How to Convert Long Word Documents into Markdown for Import into Obsidian

I love Obsidian. It’s a desktop wiki with local storage, meaning the pages in the app are just markdown files on your computer. If you’re running Linux or Ubuntu for Windows, you can do a lot of quick file manipulation by dropping into a command line interface, including creating new files. Have a dozen markdown files about your favorite episodes of One Piece? You can create a folder under the wiki root, drop those files in there, and boom, they’re in your wiki, all ready to be automatically indexed and cross-referenced.

Using this feature, we can quickly pull into the 120K+ words from your novels, split them into chapters, and make them searchable and interlinkable pages in Obsidian. And it’s not that hard, either. It barely took me several tries to get it right!

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Why Do This?

I write novels in an ongoing anthology series that takes place in a shared universe where technology has progressed unchecked. The books share characters, organizations, places, and more between them, which means that anytime I use something from a previous book, I have to cross-reference and make sure I’m not creating a continuity error.

Consider a problem like: Have I used the name Terrance Bottomfeather before?To find out, I’d have to open eight large Word documents and run a search, which is tedious. I’d much rather have the text from all eight novels inside Obsidian and therefore searchable all at once.

I’m sure this a common problem.

Convert Word Documents to Markdown

The first step is taking your .docx file and turning it into a .md file. You can do this in Ubuntu with pandoc. Once you have it installed, you just have to feed it the right arguments:

pandoc -f docx -t markdown vise-manor.docx -o

You can read up on what the options mean, but basically it’s saying take this docx file and output it to an md file. That’s the official scientific explanation.

You’ll get a huge file as a result:

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ ll
total 1436
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   4096 Sep 29 10:01 ./
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   4096 Sep 29 09:59 ../
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 615787 Jan 20  2022 vise-manor.docx
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 815643 Sep 29 10:01

You can use less or head to verify the conversion.

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ head



*Perion Synthetics*

*Por Vida*

Now, you could drop this file directly into Obsidian, but that’s a bit unwieldy. Since the content is already arranged in chapters, let’s just go ahead and chop it up.

Cut Markdown Files into Chapters

This part calls again for pandoc and some minimal CLI scripting. Essentially, we’re going to be converting the markdown file into an EPUB archive and then unpacking the EPUB to convert the xhtml chapters into markdown. Look, it doesn’t have to make sense. Just know that it works.

You may get some warnings, but you can ignore them, especially this one:

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ pandoc -f markdown -t epub -o vise-manor.epub
[WARNING] This document format requires a nonempty <title> element.
  Please specify either 'title' or 'pagetitle' in the metadata,
  e.g. by using --metadata pagetitle="..." on the command line.
  Falling back to 'vise-manor'
[WARNING] This document format requires a nonempty <title> element.
  Please specify either 'title' or 'pagetitle' in the metadata,
  e.g. by using --metadata pagetitle="..." on the command line.
  Falling back to 'vise-manor'

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ ll
total 1840
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   4096 Sep 29 10:09 ./
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   4096 Sep 29 09:59 ../
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 615787 Jan 20  2022 vise-manor.docx
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 412195 Sep 29 10:09 vise-manor.epub
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 815643 Sep 29 10:01

Now unzip the EPUB archive.

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ unzip vise-manor.epub
Archive:  vise-manor.epub
 extracting: mimetype
  inflating: META-INF/container.xml
  inflating: META-INF/
  inflating: EPUB/content.opf
  inflating: EPUB/toc.ncx
  inflating: EPUB/nav.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/title_page.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/styles/stylesheet1.css
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch001.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch002.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch003.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch004.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch005.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch006.xhtml
  inflating: EPUB/text/ch007.xhtml

Did you see that? Converting to EPUB automatically separated everything into chapters. They’re in XHTML format right now, but we can fix that.

