Tuesday, December 6, 2016

TWIC:sellar, watercolours, emojis, stop motion, art v politics, map making, elements of design

My internet friend Gord Sellar, who I have often described as a real writer, unlike myself, has the title story for Analog magazine!
Dalibor Popović Mikša  describes his work with watercolours at Doodlewash. Miksa is Serbian and when I read this:
The light is probably the main theme of all my works. Considering that I prefer to paint in studio using photographs, instead of plein air painting, I developed the ability to recognize the right photography with expressed contrast of light and shadow.
I figured 'plein' was a spelling error and some sort of mis-translation of some Serbian word meaning 'open'.  I'm sure glad I googled that word and my apologies to Miksa. Plein Air Painting
...the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.”
The article is interesting and I enjoyed his(?) work. Here is one such (as always, shrank significantly. To see full size, follow the link):

Science Emojis.

Tips for making stop motion clay or (I think) Lego videos. I haven't seen much of them yet but I think my son and I will enjoy them. More at: Guldies.
I used to study maps for hours. As a wannabe writer, I often pour over maps thinking about where my characters are going. Here is a more accurate map.
Sci Fi can help us survive Donald Trump.
Science fiction came into being in response to a new thing in human history: the understanding that not only was the world changing, but also that the rate of change was speeding up. That in a normal lifetime, you could expect to experience multiple episodes of rapid, disorienting change. Science fiction at its best has always been about examining and inhabiting those experiences when the world passes through a one-way door.
Also, Art is not an Escape.
The more important matters for me, since the election, are those that offer reminders of human potential, rather than spotlighting the human propensity for stupidity. Engagement with art is not disengagement from politics, but the demolition of cynicism. Art that gives hope is the most powerful weapon against apathy, as cynicism only produces paralysis.
Differences in patent data. At the Sci Am webpage you will find a whopping 1.2 mb image showing differences incollaboration. Here is a snip.
I'm a sucker for Periodic Tables. Here is a version describing elements of instructional design.
 Follow the link for the full set of explanations. Here are a few of them.



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Clickbaitin': Money Making Machine and Stay Out Of the Kitchen

Local Area, Republic of Korea: This is a Real Money Making Machine.

Yu Seok-me checked the storage space of her old Beamer. Three old tires ready to cushion any impact.  Then she drove off. It was 7:30 pm and rush hour had just finished. A crowded street and honking horns  would fluster her marks but she prided herself in not snarling traffic too much. Besides, she wanted less police attention, not more.

Off she drove,with her eyes on the road and on the drivers of other cars.  There. The perfect mark. A beat up car and the driver on his phone.

She accelerated and pulled into traffic ahead of him. Then she placed her head firmly against the headrest and hit the breaks.

After the two cars had stopped shaking and her side was clear, she opened her door and walked back to the man who had just rear-ended her expensive (looking) car.

The man climbed out and was ready to yell. She pointed at the dash cam in her rear window. "If you were on your phone, the recording will show that", she told him.

In Korea, the blame for accident damage was shared between drivers. Typically, the person who was at fault would need to pay around 70% of the damages.  If a driver hit a car that was at a complete stop, this would climb to a full 100%.  This made people leery around expensive cars. Even being hit by one could cost you.

When Seok-me suggested an immediate payoff of half a million won, the man reluctantly agreed.   The two drove off and Seok-me soon stopped to better assess the damage. It was cosmetic, really. So long as the collision was straight on, the frame was little affected. The damage done would be useful if a later impact were too gentle.

And so off she went, looking for her next mark.


As a university student, I would go home during the summer and work for a building contractor and help construct cottages.  On one job, we needed a crane and at the time, that seemed a real money making machine.  Now that I live in Korea, I have seen many long-armed devices on the backs of trucks overbalance and crash so I know there is some skill involved. Even so, operating a crane seemed, and seems, relatively simple. You just buy the crane and people line up to ask you to take it to construction sites and pay good money for its use.  Once you placed the vehicle correctly, the whole thing is pretty static; you just lay out or reel in the cable. This was my first thought in reading "a real money making machine'. Image from:

A printing press seemed too obvious, after all.

Next, I have to say I love the obvious laziness of "local area". I guess the bots or programming that place ads recognize my IP as Korean but are unable to specify further.

So what in my local area, would qualify as a Real Money Making Machine? The local area is famous for JaJang Myeon, a pseudo-Chinese dish made in Incheon's Chinatown. A machine to cut the noodles would.  Very local to me is the new district of Songdo. And new it is. I think there were a few island poking out of the shallow West Sea but in the past twelve years, enormous quantities of fill have been trucked in to create a really pleasant chunk of land where before was stinking mudflats. I've no idea of the environmental cost. Anyway, trucks, dredging machines and other construction vehicles would be quite valuable.
Songdo 1
Sondgo 2  Note 'porject' in the screen-cap

Songdo 3

Dang. This is turning into an essay rather than a simple explanation for my story.


