Ditch the Outline!

Writing is hard enough without trying to fit form to format.

Or is it that the format is simply wrong for the form?

I recall the endless outlines written for school. The sterility of it all. Nowhere in the body of your outline are you expected or allowed to be creative. Give facts, follow-up, quote, etc. and do it in proscribed ways or get hammered for not writing properly.

Reality check – reading the drivel that I and others have written over the years is time wasted. That time would have better been served daydreaming, fantasizing, calculating mining futures or determining what types of angels and how big a pin to use before counting them. Or doodling, of course,

To the point – do story-boarding instead!  Your story boards do not need to have pictures if you are writing a story (me) or doing some otherwise dry report, although pictures need to be included in dry reports, book reports of all kinds, and anything else any time (have fun, eh?) Even here! SEO experts say pictures add hits on every type of social media.


The nice part about story-boarding is you can go old school and cut things out and paste them onto a big sheet, like butcher paper or a continuous roll of drafting paper. Move them about first, have some fun taking parts of your ideas, your stories, your reports, and mixing the shit out of them to see how convoluted you can be. Not good advise for the workplace, although it may get some nodders to pay attention.

That’s it.

If you organize by the major components of your work, it’s easy to play with the pieces on the dining table. I like the colors, but do what you want. Create your own work pieces or go online and struggle with someone else’s design. Your choice.

The Nature of Music

Precious time in the shower. Alone, private, and a great place to sing or listen to music. Sometimes music or a song springs to mind, playing over and over, perhaps just that snippet when you almost remember all the words. Your mind creates its own loop, so that the song fragment cannot escape your attention. You may find yourself singing the fragment, giving it that external voice.

The question: How many times does that musical moment spring from your adolescent days, some meaningless pop tune lyrics that you would never be caught singing at work or with your friends. Pieces of songs where your words are likely wrong, but remembered with burning clarity. But heck! You are enjoying the moment, you’re in the shower!

Now the alternate question: How many times is that musical moment a piano concerto, a symphony movement, an aria phase? If you answered, “Of course, I love Die Fledermaus!” then you are of a mind that reinforced a different genre over the inane. Thou art lucky. But are those flaky tunes from your childhood still buried underneath the more civilized tones, just waiting for a moment of escape? I am thinking you would be the middle-aged person head banging to music thrumming from someone else’s car. Yes, I saw that.

Stop – Please Stop!

Two words that get ignored so often.

In this case, it is the press that did not stop. Yes, of course, the press, those who cannot stop the diarrhea of their mouths long enough to give time for thought. Comment, over comment, compare, divide, divert, conclude, espy, regurgitate, opinionate, blather, dither, interview, interrupt, and on and on.

Doing the Job – the universal excuse. Yuck

Sometimes, it’s time to shut up. In today’s world, just for a few seconds. Ten seconds, a little silence. No FCC rules get broken. No one loses a listener. In fact, you gain at least one listener: The reporter!

Subject of Rant:  Coverage of The President’s Speech at Hiroshima

The Situation:  A poignant, powerful moment where those on site were respectful enough to be silent. To listen. An important moment in history.

The Complaint: The reporter repeatedly brought other voices into the situation, running over the moment, jumping to an opinion, another person’s response. It was a powerful speech that was respected by an international group of people, including reporters on site. But the remote reporter did not listen to his colleague who spoke of the reverence of the moment. He did not give any pause between the excerpt of the speech he actually did allow to be heard, but immediately diverted to some other opinion of the moment. The speeches were short. There was time to allow listeners to experience it for themselves.

In the time spent running over the moment, the entire speech given by President Obama could have been broadcast. It was an emotional, poignant, powerful moment when both our President and his counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shared something rarely heard and felt;  Respect. Love. Trust. Vision.

I was so angry that the reporter ran over the moment. I needed a few seconds, there was so much richness in what Obama had spoken. I had to turn off the radio, shout away the anger, then recall in my own mind the tender yet powerful words that I had heard. To get the full speech I had to go to the internet. Fortunately, CBS had a fairly bullshit free video.


Please take a moment to listen. These moments are important to form our own memories, our own impressions, unfettered by the sounds of other people’s blathering.

For those who have an interest in sharing this speech later, when the only means remaining are most likely cluttered with crap* – as on YouTube, of course – I have added a copy of the text.

President Obama – Hiroshima Speech


*(Unfortunately, there were others who used the event to further their hate rants.  Or, used a copy of the video on their own attention gathering channel – built off the blathering comments of followers – allowing anything that could fog a mirror to run over the moment with their attempted impressions of sentient life.)


