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UFO and Murder Dream

Just a quick note because it was so weird.

I’m walking around outside with my family. I look up and see a UFO plain as day maybe 100 meters up in the air.

I move toward it without any effort and I’m right underneath the disc. It turns into a rectangle. As I get closer I realize there is a man laying lengthwise in the bottom of the rectangle which I can now see is a box. He is tied there, looking down at me but he’s dead.

He is beat to hell, like he got worked over real bad by nine guys with bats. His thumb and pointer and middle fingers on both hands are shorter than the other fingers, I notice. I touch a couple of them, and realize, they’re shorter because all the bones are broken in them and they are swollen. The fingers move and I realize the guy is still alive there. I don’t have any ideas come into my head to help him, I don’t feel in danger myself, I’m just marveling at the entire scene. I haven’t looked closely near his feet yet because there is something pretty horrifying there, but now I do.

I am scared by what I see there. It’s a thin blonde woman in her twenties. She is cut up in various ways so she also fits in the small section at the bottom of the box by the guy’s feet. She is definitely dead, She has arms and legs in positions they couldn’t possibly be in if she were alive. Her face is similar – beat up and eyes staring at me wide open.

At this point I fall down away from the ‘UFO’ and see it from the ground again where everyone is pointing and saying – did you see that? Did you see that thing?

I look up and it rapidly flies off.

Vern with Two Apple MacBooks

Which MacBook is better for writers?

That’s what I set out to answer as I compared these two computers.

The MacBook Pro retina 13-inch and the MacBook Air 11-inch are obviously different machines, but if you are ready to choose between MacBook notebook computers, you should watch this review.

Now that I own both of these MacBooks, there is no reason I’d ever buy the 13-inch Air, and I’m glad I didn’t do so before I had the retina 13. The Air 13 doesn’t offer anything better than either of these machines. If you’re considering the 13-inch Air – just get the retina 13 Pro. If your eyes are good and you want the ultralight style – get the 11-inch Air. You won’t be unhappy.

Now, if you NEED great resolution to see your photography as you edit, or need the power of a decent processor to render your photo or video edits – get the Pro 13 Retina.

I decided to do a video about twenty-five key differences between these machines that are significant, and that may affect your purchase decision.

I had the Air 11-inch for over a year, and the retina 13 for just about 40 days now. I have used both extensively. There are some obvious differences between them and not just the size and weight.

Here are the 25 Key Differences between MacBook Air and Retina computers:

1. Size and shape of screens. 1 1/8″ difference on width. 1 3/8 difference on height. 1 3/4 diff on diagonal.

2. Brightness of screen – the Pro is brighter, considerably brighter.

3. Glare of screen – black background and lighter. Seems same to me. I don’t see any difference at all. You’ll catch a little more glare just because the size of the screen is bigger, but that’s the only reason. The strength of the glare in my office seems same on both – very little. While using both screens outside in the daylight – not bright sun, I found no difference between them.

4. Colors of screen – miraculous for photo and video editing. You wouldn’t want anything less. Using retina resolution at default and others. The best is the default – which looks awesome. Not much different than 11-inch Air.

5. Contrast of screens, straight out of the box, the Retina has black blacks and blue whites. The Air has grey blacks and white whites.

6. Clarity of text on both screens – no big difference. But the contrast of the Retina makes text easier to read. The sharpness of the Retina makes very small font much easier to read.

7. Keyboard key travel is more on Pro. Nicer to type on the Air.

8. Speed of typing on each – 74 on retina. 85 on air. Spacing a little different. Can get used to either one. I find I’m more accurate on the Air’s keyboard, it might be because I’ve only had a month on the Pro. I think the difference is due to the key travel differences.

9. Pro keys are slightly harder to press down. More effort needed. Air keys are lighter and yet you know when you pressed a key.

10. Weight is very different – picking up, traveling, Pro is not magic… Air feels like magic. Amazing. MacBook Pro after having Air is like having a regular heavy computer.

11. Trackpad differences? Size of Pro is larger (deeper) same width. Neither has any palm rest problems when typing at all.

12. Heat – retina does get warmer. Do full screen Youtube video 1080p. Pro is warmer on top and bottom, Not uncomfortably warm.

13. Size and weight of A/C power cords. Pro is heavier and bigger. Same cord length.

14. A/C plug magnets much stronger on Pro, annoyingly loose on the Air – but not much effect in real world use.

15. Sharpness of palm rest area. raised up height at end of palm rest – some say on the Pro it is a problem.

16. The angled keyboard of the Air feels nicer.

17, The shallower height on the Air feels nicer for typing.

18. Air charges significantly faster. That is one thing I definitely noticed. I don’t have data on it. Probably takes another hour.

19. Speed between the two on typical applications – no big difference. Browser speeds are very close. Everything is very close, except photo and video editing.

20. Sound quality – Significant difference. Pro is so much better,  especially the deeper tones.

21. Sound volume – 10-15db more on the Pro (my guess) through speakers and again, another 10 or so using headphones – same headphones.

22. Seeing the bottom of my writing – the last line – is blocked on Pro Just when typing at desk and I’m slouching like I sometimes do!

