Moving forward is hard enough without looking back (with maps included)

I don’t apologize for long droughts of posts. If you don’t like it, here’s yer money back.

Due to the lock-out shortened-no camp-compressed nature of this NBA season*, we could see a record in 20+ point victories per game played. While that’s better than no basketball,t should not be confused with good basketball.

*It’s not a real season.

Don’t spend money when you’re drunk. What I’mabout to describe are not bad decisions, but I still kinda wish I was sober.

I’m going to Darkcon – which is the pirate/party con of the now 4 major Spec Fic cons in the Valley. And the one I would normally be least tempted to spend money on. But we were at a party at CopperCon, and a bit drunk, and I had cash in my pocket and I got a really good rate – but yeah. We shall see. Spent the money. I’m going.

I also own the domain sillypenguin.com. Don’t bother checking it out today – there’s just a GoDaddy placeholder. My wife wants to make and sell custom greeting cards. I’ve fancied the notion of doing a webcomic of some sort, just to force myself to get back into drawing.So the Plan is to post comics about a silly penguin as a lead in to the greeting card page.

Silly Penguin was a whim. I searched the term and saw that ti was open. I was a few beers down and didn’t want this “unique domain opportunity” to be lost. As if random gibberish is somehow challenging for me to come up with.

Now we need a webhost. My front-runner is Fat Cow, but I’m open to input if any of my IT buddies has a strong opinion.

And I signed up for Code Year – because I’m tired of having no clue about things that are becoming more and more important to my work.

Now some links (we have a few backed up here):

A Slate case study on how Second Life failed the milk-shake test, and how this informs the theory of marketing.

“Neuroscience is still unable to provide a clear and direct explanation as to how the microcircuitry of the brain actually functions,” says Hugo De Garis, a cognitive science professor and director of the Artificial Brain Lab at Xiamen University in China. “We know that the basic circuitry is the same all over the human cortex, but just how the circuitry works is still largely unknown.”

This from an article in Sloan Science and Film about the frustrating future of artificial intelligence. The authors go on:

One main sticking point for AI research is the idea of consciousness or emotion—vague concepts that aren’t easily quantifiable or scientifically proven but are essential for creating a supermachine because, many scientists claim, feelings are integral to handling our thoughts.

 

Coincidentally, among the four books I’m currently reading is The Universe in a Single Atom by the Dalai Lama. Within, DL asserts that western sience will never satisfactorily explain how consciousness works because objective measurements miss what is an inherently and unavoidably subjective experience. He argues that we must also consider the “rigorous, focused and disciplined use of introspection and mindfulness to probe deeply into the nature of a chosen subject.”

To put it another way, although the experience of happiness may coincide with certain chemical reactions in the brain, such as an increase in serotonin, no amount of biochemical and neurobiological description of this brain change can explain what happiness is.

[pg145]

For some people (myself included) true happiness can come from a really well-crafted map

And tying is all together, you can find this map of Scientific Exploration here.

Now you know.

Random geography and other writer’s notes

Yes, the Thursday night writer’s group is still going, and I have been able to attend most of the meetings, despite my neglect of just about everything else that didn’t have money attached to it for the past six months.

Dolce Expresso closed, and we were sad – and homeless.

Restaurants make poor meeting places for writer’s groups.

1) the wait staff will interrupt the read-aloud without remorse – because they don’t know.

2) A large party tends to be put in a booth – which is troublesome.

3) You will baffle or annoy those around you.

BUT

4) (and most importantly) if you’re going to tie up a chair for two hours, you’ll need to spend $10+. A cup of coffee only buys you about 45 minutes.

Also, the particular restauraunt we chose slapped an 18% gratuity on all of our checks because we were more than six butts.

So now we meet at Urban Beans – and life is much better.

