Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Click Bait: How This A 22-Year-Old Girl Became a Millionaire in Only 30 Days

This how a 22-Year-Old Girl Became a Millionaire In 30 Days
Sara settled back into the cramped bus seat.  She had just completed a degree in criminology and now a bus was all she could afford to return to her parent's home in eastern Oregon. A long night on the bus north to Boise, then a wait of two days before a bus could take her near Jordan Valley so her parents could pick her up.
She was from a small WASPY town so foreigners and minorities stood out to her.  On the other hand, her four years in Las Vegas had taught her something of tolerance and acceptance.  For example, she mused, her parents and eight out of the nine in her graduating class would probably stare curiously at the dark-complected man sitting across the aisle and one seat ahead of her. His long, loose clothes would protect him from the sun and cool him at least as well as the shorter, tighter fashion Sara and her friends preferred.  They were reasonable and practical but they stood out around here.
Idly, she studied him more closely.
... At Boise, she called the local police and after well-meaning officers tested her possible racism and bigotry, they arrived and arrested Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

Sara had to wait thirty days for the paperwork and such to be completed but then she received her $5 million reward.
And yes, the original ad is missing 'is'.

I started with a mind map and nothing really felt right until I added 'Western' as a genre.  Things took off from there. I had considered going into Sara following the man or her training or how a '22-year-old girl' was the epitome of a tough western law-person. Then I figured, screw it, these click-bait stories are meant to be short and fun.
I want at some time to write a story with sex in it. I feel awkward writing even that I have that desire -to write about it, whatever my comfort with engaging in the act - but this prompt and image with lots of bare skin made that direction feel like victim-blaming or bigotry on my part.  Perhaps when I get to 'Granny's weird trick to improve vision' I will explore that subject.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Incheon Animals: immature Keelback Snake

I was in Jeju for the weekend with my in-laws, celebrating my mother-in-laws seventieth birthday.  My photos of that time are okay and I may share one or two but they are nothing noteworthy. 

This cutie is, though!

My dog ran right over this snake but its regular pattern caught my eye and I took a few pics.

 You can see the 100 won coin, about the size of a quarter, added for scale.

The head is diamond shaped and the posture it took tells me it is venomous.

Keelback snakes have the same pattern but are normally a beautiful red around the head and first quarter or so of its body.  They are also a meter or more long at full size. For now, I am calling this an immature keelback and corrections are entirely welcome.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

TWIC:on writing, procrastination, maps, drum beats and titles

Choose a short writing activity; something that produces at least 1 or 2 paragraphs of writing. Run this activity at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester. In this sample lesson plan I use a short video.
Step 4 Collect Writing
After students have finished writing, collect their work. Keep it in a safe place until the end of the semester.
Step 5 Repeat Assignment
Around week 13 of the semester, I repeat the writing assignment. This gives me a little time to read the new and old student writing and make a few notes that highlight differences before final exams.
At the link, you can find more information, including a suggestion on warning/reminding students what they should think about in their writing.  This is something that took me a long time to learn.  I remember spending an hour of classtime looking at metaphors and similes, having the students make their own examples and then telling them to write a story for me.  None of the stories handed in included metaphors or similes!  "Write a story" is not enough!
Writing and OCD
In fact, much of what we celebrate as genius has a certain obsessive-compulsive quality, nowhere more discernible than in the lives of writers, who possess the rare gift of being able to articulate these forces of creative compulsion with electrifying clarity.
The article quotes French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
To write is to pour one’s innermost self passionately upon the tempting paper, at such frantic speed that sometimes one’s hand struggles and rebels, overdriven by the impatient god who guides it — and to find, next day, in place of the golden bough that boomed miraculously in that dazzling hour, a withered bramble and a stunted flower.
Steve Martin Quotes
“I don’t totally believe in the very specific back-story. It never really helped me as a writer. I don’t think it helps in movies either. They’re always talking about backstory, backstory, backstory and you can’t express it unless it’s completely boring exposition.”
“It’s sort of the author’s right not to reveal how much of a character is him.”
“I don’t really manage my time. I really just wait until I’m inspired to do something. And when I’m inspired to do something, it just happens. I know it seems like a lot, but, you know, a movie takes three months, right? And during that time you’re sitting in your trailer a lot. So I’ll learn a song on the banjo or maybe I’ll write an essay if it comes up. But only if it comes up.”
What is procrastination and how can I fight it?

