Category Archives: writing


Better faster better more ::clickclickclickclick::

I type fast…but I type a LOT, and anymore I feel like my typing is too slow; especially that having to use both a keyboard and a mouse, and typing in longhand, is costing me too much time.

Does anybody else feel this way, or have ideas for solutions? I'm already haunting the frogpad2 — here's hoping I find two benjamins laying on the street when it comes out! — but am also really interested in software that lets me increase my speed via typing shortcuts / macros. (I used similar software a zillion years ago and learned that in order to actually work / save time, it has to be REALLY well-designed.) I also use all three major operating systems pretty regularly, and would like any solution I use to work with at least two of them.

*sigh* The tribulations of being a high-performance nerd! This 90wpm isn't doing it for me anymore — someone bring me ROCKET FUEL! :D

Have a great day, everyone. Mad exciting polyphasic stuff going on; update very very soon I hope!


Guest Post: The Fruit Politic

Hey all!  A friend of mine wrote this for me, and I thought it was all the best kinds of educational and beautiful, and so I asked him if I could share it with you all.  Thank you, Aatish!


If there's one thing, and I think there might be just exactly one thing, that Indians love more than cricket, it's mangoes. High mango season in Mumbai is a frenzy of unabashed gluttony, covetousness and joy. Chausa, Hapus, Dasheri, Kesri, Malika…each varietal has extremely specific uses (dasheris are best in milkshakes, kesri makes the better ice cream though and the juice of the chausa mixes well with a sweetened ball of opium). As a culture we have come up with more ways to eat mangoes than we have sex positions in the Kama Sutra.

During the season people you haven't seen in a year will drop by your place just to taste how good your product is and how it stacks up to their stuff at home. The unspoken rule is that any offer of tea has to be accompanied by the offer of mango. Small talk happens – who's been busted for what corruption scandal? ("How sad and he was from such a good family"), have you seen the latest Sharuk Khan movie? ("My god, such things the youngsters are wearing these days!"), the price of vegetables ("I swear, how is one to keep the house going?") and then eventually, soft and sly just so's it might slip your guard, "So, bhai, where did you get these mangoes?" That's when you shrug modestly, click your tongue and say, "Oh, you know, the market. So hard to find the good stuff these days. We were hunting for hours."

No self-respecting Mumbai-ker buys their mangoes at the market. And you don't buy a mango, you buy a peti, a fragrant bundle of straw stuffed with exactly 48 of the gold-green fruit and crammed into a wooden crate that's just the right size to hoist onto your shoulder. This you pick up from your mango dealer. Ours is a man named Ram Bhai, which in India is the moral equivalent of being named, "Mr. Smith." He carries a pager tucked into a bright orange turban and drives a Land Rover with tinted windows and souped-up speakers that are constantly blaring Bollywood hits from the 80s. He smiles frequently and chews enough beetle nut to stone a whale, which gives him teeth the color of an abattoir's gutter. He used to manage one of the big plantations in Ratnagiri and since his replacement was (by total coincidence, of course) a second cousin once removed on his mother's side, he gets (for a modest share of his profits) the choicest picks from the best trees. Those mangoes, they never get within 20 kilometers of a market.

I remember that at school, during these short precious months before the monsoons hit, the deepest pity was reserved for the kids that showed up to lunch without a sliced mango. It was considered an act of charity, and thus, of course of power and plenty, to give one of these poor souls the ghutli, the giant central seed from your mango around which clung a meager corona of mango flesh, so that they could suck on it. The rest of us carried on a bellowing mango arbitrage over lunch that would warm the cockles of the hardest bitten commodities trader. The Hapus was the most prized, a half-slice of one of those babies could cost your your entire Chausa or two-thirds of a Kesri. The market was brutal. You could trade on futures for slices today ("But I'm telling you na? My uncle always brings an entire peti when he comes to visit and he'll surely come this weekend") but if you got called and could not deliver, you were out of the market for the rest of the season. Unthinkable.