18 People Who Need To Stay Away From The Kitchen
1 Robert F. Kennedy
2 Lizzie Borden
3 Brian Dean
4 Donald Trump
5 People using Oxygen tanks
6 People who set fire to spaghetti while placing it in cold water
7 1950's men
8 Potheads who have the munchies
9 dirty people who never wash their hands
10 People allergic to food
11 Abbie Brewster  
12 Martha Brewster
13 Young children who could be scalded
14 Gordon Ramsay
15 Gremlins
16 Fat people
17 Rachel Green
18 Nose pickers

This otherwise promising list has twenty groups.

My name is in the list and I am described at least one other time - sorry, 'fat people', it was hard to think of 18 people. And 'nose pickers'? Sure, but that is a big group, could fit in the 'dirty hands' group and could have people who do wash their hands.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Incheon Animals

I have seen Ardea cinerea throughout my travels in Korea and consider it a beautiful bird, one that I have attempted to carve many times. I shot this one on the Seungki Creek in Yeonsu-Gu.

The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is a long-legged predatory wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but some populations from the more northern parts migratesouthwards in autumn. A bird of wetland areas, it can be seen around lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast. It feeds mostly on aquatic creatures which it catches after standing stationary beside or in the water or stalking its prey through the shallows.
Standing up to a metre tall, adults weigh from 1 to 2 kg (2.2 to 4.4 lb). They have a white head and neck with a broad black stripe that extends from the eye to the black crest. The body and wings are grey above and the underparts are greyish-white, with some black on the flanks. The long, sharply pointed beak is pinkish-yellow and the legs are brown.
As the quote states, they normally eat aquatic creatures but I have seen one catch and eat a mole. Youtube has many examples of North America's Blue Heron  (A herodias) doing the same.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TWIC: catching up, starlings, reviews, habits, 3rd person, words to use more,

I am behind in my Nanowrimo count. It is Friday the 25th here and I am 210 words behind. Today, I should do the standard 1,667 words plus 210. This isn't so bad. I was a full day behind going into Thursday and typed 2,700 words on that day to nearly catch up. Still, in the years previous, I was a day or two ahead at this point.
Now it is the morning of the Nov 29. I am 1000 words ahead and at this late point I don't expect to lose that lead.
Now it is the morning of Nov 30. I have 900 words to go. Expect a Nano recap in the next few days.
I don't know what  this has to do with creativity but it is a magical event that leaves me in awe:

Also not entirely within the domain of creativity, Google's AI translation tool is figuring things out on its own.

Amazon is now cracking down on 'incentivized reviews'.
Incentivized reviews are those where the vendor offers free or discounted products to reviewers, in exchange for recipients writing their “honest opinion” of the item in an Amazon review. However, data has shown that these reviewers tend to write more positive reviews overall, with products earning an average of 4.74 stars out of five, compared with an average rating of 4.36 for non-incentivized reviews.
Over time, these reviews proliferated on Amazon, and damaged consumers’ trust in the review system as a whole. And that can impact consumers’ purchase decisions.
Habits of  productive people.
An interesting pair up: Productive people don't overtalk their projects but they are passionate about their projects.

There points that were of interest to me: The know how to finish a draft, They work on more than one thing at once, and They leave off at a point where it will be easy to start again.
Writing in various forms of third person:

The link goes here, where there is a good discussion of the subject. I don't embed tweets often so I am not sure if there is an image above. Whether there is or not, the image is too small for my eyes.
Here is a piece of the image at full size (or click for full size):
I can only read the titles. Ah, nearly halfway down a long scroll is the full size set of image that i can read.
(This has been stream-of-consciousness blogging by S. Aplenty).
A Facebook post on the subject led to this search. The image I saw on Facebook came from here.
Here are cropped images from the Facebook post and from another that looked interesting in my search.

