Wednesday, January 18, 2017

TWIC: World building, animation, infographics, note-taking, Gangwon animals,

Man! I read a post at Tor on authors who were great world-builders and decided I wanted to introduce the subject by mentioning Zelazny's alien religion that allowed avatars to create worlds but actually finding the name of the religion or the aliens took a long time. Zelazny wasn't on the list of world-builders, by the way and the religion and/or the aliens were Pei'ans.
Anyway, the article would be better described as Five Classic Female Authors Who Were Great at World Building and it is a great list. I now want to go back to the stories by these authors I read in the eighties.
Animation and Disney's Multi-plane camera. I have heard of animation cells but didn't know how they worked. This usage of them is wonderfully ingenious while also appearing totally obvious. I love the confluence of "That's amazing" and "That clearly follows".
I was interested in trying to make an infographic or two last year and found the exercise more difficult that I had imagined. Lining up words and explanation with a coherent image is not easy. Nat Geo's infographics and Best Maps of 2016. A chunk of one from the first link:

An interview with Al Jaffee.

Not entirely related to creativity but definitely to curiosity. Why build a fort in a star shape?

This subject could be a full post and may be at some time. For now, I am busy at an ESL and science camp and don't have the time.  At Quora, someone asked about the best distraction-free and minimalist writing tool. So far, a few software tools have been offered. The third, suggestion was, obviously, pen and paper. This made me think about my own actual writing (as opposed to typing) and the posts I've seen in several places for Bullet Journals. That link offers the best rundown on what they are although this one might have more in-depth information - I have a terrible internet connection here so there is a lot I can't see.  That latter link describes it as an analog system for the digital age.

From this site (the second one in the paragraph above) comes a quick intro to Bullet Journaling:
Bullet journal: a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as the core structure
Index: a table of contents that you update as you go
Daily Log: shit you did and/or need to do today (+ other observations)
Monthly Log: traditional month calendar + shit you need to do that month + shit you forgot to do last month
Rapid Logging: symbols that help you get that shit done
Future Log: year-at-a-glance calendar where you can put events, goals, and long-term shit you need to do
You can use any journal or notebook you want. You deliberately lock a few pages into 'modules' or specific uses. The common or required ones are: index and various calendars (year and month) but I might also devote a set number of pages to Running and Book Notes. 'Camp' is too big a subject and handier for me to take those notes as the need arises. The system also includes various symbols so that you to-do lists carry more information with fewer characters (this is the 'rapid logging' mentioned above).

I have always kept my journal as a sort of commonplace book. That is, I am now more aware of what a Bullet Journal is than I ever was of the specifics of a commonplace book. Indeed, that Wikipedia link, which I have just read more closely, quotes John Locke: " Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective."  Mine is mostly chronological and the only connection I now see with a formal commonplace book is the wide variety of material I include in them.

More on Commonplace Books:
[The author is giving an example of a historic event he found interesting] He [an Athenian general] continued to interrupt and contradict the other generals. Finally, the Spartan general threatened to strike Themistocles if he didn’t shut up and stop. “Strike!” Themistocles shouted back, “But listen!”
When I read this, I immediately began a ritual that I have practiced for many years–and that others have done for centuries before me–I marked down the passage and later transferred it to my commonplace book. Why? Because it’s a great line and it stood out to me. I wrote it down I’ll want to have it around for later reference, for potentially using it in my writing or work, or for possible inspiration at some point in the future.
In other posts, we’ve talked about how to read more, which books to read, how to read books above your level and how to write. Well, the commonplace book is a thread that runs through all those ideas. It what ties those efforts together and makes you better at each one of them.
Since I mentioned I am working at a science camp, here is a little cutie we found in the forest:


Stephen King's ten rules for success (video).

After my discussion above, he is anti-notebook.

Harvard's digital photo photo course (free).

Creator of Zelda games discusses how he designs games.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Gangwon Animals: Gorani, Hydropotes inermis

I'm at a Science camp in Gangwon Province, South Korea and teaching biological research to middle school students. We have a number of game cameras - we strap them to trees and leave them for a week or so and see what tripped the motion detector. Most of the time, we get a branch or stalk of grass swaying in the wind, triggering literally a thousand pictures to wade through to find the one with an actual animal. This time, we were luckier.

I forgot to set the date, which should be January 10, 2017.

These are Chinese water deer or in Korean, 'gorani'. Although deer-like, I am told they are more closely related to goats, though all these animals have cloven hoofs so are pretty closely related anyway.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TWIC: Emotional journey, beatles, writing contests, bullcrap-twice

This was on Facebook without attribution. I shrank this image greatly.  If you know where it came from please let me know. If you want a larger version, I presume Google will help.

How the Beatles succeeded.
The thing that got John and Paul writing songs together at the ages of 17 and 15, respectively, is, I think, the same thing that ultimately made the Beatles the Beatles. It’s there in Lennon’s remark about Buddy Holly’s three-chord compositions—“why not write your own?” It’s there in the capital letters—ANOTHER LENNON-MCCARTNEY ORIGINAL—that McCartney scrawled above each set of new lyrics. “Teenagers all over Britain liked Buddy Holly and rock and roll, but of that large number only a fraction picked up a guitar and tried playing it, and fewer still—in fact hardly anyone—used it as the inspiration to write songs themselves,” Lewisohn writes. “John and Paul didn’t know anyone else who did, no one from school or college, no relative or friend.”
The Beatles’ secret ingredient was arrogance.
But the best line, as usual, is Lennon’s, and it appears on the last page of the book. “We thought we were the best in Hamburg and Liverpool—it was just a matter of time before everybody else caught on,” he told an interviewer in 1980. “We were the best fucking group in the goddamn world … and believing that is what made us what we were.”
This challenge has already started but a motivated person could catch up. The 90-day challenge.
Creative writing competitions  in 2017.
Where Canadian writers feel at home.
I like this idea for taking notes:
An infographic from Josh Burnoff (I think the Creative Commons license means I can share the full size image):
The Creative World's Industrial Bulls--t Complex.

