The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

CopperCon 31 and a few other lessons

First – I’ve actually updated other blogs.

Are we lost yet profiles Elden Springs and my upcoming book signing / workshop.

DIRECT LINK TO THE REI EVENT

And at Writing Made Visible, there are some reposts about the accelerating sales of  e-books.

Small cons are great – because you can actually talk to people!

Buy some light groceries and keep them in the hotel room.

The art carries the story in a comic book (or graphic novel, or any variant). Words only get what little space is left over, so every word has to count. No small talk.

There is no standard for comic book scripts. Unless you’re writing for Dark Horse Comics. Their format is here.

Marketing (or anything else) via social media – a few rules:

1) Be social first! Pitch your crap second. The other way around just gets you deleted.

2) If you’re not comfortable with the format, don’t use it. You’ll likely suck at it anyway.

3) If you’re marketing yourself as a writer – write well. Spells words correctly.

4) No amount of social media presence will make up for a shoddy product.

The current estimate is that half of all star systems have planets, and the average may be 1-10 planets per star.

We find an awful lot of “Hot Jupiters” – gas giants closely orbiting a star – which goes against our model of how solar systems form. We know why we keep finding them – they are relatively easy to spot. We have no idea why they would exist at all.

Planets orbiting pulsars are very easy to find, even as small as the Earth. But the pulsar’s radiation makes life pretty much impossible.

Piratey sword-fighting was all about shorter movements with shorter swords (crowded ships and all).  And footwork – you live or die by footwork.

I’m over adapting anything to D20. It’s no longer supported for 3.5, and I have no urge to learn 4.0. I’m pushing forward with the game. Amen.

I’m thinking about writing it in Tiddlywiki. Seriously.

There might be a separate blog for that later on.

Finally New Scientist looks into the quantum-mechanics of human thought.

Now you know.

And .. We’re Back

Once upon a time I made a New Years resolution not to make any more New Years Resolutions, and so far I have kept that.

I have an unrelated goal this year, however, of being a more disciplined marketer blogger. I write stuff, and I’d like people to read it. This is one of the ways to make that happen.

We left off last August, and I have learned some thing since then. I won’t try to recap four months of hard lessons in one post, so we’ll stick to what has been discovered recently.

When lighting for TV (I’ve been involved with this recently in my day job) remember that the camera doesn’t see light, only light bouncing off of something. That’s why they obsess over even washes – it really does matter. In the distant past,  up to say five years ago, you could blend the washes by adding a bunch of diffusion. With HDTV, diffusion looks like – diffusion. Hard light is better.

We still added a bunch of frost.

In theatrical lighting (and TV lighting uses the same toys) LED lights are now competitive in every area except price. And they are one generation away from digging into that as well. Nobody’s going to FEL’s or BHP’s. Honest.

The Droid is a good camera, but using it that way sucks up battery fast. It is a second rate GPS, and a clunky DVR.I ended up hiking with four separate devices.

The Hiking Guide is 90% in the can. Save your receipts, and write down contact info in two different places.

If you trade away your two leading scorers for spare parts, your team won’t do as well. It’s not so much that Sarver let Stoudemire walk away (though he shouldn’t have), it’s that he failed to replace him with anyone who would be a legitimate starter (not an all-star – just a starter) at the power forward position. They traded away their leading scorer – and they still do not have a legit 4. This current roster can’t make the playoffs. I can vaguely understand  that Sarver is maneuvering around the salary cap and the near-certain lock-out looming next season, but I really don’t care. The Suns were contenders six months ago. The owner squandered that. That’s why every game from here out will have more empty seats.

My wife and I were gifted with attending Dave Ramsey’s Fiancial Peace University. 80% of that course is the same information  you can learn from any other basic financial advisory course. Make a realistic budget. Stay in that budget. A couple of things Ransey teaches that others might not:

  • If you don’t have $1000 in the bank, you are wasting your time trying to pay down credit cards. You’ll only end up running them back up for emergencies. So put that money in the can first, and if you spend it, make minimum payments until you’re back up to $1k.
  • As you start paying off the credit cards, start with the lowest balance first, regardless of interest. Statistically, this approach has a better chance of success.
  • Along this same line, you have no business investing until you have 3 months expenses in the bank (which is easier to get to if you pay off the credit cards).
  • Any investment that doesn’t reliably return at least 6% won’t keep up with taxes and inflation.

Now Dave (as we call him in the class) also recommends mutual funds, claiming you should get 12% out of them. After all, the stock market has made money in any ten year period since the great depression. He’s out of date there (we were watching 2006 DVD’s). We are in a ten year period where the market overall has lost money.

Which brings us to the links:

From Slate

The above from a long and enlightening article in Slate.

And fun with math and money from the BBC – who really likes this sort of facty-stuff.

 

Now you know.

Back from the Dead

This blog, that is. I’ve been fine – just busy. Really, really busy.

A rash of Rhino work coincided with the new hiking guide. I had to hold down my day job in the new economy (almost as much work – fewer people to do it) and hike while the hiking was good.

