Well, I didn't go as many places as I wanted, but it was still an interesting year. My grandfather had me trim the hedge, which is how I found all kinds of new insect friends. At different times, I saw a caterpillar, a dragonfly, and a praying mantis. In the flower garden was another dragonfly.
I also found evidence of other potential friends.
There are so many wonders around us that are hidden unless we cut things open. Trimming the hedge is how I discovered that yellow wood really does exist.
One day I saw patches of frost in the grass - even though it was late July. The ground below was black. What is that stuff? Mold? It was gone days later.
Another day I discovered a patch of wild mint on the edge of the yard. At first, it smelled and tasted exactly like basil before it matured and became mintier. I put it on my noodles.
The neighbor's yard developed several gigantic growths of fungi in a matter of only four days! I photographed the first to come up from the south and north and then again at the end of the four days when it had matured.
Then I saw a bunch of other stuff:
Even when I stay inside I see interesting things. This intruder was resting on the screen of the guest room window:
This one was in a gas station:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!
I have so much I want to accomplish, but I can’t seem to prioritize. Thus, nothing is ever finished. Every time I make a schedule and tell myself to focus on one thing, my mind refuses to cooperate, wandering away into every other aspect of my life. It won’t stay on one subject long enough. Lately, I’ve even started to think all my projects are equally important, making it even harder to settle down. I have so many distractions.
On top of this, I also have slumps lasting for weeks wherein I am inexplicably tired, both physically and mentally. I can force myself to follow a routine, but I can’t force myself to be creative; creativity doesn’t work that way. I have time, but I don’t use it for anything productive. I don’t even read.
The Life Of Nate: Since 1993 I have wanted more than anything else to write a science fiction adventure series about a man named Nate. I now have accumulated more than six hundred story ideas, and while each one would make a good novel, I have decided that the best thing to do is to write them as a collection of short stories spanning three books called The Champion Trilogy. This is still a lot of work. The biggest problem is coming up with endings that are satisfying and realistic yet surprising and twisty. Sometimes I just don’t see a way out of Nate’s predicaments.
This project is important not only because it is close to my heart and is the life I always wanted to have, but because many of the concepts I illustrate are unheard of anywhere else. Nate not only encounters interesting biology and technology, but downright weird physics, math, philosophy, culture, psychology, and more, while surviving largely by his wits. The stories are too good to keep from the world.
Champion Of The Galaxy: While I am still writing Nate’s later years of life, I thought I would begin publishing sample stories to a blog one-at-a-time. ChampionOfTheGalaxy.com is important because it will help me build up a fan base for when the books are ready to be published. It has also been fun to work on.
I also thought the stories would be best paired with cover art – what I imagine the covers would look like if the stories were ever turned into full novels. This way, the stories would take the form of a webcomic.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been working out. I haven’t been keeping up on the stories, drawing has turned out to be more time-consuming than I thought, and I continually wonder whether the drawings are good enough (even though I have seen other webcomic authors who are very successful with inferior drawings). Then just recently, I read through my work and decided that almost all the early stories need to be rewritten and they need to be longer. Everything is now on hold.
Flora And Fauna Series: Another of my great loves is exobiology. I keep having new ideas all the time. I have long wanted to write a series of books featuring alien plants, animals, and microbes in the same style as Wayne Barlowe’s Expedition. I have plans for about thirty distinct ecosystems. Each world would be a separate book. A simple plot would tie together the diagrams and descriptions, which would be drawn in my distinct style and the cover art would be the same. This series should be easier to write than The Champion Trilogy and it could keep me busy indefinitely as I create new worlds. I simply can’t decide which series is more important to me, so I have been working on both.
Flora And Fauna Blog: Since there are many other exobiology creators out there and I have always wanted to encourage the growth of this genre so I can collect the books, I have started a blog at FloraAndFaunaOfTheUniverse.com to promote the work of others. The secondary purpose of the blog will eventually be to promote my own work too. Unfortunately, nobody currently seems interested in writing guest posts or publishing books for me to review. Because I have nothing to post right now, no time is set aside in my schedule for this blog.
Book Promotion: On top of this, I already have three books published that feature my character Nate. I’m not sure how to promote them and now I am having second thoughts about some of them. Based on what will tentatively be the 111th story, The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship is perfect. I love everything about it. Based on the 1st and 2nd stories, Terror Of The Fun Sponge and The Gorilla With Twenty-Four Heads are branding nightmares. Are they part of a separate series? If I continue calling it The Nathaniel Series, how does that fit with ChampionOfTheGalaxy? How do they fit with The Champion Trilogy? I think their existence will confuse people. The relationships between the books and blogs are not obvious and hard to explain.