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ for chapter in EPUB/text/*.xhtml; do pandoc -f html -t markdown -o ${chapter/html/md} ${chapter}; done;

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ ll EPUB/text/
total 2364
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  4096 Sep 29 10:12 ./
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  4096 Sep 29 10:10 ../
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  2229 Sep 29  2023 ch001.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  1181 Sep 29 10:12 ch001.xmd
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  1036 Sep 29  2023 ch002.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   305 Sep 29 10:12 ch002.xmd
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 14026 Sep 29  2023 ch003.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 12360 Sep 29 10:12 ch003.xmd
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 14818 Sep 29  2023 ch004.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 13056 Sep 29 10:12 ch004.xmd

Unzipping the EPUB got us chapters in XHTML format. Now we have duplicated those into XMD format. The next step is to rename all those files.

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ for i in EPUB/text/*.xmd; do mv -- "$i" "${i%.xmd}.md"; done

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ ll EPUB/text/
total 2364
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  4096 Sep 29 10:15 ./
drwxr-xr-x 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  4096 Sep 29 10:10 ../
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  1181 Sep 29 10:12
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  2229 Sep 29  2023 ch001.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   305 Sep 29 10:12
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  1036 Sep 29  2023 ch002.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 12360 Sep 29 10:12
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 14026 Sep 29  2023 ch003.xhtml
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 13056 Sep 29 10:12
-rw-r--r-- 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 14818 Sep 29  2023 ch004.xhtml

Those MD files are now ready to move into Obsidian. Just make sure you know where you want them and use the mv command.

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:~/tmp$ mv EPUB/text/*.md /od/writing/Obsidian Wiki/Vinestead Universe/zFull Text/vise-manor/

dverastiqui@Ginsberg:/od/writing/Obsidian Wiki/Vinestead Universe/zFull Text$ ll vise-manor/
total 940
drwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   512 Apr 19 13:40 ./
drwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   512 Sep 21 19:37 ../
-rwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui  1181 Apr 19 13:40*
-rwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui   305 Apr 19 13:40*
-rwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 12360 Apr 19 13:40*
-rwxrwxrwx 1 dverastiqui dverastiqui 13056 Apr 19 13:40*

Now you should be able to open Obsidian and see the new content.

Congrats! You did it! Enjoy searching your previous novels with ease!



I Don’t Trust My Doctor Anymore

In capitalist America, upsells are everywhere, and that includes the world of medicine. No longer are doctors trying to treat your ailments and keep you healthy; now they’re just trying to meet their quota for number of prostate exams they book each quarter. And that’s exactly what happened a while back with a specialist, so I brought it up with my doctor. Surprisingly, he didn’t upsell me on anything–no exam, no blood test, nothing. I almost started to feel respect for this man of medicine, but then he said we should probably schedule your first colonoscopy when you’re forty, and while you’re under, do an endoscopy at the same time. And all I said was, what if the cameras run into each other?

He didn’t upsell me, but he didn’t laugh either.

And that’s why I can no longer trust him, because I laughed the entire way home.

The Author Should Have Known Better Than to Visit a Car Dealership

I was ten years old when my dad bought a 1990 Chevy Blazer. Coming from a long gray boat of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, the Blazer was the coolest thing I had ever seen. it rode high, was two-tone blue and white, and had what other kids had referred to as a way-back. I enjoyed riding back there on long trips to Corpus Christi, no seat belt and no worries. Little did I know that ten years later, I would be driving that Blazer in college, and it would slowly become the absolute bane of my existence.

My little brother and I posing with the new Blazer.

I like to tell stories about that Blazer, how its engine kept failing, how it would randomly turn off in the middle of the highway–do you know how hard it is to steer and stop a car without power steering and brake assist? There was also a time rust ate through the thinger under the car, and it started sounding like it had no tailpipe at all, rumbling loudly through the apartment complex every time I tried to drive somewhere. Towards the end, my dad painted the whole thing white, and after the third or fourth engine rebuild, decided to drive it into a lake, never to be seen again.

Post-traumatic Stress

Okay, that’s not true. I’m pretty sure I drove that thing until graduation and replaced it with a Nissan Altima. Driving a new car that got me from point A to point B without any shenanigans was a breath of fresh air, and I decreed at that moment, that I would never drive a Chevrolet Blazer ever, ever again. I was absolutely ruined on buying and owning cars, and decided that going forward, I would never keep a car more than 3 – 5 years. That way, it couldn’t suddenly die on me at 80 miles per hour.

