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A blog sibling

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been derelict over here, mostly because I was working on an idea for a new blog, which, as inaccurate as it may be, I am going to call this blog’s younger sibling. That’s because it is made up of a whole category of things that Sam and I haven’t posted on here — namely, our personal travels.

If only I had a cool suitcase like this 🙂

Traveling is such a different kind of thing to write about. You’re out of your element, on a laptop somewhere, looking at things from an outsider’s perspective. For us, living up here in the rural North, it usually means driving many hours away. It didn’t seem like something that fit on the pages of this blog.  But we’re traveling more and more, and finding really neat things wherever we go, and I’d really like to share them!

So this weekend I put up the first posts on the new travel blog, which is hopefully-not-too-cliched in its name; There and Back Again.  I won’t take up too much more room here about it, but I’d love if you come over, read, maybe subscribe (hint, hint), share your own travel ideas and comments, and hopefully have some fun.

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Hallowed institutions

March 11, 2011 1 comment

Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland

When I was a kid, going to the library was an awe-inspiring event.

I grew up in a logging family, which means that we didn’t have much in the way of funds over the years, though the lack of a savings account was more than compensated for through the love of my parents and a work ethic that is just short of fanatical. So, when we were lucky enough to have time to make a swing to the library and get some books to use as entertainment, it was something to be excited about. I was always wide-eyed with wonder at the sheer number of spines and book titles that would greet me when I’d walk through the door. I’d pick out two or three and then check them out. The most amazing part was that we didn’t have to pay to use them–we just had to bring them back.

Unfortunately, in my lifetime, libraries of that sort may become a footnote in the pages of history. More and more small cities and towns are being forced to close their libraries due to funding issues. Here in the Upper Peninsula, some have already closed due to a lack of space to house them, while others have cut their hours and staffs so dramatically that you are hard pressed to be able to visit if you have an ever-changing schedule like I do. Read more…

Long time, no blog

February 25, 2011 1 comment

The other day Kim and I were finishing up some freelance work when she turned to me and mentioned this blog. The question, it seemed, was why we weren’t writing in it anymore.

“Ummmmmm… because we already work 70 hours weeks?” I responded, though without the confidence I would have needed to shut the door on the subject completely. Instead, it turned into a discussion, and the decision that there really isn’t enough going on that we shouldn’t be able to post on here once a week or so.

So, we’re back. Well, technically speaking, I’m back. Kim is showering right now and will be headed off to a 90-minute massage soon. Me? Well, I have to work, which is why it’s nice to take a few moments and do some writing that isn’t deadline driven or forced at a maddening pace.

Since the last time we posted, a lot has happened. We’ve picked up a lot of freelance work (hence our absence) and we manage a couple of sites for Issue Media Group, namely UP Second Wave and Northwest Michigan Second Wave (we manage Mid Michigan Second Wave, too, but we’re in the process of finding a new editor to keep tabs on that one). Needless to say, that takes up a bulk of our time. In addition, Kim freelances for the Marquette Monthly and I am freelancing sports for weekly papers in Northville and Novi.

We also moved into a new house, which is pretty cool. It costs far less than our old apartment and we will outright own it in less than four years. Pretty good choice, hey?

Outside of that, for the most part, it’s been the same ol’ life here in the Upper Peninsula. Of course, we’re not complaining about that.

Let me wrap up this quick post by saying that we apologize for not being around more, but want to make a concerted effort to change our ways. Look for new posts at least once a week and let us know if you have any comments or questions.

As I write this letter…

April 19, 2010 2 comments
Quills & Ink
Image by Serendoxity via Flickr

One of the very thoughtful and cool presents I got from Sam at Christmas was a quill pen set, the real old-fashioned kind with a feather pen, metal nib set and nut-brown ink bottle. I don’t know how he knew I would love this, since I don’t recall ever expressing a wish for one, but once it was in my hands, it was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I’m fascinated by thoughts of what life was like before many of the technological advances we take for granted today, and I don’t mean just computers and cell phones. I mean no telephone lines, cars, air travel — Really old-fashioned. Like when ideas, philosophies, and news were passed through hand-written letters in the early days of the American colonies. Of course, being fascinated with the idea of it and actually doing it are entirely different things.