Furthermore, the first two books feature the time of Nate’s childhood, and are therefore of a very different style that could set up false expectations for the others. They also feature plants and animals I would very much like to use in the Flora And Fauna series. They also use cover art very similar in style to what I want to use for the Flora And Fauna series, possibly adding further confusion. I’m thinking of pulling them off the market. Modified excerpts may be released as short stories in the future, but I really want to get rid of them. Advice?
Philosophy: I also have a book in the works covering the intersection of politics, morality, spirituality, math, and physics. I know I’m not anybody special, but I think I have a unique insight worth looking into. The real-world concepts also complement some concepts found in the stories from Nate’s later life and vice versa in such a way that they help to explain each other. While it is not absolutely necessary, I think the book is important enough to keep writing.
Living With Gramps: As if I didn’t have enough to do already, my parents want me to journal my time living with my grandfather. They believe our interactions and antics are rich fodder for comedy that will sell and will also be a good biography for the family. I couldn’t say no.
WayOutLife: This blog is the most time-consuming of all. First, I have to leave the house to visit a park. Then I have to write about my visit. Then I have to edit what I’ve written and upload my pictures. Then I have to post it all to my blog, along with my musings and observations (many of which are already written), and I have to go through and fix the paragraph spacing and hypertext the links. Each of these three steps can take a whole day, sometimes longer if I’m interrupted.
Yet, I can’t bear to give up on it. Writing about my adventures reminds me how good my life is when everything seems to be going wrong. Writing down my musings helps me to stay positive and faithful to what matters. Writing down the bad stuff helps me detach and put things in perspective. The blog might help others, but mostly I write it for me.
The Understanding Project: I stopped writing my old political blog in 2016, but looking over it now I think a few things could be stated better. I’d like to clear out the junk and while I’m at it add a few new ideas I’ve had since. The blog supplements some arguments I make in my 2011 book, The Nutcase Across The Street, so it is important to maintain and keep relevant.
Product Reviews: In the meantime, I’m not making any money. When I look at others who seem to be wildly successful from doing almost nothing, I wonder why I can’t do the same. I see people who post only one or two videos a month to YouTube and in less than four years have over a million subscribers. Sometimes they have one or two helpful tutorials for some skill they’ve developed, but most of what they do is talk about themselves. Some of these people are more interesting than others, but I am more interesting than all of them! My father and I are working on some ideas of certain products I could review so I could make money as an Amazon affiliate. I’m not yet going to tell you what kind, but you will be the first to know if I do end up doing this.
Patreon: I am no longer maintaining my Patreon page. I never did get anyone to sign up and I think producing extra goodies for paying fans would have been too hard. The reason I left is that the website continues to be very glitchy. I cut the company some slack at first because they were growing so fast, but I thought by now they would have solved the problems. I had trouble separating free content from paid content, trouble contacting tech support, and now I can’t even log in to cancel my account. A great idea has been killed by bad execution.
Stuff: Adding to all this is that I have chores around the house. I do the laundry, make dinner, wash dishes, balance the checkbook, drive my grandfather to appointments, read the newspaper and the bible to him, cut his hair, help him cut his nails, buy groceries, trim the hedges, and a bunch of lesser things that seem to keep popping up and each takes longer than it should. I also have roughly thirty books to read and another thirty I would like to buy when I have the money. There also exists a need for rest and unstructured time so that creativity can flourish. I have additional ideas for short stories that do not fit with either Nate or exobiology. I have already drastically cut back my play time on FaceBook, Twitter, DeviantArt, and the conceptual evolution forum, but it seems I just started watching more YouTube to compensate. I also have to eat and sleep and it takes me a long time to get to sleep. I have too much to do, yet over and over I find myself doing nothing. Nothing is what I spend the most time doing.
I have too many projects.
I love flowers!!! All these plants were photographed around Rhode Island in August or September of 2018.
I am still seeing flowers pop up around the yard and around town. Unfortunately, I cannot stop my car just anywhere to take pictures of all of them. These are only a fraction of the total. All these photos were taken in July of 2018.
No, that’s not a flower. Dan, we talked about this.
It started in March. Flowers began popping through the lawn here and there. Then in April flowers were everywhere! Even the neighbors had them. The lawn was full of dandelions and violets. Then it was mowed and up came the buttercups and clover. The trees were suddenly ablaze like slow-motion fireworks. Some flowers only lasted a day. Others lasted a week or longer. Some came in gradually. Others were nonexistent one minute and existed in hordes just two hours later. Every other day in April, May, and June there was something new as first one bush and then another lit up. I could not gather what I considered a good photograph of all of them, so I have posted only the best.
