Movie Hangout Spots At Vallco Shopping Mall

To be or not to be? That is the question!After Borders closed at Santana Row and Oakridge Mall, and Micro Center closed at the Mercado, it seems unlikely that there would be any movie theaters left in Silicon Valley that had a decent hangout spot within reasonable driving distance from my home. Showing up to see only a movie is somewhat boring. There has to be a decent hangout spot to go to before or after the movie to prep yourself for what critics are panning as a bad movie or dissect a good movie that gone horribly wrong. Shopping is a nice bonus.

My friend and I went to see “Raiders of The Lost Ark” in IMAX at the AMC Cupertino Square 16 theater in Vallco Shopping Mall. The last time we visited this movie theater was when the U2 3D movie came out in 2008, when 3D movies were still new and not yet mainstream. Then and now, we came back to this mall to see a movie that was only available at this particular theater.

The mall has been in a state of decline for several decades. I used to live down the street in the late 1990’s when the mall was filled with stores from end to end. I remembered the ballyhoo back in 1999 when the mall planned to renovate by going upscale and getting rid of all the downscale stores, which started the trend of stores leaving the mall without being replaced. After the dot com bubble in 2000, the mall sat mostly empty, going through several ownership and names changes, for the last decade.

We scoped out the mall as a potential movie hangout spot. The lower level is blocked off by temporary walls, which, ironically, was an expansion to increase the size of the mall in the late 1980’s. The ground level is filled with stores that you would typically find in any strip mall in Silicon Valley. The renovated food court next to J.C. Penny’s was virtually empty of restaurants. If this mall was in revival, it still has both feet in the grave.

But we did find a couple of  hangout spots.

Armor Geddon, a store that sells armor, swords and other medieval knick-knacks, is as thread-bare in selection as the mall is in stores. All the wonderful chess sets that I saw in the late 1990’s were reduced to a handful today. I did picked up a skull coin bank for my writing desk. If you’re a writer, you really need one for those “to be or not to be” Shakespearian moments.

Legends Comics & Games is actually located in two locations across from each other near Sears, with comics on one side and gaming on the other. Being hardcore comic fans, we gravitated over there. I love browsing through the indie comics to find trashy pulp ideas to incorporate into my own short stories. A comic shop is better than any bookstore.

Vallco Shopping Mall has become the new place to go see movies—for now.

A Lacking Curiosity About NASA’s Mars Rover

NASA Curiosity Rover

On Monday night I was busy writing a new blog post. At least, I was trying to. With the 2012 London Olympics blaring from the TV in the living room and NASA TV blaring from my roommate’s iPad in the dining room, I was getting a conflicting headache in my office. If that wasn’t bad enough, Twitter was going bonkers. Seven minutes of terror became seven minutes of distractions as NASA landed their newest rover, Curiosity, on the planet Mars with picture-perfect precision.

Since I’m taking a summer break to restructure my writing business, I’m busy staying on top of current tasks like blog posts and implementing some big changes. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to watch NASA drop a one-ton vehicle on the Martian surface or the pair of Redbox DVDs —“Lockout” and “Piranha DD”—that I picked up for the weekend. I couldn’t avoid it entirely. I live in a crowded studio apartment, where the living room, dining room and office with a pair of twin beds in between are crammed into an L-shaped room.

Like the Olympics, I wasn’t going to avoid NASA TV. Although I didn’t watch it, I caught the grist of the audio feed and monitored the Twitter tweets that raced across my timeline. The tweets before, during and after the landing were what really distracted me (listed below in no particular order).

  • Some people found it ironic that they were watching NASA TV on an iPad that has more computing power than the flight computer for the Apollo 11 moon launch. (Monday was also Neil Amstrong’s 82nd birthday.)
  • The best way to watch history in the making is to have NASA TV and the Twitter timeline opened in separate side-by-side windows on your computer.
  • Editorial cartoonist Jeffery Koterba tweeted a Curiosity cartoon that he drew. Yes, you have to go out a long ways to find someone with an unbiased opinion about the 2012 presidential election. Mars is definitely a red planet.
  • Adrianne Curry’s Star Wars themed birthday pictures of her in a black bikini.
  • Since the initial black-and-white pictures of the wheel looked like ultrasound pregnancy pictures, I tweeted: “Bad, Rover, bad. You know you need to use protection.”
  • Here’s the proud father of all these ultrasound pregnancy pictures (via @Oatmeal).
  • Quote: “NASA scientists at their monitors, I think Jerry Lewis will break in and tell us to keep calling in w/donations” (via @EverettMaroon)
  • Quote: “If there is intelligent life on Mars, can you book me a room, thanks, because I am outta here?” (via @HogsAteMySister)

