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On life: what is the real world?

July 6, 2014 5 comments

For quite a while now I’ve been wondering about whether social media — Facebook in particular — is as great as everyone seems to think it is. Yeah, I check Facebook multiple times a day, as well as reddit.com. I do lurk on Instagram occasionally, and blog semi-regularly :-). But Facebook … there’s something about Facebook that just eats at me every time I get on and scan the latest updates. I have some theories about what it is that bothers me, but rather than get up on my soapbox and try to express them, I thought I’d share a short film that, to me, pretty much conveys how I feel about it. What do you think? Is the tag line for the video accurate?

What’s wrong with social media

Not to mention that every minute on Facebook is one minute I’m unable to spend writing 🙂

–dp

Throwback Thursday: I was a teenage rock and roller

March 20, 2014 14 comments

It’s Thursday once again, and that means it’s time for an old post from the past, one that I wrote long before most everyone followed this blog. This one comes from my personal blog (you can find it here, at A Pagan In Name Only), though over time I’ve ended up posting most of my personal stuff here. Go figure. Anyway, for those who only know me from reading this blog, you might find this post from July 2, 2012, an interesting read.

Disappearing Childhood Dreams Meet the Present

–dp

Melancholy Monday: sad songs (The House That Built Me)

March 10, 2014 20 comments

Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about a song that touched upon a yearning I think most of us have at one time or another. It’s that desire to go back to simpler times, to those days when were kids with nothing more to worry about than growing up and what was for dinner. This song, for me, is bittersweet. It brings back so many wonderful memories, yet at the same time I feel an overwhelming sense of loss. If nostalgic were a genre of music (and perhaps it is), this would be right up there at the top of the list representing the category.

The original post can be found here.

For those who don’t want to go back to the old post, I can summarize it here: I took copies of my family’s old 8mm films, edited them together, and added the song, “The House That Built Me”, to the final video.

If you’re interested in a small slice of this person’s childhood while you’re listening to the song, you can watch the first video. Note: Of the two young boys you’ll see, I’m the younger (and I might say, cuter) of the two. Otherwise, you can watch the second video, which is the official one produced by the original artist, Miranda Lambert.

Obligatory disclaimer for those who eschew country music: Yes, this is a country song, but bear with me and give the song a listen anyway. It’s not a beer drinking, love my tractor, honky tonking, my wife left me kind of country tune. It’s actually quite touching, with lyrics I think many of us can identify with.

–dp

On life: missing in action

March 1, 2014 19 comments

So, have any of you out there wondered, “Hey, where’s Dave been?” Well, if you have, I’ve got an answer for you.

Recently, our seventh grandchild was born. Yeah, I know … seven grandchildren … hard to believe, especially for me because I certainly don’t feel old enough to even be a grandfather 🙂 But hey, get this … in May grandchild number eight arrives! Isn’t life just a kick in the head?

So on February 19th, my wife and I headed out to LaCrosse, Wisconsin and braved the dreaded polar vortex to introduce ourselves to our new granddaughter, Bronwyn Elizabeth. She is ridiculously cute and sweet, and her older brother, David, thinks she’s awesome. We returned late last Tuesday, and have pretty much just now returned to normal. I figured now would be the perfect time to pass along some proud grandfather pictures.

First off, here’s Bronwyn:

Bronwyn Elizabeth

Bronwyn Elizabeth

Here’s Bronwyn with her wonderful grandmother (affectionately referred to as Grammy). If there was ever an award for the world’s best grandmother, it would be for this lovely lady.

Bronwyn's Grammy

Bronwyn’s Grammy






















For David, who had to put up with all the fuss of a new kid in the house, Grammy and I decided he deserved a trip to Toys R Us. Here are the first two things he found. Not surprising for a kid who spends hours a day playing with dinosaurs and bugs 🙂

David

David

Here we are, the proud grandparents, just before we left the ice and snow to head back to California.

Pop, Grammy, David, and Bronwyn

Pop, Grammy, David, and Bronwyn


















We had a wonderful visit with our son and daughter-in-law. We’re looking forward to seeing them later this year after they move to Nashville so our son can complete his residency training at Vanderbilt University.

–dp

If it’s City Slickers it must be my birthday

January 14, 2014 12 comments

Well, throwback Thursday is a day early this week. Yeah, yeah, yeah … I know that actually makes it a throwback Wednesday, but I think this blog post from four years ago is apropos for the day. So, just like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, let’s step into the WABAC (as in “wayback” for the uninitiated) machine and travel all the way back to January 14th, 2009.

City Slickers and my birthday

Throwback Thursday: unseen posts from the past

January 9, 2014 9 comments

Ok … I’ve finally given in. For a while now, I’ve been seeing “throwback Thursday” blog posts fly by here, as well as on Facebook. So, I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon. In my case, though, I don’t plan on posting old pictures of myself (because, let’s admit it, who really cares about those), but rather, throw out some old blog posts. Most of you out there following me now are relatively new, say within the last year. Since I’ve been blogging off and on for pretty much for 5 years now, I thought it would be fun to share some of the (hopefully) better posts from years gone by.

First up is something I wrote back in August of 2011. It’s all about rediscovering a dream. Hope you enjoy.

Throwback Thursday post.

–dp

(Almost) winter snow

December 8, 2013 23 comments

Here in northern California, we don’t often get snow. But when we do, it sure makes everything look pretty. Here’s what it looked like yesterday.

WinterHouse

See that window on the lower right? That’s where I spend most of my life, either working or writing.

