What is Something For?

There was a time when a phone was just a phone. You used it to call people. Yes, you could get the time of day (POPCORN anyone?) Or maybe dial-a-joke lines. But for the most part, you called a number and spoke with or listed to someone on the other end. A watch was a similar item. It told you the time of day, give or take a few minutes. (A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two of them never knows what time it is. Or something like that.)

Life was filled with single-purpose devices. Oh sure, butter knives were used as screwdrivers, a pencil could be used as a lubricant, pliers could be used for what a wrench was better suited for it but still, if you had it at hand you, well most of us, used it.

Now we don’t know what the real reason is for so many things. Is that a phone in your pocket or do you use it for news? That watch is no longer just a watch anymore.

Time for a digression. Back in 1976 or 1977 I received a watch for Christmas. Not some Timex thing to wrap on my wrist. No, it was a throwback to earlier days, when t ey were introduced as the pocket watch used by railroad men when timeliness was very important. I had wanted a plain silver watch. Instead, it was gold-colored and with an elk sculpted on the cover. It came with a gold-colored chain that I used to keep it secure. That watch lasted until a bar in the set we were dismantling a set and got in between me and as the bar was added to the pile it pulled on the chain pulled the watch out of my pocket and it tumbled to the floor hitting it hard. It stopped working. I decided that there was always a clock around somewhere or that time did not matter a whole lot. I did without watches up until this fall. (Remind me to tell you about getting a tattoo for a watch. I will do that sometime.)

Yes, so this “watch” does for me what it did for my friend Scott. It watches my pulse and records it. His told him that his pulse was dangerously high. Mine continues to tell me that my pulse is in the good range. It also reminds me to get up when I am being sedentry, and how far and how fast I have gone on walks. It can track bicycling and swimming and (surprised aren’t you?) running and treadmill and a bunch of other things I have not looked into. It also tracks my stress levels (normally very low, not tonight, breath deeply Michael)

Gah, What have things come to? I am happy to have a typewriter. You use it to type. That is all well except for keeping me calm. No worries about what I am to do with it. Insert paper and go.

-~ MichaelRpdx :: rkmm

Oh Wait, Make It Seven

Over the last three days, I have dived into Anthony Madrid’s essay (?) about the topic. One Typed Page on the idea itself and then two days going a little deeper into the types of books you can and should write. I have a seventh book, kinda sorta, for you to add to your list.

But first, Daniel in Ottowa, thank you for the recommendation of Sarah Andersen’s book, FANGS. (Who knew how many Fangs titled things there are at the library, a lot of them) but there was one available for putting on hold. So I have. Mike in Virginia, who took off on writing without knowing where he was going (a fine tradition in that method, by the way) until he found himself written into a corner. Have you read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler? It would be a good book for someone in your position. Plenty of ways to get oneself out of a corner there in that book. Warning: I love that book and look for opportunities to recommend it.

So the other thing you can and should write is a “commonplace book” which is a scrapbook of ideas and other ephemera that you collect. Wikipedia has a wonderful article on it. As does Ryan Holliday whose commonplace book is a collection of 4×6″ index cards with ideas, quotes, references written on them. Holliday, for you unfamiliar with him, has written dozen-plus books From Trust Me, I’m Lying, through Courage is Calling the last one being on the subject of Stoicism. Most of his books are about Stoicism. Another example is the (were the?) cookbooks gathered up by women before they were allowed to be educated. The booklets contained more than recipe things that they need to know passed along. As I assert and will remind you again, this is not for publication, this is for you. So how this collection of things you find interesting or useful or whatever is gathered up is for you to decide.

You can find a number of examples of commonplace books via Google. In both articles and images. Enjoy finding out about this tradition that goes back (at least) as far as Marcus Aurelius’ what is now published as Meditations. A couple of thousand years of yes, there must be something to it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

PS Tomorrow, a new subject and a different typewriter.

The Other Three Books to Write

Yesterday I wrote about three of the reasons that you can and should write about. A book about yourself, a book about others, and a book about your favorite writings. Onward to the other books to be written.

Anthony Madrid called the next one a Dictionary of Received Ideas. And he then dives into a dictionary of words not in the sense of definitions of words as needed to look up. Instead, well it can be anything. Consider Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary hone to things like “TRUTHFUL, adj., Dumb and illiterate.” Of course, it is the meaning you assign to things. Like memories, for instance, summer is the time when it is fully bright when I get up. As opposed to winter then it is dark all the time. But if something grabs your attention, jot it down, include it here. There is so much more to words than whatever they put into a dictionary. Especially to you. Make this one about words.

