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Irrationally Exuberant [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Danny Adams

[ website | Bio of a Silver Fox ]
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Keep Up With The Old Guy [Feb. 11th, 2015|07:37 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|]
[Current Location |Not The Gym]
[Current Mood |Snerky]
[Current Music |"Fly Me To The Moon" ala the Virginia Gentlemen]

I'll admit it: I'm one of these middle-agers who looks over the younglings in the gym with a bit of envy. I know I'm not the only one, and in my case, it's colored by the fact that aside from occasional walking and hiking when I was a youngling, I had a naturally high metabolism that meant I could stay skinny without trying hard. Nowadays moderate exercise simply means I don't gain weight, rather than losing it.

But until today it never occurred to me to wonder what was going on in the younger folks' heads when I came into the gym. Now I'm thinking of it as "Keep Up With the Old Guy" Syndrome.

I'd noticed flickers of this before but brushed it off, figuring I was imagining things: that sometimes when I was working out and I would periodically speed up on the elliptical or stationary bike, people of the half-my-age variety would speed up on their machines, particularly if I'd been going faster than them to start with. I saw that again today: every quarter mile on the elliptical I would increase my speed, and two people on treadmills a few yards away sped up too. (During the first two speed increases their conversation got more winded. After speed increase #3 they stopped talking altogether.)

I likely would have ignored and brushed this off too. But then after doing the weight workout I went to a cool-down on a stationary bike moments before another youngling got on the one next to me. The first half-mile on the bike I increase my speed at tenth-of-a-mile increments, then bring it back down for the second half. And I noticed yet again that when I sped up, he did too. That caught my attention because it's the first time this happened twice in a row during a workout.

Then, while I was staring straight ahead and listening to the Monkees burbling away in my headphones, I saw - not once, but twice - the guy next to me lean over and look at my speed. When he leaned back he sped up to go faster than I was.

I've got to say I was boggled. All this time being jealous of youth and strength and high metabolisms, and folks half my age or younger are trying to keep up with me? I don't mean out of jealousy - but maybe they felt like the old guy was showing them up.

Which made my day, I'm not too big to admit.

So take heart, those of you of my generation and older who are trying to keep yourselves healthy amid a workout sea of young faces. One way or another, you may be a better example than you realize!

(P.S. If they really were bothered by my workout, my leaving didn't provide any relief. As I was walking out a friend was coming in - a fellow who is a little older than me, in better shape...and an ex-Marine.)
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You Must Avoid Balance, Daniel-san [Feb. 10th, 2015|08:53 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Marginally Prepared Land]
[Current Mood |impatient]
[Current Music |"Be Prepared" by Tom Lehrer]

Amid my mostly futile efforts to try combining multiple fairly substantial tasks - like writing, exercising, and house-work - within individual days, I ran across a snarky astrology page that was a revelation. Libra, my sign, is described as "Indecisive. Tries to balance everything".

Trying to balance everything might be a good description of my problem here. Or rather, trying to balance everything in a single day. It struck me - particularly as I close in on the end of the For Fun Fantasy Novel, finally - that the analysis at the end of the day really should be qualitative rather than quantitative. I don't mean that stuff doesn't get done, but I need a better metric than 24 hour cycles. I may get 5000 words a week done whether or not I write every day, but if I spend a day devoted to writing, rather than a half-hour here and there because I'm trying to do other things too, and those 5000 words are better when I can devote more time in one sitting to them, then what sense does it make to do everything in pieces?

Likewise, for work on the house. One of my upcoming projects is to rip up a small section of carpet and put down tile, for instance. It makes less sense to do this in several chunks than doing it over one or two days, and like those 5000 words, the quality of the job would probably be better. I can concentrate on tile without thinking "But I haven't written today...", or writing without thinking "There's still a lot of bare floor..."

So I just have to somehow un-corkscrew myself from Libra-ness. I might have had an easier time learning to balance, but we'll see. Maybe it's just a matter of getting out of the habit of going to bed thinking "What have I done today?" and replacing it with "What have I done this week?"

The exception to this, though, is exercise. Some things I can put off, but I put off exercise at my peril. Three times a week would be enough, or has been in the past, as long as it's consistent. This is something I need to keep up regardless of what else is going on the rest of the day, for my own long term (much, much longer than a week) sake.