So a lot of things didn’t get done.  This was one of them.

What have we learned since May 9th?

Many things – too many to list here.  A handful of highlights:

No rebounds – no rings.

With blog updates, you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay the writers (I’m looking at you Examiner) all the jazzier new interface improvements won’t help you.

TV is the enemy of productivity – even more than cute animals or beer.

Twenty extra minutes checking the gear at the house can save you six wasted hours on the trail.

And clean you camera lens once in a while.

There might well be a real quality difference between lenses from your optometrist vs lenses bought online, but there can’t be a 250% difference. I’ll know soon.

Put the campfire out all the way out – every time.

Pride is expensive. It’s the difference between a couple hundred dollars over a week, or nearly a thousand dollars over three days.

Once you realize you’re screwed – get help. No one appreciates, or is impressed by your stoic failure.

“The body can do a lot. It’s the brain that gets in the way.” – John Wooden

Now you know

The two-year standard

This is how I manage my blood pressure: when confronted with a problem, I ask myself, will I care about this two years from now? If the answer is “no”, then I do not worry about it.

Two years from now, I will not care that I failed to update this blog for more than two weeks. I honestly doubt that anyone else will care either.

Bikram Yoga, or “hot” yoga requires that practitioners to go through their 26 different poses in a 105F room at at least 40% humidity. You can learn it in Scottsdale. You won’t see me there, of course, because I only know about this through researching an article.

Wondering what you forgot before delivering that bid? Delivery charges. That’s what I always forget.

I am now 0-18 for Beanstalk queries – and wondering where the futility mark actually is.

I have a contract from Menasha Ridge Press to do a hiking guide for Sedona/Flagstaff – but its 60% of the advance that I got for the Tonto Guide.

Those are both decisions I’ll care about two years from now, so I’m not going to make them until Monday.

Tom Friedman wants to start a party of Radical Moderates.

I write often about innovation in energy and education. But I’ve come to realize that none of these innovations will emerge at scale until we get the most important innovation of all — political innovation that will empower independents and centrists, which describes a lot of the country.

What do we want? – Reasonable progress!

When do we want it? – In due course!

Even though I’m reflexively a leftie – I’m with that crowd.

You know how the internet is full of periodic tables portraying just about anything? Yeah. We all knew this would happen eventually.

I’m gonna break a rule and write a separate post with the writing stuff. It’s my blog, and I can do what I want.

Two years from now, no one will notice.

Now you know.

Pix from Tule Mesa

Ben and I went camping/backpacking near Tule Mesa, which is near Dugas Arizona. Much of those adventures can be found in my other blog:

Are We Lost Yet?

But the photos are here:

The Equinox Filter on FR 68G:

Beyond which a 2WD 06  Chevy Equinox will not go!

Beyond which a 2WD 06 Chevy Equinox will not go!

Typical scenery on Tule Mesa

Tule Mesa

The big juniper at Cavalier Point:

Cavalier Point

Ben looking out from Tule Mesa:

Ben on Tule MesaBelow is the Verde Valley from roughly Camp Verde to the bend past the hot springs.

Our Camp at Salt Flats:

Camp at Salt Flat

Ben felt that there was too much wind to bring his hammock, which I suspect translates into he couldn’t find his hammock. When backpacking, if one guy brings the two-man tent, you might as well both use it.

Ben at the Salt Flat TH

Ben at the Salt Flat TH

That’s his brand-new Jansport Scout backpack which he got for his birthday. This is just across the drainage from the campground.

Nelson Place ruins:

Nelson Place ruinsYou find these less than a mile down the Nelson Trail. The springs they were built around are the only ones reliably flowing in the Pine Mountain Wilderness.

Bongo plus Verde valleyOur little buddy on top of Pine Mountain, the “high point” of the wilderness area. The views along the length of the Verde Rim trail are like this.

Finally, the area is starting to recover from some fire damage:

Though shade is many years away

Though shade is many years away

Bongo at Dugas:

Bongo at Dugas II

Now You Know

A Splash of Quick Facts

It is safe for normal humans – and even Americans – to drink the water in Bogata, Columbia.

80% of the children in the Bahamas do not know how to swim. I know this because I’m on assignment about a woman who has taught water safety there.

The ABC’s of drowning awareness:

Always have your eyes on the kids

Barriers

Classes on first Aid and CPR

The Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop drew twenty (20!) people last night. That’s double the size the format is designed for. So I am shifting to moderating a Thursday night meet-up, same time, same place, same format, different night.

My kids, particularly my son, I decided the like water polo – of all things – enough to participate in a team throughout the summer.

Wet Beaver Creek (oh- stop giggling!) Wilderness Area is closed to camping until 2010. Fire reasons, I think. Bummer. I’m still trying to pin down a logistically plausible hike for this weekend.

For the riggers: ZFX’s new No-go guage

Writer Louise Marley on E-books and other promising trends in publishing.

And more fuel for the e-book debate: statistics!

Now You Know.