Again, both images have been cropped. I want to be a good internet citizen and I hope that I show enough for visitors to decide if they want to click through to see the rest. Also copyright...mumble, mumble...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TWIC: Chopsticks, slow week

I start this roundup soon after the previous one gets posted. When I start it, I set the schedule the publishing day and time. This iteration, I found an interesting story -Korea and woodcarving - and prepared the post. Then nothing and I just checked - this post goes live tomorrow.  I guess it is an unusually short one.
I continue to get by with Nano. Last night, I was a hundred words ahead and I remain on schedule today. But last year, I was ahead by a day or two by this point. It will be down to the wire, I guess.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TWIC:firewood, rpgs, shenzhen, Nano

Stacking firewood. At home in Canada, I had to mow the lawn. As a young adult, I put some effort into playing with how I did so. One thing I did was go to the two tree in the front yard and cut around them in steadily expanding circles. The direction of the cutting or the impression of the wheels lasted for a while so I made the lawn into a sort of artwork. I've always enjoyed chopping firewood; now I want to stack it, too.
World design in RPGs requires careful thought and planning. Gord Sellar demonstrates.
This article on Shenzhen only touches the surface of how and why that Chinese city is a hub of innovation. I don't consider myself an electronics or business creative, but I do find such people and places interesting.
Hopkins in Westworld: Via Kottke.

The disciplined imagination of futurists. I recently taught a high school class the usages of various future tense forms. I pointed out that the Surprises Aplenty of 2000 probably thought he would use big, clunky cameras and use expensive film forever. He definitely thought he'd live in Canada by now. I then asked the students to imagine 2026. I gave examples and some were mundane. I would own a house. I would have published a few books... I also wrote "I will record my dreams in HD". The students then tried their hands at logic and prediction.  I put more time into my planning for the class than they did in responding and this was only a short exercise so the most Sci-Fi response was 'visit the Moon'.
Anyway, Sci-Am has an article about futurists and their imagination.
Futurists are trained to imagine distant realities that to others seem implausible, or even impossible, today: technologies that don’t exist yet, dramatic changes to social norms or laws, detailed scenarios such as the strange pandemic most likely to infect us in the year 2031, or new forms of government that may unfold when space colonization becomes commonplace. Even if such possible futures can be interesting to consider, most lay people view them as little more than an intellectual curiosity. What is the practical purpose in contemplating a world thousands of tomorrows away, a world that may never actually come to pass, when there are so many pressing concerns right now?
At the link is a 50 minute video where the futurists discuss such issues. After NanoWrimo, I will watch it (ah, planning for the future).
Speaking of NaNoWriMo. I am one full day behind in my word count but should be able to catchup today (Nov 12). I want to get ahead, but we will see. LATER on Nov 12: I am now caught up.  I have been writing chronologically but had hit a slow spot. I jumped all the way to the end and am now working on the big set piece battle.

Two things that alwasy happen during Nano are:
I always get entangled with the numbers and am busy writing down the number of words I've written, doing the subtraction to see what the most recent period had produced and sometimes it really takes away from the story. This time, it drove to stop nickel-and-diming my sentences and move to a part of the story I am excited about.

I also find myself needing to know a lot of minor details.  Let's see, there are the six tabs of this Nanowrimo entry plus one from the previous year, thee or four map taps and Wikipedia tabs for kings or emporers of England, Austria and the Holy Roman Empire. Also details on Chinese and Korean royalty and nobility. Two tabs about the Vatican, several on subjects relating to the Silk Road. Oh, and a calendar for the year 1831. I had recently closed tabs on names for Russian warships circa 1830 and Astrakhan, a Russian city between major Silk Road cities and Italy.
November 13: that strategy of jumping to a more interesting part is really working. I did my minimum and added a hundred words to the bank and I expect no difficulty in doing the same tomorrow.
I opened a new window to find some good Italian names. My story has characters from all over Europe and the Commonwealth, plus Eastern and western China and Burma (I don't think that is a Commonwealth country). If my story is any good, it will be described as an incredible display of ambition to fit so many divers elements into a rookie novel. More likely such reviews will detail the problems with such ambition.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

TWIC: keeping up, saving time, resting, rowling, banning, cycling, plotting, changing, burning

