Creativecraft: Inspiration

Fire it up!

I hate inspiration.

There, I said it.

Inspiration is an infuriating creature. It’s capricious. Fickle. Unpredictable. Unreliable. It rarely gets work done and is notorious for abandoning me right in the middle of something that needs done.

And it is indispensable to my creative process.

The fact is that every idea I’ve ever had, no matter what it is, is a child of inspiration. That relationship may be subtle, like a whisper carried on a breeze, or it may be unmistakable, like a lightning strike. Either way, inspiration births ideas and everything that comes from it.

Nevertheless, I hate it because I can’t control it. I want it to obey me and to produce on command. It laughs and disappears for days and months and years, only to return with no apparent prompting to dump a pile of ill-begotten offspring on me and disappear again.

So, it is a surprise when inspiration appears with the true intent of showing me a new thing, opening up a vista of possibility to me that had been heretofore obscured and impossible to get to.

This time, inspiration showed up in the form of an internet article about a dumpster fire toy. I know, right?

But that’s what it was. A spark that, pun intended, caught fire and burned away the dead wood that was obscuring my path to something I’ve been trying to find my way to for decades without success. Suddenly, there it is, the thing I’ve been looking for in all its glory.

A dumpster fire.

Yeah, inspiration. I hate it. And I love it.

Please don’t leave. Please come back.

DLH

Read more at my Creativecraft site...

Gaming for the Rest of Us: It turns out, I haven’t really been gaming…

I know, gasp, horror.

That’s not entirely true. I’m playing in a Legends of the Five Rings Role Playing Game campaign once a month. I play Realm Grinder and Forge of Empires as a sometimes diversion. And I play Seaport on my phone. But for the most part, that’s minutes a day, and I just haven’t had the focus or the energy to do more. It happens… Eventually, it will change and I’ll get back into the business of writing about the games I play.

DLH

Read more at my Gaming for the Rest of Us site...

Posted in Uncategorized

Brickcraft: Things have been quiet

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, life has intervened in building. While that means I haven’t been producing new work, it does not mean I have not been thinking about things to build, and if my schedule should clear, I have some strong new ideas about how to progress with my building projects.

Also on the table is a complete redesign of this site. 

Stay tuned. More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my Brickcraft site...

Posted in Uncategorized

Worldview: The Rambling Road: You’re not finished until you’re done, or understanding tired

I recently read a quote from a personal trainer that said, “You’re not finished when you’re tired; you’re finished when you’re done.”

While I appreciate the sentiment of not quitting until you get to your goal, as someone with a chronic illness, I also understand it’s not always that easy.

What do I mean? Well, it seems cliché, but there’s tired and then there’s tired. There are times when I want to quit because, frankly, I’m just to lazy. I think that’s the kind of tired the trainer is talking about, and in that case, they’re right. No one can advance if they quit because it’s hard.

On the other hand, there are times when I want to quit because my body can’t. I tend to describe that as being tired too, but the reality is that it’s more unable than tired. Something has happened inside that means I don’t have the energy to expend, and pushing at that point can create disastrous consequences.

One of the most important parts of managing the complexity of a chronic illness is learning the difference and knowing when to quit. Further, there’s the task of knowing how to tell the people around you who care why you have to quit this time when, maybe, you didn’t have to the last time.

This isn’t an argument for quitting altogether. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that, sometimes, the path isn’t a straight line toward the destination. Sometimes, we have to know when to quit so we can get ahead.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Readiness: Run to where? Taking an honest look at getting out of Dodge.

One of the central themes of a lot of readiness thinking and training is the notion of bugging out when a disaster strikes. There are a lot of reasons for that fact, mostly driven by people living in urban and suburban areas that are critically unsustainable in a crisis situation. That said, one of my major misgivings about the notion of getting out of dodge, and I think one of the major failings of that kind of readiness, is that it often ignores where someone will run to if they run away.

This isn’t a question of standing your ground, but rather it is one of figuring out how not to be a refugee. Why is avoiding that state so important? Because, as a refugee in a crisis situation, you become dependent on whatever aid someone else can provide, and in the worst cases, those providing that aid triage it just like medical care. Unless you have a plan for how to get somewhere that can support you and alternative plans for what happens if you cannot get there, it may prove to be the case that it’s a better call to stay where you are, even in a worst case scenario.

Consider the standard planning for a so-called bug-out kit. A single kit usually contains enough supplies to support one person for three to five days, and with proper care, rationing, and a little luck, could probably last two weeks. What happens after that? Keep in mind that, if you’re in a situation where there is a crisis bad enough to warrant leaving home, it’s likely there are going to be many other people, often far less prepared, doing the same exact thing. If the refugee crises of the past few decades have shown us anything, mass migrations of people fleeing a crisis usually end badly for everyone, even for people who were prepared for short term fleeing.

