Tuesday, December 27, 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.

TWIC: Merry Christmas Prompts and punctuation

[WP] A cat burglar leads the detectives on a daring daylight chase through the crowded streets of Paris. She's not interested in the jewels, though; she just wants to make sure her son is getting plenty of exercise, sunlight, and and fresh air.WRITING PROMPT
submitted 4 hours ago by ElectronicSamurai1 commentshare

[WP] As an alien invasion swiftly brings humanity to its knees, you stumble upon their only weakness: puns cause their advanced intellects excruciating pain. You now lead a rag tag group of mediocre comics to take back the planet.WRITING PROMPT
submitted 8 hours ago by Breadinator3 commentsshare

[WP] In a recurring dream everything seems so familiar, until a man in a white coat holding a clipboard and stop watch appears and says "Hmmm, Interesting. You've never made it this far before". He disappears and you're not sure where you are anymore or even if this a dream.WRITING PROMPT
submitted 9 hours ago by liwanam5 commentsshare

[WP] Suddenly and without warning, all dogs begin barking, and it just so happens they are barking at you.WRITING PROMPT
submitted 3 hours ago by SpicyBearTurd
Dialog and Punctuation. I need, desperately need, to see this video.

There might have been a lot of good stuff but, well, Christmas took over. See you in the new year!

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.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

TWIC: contests, writer's block, drawing

David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fictionis only open to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction, either a novel or collection of stories. The winner receives US$1000 and publication in Southwest Review. Stories can be up to 8000 words in length and all entries will be considered for publication. The deadline for entries is 1 May.
Conium Review Innovative Short Fiction Contestis for new writing that takes risks and shows something new with its subject, style or characters. Submission may include any combination of flash fiction or short stories up to 7500 total words.The winner receives US$500 and publication. Entries are expected to open in February and close on 1 May.
Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contestis open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry who have yet to publish a book. The winner in each genre will be awarded US$2000. Entries open on 1 March and close 15 May.
A Case Study of Self Treatment of writers block.

As humourous as the article is, it was cited in another paper.
Phylogenetic analysis of methionine synthesis genes from Thalassiosira pseudonana My bolding below.
 The Cbf1 (centromere-binding factor 1) is a basic helix-loop-helix protein, which forms homodimers to bind to sites with consensus CACGTG core present at MET gene promoters (Kuras et al. ). This makes it to one of main activators of methionine metabolism and glutathione synthesis genes in yeast. Very little is known about the transcriptional regulation of gene expression in diatoms (Upper ). In genomes of T. pseudonana and P. tricornutum as much as 46 and 40 zinc finger transcription factors were identified, respectively. These belong to three types: C2H2, CCCH and TAZ type (Rayko et al. ). Neither, Met4p nor Met31p/Met32p yeast orthologs were found in the genome of T. pseudonana. 
I imagine that the regulation of gene expression involves blocking the writing of its code. Hence, writer's block.
4 online resources to practice drawing figures.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Click Baitin': see your doctor more frequently and Trump's secrets

About the images: They were found at the bottom of a news blog I read. I love the variety of images they use with the same text and also the variety of text with what amounts to the same message.  I might write about $97 or $197/hour a day, whatever that means, but I love the similarities and differences.

Click-bait: Psoriatic Arthritis: Why you should see your doctor  frequently

I did something I shouldn't for these stories; I researched. I mean, I just visited Wikipedia but that is more than these stories deserve. I just wanted to be a little sensitive in my descriptions. But now I worry that I have this disease! My toes are misshapen and my toe nails hideous.
Even before I checked Wikipedia, I was thinking about superheroes (see more in the next story) and Larry Niven's Protectors. This form of arthritis does give a slight Pak Protector look to the infected. But now that idea has already been used - and I am not up to writing something to compare to Niven at his peak - so no more research in fear of losing all my gestating ideas!