After the brouhaha was over, I took some Nyquil, went to bed, and woke up the next morning to finish the blog post before starting my non-writing tech job (i.e., the job that really pays the bills). As the search for extinct extraterrestrial life continues on the solar system’s most barren planet, I had an excellent idea for a science fiction short story involving the new Mars rover.

Moving The Parkmoor Post Office Around The Corner

The Old Parkmoor Post Office (Silicon Valley)
Side view of the old U.S.P.S. Parkmoor post office.

When I become serious as a writer in 2006, I opened a P.O. box at the Parkmoor post office at Meridian and Parkmoor Avenues in San Jose, CA. Every six weeks I would drop off a dozen manila envelopes containing my short story manuscripts and picked up more postage for the next round of submissions. With 50 manuscripts in circulation at any given time, this was my regular routine. As email submissions became more common and my short stories were published more frequently over the last few years, I no longer needed an expenisve P.O. box for what little snail mail I was getting.

As the Internet helped me save money on office supplies and postage, these same trends were causing the United States Postal Service to lose money on declining mail volume.

The postal service consolidated mail sorting operations to cut costs last year. The Parkmoor station no longer sorted mail for the 95128 zip code, no longer needed a fleet of mail trucks in the fenced off parking lot, and no longer needed 30,000 square feet. If you have to pick up your mail, you have to go to the Willow Glen post office a few miles down the street on Meridian Avenue. The Moorpark post office recently moved into a 3,000 square feet store front in a little strip mall around the corner.

A billboard went up at the front of the old post office to announce that Savers, a thrift store, was now hiring, the chain link fence around the side parking lot went down, and construction crews start gutting out the inside of the old post office. FoodMaxx also started renovating the inside of their store, and a bigger sign will replace the old one above the entrance outside. Re-opening the side parking lot to the general public will absorb the overflow of motorcyclists when the Harley-Davidson store next door has its summer events.

The new Parkmoor post office has limited parking in front, a walk up mailbox that you can’t drive past to drop off mail, and a narrow hallway for the lobby and P.O. boxes. The retail store is similar to those popping up at the shopping malls, with enough space for a pair of retail associates (i.e., postal clerks) behind the counter and no space in front of the counter for customers. The holiday shipping rush will be pure madness as the lines will snake around the strip mall and into the parking lot.

As the postal service continues to cut cost, customer service continues to get cut as well. If I was looking for a new P.O. box, I would use the postal service website to shop around for the best price—$15 USD to $28 USD for three months for the smallest box—at a post office that wasn’t located inside a sardine can. The new Parkmoor post office would be at the bottom of my list.

The Shakedown Behind The DOJ Apple/Publisher eBook Antitrust Lawsuit

Money Versus ParagraphsThe Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and the major publishers for conspiring to force Amazon to sell ebooks at higher price points than $9.99 USD. This is ironic—and moronic—for several reasons.

Until Apple introduced the agency model for letting publishers set their own ebook prices and keeping 70% of each sale, Amazon had a 90% market share as it sold the bestsellers as lost leaders to sell more Kindle devices and the publishers kept 35% of each sale. After those changes went into effect, Amazon’s market share dropped to 60% as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony and other ebook retailers expanded their market share.

The DOJ may have a better antitrust case against the publishers for maintaining higher ebook prices than it does against Apple. The publishers are still stuck in the traditional brick-and-mortar world of printed books. If the ebook price of a new printed book is substantially less, the consumers will favor the cheaper alternative. Higher ebook prices are necessary to maintain an unsustainable business model.

Why does the ebook version of a 50-year-old science fiction novel, “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein, have to be priced at $9.99 USD like a premium paperback?

But the antitrust lawsuit isn’t really about ebook prices. It’s about Apple sitting on $100-billion-dollar in cash reserve and not sharing the wealth with the Washington lobbyists, who in turn wine and dine the political establishment.

