Sunday, August 27, 2006


Between a sudden kitty illness and being summoned to do income-producing "work," I only managed to spend a day down in Anaheim. But it was fun! I did my rounds, including hitting the Clarion West party. Saw both Julie and Jim for a little bit, said hi to Ellen and the Bears, talked to some other people I'd been wanting to meet, and put a lot of faces to names. Went to a couple of panels and readings. And spent about an hour wandering around the exhibition hall, chatting with Paul Park. (I don't think I spilled any embarrassing tales about my lovely classmates, although it was still early enough in the morning that brain and mouth were not in direct synchronization.) The day blurred past so fast that I have only sense impressions of everything--no revelations, news, or anecdotes to share. Sorry.

One of the readings I went to was by Phyllis Eisenstein--I haven't read all of her books but I love the fantasy novels I've read by her so far. I talked to her afterwards about her new projects and asked questions about the MFA program at Columbia College in Chicago where she teaches. Every few months I get seized by a strange fever, and while the fever lasts (often over several weeks), I obsessively research MFA programs, make lists of the pros and cons of traditional vs. low-residency programs, and generally expend a lot of brainpower in fretting over whether this is something I should pursue or not. Does anyone else suffer this sickness? If so, what do you do about it? 'Cause grad school applications are coming due in a couple of months and I feel the fever building again...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Book Meme

Since I never can disappoint Ben when he's expecting me to write something, I'll do the meme thing, too.

1. One book that has changed your life:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand. My creative writing teacher/soccer coach in high school gave me his copy to read. This is the first book that got me interested in philosophy and politics and stirred my interest in fiction as something other than entertainment. But then it also ended up with me not writing for several years from being overly influenced by Ayn Rand. Always Coming Home (Le Guin) reminded me what kind of stories I like to write.

2. One book you have read more than once:
I read most books I like more than once. My favorite novel is Of Human Bondage (Maugham), which I hated when I finished reading it the first time because I hated the ending. But somehow my hate transmuted into love, so I read it again to see if I really did like the book. I've read it four times in all so far, which isn't much in terms of re-reading for me. I've read Alice in Wonderland over two dozen times, and books I probably don't want to admit to even more often than that.

3. One book you would want on a desert island:
Probably a short story anthology, like a Year's Best Fantasy, so I'd have some variety to choose from. Or maybe the Bible, because I'm never going to read it in-depth any other way.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding. Because there's so much truth in it. But generally I don't laugh much while reading.

5. One book that made you cry:
The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan. It's much easier to make me cry than laugh in a book. Most romance novels have a tearjerker scene that will get my eyes watering.

6. One book you wish had been written:
The one with the secret instructions that tell me what I'm supposed to be doing with my life in order to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
War and Peace. At some point I got it into my head that I should read this book, but I've tried three times and I never get more than a third of the way through. I hate being defeated by a book.

8. One book you are currently reading:
I'm just finishing Lord of Light (Zelazny) and moving on to The Gospel of Corax (Paul Park).

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, (Susanna Clarke) has been sitting on my shelf for a year and a half now. Well, not actually on my shelf the entire time since I haven't had a bookshelf for most of the past year. But it went in the suitcase to China with me, and then to Santa Maria and San Francisco, and still it has not gotten read. Same with Ilium (Dan Simmons).

10. Tag five people:
I'll tag some people off-stage and see if they respond, lest I embarrass anyone (such as myself) in public.

UPDATE: Because many of the people I most dearly love actually use their time more productively than by blogging (which would explain why their story production rates are much higher than mine), I emailed them to get their responses to the book meme. Ian, David, and Nicole all responded to my pleas (you guys rock!), but because I am lame or possibly because I have been pushing pixels around for 10 hours a day, I hadn't gotten around to posting their responses. (Bad Tina!) I have now added them to the comments below.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine and Bookstore Serendipity

I didn't see Snakes on a Plane this weekend. But never fear, I will see it soon. It's just that now that my brain is once again nearing pre-Clarion functionality, I am reluctant to turn it off, even for two hours.

I did see Little Miss Sunshine, which my brain was very happy to watch. (My brain prefers when it gets to see a movie too, instead of getting turned off and left in the car.) The movie was, by turns, dark and cute, funny and poignant. Worth movie theater prices.