Step-clunk. Step-clunk. The middle-aged woman made her way through the park, noticing several other park goers enjoying the sunshine.  They stood there, barefoot and arms outstretched, the sun's beams lighting their happy faces. Angie wanted to join them. it would be so nice to let go of your cares for a few moments and be part of nature.
But her husband and son had reminded her to see the doctor again and again. She'd told them she didn't need to see a doctor, that she simply had a fungal infection in her toenails.
She was surprised at how hard it was to leave the park and tread again on concrete.  The clinic was only a few minutes away and if it had been longer, she probably would've turned back.
Dr Washington looked haggard, with yesterday's five o'clock shadow growing on his face. He welcomed her into his office and patted her shoulder as she sat. A look crossed his face and he left the room briefly, returning soon and rubbing his hands. She could smell the alcohol from the cleanser he'd used. She frowned realizing he'd done that after touching her.
Before she could speak, he asked, "You were limping. What have you done with your foot?"
"I have a skin condition", she told him. "It seems part of or aggravated by my psoriatic arthritis."
His smile hardened but didn't fade. "May I see?"
She glanced at the door -closed - and that finally sent a tendril of concern into her chest. She took a deep breath as she removed her shoes and then her pants for her condition had spread well beyond her foot. After the pants came her tattered left sock. She hardly seemed aware of how it tore and pulled on the dark, crusty lumps on her ankle and foot.  As she removed her sock, she looked at Dr Washington.
The man's face was returning to a professional look. Evidently, it had held a different expression while she disrobed.
She sat back down and expected him to examine her foot. She realized what would help him and lifted her foot and set it on a planter pot in his office, not really near him, but surely he would appreciate not having to bend so far, even if he would have to walk a few steps to get close.
Again, she caught his expression returning to a bland look.
He put gloves on and clearly avoided the spot where he bare foot had touched the floor. He crouched studied without manipulating it as he had to test for mobility in previous visits, a year ago.
"You really should have come to see me earlier", he told her. "I am going to book a hospital room now. You need to be go into quarantine and we need to take drastic measures to save your knee."
This penetrated her calm. "My, my knee? What do you mean?" She curled her arms against her chest and pulled her still sock covered right foot under her chair.
"You are very sick and this is terribly contagious", he told her. "Don't worry about money. The CDC will pay for all treatment and we need to examine and test the rest of your family."
She knew what to do. She swung her black, gnarly, knobbed foot at him and he stumbled back with a shriek. Then she was out the door, wearing only a top, panties and one sock. She knocked a man out of the way and was out of the clinic.
She didn't know where to go so she just ran. Stride-thump. Stride-thump.  She wasn't surprised to see that chance was leading her into the park.  She joined the other sun-worshippers and noted with no unease at all that they too were in varying stages of undress, all with bare, mottled brown, tree-bark legs and feet. She wiggled her toes into the soil, spread her arms and relaxed.
Soon, men with gasoline tanks on their backs arrived to spray the several dozen people but by then she was unaware of the sting and stench and later the burning.


Everything They Don't Want You To Know About Trump
Trump: 191 cm, age 70, born 1946, 236 pounds. Was 198 pounds