23. The SD card slot is nice. All the extra ports are nice on the Pro.

24. Using the Air on your lap – it’s too damn light and slippery. Using the Pro – it sits on there better.

25. It’s too easy to feel like I’m jarring the Pro every time I set it down on something solid. It just feels – sounds – less solid. Wife dropped the Air from 5-6 feet and it was fine. The Pro – I’m sure it would be quite a bit more damaged. Air is more solid feeling.

Freebie – the Pro screen opens up 2-3 degrees more than the Air. I notice this when I put the computer on the floor and sit with it.

Another freebie tip – DON’T get the TUCANO grey/silver neoprene MacBook second-skin sleeve – looks like been through  war.

Here is the MacBook I currently recommend (7/2015) for writers – nothing beats it IMHO:

DO get the black one with the charge-up slot.

Subscribe if you like this sort of stuff. I’ll also be continuing with the living in Thailand series and I have a number of great videos coming up shot with the GlideCam and Nikon D610. It just takes hours to edit them together to get something decent.

SUBSCRIBE to my videos for god’s sake! I’ve got over 10,000 subscribers and 20 Million + views. There’s a reason for that. I do wacky things I shouldn’t.

MACBOOK COMPARISON VIDEO BELOW:

Macbook Air 11 Inch

Before I finally broke down and bought a Macbook Air computer, I laughed at them for years. I had a MAC 17 inch G4 Powerbook back in 2001 I think it was. It was junk. I couldn’t even get the cursor to move fast enough using the trackpad, I’d have had to use a mouse. No dice. I sold it the next day on Ebay. It took me eleven more years to consider Apple computers again. Guess what? I am SO glad I did. I had lost my faith in the  Microsoft Operating System and I was ready to throw all my computers out the window and do something drastic, like start a brick and mortar business.

Instead I continued writing…

Here is the Video – or, scroll down to see it printed out for you.

25 Reasons I LOVE Writing with My Macbook Air:

1. Super Slim. I have no problem with carpal tunnel syndrome, my wrists can remain straight and I have zero problems with hand strength and pain in my wrists though I am writing for hours everyday. This is a MAJOR plus, for those of you with Carpal Tunnel now that are ready to give up writing. Try a Macbook Air.

2. Sweet Keyboard. Though it wasn’t perfect when I first started using it, I am now very accustomed to the keyboard travel, spacing between keys, and the layout of the keys. I still wish like hell there were separate backspace and delete buttons and HOME and END keys, but I am so happy with typing on this keyboard overall that I cannot complain. If you want to upgrade to a different Macbook Air or Macbook Pro, the keyboard remains the same size! No more relearning a different keyboard every time you switch computers!

3. Keyboard Backlighting. Essential in this age of working when the kids and wife have fallen asleep and the overhead light needs to be off. There are 15 levels of backlighting brightness – more than enough.

4. Durability. My wife, being on the shorter end, and not being able to see up high on the shelf where I slid this ultra-thin Air, pushed a box up on the shelf and off slid my $1,200 Macbook Air. It crashed like thunder on the hard tile floor. It was a horrible sound that still replays in my mind. Guess what? It works perfectly, even after a fall from 6 feet to the hard tile floor. There are 2 very minor spots, I won’t even call them dings, that are evident after the fall. That’s it. It runs perfectly. It’s an absolute tank.

5. Build Quality. To go further about the build and aesthetics of the Air, it is as if aliens made this thing. Next time you’re in a Best Buy, Apple Store, wherever, take a close look at the keyboard. Type with it. Turn the machine over and check out the seams where the anodized aluminum meets. It’s 3-4 levels above anything anybody else puts out – even the ASUS that looks similar. It is absolutely STUNNING, pure and simple.

6. Base Model is Perfect. There is no need to upgrade the RAM, Hard Drive, or processor. The Macbooks are super fast while opening apps, and don’t crash. I had one minor lockup but I was able to put it in sleep mode, turn it back on, and it worked fine since. The price has dropped since I got mine, you can now get them for just $999 with 128GB SSD – solid state drive (hard drive storage), and 4 GB RAM. You don’t need to worry about operating system and licenses, it comes with the computer – not like Microsoft’s nonsense.

7. No Viruses (virii?). I haven’t had any virus found with the antivirus program in nearly one year of use. That’s amazing, considering I live in Asia where there is a very high incidence of that floating around.

8. Extraordinary Battery Life. 10-14 hours of battery life! (2013 Haswell processor versions)

Now there is a newer MacBook with a retina screen that is pretty amazing if you just need a very light computer with a very clear screen for writing. See it here:

9. Super Lightweight. My 11.6 inch Air weights about 2.38 pounds. The 13 inch weighs less than 3 pounds (2.96). I now throw it in my backpack no matter where I’m going – even if I think there is only a remote chance I’ll use it. That makes it tremendously handy.

10. Lightweight Power Adapter. The power adapter is lightweight compared to all other computers (non-Apple) I’ve had in the past 20 years.

