anne made a thing!

Anne made a thing, and I’m super excited to share it with you.

They are silhouette paintings of trees that I saw at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s crazy. They are literally the first and second thing I painted and I’m selling them. YIPES! Even though I shared the paintings on Twitter, it’s kinda scary to make it into a thing that people can own and now that I’ve made it available, the scary feeling has been replaced with excitement. Yay!

Anne wrote about her creative journey a few months ago, and I love it. It’s inspiring as hell to me, and I love that she found the confidence to embrace the artist I’ve always known she is.

We are surrounded by so much beauty in life, and even as I visited the Hollywood Forever Cemetery late one afternoon, I could see it. The cemetery is surrounded by beautiful old, gnarled trees that look like enormous protectors, silhouetted by the setting sun. I had never painted before but I had a strong desire to paint these trees, and so I got some watercolor paints and made these two paintings.

I love that she painted these trees, and I love that people liked her art so much, they asked her to make them into cards or prints. I especially love that she found the courage to risk putting them out there in an Etsy store, because I know from personal experience how scary it can be to wonder if anyone actually likes the thing I made enough to spend money on it.

She sort of soft-launched her store yesterday. We were at the hockey game last night (it would have been nice if The Kings decided to also show up for the hockey game last night), and during the game, she was getting notifications on her phone that someone had bought a box of her cards. It made me so happy to see the joy she felt each time one of those notifications popped up, and I was so grateful that I got to be there each time it happened. I’m really proud of her, and still can’t believe that I’ve managed to trick her into staying with me for almost 21 years.

five cool raspberry pi projects that make: sent me

I have so many suggestions and ideas from the replies to my post yesterday, I could do nothing more than work on one a day for the rest of the year, and not finish all of them.

If you, like me, have no idea where to start, but are curious about what you can do without too much difficulty, Make: has you covered, with a blog post that they wrote JUST FOR ME! (But you can read it, too.)

5 Radical Raspberry Pi Projects for Our Pal Wil Wheaton

I think I’m going to make the PiRate radio, because how much fun would it be to take a low-watt radio station to a con?! I mean, in theory, never in practice, because rules are great and should always be followed.

And this photo booth thing that would push pictures straight to Twitter is super cool, and a neat proof of concept for potential shenanigans. In theory, never in practice, because rules are great and should always be followed.

But, seriously, take a look at the comments in yesterday’s post, if you’re pi-curious or leaning Arduino. There’s a bunch of really awesome stuff in there.

these violent delights have violent ends

Seven days of a post a day, and it’s starting to feel like it’s okay to do stuff that isn’t super intense or deep, though I’ve discovered that instead of just posting whatever, I’m racking my brains for something heavy or at least in depth to write about. I guess I’m learning how to think with different parts of my creative self or whatever.

I got this thing called the triby from woot because it was on sale (I know, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it) and though it has a terrible name (m’lady)*, it’s been a lot of fun to talk to Alexa on it throughout the day. It’s kind of cool that I can ask it to play me a news update, and it’ll cycle through about 10 minutes of news stuff from local to national to world news, then give me the weather. I keep wanting to thank it, the same way I want to thank my phone when Ok, Google, does something for me.

I kept hoping, all season long, that there would be some visual easter egg that gave a nod to the 1973 movie.

Hey speaking of self-aware robots: how about Westworld? I kept feeling like there was a good show inside whatever I’ve been watching for ten weeks, so I stuck with it, enduring awful exposition, two characters that are either badly written, badly performed, or both, and a criminal underuse of Anthony Hopkins … but after watching the season finale, I’m so glad I stuck it out. I’m looking forward to going back and watching it again, knowing what I know now. I still think the entire Mayve storyline is crap and stresses my suspension of disbelief more than the existence of Westworld, itself, but the other primary storyline was wonderful, and really paid off. Memo to LOST: this is how you do it without an audience-insulting shit ending.

Have you seen Ex-Machina? If you haven’t, and you liked Westworld, I highly recommend it. There’s also a fantastic episode of Black Mirror from series two called Be Right Back that provokes a lot of the same questions. Anne and I have been wanting to start series three of Black Mirror, but we’ve been investing our limited television time watching Channel Zero and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

You know, there’s so much good television right now, I feel like I could do nothing but watch incredible shows everywhere from broadcast networks to cable to online-only, and there wouldn’t be enough time in the day to see it all.


*I know, it isn’t Trilby, but it’s close enough.

raspberry pi plus arduino equals something something

 Forgive this dumb Amazon thing. It’s part of an experiment … but STEM toys are pretty cool.