'None of these people will listen to me', thought Donald Trump as he walked forward to reluctantly give his acceptance speech.
None of that reluctance was visible. Indeed, close observers noticed he seemed to be restraining his powerful body as if he could have leapt across the room if he chose.
He thought back to sixteen months ago when his son-in-law Jared suggested he accept the pleas of the populace and run for office. At the time, it had seemed a great cover, and if he refused, more people would ask why than if he accepted.
And so he had accepted. Media scrutiny had left his other endeavors alone and he made great progress in finding evidence that world would believe about the real threat to America. Soon, it would be soon. Then he could end the charade, take off the fake stomach that added forty pounds and several inches to his waist. The presence of a fake stomach was the least of it; if people knew what was in it...
Again, he had been distracted by his obsession. Now he stood at the podium and looked out over the crowd in front of him. .... Lansing, Michigan; that was where he was.
"People of Lansing", he boomed out, barely needing the microphone. "You there, you in the Packers hat", He smiled at the man and ran on autopilot, "We need packing jobs here, in the US, not taken away by aliens, given to aliens!" Oops, tone it back a little.
And so he multi-tasked. While bizarrely suggesting that Michigan had some edge or unique interest in packing, based on a city that was actually in Wisconsin, he thought back to when he was finally awakened to the threat the US, and the world, faced.
An assistant of Alex Jones had spoken to him after a radio show and given him the device that was now strapped to his his powerful abs. The device blocked some radio signals from interfering with his nerves but it did more. It replied in a signal that claimed he was indeed in thrall to them, that he wasn't a threat. He had walked among the reptilians and they hadn't  noted his awareness of them.
Jones himself had been replaced over a year ago and the man who gave him the device was now hidden in one of Trump's luxury towers, in a penthouse that did not exist in the floorplans.
And so when Donald had been tracking down the aliens and their technology and taking his Grav Magda and Muay Thai and Hae Dong Geom Do and building a body of steel and people noticed him. His darting eyes made him seem curious rather than terrified. This  drove him to lead a double life, on the one hand playing the billionaire playboy and on the other, fighting Earth's greatest threat. No wonder he did not care at all about climate change!
When friends suggested he run for office, he had similarly acted interested while thinking about a lead in China. He came to full awareness suddenly realizing he'd agreed to run for president.
But if he did, the media would dig through his history and odd disappearances. He had to stay on but also work to lose.
His mind like a Cray supercomputer suddenly put it all together. How his apparent racism had gained him votes, how his claimed lack of interest in foreign policy was seen as a positive trait, how it all fit. His device was working so well, the reptilians were behind it. They thought they controlled him.
And so, sadly, in coercing everyone else to vote for him, they seemed to control him to. The irony made him furious but he could see no way out.
His realization lead him finish his speech, with an attack on the cheeseheads of the neighboring state.  Wait. That was where Green bay was. Damn.  These aliens had really grabbed him by the pussy.
Growling with awareness of how little he really mattered, he punched a media man, maybe that Blitzer guy as he left. The audience cheered and together ripped the CNN man to pieces.
The next day, both Michigan and Wisconsin's legislatures unanimously organized Donald Trump Day to replace Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Incheon Animals: Pica pica

I have long enjoyed watching the magpies in Korea. They are as common as dirt so locals probably don't find them exotic but the iridescence of their feathers, their long tails and slatted wings make them beautiful. Plus, they love playing with my dog.

They are somewhat wary though. I wasn't sure if I should share my photos but I'm hard up for animals so here are some blurry pics (and these are the best of literally around a hundred!):

They will scatter when my dog runs toward them, but some will immediately land behind her and get closer and closer until she chases them. Then they land behind her again. She gets bored of it faster than they do.

In January, I will have access to a good camera with an adequate zoom so perhaps I offer larger, clearer images then.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Choosing names

I just completed Nanowrimo. I didn't finish anything but this time I think I will. There are so many steps between a first draft and a book listed on Amazon and I don't know most of them. But one step I do know, and am finding challenging, is naming my work.

The story I wrote had the theme of fighting against the greed of all empires. I don't know if that sounds pretentious and the story as written only has that in the background, but it is there. I swear it is. Use a magnifying glass if you need to.

So the working title, one that I don't like, was "Smash the Lion, Smash the Bear, Smash the Dragon" with England, Russia and China figuring in the story.  Later, for some reason being reminded of Edward Abbey, I decided The Steamwrench Gang might better fit.  But I don't know.

Note: I am definitely not using this as a book cover!
I have a tiny bit better design sense than that!

Enter The Book Title Generator! It uses the standard lists of words that you choose depending on your initials or the name of the town you were born in, etc. I tried a few variations and the grammar worked consistently, which impressed me. According to the generator, my Christmas book should be titled:
If Garlands Always Dance

While my Crime/Thriller book should be:
The Hidden Wall

My work of Literary Fiction:
The indefatigable Endgame in Bracebridge

My Autobiography:
Brian: My Brave Gamble

For Chicklit:
And Skies Might Cry

Hmmm. No steampunk or Sci fi. UK Rifter has my back with a Sci-fi title generator. It is more random and you simply press a button. It offered me:
They don't fit my book, but I like them. Maybe I should work on a book to fit the title.

Turns out a Google search turns up a lot of title generators. From Lisapaitzspindler:
Faith Dogsbody and the Airship Goggles

From mcoorlim:

Mcoorlim's site more obviously picks words from a list and so offers five options in case a few don't make any sense.