For those who attended – and those who enjoy random, out-fo-context facts:

There are two Kashkars – one in Kyrgyzstan (Kara-Kashkar), and one in Chines Turkestan (aka Kashgan). The latter was on the Silk Road and is at least 2000 years old in one form or another.

More famous than either one – at least according to Google – is Cafe Kashkar, your source for Uzebek cuisine in times square.

Novosibirsk, Siberia, is actually a big place, and lloaded with all the culture and class you would expect from Siberia. Actually, it odes contain a major university and the State Opera Academy.

Add this to your try before you die list: Absolut Pepper vodka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By-the-wind jellyfish (above) are properly called Velella Vellella.

And Ace Carson is not Buck Rogers. Really.

This is Buck Rogers:

(Yes, that’s Gil Gerard and Erin Grey – the stars of the late 70’s movie and TV series.)

Now You know

 

Notes from my new and nifty sky chair

Which I bought at the Renn Faire with money I made from phxsunsnews.com

It’s like a hammock – only a chair – and mine has armrests and a cup-holder -because its a deluxe!

If it had a fold-out desk and a plug strip – I’d live in the damn thing.

I added the sheet clipped to the thing for shade.

[photo by Julia Padegimas]

Also at the Renn Faire, my kids learned to make noise for digereedoos. We all learned how predatory birds have far more relative grip strength than humans. And we learned that jousting at the Renn Faire has more in common with pro wrestling than with the rodeo.

According to the American Psychiatric Group I have autism or nothing.

They found the part of the brain that governs spirituality

Boredom doesn’t cause death, but it causes behavior that leads to death.

On that subject, I have been assigned by my day job to comeup with a power point tutorial on basic theatrical carpentry.However dull that sounds – it’s actually worse than that. Power Point is like a slide show, only with bullet [yawn] points, and without the exciting possibility that a slide might be upside down or jam.

Writer’s Group Notes

We couldn’t remember the name of the software that kept track of plot threads for you, so here’s a round-up of the better writing software.

It’s Ross Sea – not Ross Bay. My bad.

Space elevators are only practical at or near the equator, since they rely on inertia from the Earth’s rotation tohold ther tension. At or near the pole (like my fictional Ross Spaceport) you need something like a Space Fountain. Cooler anyway.

Other random nonsense

Zombie fiction authors,in general, are apparently relatively conservative. Witness the fall-out to the possibility of gay zombie fiction.

Zombies are also at war with Unicorns. I don’t know why? Unicorns are liberal?

Ok – who wouldn’t want to slaughter such a thing?

“The First Follower can make the difference between a leader and a lone nut…”

Finally, some props to Eric Turner – who didn’t steal my blog title after all.

Now You Know

Notes from the 1/14/10 Writer’s Group

Big group (11 writers at our peak). I would’ve have split into two groups if more people had brought work to read. As it was, you had two choices, read loudly, or bring a lot of copies. We had examples of both approaches.

Here are some relevant links:

Pine Ridge Reservation is a real place.

Em’s island is fictional, but based on the real Sandwich Archipelago in the south Atlantic/North Antarctic ocean.

www.ipulpfiction.com has some sort of Quicktime thing that locks up my browser. They have a $10 reading fee, which violates the Harlen Ellison Rule that money should always flow towards the writer, but they are up-front with the terms, and your odds are better than contest writing. Besides, some of that reading fee goes to one of our own.

An after-hours conversation brought up some interesting things:

That “long vowel sound” that your teachers beat into your head no longer exists. Its a relic from middle English (and several other languages) where a long vowel was just that – a vowel you held for multiple beats. It was abandoned in English around the 15th century, but its legacy still complicates our spelling. More on that here and here.

Finally, James Merill – poet – a brief bio from poets.org.

Now you know.

