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This morning, the ocean threw a brick at me. 

My wife and I are out at the coast for a few days (we’re working things out, which is Very Good News) and, as is my wont when at the seaside, I got up early(ish) . . . earlier than she, anyway . . . and went for a walk along the shore.

Most people, when they walk along the seashore, do it in one of two ways: either they walk up along the high tide limit where the sand is still hard (but they won’t get their feet wet), or they walk down along the wave limit (where the occasional seventh wave might submerge them up to the ankles).

Yeah, that’s not me. I grew up on the Pacific coast, and the Big Blue is a critical actor in my emotional life. It’s where I go to purge my buffers and reevaluate the importance of things. Sitting on the edge of the world, glass of wine close at hand, I can look out along the curvature of the earth and watch the sun sink into the quicksilver sea; this is my heaven, my Fortress of Solitude, my recharging station. But walking along the water’s edge and not being in contact with the sea? . . . Yeah, not an option.

When I walk along the shoreline, I walk that gantlet between surf and shore. I’m always barefoot, and the water is always rushing in or flowing out around me. Sometimes this puts me knee-deep in some very cold water, but after the first five minutes, my feet don’t care anymore. They’ll complain loudly later, but for now, numbed by the northern Pacific’s chilly grasp, they’re quiet.

This morning, the colors of the water ranged (appropriately enough) from aquamarine and pale jade to cobalt blue, the deepest teal, and a series of greys from gunmetal to steel. Foam topped the curling waves and washed in on gentle rollers, highlighting the crests with white, ivory, and an algal yellow. 

At one end of my walk along this section of the coast, in addition to long stretches of soft sand, there are outcrops of rocks, half-drowned at low tide, that add interest to the seascape. I walked among them, thigh-deep in the rushing grottoes, smelling the funk of barnacles and anemones warming in the early sun. Seagulls pried at the shells, hoping to find a loose one among the tightly packed multitudes, and plovers poked thin beaks between the stands, searching for worms and other digestibles. The scents of salt and seaweed mingled with the iron smell of sand and the tang of carbonate. It was . . . luscious. I felt at home. I felt at peace. I felt whole.

At the other end of my walk was the D River, the shortest river in the world (running from Devil’s Lake to the Pacific in just under 124 feet at high tide). I stood in the debouchment, where river meets the sea, and silently marked the pendulum of wave and outflow with the words “Fresh water. Salt water. Fresh water. Salt water.” as the river and the sea pulsed to and fro around my feet.

But it was midway along my trek that the Pacific got stroppy. I was walking through a rip, where the curve of the shore focuses the waves and forms a strong seiche of power. The sea pulled back her skirts to show me a graveled bed of pebbles and shells, and then launched a wall of water in my direction. Beneath that lunging froth I glimpsed a flash of red, a sizable chunk, tossed and tumbling in the clear salt sea, coming right at my shin. I stopped and saw that it was a brick, a full-sized everyday brick, red as a brick, hard as a brick, with clean sharp edges. It rolled past my foot, missing me.

Where the hell did it come from? There were no brick buildings I could see along the miles of shoreline I’d walked. The Pacific was adept at throwing pebbles up on the shore here, stones perfect for skipping across a placid lake, bits and pieces broken off from the outcrops I’d visited, but nothing the size of a mason’s brick. Nothing even half that size.

Was it personal? Was the Pacific angry with me? Had I been away from it for too long?

It’s tempting to think these things, to assign reason to an event that is completely random, but that is folly. The truth is that the Pacific, mother of my youth, heart of my soul, is just a body of salty water that has no mind, no intellect, no will, no reasoned purpose. She—and I continue to call her “she”—cannot even recognize my existence. She cannot sense anything.

I know this. 

Yet, I still love this ocean, this birthplace of what I call “me,” and I will still talk to her as I walk her shores, ask her what I should do, and, depending on her mood, I will hear the answers in the murmur or the roar of her waves.


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Coffee and NewspaperI’m going to blame the victim here. Or at least those who see themselves as the victims.

We’ve all heard the complaints.

  • The Never Enough Complaint:
    The news media doesn’t cover [insert pertinent topic here].
  • The Corporate Overlords Complaint:
    The mainstream media only reports what they’re told to report.
  • The Media Bias Complaint:
    Network news is so slanted, it’s better to go to independent outlets like Reddit.

It all makes for a great whinge-fest, but blaming the media is foolish. The problem isn’t them. The problem is us.


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Semicolons? Sassy? Who knew?

Todd Baker

Image Mom always made the assumption I would be the recipient of a major award one day, and she asked that, when I accepted that award, I should thank her for providing high protein meals. She was under the impression protein was essential for success in life. I’m not prepared to refute that claim with any scientific evidence, but I suspect I consumed more carbohydrates than protein as a child. I loved bread, cookies, cereal, etc. That may be why we’re both still waiting for my red carpet moment, but I do owe her a “thank you” for what I have achieved as a writer.

I started out as an artist and illustrator. Crayola 64 and Ticonderoga #2 were my weapons of choice, and when I finished a piece, I presented it to Mom. Like any young child, I was eager to hear words of praise, and she was generous…if I…

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While I still maintain a presence on Facebook and find it useful as a portal (similar to Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and such), there is some good advice for the small-time author in this post from Jon over at Jumping From Cliffs. Be realistic about what each venue can provide, and don’t waste money on ads.

Jumping From Cliffs

Using Facebook for author marketingDebate rages as to whether up-and-coming authors (yep, that’s us!) should set up Facebook pages as part of their marketing and promotion strategy.

Until very recently, I would have said yes, they definitely should; spread oneself as widely as possible in order to reach the largest and most diverse audience possible. Then Facebook went and changed their algorithms and I changed my mind.

Tut-tut Facebook, go to your room immediately!

The Author As A Brand (Oh Yes You Are…)
It’s now vastly more difficult for small brands – and yes, you ARE a brand – to gain visibility and thereby increase the number of their fans. This is because Facebook now prioritises content posted by the people who users interact and engage with the most.

OK, even I had to read that 3 times before I got it, and I wrote it. So let’s have a look at what…

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Just an FYI for regular readers…

I’ve added a “Contact” page and form to the blog; you should be able to see it up there on the menu (far right). Feel free to use it to submit questions, feedback, general comments, requests for topics and/or recipes, and other such.



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Y’know, I get really depressed when my recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup a la David Chang continually gets more hits than my current posts on writing, culture, and current events…

…but then a vee of Canadian geese fly in from the south, happy, crossing overhead, cheering each other onward, their chatter echoing across the cul-de-sac until it fades away to the north…

…and I feel better. Chicken noodle soup for everyone. Enjoy.



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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiYesterday, champagne to celebrate of our 30th Anniversary.

Late last night, a phone call.

Today, calls to funeral homes, setting up final arrangements for my wife’s mother.


It’s a funny world.


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