After the Altima, I leased car after car, wasting way too much money on SUVs and sporty cars alike. I really did think that if I kept making more money, I could keep up this carousel of new vehicles and never have to worry about reliability again. But then Rainbow was born, and I found myself trying to fit two car seats into the back of a Mazda6. it’s not that they don’t fit; it’s just tight. And bending over to strap in a kid isn’t great for my forty-two-year-old back. Getting either of them in and out of our Highlander is so much easier.

So I decided it was time to stop leasing and buy a mid-size SUV that could fit the kids comfortably for trips around the city. I’ve been researching for a while, but it wasn’t until I made a trip out to California and had to rent a car that I found what I was looking for.

Honda Passport, unknown model / year

I had never considered a Honda Passport, but after driving it for a couple days, I realized it was pretty damn nice. There’s nothing about this SUV that screams flashy, but it’s roomy, punchy, and easy to drive. The only thing I didn’t like was that it didn’t have a gear shift–just buttons. I love the progress of technology and all, but that’s weird. Weird like electronic parking breaks. Gimme something to step on!

Enter the Blazer

Given that all mid-size SUVs are more or less the same (in this author’s opinion), I started focusing on how big the engines were. V6 was a minimum, and the closer to 300hp, the better. The Honda Passport gets close, but the Blazer goes over. In my research, I found out that the Blazer is a Blazer in name only… it’s no longer based on a truck frame and bears little resemblance to the 1990 version. It has all the bells and whistles anyone could want, including AWD, wireless Carplay, and remote start. Compared to the Passport, it looks stylish as hell, and for some reason, I decided I wanted to drive it.

Carefully staged photo from the Chevrolet website

But could I really do that? Could I own a Blazer again? Was I just restarting the same cycle of buying an unreliable car and passing it down to my son so he could be embarrassed to drive his girlfriends (or what have you) around in college? Well… yes, if it’s not the same as the old version, and everything I’ve read about it says it’s not. So why not at least test drive it?

As it turns out, wanting to test drive the Blazer was my first mistake.

Hell is a Car Dealership

When engaging dealerships, it’s important to not get zeroed in on any given location. I submitted my email address on the Chevy website so I could get a few bites from dealerships around Austin. Whoever was the most polite and/or convenient would win my test drive business. Predictably, every note I got read like a form letter, and the high-pressure sales tactics came right out of the gate.

When can you come in and test drive?

The most persistent of the bunch was Don Hewlett Chevrolet in Georgetown. Not only did multiple people try to contact me, they also recorded “personalized videos” so I would feel personally seen by them. That was a nice touch, though to be honest, I didn’t watch any of them. I just wanted to sit in a Blazer and press on the gas pedal.

Finally, I responded to one of their emails.

Me: Can you confirm there is an RS V6 AWD Blazer on the lot?

Them: Yes, we have plenty of V6 models! When can you come in and test drive?

Me: It’s a little bit of a drive, can you confirm it’s the RS AWD?

Them: Yes! When can you come in and test drive?

I was eager to get this test drive out of the way, so I took an early lunch from work and headed up I-35 to Georgetown. On arrival, I was introduced to a saleswoman who took me to her little cubicle with a price sheet ready for me to look at. I waved it away and asked to test drive the Blazer. She said she’d be right back.

Twenty minutes later, I’ve paced her cubicle a million times, checked in with the team at work, and even played a few rounds of Wordscapes. When she returns, she informs me she can’t find the Blazer because someone else must be showing it. She’ll be right back again, she says.

When she returns sometime later, she gestures to a chair and says I can sit down. “No thanks, I’ll stand,” I say. After asking me again what kind of Blazer I was interested in, she informs me there are no Blazers on the lot. Not one. Not one I could look at. Not one I could sit in. But hey, they have a 2019 used Blazer if I wanted to buy that.

I was already standing, so it was easy to start to leave, but she implored me to wait another minute so she could talk to her sales manager and “see what they could do.”

