Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sun Dogs and Exoplanets, Oh My!

Apparently, we ended 2016 and started 2017 with solar flares and winds to boot. I didn't really notice until the appearance of twin sun dogs in the middle of a brightly lit January afternoon.

February is not short on interesting phenomena either. The detection of seven earth-size planets around a sun (Trappist-1) the size of Jupiter in a not-so-distant galaxy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Still Here

It's hard to believe that two years have passed in the blink of an eye. Am even imagining that I've deleted some entries in between then and now, but alas, probably not. My attentions have been on other things--off-line but very on-line in my life--which will be revealed in time.
The question at hand is what to do with a blog, especially when you don't know who's going to read it. It's a kind of sharing with the unknown. A dare to write for something other than one's known audience, be that your cat, your mother, or the red cardinal in the garden. Maybe this is just a virtual scratchpad, which at some point, scribbles something of interest to unseen friends. Am good with that, actually.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog

Greetings, fellow writers. Here's some news about periodic contests sponsored by the Guide to Literary Agents (Writer's Digest). This month's (April 2014) is geared toward young adult  (YA) fiction.
1)     E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments. The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, completed book-length work of young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.
2)     Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media. Please provide a social-media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your official e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tiny URL for this link/contest for you to easily use is An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino at the end of your mention(s) if using Twitter. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks. (Please note that simply tweeting me does not count. You have to have the contest URL with your mention; that’s the point.)

I told my writers group in Knoxville about it a few weeks ago, too.

It's good exercise and like putting your writing through a meat grinder. Exercise those editing muscles any way you can.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Realized it's been a while, so let's get cracking! Every day is so rich, it's hard to decide what to write about. Life can be so full! Who knew? Why does it feel almost over the top, like something is gifting me with an extra living experience?

And don't you love the LET IT GO phenomenon!

Now, there's a message. Let go of what you don't need, to make room for what you do need to come inside!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1886–1918

Something to contemplate.  Hopefully, more to come! 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Feathers Up & American in Paris

#1 Fauna and Humans

An MIT study found that two viruses--H5N1 and H7N9, resident in birds and pigs--are one amino acid away from causing a pandemic flu in humans, when spread thru touch or airborne contact.

Turns out, these flu viruses stem from the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed roughly 50 million people, and are considered descendant strains.

So, can viruses spread from humans back to animals? Think about that the next time you smother your cat.

#2 American in Paris
One year ago, tennis media reported there were few American women on the professional horizon after Serena and Venus Williams. This year, we saw four (4) American women in Round 4 at the French Open (Roland Garros, June 2013).

We also saw Serena Williams (now 31) come back and win the championship 11 years after
winning it for the first time (2002).

Interestingly, the commentator noted how appropriate it felt to hear the American national anthem played at the award ceremony. Probably thinking of that June 1945 award ceremony with General DeGaulle awarding General Eisenhower the Croix de la Liberation at the Arc de Triumph, at the end of the war.

Exercises in reality

4/12/13 (to edit)
I am writing this the afternoon after participating in an anthrax exercise at Bradley High School (Cleveland, Tennessee), in which ~1400 students bravely participated along with roughly 200 employees and volunteers from various TN-state agencies, but mostly medical allied fields (RNs, nurse practitioners, nurse assistants, a couple of physicians, a couple of lay people like myself). I am saying the students are brave because of what imploded in me after the experience.

Of course, the atmosphere of role play lightened the atmosphere for me upon arrival at the 7:30 a.m. morning sign-in. But as the experience intensified--the preparation of teams, the set-up of the cafeteria, dispensing the supplies to  exercise participants, the arrival of the students--so did the feeling of "this is for when it's real." Soon after, they dialed up the speed at which things were happening (closer to how it could be real time), that made the next one hour and twenty minutes go by with adrenaline.

It wasn't until well afterward, that I noticed and understood why they call the post-exercise a "hotwash." We were decompressing back in the auditorium, everyone seemed pleasant enough, hearing the team lead observations and praise. But it wasn't until my own drive home that my emotions began to "wash out." I realized, I too, needed to release heat. The memory of those young faces, some who were genuinely panicked at the point (probably because they are closer to that age that hasn't yet developed a psyche to handle "situations"), especially when we had to stick our hand up in the air and say "please wait a minute," while we called in a medical expert to sort out what medications we could give someone who is allergic to the medications (provide names later), was vivid.