Another bit of time unfortunately just opened up for my next few weeks, too: Amazon has cancelled its Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest this year. I've been a judge for that contest since its inception in 2008, and figured that being annual and being Amazon, I could solidly expect to do it again this year too. Nope. I heard from my Publishers Weekly editor, rosefox, yesterday that it was being scrubbed, with the official notice arriving today. Ah well. I thought it was a great thing and I hate to see it disappear. Some of the manuscripts I read were real stinkers - one year all of them were - but there were others I thought absolutely brilliant, and I'll miss those. RIP, ABNA.

* * *


Anyway, as I said above, I'm closing in on the end of No Word in Death's Favor. I might even wrap it up in another two chapters and perhaps a small epilogue. Then I'll connect the dots from chapter to chapter so it flows better, and then eventually decide whether or not I think it's any good.

I went into it not thinking about publishing as the major goal but experimenting with things I hadn't tried before, or not tried much. Publishing or not will enter my mind more thoroughly once it's finished. I'll try not to let the fact that I spent ten months on it influence my decision; aside from the fact that much of that time was spent not writing while I worked on New House, the extra time was also built in from the start because of all the experimenting (and, yeah, playing around in the name of experimenting).

Then again, I might really like it. We'll see.

And after that...maybe a Secret Project. I call it that because it's probably something I'm not supposed to be writing. But offhand I can't recall any time such a prohibition stopped me.


PROGRESS REPORTCollapse )

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I Can't Move My Arms [Jan. 19th, 2015|10:46 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|]
[Current Location |Closer To Where I Want To Be]
[Current Mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Current Music |"Pleasant Valley Sunday" by the Monkees]

That's not a reference to A Christmas Story (though I was tempted to take a picture of myself bundled under three or four coats), but rather that I finally got back to the gym today for the first time since before I moved (that is, before last April).

I'd been telling myself that I'd get back for...well, never mind that. But it was particularly intense over the past couple of weeks, except I let my time-gobbling duo of writing and doing house-related things (125,000 words on No Word in Death's Favor as of this past Saturday, by the way) gobble time that could otherwise have gone to working out. But today I was determined to get there, since I was starting to feel my resolve slipping again.

And more to the point, I have an active summer planned, which will include a maniacal amount of sightseeing involving an equally maniacal amount of walking, plus hiking with some treading up to the tops of giant rocks. I anticipate having a great deal of fun this summer, so naturally I do not want to cut it short in midstream with a heart attack.

At any rate, the hardest thing for me about working out is not the exercise itself, but making myself not compare where I am now to my 2009 peak of one hour workouts four days a week, when I dropped several inches off my waist, could run a couple of miles without breaking a sweat, and lift the highest settings on the campus gym's weight machines one-handed. That was after several months of intense exercise, and honestly I'm not sure if I could reach that level of intensity again. But what I would like to do is get rid of as much of the gut as possible, build back some arm muscle...and of course, not die of a heart attack (on vacation or any time in the next few decades thereafter, preferably).

I broke down today's workout into my old standard non-intensive plan:

I started with the elliptical, doing a mile in about 10:30 - no record-breaking there, but breaking the no-workout streak was all I cared about. I did another half mile in almost exactly five minutes, then a cool down.

Then the weight machines, and the titular loss of movement in my arms. While I was smart enough to not try the same weights I was doing even when last I worked out, I was naive enough to think I could do the same quantity. After seven ten-sets of pull-downs (with the machines set to 7 out of 12 on five of those, and 8/12 on two), I knew I was done with lifting for the day - especially when an 8/12 machine pulled me back into my seat on the last tug.

Then a mile on a stationary bike going 55-100 RPM, with a third-of-a-mile cool down.

This is the point where I pointedly tell myself not to remember that my original workouts would've added jogging three laps around the gym, a number of push-ups, an extra one-half mile to one mile on the elliptical, and at least twice as much weight-lifting. Right now I'm just pleased that I got to the gym at all, so I'll go with that.