I fell behind in my Nanowrimo word count but today typed nearly three thousand words and am keeping up. In one hour, a new day begins and I need another sixteen hundred, sixty-seven words but for this hour, I am caught up! (written Nov 3)
As of November 6 evening, I was on track, with 10,020 words, twenty more than needed. I am struggling with this story. My word choices are just fillers right now; there are so many times where I think, "I know there's a better word. T--, th---, tr---, ar... Okay, later."
To cheer me up, here is some terrible writing by great writers.
Nov 8: I'm having a tough time working through the story and events my heroes are experiencing. The story for the bad guy is just pouring out my fingers. He is steadily becoming more interesting. And I feel bad for beating the hell out of him. Word count-wise, still on track as of mid-November 8.
time saving tips from a guy who spent thirteen years drawing a comic. Video. I hope to watch it but needed to record the URL here before I shut down the computer. The audio volume icon is missing from the task bar and I am hoping that restarting the computer will make it reappear.
Anyway, the video looks interesting.
A rested brain is more creative. An excerpt:
How have you come to define rest, and what are some of the biggest misconceptions about it?
What I mean by rest is engaging in restorative activity. It's not necessarily completely passive for one thing. We tend to think of rest as putting your feet up, and you've got the margarita and you're binge watching Orange Is the New Black. For people in my study, their idea of rest was more vigorous than our idea of exercise. These are people who go on long walks covering 15 or 20 miles in a day or climb mountains on vacation. For them, restful activities were often vigorous and mentally engaging, but they experienced them as restorative because they offered a complete break from their normal working lives.
What it was really like to write Harry Potter The excerpt contains a quote from Rowling, that I put in italics.
Even though Harry Potter strolled into Rowling’s head fully formed, she still spent several years mapping out the seven books, and then she spent another year writing the first one, Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone. Rowling rewrote Chapter One so many times (upwards of fifteen discarded drafts) that her first attempts “bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book”—which was especially frustrating since Rowling was a single parent and her writing time was entirely contingent on her infant daughter, Jessica.
Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her [stroller], I would dash to the nearest café and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.
Rowling also had to waste her already limited time on nuisances like re-typing an entire chapter because she changed a paragraph or, even worse, re-typing the entire manuscript because she hadn’t double-spaced it. 
There is more. Rowling had a lot of stress. Maybe the sort of stress that earning a million dollars deserves but still is not pleasant.
The value of challenged books.
...as the comments from readers demonstrate, these books help them negotiate the transition from childhood to adulthood, by introducing them to fictional characters dealing realistically with the complex and confusing world that young people confront. Some themes emerged from the responses:
● This book made me more empathetic, tolerant, and accepting, of myself and others. It helped me relate better to others and talk to them about things we never would have discussed otherwise.
● This book made me realize that I’m not the only one with problems; it helped me feel more normal and less alone.
Using a bike-desk at 30% Vmax improves or maintains efficiency. I have long been interested in a treadmill desk and discussed the subject with a coworker. He didn't feel he could type well enough to be worth it while running. I had suggested that the goal wasn't top speed running but simply to get more exercise than sitting. These results, on a bike desk, rather than treadmill, make it all seem reasonable. Too bad a good treadmill for this usage runs around $1500.

In the first minute of this Tales of the Unexpected episode, Roald Dahl describes the effort it took him to get it right.
The original story is quite short. But I am such a ridiculously slow writer it took me something like five months to get the thing finished which is more than 600 working hours. That probably sounds quite silly to you.
But in trying to work the plot out properly I took so many wrong turning and went up so many blind alleys that I nearly went crazy. Don't forget a short story writer is working in miniature and he can't afford to splash his paint all across the canvas. He has to be extremely precise. I find it quite difficult.
Indeed. This is one of my favorite stories by Dahl and it clearly had to be carefully plotted. I do think there is more humour in the written story
The project post-mortem as a (poor) mechanism for change and improvement.
A lot of effort has gone into detailing the processes for an optimal post-mortem. These outlines all tend to look the same. A typical workflow might entail a project and team survey followed by a team debrief that leads to actionable next steps for "next time." But the idea of the post-mortem is challenged by our cultural tendencies: It's not that we don't want to be better, but rather we don't think we need to be better--as a group, that is. As much as we may tout collaborative work and team relationships, we're primed for individual success.
It may be more useful to invite the team to critically evaluate the project before it begins and then assess these flags throughout the project. This exercise needs to go a step more than identifying risks to the project that get documented as assumptions in a statement of work, but should talk about why the project might fail within the organization--and open the door to all possibilities.
The article may include insights but seems to devolve into case studies that show one technique worked (or didn't) once but offers little statistically significant data.
Frank Herbert on writing
It comes as a shock to many in our print-oriented civilization to be told that language, the basic tool of the writer, is more oral than written. Contemplate those thousands of years of oral tradition before we ever ventured to carve symbols in clay and stone. We are most profoundly conditioned to language-as-speech. The written word is a latecomer.
Before you will believe the reality of a story, someone must stand up on that printed page and speak. His words must have the characteristics of speech. They must reach your ears through your eyes. Under the onslaught of non-print media (TV, film, radio, cassette players…) this is becoming ever more necessary. The oral tradition has never really been subjugated.
Man, certain dead people sure do publish a lot of books!
Sam Sykes on creative burnout and frustration. He went into detail, over the course of  16 posts. I enjoy his insights and don't want to offer too much here; go follow him. However, here are six of his tweets on the subject. Note that they are threaded chronologically with the newest on top.