Friday, September 30, 2005

More Blogging Issues - This Time It's Personal

it's me as me
Uploaded on September 12, 2005
by Born Sleepy

In my previous post, Meditation, Happiness and Mind Control, Virginia from Sumptuosity asked me to share some information about myself. It got me thinking. What kind of information am I willing to share?

I discovered that I'm not willing to share much online in terms of personal details, but I am willing and in fact am sharing quite a bit. My thoughts. Which is more than I share with most of my non-bloggy friends, save a couple of my very best, of course.

It's not that I'm two different people, it's just that I see it as two different forms of expression. But I'm always me.

This whole thing led to another thought that Carter planted in my head when he asked Why am I blogging?
I've realized that it's not that easy to answer.
The reasons why I started blogging are very different from the reasons I'm blogging now. And even now I'm not one-hundred percent sure.

I think that one of the main reasons I blog is the immediate feedback re my writing. Not just the writing itself, but the subjects I choose, the way I discuss them and the angle I take. I make mental notes about what I see (maybe I should make actual notes). Some things I take to heart and change according to what I find works better, that is if it works for me too - like subject matter, but some things I don't - like the pictures I choose.

I see that many of you put your full names on your blog and regard your blog as self promotion (in addition to other things I'm sure). I also see some who use aliases, but then feel more comfortable discussing some personal details. Do you give it any thought? Did you decide on boundaries you wouldn't cross?

Karen, the Fantasy Scribe had another take on the matter.

Other questions Carter asked in his post:
  • Do you post your first draft or edit?
    I edit. Not very successfully I might add. And only if not inebriated, I should say.

  • Why? - asked and answered above.

  • How much time do you spend thinking about and preparing a post before it goes online?
    I'll give you one of my favourite answers - that depends. It depends on the topic and on the time I have.

  • Anything else you'd like to add? - asked and answered above.
Homework complete. Phew!

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Shonky Coding or Markuping

As some of you may know I've been working on my template.
You see, I want to add many more things to my sidebar, but alas, I have only one sidebar with little room left in it. So I want another one.
At the moment, the third column keeps coming at the bottom right of the second column, the one to its left. Be it another sidebar or the main content. I've tried both ways.
(I don't want to go the table route, but I may have to.)
If anyone has seen a good template for that, please let me know.

I've been waiting for quite a while to use the word shonky. I believe it's Australian in origin. I've learnt it from Lee who challenged me to use it in a post of my own. So here it is and I hope I used it right...

From freesearch
of low quality

(Now I'm going to find out how to my shame I was the only one who had to look shonky up.)

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Meditation, Happiness and Mind Control

Once upon a time there was a martial arts practitioner -- me.

In the martial art I practice(d), meditation is done standing. The thighs are bent so that all the weight is absorbed by the leg muscles. In addition to dealing with the shaking legs and burnt muscle sensation, one is supposed to also clear his/her mind and focus on some distant point (there's more to it but I'm giving you the quick version).

To be honest, I hated it. Not so much because of the rigorous stance but more because I had a hard time "clearing my mind" and because, truth be told, I'd get bored. However, it's been nearly two years since I stopped practicing and I miss it terribly. More and more each day. I can't explain why I miss it, or what it is that I miss about it most. I also can't explain what is different about me when I practice (other than not having any bruises from sparring) than when I don't. I just know/feel that I miss it.

Uploaded on February 7, 2005
by ze1

Then, a while back, I watched a show - The Pursuit of Happiness - where, among other things, they checked brain waves of Tibetan Monks(they meditate a lot). The brain waves showed that the monks were happy. Very happy.

It's very preliminary work, but the implication may be that the lamas are able to move right through distressing events that overwhelm the rest of us – in other words, one of the keys to their happiness.

It may tell us something about our potential. "Our brains are adaptable, our brains are not fixed. The wiring in our brains is not fixed. Who we are today is not necessarily who we have to end up being," Davidson says.
"Rather than thinking about qualities like happiness as a trait," Davidson says, "we should think about them as a skill, not unlike a motor skill, like bicycle riding or skiing. These are skills that can be trained. I think it is just unambiguously the case that happiness is not a luxury for our culture but it is a necessity."

About the same time I also came across this article in Nature about mind focusing as a result of meditation, again, of Tibetan Monks. (Alas, the article is now restricted to paying customers so here is another source for the same article.)

Meditation could conceivably help people with depression, or who have recently suffered a trauma, to stop their minds constantly dwelling on negative thoughts, she suggests.

"It has long been claimed by practitioners of meditation that when faced with bad news or tragic events they are able to acknowledge the tragedy, but rather than dwell on the situation they have the capacity to redirect their thoughts to other, more positive directions," Carter says. "This is something that the average person cannot do."