The Nano website has an appellation station forum page where people can ask for help naming things. Perhaps I need to visit it more.
There were so many names in my stories. That's not right; there were so many people of different nationalities that needed names in my story. I needed various Chinese, Turkish, Nepalese, Italian, Swiss, Kazakh and Russian names.  There are probably a few InsertName Laters in my story as well.

And all this is before I decide if I want the names to mean anything. The only name that carries special meaning is that of Lord "Oldwife", a man who led a British expedition into Tibet.

This might take a while.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TWIC: first drafts, animation, cartoons, quora, yosegi

The first draft.
Of most interest: the tedium of the thing. Below, learn the .docx names, the preferred conditions, and the crucial snacks of some of our brightest contemporary authors
As a Nanowrimo participant, I know more about first drafts than any other part of writing. I am working to change that this and next year.

I didn't enjoy Go Set a Watchman but it was wonderful to see how much was changed to turn the book into To Kill A Mockingbird. The difference between (the polished) first draft that GSAW really was and the fantastic TKAM shows you how much a book can change and still clearly have the same provenance.
Using Para-Para to make simple animations. See a shark attack here, unless I can figure out how to publish it here.

The internet and cartoons and creativity
The typical format for a web comic was established a decade or more ago, says Zach Weiner, the writer of “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal”, or “SMBC” (below). It has not changed much since. Most cartoonists update on a regular basis — daily, or every other day — and run in sequence. “I think that’s purely because that’s what the old newspapers used to do,” says Mr Weiner. But whereas many newspaper comics tried to appeal to as many people as possible, often with lame, fairly universal jokes, online cartoonists are free to be experimental, in both content and form. 
Ryan North uses the same drawing every day for his “Dinosaur Comics” — the joke is in the dialogue, which he writes fresh every weekday, and the absurdity of dinosaurs discussing Shakespeare and dating. “SMBC” flicks between one-panel gags and extremely long, elaborate stories. Fred Gallagher, the writer of “Megatokyo”, has created an entire soap-opera-like world, drawn in beautiful Japanese manga-style, accessible only to those who follow the sage regularly. Mr Munroe’s “XKCD” is usually a simple strip comic, but recently featured one explorable comic, entitled “Click and Drag”, which, if printed at high resolution, would be 46 feet wide. 
Perhaps thanks to the technical skills needed to succeed, web cartoonists tend to be young — few are over 30 — well-educated and extremely geeky.
From Quora: Why is science fiction so popular in writing?

And Differences in planning a long or very long book.
I've seen a lot of discussion of yosegi lately. It is the Japanese art of parquetry.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Clickbaitin: Korean millionaires and science!

Watch Local Area!: Millionaires On Republic of Korea Want This (Video Out From The Internet) (Orion Code)
First, I am writing a story about a strange quasi-religious order guiding human progress for the past 1,000 years. For no better reason than I liked the image, I named this group 'The Orions'. Maybe this is one click bait article I need to read!
I love the punctuation and the idea of taking something 'out' of the internet.
The calls travelled swiftly. In the world's most connected country, of course they did. It is probably impossible to say for certain who noticed the video first but one of the first must have been nineteen year old Choi Shin-il.  His posts on his Naver blog and promoting of same on Kakao Talk, Facebook and even the archaic Cyworld mini-hompies bear the earliest time stamps.

Late the previous night, he had finished his shift at his parent's noodle restaurant. The work meant he finally had more than a million won, around 900 US$, saved. He had sat down to study and four hours later, around three in the morning, he took a break and saw it.

The video was a new BBC expose on Korea's boshintang or dog-soup restaurants. It went into detail about how the dogs were prepared before being cooked. For the faint-hearted, I will not describe the video in detail, only say that Koreans feel the adrenalin and the softening of the muscle by vigourous beating while the animal is still alive gives it good flavour.

The men, mostly, who ate it did so to increase 'nighttime stamina'. The BBC went into detail about how the typical Korean salaryman smoked and carried a lot of stress and this might lead to concerns about sexual potency. Nothing was left out; the Beeb was very thorough.