Turns out what they could do is send in a hitter to convince me that FWD was the same as AWD, that the Honda Passport was a shitty car, and that I shouldn’t have expected a Blazer to be on the lot because they were selling so fast. I asked if they had sold an RS V6 AWD Blazer in the twenty minutes it took me to drive up and instead of an answer, they offered to order one for me to test drive… for a mere $500 deposit.

As I drove home, no closer to testing out a Blazer than I was an hour before, I couldn’t really be mad. You expect to get screwed at a car dealership, whether that’s out of your hard-earned money or your precious little time. As an optimistic person, you tend to hope the whole car buying scene gets better, that salespeople become honest, and that they don’t just do whatever it takes to get you to walk into their building.

So maybe the Blazer is just not to be. Perhaps it’s the universe telling me this whole Blazer idea is a bad idea. I really can’t tell, and I’m still curious how that thing drives and feels. Maybe I’ll keep trying.

Somewhere else, of course.

The Author is Going to Regret This

Drink enough alcohol with me and I’ll let you know exactly how I feel about Goodreads Giveaways. How they cost too much. How they don’t result in reviews. How physical copies end up on Ebay the next week with the description brand new, never opened. It’s just not a good marketing strategy compared to everything else available to indie authors. Still, when you reach the end of the year with a surplus in your marketing budget, it’s easier to accept throwing money away on a giveaway. At least it pumps up those to-read numbers, right? Anyway, I listed a giveaway for Vise Manor.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Vise Manor by Daniel Verastiqui

Vise Manor

by Daniel Verastiqui

Giveaway ends January 09, 2023.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

It has been an interesting year since Vise Manor was published. Sales have been great, and feedback has been good, but reviews have been few and far between. There’s something about visiting my author page on Amazon and seeing the paltry numbers next to each book. What I wouldn’t give to see those numbers multiplied by a hundred or more. Speaking of reviews, here’s what Carl over at thought of Vise Manor

Daniel Verastiqui’s latest novel at once sticks with what he knows but then also strikes out in an interesting new direction.

Sure, we’re in the Vinestead Universe. Sure, there’s AI, hackers, and body modifications…but now we’re in a claustrophobic, classic locked manor house murder mystery – and the two genres blend together surprisingly well.

Verastiqui juggles multiple characters with apparent ease and keeps the pace moving through the set up, the shocking but inevitable violence, and then the desperate struggles each character has to survive to the end of the night (and the book).

Do I hate him for some of the things he put my favorites through? Yes, yes I do. And I can give no higher praise than that: I cared about these people. I wanted some to thrive and didn’t mind if the machinery of the story ground others to (metallic) dust.

If you like sci-fi, country house murder mysteries, or just want to care about authentic characters in near-constant peril, then I recommend this book.

Aside from the review, Carl sent me a private text with more thoughts on the book, which I really appreciated. While authors love a favorable public review, they always want to hear more in a more personal setting. I, myself, have a contact form you can use to tell me how you really feel about the Vinestead Universe books. All I want for Christmas is some feedback. And an Infiniti Q50 Red Sport.

There is no better Christmas treat than my mom’s pan de polvo

Anyway, I’ve got another book to write and diapers to change and chorin’ to do and Odins to murder and pan de polvo to binge eat. Oh, and my day job. I keep forgetting about that.

The Author Plays God of War: Ragnarok and Has Notes

I suppose the point of video games is to aspire to be like the characters you’re playing. Who wouldn’t want to sneak around like Snake in Metal Gear? Or battle zombies like Ellie in The Last of Us Part 2? Or yes, kill gods like Kratos in God of War: Ragnarok? I mean, he’s been doing it so long, it really does feel like his story is my story. And now that he has a son, I feel like I identify with him so much more. But what is his life really like? What would it be like to be Kratos? I found myself asking this question during a particularly difficult battle with a Traveller as I kept dying and dying. And then it finally hit me. The answer, not the Traveller.

Kratos ponders his existence while Atreus looks on

Initially, I had everything backwards. I kept thinking what would it be like to keep fighting and dying and coming back to life and fighting and dying and so on? Would that make God of War some kind of sadistic purgatory where our heroes are simply doomed to fail over and over before getting it right? Would knowledge of this arrangement bring despair or freedom? And that’s really the gibbering blood-soaked meat of it right there.