"It's so frustrating because even though I know how it works, it's really hard to stop doing it."
The best, but not perfect, answer was meditation, specifically 'mindfulness meditation'. That's inside quotes because I don't know the difference between types of meditations.
I don't know if sabotage fits with the theme of creativity but creative people are more morally versatile. Whatever the case, the CIA's textbook on Simple Sabotage is available at Amazon. And Holy Shoot, the US version is a third the price of the Canadian version. Ah, the book is devoted to teaching a manager to detect sabotage - people who schedule meetings at inappropriate times, for example, rather than a Phun Philes document on how to make explosives. Ah, apparently Phun Philes are a relic of a simpler time, a time of Commodore 64s and the secret copying and sharing of 3.5 in floppy disks. I cannot find a current link. Briefly, it was a document explaining how to make explosives and such.
The blank page is a scary sight.  Limits are fun and allow turning activities into games. Play Anything is a book on gamification that I now want.
The thousand most common words in English are a useful thing for ESL educators to know. 300 of them are in this book with useful drawings explaining them.
Maps, a twofer.
Jerry Gretzinger has been inventing a map for the past fifty-odd years.
The map is never finished. In the morning, when Gretzinger draws a card out of the deck that sets his task for the day, sometimes that card says "scan". That means a portion of the map is scanned and archived, and the copy is reworked to "upgrade" that part of the map.
Generate your own random fantasy map.
I wanted to make maps that look like something you'd find at the back of one of the cheap paperback fantasy novels of my youth. I always had a fascination with these imagined worlds, which were often much more interesting than whatever luke-warm sub-Tolkien tale they were attached to.
Magic Spells inscribed on tiny scrolls of gold and silver.
The fragile, golden and silver scrolls - which once unrolled look like rectangles of foil similar in size to a sweet wrapper - may never be fully understood.
A drum beat generator. Ah, actually isolated drum beats from existing music that you can reset the beat on.
I have a new blog feature creating stories from click bait titles.  It turns out, such titles are of value beyond blog posts.  They work for scientific journal article titles too.
It turned out that articles with positive framing and phrasing arousal in their titles received higher Altmetric scores, meaning that they were shared more widely online. In contrast, having wordplay in the titles actually lead to lower Altmetric Attention Scores, while having a question in the title made no difference. This is independent of the length of the title or how interesting the topic was.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Thinking about carving my (golf)balls.

I have carved the cores of a few golf balls before but am suffering from a lack of imagination for any of these.  I tell people my hobby is wood carving but I haven't done enough to get good enough to want to do more yet.

In the past, I have carved two elephants into cores.

The lower ball in the picture has a strange pattern drawn on the shell and '2015' so I've clearly had it for a while.

At the upper right is a Pasteur Milk golf ball. I have worked at a school near Pasteur Milk in Korea and the company once funded the school.  I want to give this ball to a teacher there.  He is German and teaches history.  His hobby is bug-hunting. Hmm. Beer-drinking mosquito?

Online resources for golfball core carving:

Suggestions from the Northwest Carvers Association.

III. Preparing the center for carving: (All sorts of subjects can be carved into the center. Here are hints to doing a face.

a. Planning and drawing the face:

1. Patterns can be found in many sources--magazines, books, paintings. You can copy expression and muscle movement from your own face.
2. Find the center, place lines. If you plan to use a hat or a beard you need to be sure to have space for these. (See Example 1)
3. I draw the nose a bit larger to leave room for error (See Example 2)
Patterns from carver's compantion. Here are some cropped examples:
I think this carver's exchange is ongoing.  You register with them and commit to carving one golf ball a month for six months and send off to others while collecting the same from six other carvers.  I guess this means you could carve the same thing six times.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Incheon Ant channel

While not exactly 'creative', the images of animals I intend to post here on occasion will probably be a sign of my curiosity about the world.  That's got to find the theme of this blog somehow, right?

First off, the image is about ants who have created a path, with piled sand on both sides, making a channel.  I will not be writing about a TV channel!

Ah, when introducing my plans for adding images, I specifically stated 'exhibition quality'.
You can see that was optimistic.

Both images are from Yeonsu Gu, Incheon.  I have never seen anything like them before.

There have been many studies about how ants find or follow a trail. Here is one example (details here):Trail following in worker ants (Lasiusfuliginonus) in relatively still air. The straight red line marks the centerline of an odor trail. The dotted blue line denotes the path of the ant. The ant in “A” swings right and left across the trail, presumably bringing one antenna to an area of discernibly lower concentration before turning in the opposite direction. In “B,” the ant’s left antenna has been removed and she overcorrects her course to the right

The image below is what I consider the basic or standard type of ant pile or ant hill.  It was among the first returns when I searched for 'ant pile'.  I shrank the image slightly so if you want to see it full-size, look here.