My favorite varietal, back then and still, is the Chausa. It is a mango that is massively undervalued unless you know the secret to eating one. Its name means 'succulent' and its got a skin like alligator hide and flesh so fibrous that cutting it is like sawing through rubber. The way you eat one correctly is to start by slamming it roughly against a wall. Then, with your hand pressed firmly against it, you roll it back and forth, back and forth, for about a minute. Once you feel the skin heat up and give, you pull it to your mouth, press your lips to it and nip, hard with your incisors. And then it breaks – the pulped inside of the fruit pours out the gash as you suck on it. The juice that fills your mouth and throat, trickling down your chin, is dark saffron, rich and sweet. On a blisteringly hot Mumbai afternoon you can pull a cold one of these out of the fridge and drink it down like a beer. It is messy and delicious and glorious, all of the ways in which a mango should best be.

Enter Title Here


I'm working my butt off at a tough new job, and recovering from an intense visit from family.  I'm halfway through upgrading this site, editing my novella*, and yet another hilariously intense depression.  My apologies for going radio silent for so long; but since what I do here is honest nonfiction, it's the most difficult thing to face at times like this, when I need my self-confidence so much but am feeling its foundation shake every other minute.

I'm handling it by forcing myself to push my comfortable boundaries and stay in contact with the People World, no matter how much I feel like cutting off all of my contacts and going mute.  (Fun fact:  I actually used to have episodes of mutism.  Depersonalization, which is one of the manifestations of my depression, can apparently cause it.)

And I'm sure I'll be fine; I've handled worse before — but I'm still taking it seriously, I promise.  And I'll be back with cool updates soon, I promise — Penguicon is this weekend, for one thing, and two awesome panels on polyphasic sleep to report on!  

All the best to all of you,


*Currently and, I think, finally, titled Depth of Field, it's a science-fiction story about the ability of individual courage to overcome even the biggest and most cruel intelligences imaginable.  It's also about the consequences of ignorance, and the danger of assuming the truth of societal norms.  I think that if you read this site you'll definitely like it, so I'm giving to to all of you for free when it's done — stay tuned! 

P.S.  I found re-reading this post on the Five Higher Laws really helpful in this difficult time.  If times are difficult for you too, maybe check it out?

Not entirely about Cannonfist

So, I've been kind of loose and flapping about what to do with blog-type postings of stuff lately.  I've lost my organizational thread, I think; there's both too much to put AND too many places to put it.  I have the same amount, or possibly more, "readers" on Facebook than here; yet I don't want to talk about the same stuff with them, and branching out from either is problematic.  So if you've been wondering where the overhaul that I've been talking about is, well, it exists, but it keeps getting halfway and then getting changed.  Do I want a main portal page that can split off into The Everything?  Or a carefully curated set of URLs with different content?  

I have no idea yet, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that carefully studying a question, holding it up to the light as it were, for long enough always attracts the answer.  So I'm still pondering that.

I've also taken on a HUGE short-term project, so expect me to disappear a lot in long-form, but since I'll be in front of my computer a lot, possibly get pretty verbose on Twitter and/or Tumblr.  (Thanks to IFTTT, Twitter gets auto-posted to Tumblr.  I can't *really* figure out what to post on Tumblr yet, but I have a few friends who run *great* feeds, so I often repost their stuff if I suddenly find the time.)

I have to figure out where to put Ubersleep (the easiest, as it has its own URL at already), my taiji stuff (especially as I gradually move towards teaching(!!!)), this writing project (if it works; will need it's own page and URL and all that shit), other writing (to avoid pseudonym issues with any of the other two) and just B.S. (though possibly I should cut back on that, or make a page for — just thinking aloud here — taiji and fiction that can hold the occasional hey-community B.S. post?  Maybe move my tendency to get poliphi over shit to a forum like the rest of the world?  (Actually that's not a bad idea…if I impress anyone I can pull them "into" my writing site(s); could be a good source.  There's a writer I really like who just about used Something Awful as his launch-pad to success, and at least two have done it with Reddit…).  I own but don't want to rely on it too much for Reasons; I also own, which is a nice taiji URL and maybe OK for something else too?  HHMMMMM.  LOTS OF H's AND M's.

