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Day 13: Transcribing is a b@*$!#

Published on September 15, 2013, by in Novel Prep.

I started researching and gathering information for this book more than 3 years ago. In fact, that’s when I first heard my fathers tale as we drove around London on our way to visit his best friend, Frank, who led the expedition to India.

The story came up when I asked my dad how he met Frank and how close they had been when they were both younger. He then went on a diatribe about this trip from his youth: traveling from England to India in a Bedford van. To me, the story sounded like a movie script. The adventure, discoveries, and so on made for a compelling tale.

I was enthralled. I remember thinking that this would be a great novel, and since my dad isn’t one to brag about his amazing life, I took up the challenge to get all the information down and write something.

When we both got home from England, me to Honolulu him to Denver, we had a few “formal” Skype interviews. I got even more details and perspective of the 60s and 70s through my fathers eyes. I don’t know many people who traveled by van through Afghanistan for fun. Not sure if that will ever happen again.

So that’s what I’m doing this, and last, week: transcribing those interviews. I have about three hours of audio. It take me one hour to transcribe per 15 minutes from the interview, which feels like a long time. However, it’s fun to hear the story again. I learn a new detail each time I hear it, and it helps get my head into planning the story. I’ll also start putting an outline together, but I think I need to get all the details down on paper first.

Later days,
Matt

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Day 4: September’s Challenge

Published on September 3, 2013, by in Novel Prep.

This months challenge is more of a preperation for next months challenge: writing a novel in 30 days.

For September, I’ll be consolidating my resources, conducting a few interviews, transcribing past interviews and making an outline to write a 55,000 word novel about my father’s adventures traveling from London to India in a Bedford van. That’s right, he drove there. It’s gets crazier, too.

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a long time, and the whole purpose of this blog was to get me writing often enough to tackle this juggernaut that is my novel. I guess it’s time to take a stab at it.

The idea came to me while watching a presentation Matt Cutts, one to the original 30 day challenge bloggers, gave at a TED Talk. Apparently there’s a whole month devoted to writing a novel. Guess what its called! National Novel Writing Month.

There’s also a local group of people who meet up before the month and discuss their ideas and build a community around new novelists. Should be interesting.

It’s not as action packed as me trying to rollerblade or fight the mean streets of Honolulu on a bike, but it’s still a huge feat to me. I’m sure November is going to be my hardest challenge yet, which is why I need a month of planning.

Later days,

Matt

 

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Roller blading round-up!

Another month has come and gone and I’ve tried something new. Here’s the good and the bad I’ve come up with for this challenge:

Good

  • Something physical: I got out there and did something way outside my comfort zone. I’m by no means anywhere close to being any good at aggressive rollerblading, but I’m one step closer to being a little more extreme.
  • Didn’t have to shell out for new equipment: I was lucky enough to have a friend who not only had some extra gear to spare, but the time to teach me what to doing. It’s fun to try new things, but’s better to have a guide to show you the shortcuts.
  • Went against the grain: As a guy approaching his thirties – faster than I care to admit – picking up an extreme sport is probably the last thing I should be doing Not to mention how demonized the sport I chose happens to be. I was never really made fun of, at least by strangers, but you can tell skateboards are the thing these days.

Bad

  • Didn’t go as often as I’d like: It’s hard to find the motivation when it’s crazy hot outside during the day, or when you only have so many people that want to blade with you. Not to mention I was paranoid about getting in trouble with the cops or some vagabond skateboarders. Either way, I could have had more dedication.
  • My feet suck: I’m blaming some of my lack of motivation on my feet. Not only did I have a short bout with athletes foot, but I’m pretty sure I dislocated my pinky toe while playing soccer at a picnic. A really huge guy stepped on my foot when I was going for the ball. It turned black and blue for a few days. Made the walk to and from work less fun. Don’t worry, I’m fine now.
  • Wanted to explore the community a little more: I didn’t get to meet anyone else in the rollerblading community. That’s really my own fault. I didn’t get out there enough to meet more than a few people who knew about the sport to get a clear picture of what it’s all about beyond what I was doing.

Any thoughts?

Later days,
Matt

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Day 29: First trick in the bag!

According to Sung, I nailed my first trick the other night, which meant I was able to grind on one foot.

It feels good and I think I’m one step closer to getting a few more tricks under my belt.

Am I too old for this?

Sung says he really wants to see a 28-year-old land a trick. I said when I saw one do it I’d let him know, even though I’m fairly certain he was referring to me.

The fact is you don’t see many people my age picking up any extreme sports. They’re usually reserved for the younger generations who don’t have anything to do for long periods of time and who mend easier than others. Does that mean I’m exploring forbidden territory? Should I be spending more time doing more grown up things like trading stocks, reading the paper and having intellectual discussions … that sounds terrible. I’ll stick to not acting my age, thank you very much.