I keep thinking we are lucky that the creator decided to place flowering plants on at least one planet. When I see a plant covered in them I think that at least one thing in the world is going right.
Um…Those aren’t flowers. Technically, they aren’t even plants; they’re protists.
Also not flowers. Flowers don’t move. Dan, you know better.
Beauty is largely a matter of perspective. Most people can appreciate a healthy forest or meadow full of tall trees, lush greenery, and vibrant flowers, but consider it an imperfection when one dead tree blemishes what would have been a fantastic landscape scene. However, beauty can be found by zooming in. Close to a dead tree, one can see it has become a home for insects, bacteria, and fungi. Mushrooms and molds make beautiful mini-forests themselves. Death is a part of life. Seasonal cessation and renewal makes life more interesting. It’s all a matter of perspective.
A scene full of dead trees can look good, but one dead tree among many live ones stands out as if it does not belong – especially if it leans at an odd angle or has a glaring asymmetry to its remaining limbs. It has to do with balance. In cases such as this, I find it helpful to imagine myself observing from very far above, seeing the dying, broken, and diseased parts of the forest scattered about artistically. I find the balance and the beauty by zooming out.
It is not only the natural world that holds beauty. Cities can be beautiful. Close-up, cities look to me haphazardly thrown together and unbalanced. Buildings of different shapes are mixed in among cranes and telephone wires. Lanes and road signs are often painted in ways that don’t make sense. They are polluted and ugly. Zoom-out, however, and they start to look like alien forests. Instead of growing through cellular division the way maples, pines, and oaks do, skyscrapers are pieced together from smaller bits by hard-working humans and machines – similar to the way proteins are built in ribosomes by RNA and other proteins. The process is just as interesting.
Lots of people hate finding litter in the forest. I’m not necessarily a fan either, but the existence of litter is evidence of previous use by Homo sapiens, one of the most interesting species on the planet. Other animals mark their environment by chewing on trees and damming up streams, building hives or nests, digging burrows, leaving footprints, or leaving behind the remains of their last meal. Digestion is fascinating and our beautiful world would not be the same without it. One has to expect its byproducts. In the same way, one has to expect the byproducts of human civilization. If litter still bothers you, do what I do and imagine each piece as an alien sea creature. See what ideas you can come up with.
Even civilizations-gone-bad can hold some beauty. I’m no fan of apartheid or communism, but their existence shows the myriad forms that human society can take and still function. I like to think of civilizations and ideologies as competing and evolving just like colonies in a petri dish. Just because my own ideology compels me to fight such things, doesn’t mean I can’t find some enjoyment in learning about them.
Anything real has beauty and all truth is beautiful. What of fiction? I love to think of all the different forms reality can take but probably doesn’t, whether they are serious scientific theories or ridiculous situations from fantasy novels (or comedy skits). Even if none of these things ever happen in the real world, they are still able to be held in the mind and encoded by the brain somehow. They leave their marks on our existence. Thoughts are part of reality and every bit a legitimate subject of study. Psychology is interesting, too.
Besides, how do we know this world isn’t just a dream we are having where the current rules exclude such things as remote viewing, time travel paradoxes, and curses of bad luck? There is no way to know for sure that we aren’t asleep right now. We can only experience things through our minds, so it is only our minds and our thoughts that we can be sure are real. It doesn’t sadden me too much that my comics are fiction, because in at least one sense they are just as real as anything else.
I still struggle with some things, however. When I am unable to write, or go exploring, or rest long enough to collect my thoughts, I can’t always see the beauty in the variety of things. When I feel better, I see that these times of up and down are an unavoidable consequence of progress. Beauty is everywhere, even in the inability to see it. Life is never static; only death is. Unfortunately, this explanation only partly satisfies, and when I am down, nothing can satisfy me. I still have more to grow.
Valentines From God
Finding Adventure Close To Home
How To Find Interesting Things
How To Find Things Interesting
What To Do When There Is Nowhere Left To Go
Thoughts On Play
Thoughts On The Natural And Artificial Worlds
Thoughts On Thought
Life is an adventure. Life is magical. I often find fun and intrigue in mundane things by using my creativity to imagine alternate explanations for everyday phenomena. Could what appear to be mere coincidences actually be proof of a plot to replace world leaders with alien clones? This is the most common way I come up with my science fiction stories. While there is nothing wrong with this, the real world is interesting too.
