Sunday, August 29, 2010


With my leave for college impending, I will be discontinuing the regular posting policy and resuming the sort of policy in which I post whenever the inspiration hits me. I want to thank all of my loyal readers this summer for keeping up with the numerous posts and forgiving the multiple late posts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Effective Communication

This question is from the online driver's ed course I'm taking to lower my insurance premium.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Due to a sudden illness I will not be updating three times this week. I will resume next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Two Weeks at Rokenbok Construction

First day on the job here at Rokenbok Construction. Mr. Rokenbok seems nice if a little boring. I got in my dump truck and moved some balls around.

Was instructed to move around some more balls today. It was sort of fun but I got bored fast. After I delivered a few loads of balls today I noticed there were suddenly more balls in the loading zone where I pick them up. I wonder where they come from.

I am finding this whole ball-moving thing very difficult. The controls on the truck are hard to figure out; wish I had received training. Plus I can hold, like, four balls at a time, unless they are the red ones in which case I can hold five. What is the difference between the balls, anyway?

Moved some more balls today.

Today I noticed a lot of red balls and less blue ones. I moved them all around.

Monday! I miss the weekend, when I didn't have to move any balls. Today I moved some balls. We worked pretty late into the day and I noticed none of the lights came on. They didn't have bulbs, they were just plastic.

I spent a few minutes today wandering around the site to watch the whole ball-moving process. THE BALLS DON'T GO ANYWHERE. I literally move them to one truck that picks them up and then dumps them in a machine to drop them back to my loading zone. What is going on here?

Noticed the city was taking bids for the road repaving project, and suggested to Mr. Rokenbok we give them an estimate. He said, "no, we move balls. That's what we do. Get back to moving balls." After that, I moved some balls, mostly blue ones.

Moved more balls today. After the fourth time today that I messed up dumping the balls into the other guy's dump truck he seemed to get frustrated and spent the rest of the day trying to push my truck over. It is good the fork-lift arm is so weak, like it is never used to lift anything but tiny bits of plastic. Weird but lucky.

I talked to Mr. Rokenbok again today, but he just told me to move more balls. When I tried to a few balls fell out of my scooper. Then a giant hand came out of the sky and put them back, as if some cruel god was sick of watching me try to push the balls against a sturdy, flat surface so that I might pick them up. After that I accidentally drove my truck off the ramp. We should make the guard rails out of something other than plastic; that seems dangerous.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Got This One (Two)

An aspiring beekeeper purchased a small hive and began producing his own product, which he stored in his basement. Things went well for a while, and he used his profits to buy more bees. A few months later, though, he had just harvested all of the honey and was having difficulty stacking it all in his basement. He had finally finished placing all the jars on the wall when he stepped back to survey his work. Suddenly, all the shelves collapsed! The glass jars fell and broke, and the bees outside in the yard sensed the delicious goods they had been robbed of. They flew through the cellar windows and stung the beekeeper all over.

Later, the beekeeper was talking about it with his friend. After he heard the whole story, his friend shook his head. "Well, you know what they say," he said.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A History

Below you can find a history of this blog as chronicled from its beginning to early August 2010. Due to the way blogger formats its updates the posts are in reverse order - you have to start with the one at the bottom of the page and then move up. Good luck, and thanks for visiting Mostly Harmless!

A Historical Conclusion

January started on a high note with the publishing of An Exposition, the script for a three-act film featuring hiccups, hijinks and Hannah Montana. I came up with the story idea on January 4 and wrote the script in the following three days. The only other really noteworthy post that month saw was With Apologies to Seth Zweifler, Editor-in-Chief, which attracted enough attention to earn me an invitation to write a school guest column. Though January didn't feature a whole ton of really awesome stuff, it was promising that I posted nine times. College apps were done, and I had more time on my hands.

On Friday, February 5, 2010, visitors to Mostly Harmless were greeted not by a story or photograph but with an announcement. The weekend forecast was calling for several inches of snow, and I planned on staying inside and blogging 12 times - more posts than I'd ever written even in a single month since December of 2008. I scheduled my posts faithfully; I had agreed to publish at 2:00, 6:00, and 10:00 every day, AM and PM. In the end I was left with what the marathon produced, which included two puns, one poem, and an original ukulele cover of a mildly popular indie rock song. The posts were not of incredible quality, but they were decent enough to consider the weekend a success.

