  Like, an earlier post this year, “The Well is Dry,” I find myself wondering what’s the use?  Publishing a story every 2-3 years is NOT the way to build a writing career.  Unlike that post, however, I find that I’m trying to take the lesson that Luke learns in the trilogy and apply it so as NOT to write another post like “The Well is Dry.”

STAR WARS

Luke, in Episode IV, gets a bum rap.  He gets tagged with the character traits of “whiny,” and “callous” and “annoying” in popular culture than he really should based on the movie.  The character is a product of his time and a teenager to boot, so it should come as no surprise that Luke acts like a (surprise!) a teenager from the 1970’s (yes, I know in the fiction, Luke comes from “A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Away,” but Lucas’ model was the 1970’s–the fuzzy dice hanging from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon is a dead giveaway.)  Yet, Luke’s journey with the Force is the KEY to the character.  Luke goes from being able to sense the Force during his practice against the remote to actively using it in the battle against the Death Star.  They pivotal scene for me is when Luke switches off his targeting computer.  The power of Faith/Belief in something larger than yourself is on full display with this scene.  When Ben’s voice implores him to “use the Force,” his switching off the computer is an act that signifies that he can’t trust the information of the physical world to help him, but that in order to be successful, he MUST believe in the Force and use it to help guide him to the perfect time to fire in order to destroy the death star.  The movie even shows the result of blindly relying on technology when the first X-Wing’s trench run results in the “bomb’s just impacting on the surface.”   The Force is NECESSARY for the success of the mission–without it there can be no victory.

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

“I don’t believe it.” (Luke)

“That is why you failed.” (Yoda)

This sums up the entire movie–the lack of faith.  Even though Luke is following his dream and learning more about the Force, he is living too much in the physical world.  He doesn’t have the same Faith in the Force.  Like any student, he must question his teacher and ask the why of things.  Now that he is learning about the Force at a deeper level, the need to know seems to override his instinctive reliance on the Force and listen to its rhythms.  Yoda, for instance, tells him that he will not need his weapons in the cave of the Dark Side, but Luke doesn’t listen.  The look on his face is actually one of incredulity and defiance.  What do you mean I won’t need my weapons; this place is dangerous, the look seems to say in one quick glance at Yoda.  What Yoda knows and Luke later discovers is that the cave is an illusion and is meant to show him what the Dark Side holds for Luke should Vader and the Emperor manage to turn him to the Dark Side.  Another instance where Luke doesn’t believe in the Force’s powers is when he rushes to save his friends before finishing his training.  Both Yoda and the spirit of Ben counsel Luke to stay and finish his training, but Luke ignores the  counsel of both of them who are far greater in tune with the Force than he is.

THE RETURN OF THE JEDI

If The Empire Strikes Back is a repudiation of the Force, then Return of the Jedi is a calm acceptance of the Force.  Han doubts Luke’s abilities (“you’re going to die here, you know,” as he tells Luke when the are on Jabba’s barge on the way to the Sarlacc pit.  Luke calmly tells Vader “that my father is truly dead,” when Vader prepares to bring him before the Emperor.  Even at the end, when the Emperor goads Luke to take up the Lightsaber and he has to fight Vader, he is able to stop himself before he becomes like Vader.  Even the resolution of the story rests, not on a massive fight scene to the death, but a son’s belief that there is still a good man wrapped in the evil shell that is Vader.  Luke’s agency in that scene is that he trusts in his intuition and insight into his father’s character.  Without that trust, without having faith and accepting the Force, even when it seems contrary to what is happening in the physical world, Luke would not have succeeded.

IMPLICATIONS FROM MY WRITING

This is something that I need to remember for my own writing.  The rejection letter came from the first market on Wed. (10/19).  Add to the fact that I was sick with a sinus infection or something, and it really seemed like hopeless.  After reflecting on the movie, I just have try and believe–even when it seems hopeless.  I just sent the story to a 2nd market today and I have a 3rd market ready to go should it also quickly come back this week.

I really believe that Silence Will Fall is one of my best stories and that eventually it will find a home.  I just have to my part and keep sending it out until it does.

May the Force Be With You, Always.

The Well is Dry (Or Nice Guys Finish Last)

dry-well

Nothing in the well to write about.  I hate this feeling.  I hate trying to force my writing to come out.

I haven’t written creatively since 2/15/16 and no matter what I try, I can’t seem to put pen to paper.  This happens periodically, but this time it is life that is intruding on the writing.

NICE GUYS

I think I understand why people enjoy the “hooligans” so much these days.  Being the “hero” hurts.  It is painful and it is no fun.  Better to decimate, conquer, and have fun no matter the cost.

Trying to write is hard.  Trying to write about a hero that is suffering, but somehow pulls through despite it all is hard.

We (Americans, of which I am one) seem to want the “Easy Button.”  If it isn’t easy, then (our) society says we’re doing something wrong.

FINISH LAST

What we’ve done in the postmodern world is that both our fiction and our society has begun to coalesce around the idea that “Nice Guys Finish Last.”  IF you’re nice, then you’re never going to achieve or get anything.  So be a “hooligan.”

I refuse.  I refuse to be a hooligan in real life and refuse to write about them in fiction.

As a child of Star Wars, I can put it plainly, I want to read/write/watch/play things about the “Jedi,” not the “Sith.”

UBI SUNT? (“Where are They?”)

Why are mainstream publishers chasing the success things like Game of Thrones or Walking Dead to exclusion of all else.  I can go to the bookstore and find a million clones of Game of Thrones, but nothing like David Eddings’ Belgariad or Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, Thorn.

Brandon Sanderson once remarked on his podcast “Writing Excuses” that he almost got out of the Fantasy genre in the mid-90s because all they were producing was “Quest” books.

Well, now I’m where he was back then because all I see are Game of Thrones/Walking Dead “nihilism” books.  This is pushing me out of the genre.  I have no desire to read those books and I’m losing the desire to write because I know my stories won’t be accepted because they don’t fit the current “trends.”

What is a writer to do?

Color me discouraged.

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