Coffee Thoughts: February 2020

Hello out there, and welcome to the second monthly edition of Coffee Thoughts! As stated on the last time around, this space will cover some short form notes, observations, and (if we’re lucky) “insights” about the past few weeks, shared over a cup of coffee.

Happy Tu BiShvat!

To start this off, let me wish a happy Tu BiShvat to any fellow Jewish readers out there!

And for all you non-Jewish readers, a quick little explanation: Tu BiShvat is the Jewish new year for trees, celebrated annually on the 15th of Shevat. Now, here in climates like New Hampshire (rather than Israel), it can seem a bit odd to celebrate trees in the midst of snowstorms. That said, I think it could be argued that there’s no time that trees seem more admirable — and just outright impressive — than in the thick of winter, when these ancient giants are standing their ground in the snow, hunkering down as they await the blooming flowers of spring.

Anyhow, if there was ever a time in history where humans really need to value trees, the planet, and the environment in general, it’s now. In light of those fires in the Amazon and Australia, to say nothing of the fact that Antarctica just hit 65 degrees the other day — the cold continent’s warmest recorded temp in history — environmental action needs to happen sooner, not later, for the sake of every form of life on Earth.

February Thoughts

February is a short month, but it’s an important one, which is used to draw attention to several significant causes. One of these is American Heart Month, honored since 1963. As I wrote for Join Us For Good, one in four U.S. deaths continues to be caused by heart disease, and the situation is even deadlier for women. One of the major factors in this, as often noted by famed cardiologist Dr. Paula Johnson, is that the “textbook” heart attack symptoms tend to be experienced by men, whereas women often display entirely different symptoms: as a result, the scary truth is that one in three American women die of heart disease. Bringing more awareness to this disparity, often dubbed the “heart attack gender gap,” should be an important goal for every February.

February is also, of course, Black History Month. This tradition, first started as a week-long celebration of Black American history, achievements, and pride, by the noted historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1915, has become a hallmark of every February.

In honor of Black History Month, here are some notable quotes from Malcolm X, a man who always stood up for his beliefs, empowered others, and become one of the dominant cultural influencers of the 20th century:

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

— Malcolm X

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.”
— Malcolm X

Blood Donations

Finally, to close this out, I think we all know it’s been a crazy cold and flu season. Having a newborn is especially hard in winter, since the little one picks up every cold that brushes by.

That said, when the American Red Cross asks over and over again for blood donations, they’re doing it for a good reason. I’ve been giving blood since I was 16, and if there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over again, it’s that winter is the time that such donations matter most. It’s also the season where they have the hardest time roping people in.

Carve some space out of a day. You’ll save lives, feel good, and give another family a happy February.

Cheers, folks. Talk to you again soon!

“Good Morning,” says the Dinosaur on the Writing Desk

Here’s to words. Many, many words. Good morning to all of you starting out this Monday at your own desks, and for all you other writers out there — happy writing!

Coffee Thoughts: January 2020

Happy 2020, everybody.

So, I’m going to try something different here.  I love connecting with you guys on here, and browsing through posts and comments as I enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Now, sometimes, I have bite-sized “coffee thoughts.” You know, those thoughts that aren’t quite big enough for a full blog, but longer than oh, say, a tweet? Right. Based on said coffee thoughts, meet the first edition of Coffee Thoughts, where I’ve pulled together little notes from the past month into one blog. Dig the format? Let me know!

Happy New Year

… and happy new decade, on top of it? Talk about a crazy ride. At the beginning of the 2010s, I was a kid traveling across the country by myself, dreaming of someday being a writer. In 2020, I’ve become a full-time writer, published multiple books, grown into a husband and then a father, and changed in more ways than I can count. This has been one hell of a decade, and I want to offer a huge thanks to all of you, particularly the ones who have been along for the ride since 2013 (!), when I first started this blog. You guys are awesome, and thank you for that.

This’ll be a big year, ahead. As I said before, I have a new novel waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to spill the details. Soon.

The world of entertainment keeps on keepin’ on

This is really more a December note, but still. If you haven’t yet seen Watchmen on HBO, stream it. Yes, even if you haven’t read the graphic novel. Yes, even if superheroes aren’t your thing. It takes a few episodes to really get rolling, but once it does, Watchmen proves itself to be the best TV series of 2019, and arguably, one of the most important of the decade.

In other movie and TV news: okay, so The Mandalorian is actually a lot of fun. And yes, yes, Baby Yoda (ahem, “the Child”) is just as adorable as the memes. Haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie yet, so I can’t comment on it. Also, I’m enjoying those Sinister Six hints in that Morbius trailer, though hoping the movie itself has a more interesting story than the trailer implies.