On another note, I wandered up to Dutton's Books the other day after my failed attempt to find a walk-in manicure salon. (In L.A., "Walk-ins Welcome" means you are welcome to walk in and make an appointment for the next day.) Dutton's used to have two stores selling new and used books, but they have already closed one store and are in the process of selling off the books in the second. It's very sad, except that all of the books are 50-75% off. I picked up several books by authors I've been wanting to read, including the two books that were on the top of my "Find This Book" list: Little, Big by John Crowley and The Gospel of Corax by Paul Park. Yippee!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Unknown and the Unknowable

In Lord of Light, Yama and Tak have a discussion about whether it matters if a demon is of supernatural origin or not. Yama argues that it does matter because: "It is the difference between the unknown and the unknowable, between science and fantasy..."

When I read that, my brain did a little switcheroo and came up with: "The difference between science fiction and fantasy is the difference between the unknown and the unknowable."

I've been turning that over in my head for the past several hours, trying to decide if that's a valid statement or not. I'll admit that it's been hard slogging for me and not entirely fruitful--I don't usually give a lot of thought to the difference between the two genres, except when other people bring it up. But at the same time, I haven't seen many definitions of the boundary between the two that I find entirely satisfying--mostly because they're either too clunky and complicated or they're too vague and vaporous. I'm looking for a definition that's easy to apply and doesn't let half the examples I think of fall through the cracks. Or worse yet, challenge me to create a story of my own as counterexample.

Of course, part of the reason I don't give this issue much thought is that I realize hard boundaries don't exist; there are too many exceptions and fuzzy areas. Still, perceivable differences do exist (esp. in the eyes of editors who only publish one or the other), and not having a satisfying way of defining them does vex me a bit. So, to try and sort all this out for myself, I thought I'd write out my thoughts so far.

Both sci-fi and fantasy deal with speculative elements that do not exist in the world as we know it. Some definitions say that in sci-fi those elements could exist, whereas in fantasy they are impossibilities, but there are plenty of examples where either our understanding of the scientific facts underpinning an speculative element has changed and rendered it an impossibility or where we know from the outset that the science is impossible, but the story in either case can still feel like sci-fi. So the theory I'm playing around with is that the difference in whether a given impossibility feels more like sci-fi or fantasy is whether it's presented as something that is unknown to us but still fathomable given enough time and study and knowledge, or is ultimately unknowable, a mystery of existence that just is.

If we go with that theory, then in science fiction the dominant worldview is one in which all things are comprehensible to the human mind with the proper application of the scientific process. Nothing exists for which there is no explanation possible. If we don't know something, it's because it hasn't been studied enough yet, but with enough patience and diligence, the answer will become clear. In sc-fi the nature of an impossibility may be unknown, but the underlying assumption is that it is possible to find out. What may appear to be magic to us is not, because the mechanism behind it is discoverable.

In fantasy, the worldview accepts that some things are unknowable. There is no mechanism behind the magic, no matter how much we try to study the matter; it simply exists. Whether the impossible comes in the form of sorcery, gods, or unnatural creatures, fantasy assumes a fundamental mystery which cannot be explained. The scientific process fails in the face of these breaks with our understanding of reality.

So, in a fantasy story, even if we dissected a dragon, we'd never discover how it managed the trick of breathing fire; in sci-fi, the dissection would show the chemical and physical processes involved. We don't need to see the dissection happen in either case, but we can usually tell from the way the story is told which is true in that world. When we can't tell, we've entered the fuzzy areas between the two genres where we aren't given the clues to tell if something is unknown or unknowable or the cross-genre realm where elements of each exist in the same story.

What I like best about this "unknown vs. unknowable" distinction is its succinctness, which I've now muddied up with my rambling. Probably others have given this idea more thought than me and discussed it more clearly and thoroughly, and I just haven't gotten around to finding those discussions yet. Or the truth/untruth of it is just plain obvious to everyone else and not worth discussing.

