Brian Hoch

Just a guy trying to love my family and serve my God. I like coffee, Python and good books.

Read this first


As I tried to come up with an idea for this month’s blog post I started thinking about ideas themselves. Where do they come from and how? In short, how does ideation happen? I want to think grand and lofty thoughts, so how do I do that?

I think we are all familiar with the phenomenon of the spark of inspiration. It comes unexpectedly and often at the time when we are least prepared to accept it. For me it always seems to come with my hands are wet, so I can neither write nor type. We can help steer these ideas, I propose. We are not slave to their whims. While what I suggest may not guarantee the thoughts and ideas we want they will be more likely to arise.

That spark of inspiration stems from the subconscious, and we know from experience that we have some influence in the subconscious feedback loop. If you are foolish, like me, you have discovered that indulging in the horror genre

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The Squire by Baron Fig

“The Pen Is a Mighty Sword”

Squire review and coffee

I will admit it, I am not the biggest fan of rollerball pens. There are a few that I like and only one or two that I love. That said, the Schmidt 8126 refill is a pretty solid refill. Sure, it’s not my favorite personally, but I like it pretty well. And even if I didn’t, the Squire takes Parker-style refills so I could experiment with one of the many options available.

The pen body itself is immaculately designed. The half twist to extend the writing tip is flawless. I can easily extend the tip while pulling the pen out of my pocket in one fluid motion. But the design is so good that I don’t have to worry about it writing all over the inside of my pocket. And the threading to replace the refill is so consciously designed that it will not disassemble in my pocket, a problem I’ve experienced before with other pens. (I’ve also had the pen in my pocket with my

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On Thought and Doing Things the Hard Way

Editing a draft

(This may be a longer post. It was originally two posts, but the ideas were locked in a death grip. I tried to separate them, but it was no use.)

It is a hallmark of mankind that we, like water, follow the path of least resistance. When we meet difficulty we push and fight against it. From this steady erosion of difficulty we have many of our greatest inventions. Ocean voyages are long and dangerous, so we have taught ourselves to fly. Waiting for news to arrive through the post takes too long, so we have created the telegraph, the telephone, the television, and finally, that culminating wonder, the internet. (And still we complain about our data speeds being too slow.) We have worn down the resistance we have met in the pursuit of our goals. But have we perhaps made things too easy?

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

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On the Benefit of the Doubt

Having four kids at home, I find myself having to constantly explain to them the concept of giving the benefit of the doubt. The result of which is that the idea has become very near and dear to me. I see so many conflicts that could have been avoided if those involved understood it.

We like to think that we are good at understanding our motivations (that’s a post for another day). And because we think ourselves good at judging our motivations we justify to ourselves when we are mean or rude, inadvertently or as a side-effect of our actions.

We also are limited to viewing the world through our own eyes. As a result, we are not often privy to the appearance of our actions as seen by others. If you’ve ever watched a candid video of yourself you know what I mean. You watch yourself saying the words you remember, but your body language, your stance seem off. You remember feeling compassion

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A Reintroduction and a Plan

I’ve neglected this blog for too long now. I have things I want to say, that’s not to say that I have vast founts of wisdom or insight. But, I either don’t share my ideas at all, or I don’t think this is the right medium*.

But, as I was writing a letter of general life advice to my son this past week I thought that if I generalized the advice a bit, perhaps others could find it useful. Either way, I don’t want this blog to go to waste. I hereby pledge myself to do a minimum of one post per month for the next year. I realize that is not a lot, but I fear that if I aim to high I may struggle to achieve my goal, become discouraged and give up entirely. At which point I’m right back where I started, and the goal is to make progress.

*Aren’t blogging platform puns the greatest?

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Memories of Friday Eve

 A Traditional Friday Eve

I remember Friday Eve’s as a young boy. Waking up early in wide-eyed anticipation of what the next day will bring. There’s just something magical about Friday Eve. I don’t know if it’s the just-before-bed viewing of Twin Peaks or gorging myself on “hot dish” at Friday Eve Supper. It could have been sneaking into the liquor cabinet for the peppermint schnapps, I’m not sure.

After supper, with the hot dish still warm in our bellies we’d change into our Friday Eve jammie’s with the little button flap on the bottom. We’d hold hands and sing our favorite Friday Eve melodies.

Oh, those times

In days of yore

When Herr Freitag came a'knocking on our door

He came from near

He came from far

He came no matter where the * you are

Then there’s the agonizing worry in the wait for a visit from Herr Freitag. Have I been good enough? Would he bring me my shiny new Junior

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What I learned from NaNoWriMo

This year I had wanted to write 30,000 words in the month of November. I’ve failed horribly this year. But in some ways, I’ve succeeded.

I have indeed written more this month than I usually would. I have written a few thousand words (many in letters) and I’ve remembered how much I like to write, so in those ways it’s been successful.

Especially since my goal at the start was not as much about word count as it was about building a habit of writing and a desire to do it. (Though I suppose the goal itself testifies to the pre-existence of the desire).

But what have I learned from it?

One of the things I’ve learned is that as much as I want to, I can’t write at a computer. The words don’t flow the same on a keyboard and I will always find myself distracted by a “just check”. I’ll set aside the writing for a moment, but never pick it up again. Instead I much prefer older, more elegant

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November is NaNoWriMo. While I don’t have a plan to write a novel, I do aspire to write more. I enjoy writing and I think it’s important for helping me learn, think and improve myself. But, as evidenced by this blog I’m not very consistent in it. I really want to improve my consistency in writing.

My initial idea was to try to post every day during November. I like the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by 11:59 on November 30, but as I said, I have no desire to write a novel right now. I decided to commit myself to writing 50,000 words this month, this is divided up into 1,667 words a day. I realized that 30 posts is way more than I can realistically commit to, and truth be told I probably won’t meet the quota many of the days. Though I will keep track of my progress in Drafts.

Instead of writing a novel, or writing a blog post every day I will commit to writing 50,000 words through

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Why I Write

 Why I Write

Sometimes I need to write to know what I think. My day to day musings are generally disjointed and repetitive. I arrive at a decision or opinion, if I arrive at one at all, on a circuitous and meandering neural path. It can be hard for me to reason through a concept internally. I tend to circle repeatedly through the parts of an idea that are most familiar, or least complicated. Like most, I don’t like cognitive dissonance so I try to avoid it rather than engage in the work of rectifying the discrepancies.

 How I Write

To actually work my way through an issue I usually have to sit down and force myself to start writing. My own particular style of thinking via pen isn’t to do mind maps or any sort of organizational scheme that was pushed on me in school. Instead I write prose. I write it out as it comes to my head, trying to capture my thought process as it happens in the

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It’s Nice to Read Again

The past couple of years I have had increasingly less time in the evenings. At my old job I would often have to work in the evenings just to stay afloat, as there was simply too much work for one person.

Since I’ve started my new job, however, even with all of the new things I have to learn I’ve found that I have more time in the evening to relax and recharge. And one of the things I’ve been doing with that time is reading more. Reading for pleasure, I mean, not just work related reading.

I love reading because it takes me out of myself for a little while. It allows me to shift my focus from the immediate stressors that weigh on me. I have no illusion that this is escapist, but it is, nevertheless, exceptionally rejuvenating. And who doesn’t need an escape now and again? I think it’s healthy to escape, to not focus on yourself and your troubles for a little while, it lends perspective.

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