Thursday, February 18, 2021

Non-Otaku Anime

By Source, Fair use,

I've watched anime since the 1980s when Japanese cartoons were created or adapted for the US market: Robotech, Transformers, Silverhawks, and probably some others I have forgotten. I eventually figured out that what I like about it is mostly the visual style. There isn't anything consistent about the storyline, themes, or quality. Anime isn't a single genre, there are contemporary dramas, comedies, romances, period pieces, and action movies. As such, the story is only as good as the creators make it.

In other words, most anime is bad. I have the same opinion about live action movies and animation made in the United States or elsewhere. Most of it isn't very good and you have to find the individual movies and series that are worth watching. Some Japanese cultural sensibilities differ from the English speaking world quite a bit, so sometimes there are interesting things in a fair quality anime story. In addition to the distinctive visuals, I still encounter ideas or philosophies that I've never experience in western literature or cinema. This is the value of "foreign" film.

I guess I would say that although I like anime, I've never been otaku. I'm too picky by far.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Endless Winter

The San Francisco Peaks above Observatory Mesa.

This is the time of year when I get sick of the snow, but we must admit it can be beautiful. In Flagstaff, snow tends to not persist on paved surfaces as long as it does in more humid climates. I'm grateful for that. Having grown up in north central Indiana, I had to deal with long winters with grey, overcast skies for weeks on end, and persistent ice and snow on roads for weeks after a storm. We also got frigid blasts of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures from northern Canada. I was once out in 24 below when I was in college. Once you get to about 10 below, any exposed skin feels immediate pain. I can't recommend it.

Flagstaff isn't like that. Here we have lower latitude, which means more direct sunlight, and higher altitude, which means a thinner atmosphere with lower barometric pressure. We are also surrounded by desert, so even when we get heavy snow, very dry air moves in behind the storm and the snow just transpires away, or melts and then evaporates. This doesn't work as well between the winter solstice and the end of January, but by the time you get well into February, the days get longer and the sunlight more direct, and snow quickly disappears from the roads and trails, though it remains longer under the trees.

Snowpack off McAllister Ranch Road.

And that means I can get out and jog again, and on warmer days, bicycle. So I hope to get out there within the next week or two. I just need to get past this next storm on Tuesday . . .

Monday, February 8, 2021


I rode the conveyer last weekend since I'm trying to learn how to ski properly. So far I have developed some directional control. I had difficulty when I had a lesson a few years ago but I realize now that I was overthinking it. Skiing is kind of intuitive once you understand the slope. I'm still terrible though.

I'm kind of in a personal tailspin at the moment. On the one hand I've gotten two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and my health is improving due to some changes in diet and exercise. On the other hand, I've lost some very important-to-me things and generally feel like I'm running behind. I also realized that the protagonist of my new novel is probably the least interesting character in the story. That isn't good.

My creativity has been running high, and I finished a painting for the first time in about a year, but I have cabin fever and would prefer to be outdoors recreating rather than in the house paying bills, doing taxes, and drawing.

I got out last weekend to test out my new skis and enjoyed that, but it isn't the same as a good hike or bicycle ride, and the city is still buried in snow right now. Anyway I'm on call this coming weekend.

Some days you just want to pound your head on the wall.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Outdoor Writing

Montezuma Well, in Yavapai County, Arizona

They say write what you know. I've been into outdoor sports since I was a tiny child. I've accumulate quite a bit of experience and knowledge of several outdoor sports, yet I still find myself struggling to write about adventure in the outdoors without researching topics in detail. I worry over accuracy, even though I'm writing fiction.

As an avid reader myself, I know how fast you can lose a reader with an inaccurate detail, if they are knowledgable on the topic. I still continue with it, trying to use detail only where necessary. You can also lose a reader by providing uninteresting details to someone with less interest in the topic than you. The safe middle ground seems to be to provide as little technical detail as possible, and stick to storytelling. That's my approach.

