A break in the Texas heat, Fall is in the air, and baseball is back on the menu. Neighbors having small conversations on the walks to-and-from the elementary school and kids putting on lemonade stand fundraisers for their friends. Humming birds saunter by my window each day. Texas comes alive in this reverse Spring, rediscovering simple pleasures…

A reading streak

I hit a reading streak this month. Where August was a month of bad books, September was a month of terrific books.

Listening to Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee at the end of August and then following that up with Four Thousand Weeks was an elixir after a stressful summer. I don’t re-read books often, but I’ve already reserved both of them a second time from the library. I want to soak up a little bit more of the wisdom in those pages.

Faster Than Normal is a productivity book written by Peter Shankman, a man with ADHD. At times this book was very insightful and I felt like I was hearing things about myself, at other times I felt like Peter and I’s neurons diverged, him being more obsessive than I tend to be. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this peek at what it means to be productive and neurodiverse.

I’m undisciplined at reading paper books (see above), so reading is slow, but opening Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov lit a kindling in my spirit to write more short science fiction. I love how he can spin a compelling mystery for the sole purpose of imagining a different future. I thought a lot about writing mysteries.

A writing streak

Following the vibe, I hit a writing streak. I managed to publish 7 days in a row and —with all that I have going on— that feels like a miracle. There’s some short fiction in there, lots of posts on prototyping, Shigeru Miyamoto makes an appearance; it’s like concentrate Dave Rupert blog juice.

Behind the scenes, I spent a good weekend rounding out a handful of posts, getting them close enough I could finish them before work. While getting posts out is rewarding, I also moved ~40 posts to the deadpool, the part of my blogging kanban where ideas go to die. There’s a sense of freedom in letting half-baked ramblings go away; I am not responsible for those posts anymore. It’s like weeding the garden and now I can focus on the ones I want to flourish.

My favorite post was a short science fiction story, a micro-thriller, titled Solara; a story about a world with free power threatened by unexpected weather phenomenon. I wanted to play with solarpunk a bit as well as experiment out of my comfort zone with dialog-only scenes. I liked how it turned out. I have more stories in more worlds lined up, but this world rattles around in my head some and I feel like there’s more stories waiting to be teased out.

It could be the Isaac Asimov, but playing with a little bit of drama in storytelling created a desire to write a mystery. I understand the mechanics of writing a mystery but when I put my hands on the keyboard, I struggle to come up with anything remotely compelling. It feels like something I should be capable of, but for whatever reason, cannot.

So, I set off on a quest and devoured videos by Alexa Donne on how to write a mystery. She’s a wonderful role model for aspiring writers, good advice, and great breakdowns of genres and expectations. After a dozen or so of those videos, I listened to legendary storyteller Stephen King’s book On Writing. This was one time I wished I was reading the physical book, so I could underline all the gems.

Hungry for more mystery, I started watching old Columbo episodes on Peacock. I love these grainy 75 minute mysteries where rich people go to jail. There’s no way I could write an entire Columbo episode, but how small can a mystery be? This got me thinking about one of my kids’ favorite TV shows InBESTigators, whose writers somehow manage to craft a full mystery with twists, red herrings, and Chekov’s guns all in a tight 15 minute package featuring child actors. This feels like an attainable reduction.

My favorite bit of media from all my obsessive questing might be this video where Rian Johnson explains how he wrote Knives Out. Warning: SPOILERS.

A case of theft

One Wednesday afternoon my wife urgently entered my office, “Someone stole our bikes.” Sure enough, they were gone. A vacancy in the garage where they once sat. The garage door mistakenly left open, my wife and I both home, eating lunch, and someone(s) walked into our garage and stole my Salsa Journeyman gravel bike and my wife’s eBike.

As I filed police reports for insurance purposes, my wife hopped in the car and rode around. It’s a 100lb eBike with no key, afterall, so maybe they stashed it somewhere? Then on her patrol my wife saw the woman who stole my unmistakeable green Salsa bike with orange pedals! She tailed her for a bit like an amateur private eye, not engaging for obvious reasons, but lost the woman when she took a bike path over the highway. The bike… is gone…

I’ve had bikes stolen before, it ain’t fun. I’m not going to say “it’s not a big deal” and “it’s just stuff” because they were nice bikes. It will cost us thousands of dollars to replace them, even if we go through insurance. The silver lining, of course, is my family is okay and it could have been worse.

The thing I hate most about theft is how it makes you bitter and mistrusting of other people. It’s not my natural state. Eric told me he heard it called an “optimism tax”, the occasional dose of harsh reality for people operating their lives in the unguarded belief that other people are generally okay, and the benefits outweigh the costs. I like that sentiment, I do, but the solace has not yet triggered.

A statistical breakdown