Now for my favorite, a Book Of Lists. The example given is The Pillow Book, by Sei Shonagon. Like my list of “Randoneur events in which I did not finish last”, or “Summer Themes” or favorite foods, celebrity crushes, or Scars (I have 15, I cannot be a criminal), or Frisson Songs (the ones that cause your hair to stand up). Well, there are more things you can list. It is my favorite thing to write about and so I do.

A Book to Burn, Li Zhi. He wrote it with the idea of including all of the ideas that were not palatable and got people riled up. It was titled such that if you were caught with a copy you would be executed. He was caught with this book of ideas so inflammatory that he was sentenced to death. He committed suicide in prison before they could do so. We all need a place to say what we must not. Write it and burn it.

If you do not have anything to write about (like I have felt many times before) you can outline or do a bit of one of these books. A place to start.

— MichaelRpdx

Three Books You Can and Should Write

Samuel Pepys kept an exact record of everything he did, or said, or heard, or saw, or ate, or hoped, or stepped in. Yes, I mean everything. He did not think about it. He just did it. Everything without reservation or comment or anything. This is probably due to the fact that he felt, he really believed, that no one, not a soul, would ever read it. So he wrote it all. Everything. Now he did live in interesting times and he knew some famous people but he wrote it all down.

You do not need to do that. Consider the distance between his tell-all and what the normal, make them look good, normal telling of someone’s tales. You can fall somewhere between the two. Give it a whirl.

And remember, this is a book for yourself. So put in as much as you can.

John Aubrey, on the other hand, took a similar approach but for other people. He just kept notes about the people he knew. But how well do you know people? That adage about writing about something in order to know it, that applies to people, and there is nobody to say you are wrong.

So write it up. Leave notes to yourself about the things that you are not sure of or in the lives of other people you can make it up. But trying to write about people you know is a good start.

Remember this is a book for yourself. You can and should write it.

(Francis Turner) Palgrave’s Golden Treasury was is a shortish anthology of British lyric poetry. This was personal choices and something that drew critics. (They had plenty of room to criticize it, the book has been updated) But that is not the point. Put together a booklet of the best writing you can find. (Tangled up in Blue, anyone?) Gather them together for your pleasures. This is your booklet and you can put what you want into it. There is no reason to have some compilation of other people’s “Best of … ” Choices. Make your own.

For yourself, remember it is for you to write.

This dips into the first three of the six books you can and should write. If you are at all curious about the three books listed here, you can find them at Project Gutenberg. All are available in a variety of formats. (Kindle, EPUB for other readers, an HTML version, and plain text.)

My favorite book I can and have actually started writing will come tomorrow. Give it some thought and perhaps type in something to get started on it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

What To Do and What Not To Do

FedEx was going to get blasted here and now. This was about a guy shipping a bicycle to me to pick up and ride the Oregon coast. Except it never arrived. It was shipped two and half weeks ahead of time and … he borrowed my bicycle. Shipped it back to me on September 14. It is still out there. So yeah, I was going to unload on FedEx today. Then I remembered the #1 thing listed in “8 Stoic DON’Ts”, “Don’t be overheard complaining…even to yourself.” I believe that to be from Seneca. So much for FedEx and their “delivery”.

Do not use them. Ever.

It seems I have never talked about the six books you can and should write. This was inspired by Anthony Madrid’s article in The Paris Review “Six Books We Could and Should All Write”. This is not a novel or poetry collection, (though you can do that if you can and are up to it) not a compendium of essays (or One Typed Page hrmam, does that count?) Certainly this is not a book for publication.

The books we can and should write are:

* a book about oneself
* a book about others
* an anthology of favorites
* a book about words
* a book of lists
* a book to burn

You all, all of you, have demonstrated the skills to write these six books. Examples of the books include The Diary of Samuel Pepys about oneself (have your writings included life during the pandemic?) John Aubrey’s Brief Lives. Who do you know? Describe them. Golden Treasury from Palgrave is a collection of the best stuff he has read. You can collect your favorites together. There are more things given as examples. Included in this is Sei Shonagon’s work The Pillow Book, a favorite of mine – a book of lists. And it winds up with Li Zhi’s “A Book to Burn”, filled with things you do not want to share with anyone. Burn it first.

OK, that was a brief outline of the books you can and should write. I will go into more detail in pages to come. Think about it. You can.

Really, you can write any of those books.

— MichaelRpdx :: rkmm

No Spoilers! NO! NO!

Spoilers in normal times are bad enough. You know what is going to happen. This is not supposed to know what is happening. That is the point of a surprise. In dramas, it really plays up to the emotional surprises you feel. With a spoiler the effect evaporates and what the writer worked so hard to create is gone. For this series, it is something special.