Suddenly, the young 14-year-old girl who was representing 42-year-old Adam with a family of 4 and wants to be sure he's getting the right medications for all of them, but can't remember who's allergic and who isn't, became that person. And I began to panic for them, in my car, as it occurred to me what they were dealing with on the other side of the table. I tried to remember if  I looked assuredly back at them, or remained that heady individual on the other side of the table, trying to figure out what to stock the bag with and write on the paper.



No even chain
but an association,

A growth,
creates culture.

The people bound
within bear the

Deepest inward destiny,
suffused mythology,

Religion and
artistic thought.

Essence and kernel
of all history,

The look and space of time.

--JE Carroll Thomsen

Friday, April 19, 2013


And then I had again that room,
The sensation I had gone back
Fifteen years and was alone again.

That feeling I had had in childhood

Of being unique and strange
And alone came stark and sweet.

The honey mood of relaxation

And a strain of old music,
Familiar, limpid music.

JEC Thomsen (circa 1962)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Writing Powers Process, Not Just Product

Author George Saunders (Saun) described one of the lesser-known sides of the writing process in his interview with George Stephanopoulos (Step) on ABC’s Sunday talk show, This Week, in February 2013. Here are some excerpts from an incomplete transcript that capture the bits relevant to anyone interested in the writing process.
Step:…Funny, dark, realistic at the same time…You seem to tap into this economic anxiety that so many Americans are feeling right now.

Saun: It seems that’s the big American subject....
Step: One of thing you write about is the absence of wealth creates an erosion of grace.

Saun: …Fiction isn’t actually a great propaganda tool. Often the first impulse of a writer is to pull up the big manure truck of his ideas and his politics and “stand there reader and dump it,” but I find if you just concentrate on language and on making lively new situations [possibly incorrectly heard?], then ideas come out of the woods.
Step: …If you set out to write overtly political fiction, it won’t work.

Saun: That’s right. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. There’s something about the intimacy of exchange demands openness on both sides. And on the writer's part it means, I don’t know. I might think I know, but I don’t. know. It’s weird because the way to get to those ideas is through the language, paying close attention to phrases and sentences, and if you do that in a kind of an open state, not only will the ideas show up, but they will be the highest form of your ideas. They won’t be propagandistic; they won’t be superficial. They’ll be sort of deep and ambiguous.
Step: It also seems that you’re trying to create space in those sentences for heart. That’s another way to reach across that divide.

Saun: That’s right. A Longfellow quote I’m probably mangling: If we could look into the secret history of our enemies, we’d find sufficient suffering and sorrow to disarm our hostility. I think fiction is almost a mechanical way to work through your own shallowness. You start out with a condescending relationship to your character, almost by definition, and as you work with the sentences, you find that the bad sentences are equal to over simplicity or condescension. And as you work with language, you move yourself toward complexity and often to a state of confusion, where you really don’t quite know what you think about the person.

Step: You may not, but when you send it out into the world, what do you hope to get back?
Saun: I think the highest version is you’re sending out a bundle of energy—concentrated energy that you’ve made with your own sweat and your heart—and it goes out and jangles somebody. That’s the highest form. Now, there’s another level where you do hope to make people more alive in the world, maybe more aware of the fact that we have more in common with others than we think we do, that’s kind of whole [?]; but even that gets a little bit intentional. So for me it’s just trying to deliver an energy charge in a certain way.

Step: You did it for me and you did it for so many more. Go to for an excerpt.
From George Saunders interview with George Stephanopoulos on This Week:, Sun 2/16/13, regarding Tenth of December (short-story fiction), new book

Have a look at the New York Times review Stephanopoulos refers to in the interview, George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year, by Joel Lovell, January 3, 2013 , which nominates Saunders as a “writer for our time.” This catch-phrase (or trope) seems to have irked other writers (just Google and see what I mean), mostly because Saunder’s achievements remain with the short-story form and not novels. But honestly, to go from being a technical writer to a great writer is clearly an achievement.