March was another groundbreaking month for Mostly Harmless. A friend had recently convinced me that what my fiction really lacked was symbolism, and so my stories this month were stuffed to the brim. I was even giving my characters real-deal literary names: Azrael Pearlman, for the angel of death and a bass drum company, and Euterpe, for the muse of poetry and music. This was deep stuff. It was in March that I also wrote Storage, one of my favorite posts that didn't seem to catch on with many of my readers. March closed with On The Final Knight, a gut-wrenching tale of heartbreak and poorly-planned chess strategy. I guess that happens.

On May 1, I embedded Three Breaks onto my blog, an entry for my high school's film festival. Its script was based on the aforementioned An Exposition, and the movie itself won "Best Writing" at the contest, which was funny because anyone who glanced at the script would have known half of the lines were ad-libbed.

The summer after I graduated I decided to post every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. This policy soon just became a general "three times a week", as I don't have the follow-through to actually post on time for that long. Though the first post of this adventure was a pretty good one, the demand for quantity soon meant a decrease in quality. Though I managed to scrape together a couple love stories towards the end of July, by mid-August I had resorted to writing a history of my blog.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More History

January 2009, and I mean we are talking months ago here. This is recent past. I was trying to do something differently, but it was pretty clear that I didn't know what: I stopped on the street to take people's picture (I forgot to tell them not to smile), I finished serials, I wrote scenes and stories and essays. Things genuinely improved around here.

I reached a slight peak in creativity around March and April. My stories were about all sorts of ideas that I'd always wanted to write down, and I was finally finding that I had a voice to do it with. Of note were The Key Card and I'll Change For You, two reader favorites.

The second of these stories, though, was the last before a creativity dry spell that lasted pretty solidly through the summer. May saw the creation of my first and only "Guest Week" series, which further facilitated my not having ideas, and in July I wrote three posts total - a number I hadn't been down to for nearly a year and a half (though one of these posts was The Kayak Bandits, a personal favorite).

August marked a slight improvement, featuring the first of my puns (the trapezoid one doesn't count). Besides that, August had a nice photograph, a Frisbee-related pantoum, and not much else.

This terrible period culminated in September, when I posted about the frustration I felt about my lack of ideas, and then, days later, I sat down and wrote Ball Golf, a fan favorite for those willing to read the whole damned thing. The ball was rolling again. The puns kept coming, and I managed six posts in October and another six in November. The stress of college applications forced my December count down to two, rounding us off with 75 posts for the whole year - my lowest ever. 2009 wasn't a great year number-wise, but I like to think I grew in other, less tangible ways. I was ready for 2010 and the finale of the thrilling conclusion of A HISTORY OF MOSTLY HARMLESS, to arrive later this week.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Brief Interruption

I thought Tim was just being paranoid about the whole Dove chocolate wrapper thing, but this is getting ridiculous.

If you don't read Tim's blog, Looks Like A Tangent, I'd highly recommend it. It's also worth mentioning that he in no way endorsed this picture.

Friday, August 06, 2010

An Even Further History of Mostly Harmless

The dawn of 2008 finds itself in the middle of my sophomore year, and, in between time spent discovering ultimate frisbee and racking up hundreds and hundreds of hours on Team Fortress 2, my blog is suffering. January and February had a total of five posts containing a total of two original stories and two photographs. I had lost my camera charger very promptly, and so the pictures were just not happening. My memory can't account for the weird, emo poetry, but whatever the cause, it was there and that was that.

In March, I broke down and bought a new charger, and, by April and very suddenly, my posts were photographs and stories and the stories were not gross and violent anymore. This seems silly to say, but these posts were the first ones on this blog that I'm not generally embarrassed about. April 2008 - I discover my format. Let's write this somewhere important. It only took me two and a half years.

The first fish-eye tests showed up mid-July curiously around my birthday, and it quickly became an addiction. I managed to give it up in August, and, although I didn't realize it at the time, this move marked a pretty decent change in direction for the blog. I began focusing less on the photographs and more on the stories. I was influenced by what I read (noticeably The Things They Carried) or I came up with better ideas or I did something, something. I wrote essays and scenes and stories of love, love, love, for friends and for words and for writing utensils, whatever, I wasn't picky. Love was in the air, apparently, and I wrote it down.

On November 12, I posted my first round of scenes, which were just little vignettes I thought would be interesting enough to read. In December I posted four scene posts in a row, which is ridiculous by any standard. Luckily after that I wrote a three-post long story about a guy that kills himself, so, you know, problem solved. That story, along with The Anti-Jeff, were my first real attempts at multiple-post serials. For a brief time I toyed with the idea of putting all those miscellaneous serials on one blog, but it proved to be more effort than it was worth. Miscellaneous Serials is now all but abandoned.

