Jake LaCaze's blog

writings about writing and other stuff too

puzzle piecesPhoto by Sigmund on Unsplash

“It's like putting together a puzzle.” That's how my buddy explained oil and gas abstracting. “Does that sound like something you'd be interested in?”

Yeah, I told him. I'll give it a shot. I still had no idea what “abstracting” and “chain of title” and “runsheet” and “mineral ownership report” meant, but it all sounded better than selling cars in the middle of the financial crisis.

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photo of notebookPhoto by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash.com

I entered college knowing only that I wanted to write for a living.

I had accepted that I wasn't going to support myself on the paperback royalties of novels I would never write. Technical writing sounded unimaginative, and I'm not sure my university offered such a program anyway. Therefore, journalism seemed my only option, so I stepped onto campus as a journalism major. By the end of my first quarter, I had switched to Undecided, as I then had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but journalism was not part of those future plans. Fast forward to 2021, and I doubt anyone would say with a straight face that I made the wrong decision. But I can say with the straightest of faces that I made the right decision for the wrong reasons.

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In an attempt to find balance between the digital and analog on my life, I've inconsistently maintained a bullet journal for the last couple years. I initially fell in love with the analog approach to staying organized, but as time went on, I couldn't help feeling as if something was lacking. Also, I'm accepting that, while I love the idea of writing more by hand and unplugging when possible, the practice is quite time-consuming and inefficient, especially if I plan to later type my writing to archive digitally or post online.

Recently I tried migrating my bullet journal practice to iA writer. While writer is a great app, it's focused on one thing: writing. Unsurprisingly, this experiment didn't work, so I found myself wanting something better. This searching is what led me to give Obsidian another shot, primarily as a planner.

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My daughter browsing books at the library

The library is one of the only places we can visit that are completely free and expect nothing from us.

The quote above from a former intern is not verbatim, but I did capture the point in my paraphrasing: The library offers so much for the low, low price of free, taxes aside. That point has frequently popped into my head over the last couple years, especially so a couple weeks ago when I took my daughter for her first library visit since the pandemic began. On a side note, some habits created during the pandemic—such as avoiding the library—have been difficult to break, so renewed options are not always easy to identify. I wish it hadn't taken us so long to return to the library.

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Every once in a while you have to check in with your ambitions. At the end of last year, I made a list of goals for 2021 that included something more than simply “survive”.

How have I been doing so far? Mostly good.

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I no longer see goals as pending accomplishments but as immediate motivators. Little happens without movement, and movement is easier with a rough outline. Instead of plotting your trip down to the last tenth of a mile, maybe just head north for a while and don’t feel bad if you take an alternate path when you find a boulder in your way.

But if you possess enough dynamite to remove the obstacle, by all means let 'er blow and carry on your merry way. Just remember: Cool guys don’t look at explosions. They blow things up and then walk away.

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Abandoned RV and car near Terlingua, TX

Landmen have an interesting relationship with history. Some will harken back to the good old days of driving out to a rancher's property and discussing business among prospect maps spread over the hood of a pickup truck and closing deals with handshakes. If you stick around long enough in this field—I'm nearing my thirteenth year—you likely develop at least a passing interest in the history of the land and the minerals underneath. And the history of the owners, sometimes leading to revelations of betrayal and the accompanying family feuds. When researching title, you may become more familiar with other people's family trees than you are of your own. And don't let anyone tell you that wills, probate proceedings, and affidavits can't be exciting—sometimes you find some four-letter words and some spicy accusations in those documents.

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For over a week now, I've told myself that I need to write a new blog post. And for over a week now, I've failed to deliver. Few drafts get past the idea phase before they're abandoned. Interesting ideas, upon further inspection, quickly find their way into the recycle bin.

The situation is little better for my fiction writing. Perhaps the difference is that being part of a writing group with regular submission deadlines obligates me to push through and deliver something. Still, it hasn't been easy.

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Two weeks into Texas's stay-at-home order, during a company-wide video chat, I told my co-workers that living in the time of coronovarius felt like the grieving process. At that point I was cycling through three of the five states of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. Despite my best efforts, depression eventually came into the mix and I have no doubt my old friend will visit again, and probably much sooner than I would like. The journey hasn't been the smoothest, but after six weeks or so, I finally touched the acceptance stage of grief. It may sound long overdue, but I took three years to accept what I was feeling after losing my parents, so this timeframe is much better in comparison.

When my office first shut its doors, I hoped the disruption would last only a couple of weeks. Now, at least in regard to this pandemic, I've dropped out of the prediction business. Even the experts have seen their best guesses miss too many marks. All models are wrong, but some are useful, as they say. It's clear that no one has the answers.

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When you hear about Texas, a few things may come to mind:

  • Cowboys
  • The Alamo
  • Salsa and cheese dip
  • Big AF state

You likely don't think of the state as possibly being home to America's first UFO crash, which took place 50 years before the better-known Roswell incident. From my experience, most people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are unaware of the Aurora, Texas, UFO incident, even though it happened practically in their back yard.

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