At any rate, it's been an interesting thought problem for me and helps explain why some people I know with very scientific worldviews hate reading fantasy. In a world where we believe that reason can unravel all mysteries, it's hard to believe in magic. But I think that, at the same time, when you really stop and wonder about the mysteries life and death, it's hard not to.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Major Motion Picture Event

The cinematic masterpiece that is Snakes on a Plane opens today. What more do I need to say.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Idle CPUs are the Devil's Playthings

It's a familiar scenario: You're at your desk "working" one day, when all of a sudden your computer wakes up and, bored with watching you play Solitaire and surf blog sites, decides that world domination sounds fun, goes out on the Net, gangs up with other ennui-afflicted computers, and bam!--next thing you know, we're all living in some post-Singularity apocalypse, where our computers treat us like goldfish. Not a pretty picture, I know.

To avoid this catastrophe, one remedy is to never let your computer sit idle by participating in a distributed computing project. I signed up for folding@home, a Stanford University project that studies protein folding and how it relates to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. That way, rather than twiddling its processors and plotting world takeover schemes when I'm not working (which is most of my "writing" time), my computer can help find a cure for these diseases. If you've taken your immortality pill (or perhaps your immorality pill) and don't care about curing cancer, you could have your computer search for alien intelligence or find really big prime numbers instead. has a list of active projects.

Of course, it's possible that, were your computer ready to overthrow humanity, the combined processing power of these networked projects would be the ideal playground for it and participating in one of them would only hasten our demise. But at least we'd have a cure for cancer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Revisions, or the Fifth Circle of Hell

Repent, O sinners! Ye who hath writ a passage obscure or left gaping a plot hole in which could fall a reader entire, ye who hath created characters neither soulful nor witty or let them hang in an ether devoid of both stone and tree--repent of thy sins and, if ye would be redeemed, listen: the way through this ring of Hell is slick and narrow and labyrinthine. Be not lured onto a false path, of which there are many, or impale oneself on the thorns of doubt. But take heart; if ye succeed in amending thy wicked words, the Angels shall sing praises, for ye will possess at last thy quest's Holy Grail.

So spoke the God of Creation about this cheery little backwater I like to call "the Devil's Intestines." Here's where the shit separates.

From the gate here, you can see that the path has narrowed quite a bit. Please watch your step; it's a little slippery. Wouldn't want anyone impaled in the Pit of Despair. (Mr. Goldman took the name from his visit here, I'm sure.) The fall isn't as far this many levels down, but the spears are still sharp. From here, the way seems fairly straight, and look, right over there is the exit. But if we edge just around the curve here, you can see the Maze.

There are only a few sure paths through the Maze of Revisions; the rest circle back in an endless loop or smack you hard against a dead end. Really, it's quite easy, though. You've got your Muse to lead--oh, damn, where did she go? Flighty little buggers are always zooming off right about now. I've heard some Muses never do turn up again, but I'm sure yours will pop by once you've stumbled on a bit. Maybe if you wave some chocolate around--I've found that helps summon them back. You do have chocolate, don't you?

What's that? You think the terrain looks familiar? So it does. This is territory you've mapped out before, you've got the manuscript right in your hands. But don't be fooled. The ground has shifted since you've last been here, and remember, we've descended into a new level of Hell. The paths to follow are not the same. You may have spent weeks laying a road of shiny, golden bricks, only to find it leads nowhere now, and you're stuck threading your way through another dark, overgrown morass. Still, you can wave to your old landmarks as you pass them by.

Even better, your characters will come visiting, like old friends. And just like old friends, they'll be full of surprises. That wholesome young thing will have turned into a slut, and your noble hero will have become a petulant whiner. Or maybe your absence has rendered them mute or they all speak gibberish now. Oh, and they can be coy when you've been gone awhile, unwilling to bare their souls to a stranger. Don't take it too hard, though--might not even be your characters you're talking to. Lots of ghosts and demons running around these parts, impersonating characters, looking to lure the unwary down the wrong path. If you know your characters well enough, shouldn't be hard to spot them fake bastards at all. 'Course if you don't know them... Yeah, I've seen plenty of people chasing down one false path after another, same story year after year.