Happiness comes easily when you're open to it
Uploaded on March 13, 2005
by OpenEye

I, personally, always thought that the mind is something we can control and exercise more than we think. If we're down, we can make ourselves 'up' by positive thinking, if we're obsessed and/or worried we can calm ourselves by being occupied. The trick is not to get dragged down by emotions and not to let them control you. It's not easy to accomplish, and one needs to practice this a lot, but it is possible as the monks demonstrate.

What does that have to do with writing? I think everything in life has to do with writing, but I also think I wrote better and more when I was practicing.

My point? I have many: First, I think that despite my already existing scheduling problems, I'll go back to practicing my art this fall - obviously I miss meditating. Second, I'm going to control my mind into writing now. Last, I'm a true believer in happiness. Most times I'm happy because I choose to be. I think most people can be too. If with meditation, prayer or physical activity. Anything that can focus a mind is a good practice. More than anything, I'm a happiness practitioner.

[[A note: Meditating isn't practicing another religion. One can be of any faith and meditate, it isn't against any religious 'law' as far as I know.]]

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Zen and the Art of Solving Computer Problems

I've written a post the other day about meditation, happiness and scientific research in the matter (of happiness). I haven't posted it yet.

Today my computer went caput all of a sudden and I'm sorry to say that no Zen and no meditation helped. I'm cranky, annoyed, even a bit depressed.

This afternoon I'll take it to the tech (unless the motherboard jumpers reset will work first).

For now I'm on the laptop trying to remember where I left off.

I'm pretty sure I haven't lost the data on the hard drive, but if I did that would suck big time. Last time I backed my system was a few months ago.

So no Zen and no art of solving computer problems. Just angst.

Update: The motherboard jumpers reset worked. I'm back up and running baby. You should see the stupid grin I have on my face - YAY!

Back to our regular programming tomorrow. Now, I need a beer!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pop Culture and... Writing???

A while ago, around May, I wrote this:

Uploaded onAugust 25, 2005
by Strouss Gallery
    It seems that more often than not I miss what's going on in the pop culture world.

    As one whose two best friends are pop culture junkies, I sometimes feel left out of the conversation. Paris Hilton was the topic of their conversation yesterday. It only hit me then. Paris Hilton is a name of a person and not the name of the Hilton hotel in Paris as I've been thinking all along. Shame. Shame on me.

    How important is it to be pop-culturally updated?
    Do I need to know who married who, divorced who, had an affair, is pregnant etc? No.
    Do I care about these things? Ahhh... that's where the big difference lies.

    No, I don't care. And hence these kind of news items brush me tangentially, never leaving an impression.

    Most people, I guess, do care. To different degrees. To some it's a form of gossip, to others it's a form of idolizing stars, and to other yet it's a way of staying informed. They view pop culture news as any other news. I disagree, but hey, it seems that I'm in the minority.

    For the sake of not being left out anymore I'm going to make a changes in my life. A conscious effort. I promise to watch one of these pop culture shows once a week. You know, like Extra. I will know who is who in no time, and then I will feel worthwhile. Knowledgeable. Able to hold my own in a conversation about Paris Hilton.

I found the above little blurb today and laughed. I didn't watch even one Extra since. I still have no idea who dates who. Sometimes, when I open technorati, I see in their Top Searches This Hour something like "Britney Spears baby" - so I figure she finally gave birth (yes, yes, the news of her pregnancy reached even me), or "Demi Moore" which I have no idea why she would be a top search, but I figure there must be something going on.

I still haven't decided how important it is to my life in general and my life as a writer to know more about pop-culture, but judging from my not keeping my promise, I'm leaning towards -- not important.

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GenX, Health and World Series - Science Stuff

I had no idea my previous post about the Banned Books Week would lead to a discussion of a controversial nature. Being naive, I was certain every author and writer would automatically be against banning. I was wrong.

So to avoid any controversy this time--I hope--here's a few science snippets without any controversy attached to them--I think.

After giving the world Grunge music, my generation - GenX - is about to settle the moon - Generation X-plorers Energized by NASA's New Plans.
"We now have an opportunity for our generation to make our mark on human history," said George Whitesides, Executive Director of the National Space Society, age 31. "Our parents and grandparents took us to the Moon the first time. Now it's time for us to go back to the Moon to stay, and then head straight for Mars."
And I hope they will heed the warnings this time. Don't say that scientist don't warn and predict: Research Indicates Health Effects of Air Pollution Are Underestimated
They found that as the number of fine particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter increased, so, too, did the risk of dying: each jump of 10 micrograms per cubic meter corresponded to a 11 to 17 percent increase in the risk of dying from any cause.
And finally, as the world series approaches, this is just too funny. Go read how Watching World Series Causes Drop In Hospital Visits
During the most popular games (game seven of the ALCS and game four of the World Series) hospital visits were 15 percent lower than expected based on historical data.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Banned Books Week

We're in the midst of the American Library Asociation Banned Books Week.