Young Choi's posts were timestamped three oh-eight am. By seven am that day, BBC recorded more than a million people had watched the video. In the next two hours two million more did. Seoul's wonderful subway system had its free Wifi crash multiple times during that rush hour.

And at about eight in the morning, at the high point of video watches, the BBC received a new datum; a number representing complaints about the video. More than half were in Korean, with roughly another forty percent showing signs of having passed through an internet translator and the final few percent in, well, interesting English.  A sample:

We the full population of South Korea want this video taken out of the internet.

This number of complaints reached nearly as high as the number of watches but climbed several times above that as Korean hackers created bots to send multiple complaints.  Whether begging, requesting, or threatening, all asked, or told, the BBC to remove the video.

At ten thirty that morning, the British Embassy noted a growing crowd outside. At twelve, they shut all their doors and hunkered down.  That night more than a hundred thousand protesters were outside.
The protests spread across the internet, with Youtube facing threats and requests to remove the video. More than twenty thousand Korean citizens claimed the video infringed on their copyrighted material and filed DCMA requests to have it removed.


13 Things Science Can't Explain - Do You Wanna Give It A Try? (Viral IQ)

1 Gravity - physicists only wish it were as well understood as evolution
2 My wife's smile
3 Origin of first life
4 How the leads of mechanical pencils break so often but people keep buying them
5 How jalapenos from the fridge are hotter in taste than jalapenos in cooked, hot food.
6 The warmth of my dog's snuggle
7 How Psy is popular.
8 Nitrogen narcosis
9 The Taos hum
10 How that much food can fit inside my son
11 The E.M. drive
12 Donald Trump
13 How Justin Bieber is popular

Monday, December 5, 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.

Tuesday, November 29, 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...

Tuesday, November 22, 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.

Tuesday, November 15, 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.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Too much mystery or not enough?

...and other musings.
Below are excerpts from my Goodreads reviews of two books and a review of another that is more inside-baseball than I would prefer to post there.
Castleview by Gene Wolfe
This story reminds me of Castle Perilous where so much of the exciting stuff happened off-screen (or off-page). I found the style of switching POV with a cliffhanger every stinking time to get annoying pretty quickly.
The cover tells you it is an Arthurian epic set in Illinois but that is only mostly spelled out in the final chapter.
I think this story is supposed to be experienced as a dream or an LSD trip (as one character remarks), where things happen with no explanation, people change and random people appear and disappear often.
If you choose to read it, do so in as short a time as possible as there are a lot of characters and the POV changes frequently. It actually reminds me of my own Nanowrimo attempts in that there are too many incomplete ideas and what would only appear to the author, who has researched the subject specifically, to be an appropriate amount of mystery.

The library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
The one technical aspect of Hawkins' writing I was most impressed with was his control of mysteries. We start with the hero walking along the road covered in blood so we start with a lot that is unexplained. As a question is answered, another one appears. The book never crossed my frustration point but remained close to that level throughout. I had enough questions but not nearly so many I discarded the book in exhaustion.

The Furies of Calderon 
This story goes at a breakneck pace. I kept expecting the groups to reunite but they never did, no matter how close they occasionally came. I also expected Tavi to gain some enormous power but he never did. Clearly, he didn't follow any set trope.
One trope he did follow was the use of a magical device that controlled a person.  There are many stories with such a device and my own half-written novel contains one, too. The use of such a device takes a story into the Horror genre and it didn't fit my own desires for fantasy. In his story, it wasn't wrong but in my own story, the use of such a device upset me so much that I had my character released from it pretty quickly. Butcher, too, soon has his character escape from the effects of the device.
What does it say about me that I could imagine myself using it as a tool to control bit players or NPCs in the story? Don't use it on my favorites but on the extras, that's okay.
At the time I introduced the device, I was making the story up as I went along. The consequences of the device was as unknown to me as to the eventual reader and I didn't like it.
I have already begun to read the second book in Butcher's series. The first was thrilling but I am not sure I would read another book in the series except that my Kindle died and I don't have a lot of variety in my reading choices right now.
The second book starts with Tavi being again threatened by a bully. He is now at a school and I am as interested in reading how Butcher uses or avoids 'magic school' themes as I am in the story as a whole.
A lot of the issues I brought up here will be important when I work on the second draft of my stories. For the first draft, it is enough that I get the ideas down. Then I can work out how to share those ideas with the reader. My steampunk story is more like Butcher's Furies than the other two in that it describes a chase and battle scenes rather than mysteries to be solved. There is at least one of the latter and I like it but I don't feel the whole arrangement of the books is like that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