Anyhow, I know you got a hard journey ahead of you, so I just want to say how much I admire you for attempting the trip through here. I see a lot of people come up the gate, cradling their precious manuscripts like they were made of gossamer and eggshells (ugly little things, too, at that stage), and once they see how treacherous the road here is, well, they just hightail it out, try and find the back road to the next level. Oh, sure there's a back way--mighty long drop, though, and makes travelling the next rung that much harder. Only fools and gods don't pass through Revisions. No, you go on through the gate, and when you come out the other side, that manuscript in your hands will be a thing of beauty.

And here, take this piece of chocolate. If it doesn't help get your Muse back, at least it will make you feel better.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

WARNING: Baby picture included

Oooh, a baby!

My brother Mik and his wife Lori produced this little creature in the wee hours of the morn. Her name is Ayeka Hayley. As the first, and possibly only, grandchild my parents will have descended from them, she promises to be well-spoiled.

The name Aeka apparently means "delicate" in Japanese. It's also the name of a character in the Tenchi Muyo anime series--the authors changed the Romanized spelling to "Ayeka" so that English readers don't massacre the pronunciation as badly. Given that, I expect her to grow into a beautiful, dainty ass-kicker.

I guess I should go find a baby-sized sword she can practice with.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Crossed Stars and Cheap Pearls

My horosope for today said: "Your generous, nurturing spirit is in demand. Charge five cents for psychological advice and answers to life, and you should be a millionaire by sundown."

Woohoo, easy money, I thought. I've found my new career calling. I was all set to add a PayPal button to my site and let the nickels start pouring in. But then I noticed that PayPal's transaction fees, in addition to costing me a fraction of each nickel, would cost me an extra $.30 per transaction. So I'd end up paying a quarter and then some for every nickel I made. Even my not-so-astute business sense tells me this is not good. I guess PayPal's stars are not favorably aligned with mine.

I could charge more to offset the transaction fees but I don't think the market will bear it. You'll all have to live without my pearls of wisdom until I find another way to get my five cents for them--my spirit's not that generous.

Sympathetic Reading

I was reading a scene yesterday in The Razor's Edge where a character named Gray is experiencing these debilitating headaches. Migraines. His friend Larry arrives and cures him through hypnosis and half-hinted techniques involving some combination of mysticism and psychology (same difference, some would say). A few paragraphs into reading the scene, a small pain starts at the back of my head. By the end of the chapter, the pain has grown into a full-fledged, skull-crushing headache. And no Larry in sight to cure it. Thank God for Tylenol. Still, it meant I was out of commission for most of the evening and got nada accomplished.

In my all-time favorite book, Maugham's Of Human Bondage, the main character has a club foot. Every time I read it, I end up with a shuffling limp that I have to consciously fight off. I can pretend that this all due to my heightened artistic sensitivity and my ability to become one with the character, but it's probably just a precursor to hypochondria.

I'm also one of those people who can't watch medical shows without suffering sympathy pains. Which sucks since I end up watching half of House through eyes squinted shut to avoid potential lancing pains through my vital organs. (Not that it's mattered much recently. I missed so many episodes of this past season, I decided to just wait for the DVDs.)

Where this gets really bizarre is when I watch The Disorderly Orderly; Jerry Lewis plays an aspiring doctor who has a sympathy-pain disorder. I end up with sympathy pains for his patients and sympathy pains for his sympathy pains all at the same time--from a Jerry Lewis comedy. Oh, and sympathy pains from any "accidents" and "injuries" that occur, which given that this is slapstick... I can't watch the Three Stooges either. And no, it doesn't help that I know it's all fake. If it looks real, I hurt. Takes the fun out of a lot of comedy.

For some reason, stories about knee injuries are the worst; I hear one of those, I'll be hobbling around for a week. I don't know what that's about. Knees.

Note to self: Writing about headaches and knee pain is as bad as reading about them. Please stop.

What I'm reading: I don't know. Maybe I should switch to something safer, like Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs or Viking!... No, those are just painful in different ways.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

They came from outer space...

Can I go a week without posting kitty pictures on my blog? I can not.

Actually, I don't know where these kitties came from. My brother Rik called on Thursday, the night before I was to arrive at his house for a week of cat-sitting (his two cats, Strider and Chai, and my fluffy boy Pixel), and said they had a surprise for me. He and his wife Mel had found these two babies outside, screaming from hunger, the night before. They got them cleaned up, took them to the vet, and made a nice little home for them in the back bathroom. So, I ended up with two extra charges in my care.