It is hard to believe that today this is still going on, but here is the list of The Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color 1990-2000. And I beg you to look at the date. It doesn't say 1900, it says 1990-2000. The nineties, people.
Three of the 10 books on the "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2004" were cited for homosexual themes - which is the highest number in a decade. Sexual content and offensive language remain the most frequent reasons for seeking removal of books from schools and public libraries.

Between 1990 and 2000, of the 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (see The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books)

Reasons: “sexually explicit” “offensive language” “unsuited to age group” “occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism,” “violent” “promoting homosexuality,” “promoting a religious viewpoint.” “nudity” “sex education” “anti-family”
Seventy-one percent of the challenges were to material in schools or school libraries. Another twenty-four percent were to material in public libraries (down two percent since 1999). Sixty percent of the challenges were brought by parents, fifteen percent by patrons, and nine percent by administrators, both down one percent since 1999).
2004 Most Challenged Authors

Top Ten Challenged Authors 1990 to 2004

Book Burning

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." —Heinrich Heine, from his play Almansor (1821)

Fighting the Fires of Hate

Book Burning in the 21st Century

The Canadian Freedom to Read Week will take place on February 26 to March 4, 2006.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Some of my best friends are... poets

No Frigate Like a Book
Uploaded on August 25, 2005 by olivander

Those of you who know me for a while, know that I don't "do" poetry. I'm not sure why, but I think that poetry requires the kind of thinking that I'm incapable of. It requires deep thought and understanding of words, their meaning and their interaction and I'm simply not wired that way. My bane in English classes.

I accepted the fact long ago that while I may be able to do math, I won't be able to understand poetry. Fine. And yet, I find poets to be fascinating people. Their views on life and the living is usually very interesting to say the least. So as long as my poets' friends philosophizing isn't too deep, I'm there and listening.

What brought this whole discussion, or more like who?
Ken from Dark Sparks.
Because when I go visit blogs I shy away when I see poetry except if there are also other things that intrigue me in the blog. Except when the blogger is interesting.
So when I visited Ken's blog and explained to him that I don't "do" poetry, he asked me if I have any poet friends.
Mais oui, bien sûr (Hey, what do you want? I am Canadian, we speak French too :)
I realized that in fact I have many among my blogger friends.

So without further ado, but also without commenting on their poetry--I'm not one qualified to do so--here are my favourite bards:
First there is Patry with her Waitress Poems, then there is Lance who also posts his poetry on a regular basis. Now I'm getting to know Erin from Poetic Acceptance and Dana the Southern Gal. Others I visit who are poetically inclined are the muse and Liz. And it just come to my attention that Jennifer too writes poetry occasionally. If I forgot any other poets, I apologize, you're welcome to remind me.

1) I looked at my stats today and it seems people were clicking away at my poets' friends links. That makes me happy.
2) If it wasn't clear, Stranger Ken is also a poet.
3) Ericalso rhymes from time to time
4) I don't know the following blog, but was asked to add Nedful Things it to the list of poets.

Now, without opening a can of worms here, I would like to know how others feel about poetry.

Lyrics I like and even understand at times, although I'm not sure about this one:
From Tool, Album: ænima, Song: Forty-Six & 2

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

A New Version for the ... Bible

Religion is a topic I shy away from. Too many people feel too strongly about religion.

However, today I started my day with a post over at Monica Jackson's blog about the topics SFF writers discuss in their blogs, topics such as politics and social commentary, ones that Romance writers tend to avoid.

Then, I went over to the Guardian blog, just like that, to read some interesting things and came across a post that normally I wouldn't discuss here, but darn it, I'm a sci-fi writer (with a splash of mainstream) so I decided it's time to mention the issue here.

The Guardian post reveals that a new version of the Bible was published yesterday. This new version is designed to be read in under 100 minutes and contains only 39 chapters of the Old Testament and 27 of the New Testament.

So there you have it, I'm about to mention religion in my blog.

What do I think about this 100-Minute Bible?
Not much. I don't like it. First, as a writer and a reader. I always prefer to read the original version, and if I could, I would read all books in their original language too. Taking a book, any book, and mangling it in this fashion is presumptuous. It presumes to know the writer's intent, which in this case is a very loaded argument.
I think most people would agree with me: The religious folks would agree because someone has just changed the written word of God. The non-religious people would agree because The 100-Minute Bible is, simply put, a "butchered" book.