The DOJ Shakedown

When Microsoft had a multi-billion-dollar cash reserves, it spent nothing on lobbyists. After the DOJ filed the antitrust lawsuit in 1998, Microsoft spent millions of dollars each year on lobbyists thereafter. The antitrust lawsuit failed to quash Microsoft’s twin monopoly in operating systems and office suites, but it was a significant boon for Washington lobbyists.

As Silicon Valley companies acquire huge market share and cash reserves, they have to spend more money on Washington lobbyists as the DOJ and other regulatory agencies threaten various legal actions, and entertain presidential candidates when they stomp through Silicon Valley for campaign fundraisers. As Willie Sutton once said about banks, it’s where the money is.

If that wasn’t ironic enough, lobbyists are complaining about a new rule that would prevent them from wining and dining the two million federal workers who are not politicians but often wield indirect influence on the government.

Investigate Amazon

Being a writer who publishes ebook, the antitrust lawsuit is a concern but doesn’t impact me as my short story and essay ebooks are priced from $0.99 USD to $2.99 USD. I doubt I will ever put out an ebook priced at $9.99 USD or higher .

Like many things in life, I have the opposite problem. When I released my writing blog compilation ebook, I priced it at $0.99 USD on Amazon and, because it was listed for FREE on Smashwords, there was a “technical glitch” regarding the pricing info that made it unavailable. I subsequently had to unpublished the ebook from Amazon.

If the DOJ wants to get serious about ebook prices, they should investigate Amazon for stifling FREE ebooks.

UPDATED 04/16/2012 — Looked like it was a technical glitch. My writing blog compilation ebook is available at Amazon—for $0.99 USD. I’m pestering them to make it free. Probably won’t happen until the ebook appears on the Smashwords third-party distribution network (i.e., Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, Sony, etc.).

Squirrels, Squirrels And Robosquirrels

Brown Squirrel

If you stopped looking at your computer screen long enough to look out the window (i.e., the big blue room with the bright yellow light), you might notice that Silicon Valley is filled with squirrels. The common brown squirrel can be found everywhere. The black squirrel in Sunnyvale and Mountain View. (If you travel up to Placerville near Lake Tahoe, the grey squirrel can get as big as a football.) And in the eastern foothills of San Jose, the robosquirrel is the newest squirrel in the valley.

In a flash of fangs, the rattlesnake lunged, striking in less than a second. Its prey: a mechanical, remote-controlled squirrel, now with a pool [of] venom in its head.

“That was really exciting,” said ecology doctoral student Bree Putman. “The snake saw it as real prey.”

On a high-tech reserve in the rolling, pastoral hills east of San Jose, Putman and her adviser, San Diego State ecologist Rulon Clark, are using robosquirrel to understand the relationship between the predator and prey, which it turns out is “complicated.” That’s where robosquirrel comes in. Clark and Putman said that decoding their conversations, one robotic move at a time, could help explain how populations of the pesky critters naturally balance out.

I wasn’t aware that squirrels would confront a rattlesnake by going nose-to-nose and waving its tail, which confuses the rattlesnake as the squirrel’s heat signature becomes much larger, and was immune to snake venom until I read this article.

When I went into work on Black Friday —the day after Thanksgiving when most Americans are out shopping—in November 2008, the Fortune 500 campus along the Mountain View shoreline was eerily deserted without any vehicle traffic. As I took public transportation back then, I had to walk a mile from the bus stop. I noticed all the squirrels along the way and all the squirrels noticed me. If that wasn’t creepy enough, the city of Mountain View had to trap attacking squirrels in Cuesta Park in 2007. Turned out I wasn’t supposed to be at work and I later went shopping.

That experience became the basis for an unpublished short story about a call center support technician trapped in an office building with killer squirrels while his roommates are out shopping on Black Friday. I haven’t been able to sell the print rights since most editors don’t want a holiday-themed short story in their non-themed anthology, and its too long for many holiday-themed anthologies. I’m planning to do a final revision for publication as a short story ebook in October. Maybe the story will go from “man versus nature” with killer squirrels to “man versus technology” with killer robosquirrels.

If the military is developing ariel drones that look like small birds to spy from the sky, wouldn’t robosquirrels be the next technological leap in ground surveillance? Once that technology gets loose in the wilds, anything could happen.