What I need to figure out now is why I have so much trouble keeping up this exercise habit, while in 2009 I was kind of obsessive about working out and stopped only after (1) a doctor told me to quit exercising for a month after my nearly-lethal spider bite, and (2) my car died. I suspect if I can figure this puzzle out I'll at least get back to something close to fighting shape.

Or walking miles a day shape. Either way I'll be happy.
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2014: Annales Photographia, Part 2 [Jan. 14th, 2015|10:11 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|]
[Current Location |Between Cold and Warm]
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]
[Current Music |"Nine Times Blue" by the Monkees]

More highlights from my past year as told in a few of my favorite photos.


0120141138a
Tucker wishes one of his bovine buddies a happy 2014. (January)


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2014: Annales Photographia [Jan. 9th, 2015|02:27 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|]
[Current Location |One Foot in 2014]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]
[Current Music |"The Last Goodbye" by Billy Boyd]

I started writing a "Year In Summary" post for 2014, but after a couple or three paragraphs I decided I'd rather just post some of my favorite pictures from the year. This isn't all of them - they only cover up to October - so I'll likely post more when I get the chance.


HPIM6480
One of the first pictures, if not the first, I took of the New House, three months before the sale went through. (January)


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Link Stew, Sponsored By The Brand New 2015 [Jan. 7th, 2015|01:25 pm]
Danny Adams
[Current Location |A Building Struggling To Stay Warm]
[Current Mood |coldcold]
[Current Music |"Candle on the Water" ala Kristin Chenoweth]

Visiting A Park Could Save Your Life. Well, yeah. And woods too, I imagine.

Talk like an Egyptian: If we want to safeguard our languages, stories and ideas against extinction, we had better study Egyptology. This is actually the sort of thing that's always in the back of my mind when it comes to collecting and preserving my own library. I also really got deep into this idea, as it were, a few years ago when I read Gregory Benford's non-fiction book Deep Time.

Why Creative People Seem To Have The Messiest Minds. Based on how messy mine can be...second only to my room.

This Brilliant 11-Year-Old Revolutionized Flood Prevention. Peyton Robertson invented the possibly genius and potentially life-saving sandbag that doesn't require sand.

Top Ten Ancient Egyptian Discoveries of 2014. I always especially love "old news".

First Buffalo Roam East Of The Mississippi Since 1830. There were even buffalo here in southwestern Virginia until the last one was shot in the late 1790s. Alas, a program trying to reintroduce them in certain areas some years back never came to fruition.

Byron Ballard keeps Appalachian folk magic practices alive. And it turns out that she happens to be the friend of a friend.

Oh My God, There’s A Cat In Russia That Wears A Bow Tie And Works As A Librarian. Because cats.

Morris the rescue cat has become a horse whisker-er since meeting Champy. Because cats and horses.

Christmas Tree Massacre! Big cats and a different sort of catnip.

In France, Vestiges Of The War's Bloody End. World War One, that is. Meanwhile, French town tries to save first world war soldier’s room for posterity. A century-old time capsule.

NASA Astronaut: Why We Need To Visit The Moon, Not Mars. I particularly like Hoffman's point that the Moon, being closer but extraterrestrial, would make the perfect practice ground for a Mars expedition.
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I Hate The Sound Of Story-Chopping In The Morning [Dec. 30th, 2014|08:55 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|]
[Current Location |Staring Into Winter Staring Back At Me]
[Current Mood |Lacerative]
[Current Music |Hobbit closing songs]

I'm facing another big Kill Your Darlings moment: As much as I like the first two chapters of my first Arizona novel, three years of distance and experience since writing them is increasingly telling me that they aren't nearly as up to par as I'd like. And that if I cut them out, plus changing the first three chapters from the second book into the last three of the first, I'll have a much stronger novel. This would start the book - which I might re-title Wolves in the Desert (currently the name of Book 2) - out with a single prehistory chapter and end with the beginning of Geronimo's warmaking in the 1850s.

I hate chopping that much. But if I finally decide that it makes the book better, I'll be ready with an hatchet in each hand.

And of course, in our fabulous Age of the Internet, if the book sells I can always put those two chapters (both prehistory - the first set at the end of the Ice Age and the second about the building of the great canals near modern Phoenix) online as free reads. This would also then have the effect of compacting my 2nd and 3rd Arizona novels into one book as well. Which means if I ever write the last book, the series would finish as a trilogy.