11. Very Bright Screen. The Macbook Airs don’t have the new retina screen (yet), but they do have very bright and high contrast screens that makes writing on them a joy no matter how much ambient light you have. If you have full-on bright sunshine, you won’t be happy, but in all other circumstances – it’s great!

12. Magnetic Power Connector. This is a nice touch. In the past I’ve had to be ultra-careful with the power adapter where it plugs into the computer. They short easily because they bend a lot. The Macbook has an amazing magnetic plug that sticks until you pull it too hard. Ever have a kid trip across your power plug wire and pull your computer off the desk? No more… it simply unplugs and your computer doesn’t move. Very reassuring.

13. Open Office Software Works on Mac! I write all my books in Open Office’s “Writer” application. There is a free version for Mac, so I’m set. Open Office can save to PDF or Microsoft Word formats for submitting to Amazon’s KDP, or Smashwords.com.

14. Dedicated Show Desktop Buttons. The F3 button will take you out of whatever program you’re working on and show you the open programs and desktop options – instantly. The F4 button will take you to the application launcher so you can launch any other program instantly.

15. iBooks Store Access. Not just access, but Apple gives you a free to download program called, “iBooks Author” which gives you an ideal way to create pre-formatted ebooks for the store. You just add your own text and photos and publish the book in the Apple iTunes iBooks store. There is a separate option that turns your newly created book into a PDF file – and you can sell that anywhere you want.

16. Keyboard Shortcuts. Always running under the operating system is a massive number of keyboard shortcuts that help you do accomplish little tasks much faster than you would if you had to move the mouse around and click on menus. It took a couple of weeks to figure out which were most appropriate for me to learn, but now I’m very pleased with the experience.

17. Boom App! This is a $5 application you can download for your Macbook Air that cranks up the volume of your speakers incredibly. I was having issues watching some Youtube videos that were recorded at a volume too low to hear well. Or, maybe I’m going deaf. Regardless… I installed this app and I can now hear everything loud enough. I’ve never seen such a thing to fix a PC notebook.

18. Hibernate Works! Just close the display lid anytime and everything instantly goes into hibernate mode. Open it and you have access in seconds. I’ve not had it stutter in 11 months. Amazing that it works so well.

19. Whites are White. Blacks, Black. The color profile on the Macbook Airs are right on – from the time you first start the machine. the colors are vivid and the images clear. My last half dozen IBM PC notebook computes had color profiles that were completely off. Usually they are tinted toward blue.

20. Intercompatibility with iPhone and iPad. I had an iPhone 3GS for a while, but it was older and secondhand and the battery was junk. Now we have an iPad Mini – and the intercompatibility between the Air and iPad is nice. If you have an iPhone – you’ll be glad you have a Mac computer too.

21. Cool Palmrest! If you’ve ever tried to type for a couple of hours on a notebook that’s toasting your wrists and palms, it’s not a good experience. The palmrest for the Macbook Air 11.6″ is always cool, unless you’re playing some Youtube videos. Even then, I’m playing one now and still the palmrest is quite a nice temperature.

22. Built In Free Instant Messaging / Video Chat. I was sitting here typing up an article for one of my blogs. All the sudden I got an iMessage notification. It was my lost to the world cousin Mark, zapping me a message from his Macbook Air in Philadelphia. I’m in Thailand. How he found me I still haven’t the slightest idea. I’ll figure it out. Since then I’ve video chatted with my brother from my Macbook while he’s on his iPad. I’ve seen my nephews and nieces for the first time in so many years.

23. Built-in Apps. Nearly everything I need is already included on the computer when you turn it on. The only extras I added were: Open Office, Skype, FTP program, iBooks Author, Amazon’s Kindle for Mac software, and the Boom app for increasing sound volume. The iPhone app works very well, I love it. There is Quicktime and iMovie for video editing.

Finally, the last two reasons I absolutely love the Macbook Air… it’s worth buying the thing JUST for these. Both are features of the amazing trackpad.

24. The Trackpad is FRICKIN AMAZING! One thing that always drove me absolutely bonkers about other notebook computers is that their trackpads were horrible. I haven’t had a good trackpad… EVER, until I got this Macbook Air. It is literally MAGIC. I never feel like I made a mistake with it. I never have my palm get in the way and move my cursor as I’m writing an article or book. The cursor movement using the trackpad is very smooth, and very accurate. It doesn’t jump around. It is just, without any other way to explain it – PERFECT. The other Macbook Airs and Pros also have the same trackpad.

25. Gestures – 15! Macbooks have the most amazing gestures. Two finger tap for right click. Four finger swipe up to see all open apps tiled for easy selection. Four finger swipe right and left to switch between open and maximized applications (the coolest).


UPDATE July 2015: I still use Mac. It is far superior to Windows and other hardware.

Here is the MacBook I currently recommend (7/2015) for writers – nothing beats it IMHO:

Here’s an interesting email I got about the durability of the keyboard on the Macbook Air – and my email response:

Hello,

I’ve watched Your video about a Macbook Air as a perfect machine for a writer. So here’s my question: You’ve obviously used it for quite a while, is the keyboard durability good? My point is that I’m a writer myself and own a Lenovo Thinkpad. After writing my first book (300+ pages) I find my keyboard to be a lot more “washy” and not that pleasant to use as it used to be. Do You have any similar experience (I know You’ve used Lenovo/Ibm in the past). Do You have any issues with Your MacBook Air?