The Marshall Islands

Ever hear about the Marshall Islands? This is an issue that needs to get more attention.

As I wrote about on Grunge, this chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific had 67 nuclear bombs dropped on them, via the United States, from 1946 to 1958, causing widespread cancer and birth defects. That’s horrifying enough, but now, a nuclear disaster is in the making: the so-called Runit Dome, which is the concrete structure that the U.S. dumped all of their radioactive waste into, is predicted to crack sometime in the next century. The cause? You guessed it: climate change. This whole situation is obviously the fault of the U.S. government, but evidently, the world’s richest country is currently ignoring the pleas of the Marshall Islands, and claiming that the Marshallese have to deal with it themselves.

Horrifying? Yes. Unacceptable? Absolutely. While the L.A. Times did write about this back in November, this whole situation needs more airtime.

The News Cycle is a Dumpster Fire

And thus, the Trump impeachment has begun. About time? For sure, but still, it’s strange to watch it finally play out. I mean, obviously, the Trumpster is corrupt to the point of seeming cartoonish: after all, this is a guy who quite literally had to pay $2 million in damages last month because he was stealing money from his own charity to do things like buy paintings of himself. Is this real life? Unfortunately, yes, and the fact that the above story barely stirred the news cycle shows just how ludicrous this whole thing has gotten. However, the current GOP establishment is still pledging loyalty to their emperor, so a disappointing conclusion to the impeachment seems like a foregone conclusion. That said, Trump is a criminal, so putting him on trial (at the very least) seems necessary, regardless of how this all ends.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that Trumpism is just one particularly vile symptom of the U.S.’s bleeding wounds, not the original cause of them. These issues go back decades. Trump just exploited them. And honestly, even if he were removed, you have that bigoted fanatic Mike Pence sitting behind him. You know who Pence is? Oh yeah, that’s right, just the living embodiment of Reverend William Stryker, that nutcase from X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, with all the zealotry and self-righteous hypocrisy to match. Hey, seriously, I’m not the first one to notice this:

Image result for stryker mike pence"

 

Dog Stuff

Okay, enough news. Something happier. Here is Nova, my noble friend, showing off her favorite Nicholas Conley novel. Or maybe she’s just trying to figure out if there’s a doggy treat hidden inside?

Nova-Intraterrestrial

Family, fatherhood, and all that good stuff

On a final note: in my last post, I shared the news about our impending baby. Now that she’s here, though, I could’ve never predicted how much my life would instantly change. That’s a cliche statement, for sure, but it’s a true one. Being a parent is already the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Truly. Just watching her experience everything for the first time, to feel the love as I hold her, to look into those little dark eyes that are so full of curiosity and wonder … and on top of that, to have the opportunity to share this experience with my wife, the person who amazes me more than anyone else in the world, has already made 2020 my favorite year to date. And it’s only been a little over three weeks!

Until next time, folks. Enjoy the rest of your morning coffee, and I’ll do the same.

Coffee woodstove fire

New Journey(s) Ahead!

Hey, everybody.

First of all, sorry about my recent absence from the blogging world. Don’t worry, I have a good reason. Well … three reasons, to be precise.

First up? I moved. We’re still in glorious New Hampshire, but we’ve made the jump from suburban living to the rural woods, and are loving every minute of it.

Secondly, the biggest news: we’re having a baby! This little present will be arriving very soon, and I’m more excited than could possibly be put into words (even though, y’know, words are what I do). This is the main reason I haven’t checked in with you guys on here for a while, and from what I hear, I can say goodbye to sleeping at night. Just thinking about it now, the joyous emotions feel so vivid, the happiness so deep, and the surreal nature of knowing that this new person will be joining the world soon is so fascinating to think about.  Anyhow, onward to the future!

Nicholas Conley Red Adept coffee

Now, third: if you’ve been wondering about my next project after Intraterrestrial, wonder no more! I’m thrilled to announce that I have once again contracted with Red Adept Publishing to produce my next novel, a book titled … ah, that’d be telling, right?

Okay, here’s what I will say: this novel is radically different from anything I’ve done before. Yes, it’s science fiction. Yes, as with Intraterrestrial and Pale Highway, the story tackles contemporary real world issues through a speculative lens, but this time, healthcare isn’t the focus. That’s because, as a writer, I feel it’s important to always challenge yourself: to venture into territory that’s wild, scary, and out of your comfort zone. I’ve been working on this book for years, investing perhaps the most I’ve ever invested into any work, and it’s amazing to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But hey, you know. Early days. From contract to print, there are many steps ahead, so don’t expect to see this new book hit shelves until probably sometime in 2020. In the meantime, watch this space for updates!