I often like to think of natural places as full of mysterious fields of energy that can be tapped into with the right knowledge to perform interesting shows. I’m not wrong! Natural places are full of gravity, magnetism, and electric gradients! Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies every second. Individual particles maintain spooky connections through quantum entanglement. Ripples in the electromagnetic field are all around us. Those with the right knowledge and equipment can send and receive radio waves to communicate long distances. Under the right circumstances, there can be spontaneous discharges called lightning. None of these phenomena are fully understood. Even so, does knowing how magic works make it any less magic?
I often like to think of normal rocks as having strange properties making them react with other substances in unexpected ways. Maybe they do! Chemistry is relatively well understood, but there is still room for surprises. Perhaps if mixed with just the right solution in just the right concentration at just the right temperature at just the right pressure something will happen that is not obvious.
I often like to think of the parks I explore as islands in a large sea. By using my magical powers/artifacts and standing in the right spot, I can grasp onto the mysterious currents of energy that will bring me through the air or water to the next island. This is almost what happens! I use a machine called a car to follow the roads. Some roads have higher speed limits than others, and they intersect each other in complex ways. Does being made of matter make the roads less interesting? Would my mysterious currents of energy be any less interesting if beings made of the same energy interacted with them as if they were solid? What is matter made of anyway? Does requiring stops for fuel to power my magical artifact make my car less interesting? Does the fact that the roads were built by a race of intelligent beings make them less interesting? Does the fact that off-road travel is also possible make the roads less interesting? Of course, in the real world we also have real islands and there are real ocean currents, not to mention the trade winds and the jet stream, so I don’t have to dream.
Other times I like to think of the parks I visit as whole planets. Does being small make the parks less interesting? Realistically, I don’t think I could ever stand to explore a whole planet. It would take too long before I got bored with it and wanted to move on. It would be too different from continent to continent to really get a feel for what it was like that made it different from other planets. Swamp planets and desert planets I understand. A single planet with deserts, swamps, jungles, tundra, oceans, plains, mountains, farms, and cities is just too much! It would take a lifetime to explore it! In order to hold knowledge in our finite minds, understand it, and enjoy it, it must be simplified by cleaning up the details that don’t fit our narrative. This is why I break the Earth down into manageable parks (and other places) with nothing in between as if they were planets separated by empty space.
I often like to think of trails as following mysterious flows of energy that prevent plant growth, but this is not too far from the truth either. I know that they are maintained by the actions of humans (and sometimes other animals), but does understanding how the phenomenon works make it any less interesting? Why were those paths chosen to begin with, anyway? Human psychology is still very mysterious.
What really causes fairy rings? No, they aren’t gateways to other worlds, but the world inside is different than the world outside. The world inside is dominated by a mysterious force called fungi, and nobody really knows how living cells function.
I also often like to think of animals as having a secret language of their own in which they exchange profound truths that we can’t understand. How do we know they don’t? We can never be sure of the full meaning another human brings to the same words that mean so much to us. Animal sounds could be much the same for them. Animals have senses and forms of knowledge we do not, trail scents and electrolocation being only some of the examples we are aware of. What about the examples we have yet to discover? What of the examples that animals deliberately keep secret from us? Could animals and angels be one and the same?
We already live in a fantasy world.
Related posts: Miracles Happen Every Day, Finding Adventure Close To Home, How To Find Interesting Things
You don’t have to tell me: I know there is less than a one percent chance we are even remotely compatible. I know there is a less than one percent chance you are available. I know there is less than a 0.01 percent chance you will respond. I also know that 99 percent of people in this culture view moving from being complete strangers to being friends to possibly romantic partners in only one day as extremely creepy (or at least inappropriate). This is how I have thought of it when those in the other one percent have pushed me faster than I wanted to go. I also know that being asked out by someone you don’t like is annoying and embarrassing. Therefore, out of respect for others I have traditionally restricted my invitations only to those that I have a genuine basis for thinking would be interested. This requires knowing them pretty well first – which requires a lot of time. I never ask out strangers.
Unfortunately, this policy has kept my pool of candidates very small. In the past thirty-six years, I have asked out exactly four women. The first three turned me down. The fourth initially said yes but then seemed to lose interest. Needless to say, this has led to times of excruciating loneliness. In recent years I have begun to think that I cannot be the only one. There must be women out there somewhere waiting forever to be asked out by someone, but I never do it. For their sakes as much as mine I must take the chance; it isn’t just about me. I’m the most interesting person I know and I love to learn about other interesting people. It is unfair to everyone not to make such an opportunity known. I have no idea if we would work out, but for anyone with a face like yours and with what I’ve already seen of your personality, I had to know for sure. I had to give you the chance. Come exploring with me!
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.