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Jolabokaflod

Aurora Borealis

Jolabokaflod is Icelandic for “Christmas Book Flood” and it is a very old and wonderful Icelandic holiday tradition. Basically, in Iceland, books are considered the perfect gifts for the holidays. In this small northern country full of Aurora Borealis winter skies, there are five books published each year for every thousand Icelanders! There are only 319,000 people who live on this far north island (about one-third of the population of San Francisco), so that makes 1,595 new books per year. Hardback books are given as presents and are read through the night of Christmas. Reading is the national sport of Iceland. As a reader, I can’t imagine a more wonderful tradition! As a writer, I want my books in the hands of all those voracious readers. (Did I ever mention that one of my stories partly takes place in Iceland? “Pigeon”, check it out.) Due to the COVID pandemic, most of us will be pretty isolated these holidays. There is a strong chance that those who socialized heavily for Thanksgiving will be paying the price for that this Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, and New Year. CDC issued an advisory that those who spent eating turkey outside of their “pandemic bubble” should…

Post Election Syndrome

Lord Nox and Erret

What Now? Someone joked: “What will Rachael Maddow talk about now that Biden won?” It’s both funny and not, and I don’t even know if that was a commentary from the Blue or the Red side of the political spectrum. As divided as we are as a country, the amount of trauma we have all suffered through in these last few years won’t simply be erased. We are all suffering from politics induced PTSD. Despite the advice from fearful writers, I express my strongly-held political opinions freely — art is always political. To deny that is to create sugar-coated nothings. If some of my readers get turned off by my observations, so be it. My books are about politics because they are about ideas, science, history, psychology, and human interactions. As primates, we view everything through the lens of politics. So I don’t shy away from revealing that I wanted a blue tsunami to sweep this country clean. Didn’t happen exactly how I wanted it, but I’m hopeful we can somehow steer ourselves back to “normal.” Ultimately, most people just want to go back to living their lives in peace. One of the problems I had with the Bush-era was…

When do we get our lives back?

Prehistoric Cave Art in France

It is less than 600 hours until the 2020 elections. The last four years (longer, really, due to all of the campaigning for the 2016 elections) have been exhausting. If ever the world needed a lesson about the curse of “may you live in interesting times,” we got it these past years. The pandemic, the economy, the ugly politics all combined to make it so difficult to actually do the things we love to do. The outside world takes so much emotional, intellectual, and physical energy, that there is very little left for creative life, not to mention family and friends (whom we don’t get to see in person until next summer if we are lucky). But it’s important to stay productive. It is important to follow one’s passions, whatever they are. For humans, mere survival has never been enough. We’ve been crawling into the deepest caves to leave imprints of our imagination for posterity for many many thousands of years. Humans are born to create wonders. Here’s an example from almost 30,000 years ago and a mile deep into a French mountain: Clearly, people told stories to each other for millennia and found imaginative ways of saving them for…

Where Can We Go When It’s Savage Outside?

2020-09-09 View from the window into the fire

COVID had us all isolated from one another, the West Coast fire hellscape has us locked-in — can’t even open a window. Instead of fog, the foghorns sing for the smoke swirling around the Bay Area and around the Golden Gate Bridge. Between the politics, pandemic, and fires, it’s easy to get stuck in negative emotions and thoughts. The other night, I was in full panic mode when I realized that there was nowhere I could turn to get a breath of fresh air…not for hundreds of miles! Below is the view from our window last Wednesday, when the skies turned red-brown and ash fell from the sky like rain. I imagine that lots of people find it difficult to cope. But history teaches us that we are not the first (or the last) to enjoy a little sojourn into hell. History is full of unspeakable horrors, and what we need to remember is that we live in the times when horror is more of an exception than a rule (at least in America, at least for the majority). That’s why we are so freaked by horror, it feels like a novelty. The ancient curse of “may you live in…

We are all immigrants in the land of COVID

A masked American family in 1918

I think human souls are tied to the land that bore them, shaped by it, created to fit the terrain, the weather, the language, the culture of the motherland. When transplanted into a new land, forced or otherwise, souls need to conform. They get broken somehow, edges filed away, bones cracked, empty spaces are hidden or forgotten. That’s why it is easier for kids to abandon their old homelands and immigrate to a new homeland — their souls are still flexible. Adults never truly adapt, they are forever broken, torn away from their motherland. And people who leave their birthplaces when they are somewhere in the middle — not quite adults not really children — become strange misfits. On the outside, they look like they belong, but scratch below the surface and there are surprising gaps and unexpected breaks in their psyche. America is the land of broken souls. “First-generation” or “foreign-born” comprise as much as 13% of all Americans (per 2013 census), more than one in ten! In many ways, immigrants are the most vulnerable population — these are the people who will never quite fit into the fabric of their new homes, they will forever remain tied to…

On the Magician Spectrum

Magic Made Here

There are two extremes on this spectrum: people who are externally motivated and those who only need what’s already inside them to get moving on a project. No one is always internally motivated and no person always needs an outside push to get started, but one thing for sure during this quarantine — those who are mostly internally driven do better. It is the same problem that people who are self-employed or who work from home face — not everyone is suited to that life. And for those who are now forced into it, depression looms. For those who can’t spin gold out of thin air or conjure dreamscapes or invent a new life and a new way of living, life becomes so dull that hours drag and days lay heavy while months and years slip away. Those who are able to make new things — artists and writers, housebuilders and gardeners, twiddlers and toymakers, composers and musicians, leather crafters and basket weavers, computer engineers and software designers, potters and jewelers, mathematicians and scientists, filmmakers and universe builders, gymnasts and mountain climbers…makers of all kinds — are never bored. There is never enough time to do all that’s inside our…

Memories

Supermarket Science Boxes

It’s been a hard month… a few months. I have been working on SupermarketScience.com almost nonstop. I worry about the families with kids — what will they do come September? The choice of sending your children to school (and thus risking COVID exposure not only to the kids but to the whole families) and keeping them home (at the risk of jobs and emotional stability) is stark. I’ve proposed a few solutions, you can find them here. I hope this will help some families. I will continue to post more curriculum (but perhaps not at the breakneck rate I’ve done in the past months). I will also share some ideas and their implementations for families who will make the decision to rethink how they want to approach educating their kids. Everything is on the table now — at times of crisis and chaos, the most change is possible. I have put all writing and editing on hold for the moment but will get back to it this month. I will release my AI novella and start to push my next novel towards the finishing line. Given how everything, including the publishing industry, is in flux, I think I will stick…