Rik and Mel are not keeping the kitties, since they already have two cats. (I'm sure that this is a valid, logical reason--in a reality not my own.) They posted a sign outside for anyone who might be looking for them, complete with color photograph. I swear I have been listening for knocks at the front door, although it is rather hard to hear from the room that I'm in. If no one claims them, Brad says we can take one home. Something about lease agreements and whatnot at our new apartment--again, I trust that there is logic at work here.

What with not keeping them and all, Rik and Mel did not give the kitties names. I see absolutely no logic in this. (Name that quote: "Just curious. A picture popped into my mind of a pump without a handle.") In my post-Clarion, SF-saturated state, I have dubbed them Hugo and Nebula. I wish I could take them both home.

After a few days of living with them, I'm thinking of renaming them Squeak and Squeal. I'm sure other undignified names will occur to me as the week progresses.

(OK, yes, the only reason for this post was so I could put up the photo. But aren't they cute!)

What I'm reading: The Razor's Edge, W. Somerset Maugham

I wasn't scared. Really.

The prospect of not being able to write post-Clarion didn't bother me at all. Mostly because I stuffed the fear so deep inside my subconsciousness that it only manifested in nightmares that kept me from sleeping much the past few days, thus freeing up many hours to write. (Why does that sound familiar...? I really need to break this whole insomnia-fuelled writing cycle.) But having now completed a revision of my Week 2 story, I feel compelled to report an incredible feeling of relief. I wrote a whole new ending--and while I don't like it all that well, I did manage to spill new words, sentences, even complete paragraphs onto the page. Ah...

Now if I can just do that with a totally new story. Um, yeah, maybe after I sleep for a few more days.

What I'm reading: "White Fang Goes Dingo," Thomas Disch

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Obligatory Post-Clarion West Post

Now that I've been living life post-Clarion for over a week, and theoretically have caught up on sleep and revived some braincells presumed lost due to the strange admixture of sleep deprivation, deadline stress, and more caffeine in six weeks than I've had in the past two years, with weekly doses of pear cider and bits of wine splashed in, I figured I should put down whatever thoughts I had on the experience while my memories are still somewhat recoverable. For posterity and so I can figure out a satisfactory answer for when people ask, "So, how was it?" Ugh. It seems an unanswerable question--I feel I can either say, "It was really great," which sounds dismissive and inadequate, or launch into a minute-by-minute rehash of all six weeks and thereby bury in detail what it all meant to me.

It's easier if I separate out the two strands of the question. The first is, "Did being at Clarion help improve my writing?" Yes. I think so. I don't think that there were noticeable improvements while I was there. I only wrote four stories, and I tried to experiment with something different each time, mostly experiments in style. But from all the critiquing that went on of everyone's stories, I learned more about spotting when things were not working and ideas on how to make them work. Most of my new knowledge and insight I can't put into words; they're working on a subterranean level, shifting the groundwork of my thoughts about story and writing in subtle ways. Perhaps one day, I'll have a Krakatoan outburst of creativity from all the seismic rearranging--more probably, improvements will emerge in slow time. I did see a consistent problem emerge in all of my stories, one that I am working to correct.

I heard some complaints that people's writing doesn't improve much over the course of the workshop. This isn't entirely true: some people did turn in markedly better stories at the end. But on another level, it is completely true. By the time most people get to Clarion, they've been writing for enough time and developed enough of a proficiency at it, that the issues that they struggle with are long-ingrained and not easily remedied, issues that arise as much from what storytelling means for them and from their own creative processes as it does from questions of craft. Every writer, even those with long, distinguished careers, has his flaws, the things he doesn't do so well--this writer has problems tying up endings, this one's characters are unconvincing, this one gets bogged down in world-building exposition--and a lot of that comes from what the writer cares about when he writes and what doesn't interest him as much. But if he is good enough at the things he cares about, a certain kind of reader, the kind that cares about the same things as the writer, will read and enjoy his work. Which isn't to say that these weaknesses shouldn't be shored up--only that it's a long, slow process for most writers, with seemingly endless plateaus and sudden leaps of understanding as their conception of stories and their own creative process evolves. Part of the value of Clarion is in learning not just one's strengths and weaknesses in storytelling, but in discovering one's own creative process--how do I go about creating stories, what is necessary for me to do that, what makes one story idea compelling to me and another idea fizzle. All valuable things to learn and hard to summarize. Harder still to manifest in better storytelling in just six weeks.