BUT FOR NOW, while I fill up Evernote and Google Docs trying to figure that out, here's a video of one of the Chen Grandmasters (his name is Chen Bing, and I know I shouldn't find it funny that such a big guy with such a ridiculously intimidating line of work — I mean, "Hi, I'm a Grandmaster of one of the most terrifying kinds of kungfu, how are you?" — is named "Bing"…but come on it totally is funny) doing the form I'm currently trying to learn.  It's very short, so watch it and get some Culture, damn it.  ;)


I know this sounds silly because that doesn't look like an easy form to anyone I've showed it to, but trust me when I say that It's a lot harder than it looks.  I mean a) Grandmasters kind of make everything look easier but also b) all that force you're seeing thrown around is 100% internally-generated.  You could get your strongest kickboxer-Crossfit-muaythai-weightlifter-whateverbadass and he'd be ohhhh, at least two years from being able to throw a single one of those punches correctly?  Those are all the kind of punches (and elbows and knees and everythings) that I've been writing about, which have taken so much study to be able to even do *basically* correctly, and which are done INcorrectly the world over by both the 90% of people who don't know what internal force is and the 75% of those who do know who are just doing it wrong.  Chen Bing's style isn't the same as my sifu's, who's style descends from Chen Zhenglei's (and I'm not really good enough to have a style yet), but he's HELLA good (duh) and if you've ever wanted to see what internal-style-kungfu's generated force looks like (when it's not actually hitting anything), now you can say you have.

Yay!  Enjoy your Sunday.  I've got a million words to write.  ;)

Book update!

Hey everyone! I'm SO SORRY for how the publication of the Second Edition of Ubersleep got slowed down at the very end…isn't it always true that it's the last 2% that gets you?

So, here's an update: The print edition is DONE, everything submitted, ready to go…and now I have to wait 3-5 days for the distribution company to assign it an ISBN.  If I'd known about that delay, I would have ordered it sooner, but since the ISBN gets put in late in the publication process, I thought I had to have all the files ready first.  D'OH.  As soon as I have it, though, all the pre-order copies will go out (give it a week or so for shipping, depending on how far away from the US east coast you live).

The eBook is also done — has been done since late May actually — but is stuck in the throes of a hilarious(?) technical problem that I'm just powerless speed up the resolution of…it's going to take as long as it takes.  On the upside, I really don't think it'll take much longer (it's already taken WAY longer than anybody thought it would), and once it's resolved, the book can be out the same day.

I should mention here how incredibly pleased I am with the Second Edition, delays aside.  I do apologize for your wait, but boy howdy are you all in for a treat, if I do say so myself.

  • The new cover is gorgeous, really modern and nifty — I'm finishing some fiction projects soon too, and have already asked the mighty Eric to do covers for them; I love his work.
  • The typography is…well, I almost have no words.  This is where the benefit of my not being a major publisher comes in:  A big house would have laid everything out to minimize the number of pages, and thus the cost of printing, period.  I'm just some person and my publications are my personal victories — and same for my designer — so this book is laid out to be as beautiful and readable as possible, and it's, no kidding, a work of art.

    • The margins are generous and placed so that your fingers won't cover words when you're holding it in any of several typical book-reading poses;
    • The layout and spacing follows a grid laid out based on the golden mean — nope, not kidding!
    • The fonts are hand-hunted and chosen by one of the pickiest font fanboys in my world; there's even a page in the back describing the fonts, for you other typo nerds. ;)
  • Content-wise, the Second Edition is roughly twice as long as the first — 211 pages!  It has a double handful of new sections, expansions everywhere, additional links and research…tons of stuff.  I'd been working on it a while, and I kept a general changelog (even put it in the book, because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool nerd), but even I was surprised when it was finished, and I saw how much more was in it than the original.  All my concerns about new editions and updates being something of a money-making scam sometimes were totally laid to rest when I saw this finished…this is an update to be proud of.