When I was a kid, I loved to put together electronic project kits. I’d get these things from Radio Shack (RIP Radio Shack) and build radios, super basic games, synthesizers, and other fun things. I liked that stuff so much, when I was curating my Quarterly boxes last year (does anyone want me to do that again?), I put a Little Bits starter kit into one of them.

I have spent so much time in the creative part of my brain, I wanted to get out of that part of my brain for a little bit (it’s full of bees) and do some other kind of making/creating, so I got myself a Raspberry Pi, and an Arduino starter kit. I’ve read a bit in Make and I have a bunch of cool books and junk from Humble Bundles that I can’t put onto my Kindle because they’re over 50mb and for some reason the current software on my Kindle won’t let it mount on my desktop as a device.

Um. Anyway.

using ssh to get into another computer on the LAN. Ah, memories!

I spent some time last weekend reacquainting myself with the Linux command line, learning nano (my heart will always belong to vim, but I’m trying new things), and building a super basic home server, samba server, and trying (and failing) to get a media server that I don’t need (Plex FTW) up and running.

I have just realized that there are a lot of parentheticals in this post. I’m acknowledging that right now, just so it isn’t weird if you’re like “wow that’s a lot of parentheticals and it’s kind of strange that you aren’t acknowledging it.”

Playing with the Pi has been a lot of fun. It’s quite powerful, especially for its size, and there’s something super satisfying about investing less than $90 to have a full on computer with a ton of storage (thank you, inexpensive 64GB USB drive) that is portable.

I haven’t gotten into the Arduino, yet, because whenever I open the box and see all the wires and electronics, I panic and close it.

Which brings me to the point of this dumb post: for all you nerds out there who have built stuff or made neat projects with one or both of these things: what do you recommend? I’m pretty competent and I can follow directions pretty well. I’d really dig it if you guys filled up my comments with links to tutorials, examples of your own projects, and other recommendations for cool things that I can make with this stuff. I also have a magnificent 3D printer that I can use to make cases, gears, and that sort of thing too, if a murderkillbot is a thing to be built.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

idwtbf-us-cover-smallI worked on an audiobook all day yesterday. I don’t think I can talk about the specifics of it, but I’m proud of the word I did.

But I can point out this cool news that Cory Doctorow posted on boingboing yesterday, about an audtiobook that I read for him a couple of years ago:

I released an audio edition of the book in 2014, read by the incomparable Wil Wheaton, who also read the audiobook of my novel Homeland). At the time, I tried to get Neil and Amanda into a studio to record their intros, but we couldn’t get the stars to align.

But good things come to those who wait! Neil Gaiman’s 2016 essay collection The View From the Cheap Seats includes his introduction to my book, and the audiobook edition — which Neil himself read — therefore includes Neil’s reading of this essay.

Thanks to Neil, his agents, and the kind people at Harper Audio, I was able to get permission to include Neil’s reading of his essay for a remastered audio version of the audiobook.

really like Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free. I learned a lot from it, and it helped me grow as an independent artist and creator. You can get your own DRM-free copy for $15.

the cookie told me so

Okay so the whole point of this Daily December thing is to just put something new here every day, and not worry about exactly what it is. We’re four — five? Wait. Did I miss a day?

Okay, I just checked and I didn’t miss a day. That’s weird. Time is a flat circle, man, I read about it in The Bearenstein Bears And The King In Yellow.

Anyway, this is a good exercise for me. Just post a thing that I care about, or think is cool for some reason, and don’t worry too much about it being something deep and whatever.



I don’t remember why I started doing “Goodnight, nerds” on Twitter, with a picture from Frinkiac, but now it’s a silly thing I look forward to every night before bed. I actually say to Anne, “I have to go tell the nerds goodnight” before I get into bed.

I usually hit the random button until I come across something from the first eight seasons or so. Occasionally something from the recent seasons shows up that’s really funny on its own, and I’ll grab it just in case, but I like to focus on the classics.

You know, for something dumb that I do to amuse myself, a put a lot of thought into it — well, more thought than you’d expect, I guess.

I don’t watch The Simpsons every week like I used to. We’ve both changed since the 90s, and I think it’s okay to move on and do other things. Shows like Bob’s Burgers and Bojack Horseman are more my speed these days.

I’m performing an audiobook all day today, so I have to get going, but I’m putting this here so I won’t forget: Bojack Horseman is a thing I want to write about in a little more depth when I have some time.