Being A Working Stiff Again

After two years of being unemployed, five months of on-and-off-but-mostly-off contract work, and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy still in progress, I’m a working stiff again with two PC technician jobs. The first job is at a local Fortune 500 company that I had previously worked at in the past, and the other job is for a moving company in San Mateo county that does business with other Fortune 500 companies on the weekends. Both of these jobs are $7/hr less than what I was making in my last full time job before Wall Street cratered the economy in the Great Recession. With bankruptcy eliminating my credit card debt, I’m making enough money from both jobs to cover my living expenses and rebuild my savings. I’m hoping to work six to seven days a week from now through the summer.

I’m not kidding about being a working stiff. These are not comfortable jobs where I’m sitting down to stare at a computer all day. These are jobs where I’m running around, crawling underneath desks and hauling new/old computer systems. I haven’t worked this hard since I did construction work with my father for two years after my 18th birthday. I’ve been soaking in epsom salt baths—sometimes before and after work—to relieve my stiff muscles.

Not surprisingly, writing blog posts and short stories have taken a hit from my new work schedule. During two years of unemployment and five months of underemployment, I had 25+ short stories published in eight anthologies and published 14 ebooks with 32 short stories (new and reprints), poems and essays. That pace will slow down as turn my attention from creating new short stories to revising my first novel during the summer. My goal is to write/edit/revise for 90 minutes per day and do admin tasks in whatever free time that I can find. I’m already missing being an unemployed writer and looking forward to the day where I can write full time without having to crawl under someone else’s desk.

Finding More Bargains At Several Closing Borders Stores

Before my friend and I went to see that groan-inducing stoner comedy movie, “Your Highness,” on Saturday night, we stopped at the Borders store in Oakridge Mall. We didn’t know what to expect since we haven’t been to this location since Borders announced it was closing 200 stores around the country. Borders haven’t sent out any emails on the current state of the going out of business sale. As we approached the store after buying our movie tickets, we noticed the signs in the windows proclaiming a $1 per book sale. What was left in the store for sale?

Overwhelmingly, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin books (about 100 each). No one was buying these and other books written by conservative writers at $1 per book in this working class mall. I seriously doubt that the publishers would take any of the books back even if Borders wasn’t in bankruptcy court. A half-dozen shelves were stocked with mostly political and history books, plus a few odds and ends. The rest of the store was closed off with yellow caution tape. All the shelves were up for sale at $100 or more, with signs that they would look great in the laundry room or garage. It would be cheaper to buy lumber from Home Depot and build new shelves that fit.

Here are the four books I picked up for $1 each:

  • “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush’s America” by Frank Rich
  • “Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, and The Crack Cocaine Explosion” by Gary Webb
  • “Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption” by Jules Witcover
  • “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward

The next morning I went over to the Santana Row store. The 90% off sale was still going on with much of the first floor stocked with books, and the second floor closed off. The few Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin books were hidden away like Easter eggs all over the store, but books about President Obama were more prevalent in much smaller quantities (10 copies or less). That makes sense since Santana Row is a mixed development of stores and luxury condos. People with money are more likely snap up the latest conservative books than working class people. Political and history books will probably be the big leftovers for the $1 per book sale.

I kept thinking that this was a treasure hunt and a riot will break out over that one special book that everyone wants but can’t have (perhaps a signed copy of a Harry Potter book). Nothing that exciting took place as everyone milled about from one shelf to the next, pawing and gawking at the books. I spent most of my time watching people and listening to their conversations. The two sales clerk leaning against a stocked shelf that I was trying to browse had an over the top discussion about their sex lives. I know there is a short story idea to be found in a bookstore going out of business sale—treasure hunt, Easter eggs, gossip, murder— but I haven’t figured out how to pull it together yet.

A woman was scanning for the used book prices with her iPhone and carting books over to the cash register, where a sales clerk was processing 600+ books. I’ve sold my old books from library through Amazon before. If done right, reselling books can be quite profitable. I made money but I didn’t do it right: I sent everything by first class and not media rate since I was shipping out of a drug store and not the post office. Media rate is dirt cheap but slower and subject to inspection. What the woman had stacked up, I estimated that her average profit margin was about $3 per book.