And lest anyone think that I'm just sitting around waiting for the book to finally get done, avast ye!  I beg to differ:

  • There's a launch / thank-you party planned in July, to be held at the epic Artisan's Asylum makerspace in Somerville and soundified by one of the deities of puns and hackmusic, Inverse Phase.  If you're in the area and want to come, let me know and I'll get you an invite!
  • Once I have physical copies in my hands, I'll be visiting some local bookstores and seeing what happens (worst that happens, I meet a bunch of local bookstore people, right? ;)
  • Starting in the fall, I plan to expand outwards a bit, to other bookstores and sleep-clinics, depending on how things are going
  • And I haven't forgotten about the UberSleepStudy I wanted to do, though I do need to update the page, since there's no way it can happen at my place in October — I've moved to a much smaller apartment, and my job situation is changing too.  But I'm not at all forgetting about the people who wanted to participate, or how important it is that something like this happen — real updates on the Study will start to come once the book is all buttoned up and out there!

THANK YOU all again for your patience and your interest — I'm super interested to hear what you think as you start to receive the books!

Come on Mr. Postman! I want to celebrate my extra half-month of summer!!

FINISHED the print submission of the Ubersleep Second Edition yesterday!

Paid a ton extra for fast shipping so I can get the proof in my hands ASAP, and once I'm sure it looks nice, IT'S OUT!  The poor EBook is still suffering in the throes of some hilarious, not-our-fault-I-swear software problems, but with any luck should be finished about the same time.

Once that's done, a thank-you-omg launch party and several bookstore visits are waiting in the wings!

Gonna be a great summer – and it's gonna contain approximately 15 more days (4 extra hours x 90 days = 360 hours = fifteen 24-hour days) than the summer of someone sleeping for 8 hours per day!!

I mean, not only is having extra summertime the best thing EVER, but I don't know about you, I think summer nights are just spectacular.  Even when you're just walking around, they feel like this:

Scream, clap, laugh, win: Humor makes a great molotov cocktail

Luke McKinney's new article — a follow-up to his infamous piece on "straight white male" being sexuality's lowest difficulty setting (you may remember John Scalzi's still-famous article expanding that idea) – on 5 Gamer Comments That Give Straight White Guys a Bad Name had me screaming and clapping while simultaneously laughing coffee out my nose.

As Scalzi points out in his blog today, this IS written on, so it's got a marvelous left-handedness where you know that some of the people being called assholes in this article — in lovely metaphor-laden smackdown style — are going to be reading and commenting on it…and boy, do they.  I've stayed off the comment thread myself, mostly because all I really want to say is fuck yes, Luke.  Way to hit a second home-run just to prove you can! 

…It's really impossible to pick a "best" part of this to quote, but…

"People want to bang you = easy life" is the worst sexual equation since David Carradine's work with knot theory.


But seriously?  I think it's incredibly important that topics like this one be handled with loud, raucous, stabby humor whenever possible.  It's hard to speak accurate truth to power, sure; but it's even harder to make power hear it, and those people who can take truths and wrap them in you-can't-ignore-me linguistic molotov cocktails are treasures of humanity.  It's precisely why comedians and satirists are so vitally important to every movement, and I'm chest-burstingly proud that the No More Forced Pregnancies-related movements have voices like Luke (and Scalzi) on their side.  <3!

Word Junkie

To remind you who you're dealing with:

the allusive is my everything
(oh lovely self-slogan, all I need and a t-shirt too)

the illusive makes me sick 
(show 'em or go home, gods; this ain't dice)

and the elusive lifts me up 
(mind is the first floor, no buttons needed)

So remember:  They're not puns,

They're pulled punches.


Give Me A DRM-Free World

Lulu Blog » Living in a DRM-Free World.

Count me among the authors who feel that DRM did nothing to benefit us, and who're frankly relieved that it's on the way out.

Has the book been torrented?  Yup.  Does this upset me?  HELL no.

Think of it this way:  The Internet is the biggest communications medium in the world.  If you were an author and you went to the biggest public library in existence, where everyone was talking about and handing around books 24/7, and you found that yours hadn't been mentioned or shared at all, what would you think?  That it must suck, right?  

As an author, or really any kind of artist, you get attention and money and rewards for your work when people like it and tell other people about it.  Being that they're talking to each other in the real world, they have a much better idea how much of your work should be shared, and what should be said about it, to interest the person in front of them, than you and a zillion marketers could ever have.  If they think loaning a copy to their friend is the best way to make you a new fan — or that thumbing through it themselves is the best way to determine if they want to be your fan — then who the heck are you to argue?  