Kratos dressed for murder and dinner

Every time Kratos dies, his companion comes running over to him to help. If you use a Resurrection Stone, Kratos will get back up and resume axe-throwing again. If not, Atreus might yell no, father, don’t leave me or Mimir will say for the thousandth time, Get up, brother! This happens. It’s part of the story. Only, once you reload from a checkpoint, that little piece of reality is erased from the characters’ minds. You remember it, but they don’t. As the story progresses, this gets worse and worse, until by the end (which I haven’t reached yet), you and the characters possess a wildly different set of memories. Well, if not different, then at least abbreviated.

Atreus and Unknown Friend ponder the beauty of Unknown Place

You see now, don’t you? For Kratos, his journey through God of War: Ragnarok is a straight line that never doubles back, never forks and rejoins. If it takes you ten tries to beat a Berserker challenge, Kratos only remembers it as one, that is, the one where you won. As far as he is concerned, Kratos has never died in a fight, which makes about as much sense as the phrase it is what it is, but I digress. The point is, from the start to the end, Kratos believes he won every fight. He just went from place to place handling his business. Wasn’t that difficult either.

Can’t believe I timed this capture at just the right moment

And here’s where I put down the controller: if our lives were like Kratos’, we would never know. What if, for each of us in our own separate realities, we have already died dozens of times, only to respawn at a checkpoint and continue as if nothing had happened? Die in a car crash? Respawn to the party where you decide instead to chuck your keyfob into the bushes and call an Uber instead. Accidentally eat at Jack in the Box in 1993? Respawn and go to Whataburger instead.

Kratos asks himself: should I move here?

Besides making me question the nature of my own reality, God of War: Ragnarok is a fantastic game and a worthy follow-up to 2018’s God of War. It feels a little more linear, with fewer opportunities to just explore and grind. The trials in Muspelheim are back, but you won’t get to them until later in the game. I still don’t understand how to effectively use my companion’s arrows in combat, but that’s fine. There’s a lot to learn, including all of Kratos’ killer moves, which he has evidently forgotten since last we saw him.

Either way, I cannot recommend God of War: Ragnarok enough. There are so many games that aren’t worth the $70 price tag, but this isn’t one of them. Rest easy knowing your money will be well spent.

Oh and they just added a photo mode, so you don’t have to use the built-in Screen Capture tool like I did to write your God of War post.

The Author Goes Full Funko

Funko Pops are dumb. There, I said it. And if you stop me on the street tomorrow and ask me if Funko Pops are dumb, I’ll still say yes. I cannot understand why anyone would waste their money on what is obviously a money grab designed to play on our love of pop culture and fill our shelves with molded plastic so we have to buy more shelves which ultimately lines the pockets of Big Shelving. Up until recently, I told myself that no matter what, I would never, ever buy one of those things. I would never collect the set. And I didn’t… until Letterkenny.

To be fair…

What is life if we can’t be hypocrites every now and again? I’ll tell you the truth about these Letterkenny Funko Pops even though you’re not going to believe me: I bought them to support the show! That’s right. I’m hoping that by increasing the sales of these Pops, it will somehow keep the show on the air and give it the worldwide attention that it deserves. I certainly didn’t buy them because I want to play with them; I bought them so I could build a shrine to the show I love.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. I didn’t buy all of these at once because I just had to have them. I couldn’t… they only released the main four characters at first. I snatched those up pretty quick and was only mildly annoyed I didn’t have any lawn chairs for them to sit in. The duos came next, which rounded out the cast nicely. All we’re missing now are all of the McMurrays, Gail, Glen, and Tannis. But not Dierks. Never Dierks, you Fisher-Stevens-looking mofo.

I still kinda think Funko Pops are dumb, but I like having these guys on my shelf. Maybe I should take them out of the boxes so I don’t have to see all the Funko marketing. But then I think about the future and how much these will be worth in 2040. Probably millions. And that could send my kid(s) to college.

