Every so often,  I have these moments where I see so very plainly how much my wife Missy understands me, how I tick, what matters to me.

It could be something little (pun intended) or some big life changing moment. Over the more than a decade we’ve been together, it’s happened many, many times. 

But each time it happens, it takes my breath away in the best way.  

AuthorMako Allen

Te is a major concept in Taoism. It means about 20 different things (see the wikipedia article), but most often is translated as “virtue.” Not so much virtue like exceptional moral fiber, but more like “the virtues of a cold glass of water on a hot day.” Still, it’s a maddeningly difficult concept to grasp, never mind practice.


Having te means using the power and nature of what’s in front of you, to the best of your ability. Every so often I have a really goofy, stupid experience that helps me remember what it is, and how to use it. Take this mustard packet.

 I got it when I bought my lunch today, at a little deli near my office. (Baked fish and a side of steamed broccoli.) I picked up several packets of this and mayo, with the intention of pouring them out and mixing them up into a sauce to dip my kinda boring lunch into.

The first couple of packets opened up super easy. I got ‘em all emptied out and stirred together, it was a party. But THIS bugger, I just couldn’t get it to tear. So I put it aside.

Eventually, I ate up all my yummy sauce, and wanted more. So I picked up the troublemaker and tried again. It just kept slipping from my fingers, and wouldn’t tear.

Then I realized I’d been trying to tear it at the wrong end, the one without the little arrow.


Or, more appropriately, te!

I turned that sucker around, laughed at myself, and tore it open.

It’s amazing how much easier things get when you’re paying attention to how you do them.

AuthorMako Allen

So, I'm a busy guy.

It's a holiday weekend, and I was up at 5:30.  Partly that was because I couldn't stop thinking about some code I need to write today for Project Drummond, my side business.  Partly that was because I have been thinking about working with my illustrator Jenn in a whole new way.

So I got up, got showered, and headed down to the old home office to crank out some work.

The night before I had put my laptop atop my lap (funny how you can do that with it) and tinkered a bit with code while Missy, Rachel and I watched a movie.  When I hooked it back up to my monitor this morning, this bad thing happened.  Or rather, a good thing didn't happen.

My beloved Thunderbolt monitor wouldn't charge the laptop.

Well, crap.

So I asked Cousin Google what to do.  And tried many of the things they recommended, to no avail.  This potentially was going to eat my whole damn day.  Then I took a well informed guess, based on my research.

My magsafe adapter had gone bad.

My who-what-now?  


This thing.  It's a little magnetic adapter which connects the monitor cable to the laptop.  I ordered a new one for like $10, and was able to pick it up at a nearby store.  And when I brought it home, and swapped it out, and saw the sweet green light of functional charging.

Then I dug back into my list of many things.  Which included reading an amazing story written by a fellow author.  Negotiating some narration work for a new story.  Writing code.  And having an important phone call with partners.

And that's when I started to have this feeling: that much like that little magsafe adapter, I'm just this one little part of many vast, complex systems.

Which reminds me of a quote from one of my most favorite books, Cloud Atlas.

 “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

It's good to be a drop.


AuthorMako Allen

So today I'm hard at work editing the audio from the latest chapter of my new novel, Little Marigold Blossoms.

LMB edit.jpeg

It's hard work.  The raw audio file is over an hour long.

Audio editing is not a glamorous task.  What I'm doing is listening to the same audio, over and over, clipping out bad takes, laughter, mouth noise, environmental sound that got into the recording by accident, adjusting the audio to be mostly the same level.

It comes with the territory.  My narrator for the book, Suzie is really good.  She has a great sense of timing, drama, and emotion.  I love working with her.  We've got a great working relationship, and she's super patient with me about doing multiple takes for something, in order to get it just the way I want.

Even as good as she is, I still got to take the raw product and refine it.  But you know what? I love it.  Even the laborious, painstaking parts of the gig are worth doing.  

There's this one exchange between Mari, the main character, and her Uncle Norman, where she cuts him off, responding in quick anger to something he says as they're on a plane ride.  I edited the audio so that in Suzie's narration, playing as Mari, she actually interrupts herself, playing as Uncle Norman.  It's a subtle, little thing.  But it's artful and clever (if I do say so myself), and makes Suzie's performance really pop.

I was so very pleased by it that I took a little break to write this post about it.  I feel blessed to have such a talented narrator to work with, and on a project I love so very much.


AuthorMako Allen