e. magill's                        

The Unapologetic Geek

MAIN LIST        

11 Things I Learned in 2011 - Page 3

I can't complain; for the most part, 2011 has been a pretty good year. In the past, I've shied away from talking too much about what I've learned as a new parent, but today I'm going to delve straight into it. Over half of the lessons listed below have to do with parenting, but that's because, as a stay-at-home dad, parenting has been the dominating factor of my life ever since Tommy came along. With that in mind, here's what I've learned in the last twelve months:

Calorie Counting Works

Nutrition facts
Wait, these numbers actually mean something?

A good side effect of my hypochondria is that I'm doing something about it. 2011 saw me lose over thirty pounds, reach a healthy weight, and essentially wrestle my diabetes into submission for the time being. Whenever anybody asks me how I did it, I'm embarrassed to admit that it was nothing special; I just ate less and tried to exercize more.

By counting calories, I did something nobody does because they think it's too tedious, but in fact, it turned out to be pretty damn easy. Once you get used to tallying how many calories you're putting in--and you realize how bad that number is--it's surprisingly simple to get yourself to eat less. Once you do that, it becomes habit, and you'll find it hard to eat as much as you used to. I'm not going to say that this method will work for anyone--that's a sure way to start a flame war and I'm sure my thoughts on autism have already done that--but I will say it worked for me. My doctor is thrilled, I feel great, and my overall health has never been better.

No Matter How Bad It Gets, Our Leaders Won't Take It Seriously

Titanic deck chairs
An inch to the right or an inch to the left? Oh, let's just compromise and do nothing about these deck chairs.

It shouldn't take a political independant to notice that our government is broken and corrupted by politics. On one end, you have a group of people who insist we have to cut government spending wherever we can, as long as it's not defense spending and as long as you don't increase taxes, and on the other end, you have a group of people who think the only way to fix unemployment is to tax rich people, as long as those rich people aren't politicians or union bosses. Depending on your affiliation, you think one side is buckling too much while trying desperately to stand up for its principles while the other side is full of intransigent idealogues who can't see reality through their biased lens of extreme political beliefs. I know some people hate it when I argue that both sides are to blame, but if you can't see that fact, you are blind.

Our government is gridlocked and bickering about things that are ultimately meaningless, all while our economy bounces along the bottom and our national debt rockets well beyond the record for the most money any entity has ever owed in the history of forever. Democrats want to tax "millionaires and billionaires," which would give the government a couple billion over a decade (assuming Laffer is wrong), and Republicans want to do away with the Department of Energy, which would save a couple billion over a decade, but a couple billion dollars is how much the government spends in a few hours, so saving it in the span of a decade is completely pointless.

The U.S. government spends a trillion dollars in the span of time it takes to debate how to cut a million. And yet our representatives duke it out like it's the most important issue of all time, spinning their view of reality so that it seems that a solution can only be achieved when the other side does absolutely everything they want. This isn't rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic; this is debating whether or not to polish the tweezers you might use to pick a few errant hairs off of the brush you might use to dust off one of the deck chairs on the Titanic. Meanwhile, you have the president arguing that the only thing standing in the way of progress is Congress' unwillingness to compromise, but he'll be sure to veto anything that doesn't do exactly what he wants. Is it any wonder we're pissed off at the people in charge?

Nintendo's Still Got It

Zelda tattoos
This means you don't have to sand off those tattoos just yet

I've given the Big N a lot of crap in recent years, but there's really only one more thing that needs to be said about the Wii: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Man, this game rocks my world.

Of course, in my full review, I talk about how the game is reminiscent of an older style of gaming and not really a leap into the next generation, but it still proves that Nintendo hasn't completely lost touch with the gamers out there. People might treat the Wii like it's a kid's toy, but games like Skyward Sword prove that, beneath the family-friendly veneer, Nintendo is still better at designing good games than just about any other company out there.

Promises and expectations for their next console, the Wii-U, are high despite the awful name, and my inner fanboy is really hoping that Nintendo is able to deliver. Even more than that, though, here's hoping gamers haven't completely forsaken the Big N and will give the Wii-U a fair hearing.

I'm Publishable

DMD #6 cover
A young woman with a giant clock for an eye eating a bleeding apple while her brain spills out of her forehead? Yeah, my work belongs there.

What's the best Christmas present you ever received? I only got a handful of presents this year--probably fewer than ever before--but one of them is definitely in the running for best ever. I'm talking, of course, about the fact that I'M GETTING PUBLISHED! Testify! Ahem.

I got word just a few days ago, on Christmas Eve, that my story will be appearing in the January 2012 issue of Dark Moon Digest, available now through As most of you know, I've been trying to get published for over a decade now, with no success. My strategy has largely been to send queries for my novels to agents and hope for the best, but this hasn't exactly worked. This year, I tried a new approach by entering some of my short fiction in various contests, including the Sci-Fi Horror Contest over at DMD (yeah, we're close now, so I can call it that). I'm not allowed to say whether or not I won, as the winners haven't been announced yet (and, to be honest, I don't know), but I do know that my story will be appearing as one of the finalists, which is awesome enough.

This is an important feather in my cap, and in theory, it will help me in my ultimate goal of getting a novel published (legitimately, thank you very much, not self-published or published though exclusively digital means--so please stop sending me the well-intentioned links to self-published success stories). Forgive the indulgent victory lap, but after beating my head against the wall for so long, it feels good to finally break through, even if it's just a little bit. What I have to do is slam on the accelerator now that my foot is in the door (and my metaphors are thoroughly mixed). Hopefully, this is the first step in a long journey.

Page     1     2     3

-e. magill 12/27/2011

  • The 3 Biggest Misconceptions about Autism
  • 12 Things I Learned in 2012
  • 10 Things I Learned in 2010