My new novel is growing at a snail's pace. I'm sitting at 3600 words right now, which is not much considering how long I've been working on it. But the problem is that I've been to 3600 twice, because I keep writing, find myself unhappy with what I've written, and throw it out.

It's moving forward like a glacier. It grows on snowy days, then shrinks during warm dry spells in between. Fortunately we are buried under a think blanket of snow here in Flagstaff right now. It's like planet Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, and the sidewalks a like the rebel trenches in front of the hidden base. This allows time for writing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


Clearly the snow along the fence is even deeper. I have no idea how much I've gotten at my house over the last three days but upper 20s to 30 inches might be a reasonable guess. Or even more.

Flagstaff can go for weeks without any rain or snow, then when snow does arrive, it sometimes comes in quantity. Since I've lived here, we usually have gotten about one event per winter that I call megasnow, where we get 30 to 50 inches within about 3 or 4 days. It's been so dry for so long that I'm glad for it, even though I have pulled strange muscles shoveling. When you get a storm this big, it's necessary to remove snow more than once. If you just wait until you have 30 inches of snow sitting around, the job becomes really difficult to complete in a single session.

I've definitely got cabin fever, and can't wait to get out on a hike or run. I'll probably snowboard this weekend, but it isn't the same.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Food Container Stockholm Syndrome

Hillshire Farm brand packaging for cold cuts. They are perfect sandwich boxes, I assume by design, but also hold just about one meal worth of food of almost any type.

Not that I'm implying I'm hostage to my relationship, but when you get involved with someone, you start to be influenced by the practices and beliefs of the other party. It's a kind of Stockholm syndrome of the willing.

Since I've been a bachelor my entire life, I have this problem that cooking recipes for one is troublesome for complex dishes. Most of the recipes are intended to feed at least 4 people. My habit was to cook it and then try to eat up all the leftovers before they went bad. This often led to food being thrown out, because you get sick of it after a couple days.

My girlfriend prepares meals for her family for several days in advance on the weekend and then stores the leftovers for later, freezing if necessary. This requires a lot of food storage containers. Since they cost money, she repurposes original food packaging containers and has many of them.

I've adopted this practice and now find my cabinets and freezer full of repurposed containers. I especially like the Hillshire Farm "sandwich" boxes which they use to package their cold cuts. The photo is only a small portion of what I have.

Of course, this applies to other things as well, many more important than saving leftovers. For instance, I started going to my girlfriend's church. A year later I follow a bunch of Lutherans on Twitter that I do not know in real life. What other ways are we influenced by our relationships?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Into the Multiverse

A microwave survey of the entire sky of the earth. This is a way of looking at the universe as we know it. By NASA -, Public Domain,


My official position is that the multiverse doesn't exist. This, I admit, is based upon the non-intuitive nature of the concept. I don't see any other universes around here, do you? 

That's a pedantic oversimplification, but it gets to the heart of my understanding of the universe. In my experience, natural processes are sometimes counterintuitive when you lack information. When you've learned enough, they make intuitive sense.

Much of physics is like this. I've always shared Einstein's skepticism about uncertainty. For the same reason, I dislike the multiverse being impossible to observe or measure directly. It seems a very convenient fact for theoretical physicists that we can't possibly confirm their calculations in the real world. As far as we know, if the multiverse exists, there is no way to cross from one universe to another to make direct observations.

Nonetheless, there have been a few times that I had dreams that seem to cross the multiverse. In the dream, I am aware I slumber and dream, but when I try to wake myself, I wake up in the wrong universe. The bedroom looks wrong. Furniture is in the wrong place. Doors are present where before there were none. There are people present that I do not know.

I conclude I'm still asleep and try to wake myself again, only for the process to repeat. It's as if I'm waking in the wrong universe out of the infinite possibilities of the multiverse. This can happen several times before I wake in the correct universe. These dreams unnerve me a little. I feel trapped in sleep, or even lost in a maze of universes, and must try to find my way back to the correct one.

Maybe the multiverse is real?