Waiting for people to return my phone calls

A brief comparison of search engines – first hits:

octopus+urinal in Yahoo: The Urinals of the Red Vic

octopus+urinal in Google: South Park S9 Ep10 (“Mystery of the Urinal Deuce” – posted by Octopus)

High End Systems fog juice – any brand – is mostly “food-grade” glycol. And while it will, over time, completely dissolve the 1/4″ Crosby someone dropped in the tank for some reason, rendering both the partially dissolved Crosby and the now blood red fog juice useless, it is not considered hazardous waste. And the ppm of glycol is way below that in anti-freeze. Bottom line: you can dump less than five gallons down the drain if you have to.

If that saves some poor stagehand the two hour internet/phone odyssey I went through to discover that fact – my work here has been worth it. {BTW – the MSDS says “Follow state and federal laws” – which are apparently non-existent.}

Looking up at the stars, do you wonder how many might be looking back down at you? This site tracks the number of people in space right now.

They found a hobbit T-rex in China.

Wired lists the contents of a cup of coffee. I still want another cup.

And this blog is worth nothing. Nothing! How I know…

(Are We Lost Yet is also worthless – if’n you waz wunderin. Maybe if I updated it…)

I have – however updated my Examiner column. Natch. You can’t paste a table into the interface directly from Excel. You need to paste it into Word – and then into the interface. I’m not sure if Alpine is the highest municipality in Arizona (my search was not exhaustive), but I’m pretty confident that Yuma is the lowest.

Now You Know.

Notes from the Thurs Writer’s Group 10/1/09

I miss my dot-matrix printer. I pushed “print” and it printed. If it didn’t, it was out of ink. That was it. It probably still works – though I gave it away. Windows XP won’t support it.

It supports the Kodak AiO ESP3, which will print a variety of diagnostic test pages, but not the document I want to print. I bought it bexcause I grew weary of arguing with my HP printer.

What does it take to just get a printer to print documents?

So, I didn’t have copies for the meeting, even though I had new material.

Other notes from the October 1 writer’s meet-up:

http://www.freecomputerworld.org/ In hopes of finding inexpensive computer hardware that works.

“TK” in addition to being copy-editor shorthand for “To Come” is also the postal code for Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific, the stock symbol for Teekay Corporation, an oil shipping company, and an anaocronym for the Tool Kit GUI library for the TCL programming language.

Your resource for playing the concertina.

A steam-punk flavored automatic Genre Fiction Generator

Some alternate views on writer’s groups:

Steven Harper Piziks at Book-view cafe with the very basics of how they can be helpful.

And Dean Wesley Smith with why they are dangerous.

Homepage for the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference , sponsored by the Desert Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America – which tells a lot about what sort of agents and editors are likely to attend. $218-248 for non-member registration depending on when you sign up, and how many extras you want.

And the difference between sketches of intelligent alien species, and sketches that resemble monsters from an RPG supplement is that aliens wear clothes. I have some examples, but my scanner is also my printer.

So we leave with a song:

Now You know.

The need for dark coffee and a high PEI rating [12/3/08]

The good news: my daughter is student of the month, and is entitled to a free celebratory breakfast with her family.

The bad news:breakfast starts at 6:50am. Sunrise: 7:15am. eating cafeteria food in the dark is one of the many things that parents do for love.

Speaking of the need for seriously black coffee, check out these three items I found on Dark Roasted Blend:

Physicists making coffee with lasers and cooking hot dogs with tesla coils.

How living things and minerals may effect each other’s evolution.

And Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote inhabited island. The next step is to acquire a photo of one of their urinals…

Some inportant advice about living with writers.

And finally, tile comes with a rating from the Porcelain Enamel Institute to indicate its resistance to abrasion. They go from Class 1, so fragile they should only be used on walls to Class 5, “suitable for all residential and commercial use.” Monocuttura indicates tile glazed with a single passthrough the kiln, though the uncredited article (advertisement?) (anyway, not from the PEI website) I’m using as a source doesn’t mention why anyone would care. Vitreous tile, more usefully, has less than 3% water absorption, and is what you want around pools or spas.

Now you know.