My Moleskine Collection

“Working without passion is like pushing a cart of rocks.

The work is physically and mentally exhausting and without meaning.

Why would anyone care about the rocks?

More importantly, why would anyone care about a person pushing rocks?

There is certainly no reason for the rock pushing soul.”

My Moleskine Pile

My Moleskine Pile

This gem was found in my Moleskine notebook while taking pictures of my collection. I didn’t think I had a collection after culling through nearly 30 books to whittle down to my modest pile. Some of those left are spares, so I have only a handful of new Moleskines at my disposal.

The smallest blue one (opened, on top) is for daily lists, that quick contact capture book that also serves for notes on the go. It is great for the purse or pocket, so it goes anywhere. It does not need the internet, just a pen.

The next books (second and third in the pile) are for long-term captures. They are much thicker. One holds musical compositions of all sizes. The other is journal-like with observations for and about myself, plus commands that have had various success levels.



The large one is my primary writing book. It also has my mini pen sketches. It is a nice size for writing as the pages are large enough to get a lot of thoughts down before the distraction of turning the page.

In between are ones that are out and about. They can hold mostly what is in the large book and they are more likely to have pages torn out after moving their content somewhere more permanent.

All are blank books. Lines are restrictive, grids are doubly so. I am waiting for the second generation of the Smart Writing Set. I need some invisible grids. I also would like to do more subtle drawings with shade and tone captured. It’s got to happen, so I will wait.

Empty - New - Blank Books

Empty – New – Blank Books

Offline Procrastination Ends

Information gathering online is often very exciting (Nerd – yes!) and distracting. There are strings everywhere leading to somewhere else and it can all be very overwhelming. So much so that saving articles, .pdf or .jpg or .png files, and website snapshots can feel quite productive. Look! I have found useful information or a great resource. Yay! I can even congratulate myself for staying mostly on track, since I don’t read all those saves, but finish the original online search or task. So when I am ready to finish that in-depth article, there are files already gathered up and even saved to an appropriate folder.

Reality moment

I am in the process of transferring years of handwritten pages from my Moleskine notebooks to my computer. While doing this analog to digital conversion, while looking for and creating the best place to save my treasures, I got a very good look at my file infrastructure.


My “_desktop” folder has 117 files, plus one folder with 34 files (151!) These items started out on the primary desktop so I could find them quickly, because I needed them very soon. However, once my real desktop got too cluttered, I moved them to this folder. Still easy to find, if I had remembered to go back there and disposition them.

My other writing + related items are in the “working” folder, which is five tiers deep overall. So much information, so many bits and pieces …

The Point

I have procrastinated the follow-up on articles, ideas, snippets, etc. This should have been an ongoing “offline” effort, since the files were saved so that I could work them anytime on the computer. Although there was some self-awareness that a vast amount of “important stuff” was hiding in the analog world,

I did not realize my file saving behaviors were fulfilling a self-denigrating label of “procrastinator”, which fed that behavior to the mess I am clearing.

Glad to be at work for positive change. Best get back to it.

A Perspective on the End of the World

A thousand million events happen every second in our universe that have been in motion since the beginning of known time (humans) until the endless future. The past affects the present and the future tickles the past and we sit in the present with an itchy mind, not knowing how to scratch it.

Okay, bullshit aside, I was reading this morning that at the center of every galaxy is a black hole. Since black holes are areas of super gravity, they perform the same as a sun for orbits and attraction. They have other side effects, but it seems that they are more mass giants in a relatively tiny space and serve some unknown purpose in the balance of the forces in the universe.

It may be that black holes are the glue that keep galaxies together, circling in that gravity dance that maintains stability which allows life to evolve, etc. and voila! Here we are.

Now considering that all of our information about black holes and most everything else outside our solar system’s immediate neighborhood is at least tens of thousands years old (light travels very slowly when compared with the calculated size of the universe!) and most commonly billions and billions of years old, it seems we are in for a rude surprise when everything in real time comes to play in our backyard. Anytime now.

Or now.



You Gotta Want the Same

I want everything you’ve got and

you gotta want the same.

your clothes be mine

and all your shoes

to wear about the house

stomping and giggling while you’re working

messing up your closet

and tying up your ties

to wear on my head.

And you gotta be amused


to wear my dresses like sleeves

while I scramble to rescue them

and failing

and falling

and laughing together

because it really doesn’t bother us;

cause if it did

there is no us

and we had better find someone who is

not afraid

of damage

and warfare

for the sake of aggravation

for the love of loving

and tumbling

and remembering it with satisfaction.