Anyway, maybe if they come to town again, I’ll try to get the cast to sign them just so I can hear Wayne tell me I’m ten-ply.

Letterkenny Live in Austin, Texas – 2022

The Author Recommends: Das Keyboard Professional 6

Although I’m a big believer in YNAB, there are just some things in life for which you cannot have a budget. One of those is books (obviously), another is Pop Tarts, and the third is anything that makes your job as an author easier. Yearly subscription for Microsoft Word even though it used to be a one-time fee? Sure! Yearly subscription to Novlr even though you only use it for a total of three months every two years? Yes! $200 every couple of years for a new Das Keyboard mechanical keyboard even though your last one still works great? Shut up, and take my money, good sir.

Okay, in all honesty, I skipped the Pro 5 version. I’m not made of money. Plus, the 4 was working so well–why mess with perfection? I’ll tell you why! Because you can! It just so happened I found myself with a little extra coin in my pocket when Das Keyboard released the Professional 6 last month (or September). I ordered it a few days after its release, and since they’re based here in Austin, Texas, I received it pretty quickly. I couldn’t wait to see how it compared to the 4!

Obligatory Photos

One thing I immediately noticed was how much smaller the 6 is. The first picture doesn’t do it justice, but look how they stack up in the second. The bezel is thinner, the flare in the upper right is less pronounced, and somehow it just feels tighter… less… significant. No, that’s not the right word. Ugh, they should have sent a poet.

I suppose what it lacks in height and width, it makes up for in girth. Look at that thick boy 6 (bottom) compared to the 4 (top). Your fingers are definitely sitting a little higher off the desk now.

The world is moving to USB-C, and Das Keyboard is no exception. Although they were kind enough to include an adapter so I can still plug it into my aging PC, I was kinda bummed to lose the two USB ports on the top. They’re USB-C now, and I don’t have anything to plug into them. So they’re just sitting there, unused, like the coleslaw in my fish combo at Long John Silver’s.

Listen, people. I’m a “professional” writer, okay? I don’t go in for those gimmicky LED backlights that coruscate (see?) through the entire color wheel. I don’t even look at the keys, so why would I need them lit up? Honestly, the LEDs are a major reason I skipped the 5. Too busy. Too much. Calm down, keyboard!

That said, I like the subtle glow of the keyboard now. It makes it feel more “alive” on my desk without being distracting. A button lets you adjust the brightness, which is appreciated.

Initial Impressions

The 6 I ordered used the same Cherry MX Brown switches I have on my 4, so the typing experience was more or less the same. There was no loss of speed or accuracy. There’s a slight tactile difference to the keys (same as between the Pro 4 and Ultimate 4 that I use at work). It types fast as hell and I love it.

I may be the only one who can hear it, but there is a definite metallic squink present during typing if you are in a very quiet room, audible even over the clacking of the keys. I imagine it has something to do with the metal clasps under the bigger keys, but who knows. It’s not enough to make me complain, and I always have some music going anyway.

After a couple of days, I realized one of the Windows keys wasn’t working. Thinking I had a defective keyboard, I wrote into their support. They were helpful and informed me I would need to flash the firmware. That’s all well and good, but this is the app they told me to download:

Not for nothin’, but I get real skittish about clicking buttons I can’t read. It did resolve my problem though, so that’s a plus.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been using the Das Keyboard Professional 6 for about a month now while working on a new book. I can’t say there is a huge improvement over the 4, but it is definitely the kind of rock-solid mechanical keyboard you’d expect from this company. Ultimately, I consider it a good purchase, not only because I have a new shiny keyboard, but also because I get to support an Austin company that I’d definitely work at if they offered me a job. I will test keyboards until my fingers fall off if that’s what it takes!

If you’ve got a Pro 4 or 5, you could consider skipping this upgrade unless you’re swimming in money from all your Kindle Unlimited reads. If you’re 3 or earlier, it is definitely time to upgrade.

I don’t know how authors write without a mechanical keyboard, and I don’t know how I’ll ever write without a Das Keyboard. A+++ would buy again.