informal survey of creativity

A few ESL instructors in South Korea (or mostly in SK) responded to a request to fill out a survey to share their opinions on creativity and students.  I was one of the respondents. The survey was done on Survey Monkey and respondents were found via Facebook so I offer no confidence that the results represent the opinions of any group larger than the 17 who were involved. Still, there may be something of interest. Here is my paraphrasing of the results

6% (1 in 17) thought that creativity cannot be taught. The rest thought "yes" or "maybe"
75% feel it is not related to discipline problems. Some thought it improves discipline. (creative teachers? creative students? Activities to encourage creativity?)
80+% feel creativity is important for the student's future.
90+%  feel it is important for humanity
90% feel the products of creativity are not always good or novel (I don't know something can be creative but not novel)
90% feel that outside forces can inhibit creativity - The person administering the survey was surprised by this result but,true or not, this is the standard position of ESL instructors in South Korea who see students crushed and shaped into multiple-choice-test taking machines.
1700 words for Nanowrimo yesterday. Now I should get off this blog and add to my story.

TWIC: the problem with happiness, fads, quora, 100 blocks,

From Quartz comes news of the value, or lack, of happiness in creative ventures:
Mark Davis, a psychologist at the University of North Texas Department of Management divides creativity into two phases; initial idea generation and subsequent problem-solving. His review of research onfeelings and creativity concluded that a positive mood is useful when first brainstorming, processing information, and coming up with as many ideas as possible—you don’t want to bring judgment into that, because it could stifle idea generation.

But rigor is the key to overcoming obstacles and completing tasks—andgood mood doesn’t improve problem-solving, which involves judgments that almost by necessity won’t feel good: critique and evaluation, experimentation and failure. The stress that arises from problems may be unpleasant but it also motivates us to complete tasks, Davis says. In other words, negative emotions are actually beneficial to the creative process.
That said, psychologists aren’t suggesting that you live in an emotional maelstrom for creativity’s sake. Emma Seppala, Science Director at the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism and author ofThe Happiness Track explains, “High-intensity positive emotions can sometimes be just as taxing as high negative emotions. Creativity does not so much happen when we are stressed and highly emotional.”
Science Fiction comics are fad, says 1940 science fiction author.
Own your work and get paid for it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the economics of writing online. Making a comfortable living only by writing is tough and very few independents are able to do it. More successful are those who are able to get away from writing online by speaking at conferences, writing books, starting podcasts, selling merchandise...
On Quora, How Does Creativity Work? Only one answer so far, but it's a doozy.

Also on Quora,
people who are making a living with creativity. I definitely enjoyed the Geologic Podcast a few years ago but haven't listened to it for a while. One answer makes no sense to me, discussing using Amazon FBA as if it were a product in itself.
The best jobs for creativity (an excerpt):
There are various forms of these jobs
1 A job that has short hours and leaves you free most of the day
such as a barista
2 Part-time jobs that are done for two or three days a week, but make enough for you to live on. These are commonly called ‘Casual jobs’ and mean you live week-by-week
3 Seasonal jobs that are done for several weeks but allow you to earn enough live for several weeks on your earnings. Often done by students
How do writers research their books?
The respondents range from a ghost writer to a researcher to a fiction author so there is a good variety.
How Do I Write a Good Essay that I'm Not Interested In? This question seems to seek that core of creativity and the ability to fake sincerity.
To work on your productivity, look at the day as 100 ten  minute blocks.  One thousand minutes is sixteen hours, forty minutes so that is a full day. How much time will you spend playing online solitaire? Adding content to your blog? Travel each day? I am writing this in October but it will publish either Oct 31 or Nov 1, so how many minutes should I devote to Nanowrimo each day?

Maybe there's hope for me. Go from 'I can't draw' to "Art for sale'.