The 404 page at The Outline is pretty great.


you just start and you keep going until you’re finished

I’ve had this idea for a short supernatural horror story for years, but never actually committed to writing it. I guess the idea of the thing was so pleasing to me, I didn’t want to risk ruining it by writing it badly.

But a few months ago, I wrote an entirely different story, and showed it to a friend of mine who is a fucking amazing author who had offered to take a look at anything I wrote, if I ever wanted his feedback.

So on this other thing (which is called The Magician’s Path), I just wasn’t sure if it worked. I wasn’t sure if it all held together, or if it even told the story I wanted to tell. I sent it to my friend, and told him that if he thought it sucked, it would be really useful and helpful if he could tell me why it sucked, so I knew where to focus on developing my skills as a storyteller. He didn’t reply for a few days, and I thought, “Jeeze, I guess it sucks even harder than I thought it did.”

Then he texted me and told me that he really liked it, and didn’t think it needed much work. He hadn’t replied to be because he had gotten busy. Let that be a lesson to all of us about the things we presume based upon incomplete information.

As it turned out, he was coming to LA, and he offered to come to Castle Wheaton and go over it with me, so I could understand what I’d written from a structure standpoint, a story standpoint, a prose standpoint, etc.

We sat in my kitchen and went through it (it’s not long at all, like 4000 words) and while he showed me things, I began to feel like I was more capable than I thought I was. My instincts were good, my ideas made sense, and while the draft didn’t exactly need anything, if I did a couple of things to it, it would help it be better.

I want to say that it was like learning to walk, but it was more like suddenly having the confidence to stand up and stop crawling. My friend unlocked this thing inside of me that I’d been holding back because I was so afraid of failure, and all these ideas that I’d had for years started clamoring around inside my imagination to get out and become proper stories.

I started and abandoned a couple of things, because they weren’t the right thing for me to be writing at the time, and finally settled on the thing that was a short story that became a novella that wants to be a novel and still really needs a good title. Neil Gaiman says that each thing you write teaches you how to write it, that you have to learn while you’re doing it, and that every story is different. While that thing was teaching me how to write it, it was also teaching me how to just write the idea I have, without fear or judgement, and keep going until it’s finished.

Around the second week of October, I had to write a really difficult scene in that story. Without getting too precious about it, I just had to walk away from it for a little bit, and my brain was all “Why don’t you write the swamp story, and release it around Halloween?”

There isn’t a swamp in the story anymore, but I was like, “Good idea, brain,” and I got to work. It ended up being more than I expected, and I didn’t come close to making that Halloween deadline. But I finished it on Friday, and I’ve been deliberately taking this weekend off from it, even though I really want to get back to work on it and do the rewrites.

I’ll probably finish the rewrites sometime next week, and then I’ll go back to the novel, which feels like it’s about 90% finished, because I want to finish the first draft of it by the end of the year.

When it’s finished, I’ll go back to my whiteboard and pick the next thing that’s going to go into the collection of short stories that all of these things have come out of, and if everything goes according to plan, I’ll have at least one book (and hopefully two) published early next year.

if coffee then coffee do coffee more coffee else coffee

Since I’m not drinking this year, I haven’t been making beer. But I still like to make food things, so I’ve been teaching myself how to bake bread and roast coffee beans.

So the thing about making beer is that it really isn’t that difficult. Brooklyn Brew Shop says If you can make oatmeal, you can make beer, and it is entirely true. If you can just follow a recipe, you can turn malted barley, water, hops, and yeast into beer.

The thing about baking bread is that there’s a little more intuition to it than making beer, but not much. It’s incredibly satisfying to mix up flour, water, salt, and yeast by hand, fold the dough, let it rise, shape it into loaves, and bake it. There are all sorts of different types of bread to make, but that basic combination is pretty easy to understand. Like brewing, if you can follow directions, you can turn those things into bread.

Roasting coffee, though, is much more difficult to perfect. I’m using a smart roaster (the Behmor 1600+) that controls the delicate parts of the process, including the heat curve, the speed of the turning drum that holds the beans, and the cooling process. But roasting coffee isn’t something where you put the beans in, push some buttons, and wait until PRESTO you have roasted coffee beans. There’s a steep and complex learning curve (at least there was for me) and a very small margin of error. In my experience, when I’m roasting 1/4 pound to 1/2 pound of beans, there’s anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds of intense terror that I have to watch very closely, because in that tiny window of time, I’ll either end up with something decent or a complete a pile of fail. Unlike beer, which can sometimes end up not as hoppy or malty as I wanted, but still be drinkable, or bread, which may not rise as much as I wanted but still makes a nice tartine, if the coffee beans are off, they pretty much have to go into the trash. I mean, unless you’re really into wet cardboard.