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Tao of the Dog: Sitting Pretty

Years ago when we were taking both Cheyenne and Jetson to Sit Means Sit here in Austin, we were told by one of the instructors that dogs have two ways to sit. One is the straight-forward one leg on either side position that most dogs do, while the other is more relaxed, where the dog has both hind legs to one side and is leaning essentially on their hip. The relaxation distinction was important to the lessons at Sit Means Sit, because they were all about trying to keep your reactive dogs calm and whatnot. These days, Cheyenne only sits with both legs out to one side, but I don’t think it’s because she’s relaxed… she’s just old.

Cheyenne is getting on in years… nine by our count. She had ACL surgery a while back, and though she loves to play fetch, it’s not great for her legs. We have to limit her to a handful of throws and make sure we throw it in such a way that she won’t be spinning around or changing direction quickly.

She sleeps a lot more these days, and if she thinks we don’t notice, she’s wrong. Recently, she has taken to sleeping in El Matador’s room, especially if we’ve still got lights on the bedroom and she wants somewhere dark to put down. It’s important to stop and think about your pets from time to time. Before you know it, you’ll be writing their quasi-obituary and trying to capture everything that was wonderful about them.

She’s grown more demanding in her old age. Breakfast is at six, but don’t think for a second she won’t be sitting by your side of the bed at 5:30 a.m. just waiting for you to wake up. Dare to get up late? She’ll yip and bark after 30 seconds past 6:00 a.m. She’ll yip and bark at the door to go out. She’ll yip and bark at a French fry that has fallen under the table that she’s too scared to reach for. These yips and barks will pierce the otherwise silent house and often make you pee a little. So at least she’s keeping us on our toes.

Anyway, just wanted to share some pics.

Note To Self: How to Fix a Tiny Stripped Screw

Alright, Verastiqui. This is your reminder about the time your sister-in-law gave you a Hue motion sensor and said if you can fix it, you can have it. Since your entire house is rigged with Hue smart lights, you jumped at the opportunity, only to find the sensor needed batteries and the small screw that lets you access the batteries was incredibly stripped. You tried your special tiny screwdriver and even the rubber band trick to no avail. Then you brought out the big guns, the only guns, the power of the gods in the palm of your hand: the Dremel.

Here’s the back of the Hue motion sensor. Notice the almost perfectly round screw head hole–hole head–whatever. On the left is the rubber band you attempted to use to get some grip until it snapped.

At the time of this writing, you did not own a table vise, which is very strange considering how much you want / could use one. Instead, you used what your dad would call Mexican Ingenuity and used blocks of wood and clamps to secure the motion sensor.

Archeologists and historians are still unsure how old your Dremel is. You purchased it perhaps 20 years ago so you could cut through the sides of computer cases. Even after two decades, it still performs like a champ. And because you know the Dremel discs can accidentally shatter and go flying, you grabbed your safety glasses too.

The goal was to make a new screw head hole / hole head that would fit a flathead screwdriver. The screw was flush against the plastic casing, so you had to cut into that a little. At medium speed, it only took a few strokes to cut a deep enough channel.



Easy does it. Each turn of the screw whispers you’re saving 50 bucks.

And done. After replacing the batteries, you reused the screw with the new head hole since it was going to be covered up by the mounting magnet anyway. It was an early Tuesday morning when this happened; the sun was shining into the garage but the heat wasn’t unbearable. You stood for a moment thinking about how you had accomplished something, and for a brief beautiful interval, you felt pride. You texted photos to your sister-in-law, who ironically had just purchased her own Dremel, to show her how you fixed it.

Then you thought, I should write a blog post about this so I don’t forget what happened here today.

After writing the blog post, you thought I hope someone else finds this useful.

Author’s Note: I love Hue lights, btw. I have them all over the house, on schedules, controlled with sensors, controlled by Alexa. They are the greatest invention ever and the height of Future Living. A Dremel is a close second.

