Category Archives: the mindlab

Green Bird

It’s May, and time has gotten ahead of me. I’ve been doing stuff, mostly tinkering with a written story, and also planning to shoot a short film this summer. We will see how that goes.

Here is something I recorded yesterday. There is a melody I guess, though I programed it very haphazardly. The piece is more noise textures. I feel like a lot of the things I’ve recorded lately are unintentional (I say unintentional because I’m not that good to actually intentionally do this) attempts to recapture my early experiences playing Metroid on the NES.


Five years ago – give or take – I had some changes in my life, amongst them one was drifting into a career that was far more stable and rewarding than a lot of other things I’d done previously. With these changes (the career was not the only one), a lot of my creative endeavors took the back seat as I focused on my profession and new life. I did make a short film during this time of which I am extremely proud. Currently, I’m submitting it to fests. In a year or so, I’ll post it here and elsewhere. The film was a proper film in the sense that it involved a lot of people, time, resources, and effort. Films like this can also be draining, because they take so long to make. I guess I should also mention that there was 2020-21, a pandemic, and a world of bad shit. I used to joke that the worst year(s) of my life was when I was in middle school, ages 13-14. I won’t anymore. It was 2020-21.

Recently though, I’ve found myself making again, but a lot less directed than previously. Over the past summer I’d toyed with the idea of making another website for this stuff to live on, but I’m not sure that’s the right move for now. Perhaps later down the road. There’s also the time and energy that it takes to make a site. Then it hit me like an epiphany, why not just start posting again to Protozoic?

I have Tim to thank for this. In December, he posted about The Wheel of Time novels. The post had depth, had reflection, was bloggy, and was an end unto itself. It was inspiring. Following Tim’s lead, I thought I’d try to do one to two creative posts a month for 2022.

I had another goal to write for 5-7 hours a week, creatively. I’ve already hit this goal for the first week of January, and I intend to keep it up. I figure some of that will wind up here, in various forms. The posts I anticipate doing here will relate to music and sound, animation, short stories, and exploring the screenplay form in a more experimental manner. The first of my posts for January is up, which is a video of a fish tank I inherited, and then some electronic sounds. Next week, I’m hoping to have a short story posted, which is loosely inspired by a conversation I had with the D&D crew. My hope is that the posts will vary in that way, sometimes writing, sometimes video, sometimes sound – sometimes a little bit of everything.

If at the end of 2022 I hit the above goal, and/or come close, I’ll do a follow-up to this one. Till then, I hope you have a good year.

The Wheel of Time

Roughly 30 years ago, at the age of 11 or 121, I was in the library looking for books in the fantasy/sci-fi paperback section and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan caught my eye. I think the only reason I checked it out was because it was massive.2

Over the next decade, I continued to read the series, never quite knowing how long it was going to be or when it would be finished. In the early years, the books came out quite quickly, and I’d just read the new book. As time progressed, the cadence slowed to every other year, and I’d start to forget details in the preceding novels. I’m sure all the distractions and changes associated with highschool and college didn’t help. As a result, I would periodically have to start over from the beginning. I’ve probably read the first novel 5 or 6 times by now.

Sometime in graduate school, I decided to shelve the series and reread it from start to finish when it was all over. I’m not sure how far I actually read; I own the 10th and 11th books, but do not recall reading them. My copy of the 10th book doesn’t even have a cracked binding.3 Around this time, Jordan became terminally ill and passed away before finishing the “final” novel. Another author was chosen to work from Jordan’s notes and finish the series, though it was understandably delayed for a few years.

It must have registered at some level that it was finally completed in 2013, but, I guess time got away from me. A lot has gone in the last 8 years, and I never got around to picking up the series again. Recently, I decided to finally read the whole thing from start to finish. Approximately 270 hrs of reading later, I am now done.

Ravens chapter header image from the book

It’s a bit strange to finally be done with it. I have been reading this series more or less since I was 11–I’ve been carrying it with me most of my life. It’s always been there as this thing I’m reading, either actively or passively. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading of it straight through. I loved the series when I was younger, and for the most part, it holds up. It will always hold a special and unique place for me, due to how it bridged so many different parts of my life. I’ll never be able to start another series at the age of 12, only to finish 30 years later…

Now, I’m not saying the books are all amazing or everything in them is perfect. In one of the volumes around the fifth,4 some of the characters, descriptions, and phrasing get a little monotonous. The story remains good though, and things smooth out in the next book or two. They can also be a bit verbose in certain places as well–who would expect that in a series that spans 14 novels?