Meanwhile, I've also toyed with the idea of chopping up my last Shenandoah novel as well - ending it at the beginning of World War Two instead of the present day, then adding to the pre-existing chapters to have a final book more comprehensively covering the 1940s up to now. But that would depend on selling that series, too.

As for actual new writing, I knocked out 2000 words on the For Fun Fantasy Novel today, just to get in a few more licks before the end of the year. It's hovering around 115,000 words now and still not quite close to finished yet. It's a good thing that "Don't pay close attention to your word count" is one of the book's multiple experiments.
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Link Stew Can't Choose Between Articles So It Links Them All [Dec. 11th, 2014|09:52 pm]
Danny Adams
[Current Location |Waiting For Christmas Land]
[Current Mood |Ramped up]
[Current Music |"Duel of the Fates" from Star Wars]

'Star Trek' Flashback: Leonard Nimoy Notes 50 Year Anniversary of Original Pilot Shoot. Of course this had to be my lead story. Meanwhile, Astronauts lift our spirits. But can we afford to send humans into space?

Why Pluto Still Matters. And while we're talking about Pluto, New Horizons Wakes Up On Pluto's Doorstep.

10 Reasons Why Our Universe Is A Virtual Reality. I'm not sure if I buy any of this, but it's like candy to my Writer Brain.

The Closer We Look, The Stranger Europa Gets. As much as I'm fascinated by distant galaxies and quasers and what-not, I love exploring our backyard. And in the farther backyard, A Distant Planet May Lurk Beyond Neptune. Besides Pluto, they mean. And not, I suspect, the Planet X / Nibiru that some people think will sweep in someday and destroy all Terran civilization.

New Mystery Arises From Iconic Iwo Jima Image. The image had identification issues right from the very beginning, but I'm fascinated that that problem can resurface after 70 years.

Shell Engraving Has 'Rewritten Human History'. Those archaeologists, always pushing and pushing.

Is Space-Time Shaped Like A Spiral? See my comment about the universe being virtual reality. But I would dig the idea of the entire universe having a Golden Ratio.

Roman Cats Turn Historic Site Into A Cat Haven. Cats and ancietn ruins. Add some books and that's pretty much all I need.

Slayer Rescues A Kitten. Because as the article points out, there's nothing more metal than saving kittens.

Cutest Baby Ever Couldn't Be More Confused By the Concept of Twins. Because as much as I hate to admit it, the Internet can't be all cats.

Government To Pay Off WWI Debt. I personally like the idea of being considered solid if I can pay off my debts within 80 years.

Literally The Best Thing Ever: The Journal Of Emily Shore. This early 19th century teenager wanted to write natural science articles - and succeeded before she was 20. I'll warn you that this story doesn't have a happy ending, though.

Why Save A Language? The author agrees with the idea of seeing things from a culture's unique perspective, but argues that this most-often-given reason isn't the only one by any means.

Now Where Did I Park My 60 Cars? Another awesome treasure trove of antique cars unearthed. I'm less amazed that such things exist, though, that they keep being "lost" for decades at a time.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' character names revealed (in coolest way possible). I'll admit that even after collecting a thousand or so Topps movie cards when I was a kid (and that I still own them), I didn't realize Topps was even still in business, but I was happy to hear it. I still have my collection of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back Topps cards, so maybe I'll grab some of these for old time's sake. You can have my gum.
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Hoping For A Truthful Happy Little Black Cat Ending [Dec. 7th, 2014|09:27 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Half-Sheltered]
[Current Mood |anxiousanxious]
[Current Music |The Virginia Gentlemen]

As much as I love cats, and kittens, and little black cats in particular, I was hoping that this year would be the first in a fair few that the library didn't end up hosting feral kittens. That hope was dashed by the appearance of one early last week - a little black kitten about six weeks old, living inside an outer library wall.

By "outer library wall" this is what I mean: It's a brick sheathing with a hollow space inside for running cables, and the holes the cables run through also allow a little climate control out. So over the years it's been a popular spot for feral cats because it's both sheltered and cool or warm depending on the season. One of the other librarians heard it mewing, and caught a glimpse of it; I likewise heard and saw it the following night.