Conversations With My Wife: Again, But Sooner

Ask me what I’m thinking about at any random time of the day, and I’ll probably tell you something along the lines of what if I go back in time and retain all of my memories like Jeff Winston in Replay? As a carbon-based lifeform irrevocably trapped into the unidirectional flow of time, I’m almost always thinking about what life would be like with foreknowledge of the future. Since I can’t see into the future from here, I often imagine myself going back and trying again. Sometimes I think about what I could do differently, and sometimes I imagine what it would be like to try to do it all the same, but sooner. I’ll explain.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Sarcastically speaking, Dom loves when I try to talk to her while she’s making dinner.

Me: Are you busy?

Her: I’m making dinner, but what’s up?

Me: If I went back in time and became my 18-year-old self again with all my knowledge of the future and used that future to woo you into dating me in 1998 versus 2011 would you want or expect me to ever tell you that I was from the future?

Her: *gritting her teeth* Dammit, Daniel…

Jeff Winston didn’t have kids in his original life in Replay, so when he decided to meet his wife again, it was in the hopes he finally could have children. Dom and I have two children, and it occurred to me about 15 minutes before bothering her that if I went back, the odds of recreating my life such that my children are born exactly the way they are now would be astronomically huge. It’s just not possible.

So, were this to happen, I’d have to have a moment of silence for my lost children and just hope they’re continuing on in their own timeline with another version of me.

Catastrophic emotional and mental damage aside, it would be time to find and court Dom. Despite not meeting until we were in our early thirties, we both attended the University of Texas at the same time, lived in the dorms at the same time, etc. So I could have walked around and eventually found her. And after using my intimate knowledge of her likes and dislikes, there would come a moment where I would want to tell her the truth.

Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

Me: Okay, let’s say I decided to tell you I’m from the future. Would you believe me?

Dom: No.

Me: But I would know everything about you.

Dom: And you used that info to date me? I’d think you were a stalker.

Me: But you would be in love with me.

Dom: Would I? Look, I’m trying to make dinner here.

She had a point. Could I ever really convince her I was from the future? And if so, what would be the fallout of such an admission? What would be the dynamics of a relationship where one person has knowledge of the future? What responsibilities would that person have?

We went back and forth for a while about this scenario, with me playing up the benefits of getting together sooner in life and doing more and having a bigger family and all that good stuff. If we settled on a go-forward plan (to borrow some eyeroll-inducing corp-speak from LinkedIn), it was that were I to travel back in time, I should keep that to myself. Never tell her.

But would that be ethically wrong? To manipulate someone like that? I pleaded my case that honesty was the best policy, but the more we went around, the less it appeared that finding Dom in the past would be a viable endeavor. No matter what I do, it all eventually falls apart.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

There was only one path forward that I could see. And it’s dark

Me: Okay, so let’s say I woo you.

Dom: You woo me.

Me: And I tell you I’m from the future.

Dom: And I believe you?

Me: You believe me. And you’re into it. You’ve bought into the idea that something amazing is happening here, and you fantasize about going through life with someone who knows the future. And then in late 2000, I sit you down and say, okay, now we need to start thinking about how we’re going to stop 9/11.

Dom: You know, when you asked if I was busy, I thought you meant you had a question about the calendar or whether we’re sitting at the table or the bar, not this… *waves hands and spoon uncertainly* …whatever this is.

My wife is often surprised at the things I spend my time thinking about and vice versa. And though I appreciate the beauty of being two different and separate people, I sometimes wish she would indulge me in these scenarios. For decades, the literary world has been full of stories about stopping JFK from getting shot–hell, Umbrella Academy season 2 is all about it. My generation may well write about stopping 9/11, and the next about stopping Trump, and so forth.

Do most people not think about these kinds of things? Are writers just outliers like that?

My final question from the conversation, the one that gestates and eventually turns into a 2,000 free-writing exercise, was this:

Whether JFK or 9/11 or Trump, if you traveled back in time, do you think you have a moral obligation to stop these disasters before they strike? You see, if Dom buys in on me being from the future, she joins her morality to the situation. What if I didn’t act to stop 9/11 and she realizes I knew but did nothing?! Like I said, it all falls apart.

Anyway, what do you think? Do we have a moral obligation?

Let me know in the comments. Or better yet, ask this question to your spouse while they’re trying to make dinner and report back with the answer.

I’ll wait.

person washing fork
Photo by Catt Liu on Unsplash