So, writing-wise, Clarion did help, but not in ways that I can put into concrete suggestions for improving one's writing, not things any writer hasn't heard a thousand times. Mostly I learned to see stuff I knew on an abstract level and begin to understand how to apply it to my own work. And to find out how other discerning readers perceive stories, mine as well as others.

The other part of the "How was it?" question is, "Did you enjoy being at Clarion? Was it a good experience personally?" Yes. Definitely so. Even on days when I couldn't string two words together for lack of sleep and yet couldn't sleep because I was too stressed about meeting my Kinko's deadline, when I felt like crying because my story was turning to shit in front of my eyes and everyone else was relaxing downstairs, glasses of sangria in hand--even then, yes. All the writing stuff, valuable as it was, I could have learned by myself eventually, but being where I could spend time in the company of wise and witty and generous-hearted writers and reaffirm in myself that, yes, this is what I want to be--all that is irreplaceable. Someone else has said that being at Clarion was like meeting a family he didn't know he had. I would agree. The community of SF writers and supporters surrounding Clarion West is phenomenal in its generosity and warmth--for me, especially, since I am so often an outsider whether by my own choosing or not, it was a revelation. And I cannot speak highly enough of my classmates; they were all talented, funny, fun-loving, good-hearted people, as well as being fine writers. (Yes, I know that stringing together so many adjectives kills the effect, but which ones could I possibly take out?)

I got four salvageable first drafts, a couple of half-finished attempts, and some new writing wisdom percolating in my subconscious--that's all one level of my experience at Clarion West. More important to me, though, are the remembered moments: watching Paul Park get misty-eyed while talking about No Traveller Returns at dinner, waving to Maura across the hall as we both typed away at four in the morning while the rest of the house slept, explaining the difference between National and American League baseball to Ian at the Red Sox-Mariners game (who knew I was a baseball geek as well?), talking to Ben late at night about the joys of stories that start on page one, getting two of the best crits--a hug of gratitude from Ben for writing one story and "Anti-ditto all objections!" from Ian and Nicole for another--and also one of the harshest--"...unless you change that [central, defining element of the story], I don't see how this is going to work at all"--but not the harshest crit. Maureen McHugh's remonstrations to put our health and sanity first always, deadlines be damned: "Ted Chiang only wrote two stories at his Clarion." Meghan tempting me with cards and crossword puzzles when I had writing to start, but also motivating me with promises of lemon ice cream and chocolate if I met my deadline. David's menagerie of workaholic stuffed animals. Venturing out of the group's circled wagons at Friday night parties to talk to new people (thanks to Nisi and Ted for helping with this, and thanks to Nicole, my wingperson). Being a Tina--one of three(!). Dozens of other conversations and moments that made me smile or laugh or wonder at my luck in finding this group of people.

So, how was it? Yeah. It was great. I wish I could explain.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sin Titulo

FYI, I got the name, or rather the non-name, for my blog [transl. "Without Title" or simply "Untitled"] from the title/non-title of a graphic novel by this comic book artist I once knew named Paul Pope. Since I decided to shamelessly steal the title for my blog, I thought I should google and see what he's up to these days. Apparently, he's become a rockstar of a comic book/graphic novel artist. He recently published a new Batman mini-series, Batman: Year 100, as well as several other comics and graphic novels. None of this is surprising, since when I knew him, he had a Howard Roark meets Jim Morrison vibe already going. Drive + Force of Personality. And he's turned into a pretty kick-ass artist to boot.

What I'm reading: Beasts, John Crowley

Friday, August 04, 2006

But all the cool kids have one...

Having a blog seemed like such a fabulous way to not get real writing done that naturally I had to get one, too. I'm sure there are legitimate reasons to have a blog, but really it's function as a time-sink (both for me and my friends--aren't I considerate?) is the most obvious and important one. Plus, I'm hoping this will make me as cool as all the other cool people with blogs. (However, I suspect I will actually have to post cool content for that to be true. Oh well.)