I think this image does fit with the theme of 'creativity'.  If only to me, it shows a new way of performing a task. Or a new something, anyway.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Click Bait story a breakthrough that [might] bankrupt a medical industry

Two execs in the parking lot of Monspfivartzis  walking to work.

"Hey Kevin.  Did you read that article at breakbigpharma?"

"The one on natural Cialis? I tell you I don't need it, Bob!"

"No. And not the one on the link between autism and vaccines, either. There was an article on exercise and control of diabetes," Bob explained.

"Dang! Who leaked that to the press?" asked Kevin, unaware that he personally had done so two weeks ago, mistaking his Facebook prompt for a Cortana search of his own computer.  The keywords he'd posted had allowed the intuitives at breakbigpharma to connect the dots.

On the whole, this was still better for Kevin personally than when he had mistaken his Facebook prompt for a Google search and asked his friends and family about impotency and discrete sources of Cialis.

"If people start exercising, we are going to lose customers for a dozen products," Bob whined.

"But, if they exercise outside..."Kevin mused.

"Yeah! This could be big for our chemtrails program!"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

TWIC: rejections, Korea Lit, Textbooks, 1 yrs old, DnD, Radioplay and Dune

Aim for 100 rejections a year. Kim Liao at Lit Hub has a suggestion: aim for many rejections
In late 2011, a writer friend was sharing her experiences of having months of uninterrupted writing time at her residencies at the Millay Colony, Ragdale, and Yaddo. I was staggered by her impressive rates of acceptance. You probably have one of those friends, too—you know the one I’m talking about, that friend who is a beautiful writer, but who also seems to win everything? I could barely believe that she had the balls to apply to—let alone, get accepted to—several residencies, a prestigious fellowship, and publications in journals I had actually heard of.
I asked her what her secret was, and she said something that would change my professional life as a writer: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”
This seems another version of Linus Pauling's "The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away."
I like the moral of this story about a pottery class:
David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block.

One place to submit to (and hopefully not be rejected) is Korea Lit. From their submissions page:
All submissions must have some Korean element in them.
All submissions must be in an original work of short fiction or poetry and written in English.
All short fiction submissions must be between 1000-8000 words. For poetry, less than 500 words.
-We are a new publication, so at this time we cannot offer payment for any accepted submission. We hope that this will change in the near future.
Shelly Terrell at Teacher Reboot Camp has long pushed for greater computer use and less-paper teaching.  She is big on lists.  This is one of many that could apply to web-content and education: 18 ideas to bring a textbook to life.
How to measure the creativity of a one-year old.
...protecting a razor head with a binder clip or wrapping shoes in a shower cap for travel. These ingenious ideas are the result of divergent thinking (DT), or an outside-the-box approach that generates novel, creative alternatives to persistent challenges. DT drives adaptive innovation and is important when problems require a shift in perspective or the development of flexible, original solutions.
This divergent thinking can be measured in one-year olds and the results are consistent when testes are repeated.
From the end of the article:
It also appears that copying others does affect DT, as related research shows that children who watch someone else with high DT tend to improve their own DT scores, while those who watch low DT behaviorsreduce their own DT.
Having trouble deciding on your next D&D character? How about just a fantasy book character? Try this character generator. NOTE: foul language warning for those worried about that sort of thing. I don't worry about reading such words, but am not eager to have them splashed across my monitor: The image is seriously shrunk - click to embiggen. Refresh for a new character.

Hmm. I thought blogger gave me more control over image size. The image is slightly shrunk.
In Canada, in the '80's and probably still, AM and FM radio had rules over what they could play. To keep AM viable, the relevant Canadian ministry gave FM stations a cap on the top ten hits per hour.  Steely Dan is apparently a really good but not quite great group who had a lot of hits just low enough in the charts to escape limits. well, I seem to remember reading that somewhere years ago so maybe one critic thought so. This post at Boingboing explains why radio stations today play who they do.
I have never used emoji.  Well, I have used the smiling face and one or two other faces. Kyle McLachlan is an emoji master! If it is not clear in the embedded tweet, the actor who played Paul Atreides* in Dune was asked to summarize the plot of the movie.  He did so in one Tweet.

What other movies could be summarized in this way?
*So embarrassing. I misspelled the name the first time I attempted it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Life of SurprisesAplenty and plans for the future

I am unemployed.

