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They Grow Up So Quickly

on Sun, 09/06/2015 - 16:30

The 3288 Review, vol. 1 issue 1

It's here. It has landed. The first issue of The 3288 Review is out and available for purchase. How do I feel about this? Hmm...let me think...


...or words to that effect.

I took a personal day on Friday so I would have a a full four-day weekend. Rolled into the Caffeinated Press offices around 11:00am, and right at the stroke of noon UPS arrived with five boxes full of magazines. 100 copies of the inaugural issue. They are beautiful! Three full months of hard work, long days, late nights, and learning the Ten Great Skills (page layout, InDesign, etc) and the Thousand Minor Skills (talking to people, avoiding Papyrus and Comic Sans, etc).

It has all paid off! Responses from the viewing public are enthusiastic and orders are starting to roll in. Close to half of the initial print run are already spoken for. With any luck we will need to place another order by the end of the week.

In the other parts of my life, the martial arts class has recently been ascendant. On August 11 I and my friend and classmate Rick loaded bags into a rented van and drove Master Lee and his wife and his visitors from Vietnam to see the Niagara Falls (Canadian side). It was a great trip! We heard several stories of what class was like back in The Day in Saigon. Rick reminisced about his trips to New York and back, when he would pull up to the falls and sleep for a couple of hours before continuing the drive.

I have never been to the Falls. They are amazing! Huge and powerful and the rumble starts in the feet and rises up through the viscera and makes everything seem just the slightest bit out of focus. At one point the walkway overlooks the edge of the falls and you can look straight down the cataract to the lower river. Here I felt a strong pull, like the falling water was calling to the 60% of me which is also water. After five minutes staring at falling water, everything else I looked at seemed to rise slightly.

It Gives a Lovely Light

on Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:15

Hello, my friends and foes. Wow, what a summer this has been. A series of semi-connected data points follow.

Caffeinated Press

The new office of Caffeinated Press feels like an office! I work the day job from there a couple of days a week, next to an open window serenaded by songbirds in Ken-O-Sha Park and traffic accidents at the intersection of Kalamazoo Ave and 32nd Street. The first issue of The 3288 Review is on track to hit the shelves by the end of the month. Half a dozen books creep ever-closer to production. We have several seminars on the calendar, centered on the getting published side of the writing process. Everyone is exhausted, but excited. Once we have a catalog we can register with the larger professional organizations and that will, we expect, open the flood-gates of submissions. I think I have read around 300,000 words of unpublished manuscripts and poetry over the past six months. 300,000 words in six months isn't really all that much, but for me usually those words have other peoples' eye-prints all over them. Thus I feel a certain responsibility to those words.

Martial Arts

Our annual Sifu Day celebration took place yesterday downtown. Loads and loads of food, an iron shirt demonstration, and half an hour of hamming it up with posed photos. We are blessed by the presence of some of Master Lee's students from Saigon - the same people who showed Rick and I the sights in Vietnam this past October. In a couple of days Rick and I will travel with the whole lot of them on an overnight trip to Niagara Falls.

I am embarrassingly far behind in posting photos of the previous year or so of class events. Once the Caffeinated Press workload dies down I will spend a long weekend getting caught up.


As of today I am off of the crazy project which kept me burning the midnight oil for most of July. All of the extra time I hoped to have during the hiatus from the iron shirt class was co-opted by the day job. Thus the upcoming burning the midnight oil for CafPress. On the positive side, I learned a lot more about advanced Backbone/Marionette programming techniques. This can only help me going forward, if I ever work on another Backbone project.


Still making plans for upgrades to my house, now that I have paid off the mortgage. The bank account is rebuilding more slowly than expected because of the amount of cash I invest in CafPress. Ah, the life of the startup entrepreneur. Practically, all that means is that the work which would have happened in the autumn will now happen in spring 2016, and spring 2016 work will now happen in autumn 2016. Big expensive projects over long time spans, and I want it all to happen NOW.

The Farmer's Market is at its peak. Almost everything in the world is in season right now. Two weeks ago I was in during the magic time when strawberries, blueberries and sweet cherries were all ripe. It's difficult to gain weight on a vegetarian diet, but during times like these it is possible, and also delicious.

Random Stuff

I haven't had a lot of time for entertainment and amusements this summer. Based on a conversation with Jack Ridl I picked up Mile Marker Zero, the story of The Scene in Key West just after Hemingway's time there. A week ago I watched Paris at Midnight, Woody Allen's beautiful exploration of wistfulness and acceptance and the literary scene in the Paris of the 1920s (which also involved Hemingway). There's a meditation to be written on the confluence of these two experiences.

And now off to work on the magazine. These pages won't write themselves.

Six Months Later

on Sun, 07/05/2015 - 10:37

Dawn came early this morning, as it always does at the beginning of July. And even moreso the day after Independence Day. I live in a mostly quiet neighborhood, aside from one house full of renters who refuse to acknowledge that they live in the middle of the city, and not out in the sticks. Therefore their private lives spill out into the public domain several times a week. I have the GRPD non-emergency number on speed dial. Three times in the past week I have started a conversation with "HiI I'd like to register a noise complaint, and it isn't about fireworks." It's fun to hear the officers on the other end of the phone mentally shift gears.

I've grown used to being sleep-deprived at this time of year. The long holiday weekend simply means I don't need to drag myself to work, but it also means neither does anyone else, so I get three days of regulated apocalypse instead of the usual two. Not that I have the moral high ground to complain too loudly about neighbors with bottle rockets, but even as a dumb kid I had the sense to not shoot them directly at other houses and cars. And the neighbors with the fireworks aren't dumb kids; they're just not very good at being neighbors.

Caffeinated Press

We have furniture! Thanks to some connections at PeopleDesign, and a Friday full of vigorous exercise, the Caffeinated Press offices (3167 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Suite 104) have tables, chairs and storage space. Perfect timing, too, for the upcoming slew of meetings, both internal and author-facing. Brewed Awakenings II is taking shape, as is the first issue of The 3288 Review. I am taking a crash course in InDesign, page layout and typography, assisted ably by some exceptionally talented people who make me feel old and slow. As things stand at the moment, it looks like we will publish six book and two issues of the journal before the end of 2015.

And that ain't bad at all.


on Sun, 06/14/2015 - 09:23

Some days, to quote Emo Philips, it's simply not worth it to gnaw through the leather straps.

Sunday morning at the Lyon Street Cafe, just east of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. We are in a small break between waves of storms rolling through the region. The first hit around three o'clock this morning. I know this because I was awake at the time thanks to a barking (okay, more like "howling") dog just across the way. The air is warm and quite humid and smells of green things. The chestnut trees are covered with potent flowers and the bakery next door smells like heaven. 

At this moment, as the city wakes up, I could imagine myself in New Orleans.

Time is ticking down for several writing-related projects. The selection process for the contents of the next volume of Brewed Awakenings begins today. We have scores of stories to vet in an excitingly short amount of time. Next, we have roughly two weeks until the submission deadline for the inaugural issue of The 3288 Review. We have already had several excellent submissions, but we have room for many more.

I have never before been involved with a startup company. The work is plentiful and exhausting, and sometimes borders on overwhelming. At the same time, the energy, vision and optimism more than makes up for any feelings of overwork or intimidation at the size of what we are trying to accomplish. I love doing what I do.

Pensive Groundhog is Pensive

on Wed, 06/03/2015 - 10:28

Heritage Hill Groundhog

Though I am sure they have been around for a while, this is the first year I have seen groundhogs in my neighborhood. Add these to the raccoons, opossums, skunks, red squirrels, grey squirrels, ground squirrels and chipmunks. It's like living out in the country.