A few weeks back C.C. Finlay, who guest edited a volume of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction did a really nice interview with me–which I promptly neglected to tell any of you about. My bad!
At any rate, the interview is largely about “The Traveling Salesman Solution”–which is my story in the issue Finlay edited (still available at your local bookseller, online, and through Amazon–who offer a FREE trial subscription!) It was a nice chat and helped me realize that, among other things, the story is sort of a weird sublimated love-letter to mathematicians:
– There is a lot of math in this story.
I was a crappy math student, but I never had a math teacher I didn’t like. Mathematicians are a sorely underserved community.
For real, mathematicians are almost invariably very rad people. That I’m *terrible* at getting my head around their life’s work is an indictment of me, not them.
At any rate, you can read the rest (it’s brief!) here: Interview: David Erik Nelson on “The Traveling Salesman Solution” : The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (I give a layman’s rundown on the Traveling Salesman Problem, talk about military service and the “handicapped,” tell a seemingly random anecdote about Whole Foods–it’s *just like* hanging out with me in person, except there is no risk of me sticking you with the tab.)
If you like what you see but fear commitment, you can get a free copy of my award-winning time portal story “The New Guys Always Work Overtime,” and get a sense of whether or not I’m the sorta dude you might wanna hang out with for 12,000 words.
At the tail end of the summer I connected with Robo Robb via Maker Faire Detroit. He subsequently interviewed me for WXOU, which is 88.3FM in Auburn Hills, MI. I’d thought we were going to talk mostly about maker/DIY stuff, but it ended up being a really fun, wide ranging chat. Robo Robb is a really excellent, laid-back interviewer–which, compounded with my sprung sleep schedule (travel, new baby, etc.) meant that, about four minutes into the interview, I totally forgot that we were recording. When he grabbed his digital recorder off the table as we were leaving–the coffee shop had shut down and wanted to haul their tables in–I suddenly realized I had *no idea* what I’d said. So, everything at this link is gonna be news to both of us.
DISCLOSURE: This tape is long–more than an hour, as I recall–and I have a terrible, nasal Jewish Kermit the Frog voice and creaky geek laugh. It’s downright *punishing* to listen to me go on about this stuff. Also, I go pretty far afield on education policy and race in America and clockwork robot war crimes–the whole thing is a hot mess. But Robo Robb is an excellent interlocutor and solid dude. If you ever get a chance to talk with him, *jump at it!*
Interview with David Erik Nelson – Robo Robb
CraftFoxes–a very cool new crafting/DIY community–posted a really long interview with me, and was really nice about my rambling, evasive answers. Check it out:
What is your craft medium of choice, and why do you like it so much?
This shifts around. When I was little, I loved LEGO, Capsela and cardboard boxes. In high school, I loved weaving and ceramics, then briefly delved into figure drawing. In college I was really into ironic, swear-leaden cross-stitch, which I’d actually learned from my mom in elementary school (not the swearing, just cross-stitch itself). After that I went through a sock-animal phase and a more general sewing phase. An abortive attempt at crochet came next, followed, almost a decade later, by a successful crochet phase. I also learned to knit once, despite having no interest, because my wife wanted to learn and couldn’t decode the damn instructions in any of the books (which, I agree, are bizarrely algorithmic and technical; it’s like trying to figure out integral calculus using a textbook written in Middle English. Any time I hear some blowhard characterizing women as being “naturally” poor at math and physics, I think of how damn complicated those knitting books are, and how few male engineers I know can figure them out).
180 words, and not a one of them *actually answering the question*! The whole thing is like that, and runs upwards of 1700 words (and I skipped some questions). There’s even a picture of a very young me with a tame raccoon. If anything is indicative of what it’s like to hang out with me, this is. You’ve been warned.
Also, from now until Monday, Feb 27 CraftFoxes is giving away a copy of my book; click on over and enter to win.
My last two guest blog posts are up at Man Made DIY; the first is on making your own boomerangs from scarps of cardboard (if you’re looking at this blog, you’ve probably already got the skinny on that). The other post is entirely new and starts to get at what I really like about teaching and DIY.
The Spirituality of Boomerangs: On Making Something from Nothing… — Man Made DIY | Crafts for Men — Keywords: talk, diy, craft, philosophy
In a nutshell, the cheap toy-store boomerang encompasses the core sadness of “growing up,” and highlights what we envy in the “childlike wonder” of children: As we mature, we begin to reflexively doubt that neat things are real, or really as neat as they seem, and start to assume that most of the time most things just aren’t going to work as advertised. This is our default setting as Americans: Don’t believe the hype. So, if you take a room full of people who are savvy and jaded and know enough not to believe the hype, then give them a ruler and a marker and a pair of scissors and show them how to quickly make a working boomerang out of something they were going to cram in the recycle bin, they become luminous; they’ve just made something awesome out of trash, and it clearly dawns on them that there are a whole lot of other things they could make, too. They could remake the world.
Check ’em out. Thanks!
I’m still guest blogging at Man Made DIY this week; please feel free to check my latest post out and, if you feel so moved, chime in. Thanks!
Crafting Liberation: Confessions of an Unredeemable Direction-Follower — Man Made DIY | Crafts for Men — Keywords: recipe, talk, cooking, craft
I’m an unredeemable direction-follower. As a boy, I’d account for the meniscus when measuring water to make Ramen noodles. As a man, I was relentlessly mocked by my wife for my stove-side devotion to the succinct instructions of Mark Bittman . . . . This, obviously, is the pathology of a man terrified of failure–that I ever wrote anything at all, let alone an entire damn book (let alone several!) is itself a crippled miracle. While DIY is obviously empowering–My stove was broken, now it’s fixed; I did that!–having instructions in hand can really quickly shackle us, as it’s so easy to mistake a good way of doing X for the only way to do X. . . .