Later days,

Matt

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Saw this on my way to work.

20130827-092659.jpg

Nice to be included … I guess.

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Day 26: Getting it … kind of

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There are two thoughts that come to mind when I see pictures of myself: The first is, I need to lose some damn weight. Second, it’s nice to see what I look like when I’m trying to skate.

What I’ve found out is that I don’t lack the physical ability to do the tricks, just the confidence to commit to them. As I make my way down the pavement and crouch down to make the jump to plant my skates on a ledge, I always flinch and instead place my skates, like a dainty princess, and glide along the edge.

Believe me, its look dumber than it sounds.

I’m still making headway. Though I haven’t been out to practice as much, every time I do I feel a little more accomplished. But, I still have a long way to go.

Later days,

Matt

Day 17: Practice makes perfect

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Day 12: My first attempt at some tricks

“Meet me at the elevators,” Sung’s instant message read on my computer screen. He had promised to take me out to the office parking lot to show me some of the basics on my new wheels. It was kind of a sketchy way of telling me he was ready, since he literally sits two feet away and could have easily used his indoor voice to get my attention. Regardless, I treated it like a covert operation … even though office hours were already over.

He left before me skates in hand, and I followed a few minutes after. Neither of us saying much to our fellow coworkers.

After taking the elevator down from our office, we stepped into the intense humidity, thanks to the recent tropical storms Gil and Henriette, we meandered over to some parking blocks and strapped on our skates.

Though the skates are light, they feel heavy and cumbersome on my wobbly legs. Sung tells me to tie them comfortably – not too tight, but not too loose. “You don’t want to break your ankle.” No I do not!

Taking the first few pushes felt like gliding on a cloud. The parking lot has a few cars but I’m in control enough to avoid them … thank goodness.

The first things sung teaches me are about the different parts of the skate and where I’ll want to plant them when I go for a grind.

Next he tries to determine which is my dominant foot when I push off and turn around. “Since you’re right handed, it’s probably going to be your left foot.” He’s right. I never really thought about it until that moment. I have a dominant foot, and it’s my left. I’m finding new stuff out about myself already that until this moment had never thought twice on. Amazing.

After doing a few plants on the block and a set of nearby stairs, we both agreed my first trick to master is probably going to be a soul grind – where you form a kind of “t” with your skates. It looks something like this:

After a few minutes, I’m able to hop on the steps and plant my feet where they need to be, but I’m still a little scared to try the trick in motion. I try a few passes along the block just grinding my dominant foot along the edge to get a feel, but still can’t commit enough weight to feel comfotable trying the trick.

Sweaty, and feeling pretty good about what I’ve learned so far, we called it a day. But I’m determined to get this trick down before then end of the week.

Stay tunes to see if I land it … or land in the hospital.

Later days,
Matt

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Day 7: Rollerblading is not “cool”

From what I’ve been told by my roller-derby wife, rollerblading is not cool. It was cool in the 90′s, when everyone had a pair of blades. I myself played so much roller hockey that I went through at least three pairs of skates. I played all the way up to high school, then kind of lost interest. Just like everyone else I guess.

Now if you mention rollerblade to other extreme sport athletes – roller derby players, skateboarders, BMX bikers – they’ll tell you how lame “fruit-booters” are. They can’t give any good reasons why, mind you, but they’re strong in their convictions.

With the sport’s decline, rollerblading went underground. You’ll find a skater here and there, but you’d be lucky to see a demo or a tourney on TV or the X-Games anytime soon. Even my wife, a avid derby girl, has been giving me grief about this. “You should skateboard instead,” she says. “It’s way cooler.”

It’s kinda why I chose this for my challenge. I wanted to try something that has always interested me and is different from the norm. It’s why I do what I do. To go against the norm and experience things I would never otherwise try.

Here’s an interesting documentary that details some of the history behind the rise and fall of Rollerblading. The narrative sounds a bit far reaching and paranoid, but every skater I’ve run into says it’s true.

Later days,
Matt

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Day 6: Got my wheels!

Valo Wheels

Finally! I ordered four Valo wheels from Agreesivemall.com last week, and they’ve just arrived. I was surprised how quickly they came, and they should be easy to install. According to Sung, I’ll only need four for street skating. I’m excited to put them on and give them a go.

But now I have a new problem … I think I have athletes foot! I’m not sure where I got it from, but the top of my foot is has patches of red and it itches. I do walk to work and sweat profusely when I do, but I change my socks on and shower on a daily basis. I guess it doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t change what’s going on.

I’ve invested in some Tinactin and am going to give it a few days before I strap my skates on.

Later days,

Matt