The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Time Is Fast Upon Us

        Have you ever thought about how much time you spend thinking about time?   When we're not planning what to do with our time in the future, we are often either pondering what we are doing with our time in the present or ruing about time lost in the past.  The subject of time can be a time consuming paradox. 

STS-133 Discovery rollout
STS-133 Discovery rollout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  The Final Countdown      

      I doubt whether there is anyone who now lives or who has ever lived who has not at some point or another marveled about how quickly time has passed.  That is, anyone who has grasped the concept of time.  When we are small children, before we've learned to tell time for ourselves, we will continually pester our parents with inquiries like "Is it time yet?"   Those special days like Christmas or birthdays will have what seems to be an interminable countdown until they are suddenly here and gone leaving us to look forward to our next big life event.   And so goes our lives.

      And once again for those of us doing the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge begins that final countdown until day one--April 1st, 2017.  This will be the eighth year of the April A to Z event with thousands of bloggers having participated with tens of thousands of A to Z blog posts.  This is rather impressive when you think about it and even more impressive when you consider the amount of time we have individually put into our A to Z posts over the years, not only in the writing of our own posts, but in the reading of many other posts by the bloggers who have participated in past events.

        The first year that I did the A to Z Challenge--it was 2010 with less than 100 bloggers--I figured that I was putting in twelve to fifteen hours per day with blogging.  But that was how I got other bloggers involved and kept still more engaged.  My A to Z time investment that first year paid off big considering the huge numbers who signed up in succeeding years.  Since that first year I've had to cut back on my blogging time, but still I continue to make a sizable investment of time with the Challenge.   Maybe it's crazy, but it's a fun sort of crazy I guess.

        So here we are with just a few more days to go before another A to Z Challenge kicks off.  The time is fast upon us it seems, but then it's somewhat of an illusion.  The pacing of time will be the same as always, but factors of our lives may cause us to feel like the time is going faster.  If you've procrastinated in preparing your posts like I have then you are likely feeling the pressure to get this done.  Where I am in my A to Z preparation is my own fault because I changed my theme with a matter of a few weeks to go. But then that's what makes A to Z a Challenge!

        The time until April 1st is shorter today than it was yesterday or last week, but the time is not going any faster.  The time might seem "fast" upon us, but that's only because there are fewer days.  More properly we should say "The time is short upon us" but that sounds silly I suppose.  The days and hours are closing in as we approach A to Z opening day, but time itself moves indifferently onward.

          If you're participating in the April A to Z, do you have all of your posts finished?   How much time do you normally devote to your blogging activity?    Do you spend more time blogging while preparing for and during the month of April than you do at other times?

          In addition to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, on the 1st and 15th I'll also be participating in the Battle of the Bands which I will combine with my "Time" theme.   If you are interested in joining us in Battle of the Bands (we'd love to have more participants!) then please read about it at the blog of Stephen T McCarthy and let him or me know that you want to join us so we can add your link to the list.  

        Also, my April contribution to the Insecure Writer's Support Group will incorporate a time related theme.  The optional question for #IWSG during April will be related to the A to Z Challenge and reads as follows: 
  Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results? 

  Since I don't have a personal answer for that question I'll be pursuing my own topic, but if this relates to any of you, I'm anxious to hear your answers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Newsprint Time Machine

English: An abandoned Los Angeles Times vendin...
 An abandoned Los Angeles Times vending machine in Covina, California, October 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         For the many working years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1991, I subscribed to the daily Los Angeles Times.  Sometimes when I didn't get around to reading the paper, I would save the paper to read later.  As things would happen I often didn't read that paper and put it in an ever accumulating stack of newspapers, now and then tossing aside sections that didn't interest me--sports, classifieds, fashion or whatever they were--and keeping sections that seemed like they would be interesting to read sometime later.

         Over the course of many years I acquired several stacks of news papers--some at work and some at home.   After the California branch of the company where I worked shut down for good and I was left jobless, I toted those work stacks home and put them in my garage.  Since I was no longer working outside of the house, I was able to dwindle my newspaper stacks at a faster pace.  In order to save money, in 2012 I cut back my L.A. Times subscription from seven days to weekends only. Besides, there wasn't that much in the paper that interested me anymore.  And the paper was highly biased and annoying for me to read.   Soon I switched to Sunday only, mostly because of the ad and coupon sections and the crossword puzzle, but then I let that go.  Now I no longer get any papers.  But I still have some news paper stacks in my home office closet.

          Some of the papers remaining in those stacks are from 2012 to 2013.  Then like anomalies in the geological strata, there might be small layers of papers from 2002 or sometimes even older.  These days instead of reading a daily paper I'll read the papers stored in my closet.  Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist making discoveries about the past as I read old news stories.  The odd thing though is that some of those old stories seem like the same things that are in the news now or stories that seemed to foreshadow later events then still to come.