Here are the books that I got for 90% off each:

  • “Apollo 13” by Jim Lovell and Jeffery Kluger
  • “The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism” by Mark Morford
  • “An Accidental Goddess” by Linnea Sinclair
  • “Unplugged: My Journey Into The Dark World of Video Game Addiction” by Ryan G. Van Cleave
  • “Insurrection (Starfire, Book 1)” by David Weber and Steve White
  • “March Upcountry (Empire of Man, Book 1)” by David Weber and John Ringo
  • “March to The Sea (Empire of Man, Book 2)” by David Weber and John Ringo
  • “March to The Stars (Empire of Man, Book 3)” by David Weber and John Ringo

I was disappointed with the limited selection of science fiction books for $0.80 each. Nearly every available paperback was a series book, and I didn’t want to read a book from the middle or end of a series. I got lucky with the David Weber books, picking the first book of one series and the first three books of another series. Military science fiction is a genre I don’t read that often. Since I’m planning to write a military science fiction novella in the near future, I need to man up on what I would be writing about. Anything less would be space opera. Not that I don’t mind space opera. This particular novella is aimed at breaking me into Analog or Asimov’s Science Fiction, which would be ironic since I don’t write that much science fiction. I wanted to get some fantasy and mystery paperbacks, but those were long gone before I showed up.

After months of whittling down my unread book pile, I have too many unread books. So much to read, so little time to read them all.

Forget The Shutdown, Dissolve The U.S.A.!

If you haven’t been paying attention to the recent hissy fits in Washington, the Republicans are threatening to shut down the government unless the Democrats commits hari kari by cutting sacred liberal cows from the federal non-defense discretionary budget, which is only one-percent of the overall federal budget and isn’t driving the deficits in the long-term. What would happen in a government shut down? Probably the same things that happened in the 1995 government shutdown: about 800,000 “non-essential” government workers will be furlough, national parks and museums will shut down, and all levels of government paperwork will stop being process (including tax refunds). If you read the comment boards for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, people are very vehement about shutting the down federal government.

Which begs the obvious question: If the federal government is so bad as so many people believe it to be, why not dissolved the United States Constitution and send everyone home?

Absolutely no one is calling for a complete and total shut down of the federal government. I think because too many powerful people are benefitting from the current status quo of a divided federal government. One of the two political parties will eventually cave in to keep the government running—probably the Democrats—and the other political party will pay the price at the 2012 polls—probably the Republicans. The lobbyists, lawyers and news media will continue to do business as usual. The military will grind on in their two-and-half wars with troops being paid later. Wall Street isn’t worried about the government shutting down since there is still money to be made, although that will change if the debt ceiling isn’t raised later on.

The dissolution of the U.S.A., however, would threaten the interests of all these powerful people because power of the government will go back to the non-federal government entities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all the assorted territories. If power isn’t concentrated in one location, it’s very difficult for any power broker to exercise influence over multiple jurisdictions without it costing a pretty penny. Even Rome stopped being the world’s most powerful empire after everyone went home and the barbarians crashed the party.

What would happen if the federal government dissolved completely? The Balkanization of continental North America is likely.

  • The South will rise again with the Confederate flag flying over head and slavery re-instutionalized for all the sons and daughters of the Confederacy to reclaim their missing heritage, plantations and slaves.
  • The original 13 colonies—minus the southern states in the New Confederacy—will embrace the original U.S. Constitution to become a Tea Party haven.
  • The Midwest and Northwest will be absorbed by the Canadians to spread that wonderful health care around.
  • The Southwest will be absorbed by the Mexican cartels to expand production of America’s favorite white powder.
  • Alaska will be retaken by the Russians to build a Bridge to Somewhere.
  • Hawaii will become New Tokyo as the Japanese nouveau riche move away from the nuclear fallout and avoid having to take care of their irradiated elders.
  • Washington, D.C., will be maintained as a monument to a great nation that coulda, shoulda and woulda if the politicians elected by the people had the brain, heart and courage to acquire some backbone to do what is right for the people and not the special interest groups.
  • California, already the world’s eight largest economy and with one-sixth of the U.S. population, will continue to party on as if nothing had happen.

Does this all seem familiar? If you read “Damnation Alley” by Roger Zelazny (1967), “Friday” by Robert A. Heinlein (1982) or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson (1992), the Balkanization of North America is a common science fiction theme. I sometimes wonder if  the power brokers in Washington are deliberately hurling the United States into a bleak future to prove science fiction as reality. If the U.S.A. does split into so many factions, former banana republic dictators and Fortune 500 executives will be in high demand to consolidate power. If you can excuse me now, I got a dystopian novel to write about a once great nation.