Grunge: Real Phenomena That People Used to Think Were Fake

Climate change isn’t the only scientific phenomenon that took people a long time to accept the reality of. Would you believe that until the past few centuries, meteorites were considered a fairy tale? Or that one dedicated researcher, upon figuring out that ulcers were caused by bacteria, rather than stress, had to take it upon himself to go all Bruce Banner on it — I.E., testing it upon his own body — to prove his point?

Sometimes, the Nobel prizes only come decades after the controversies. Read on, in my new piece on Grunge, for more scientific realities that people used to be skeptical about!

Real Phenomena That People Used to Think Were Fake

Back in the day, people believed in some funny things. Seriously, go back a few centuries, and you’ll find ordinary folks thinking that every shot of sperm contained a tiny, pre-formed human inside. Not silly enough? How about the popular belief that mice “spontaneously generated” from mud? Yeah, that didn’t age well.Now, that doesn’t mean these folks were stupid. Honestly, give it a few decades, and everybody today will look stupid, too. Perhaps the craziest thing, though, are those moments in history where some crazed genius pops up out of nowhere, points to a scientific truth … and the establishment shreds them to pieces. Remember what happened to Galileo when he was audacious enough to point out that the Earth rotated around the sun? Not pretty. Heliocentrism has hardly been the only scientific reality that got mocked in its time, sadly, and the world is full of all-too-real phenomena that people used to think were fake.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/162519/real-phenomena-that-people-used-to-think-were-fake/?utm_campaign=clip

Grunge: The untold truth of Area 51

When aliens come to Earth, they get studied at Area 51 … or, at least, that’s what some people will tell you. Is is true? Well, there’s no question that this creepy government facility in the middle of the Nevada desert, officially called Groom Lake, has kept many secrets locked up in its vaults. So far, though, there’s been no proof that a bunch of little green extraterrestrials are one of them.

That hasn’t stopped people from speculating about — or threatening to “naruto run” into — the guarded facility, and considering that it took over a half-century for the U.S. government to even admit that Area 51 existed, you can’t blame folks for not trusting the official story. What can be confirmed about Area 51, for sure, is that it’s a place of high-tech military tests and shady cover-ups, the likes of which you would normally only find in an episode of Stranger Things. Here’s what we know about Area 51.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/44833/untold-truth-area-51/?utm_campaign=clip

QUORA: “If aliens arrived n Earth, what human behavior would they find most absurd and incomprehensible?”

If aliens arrived on Earth, what human behavior would they find most absurd and incomprehensible?

Nicholas Conley’s answer: Really, when you think about it, the chances are that they’d find every single one of our behaviors, traditions, language, attitudes, and beliefs to be totally bizarre. It’d be comparable to us analyzing the “social” dynamics of blackberry bushes, as if we’re some pinnacle of life, instead of… READ MORE.

 

Facts about the human brain everyone gets wrong

Facts about the human brain everyone gets wrong

Strange as it is to think about, the most important part of your identity is the squishy ball of grey matter squeezed into your skull. Everything you understand about the universe around you, from the color of the sky to the smell of the sunflowers to that wonky Plato paper you wrote in college, can all be credited to your favorite little cognitive organ. When it comes down to it, you are your brain.

Just because you understand everything using your brain, though, doesn’t mean you understand anything about it. Despite the fact that humans spend every waking moment firing up their little think-nuggets, there are a lot of misconceptions about how the brain works, to the point where outright falsehoods are spouted as facts nearly every day. Don’t be one of those people. Whether you want to use your left brain or your right brain or just go all in, it’s time to expand your mind with the truth…READ MORE.

Syrian Refugee Camps Battered by Flooding

Syrian Refugee Camps Battered by Flooding

Originally posted by Nicholas Conley on Inquisitr.com

Over 40,000 displaced persons, across 14 refugee camps, were battered by the recent flooding in northern Syria’s Idlib province, resulting in destroyed shelters, lost possessions, and at least two deaths, reports The National.

The thousands of refugees living in these camps, having already survived mortar attacks, bombings, and other violence, have been unable to return home due to the continuing war. This past weekend, the region was pummelled by heavy rains. Knee-high mud water flooded into the camps, and tents were severely damaged… READ MORE.