Archive for the ‘Asides’ Category

Dear Reader,

I just wanted to update you on what I’ve been up to these last 3 months.  A couple of days ago, I finished the much requested “Ocean Girl” chapter.  It was by far the hardest chapter for me to write and I’m happy/relieved to have finally completed it.  That leaves 2 chapters left for the 1st draft of my book.

Stephen King is very big on the notion that good writers must be good readers.  So in that vein, I’d like to share my thoughts on a few books I recently read.

The Dip by Seth Godin – I can’t say it’s a bad book, but I think this might be something you want to check out at the library rather than purchasing.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I don’t normally like to read fantasy novels, but WOW, am I glad to have taken a chance with this one!  The Harry Potter series would easily make my top 5 for best fiction I have ever read (especially Book 7).  Ironically, it makes me think of Atlus Shrugged by Ayn Rand simply because they are the exact opposite of each other.  One is all story, the other all style.  I would recommend both.

Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I’m halfway through this, but I just can’t find the motivation to continue.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I just finished the first of its 5 book “trilogy.”  It’s fun.  And weird.  I like it so far.  I’ll update my opinion once I’m finished.

That’s all for now,


A. T. Bui

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Can you stand another optometry reference?

Get your eyes checked.  There’s a reason your glasses or contact lens prescription expires after a year.  Even if there is no change to your vision, you still need to visit your eye doctor every year to check on the health of your eyes.  And it’s not just things like glaucoma or retinal tears; your optometrist may also catch the occasional tumor or hypertensive crisis if signs are present in the eyes.

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Keep 2 To-Do lists.  One is for tasks you need to do today, the other for ongoing or less urgent tasks.  On your Today list, try to cap it at 3 items or less, marking one as the most important that must be completed today.  If you have trouble deciding which task is most important, let me tell you from personal experience: it’s the one you want to do the least.  Everything else goes on your Ongoing to-do list.

The reason for 2 lists is to reduce the stress and turbidity associated with having to look through a 30-item monstrosity whenever you want to check what you have to do.  Three is a more manageable number, and once these are crossed off, you can always do something else from your Ongoing list or just wait until tomorrow to add 3 more to the queue.

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Socialize, exercise, and meditate to clear the day’s stress instead of what most people do–binge, booze, and bitch.  Exercise and meditation is for the body and mind; socializing is for the spirit.  A decaying spirit can wreak devastation on the body and mind while a vibrant one has the power to heal and invigorate.  Don’t underestimate the importance of friends and family.

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Don’t always be hard on yourself.  It takes time to break in a new habit, like a well-fitting pair of jeans.  It took me 6 months to start waking up each day at the same time and another 2 months to reduce my “snoozes” from 2 to 1.  In 2 more months, I hope to excise “snooze” from my life altogether.  Ostensibly, that may seem like a pitiful achievement, but remember that even small course corrections can mean the difference between a successful voyage and ineluctable shipwreck.  Your destination, good or bad, is rarely the result of a single decision, but rather the final sum of all the little decisions you make each and every day, including this one–today.

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Keep moving.  Don’t let yourself settle in before it’s time.  When I get home from a crushing day at the office, I immediately change and hit the gym, at least 5 days a week.  I know that if I sit down for 1 minute or make 1 innocent phone call, I’m toast; there’s no way I’ll make it to the gym after that.  So it is with any endeavor that begs discipline.

I once read that over 80% of the fuel consumed by a space shuttle is used up at the time of lift off–do you understand?

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The hardest part of writing, as fellow writers on here can attest, is actually parking your butt down and moving your hands across that keyboard.  Whenever I think too much about the grand plan, I get stultified. So I make a deal with myself to write for a short while, say 30 minutes or until my cup of coffee is finished, and I don’t worry about how much gets done or even how good it is.

I remember one road trip my family and I took when I was a young teenager.  I don’t remember if we were going to Hoover Dam or the Great Salt Lake, or some other unordinary landmark, but the drive was long.  Every so often, like whac-a-mole automatons, someone would pipe up and ask my Uncle Tim how much longer we had to go.  “We’ll get there when we get there,” he said, smiting one of us back into his hole of patience.  At some point, at some lonely gas station in the desert, we stopped talking about how much longer we had to go.  We began sharing jokes, stories, riddles–and we had a blast.

When we got to where we were going, we spent 30 or 40 minutes, no more, taking pictures before hopping back into the SUV.  As I said, to this day, I still don’t remember where we went exactly, but I do remember that rare car ride–when we had all surrendered to the journey.  And I came to realize later in life, that like writing a book, it’s the car ride itself that you need, not the disembarkation.

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