As the year drew to a close, questions remained unanswered: would my stories ever gain in depth and intelligence? Would the downward trend in photograph quality continue? Just who is this masked man, and why has he never been photographed together with 6-year-old millionaire playboy Calvin? FIND OUT NEXT TIME ETCETERA!

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Further History of Mostly Harmless

When we left off last time, our intrepid hero had just changed his blog's name to the one that would stick for more than five months. It was June of 2006: Pixar had just released Cars, gamers were actively awaiting the soon-to-be-released Wii, and Sam Austin was still busy posting lengthy paragraphs of boring nothingness on his dark void of a blog.

Noteworthy during this period was less what I was doing and more what else was happening in the very tiny blogosphere in which my friends and I spent so much time. The Guest Blog, an experiment I had tried with my friend, had pretty much officially failed, a couple of friends and I were trying a team blog called Triple Threat (which would later be deleted), and The Vanquisher of Anonymous-ness was beginning to become a regular on our comment threads. I only mention this shady loner because of the inspiration he provide me with - I wrote Anonymous in December and Ideas Are Bulletproof in January of the next year. Both of these extra blogs were pretty terrible, but I like to think of them as important stepping-stones down a path that would lead to what is now my world-famous and award-winning blog.

In September 2006, I started posting photographs with every post. They weren't fantastic pictures, but I still had some favorites. This went on pretty well for the whole time I spent in ninth grade, but, a year after the photographs started, a slump in the picture-taking process immediately preceded the mysterious loss of my camera. Between July and December, my posts became sparse and irregular. I started writing The Propagandist again - a story I had started in February - but stopped after just a few chapters. I dreamt up the briefly aforementioned Bloggies, but lacked the follow-through to actually give the winners the trophies they could put on their blog.

Chapter 2 of this exciting account ends with New Year's Eve of 2007, when I wrote an appropriately upbeat post about the wonderful new camera I had received for Christmas a few days earlier. With this gift I was prepared to fight back the demons of apathy and laziness to revive my blog. Would it be done? Would I be successful? Would Mostly Harmless survive to one day possibly see its thoroughly uninteresting history chronicled in multiple-post format, possibly, like, after its author graduated high school? Find out on Thursday, when the thrilling HISTORY OF MOSTLY HARMESS resumes!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A History of Mostly Harmless

It's been two months of posting three times a week, and before I start one more grueling set of 12 posts, I figured it would be an appropriate time to take stock of the five years I've been writing this blog. For those of you that have just stumbled upon Mostly Harmless, this probably isn't a bad place to start.

The first post of Sam's Blog was written on December 13, 2005. It was the second effort at starting a blog that day, as the first post on the first blog I started insulted my math teacher and was therefore vetoed by my parents. I was 13 and in 8th grade at the time, and, evidently, I had far too much time on my hands - there were only 19 days left in that first month, and I wrote 29 entries. The posts were rambling and mostly about the process of writing the blog, and by far the most interesting ones were by my sister Rachel. For this reason, the blog quickly became something of a team effort and was renamed Four Years Apart. This development lasted for five months pretty successfully due mostly to the constant commenting of my friends, who were apparently as bored as I was. I regularly received as many as 20 or 30 comments per post, which was obviously justified when you considered the awe-inspiring quality of my posts. Take, for example, this artful haiku from the post after post 115:

It seems as though it won't come
But I know it will

I assume the Pulitzer was lost in the mail.

May 2006, though, and, somewhere between deciding she wanted to go to Johns Hopkins and actually picking out the best egg-crate foam for her mattress, my sister decided to give up posting. I changed the name of my blog to "I HEART IRONY" because I'm just that cool. Every post featured a daily irony, a facet of my blog I enjoyed writing substantially more than my readers enjoyed reading. Those were dark days.

This sad time in everyone's life lasted for a little over a month until my post on June 18, 2006. When I checked the comments the next day, I found I had received a particularly one from Sri, a friend I had before I read his hateful, hateful comment:

This is why your LAST layout was better. Your posts are beginning to suck. No offense.

Can I just say very briefly that 100 percent of my blog back then was just rambling? I sat down at the computer and typed random shit, and somehow that shit had become shittier because I changed the already shitty name of my blog to another (and apparently shittier) one? What the shit.

This obviously poorly-conceived comment, though, precipitated what would be a defining moment in this wonderful experiment. On June 20, I gave up on irony and changed my blog's name to Mostly Harmless. Though that was a foggy time for me, I vaguely recall a choir of angels. We were off to the races, and, though we didn't know it back then, our whole lives would something something something something.


This history will be continued in Part 2, to arrive TOMORROW, AUGUST 2nd. I apologize for the lateness of this post.