So it was kind of a big deal for me recently when I had acquired enough data to feel like I knew what I was doing, and could reasonably expect the raw beans I put into the roaster to come out tasting like something I wanted to drink and share with others. (I didn’t mention that roasting coffee beans provides an opportunity for lots of notes, just like brewing and baking does, and it’s essential to do that if you want to get anywhere close to mastering it).

Anyway, I decided to offer some beans in the secret store, and the first batch came out yesterday. It’s pretty much exactly how I wanted it to come out, and I’m proud of myself, so I put some pictures from the roast on the other side of the jump, along with some notes on the process.

Getting started.

Not sure why the display photographed that way, but I’m just about four minutes in. You can see in my notes where I record the wall and exhaust temperatures at each minute.

All done, and it’s cooling. I ended up adding 1:30 to the total time. That happened during the 45 second window of terror.

Weighing out the beans. I wanted them to be about this dark (the lighter patches you see are from chaff that didn’t blow off completely), so the bean’s unique flavors could come through without too much acidity. I feel like this batch went up to about 15 to 30 seconds short of second crack.

I’m roasting some more today, and my house smells great. There’s also some pure levain sourdough bulk fermenting, that I’ll shape and proof in about an hour or so. The kitchen at Castle Wheaton is getting all kinds of action today.

a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam

this is fine.

Okay day two of putting whatever the hell I want on my blog! This is great. Everything is great. Nothing is terrible. Facts and truth really do matter and bad people are held accountable for being bad. Really! They are! I swear. Ignore all evidence to the contrary because the world is definitely not on fire.

…well, that got dark in a hurry.

I’m probably going to finish the first draft of Ravenswood today. I wanted to finish it last night, but I just ran out of gas, sort of like when I go out for a run, really want to keep going, but my body is just at its limit and can’t be pushed any further. I’m really excited about this story, though, and I’m looking forward to releasing it in the Mysterious Future.

Speaking of running, I don’t feel like doing an in-depth review of my reboot for October and November, but I will give myself an overall grade for both months: C-. I can do better, and I will.

Have a good weekend. Here’s Robert Picardo reading Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

“Haunted Bunk Bed Terrifies Family”

I post a lot of stuff on my Tumblr, share a lot of pictures on my Instagram, put videos on my YouTube channel, and do dumb things every day with Twitter. I’m also starting a regular thing on my Twitch channel (more on that later), so I can honestly say that I produce a lot of content or at least share a lot of content online. But it feels like my blog, which is where the whole thing started, is largely neglected, because I feel like I can only post bigger things or deeper things or heavier things here.

So I’m giving myself permission to post whatever the hell I want, so I can just get past the internal gatekeeper slash critic who prevents me from using the one space on the Internet that is entirely mine.

Therefore: I hereby challenge myself to post one thing a day during the month of December, no matter what it is. It can be a picture, a few lines from a work in progress, a video, a collection of links to things, or even just one link to one thing.

So. It is December first, and I am beginning with something dumb that is still interesting to me.

Even though I am writing a short, supernatural story right now, I do not believe in the paranormal. At all. Still, I freaking love it. It isn’t real, even a little bit, but it’s fun to pretend that it is. I love the idea that aliens are real, that ghosts haunt our world, that people make dark pacts with demons, and that Cryptozoological beasts are all real, just incredibly hard to find and photograph. I love the idea of the Denver Airport being some crazy Illuminati thing and the aliens use it as a landing facility. The Face On Mars is horseshit, but it’s fun to pretend that it isn’t. All of this stuff is delightful fan fiction that is set in our own world, and we’re all characters in it, whether we know it or not.

So I’m starting The Daily December with something from a paranormal blog I love.

The Tallmann House

(from Stranger Dimensions)

In the case of the haunted Tallmann House, residents of an ordinary home in Horicon, Wisconsin found themselves the victims of a very strange thing indeed: a haunted bunk bed. According to Cult of Weird, in 1988, this family suffered through nine months of intense paranormal activity after purchasing a used bunk bed, including spectral apparitions. They ultimately fled their home, but not before rumors of even stranger things – including bleeding walls – spread throughout their neighborhood.

I mean, you’re not going to do much better than “Haunted Bunk Bed Terrifies Family”, right?