I would be thankful for advice :)

Greetings from Poland,

Lucas

MF response:

Good question Lucas…

With my cheap Lenovo – I also noticed that some of the keyboard feel was different after a year of hard writing. With my HP PROBOOK – the same thing. But, in both cases that enabled me to type faster and with less errors since my muscle memory KNEW the keyboards and I was accustomed to them.

However, does that mean the keyboards were going to wear out?

The HP lasted for 5 years of very heavy use… the keyboard today does not have the same feel as the new one, but no matter, I can still FLY on that thing. I still love it. However, 1 key has fallen off. It is very easy to replace keyboards (and cheap) on PCs, but maybe not on macs – not sure.

The Lenovo works well too – no sign of falling apart after 3-4 years.

I’ve used this 11 inch 2012 Macbook Air for 15 months of heavy use (3,000 words per day average).

It’s doing great. I think same exact feel as when new.

So, that’s all i can say for now. It feels brand new, just like the new ones I try in the apple store.

That said, try the Macbook PRO keyboards because they DO give slightly more key travel and it’s a different feel. Though I love the Macbook Air keyboard, I absolute CRAVE the Macbook Pro retina 13 keyboard.

So, there you have it. Hope that helps. I’ll post this on my latest page about the Ultimate Notebook for Writers so it can help more people.

If you want the latest – here is the newest MacBook that is about 2.5 pounds and the keyboard is revolutionary. I’ve used it a half-dozen times in the store. I hate to say it, but I type more accurately with it than I do with my MacBook Pro or Air. Here it is:

Cheers,

​MF

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

“Most people take their ideas, their greatness, to the graveyard with them.” ~ Unknown.

vern-blackshirt

Just shoot me now…

January sometime my stomach hurt a bit as I ran around the park one time. I thought little of it. Then in June I realized, it’s still hurting.

I don’t respect pain. I just live with it and it always goes away. One time my Uncle John from Virginia visited me to do some fishing in Florida. I was coughing. He said, how long you had that? I said, since October… he said, JESUS CHRIST, DIDN”T YOU FIX IT YET? So I went to the doctor after he left. Apparently ten months and hacking like I had strept throat or something probably meant I had strept throat.

And that is exactly what it turned out to be.

Knocked that out with some antibiotics after the doctor recovered enough to write the prescription.

Living in Thailand you never know what you’ve just eaten. I’ve consumed bacteria, viruses (virii?) and fungus of all kinds after a decade in situ. I am absolutely sure I have numerous infections and infestations swimming up and down my bloodstream on a daily basis. Usually I just push through and get my shit done, and run at the park, up the mountain, or bang out a steps session.

But a couple weeks ago I realized, this stomach thing is beginning to bother me. I’m bloating right now. Not a lot, but a bit. I can’t remember EVER bloating in my life, so that was my AHA moment. Something’s wrong there Sport.

I changed my diet. I tried fruit and water for a couple days, couple more meals, it didn’t help. I ate chicken one day – just chicken. Didn’t help. I had liquids for a couple days – coconut juice primarily. Didn’t help.

I just took FUGABUG. It’s Mebendazole – 500 mg. It’s a bug to kill worms in your stomach and intestines. This is a common thing in Thailand because you don’t ever really know if the street-side vendor boiled her fermented fish paste – or not. One pill does ya. I took one the other night and one the next night to make sure.

Didn’t help.

I went and got a blood test which covered about 70 things, including some cancer cell screening. Everything checked out, but cholesterol is a bit high. I so rarely eat ANYTHING with cholesterol that it didn’t make sense. Then I read, the liver makes 80% of all cholesterol in the body, food makes up just 20%. So, that was enlightening. I will take some Niacin (vitamin B3) in massive doses (2,000 to 4,000 mg) and see if that brings down the triglycerides which were through the roof (344).

I have two different antibiotics in a bag wifey picked up at the pharmacist the other day. One has the side-effect of causing your achilles tendon to rupture. Uhm, fuck that, quite frankly. Is this the state of our antibiotics already? I had heard for decades that they were going to become worthless for treating the current crop of illnesses and bugs, but jesus. To cure my stomach ache I’m going to have to risk snapping my achilles tendons?

Just fuck that.

SO, I Googled the symptom. I have two symptoms. Belly hurts. Stomach is slightly bloated. That’s it. No blood in the stool. No headache. No cough. No yellow skin or eyes. No severe cramping. Urine is clear like water and checked out fine in the lab test. No heart palpitations. No sweating. No fever. No rushing pulse. No rushing shiagus leaving the anal region.

Nothing.

Turns out I could have any of 31 different issues. So, I read through them all. I was able to remove two from consideration because I don’t have a uterus. The other twenty-nine are mostly heinously scary. Crohn’s disease? Holy hell. Didn’t Barbara Bush have that – and it made her eyes bug out? I don’t need that.

