Brand me? Brand *this*

On a lark, I signed up for a “BrandYourself” account a few weeks ago.

I’d read about it via a Quartz link and was curious. I’ve been living outside the US Culture Bubble for about two decades now, so I’ve largely missed the “OMG my employer is checking my SNS posts” terror that (apparently) has been sweeping the nation.

My first BrandYourself warning: You have 738 Risk Factors!

OMG. What were they? Was I really putting myself at risk? Continue reading

Sakura: An Easter story

IkomaSan

My friend, you died on Easter morning.

We all knew it would happen sometime soon. But still it seemed sudden.

My grandfather also died during Easter weekend, many years ago. Good Friday, in fact. I was 10. We had to have the wake and funeral right away. The Church said they wouldn’t allow him to be buried on Easter Sunday.

My mother told us that Grandpa went straight to Heaven, because he died on Good Friday. That we would one day see him again.

Terry, you died on April 1st. But it was no Fool’s. It was Easter. You were sleeping, and did not wake. Continue reading

Death of a Cherry Tree

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This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.

We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.

And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.

More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.

Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.

My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:

“To the Cherry Tree,

For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.

We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.

If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”

Stories are made by fools like me…

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Starving the smartphone addiction

It’s been six weeks since I decided to take a break from Facebook. Back in mid-January I took a screenshot to show students how to figure out which apps they used the most (Line, by far, in case you’re wondering, followed by YouTube… not surprisingly, since my students are all Japanese).

It was a little shocking to see that I was spending over 8 hours a week on FB on my iPhone. My train commute is about an hour and a half each way, and I go to campus four days a week. So basically I spent 2/3 of my train time looking at FB posts.

Yuck. What a waste of reading time. Continue reading

A post about nothing in particular

Is it wrong to post something when nothing’s really been going on?

Well, not exactly nothing nothing. What I mean is, nothing particularly special.

Just work, family, day to day routines.

Influenza. Type B. (Not me, my daughter.)

Preparing materials for class. Doing it again. And again.

Trying to write. Failing epically. Zoning out on YouTubes on Ancient Greece and the Hittites (I’m on a big Hittite kick right now for some reason).

Finally getting to see the new Blade Runner at a friend’s house on Bluray (with kids it’s almost impossible to watch movies I want to see).

Practicing guitar for the first time in nearly a year. Then doing it every day a week straight. For 10 minutes at a time. (Before being told “Daddy, that’s noisy.”)

Yeah. Nothing in particular. Just life, I guess.

2017: Year in Review

KomainuThis past year was an eventful one, to say the least!

By January, my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons, which I had come back to after a long ( ~ 18 year!) hiatus, had already been rejected by three separate SF magazines. So I made the decision to go the self-publish route.

But before that, I sought out some advice from a fellow self-publisher, Greg Spry, whose debut novel I very much admired (Beyond Cloud Nine). He pointed out several areas to be corrected/emended/improved and although I initially resisted further changes, I soon realized that he was right.

Lesson 1 learned: Always listen to advice about your writing. It helps. Continue reading

Thoughts on the eve of tomorrow

As I sit here in front of my computer late at night, on the verge of the 2016 US presidential election, I’m struck by the choice I had to make. Two different versions of a future US society: one that invites multidiversity and multiethnicity in all their chaotic, unpredictable combinations, and one that shuts the door and preserves a traditional us vs them, insider vs outsider mentality.

By all rights, I should support the latter. I’m from a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants, close to 99.99% white, deep in the heart of Upstate New York. I grew up surrounded by people who basically looked like me, enjoyed camping and hiking, canoeing and fishing, playing baseball and football and video games. Driving. A lot. I did yard work when I was old enough to get my working papers (back then, you didn’t get your social security number until you applied for it after age 14). In the spring, I helped my father in the garden. In the summer I mowed lawns. In the fall I raked leaves. In the winter I shoveled driveways. In high school, I had a part-time at a local pizza place, then at McDonald’s, then washed dishes in a nearby town. All our customers were white. All of them spoke English. It was all just fine, everybody looking the same and acting the same. Everybody just like me. Continue reading