I started making plans to catch it and take it to the local no-kill shelter. Keeping it wasn't an option; we already have eight cats (four of whom were supposed to be fosters until the people we were fostering for never took them back) and two dogs. I was willing to spay/neuter it and have it vaccinated, but then what? The shelter wasn't forthcoming about whether or not it could take the cat, which usually means they don't have room. (Though Laurie advised I push on through - take the cat there and make them turn me...and the kitten...down face to face.)

So catch-and-release seemed to be the only option if the shelter wouldn't take it. Which is a poor option, because kittens and small cats don't last long on this campus, nor do the domesticated cats dumped by students at the end of the school year because they have the idiotic thought that "It's an animal, it knows how to survive". (Or they assume someone will clean up their mess and take the cat - I even met someone once who dumped a cat because they knew Laurie and I rescued and they figured we would rescue that one too.) Wandering dogs kill these cats, diseases kill them, roadkill dropped food that's spoiled and rotting kill them, and running alongside campus is a secondary highway where half the drivers act like they race for NASCAR no matter what the weather. Most of the feral kittens I've seen on campus disappear, probably to one of these fates. A few of them I know did.

I wasn't particularly happy about the release idea, though doing nothing was a bleak option as well.

Then the mewing under the window disappeared for two days, and I feared that it was gone. Especially since a skunk had been roaming around, and skunks will attack kittens too. But then one of the library's student workers told me that a student she knows had managed to get the kitten and planned to give it to "a good home". I hoped the student who got the kitten was telling the truth; students aren't allowed to have animals in the dorms, and I was afraid maybe they were saying that to keep from getting busted. I passed along the message that if the good home fell through, bring the kitten to me and I'd take care of the surgery and shots.

My hopes rose when my library worker told me that the student got the kitten vaccinated.

But then, just a few minutes before I started writing this, she found out that the student took the kitten to the shelter. So - not the worst possible ending, or really even a bad ending so far, but not quite the best of possible worlds either. The shelter is good, it will do right by the kitten. But I also know that black cats are a hard sell around here - the two we have are proof of that. At the time, no one else would take them.

But who knows? Maybe this time will be different. But at least the kitten is indeed away from ravaging dogs, and skunks, and every other danger small creatures on this campus face.

In the meantime, I'll try trapping the mother if I can to have her spayed. I'd still feel bad about releasing her, though not as much so: she's an adult, so she's probably already learned the tricks to survive, and feral adults usually don't socialize well. She'll still have her little climate-controlled shelter, and with no possibility of more kittens. So there's that.

Animal rescue: wonderful work, but I certainly understand the quick burnout.
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Link Stew Exclaims "SCIENCE!!!" [Dec. 1st, 2014|08:31 pm]
Danny Adams
[Current Location |Not Well Poised]
[Current Mood |Kitten-fretting]
[Current Music |"Yankee Doodle Dandy" ala James Cagney]

Russian Miner Spends His Breaks Taking Photos Of Foxes In The Arctic Circle. Just because, as some of you know, I have a thing for foxes.

Young Volcanoes on the Moon. Rabble rousers!

On the Trail of an Ancient Mystery. Temples aside, the Antikythera Mechanism is far and away my favorite ancient artifact, and I love finding new stories about it.

What It Feels Like To Rocket Into Outer Space. Aside from the cool factor, this might come in handy for some of you writers one of these days.

Forging a Photo is Easy, but How Do You Spot a Fake? Not something I need very often, but you never know, it may come in handy in online political discussions.

Mystery of the 'spooky' pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are aligned. I also find it especially interesting that some of these are thousands and possibly millions of light years apart - which means, of course, that we're seeing them as they existed at different times across millennia.

The riddle of the missing stars. I'm one of these people who's thrilled when one solution creates two new mysteries. In science, I mean, not my personal life.

Brain Scans Reveal What Dogs Really Think of Us. The headline's a wee bit misleading, but I still like the notion.

Why Science Fiction Matters. Money shot: What O'Brien is getting at is that investing resources-including imagination-into the intersections of art, science, technology, and health will help us understand creativity as a resource that can be "exercised and optimized in fresh ways." The right to imagine a new world is perhaps the boldest act of citizenship.
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