So I’m going to start going through the list. Next up is checking for a bacteria that causes stomach and intestinal infections – Helicobacter pylori. Most people on the planet have it in their gut. It causes infections sometimes. If it’s infecting your stomach, it is also one of the prime cancer causers, so it’s best to knock it out ASAP. To test for it, you breathe into a balloon or something. This should be a blast.

So, that’s it. Just to keep you updated. Doesn’t look like cancer or catastrophic organ failure at the moment. If it is, I’ll start climbing the mountain daily because I don’t want to die in a bed. I want to die climbing a mountain. At least give me that…

Cheers!

This is the first post I’m going to do using the transcribe feature on my MacBook Air 11-inch. I am talking and the computer is changing my voice to text. When this becomes a viable option for writing books, it is really going to change the industry. The main problem that I can see, is that I’m not ready in my mind to verbally write articles or books. Each sentence here has taken me many times longer than it normally would to just type it on the computer. But the computer is transcribing it perfectly.

I was reading some articles today and the writers were talking about authors are going to have trouble in the future. There is going to be tremendous competition in the coming years. So for that, we need to prepare and figure out what to focus our energy on.

I have written over twenty-five books and yet I have not yet written a Big Book. I think for the next year my focus will be on writing a Big Book.

What is a Big Book?

A big book is unlike most other books a big book is not a book like ‘how to move to Thailand’ or ‘moving to Hawaii’, or Thai Food cooking recipes. A Big Book has the potential to change lives. Not just a couple people’s lives, but many.

A Big Book is written either for the author’s personal enjoyment or to change the world. It is rare that a Big Book is written by accident. A Big Book takes huge amounts of time. It is unlikely a Big Book can be finished within one year. A Big Book takes either hundreds or thousands of hours of research or contemplation.

As I approach the big 5-0 I become increasingly aware that I have a limited amount of time left on this earth. A choice presents itself. I can write frivolous books with no meaning, or I can focus on doing my best to write books that change the world.

So can you.

When I first considered writing a book, the topic I chose was a small one. A revenge book. Well, it was a vigilante thriller revenge type book. Thailand’s Sickest was that book. Then I wrote the follow-up, Thailand’s Sickest – Hell to Pay. That pretty much got the subject out of my head and I’m having trouble even considering writing the third book in the series.

I guess I wanted to TRY to write a fiction book to see if I could do it. I certainly didn’t think for a minute I could write a Big Book that changed the world for my first book. Aren’t most writers like that? I think most of us like the topics of books we write, but we aren’t trying to change the world.

It’s pretty easy to fall into a routine of cranking out small book after small book and think you’re accomplishing something. Much easier than it is to challenge yourself to write a book that changes the world.

The competition for eyeballs has never been greater than now. Or more ridiculous. I wrote my first books for Amazon back in 2007. They sold well, and I immediately cranked out a couple of dozen more. Sales were great for a couple years. The gradual slowdown has become a massive avalanche of cash falling away from my account. I’ve yanked all but maybe three of my books from Amazon because I’m so disgusted with them. Or am I disgusted with the competition?

Really, I’m disgusted with myself for writing so many small books.

In hindsight, I got what was coming to me. In 2014-2015 I was making about 10% of what I was making in 2007-2009. Now only a small handful of my books sell reasonably at Amazon at all. One I decided to give away for free in return for email addresses and building my email list at AimforAwesome.com – my Hawaii focused site. So, three books at Amazon are pulling in less than $250 per month. That’s what I did to myself. It is no one’s fault but mine, but it took me a little while to see it that way.

It’s your fault too.

Don’t gripe about the competition. Don’t gripe about Amazon giving preferential treatment to other authors or the legacy publishers. Amazon is looking for BIG BOOKS, not junk. Stop writing about small topics, and start trying to change the world. You might not do it the first time or the thirtieth time. Maybe book #37 will be the one that launches you into super-stardom.

Choose now to WRITE SOMETHING BIG, or starve.

My goal is $30,000 per month income by the end of 2015. The only way I’m going to hit that goal is to create an amazing book that hits a very large group of people.

What is your goal? How are you getting there?

Share it with me in the comments, or a link to your own site where you’ve written about it.

Cheers!

Vern L.

A Friend Died Today

A friend of mine died today in the United Kingdom. He didn’t want to die there where he grew up, but he didn’t have a choice. He told me many times that his ideal way to exit the world would be in Krabi at the top of the mountain steps, or the trail we climbed over in another district that was also incredibly scenic.

In a way, I talked him into returning to his home country to get treated for his cancer. He was treated here in Thailand for a bit and they declared him completely cancer free. Then within a year, it was raging through his body again.

So he returned, got chemo for a bit, and it just got worse and worse. He passed last night at 6 pm. UK time. That’s six am. this morning. It’s 7 am. now. There was just no way for him to get back to Thailand, he had a couple of setbacks that took the energy out of him quickly.

I met Alfred eight years ago sucking wind like he was close to death at the bottom of a set of steps that runs up the side of a mountain. It was steaming hot that day. He was sweating like mad. His bright grey hair and distressed state made me wonder how old he was. I was guessing anywhere from sixty to eighty. I just couldn’t guess. I believe I asked him if he was training for something. He mentioned, between breaths, that he was just getting some exercise.