So, again, what happens after that? If you want to avoid finding yourself in the middle of exactly the kind of secondary disaster a large-scale crisis is likely to create, the only real answer is to have a known destination that you know will be well-supplied and, unfortunately, well defended, along with secondary options for how to get to that location if the primary way is blocked and places to go, at least temporarily, if you cannot get there at all.

Of course, this kind of planning becomes very unique and depends on all sorts of variables, making it far more complex than stocking a backpack with three days of supplies, but the fact is that readiness is a state of mind and a constant practice. The best bet is to add the, “Run to where?’ question to your readiness planning so that you don’t find yourself just trading one disaster for another.

DLH

Read more at my Readiness site...

Science and Technology: The Age of the (ubiquitous, big) Screen

As much as many pan the notion, I believe we have entered the Age of the Screen. If you’re the observant type, you’ll notice screens are everywhere. There are multiples in our houses, and not just TVs. How many of us own more than one computer, tablet, and smartphone? I know I’m guilty, and likely so are you. And that doesn’t even include the screens at work, school, the restaurant, and just about everywhere else we look.

There is lots of press about the negatives of “screen time,” and to be sure, unmanaged, it is a negative, but I posit that our problem with screen time and all these ubiquitous, big screens is that we haven’t figured out how to use them yet. We’re in an era where technology is developing faster than we understand its impact, and it shows.

Follow me here: one of the main arguments against screen time is that it is addictive and changes brain development, especially in children. The fact that is true is undeniable, yet it also glosses over a particular set of facts: both the addiction and the development are manageable if we don’t stop doing the things we did before the screens. Screens are a modern addition to a long history that changes how humans behave, and what is lacking is management.

I find this subject particularly fascinating because so much of what I do right now involves screens. I create art on them. I write on them. I communicate on them. I interact on them. In those ways, screens are incredibly beneficial for me in a variety of ways. Where the screens fail me is when I use them to sate my sometimes overwhelming boredom by almost ritualistic use of the screen as brain candy. That failure is fixable. It’s a simple matter of doing other things. It’s a matter of discipline.

For me, the beauty of the screens is that they work the way my brain does. I get not everyone feels that way. But the fact is screens are here to stay, so we should start learning how to manage them for the best use possible. And that management is possible. We just have to do it.

–DLH

Read more at my Science and Technology site...

My View from the Ramparts: Reintroducing this blog

As you can see from the history, this blog has languished for a while. Well, it will no more.

What prompted the absence and the change?

It started with the fact that I got really sick two and a half years ago–in fact, so sick I almost died–and I’ve spent the time since recovering. I’m now recovered enough that I am am able to get back into what my wife, Keba, and I set out to do with our farm, Innisfree on the Stillwater.

Further, beyond my work on the farm, I am also working to develop myself as a freelance writer, and it turns out having a solid portfolio is an important part of that process. It seems to me that writing about what I am doing is a great way to populate that portfolio, so here we are.

My goal is to post here at least once a week, or more often if some subject spurs me to write more. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

DLH

Read more at my My View from the Ramparts site...

Readiness: Get ready now

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve gotten comfortable recently and slacked of my own readiness plans, but we had multiple tornadoes touch down in our area last night, and it reminded me that disaster can strike anyone at any time. Being ready is a must.

This isn’t a statement of paranoia. It’s an acknowledgement that that having a kit in my closet or my car can mean the difference between needing help and being able to help. If I choose, I can buy a premade kit, or I can put one together for  not a lot of money. The internet is full of good resources, and I have a few of them listed on this site.

The moral of the story is this: be ready.

DLH

Read more at my Readiness site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Take a break

To say that I am motivated to lose weight and increase my overall fitness is an understatement. My overall health is directly tied to those two variables, and moving them in my favor promises a whole host of benefits.

I’m here to say it’s possible to want it too much.

Over the past four and a half months I have pushed myself, occasionally to the point of breaking and renewed illness, only to jump back into it again the moment I was able. I’ve increased my average daily steps from 4,800 a day in January to 11,000 right now. I’ve increased my average hours of movement from 2ish to 4ish. I’ve lost and kept off 25 pounds since the first of the year.

And I’m exhausted.

Now, that’s to be expected, given the ramp up in activity I’ve inflicted on myself, but it’s also unsustainable. Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun to suffer a series of chronic warning signs the outcome of me ignoring them I know too well. I’ve reached the edge of my envelope, and it’s time to back off.

I’m telling you all about this as both a warning and an encouragement. Every single thing we do has a long term effect, even if we don’t realize the correlation when that effect occurs. It could be a good effect. It could be bad. But it will be there.

What we have to be aware of is the fact that, if we burn it all up now, there may not be anything left for later. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to back off for a bit. Backing off now may well be the way you push yourself harder down the road.

So, for the moment, I’m taking a break. I’m ramping down my steps for the rest of the month and transferring that effort into more natural movement pursuits and, for the next week or so, getting my sleep sorted out again. Once I have, I’ll be back at it, stronger and more motivated than ever.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...