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!

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.

Interview with Author Nicholas Conley Part 2

Book to the Future

Part one of the interview can be found here as well as links to Nic’s blog.  A big thank you is also due for the time he took to answer my questions.

Can you explain a bit about your approach to novel-writing?

It’s a bit mysterious, even to me. I’d say that it begins with an idea… a scene, a character, a philosophical concept I want to explore, a weird scientific theory, et cetera. From this idea, I take notes. As time goes on, I continue compiling notes, character ideas, concepts, and so on. In this “genesis” stage of the process, I’m basically putting together every idea that hits me, sometimes for years at a time: since I have so many different potential novels in my head, it’s not always clear where an idea will properly fit, so I make sure to document everything that occurs to me. At…

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Interview with Author Nicholas Conley

Part one of my interview with Book to the Future! Big thanks to Ste J for putting this together.

Book to the Future

Having been a long time fan of Mr C. and enjoying his novels, including latest book Intraterrestrial, it was high time I poked the toe back into the interviewing game. Sadly not with an interestingly flavoured beverage at an obscure coffeehouse as always imagined but through the medium of email.

Your latest book Intraterrestrial came out recently, (and very enjoyable it is) how has the reception been so far?

Thanks for the compliments! The reception so far has been enthusiastic, which is amazing to experience. When writing a book, so much time is spent in this solitary space, experiencing a whole world no one else sees, so it’s always surreal when that story is opened up to the world, and other people are talking about it. A great feeling, but a surreal one.

I love the title, how long did that take you to come up with and what working…

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Author Interview with Nicholas Conley

Big thanks to J.L. Gribble for asking such excellent questions, and hosting this interview! Enjoyed getting to dive into the themes, characters, and background of Intraterrestrial.

J.L. Gribble

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing two projects by Nicholas Conley, so I jumped at the chance to pick his brain about his latest novel. Intraterrestrial was a wild ride, and you can find my review of it here.

IntraterrestrialABOUT THE BOOK

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor…

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Intraterrestrial is nominated for #CoverOfTheMonth

Intraterrestrial has rolled right into the first round of AllAuthor’s #CoverOfTheMonth contest for February, where members of the public can vote for their favorite covers for new releases of the past month.

Now, obviously, I love the cover for Intraterrestrial, which was designed by Streetlight Graphics. I’m still amazed by it, and I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like on a paperback. Of course, being the author and all, I might be a bit biased—but seriously, I think the cover really captures the heart of this story.

If you agree, and are interested in helping fly Intraterrestrial into Round #2 of the contest, place your vote at AllAuthor’s online contest. No registration required.

Vote for the cover here!

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

Clay Tongue is up for an award! Also: Intraterrestrial release date confirmed!

So, I have a couple of cool updates to share. First up, Clay Tongue: A Novelette is up for an award!

Clay Tongue fantasy novelette Nicholas Conley

This past weekend, I received notice from Rosie Amber of Rosie’s Book Review Team that her reviewers had nominated Clay Tongue as a finalist for the #RBRT 2016 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Award.  First of all, if any of those reviewers are reading this, I want to offer a huge thank you, and say that I’m honored to receive the nomination; though Clay Tongue is one of my smaller pieces, it’s also a highly personal one that I worked on for years, so it’s touching to know that people connected with Clay Tongue on such a deep level.

Secondly, for those of you who have read Clay Tongue, and who may happen to believe that this little book deserves the award—well, voting is open to the public!  You can place your vote for Clay Tongue at the following link:

The #RBRT Awards: Vote Here!

In the meantime, for those of you who haven’t yet read Clay Tongue: A Novelette, there’s no better time than now, while the holidays are in full swing. Check it out here, on Amazon!

Finally, for those of you who’ve been keeping tabs on Intraterrestrial, my big upcoming novel about aliens, traumatic brain injuries, and the perils of growing up, I’ve got some great news to share: we have a release date! The ebook version of Intraterrestrial will be arriving early next year, on January 16th, 2018. Consider it a New Year’s gift.  Note, the paperback release may have a slightly different release date, so stay tuned. Anyway, that means the new book is about a month away, so buckle your seat belts, and watch this space for lots of teasers, story details, and alien/UFO chitchat over the coming weeks!

alien sky weird ufo nicholas conley intraterrestrial

The ebook version of Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley, will arrive on Earth on January 16, 2018.

Entering the Age of the Aeropress

Okay, sorry guys, but I have to indulge in these total coffee nerd moments every once in a while. Thanks for understanding.

To me, coffee is far more than just a pleasurable drink. It’s an experience. It’s a mood. It’s a feeling that can take you to the greatest depths of creative passion, a force that can pull you through the hardest, most painful times, or a source of stimulation that makes an interesting conversation even better. That’s why Coffee Moments™ are so great.

If you’re not a fan, then I’ve seen that tea is the same way for many people. Either way, I’m all about the hot beverages.

While any coffee lovers knows the importance of poking your head into a third wave coffee shop with some degree of regularity, it’s also important to have some sort of home setup, even if that setup pales in comparison to what the coffee shops offer. For me, I’ve spent the last couple of years preparing most of my morning cups with a V-60 pour over. Pour overs are one of the most convenient coffee preparation methods, and something I’d definitely recommend for most people, both coffee aficionados and newcomers alike.

However, as of last month, a new era in my life has begun: meet the AeroPress.

Aeropress coffee Nicholas Conley

I’m amazed that I went this long without investigating the AeroPress, and now, I’m madly in love with it. It’s fast, thorough, and prepares an absolutely fantastic cup of coffee. What more could a person ask for? There are a couple of different preparation methods, but my preference is for the “inverted” method.

For more information, check out the official AeroPress site. If you’re a coffee fan, you won’t regret it. Trust me. And if you’ve already been using the AeroPress for some time, cheers.

Are you tired of daylight saving time?

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely tired of losing an hour of sleep every spring. Daylight saving time (DST) is the worst. Or maybe you’re a fan, in which case, my apologies.

Since I spent most of my childhood in Arizona, I can honestly state that I had never even heard of daylight saving time until adolescence, when we moved to the East Coast. Imagine, for a second, just how weird it sounded: “We’re setting the clocks back an hour? Why? Wait, is this some sort of prank?” All these years later, I’ve still never come to terms with it.

However, it just so happens that all this clock-switching is actually a lot more detrimental than we realize. It makes us sicker, sleepier, less focused, and does really bizarre things with Amtrak schedules. As regular readers here know, I’ve been writing for Grunge, and I decided to take a dive through time and research the long, sordid history of this biannual tradition. You can read it here: Bizarre Facts You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

intro-1510080159

As for me, now that I’m a New Englander, I’m pretty jazzed about the idea that the New England states might gang up and kick clock switching to the curb, in favor of year-long daylight saving. One thing’s for sure, now that we’ve “fallen back,” these 4pm sunsets are getting real old, real fast.

On the other hand, I’m really fascinated by the argument given by Matthew Yglesias of Vox, who suggests that we should eschew time zones altogether, in favor of a single “Earth Time” for the human race. Vox suggests that we all adopt a single 24-hour clock across the world, and stop the madness of trying to match each other all the time. It’s an interesting notion.

What do you all think?