It's a sort of Taoist truth of sales:  Let people do their thing, and only intervene when needed.  I intervene, usually by being nice about it, when I run into someone who's borrowed by not bought my book, and almost always they turn into a buyer.  If I intervened by being a jerk, or prevented them from getting ahold of my work in the first place, guess what they'd be?  Yeah, not a fan, for sure.

Fortunately we're not alone, we authors-who-pay-attention; as this article demonstrates, publishers like Tor and distributors like Lulu are catching on that penalizing readers – especially penalizing all readers for something a tiny percentage of them do — is just plain stupid, and a world without DRM is hopefully right around the corner.


spinning tired carless twist focus FLIP epic. And underwater pie.

Difficulty concentrating today.  

Strange bruises up and down my forearms from spinning (staff-spinning!  Am learning to spin staves and holy hellfire is it awesome).  

I tend to go looking for food when I'm tired.  (Yes, when you're polyphasic you have more chances to sleep, but you also have to miss less of them due to stress before you feel ickyshit.)  Thankfully apples are tasty and make me feel full, so yay lack of nutritional consequences.

I will be carless again for a while, it looks like.  I had gone a year carless, rather enjoying that you can do this in Boston and I'd never done it before, until I bought my last car six months ago.  That car (which darnit, I loved) was totaled in an accident this month, and I won't be able to afford to replace it for a while, so back to carless I go!  To keep it from being depressing, I will treat it as an adventure, a reason to get better at fixing my bike and skateboarding on the very lumpy streets and sidewalks, and an opportunity to learn some more cultural lessons.

I owe a video to, um, who or whatever I'm doing the videos for.  Better be quick before too much else builds up to talk about, I think.  One thing I'll put here to save myself some time there:  Physical exertion often brings about some degree of 3D; I think that's in part why some people do it, especially the really extreme/scary kinds.  BUT it feels TOTALLY different to do it on purpose, for example when you're swimming six inches from the bottom on your tenth consecutive underwater pool-length with twenty or less seconds to breathe in-between, and there's nobody there to make you keep going all the way to the other wall but you need to if you want to get better, so as a last-ditch effort you reach in and twist…and suddenly you're looking at the bottom of the pool in 3D, and your heart-rate drops and you make it the rest of the way clean and easy as underwater pie.

One other interesting 3D thing:  What you see in 3D, you remember.  Something about that focus writes things really, really clearly into your (or at least my) mind.  I can still count the dirt-grains on the pool-bottom, and that was two days ago.  Hmm!

Had my evals for taiji today.  Am doing okay — fundamentals getting a bit ahead of form, but it's warm out so I'm adding forms-practice in the park some mornings starting next week.  Had an AMAZING experience where the instructor is patiently explaining, explaining, explaining how to switch focus (I KNOW RIGHT) from using muscular force to allowing chi-force (later; that's a book and a half) to drive your movements, and I've heard it before but suddenly I get it, it happens, and the whole physical world goes FLIP HAHA and oh my shit, I feel awesome.  It lasts about thirty seconds, but it was thirty seconds I'd have gladly paid a year's tuition for again and again.  That…well, if 3D is a different dimension of attention, this was the corresponding different dimension of physical control.  (And think about how easy it is to control where your attention is — how little effort it takes to move it — versus how easy it is to control your entire body, and you'll realize why it takes decades to learn this thing.  The analogy is conjecture of course, but I'll stand by it for now.)  

And writing is awesome…I'm 7/10 done with my novella (yup), I think my epic poem about Detroit is finished (yeah I know) and I got an idea for an updated Desiderata-type bit of prose that's only about 1/3 finished but really fun (shut up hehe).  

The key to difficult times is knowing where your keys are.  Mine are in taiji, in writing, and in being able to communicate with people — having contact and conversations, and maybe also some drinking and snogging if I'm lucky.  ;)  So however tricky and tired and expensive and etcetera things are lately, I know that I'm doing okay, because I know what lights to measure by. 

May yours be known and shine bright, too!