          It's like a story I was reading last week in a paper from 2012.  The section I was reading had an article about German Christmas markets where they sounded so fun and festive..  As I was reading though, I was thinking about the terrorism that came in 2016.  That story from 2012 stood out more for me now in the aftermath of the 2016 attack than it probably would have if I had read it back then.

          Lately I've been reading about movies that I hadn't realized had ever been released. Some I've added to my Netflix queue while most seem to be now mostly forgotten come and gone releases in the past.  Reading about films in retrospect makes me realize how much movie garbage actually does get released.  When I was reading contemporaneously to film releases, this ephemeral nature of pop culture wasn't always as evident.  How quickly we forget that next big thing after it has come and gone.

         Reading in the past might seem a bit absurd to many.  Consider that I'm no longer reading for the news of the day, but just to get a feel for the past.  Sometimes I wish those stacks contained newspapers from 20, 40, or even 100 years ago.  Old newspapers provide a window into events of days gone by.  The stories are history written from the perspective of those who were witnessing it.  Rather than the standoffish perspective analysis of history books written years later and based on research and author's interpretation, the old news stories are seen through the eyes and minds of those people back then as they perceived what was happening.

         If I could I'd much rather take an actual physical time travel trip back to old times to witness that world for myself.  Even if that world was something I had lived through, I'd like to go back with my mind of the future to see if what I remembered was really how it was.  Or to see if what I've heard from those older than I was really like how they described it all.

        Old movies and television shows provide some of that perspective.  But then that is part of the illusion of the past.  An image on the screen can never capture the actual immersion into that place in the past and having that experience of immersion is only a fantasy of my mind.  For now at least.  And probably forever.  Unless time travel ever does become a reality.

       For now I have a newsprint time machine in my closet.  The machine is dwindling as papers are read and deposited into my recycling bin.  No point in keeping them.  If I kept everything I'd eventually run out of room. I'd live in a past made of paper and newsprint.  It all needs to go.  And once I've rid myself of that time machine, I can read more of the books on my shelves, watch more of the movies I want to see, sort through old photos as I place them in much of the past with so little of the present to accommodate it all.

        What will the future do with all of the past anyway?

         Do you still read the newspaper?   What do you have a tendency to accumulate?   Will newspapers have much validity for future generations? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time for #BOTB Results

        Life is like a battle between us and the clock.  Or in the bigger picture, a battle against the calendar.

       Once again I'm taking on the daunting Alphabet Challenge of April   I revealed my theme officially here, but some of you might have guessed my theme from my recent Battle of the Bands post.  Yes, it is about time.  Isn't everything?

Battle of the Bands Results

       This latest Battle was between Fleetwood Mac's "Sands of Time" and Alan Parson Project's "Time"--both excellent songs which I like very much.  Of the two, I see "Time" by APP as the more linear song.  It moves steadily, barely deviating, with a constant flowing theme that begins and ends without much in the way of surprises or invested thought for that matter.  This is such a relaxing tune that it lends itself well to meditation or even preparation for sleep.  It might even make for a lovely song to play at a funeral.

        On the other hand, Mac's "Sands of Time" wanders and meanders in a good way. There is a sense of hope expressed in the lyrics, but also an ambiguity that invites anticipation of things to come.  The thoughts expressed are not definitive, resigned to giving into death, but mystical and magical.  The instrumental portions add an edgy sense with drifting guitar riffs that seem to simulate imagination and dreams.  I love this song--which is not to say that I don't like the other song a great deal--but my preference definitely leans toward the Danny Kirwan penned "Sands of Time".   This song has been playing in my mind all week which is another strong indicator of where my vote gets cast in the end.

        Nevertheless, you the voters decided the outcome no matter what my favorite version is.  And the outcome in this case was very decisive:

Final Vote Tally

Fleetwood Mac                  11

Alan Parsons Project        22

Next Battle of the Bands Saturday April 1st

        My next Battle of the Bands post will coincide with the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  My A to Z theme of "time" will not only encompass my posts for the upcoming month, but this theme will continue in my next few posts leading up to April.  My Battle of the Bands posts during A to Z month will also be related to time.  In fact, the next BOTB match that I'll be presenting is a movie theme that was also a top pop hit in 1969.  The song is a great introductory tribute for those participating in the A to Z Challenge and one that will likely bring back a few memories for many of us.  Anyone want to guess what song I'll be presenting?

        Was my A to Z theme of "Time" any surprise?   Did you find any A to Z themes in the recent Reveal day that particularly interested you?   Are there any aspects of time that you'd like for me to cover during my A to Z Challenge?