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.

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

Some quick notes before I pass out

If you’re just hiking for fun, all you really need is water and some idea of where you’re going.

If you are researching a guidebook, though, and you are not fussy about preparations at the trailhead, you end up with poor notes, bad pictures and incomplete GPS tracks. I’m tired of that, so I’m going to make a trailhead checklist.

Even if you’re an interested party, graduation ceremonies challenge anyone’s ability to withstand boredom. This is the best format we can come up with? Really?

The starters for the San Antonio Spurs could probably force a 7 game series against the Suns, if they could play 40+ minutes every game. They can’t, and the Suns bench (which is probably a play-off team in the eastern conference) has walloped them early in the 4th quarter every game.

Tony Parker is every bit the defensive liability that Steve Nash is. It’s just that Bruce Bowen isn’t around to make up for that anymore.

There is much talk through the media, mostly from guys who picked the Spurs to win in 6, about how the Spurs have too much “championship pride” to be swept. Pride is beside the point. What those championship teams had was better defensive speed, better shooting range, a deeper bench and younger legs. Why would these aging legends what to run themselves half-to-death to squeak one victory away from a Suns team that will only humiliate them back in Phoenix? Pride?

Pride can force a game seven. It rarely forces a game five.

You know that Goran Dagjic and Leandro Barbosa and Steve Nash would be in violation of HS 1070 every time they take the court at the USAC, right? There’s no place to keep your papers in a basketball uniform.

If you’re a German Tourist trying to decide between Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, how hard is that decision now? There are a lot of different languages muttered by the folks who crowd the uptown Sedona visitor’s center. They’ll be less and less now.

Much as I would like to T-off on the Show Me Your Papers law, it will not survive the court challenges.  By that time, though, it will be clear to all but the racists Tea Party ilk that this thing absolutely creates more problems than it solves.

Now You Know.

Finally coming up for air

Cause this blog isn’t dead. It’s just for the first time in 3 weeks, I’ve been able to come up for air. Haven’t been busy with one big thing. Oh no. A bunch of little things:

* swapped rooms in the house. My bedroom is now where the “family room” was. The “Office/lounge” is now where the bedroom was. The bedroom is functional. The O/L, where I now sit, not so much.

* Negotiated and finally signed a contract for Five Star Hikes in Flagstaff and Sedona and started work on that.

* Worked a selection of big, medium and small shows for Rhino. Then caught up with the install projects I had been ignoring because of those shows.

* Pushed forward on the space opera.

* Wrote a few articles for Fitness Plus

* Watched the Suns run over the Portland Trailblazers

* and played some Dungeons and Dragons.

I also kept falling asleep on the couch.

Did we learn things? Yeah

My house to the “Y” in Sedona is about 2 hours flat.

There is room in the market for a good hiking guide for Sedona and Flagstaff.

My old Garmin E-trex legend does not interface cleanly with the new Garmin Basecamp freeware. I need to upgrade. This is why I fear progress.

European power is all screwed up because of the French. (Of course, my source was British roadies).

There’s a swampy little lake near Casa Grande called Picacho Reservoir. And that’s about all I could learn about it. With 350 words t cover 20 lakes, that was all I needed to know about it.

This year’s  Suns squad is the best since 2004.

Good characters make even poorly designed systems (like 2nd AD&D) fun anyway.

Yeah, we’ll do some brazen wonk about immigration, but another night, ok?

Meanwhile, some links:

Strange Horizons gathers experts on zombies

What you always suspected, Jason Fried confirms: Why You Can’t Work at Work

Gamepocalypse chronicles how our culture is turning into one big collection of games

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual is fairly close to how I’d like to present my space opera (except my subject is less satirical, and would be carved into bigger chunks).

And finally:

Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Now You Know.

Really Late writer’s group notes sans actual notes

If you don’t hit the blog right after writer’s group, the motivation evaporates.

Plus you remember that you have other deadlines.

Meanwhile, I learned that really good mariachi music is much less annoying than mediocre mariachi music. There was a time when I did not think this to be possible.

I can’t go into details here, but in customer service, you are only as smart as the client. Take a deep breath and get used to that.

My father in-law learned that when you can’t keep air in your lungs – its time to go to the hospital – dammit! (Pneumonia – he’ll be fine.)

I’ve lost my notes from the Thursday night group, but I have a ot of writing related links:

For non-fiction: A journalist’s guide to SEO

For fiction, three takes on markets for short fiction:

A summation of the “markey by Nihilistic Kid {writer/editor Nick Mamatis}

Submission strategies from writer/editor Cat Rambo

And the “Last Word” on pay rates from author John Scalzi

After the Holidays

Thanksgiving in the USA. I was busy. Learned a few things.

When re-roping a fly system, someone is going to have to get on top of the head-block and feed the rope through – unless you’re a lot smarter than we were.

There is no biography of Alvin Gentry on line that I found useful – so I wrote one.

A timely, topical entry for Examiner, such as this one on Phx camping stores Black Friday specials, earns me about $0.40 for an hour’s work. So I stick to relatively evergreen stuff like campground profiles.

At the in-laws, I have to seize control of the TV or it will be stuck on game show re-runs from the 70’s. Not kidding. There are two things I can put on the TV that will not generate controversy from the wide confluenec of family in attendence: Sports or science documentaries.

From Nova, I learned that there are two different dream cycles: REM and non-REM. REM cycles ted to be more creative, but also involve more negative emotions. Non-REM dreams are more positive, but more limited to actual memories.

From Scientific American Frontiers, I learned one of the few useful things to coem out of Biosphere was the Biosphere Diet, a high vitamin, low calorie diet born of desperation (their gardening scheme yielded a fraction of expected results), but which actually left the participants leaner and healthier than when they went in.

Oh, and when the Detroit Lions have lost, its time to serve the turkey.

A backlog of [writer] links:

Book Marketing Maven: blog ideas for your fiction-writing blog

Caren Gussoff shares 5 Truths about Editors

And some more opinion of the Demand Studios and ilk dillema:

Carol Tice’s 7 reasons not to write a $15 blog (a numbered list – just like a non-fic freelancer…)

Now You Know