So far at this blog I have not tried to make money due to my 'expertise' in the field so that separates me from the targets of this rant:
In these pitches there’s nothing to suggest the person has any original experience or research or insight to offer said advice. Instead they choose to quote other people who quote other people and the insights can often be traced back in a recursive loop. Their interest is not in making the reader’s life any better, it is in building their own profile as some kind of influencer or thought leader. Or, most frustratingly, they all reference the same company case studies (Hello, Apple and Pixar!), the same writers, or the same internet thinkers. I often encounter writers that share “success advice” learned from a blogger who was quoting a book that interviewed a notable prolific person.


Productivity in Terrible Times.

2) Set your environment up to support you.
I’m a huge proponent of setting up your physical and digital environments to support your larger goals. Most of us were full of work worries and family drama and existential concerns even in The Beforetimes; now we’ve added on American facism and the literal threat of nuclear war, yet we still expect to get our work done by strength of will alone. As the astute Krista Scott-Dixon writes,

Your self-control is busy preventing you from stabbing your boss, shoplifting, and running red lights. Thus, “willpower” won’t help you much…. It’s an overdrawn bank account. Use stronger stuff: scheduling, structure, social support, space, systems, and strategies.
When it comes to Productivity in Terrible Times, we’re operating on a number of fronts:
Bernie Sanders can present your Tweet, any Tweet, to congress.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

TWIC:weird superheroes, guitars,

This image is not directly creativity related, but I like it. From 100 tweets that made women laugh...

Not all super-heroes have to fit the Superman mold. Here are some weird ones.

Archive of free plans to build or make musical instruments
Here is one for an 'easy' 3-string cigar box guitar.  a screenshot from the PDF:


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Organizations and other goals for 2017

I don't know much about K M Weiland, but I follow her on Twitter.  I have been Kindle-less for a few months now so perhaps it is not strange that I have not once bothered to check out her books at Amazon. Or maybe Twitter posts don't do all that much to drive sales. Or, I am only one person so my actions may not be typical.

Anyway, she recently asked:

and received a few responses:

  • Three are going to work on being more organized 
  • One is trying to improve motivation
  • One will read Weiland's books
  • Three will work on workspace/desk improvement

I must admit I have simplified the responses so the answer "I will work on being more organized" was better written and less circuitous in the original.

My son and I will travel to an academic camp I am working at on January first, so we are already thinking about goal-setting. I'll touch on our plans briefly but most do not directly fit the theme of this blog.

The first thing we did was think about the range of plans - that is, not merely five goals for one area of our lives. Exercise, diet, reading, writing, care for the dog, travel, education and environmental activism were the main ones we shared. I need to work further on cooking and domestic chores as well.

In 2015, I ran more than 1000 km and had to stop due to some kind of hip injury which has since healed or faded. My original goal was to run on average every other day for more than 5km.  I started late - the weather wasn't conducive to comfortable running - and often ran four or five times a week to catch up. I once ran for 9 consecutive days. As I became more comfortable running, the distance increased to 5.4km to 6.7km to 7.2km (these distances are based on the peculiarities of my running loop and make sense in context). To catch up on both distance and total number of runs, I often ran nearly every day and after I took a few days rest, I would run far, managing a few fifteen-plus km routes.
Look at me. I claimed that I would not go into detail on non-creativity subjects. To wrap it up, in 2017, I want to start earlier in the year and aim for 6.7 km (or whatever handy distance is close) 150 times. That will put me over 1000 km for the year.
To stay on this subject for one more moment and connect it to goal setting, I found myself behind at the start of the year - I started running in March so I had to catch up 30 runs - and the need to make up the difference motivated me. I was sure I could do it, but it was always in my mind, to a nearly uncomfortable degree. And when I caught up, I thought about the nightmarish humid summers here and also about bad weather coming up in November and December so that drove me to add runs to my total as a cushion for future bad luck.

I need to set strict, challenging goals that are also achievable. Falling a little behind is okay because it motivates me to improve.

Finally back to Weiland's question about writing organization goals.

I dream of having a workspace specific to my creative needs.

We moved to a smaller apartment and plan to immigrate to Canada in 2018 so we are not going to buy stuff for this place. But I expect to return to a university teaching position and so will have a desk, maybe even a private office, there. The workspace forces the other organizational changes. I wrote Nanowrimo at my kitchen table and with the computer on my lap in bed but I would prefer a desk. But in previous university work, my time around classes was spent on preparing for class or grading and also on being social with coworkers. That latter allocation can certainly be improved upon but do recall that I live in a country where few people speak my language so only at work can I easily chat. Chatting at work is more valuable to me than drinking and chatting on Friday nights, for example.  Anyway, I plan to make my office workspace my writing workspace and will organize my desk for that. That pretty much takes care of time management as well.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Incheon Animals

I photographed this Nephila clavata in Jinyoung, Gyeongsangnam Province, but I have seen many in Incheon so I think it still counts. Wikipedia: Nephila genusN clavata. 
This one moved slightly but the cold had nearly killed it.