The Book as Art

“Is a book art?” the teacher asked the class. I sat beside my daughter, observing her class as part an art appreciation exercise. The students speculated that the book might contain art or illustrations, but the teacher pressed the point about the book itself. If it were blank, could the book still be art?

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The First “Togahan” Story

Inspiration for the Togahan series came from a number of places, but a fundamental source was a type of story where the protagonist realizes, in a single moment, that the thing they’re facing is more important than their own survival. I absorbed lots of these moments from books or movies, but many also come from real life stories. The earliest one I remember reading was in Reader’s Digest back in the late 80’s.*

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2019 Q1 Progress Report

Well, the good news is that this report is on time for once. The bad news is that I suspect my progress is sucking. Let’s take a look at my goals and where I’m at.

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LEGO Parfait

My kids love going to the LEGO store. They eyeball all of their favorite sets, the big ones that end up on their wish lists for birthdays and holidays. They play in the mini figure bin, and concoct absurd combinations of tops, bottoms, hats, and props that make sense to their inner narrative. For me, I like the bins in the back, where I can grab fistfuls of various bits and fill a container for a fixed price. There’s no directions, no pre-sorted sets, just dozens of curious widgets like hinges, joints, antennae, and engines that I can cobble together from my imagination.

LEGO bricks aren’t cheap, so to get the best value, I have to fill that cup as densely as possible, creating what I call the LEGO Parfait.

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The Moment You Realize You’re Lost…

“What’s the first thing you do when you’re lost?” our scoutmaster asked us one time.

“Retrace your steps,” one scout replied.

“Get out your map,” said another.

“Yell for help,” replied a third.

“Wrong, all wrong,” said our scout master, a grizzled, humorless WWII veteran at the front of the room. “The moment you realize you’re lost, sit down. Sit. Down. Don’t do anything but sit down. Don’t act right away. That’s how you panic, and once you panic you’re bound to get really lost, and probably injured, and you’ll be a lot harder to find. The moment you know that you’re lost, sit down and think. Sip some water. Eat some gorp, if you have it.  Take a few deep breaths, and mentally—calmly—think about where you’ve been and where you might have made a wrong turn. Then if you’re sure, get up and walk—walk—back to where you think you were going. But if you’re not sure, just sit where you are until you can make a good choice, and think about staying warm and hydrated. If you have a whistle, start blowing it…” and the advice continued.

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Liberace Sigmoidoscopy*

Back in college I suffered some intestinal grief, so my doctor ordered a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is a shorter version of a colonoscopy. I mean, both are a long flexible camera going in one’s rectum**, so it’s not a significant distinction, but still. 

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During one of my college summers, I hired on with a temp agency. Every week (or sometimes every day), I had a different job, a different boss—moving furniture, stocking shelves, collating data, what have you. In hindsight, it was a great way to sample a lot of jobs in a short amount of time. At the time, I just needed money.

One morning I got called to a jobsite working for a trio of masons laying a home addition cinderblock foundation. My job was simple. I had to mix the cement in a wheelbarrow, pour it into five-gallon buckets, and bring it over when a mason called for it.

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Fun with Fiber

A few years ago, I tweaked my diet to try and lower my cholesterol. Being a nerd, I created a giant spreadsheet to track all those nutritional numbers you see on the back of food packages, and tried to limit the bad stuff and increase the good stuff. That’s a whole separate story, but one of the things I had to increase was my fiber intake, so I ate more bran, wheat, raw cardboard and sawdust. And I created a number of stupid recipes. I’ll share two of them below.

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Late to the Game: Fallout 76

I decided to start a new category called “Late to the Game”, where I’ll review video games most of you have already grown bored with. I tend to play games long after they were popular for a number of reasons:

  1. I don’t have a lot of time to game.
  2. I play most games through to the end, and peek in every corner along the way.
  3. Points 1 and 2 together means it takes me forever to finish a game.
  4. I buy “Game of the Year” editions long after they were popular. If they made it to a Game of the Year edition that tells me it was probably a pretty decent experience.
  5. I might save a few bucks not getting it on day one.
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I finally got around to watching Solo: A Star Wars Story. I enjoyed it. I know a lot of people panned it (my neighbor tells me often how much he hated it). I enjoyed it, for a lot of reasons, but the first two were these:

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