On the other hand, the first few books are really good. I remember Mike taking the first novel on a trip to England one summer and loving it so much that he had to purchase the second volume overseas to continue reading. He was too impatient to wait the two weeks to come back home and read the copy we had there. This is the same person who leaves bookmarks in unfinished books like a squirrel burying acorns before winter.

Another quality of the series that was mostly lost on me is Jordan’s weaving of many bits of myths and legends into the world and storyline. One very obvious allusion is Callandor (the Sword That Is Not a Sword), which happens to reside in a fortress called… the Stone.

Callandor resides within the Stone of Tear at its heart, just as the sword which Arthur first draws resides within the heart of a stone, and just as Excalibur resides within a lake which surrounds the heartstone of Avalon. Excalibur was returned to the lake after the battle of Camlann, and Callandor is apparently left behind in the Pit of Doom (formerly a lake of lava) after the Bore is sealed.

The Thirteenth Depository

Details like this make for a very rich reading outside of the face value entertainment value. It goes much deeper than a simple retelling of Arthurian legend. Much, much deeper.

It is kind of amazing that the story is captivating or coherent at all. After all, this work spans almost 12,000 pages and over 4.4 million words. Is it a bit derivative of Tolkien? Sure. Is everything perfect in it? No. But it is still very enjoyable, and I’m glad to have finally finished it.

Wheel and Great Serpent  chapter header image from the book

  1. I can’t remember if this was 1990 or a year or two later, so I was probably about 12 at the time. The book was definitely the mass market paper back version, which came out at the end of 1990. If I recall correctly, our library didn’t keep paperbacks like this on the little carousel racks forever, so it was probably early 1991. 

  2. About 800 pages. 

  3. On the other hand, my copy of The Eye of the World is absolutely tattered. 

  4. It was one of the books between #4 and #6. Also, Jordan goes a little heavy on “bosoms” and the phrase “plumply pretty”. 

Chicken/Broth & Iced Tea

These are two simple recipes that I’ve found myself repeating over and over and will continue for the rest of my life.

Chicken & Broth

My whole chicken recipe is largely from America’s Test Kitchen mammoth cookbook. I’ve done a number of their whole chicken recipes. While I enjoy many of them, on the flipside, too many are too involved and can’t be done on any given night. I like this recipe the best because it is so simple. I’ve just provided a basic method for preparation, but your bird could be seasoned anyway you prefer. In my case, the best part is that I now have chicken for the rest of the week, and it feels a lot healthier than that rotisserie stuff you get at the grocery store.

The second part to this recipe is the broth, which I begin making directly after dinner. Being aware that making broth is one of the easiest things in the world to do, I’d realized I’d never actually done it. Once I did, I was a convert. If I am a case study, it is never too late to start. There’s a lot of leeway too in how you make the broth, so experiment with ingredients. The ingredients I’ve listed are for an all-purpose one.

  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Rub olive oil on the entire chicken; then season with salt (coarse Kosher salt if you have it) and ground pepper. Tie the chicken legs together with cooking string, put the wings behind the back, and place in a cast iron pan1.
  3. Once the oven is heated, cook the chicken for 25-35 minutes, and until the thickest part of the breast registers 120 and the thighs 135.
  4. Turn the oven off, let the chicken sit in the oven for another 25-35 minutes, and until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 and the thighs 175.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it rest on a cutting board for another 20 minutes.
  6. Carve the chicken.
  7. Put the carcass in a crockpot.
  8. Add one halved and peeled onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 5 or so sprigs of flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and enough water to cover the chicken (about 10 cups).
  9. Cook on low over night.
  10. Put a cheese cloth over a large mixing bowl and secure it with a rubber band; strain the broth.
  11. Pour yourself a tasty cup and freeze the rest.

Iced Tea

I’m not even going to say this is a recipe, it’s a no brainer. Again, it’s never too late to start! I love cold unsweetened tea, and it so wonderful to have a couple sips in the morning before breakfast, or a glass in the afternoon.

  1. Get a sixteen ounce container.
  2. Put in two teabags. (I like PG Tips.)
  3. Fill the container with water, and let it steep for 24 hours.
  4. Add lemon and/or sweetener if you prefer; I just like mine unsweetened with no frills.
  5. Never buy store bought iced tea again.

  1. Use only a cast iron pan because it will retain heat and continue to cook the chicken once the oven is off.