Well, the exercise was laps up and down a 1,237 step climb up a 280 meter high mountain in Southern Thailand in 32°C sunshine and 90% humidity! I saw him a couple more times soon after that because I began regularly climbing there too. We talked and talked, soon we were meeting for the occasional lunch or shooting pool down by the beach.

In his forties he came down with a bout of spinal meningitis that almost killed him. He was paralyzed for a while, weeks as I remember, and he and his family were sure he was going to die. When he shook that off, he became very motivated to live life to the fullest. He began coming to Thailand in the 1990’s and until the cancer he was staying much more than he was going back to England.

Alfred inspired me in a number of ways. What I will remember most is the way he was able to push himself physically beyond what most twenty year olds could endure. He was super-fit and would often do extreme efforts just on a whim, or because he felt good that day.

I remember once having to drag it out of him how many times in a row he climbed mountain steps. Finally he admitted he climbed them four times in a row one morning on a whim. No breakfast. A bit of water and I think he said he had a banana after a couple of climbs. That was it. He just felt good that day and whenever he felt good he just pushed it as far as he could. A few months after he told me that I climbed with him four times in a row and I have to say, the guy wasn’t that exhausted! He had it in his mind to climb six times in a row and reach a vertical mile someday in the future.

He did other amazing things, like enter stairclimbing races in Bangkok at the Baiyoke Tower and the Banyan Tree Hotel. These were 70+ floors of straight climbing. He loved it. He had a streak going at the Banyan Tree – of something like six years in a row.

Then there was the time he was telling me about some half-baked plan he had to drive down through Malaysia to Malacca and enter their 12-hour walking race. The next time I saw him he had already done it! He stopped after going 58 kilometers in 7:30. That’s 7 hours and 30 mins. He stopped due to his foot not working right anymore. He wasn’t wearing great shoes for it, he didn’t have the proper nutrition at all, he just went for it to see what happened.

What happened was that despite stopping after 9 hours, he still walked so fast that he placed 16th OVERALL out of 300+ people to the 50 kilometer point (30 miles!). He was phenomenal, and he wasn’t really giving himself everything he needed to succeed – just the bare minimums. He had nobody go with him to the race, nobody to give him food, beverages or massage during the long race. He was just there knocking it out by himself at 73 years old.

So, you can see, he was quite the inspiration.

So there is a void in my life. We climbed a couple mountains here locally. We raced up the stairs in Bangkok together. We met up in various places in Thailand for dinner. Not many locals or foreigners are into climbing mountains for fun and speed. Basically it’s just me doing it on a regular basis.

I’ve taken some video of the man climbing the steps, and at the top. I’ll share one below.

He was an inspiration to many that were lucky enough to encounter him on the long climb up the steps, as his quick wit and friendly encouragement were always well-received and helped to push many people up the hill that would not have completed it otherwise.

I’ll miss you Alfred!

1. A voice in my head in 1993, as I lay reclining on my bed. “Alex needs teaching.” Then a few minutes later, “See what you can do.”

2. Jhana levels during simple meditation where I was focused on the breath.

3. A host of other strange occurrences during meditation – couple of dozen, including one time staring at myself in a mirror as I meditated and my head disappeared… later my body rearranged itself with parts in wrong places.

4. Spontaneously running twenty-two miles at the park one day when I thought I was going to run six.

5. The mother of my son telling me she’s leaving with my son the next morning to go live with her family.

6. Meeting the sexual abuser of the eight year old boy I was a “Big Brother” for.

7. Hallucinating on PCP laced pot my ‘friend’ gave me in eleventh grade.

8. I was offered a ride home at 4 am. by a 300+ lb Japanese guy that pulled up to the bus stop I was trying to sleep at because I gave my car to my friend that night so he could take this girl out he liked. The guy yelled through his open window of his car, “Hey, you going to back to base? I said, “Yeah, what base?” He said, “Hickam.” I said, “Yeah!” He said, “Get in, I’ll give you a ride back.” I jumped in. Was a few blocks before his hand was brushing my leg. I moved over. Then he put his hand right on my leg. I hit him about eight times in the face before he could stop the car, jumped out and told the people at the next bus stop what happened. They said that guy cruises around every weekend doing that to guys.

9. Girlfriend and I were on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Jeep stuck in sand. Looking for ride. Weird couple stopped and we got in their car. The guy driver wouldn’t stop where I told him to – it was like they were going to abduct us. I got a couple inches from his ear behind him and screamed at the top of my lungs – STOP THE FUCKING CAR RIGHT NOW! He stopped. I made that into a short-story here.

10. A white sphere of light moved through the window of my hotel room from outside and hovered near me for a few seconds. This is the most confounding thing that ever happened to me, and I doubt it will ever be topped! Full story here.

I’d love to see some of you repeat this post on your own blog – or in the comments below. Could be very interesting stuff. Make it five of the weirdest things if you can’t get to ten.