Since Christmas, I’ve sent out a few rounds of handwritten letters with my quill pen & bottle of ink, in each apologizing profusely for my terrible penmanship, lack of finesse with ink pressure and poor letter formation. They’ve gone to family and very close friends; obviously, it’s not the kind of thing you send someone you aren’t really close to! For one thing, the sheer effort and time involved in writing with pen and ink is astonishing. I know a lot of that is because I’m not very practiced in it, as it’s an acquired skill. I’m of a generation that grew up typing everything instead of writing it out by hand, and my elementary school days were the last time I hand-wrote anything significant.

But even more of a change than the time involved is the different thought processes you use when forming each letter carefully with ink. You must consider every word, and you must form an entire thought before even starting the sentence, because you can’t erase or delete anything in any meaningful way. Sure, I’ve scratched out a few badly-formed letters, but you can’t rephrase a sentence that didn’t come out right. That’s just not the way I’ve grown up writing, or even the way of writing I make my living from. Now, we think faster, type faster, and can change what we’ve written so quickly that the words mean less.

It sounds like a pain to write letters this way, and it is to an extent. But it’s also strangely addicting. It’s contemplative and almost meditative. It forces me to slow down, be mindful, and think my words through. And there’s really nothing neater than seeing a beautifully turned sentence from your own hand. (I find I use the letters ‘w’, ‘l’, and all the dangling ones way more often cause they look so cool!) When I don’t write anything with the quill set for awhile, I find myself thinking about how letters look on the paper, or the feeling of creating a bold, confident sentence with strong, elegant pen strokes. It’s truly writing at its most basic, and most satisfying.

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Like father, like daughter

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Shaylyn sure loves her chicken wings... sometimes she can't wait to get a taste.

You may not be aware of this, but Kim and I aren’t the only writers here at Pen > Sword. Wandering around the house is my daughter, Shaylyn, who has already started her own book about adventurers and Egypt as well as a movie script she is working on based on the same subject.

In addition, my kiddo, who I affectionately call “Green Bean,” writes her own blog. Admittedly, she comes up with the meat of the posts and I edit them and clean them up, but I never mess with the intent or the focus.

Her blog, Chick ‘N Wings, is written on the subject of all things chicken wings. She reviews joints she stops at, reviews sauces and tries to keep everyone updated on news in the industry. She’s also going to add some recipes in the coming weeks.

Since her blog is relatively new, there isn’t a ton of content, but it’s still worth a quick gander. If you do go over and check it out, please try to take the time to leave a comment, or subscribe via email (the field to do so is on the right-hand side).

I applaud her for her drive in this. She’s always the first to order chicken wings and then look at me and tell me to whip out the ol’ iPhone to get some photos for the blog.

Like they say: The egg doesn’t fall far from the chicken’s butt, hey?

Check out my Dragon Age Awakening review…

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Dragon Age: Origins
Image via Wikipedia

It’s over at Geek Girl on the Street, here. It’s my first post for them, and, I guess, my first paid blog post. Can’t complain about my job, hey? Anyway, reading this post reminds me I have more Dragon Age to play… I still want to find out the reaction from my Origins character, who is one of the Couslands, when she meets Nathaniel Howe in her dungeon. Should be good.

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GetSocial Live

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment
LOGO2.0 part I
Image by Ludwig Gatzke via Flickr

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In case you’re wondering where all the nifty Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc. buttons came from, check out Get Social Live, here. It’s an online-hosted version of the open-source Get Social software, except you don’t have to download it and best of all for me, it works for Mac users. It’s ideal for WordPress and was created by Hillel Stoler.  You put a post title and permalink, and it creates the row of linky-buttons. Just a cool addition for other Web content producers, bloggers, writers and developers out there 🙂 If you use it and enjoy it, there’s a PayPal donation button there too 🙂

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