The iPad Generation Rediscovers The Ancient Typewriter

Must have been a slow news day for both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times to feature articles about typewriters. Yes, Virginia, typewriters. Those ancient devices that physically impacted black ink on to white paper that supposedly were swept aside in the great digital age. Like vinyl record players in recent years, the typewriter appears to be making a comeback. Surprisingly, the biggest fans for typewriters might be the iPad generation that grew up in a mostly digital world. Maybe they are steampunk fans, where pre-digital computers in the 19th-century were mechanical devices and dressing up in Victorian clothing is a cool trend. Although a manual typewriter cannot compute, it does share the mechanical attributes of pre-digital computers. For those digital users who don’t want a typewriter to be simply a typewriter, there is a USB-compatibe typewriter to plug into the iPad. I’m sure the younger generation will get a kick out of famous writers in front of their typewriters. But those of us in the business of writing, a typewriter will always be a typewriter.

I fell in love with the typewriter when I was in kindergarten. My parents were attending a conference to discuss my future, the principal rolled a piece of paper into an IBM Selectric typewriter, showed me what keys to press, and the little silver ball spun to type out my name like magic. Fully distracted by this wonderful device, I kept typing out my name as the principal and my kindergarten teacher erroneously inform my parents that I was MENTALLY RETARDED (which was how it was stamped in my records that I saw ten years later) and needed to go into the special education program. Actually, I wasn’t. I had an undiagnosed hearing loss in one ear that made it difficult for me to distinguish between similar sounding words (i.e., glass and grass) and skewered my speech patterns for years. Learning how to read and write made it easier for me to distinguish the differences between similar words. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

When I grew up in the 1970s, typewriters were still king of the technological hill. When my family shopped at Gemco at Hillsdale Avenue and Ross Avenue in San Jose, my father and I would moon over the 20 typewriters on display, starting with the cheap manual typewriters and ending with the electric typewriters. Alas, no IBM Selectric typewriters since they were business typewriters sold only at business stores. Gemco went out of business to be replaced by a string of similar stores until Target came in. Typewriters were soon phased out when home computers became king of the technological hill.

Over a handful of birthdays, I got a toy typewriter that typed in ALL CAPS, a blue Brother manual typewriter with a black-only ribbon, a white Brother manual typewriter with a black-and-red ribbon that I kept for a dozen years, and, in the early 1980s, I got an electronic typewriter with film ribbon, correction tape and daisywheel cartridge that I also kept for a dozen years. I was still using my typewriters in the early 1990s while in college even though I had a Commodore 64 and a near letter quality dot matrix printer. When Macs and laser printers became more prevalent at the college library and computer labs, I would enter my final draft into the Mac and print out a clean copy since instructors were threatening a failing grade for handing in a dot matrix print out. I eventually gave away my typewriters because I kept moving around too much and relied more on computers to get my documents done.

My father and I parted ways when home computers came around in 1980s. He was strictly an analog guy and I became strictly digital guy. Later, when he gave me his old car as a birthday present several years ago, he grew frustrated at my apparent lack of mechanical knowledge when repairing the car. I had to pointedly remind him that my brother became the auto body specialist and I became the computer tech. After my mother passed away from breast cancer in 2004 and I saw a counselor a few years later, he was amused that I got a new manual typewriter that was identical to my old white manual typewriter (except the new one was made in China and a piece of junk). I was rediscovering my passion for writing and spent many evenings typing away on my balcony. Surprisingly, the neighbors didn’t complain about the tat-tat-tat and ding noise. Then again, they were too stoned to care.

Although two-thirds of my first novel was written behind the steering wheel of my car, the other one-third was written on a Brother GX-6750 electronic typewriter. I still use the typewriter for writing the rough drafts of manuscripts. If I’m having a problem writing a short story from beginning to end and have an outline of all the scenes, I would use the typewriter to write the scenes in reverse order. As most writers who uses typewriter knows, you really have to think before you start typing. Writing scenes in reverse order requires some serious thinking. After all the scenes are written and revised with a red pen, the pages are typed into the computer for further revision.

The typewriter is dead, long live the typewriter!