Some say writer’s block doesn’t exist. That’s stupid. It might not exist in the way you’re thinking about it, but it exists for many people depending how they choose to define it. It’s funny how much of life is defined in terms that are different from how others think about it. I think many times the phrase ‘writer’s block’ is not meaning a mental block of creativity as much as it is a mental block of considering and then deciding and actually sitting down to write.

I think any writer that sits down and opens their book and reads through it a bit, can get excited by it and start writing.

The problem isn’t that, in my case. The problem is scheduling the day and time and duration of the writing session. It has to do with the writer preparing the mind to DO IT. To FACE IT. It’s daunting. It’s scary as hell to sit down to your book, the one that either means the WORLD to you, or means something grand, and start writing it. You want it to be GREAT. You want it to bring you accolades. You want to CHANGE THE WORLD with it. Don’t go lightly to the empty page, or something like that. So you don’t go at all. You mindfook yourself over it by insisting you just won’t have nine uninterrupted hours, so you couldn’t POSSIBLY start today. Or tomorrow. A week after next Tuesday.

You build up the opening of the document to be something on par with christ’s next magic trick. You blow it up to be as important an event as you have ever experienced in life.

I think most of us do this.

I restarted writing my book the other day. Seventeen years in the making. Sixty-three thousand words into it, and forty or so to go. I thought I had another ten or twenty, but no. It’s going to to be forty to sixty. If it needs two-hundred thousand, I’m going there. It will be done when it’s done.

Finally I figured out something about what has stopped me from continuing to write day in and day out.

The way I’ve approached writing in the past was simple. I’ve always done it in one of two man-caves. One room in a relatively silent house where I could block out everything. There are windows to look outside for a different perspective. There are sounds, but they’re muted through concrete walls.

If I don’t write at home I rent out a little hotel room with a fantastic view – elephant trekking below, towering limestone karst cliff-faces surrounding me. Six bucks a day because the owner knows I’m just there to write, I don’t dirty the bed. I chee-chee a few times, drink my coffee or tea and don’t cause any trouble.

I’ve told myself for years that I only write in blocks of at least four to five hours. If I can’t find that time, I never start. If I can’t find twenty-thirty days in a row of four to five hours to work on my book, I just never get started. I have this idea in mind that I need to get straight through it without interruption. I need absolute focus and continuity day-to-day to get it done.

But really, the way to finish a book is to keep pounding at it – no matter what. No matter how much time you have free. No matter what else is going on.

So, I noticed something about me recently. When I’m not writing my book, I never even open it. I will see the folder there on my desktop just about daily. It’s in a conspicuous place. I just never even attempt to open the folder, find the latest draft, and go have a look. It’s sacred for some reason. I have this dorked idea in my head that the document is christ incarnate. I can’t open it unless everything has been prepared and I’m ready – I’m dedicated and able to give it at least five-six hours of my time and mind.

If I am not ‘ready’ that .docx is never opened.

Today I did something I’ve done about twice in seventeen years. I wasn’t ready to write, but realized that I had some weird private logic going on about when I could and couldn’t open the book to even look at it. I opened it up, it’s behind this window I’m typing this post on.

After I opened it, I realized I just broke through something. I broke through the sacred. That bit of mind-snot holding me back from knocking this out a little bit day-by-day regardless of whether all conditions were perfect.

It isn’t sacred any more. It is, but now that I know how to crush it, I’ll open it every day and look at it, browsing through to see where I might get inspired to write something. I’ll force myself to open it a couple times a day and look at it.

One of the major problems I think I face is that in order to be ready to GO I need to be in the right mood to write the book. I figure if I’m not in the perfect mood, the book will suffer. I’ve always treated this book as sacred in the sense that it is going to be my favorite work, my most thought-through work. The one I give 100% of myself. If I’m not in the mood – how can I sit down to add more to it?

And that is STILL the case. But, here’s the thing – as I force myself to read the book – I get into it. The mind gets excited. It starts to sync with the meaning of the book. The style of it.

I get into the mood by looking at it – by reading some of it. Once I get sucked in and reading far more than I intended to, it takes over the mind and all of the sudden, it IS the right time to continue.

You ever get that?

When I was trying to come up with a funny and memorable name to write under for some of my Thailand fiction books I had a pool of about four names to choose from. Well, Mike I knew was going to be the first name – it’s tough. It’s short. It’s easy to remember.

The last name I was unsure about. One of the choices was Fook. My brother said my name MUST be Mike Fook. I instantly agreed. I have no idea where the idea for it came about, but perhaps it was my subconscious playing games with me.

Remember this?

I just thought I’d brain spew for a few minutes. This is some of the random shit flying through my cranium today, and some of it is recurring. I get to look at it every day. You don’t really want to be me.