I am looking for work and a white-skinned English speaker in Korea with a clean record will always find work.  I would prefer to work at a university, as I have for more than 12 years, but I will to settle in the short term for more ... work.

A quick discussion of ESL teaching at a Korean university:   Honestly and sadly, the single best part of being a 'professor' (some universities bestow that title, while others stick with the more honest 'instructor') is how little there is.
At my last university, I worked twelve to sixteen hours a week, thrity weeks a year.  Those were class-time hours and I had other duties, but they weren't scheduled and repetition reduced their volume greatly.  And naturally, I worked off campus, but when I wanted a month or two to do something else, I had it, and was paid.
The students were polite and many, even most, wanted to learn but few were driven or excited by the non-major, mandatory ESL classes.
At children's after-school classes, the English being displayed was not much lower than that of my uni students; the biggest difference was that, instead of being too active and disruptive in class, my uni students were too sleepy.
Teaching at an extended learning school for adults was great; the students were eager and since they were paying, they focused on the material and tried to use English.  On the other hand, classes for adults are scheduled early and late; I used to teach 6:30 to 12:00 pm and again in the evening 5:00 to 9:30pm.

Back to me and this blog.

I want to be a professional writer.  I am trying to write every day but it is so easy to leave my writing for later and later until there is no more later left and I go to sleep. This is my chance to see if I can do it.  I've completed Nanowrimo a few times but I haven't completed a book.
I started this blog because I was curious about what it means to be creative.  It became a diary and study notes on creativity research.  I want this blog to continue in these functions but advice from authors and creatives is that I need to be in the public eye and producing interesting content as a way to promote my style or brand or self so that a future, hypothetical book will sell the first few copies.
There is an author I follow on Twitter and I have mentioned this person on my blog, how recycles posts. This probably means the author has more time to write the books that pay the bills but I think it reduces the value of the author's social media outreach.  I digressed lengthily on ESL teaching so I'll save my thoughts on social media outreach for another post, but I want my posts here to be fun, to be of Goldilocks length and not to get in the way of my book writing.

Here are my ideas.  As I work these out, I will likely assign specific days to  individual ideas but for now, I will work through the list once or a few times to see how they work out.

Creativiti ideas:
Clickbait answers and guesses I have found links and suggestive images as 'promoted content' at the bottom of various blogs. They are often of the, "How did this woman become a millionaire at age 25?" and a picture of a woman showing a whole lot of leg in a luxury car.  I am going to see if I can guess how or why "Doctors don't want you to see this video!"  I may actually follow the link and read or watch that video but I don't think I need to.

Exploring Incheon I am unemployed because my wife was transferred to a new city, Incheon, and I followed her here. In my fifteen-odd years in Korea, I have visited Incheon only once so now I can be a tourist again and explore a city that is far less grimy than I had been led to believe.  This will not necessarily be 'creative' but perhaps my photos will be of exhibition quality.

TWIC Naturally, I will continue This Week In Creativity, where I post a number of links to relevant material.  In the past, this has been to author's blogs, archives of public domain images and somewhat scientific articles on the study of creativity.

Evolution I have another blog, one focused on evolution and creationism.  I will try to post material there on a weekly basis and post a link to this blog for anyone interested in the subject.

Education Can you teach someone to be creative? Can you teach so as not to damage your student's creativity?  I have written on the subject before (and given lectures and seminars on the subject) and you can expect more of the same.

Animals I was joking earlier about 'exhibition quality' photos.  I have some eye for framing but my images are typically more educational than stylish or artistic.  Still, when you take a lot of pictures, a few turn out pretty well.  Expect images of local animals here.

Book reviews As a wannabe writer, reading is a good way to learn the craft.  I read a lot but tend to skim through a book. Case in point, despite all my reading, I still have trouble with basic grammar and punctuation.  I don't expect this to become a grammar blog but I will write about ideas found in different books and how the authors describe things.

So, these are my goals.  Let's see what happens!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TWIC: generators, productivity, teaching and academic writing

Greetings all! I have returned home from a three week, very intense, science camp in Gangwon Province.  I've been home for a few days, resting and job hunting.  I now have some time for blog posting.  The title of this post should probably be This Month In Creativity; it is not bigger than similar posts but the gap between posts makes 'month' better than 'week'.