Unfortunately, we’re a bit behind on putting up decorations. We should be caught up this week, though 🙂

–dp

On anniversaries: pieces that remain

November 30, 2013 18 comments

Pieces from a life

When someone you love passes away, nothing remains except memories and, if you’re lucky, a few sentimental pieces leftover from their life. These items, so ordinary that in other circumstance they’re nothing more than so much clutter, instead help you hold on, however tenuously, to the reality that once was but is no more. Sometimes it feels so easy to fall into that place where you find yourself wondering if it was ever real, or was it all just dream.

A year ago today, on November 30th, 2012, my father passed away. Today I reflect on the bittersweet nature of this anniversary. I’m reminded of the man that I called dad, and the love that I held for him, and the many memories I have of him over the years. Yet I’m also reminded that he is gone: no more phone calls, no more visits, no more e-mails. There is nothing left of the man I knew except a gravestone and a few items that once belonged to him.

Wooden propellers for radio-controlled airplanes, a hobby that he loved. I grew up watching him build his planes in the garage, then take them out and fly them through the sky. I was lucky enough to tag along with him on many of his flying trips, and I remember them vividly to this day.

A pair of his glasses. For as long as I knew him, he had terrible eyesight and wore glasses of some kind or another. And I remember hearing him lament his condition, mostly because he regretted that he couldn’t become a pilot in the military. Instead he had to serve in the Navy.

An old watch, scratched and beat up. I don’t think he really ever cared much about time, or its passing, at least not until toward the end of his life. Then it seemed that time became a precious commodity, and one of which he was quickly running out. I can sympathize with his feelings, as I sit here today wondering just how in the world I ended up where I am today.

Finally, a voice recorder he picked up after his diagnosis. He’d originally intended to use it to document his successful battle with cancer, and then perhaps write a book about his experience. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to use it for that purpose. But he did use it to record a couple of brief messages about how he was feeling during his treatment.

As it turns out, of these items, the recorder is the most precious one I have, because it gives me the one thing I would never have had if it didn’t exist: I can still hear his voice. After weeks and months pass by, it’s so easy for memories to fade, but with this recorder, whenever I feel the need, I can listen to him speak, if only for just a couple of minutes. It doesn’t matter what he’s talking about, it’s just hearing that voice one more time.

Love you, dad, and still missing you …

–dp

On NaNoWriMo 2013: a confession

November 6, 2013 21 comments

I first tried “winning” NaNoWriMo back in 2010. Much to my surprise, I “won” with just over 50K words. Since then, that original manuscript has doubled in size and become what I think is a pretty darn good story. It has a few plot holes and characterization issues that I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to correct, but other than that, I’m proud of the effort.

In 2011, for no good reason other than perhaps I was simply uninspired, I started writing and crashed and burned within a week. In 2012, I once again threw caution to the wind and leaped headlong into the frenzy known as NaNoWriMo. With a good idea and a little bit of inspiration, I was typing away like mad and looking forward to another “win”. But then the phone call came on Sunday evening, November 25th. I rushed to the airport and boarded a plane to meet up with my family in Arkansas. My father was dying. NaNoWriMo came and went and I didn’t care.

And here it is, nearly a year later, and NaNoWriMo is here once again. For a few months prior to November, I was convinced I would attempt NaNoWriMo yet again. But as the winds grew cold and the skies turned gray, and as the days on the calendar inexorably found themselves inching toward the first of November, I found myself losing interest in something as mundane as a writing challenge. And now, NaNoWriMo has begun and I am nowhere to be found.

So this year, as I find myself facing the first anniversary of my father’s passing, I sit on the sidelines and watch so many of my blogging friends enjoying the frenetic pace of generating 50K words this month (all of course except for Eric who was willing to confess his disdain for the month of writing like a madman). I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I find myself missing the excitement of the challenge, of sitting in my office each night, pounding away on the keyboard until I hit the minimum word count, knowing that there are many thousands of other fellow writers around the world doing the very same thing. On the other hand, I’ve found that life so far this month has been more relaxed as the holidays approach, and, perhaps more importantly, I’ve felt at peace as I head, for the first time, toward the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

What will next November bring? I don’t know for sure … time will tell. But for now, I wish all my blog friends out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck. Have a blast, drink plenty of coffee, and hit that 50K goal and “win”. I’m rooting for all of you.

–dp

On life and writing: disconnect to connect

September 27, 2013 31 comments

Ever feel connected to the world through your iPhone, or even your iPad? You can pretty much do anything with these devices: play games, read the news, send and receive email, check Facebook. Know what you can’t do with a smart phone? Well, watch this great video and find out.

As time goes by, I feel myself wanting to pull away from technology and spend more time in the real world. You know, that place where we all spent our time long before instant connection, instant communication, and constant interruption? As the video illustrates so well, as we are absorbed by our technology (or assimilated for those STTNG fans out there), we become disconnected from one another, and soon, our focus shifts from the world in which we live, and the people we love, to our gadgets. Eventually, for all practical purposes, we end up alone in a world of our own making, a world consisting of the Internet and everyone except those who are actually physically present with you. And sometimes, it can get even worse. Read this post to see how.

We writers should take note. For us, it’s especially important we take in the world around us — people, places, things — and use it to create stories filled with characters and places and events made real by that which we’ve experienced firsthand. Sure, there’s a place for the Internet and those gadgets we all love to own (click here to see my own technology obsession). They’re great for helping with research, keeping up with the news, reading about new things and new ideas, and providing a little entertainment. It’s only when our digital world becomes more important than the real world that we run into trouble.

Is anything worth losing the connection with those closest to us?

–dp