  • Right after I bragged about how my body was immune to all injury, I immediately stress fractured my right 5th metatarsal. That was six friggin months ago and I’ll go Postal if I can’t run long distance by the end of this month.
  • My ‘organ’ swelling has come down considerably. I’m no longer “Donkey Boy” but I am a candidate for a transplant if any of you know anybody. I spared you a blog about the incident in excruciating detail, but a herd of very small, almost invisible ants, lay in wait on my towel until I squeegeed my full frontal and assbone. At which time, they coordinated a well timed attacked en masse and swole me all up. It took 2 days for swelling to subside somewhat. Now I’m left with the itchiest organ on the planet.
  • I’m trying to figure out a way to tell my niece to get the FUCK OUT OF THE NEST and go do something with her life. Just can’t seem to find a kind and gentle way to say it.
  • Grandma makes the best spicy green beans and chicken plate lunch I’ve ever wolfed down in six minutes.
  • My stomach hurts. I’m guessing cancer, if it’s anything bad. It’s been about six months. It will go away, I’m sure of it. It hurts too many places for it to be cancer. And, if it is, then I’m surely fucked and there’s no point going to find out and knowing I’m going to die from it – I’d rather it be a surprise.
  • Fuck snakes – I’ve found so few the last four times I’ve gone that I’m not going any more. If one climbs over the back wall – great – I’ll grab it. Otherwise, I just don’t have time to go looking.
  • If you haven’t yet bought one of the ultra-cheap Manfrotto compact light tripods – go, RUN to get one. They’re brilliant.
  • Feeling sheepish. I haven’t told my wife I also bought an extra Nikon battery at the same time I got the tripod. ($70).
  • I’ve been feeling like I’m going nofuckingplace lately. I’ve started to bitch about people that I see going nofuckingplace too because it makes it all too real that I’m on track to beat them to it. That’s scary. I haven’t ever been stalled out this long about what to do with my energy.
  • 45 pieces of paper on my desk and wall are telling me what to do and I give ’em all the bird daily, doing something else entirely.
  • I keep entertaining ideas of finishing that book I started a year ago. I even saw a very apropos (sp?) quote that smacked me in the face about it –

greatness-garyv-quote4

I should be “going after it” to achieve some greatness of some sort. I know I should. Fuck, that makes me angry…

  • It’s just a matter of time before me, my brother, or sister ends up with cancer or a tumor in the head. Gotta keep pushing to get some shit done before calamity strikes.
  • Beer in Thailand is absolutely horrible. If you can’t drink it at 33F, don’t drink it at all.
  • The UFO guys all have their panties in a bunch about “Disclosure” happening soon. I’m not 100% sure there is anything much to reveal. I think UFO’s we see in the sky are, in large part, our own. The US reverse-engineered some downed alien craft and that’s it. We’re flying them around and having a blast scaring the hell out of everyone. When the dollar is in absolute peril, they’ll claim an invasion is imminent. The countries of the world will join together against the threat like Ronald Reagan said a number of times, and there will be a one-world government that looks great in the short-term, but becomes mankind’s worst nightmare before long. That sounds like a book.
  • I keep getting teased with the idea of a 15-inch MacBook Air with retina screen. I am ALL OVER THAT if it ever makes an appearance.
  • My daughter is supposed to have swim class today at her pre-school. I’m guessing they don’t test the water and adjust chemicals daily, they don’t have ANYONE there with CPR certification, they have about 1 teacher per 78 kids, and they don’t pull the kids out of the water at the first sign of thunder. Thailand is a fucking nightmare if you have kids. Don’t bring them unless it’s vacation, and then, be very careful what they’re doing every single minute. Exposed wiring in the shower? Quite possible. I’ve seen it. Exposed wiring in the hotel at knee level next to the bed? Yep, saw it this past weekend. Plus the voltage here is 220v and it shakes the hell out of you when you grab a wire (yes, done that twice here.)
  • I eat oatmeal for breakfast – no sugar, no honey. I think I’m doing myself some good. At 10 am I’m ready to eat dirt I’m so hungry. I have a pretzel. A handful. I eat the fucking bag and think I’ll skip lunch. Nope, grandma already made lunch. I eat it to make her feel good. I think I’ll skip dinner. by 6 pm I’m losing my mind. I eat dinner too.
  • I have to tell a small handful of people to fuck off – they’re taking too much of my time.
  • Grandma doesn’t know how to open a child-proof multi-vitamin jar – I have to open it for her. She never saw one here.
  • I’m ready to cash out and focus on just one thing. Thing is, it hurts more to do it than to think about it. Then I’d really have to focus on one thing.
  • Our car is about 10 yrs old and we really should upgrade. Thing is, we just upgraded our home.
  • Running ads on facebook to see if all the hype is true. So far today I’ve paid 18 cents per click through to my site, had three clicks and no sales. Just sayin. If I get one sale in $10 spent, it will be worth it, but the waiting sucks. I targeted women 23-65, in calif, tx, IL, FL, NY, Singapore that spoke english, graduated or were in college, use safari or chrome web browsers, and who spent a lot of money on facebook recently. Oh, and some ‘interest’ categories too to really nail it down. I pushed everyone to a super sales page with everything listed at 50% or more off. If I don’t sell anything, FB is worthless.
  •  I’m sitting an hour, standing 5-10 minutes. I do NOT want another hemmorhoid issue. Lassoing it, spending five days enduring assfireworks, and then cutting it off upside down on the floor in a puddle of my own blood wasn’t the most fun I’ve had on a Sunday.

OK then. On that note… cheerio ol’ chaps.

Vern L. masquerading as Mike Fook

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