SQUID GAME is what I am referring to now. If someone tries to tell you about it, ask them to not. If there is an article in a paper, a magazine, something on the web, do not watch or read it. We were very lucky and saw it as a surprise. A South Korean, Netflix series. There was a bit of a trailer enough to get us to watch it. And we did and it was binged right away.

I would describe it, except I do not want to spoil it for you. You have the option of dubbed in a variety of languages and closed captioning for a similar amount. If you have heard of it, and considering the number of places I have seen it mentioned, well watch it. Well worth the time.

But without any spoilers. We are going to watch it again. Yes, that is one hell of a spoiler, having seen it already. This time through we get to see all the things, the items dropped into it by the writer, and see what hints were there that we missed.

I am looking forward to talking about SQUID GAME, and the rest of the children’s games in it. But only with people that have seen it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

Being A Boss of Yourself

I am the boss now
Says the weekly game we play
I get to decide

Starting at midnight on the Saturday / Sunday change in days whoever says “I’m the boss” is the boss for a week. Until the next night and the restart of the game. The boss gets to decide. Like going to which restaurant. Or what we are choosing for breakfast. Nothing really big. But the boss gets to decide. This week it is me.

I am going to meditate. Close my eyes. Monitor my breath. Until I figure out that I am thinking about, something. So I start again. And I do it again and again and again and … until time is up. And my thoughts wander in. Every time. But that is kind of the point. Noticing that you have drifted to something. What is for lunch? What did I have for pizza last night? That dumb thing I did in 11th grade. Where are we going next winter? Lots of things come into my mind. So I start again. I do have some things I say in meditating in time with my breathing. In, Out. Here Now. are two of my favorites.

I have been doing this since September of 2016. Like this:

here now here now in out here now here now in out in out in out in out here new here now here now here now here now here now in out in out in out (YAWN) here now here now here now here now here now here now how long has it been? in out in out in out in out here now here now here now in out in out do I pay atten… here now here now to my nasal breaths or my belly? Wait, restart. in out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out here new here now (scratch head) (hands back to laf) here now here now here now’ here NOW HERE NOW HERE NOW HERE NOW IN out IN Out. in out in out here now here now here now here here here now (pause) now here now here now here now in out in out in out in out in out in now in out in now here out here now in out in out in out in out Sunday, it is sunday. Again Sunday again, wait. it is time for in out here now here now here now here now here now here now here now here now in out in out in out

And so it goes. It helps keep me calm, I have a lot of things to remain calm about. I am not that way all the time. Meditation helps.

— MichaelRpdx :: rkmm

A Big If

Habits. You have them. Like getting out of bed in the morning and brushing your teeth. Or having pizza every Friday. Or writing something, perhaps anything, for One Typed Page. So much of what you do is habit-based. And if (this is a pretty big “if” here), and if you want to change your life you need to change your habits. It does not take much effort if (another big if to be found here) you go about it in a way that makes it somewhat “easy.”

You may notice that I do not have a typing for One Typed Page habit. Others do. Boy do they ever and they remain a joy to read. Every Day. I do have that habit, reading a favorite author or two every day: A great thing about One Typed Page is allowing all of us to become producers. It is not like watching YouTube, a very easy habit to fall into.

Back to those “if” statements, there is a book called Atomic Habits, from James Clear. The atomic in the title here referred to as a dictionary says, “very small; infinitesimal” and what the author suggests is indeed this type of atomic. And yes, the pun of the power source is there here.

I recommend it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

PS – Inktober is illustrated in the image I have included. A napkin? Yes, all of his ink drawings are on napkins. And they are all done really well, like this one. Now through the end of the month on Instagram.

An Inktober Illustration

What A Month

It’s Inktober! OK, it is really October. But for some this is Inktober. Which is kind of silly. For people claiming October is special for them. There are many other October months. There are twelve health-related ones alone including National Physical Therapy Month, National Dental Hygiene Month, National Healthy Lung Month. For food, there is National (Pizza/Popcorn Popping/Porks/Seafood) Month. (Choose your favorite!) If you were in the San Francisco area you could go by City Lights for a kick-off event for the Filipino American History Month — I am sure one of the readers of this place was there. And reading too. There are many observations of the month. I will be following one or more of them. Check back on November 2 to see what I Otoberized the month.

There are so many things to choose from in life. One can Type a Once Daily Page, practice Spanish (just passed 1000 consecutive days), Morning Pages, Meditation (daily), draw or sketch a day, drawing a day, play some Ukulele or other instrument, a photograph a day, Sourdough of the Day (that was September), so many to choose from.

Do you have that problem? Choosing between the wealth of options?

I certainly do. (wait, I left reading off of the list of things to do) (well, it was one of many things left off) So far it seems like rotating among the choices is my way to go. We will see if that is a long-term way to go with choosing among the wonderful choices.

— MichaelRpdx :: rkmm