Earlier I posted a link for a Simpsons script and meme generator.  I don't have a link to that post handy but this new Futurama script and meme generator has a link to it anyway.
Via Kottke
There is also the 'totally useful loot generator', good for, um, maybe D & D? If the text is too small (or am I too old?), click to embiggen.
I have described before that I think I have enough ideas but I don't do well at following through or motivating myself to do the work.  Sci-Am has two introductory articles on productivity.  To read the details, you need a subscription.
The science of working smarter and happier:
Behavioral research is coalescing around the idea that being productive and happy actually go hand in hand. As the writers in this three-part special section explain, many of the same tactics that foster an employee's fresh thinking and improve time management and performance also bolster his or her social support, autonomy and job satisfaction. Each story offers practical, research-backed advice on matters such as how to promote greater collaboration through technology, how to work more effectively from home, and how to boost creativity with mental and physical breaks.
Follow the link to find the three parts mentioned.

Work Smarter, Vote Wiser and Sleep Better
This is another introduction to other articles:
In “No Workplace Like Home,” journalist Rachel Nuwer explores the growing trend of telecommuting, examining research that shows how distance workers can exceed their office-bound peers in both productivity and job satisfaction. And in “Give Me a Break,” contributing editor Ferris Jabr looks at solutions to what may be the single biggest stressor for the modern desk jockey: the failure to unplug from the always on, always connected workplace.
Larry Ferlazzo has made a list of handy website for manipulating images and such for educational purposes. It is a well-organized list.
In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:
* accessible to English Language Learners.
* able to provide a learning opportunity.
* available at no-cost.
* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.
* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.
* appropriate for classroom use.
* accessible without requiring registration.
As an ESL teacher, this one looks particularly interesting:
Google’s Peanut Gallery lets you create subtitles for a variety of old silent movies. The special twist, though, is that you create the subtitles by speaking into a computer microphone and they will then magically appear. You have to speak very clearly though, so it may, or may not, work well for English Language Learners. One negative, however, is that it only works in the Chrome Browser.
The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting (they don’t use photos, but the site is so good I decided to include it in this list anyway), write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog.
...Ten minutes after finishing a a test story, it has not appeared in my email.  If/when it does, I'll post it here.
Laura Portwood-Stacer completed her PhD and chose to publish a book based on her dissertation.  She made a few mistakes and describes them so you don't make the same ones. Without having published anything myself (yet), her mistakes and suggestions look like they are more widespread than simply the academic publishing industry.
Mistake #1: Not spending more time on the cover copy
Cover copy is that paragraph-or-two that appears on the back of the paperback consumer edition of the book. I think I always assumed that publishers had a staff of copy writers who would carefully read the books and generate snappy, engaging blurbs for the backs. Um, duh, that is not how it works. Authors write their own cover copy. When I was asked to do this, I dashed off a few paragraphs and sent them to the publisher, now making the erroneous assumption that someone would vet this draft, edit it, and let me know if it sucked as cover copy. Once again, nope! What I gave them is what ended up on the book, and I cringe every time I see it and imagine potential readers picking it up in the bookstore and then… putting it right back down, with a combination eye-roll/yawn.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Vanity Fair on Tom Wolfe

Vanity Fair has an article by Michael Lewis on Tom Wolfe.
Wolfe worked for years as a journalist and wrote technically well, but with no individual voice.  Then newspapers went on strike.  Wolfe considers going on the dole.  Instead, he freelances for a magazine and writes an article about custom-made cars
"To his parents he has no trouble describing what he has seen. Putting the words onto paper for Esquire proves more problematic. He’s written hundreds of thousands of words in newspapers. He has a subject that interests him intensely—it’s not just about cars, it’s about the sincere soul of American life. He sits down to write and … he can’t do it....
In the morning, he walked his letter over to Esquire. “It was like he discovered it in the middle of the night,” Dobell now recalls. “Wherever it came from, it seemed to me to tap a strain of pure American humor that wasn’t being tapped. He didn’t sound like Truman Capote or Lillian Ross … or anyone else.”
...Eighteen months! That’s what it took for Wolfe, once he’d found his voice, to go from worrying about whether or not to go on the dole to a cult figure. By early 1965, literary agents are writing him, begging to let them sell a book; publishers are writing to him, begging him to write one. Hollywood people are writing to ask if they might turn his magazine pieces into movies"
On astronauts and the genesis of The Right Stuff:
"The archives here tell the story of a writer working his ass off. Never mind what percentage of genius is talent; this feels like all perspiration. There’s no main character. There are the seven astronauts scattered across the country, plus a lot of other people to track down. The reporting alone takes him seven years. His original idea of the story, he decides, is wrong."