Haiku: Tardigrades


Tardigrades, commonly called water bears, are eight-legged microscopic animals. They are among the most resilient lifeforms on Earth. They can survive massive doses of radiation, pressure that exceeds that of the deepest ocean trenches, years of dehydration, and a temperature range of minus 200 Celsius to 149 Celsius. Low Earth orbit experiments have demonstrated that some species of tardigrade can survive for days while exposed to the vacuum of space.

Despite our best efforts, humans could never destroy the Earth enough to render the tardigrade extinct. Perhaps at some point in the distant future, some highly evolved descendant of the tardigrade will happen upon our ruined civilization and tsk-tsk us for our recklessness.


tardigrades basking

in the anemic light of

nuclear winter




Haiku: Williwaw


I was in the Aleutian Islands when I learned, first hand, what a williwaw is. It was like a column of cold air just fell out of the sky with crushing force. The suddenness and violence of the meteorological event caught me entirely off guard.

Later, when I was in a warm pub having a pint, I asked my buddy if the wind always blows like that here. He said the phenomenon is specific to a few places in the world, and the Aleutians are one of them. It has something to do with how warmer air rises off the sea and then suddenly cools once it gets to the mountain peaks. The cold air then rushes down the mountainsides and makes all kinds of problems. He said I should watch out for that.

“Huh,” I said, not exactly sure how one can watch out for an invisible force that falls out of the sky without warning. “I’ll keep an eye out,” I said.


drowning in the sound,

a thundering williwaw

spills off the mountain

Archives: Smash Through Writer’s Block

Here’s a post from a few years back. I thought it was appropriate for today. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.



Today I’m going to present a particularly helpful technique for combating writer’s block. I call it, Unreal History.

The premise is fairly straight forward.  Make up some kind of historical untruth and jot it down on a piece of paper.  It shouldn’t be too crazy, but it shouldn’t be too vanilla either.  You’re shooting for semi-crazy.

Here’s an example: An Irishman invented the first Margarita back in 1810.

Okay, we have our semi-crazy premise.  Now write about 250 words on your account of the unreal historical fact.  Have fun with it.  There’s no pressure – it’s just an exercise to get the fingers moving across the keyboard.  I compare it to a basketball player whose shot is way off early in the game.  Sometimes all it takes is a trip to the free throw line  just to see the ball leave your hand and fall through the hoop.  Suddenly the muscle memory kicks in, and the confidence is back.  Next thing you know you’re flirting with a triple double.

I’m telling you, crazy as it sounds, I’ve used this technique to generate some good momentum in my writing.  Of course, I never actually show anyone what I write during these little one page exercises – they get deleted almost as soon as they’re completed.  But, for the sake of demonstration, I’ll go ahead and post an example.  Here’s my account of the first Margarita that was invented by an Irishman in 1810:

In 1810 an Irish monk, Charlie Murphy, from Donegal, was sent to Mexico to investigate the legitimacy of a purported miracle – the image of the Virgin Mary manifesting in a bowl of tortilla soup.  Unfortunately, a mangy goat consumed the soup, bowl and all, before he had a chance to bear witness. Murphy, undeterred, resolved to remain in Mexico in search of a genuine miracle.  He inspected soups, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, any and every dish he happened upon.  Still, he found nothing.

It was a hot day in July when a dejected Murphy staggered into a small restaurant, very much in need of drink.  The water was fine, but there was a deeper thirst that needed quenching.  Rays of sunlight shone through the window, illuminating an array of bottles on a shelf.  Murphy was suddenly compelled to moisten the rim of a rocks glass with a damp towel, then dip it in salt.  He was further compelled to fill the glass with ice, then he gathered the bottles from the shelf and added tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau.  Somehow, he knew the precise proportions, down to the drop.  Murphy stirred it a few times and tasted.  It was delicious and refreshing, and he called out, “Through Divine Providence, I have invented the, McSwizzler!”

Murphy taught the recipe to the proprietor of the establishment, and returned happily to his home in Donegal where he died many years later. Of course, the proprietor changed the name of the drink, and History did not remember Charlie Murphy.  But, in the small coastal towns of Jalisco, Mexico, people still whisper stories about the thirsty, red headed man who mixed the first Margarita.

Mexican Shamrock biggestLOL, I just read what I wrote, and I can’t believe I’m going to show it to other people.  And there are actually a few out there who recently started following this blog.  Thank you so much for your interest. It means a lot.

Take care, and keep writing.









Bear With Me . . .

After a stern lecture from my editor, I’ve seen the light. The term is “Bear with me,” as opposed to “Bare with me.” So if you can bear with me, I have to plug my novel every now and then . . .

Funny Panda Bear. Comical young Panda Bear on the tree. Lying cute young Giant Panda feeding feeding bark of tree. Sichuan Giant Panda from China, Asia. Rare animal in the nature forest habitat.


This is a true story. I’ll set the stage for you. I was in high school, so you have to go way back to the early 90’s.

It was a calm night in May, and I was out with my buddy fishing on Lake Erie. We were in a little boat with an outboard motor – I’d say about a mile from the shore. The fish weren’t biting, but it was nice just to be on the water. The Moon was out, but there was some cloud cover. A white light suddenly became visible in the western sky. It glowed with enough intensity to show through the clouds. Another white light appeared, this one in the north. The two lights converged on each other at a good clip, then merged into a single point of light in the northwest sky. Then it disappeared.

“What the hell was that?” my buddy asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. There were no landmarks out there to give me any idea of scale. The lights could have been way out over Canadian water, or only a couple miles away. I had no idea.

“You want to keep fishing?” my buddy asked.

“Yeah, might as well. We’re all ready out here,” I said. Pretty soon, the walleye really started to bite.

I didn’t know it back then, but I had already started to write my first science fiction novel. After a quarter century of fermenting in my subconscious, the memory of those strange lights finally emerged on paper. The result is an eclectic narrative that spans time, space, and mind. You can find the book trailer below if you’re interested. I’d appreciate the support.

All the best,