I think the intention behind this "abridged Bible" is to reach a larger audience. The language is simpler and the content shorter. I've mentioned before in my blog how we're facing a cultural dilution problem (and I will one day post about it in more detail). Well here is just one more example of this dilution problem.

A CNN article announcing the launch of the bible.

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About Hurricanes, Science-Fiction and Recon Missions

Cracking the code for hurricane forecasts
Go beyond the skinny black line to get a clearer picture of storm's effect
First, forecasters take data [...] and come up with specific forecast points: these predict the storm will hit a certain location at a certain time.
The forecast points, linked together, produce the skinny black line you see on storm-tracking maps.

Next, forecasters add the cone of uncertainty by mathematically computing an error range, based on a 10-year average of prediction errors. Because predictions are more likely to be wrong the longer away they are made, this cone widens around the black line as it gets further away in time.
"Don't focus too much on the skinny black line," Kiser warned. Last year, for example, the black line showed Hurricane Charley heading for Tampa, Fla., but the storm took an unexpected turn and made landfall well south of the city, catching residents in the danger zone unaware.

Two relatively recent types of forecasts now supplement the storm track and its cone of uncertainty: the strike probability forecast and an experimental set of wind probability forecasts that is making its debut just this year.

Wild Weather in Art and Fiction
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many of us are wishing that we had some sort of control over the weather.
The earliest science fiction reference I know about for control of the weather is in John Jacob Astor's 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds - people use aeriducts to make rain at will; complete control over all weather is also foreseen.

Housing for Katrina Victims: Ideas from Science Fiction
In the wake of hurricane Katrina, and the flooding of New Orleans, hundreds of thousands of survivors have been left homeless
Easily errected temporary quarters should be first on the list.

Robert Heinlein, wrote about knockdown cabins before World War II, gave us the Quonset hut. Government procurers should be scouring military bases for similar items for rapid deployment in the affected states.
In his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson writes about the U-Stor-It apartment:
More examples and pictures in the Article.

This is a couple of weeks old, but I thought that if we're on the subject, you might find it interesting:
Unmanned Planes Survey New Orleans Damage
Tiny, unmanned surveillance planes are being pressed into action for reconnaissance over Katrina-ravaged New Orleans in what defense contractors call the biggest civilian deployment ever for the technology.

Ten of the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have been taking turns this week flying from the New Orleans Naval Air Station and relaying photos of the devastation below to the Air Force.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Copyright Copyfight

In today's world of digital media and the WWW, I find it fascinating to follow the two ends of the copyright issue debate: those seeking to keep the laws and restrict access to their work through strict copyright laws, and those seeking to expand access to their work and change copyright laws.

The first group took action today:

From The Book Standard - Authors Guild Sues Google
After an ongoing battle between publishers, authors and Google over the search engin's right to digitize copyrighted material, a formal lawsuit has been filed against the company. The Authors Guild, [...] alleging that Google, which is making copyrighted material publicly accessible through its Google Print for Library program, is "engaging in massive copyright infringement at the expense and rights of individual writers."
"It's not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied."

The Guild, which represents more than 8,000 authors, [...] are seeking an injunction to stop the search engine from further infringement as well as damages.
A more comprehensive article about the lawsuit can be found here.

The second group, with Cory Doctorow as its most prominent speaker, seeks to reform copyright laws.

From Doctorow's interview with Worldchanging -
Copyfight is the broad banner to describe people who are fighting for reforms to intellectual property -- trademarks, patents, copyrights and what are called "related rights" (broadcast rights and so on).

WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization -- is the UN's most captive agency. WIPO was originally a stand-alone organization, essentially an industry consortium for rightsholders' interests, and they got brought in under the umbrella of the UN thirty or so years ago, with the understanding that they would change their practices to make them consistent with other UN instruments like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights -- humanitarian instruments -- and that it would become a humanitarian agency for development.
The choice is not simply one of piracy or monopoly. There is a whole rich middle ground of public domain and open information regimes which could give developing world countries the tools they need to serve humanitarian purposes, while protecting the legitimate interests of authors, performers and inventors. WIPO could have created a global knowledge goods regime which protected both the commercial and the humanitarian fairly.

More resources on the matter Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You can also check out one of my earlier posts on the matter Writers Unionizing and Free Books

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This is sick: Gambling on the next terror attack

This site, has a gambling game.
What kind?
'Where will terror strike next?' kind. is an exciting gambling game. The most accurate prediction on where terrorists will attack next, wins.
The person guessing the right technique used (a bomb attack, a suicide bomber, chemical weapons, etc.) and getting the closest location of the attack, [...] will receive the exclusive T-shirt, showing the place and the time of the attack.
I understand it's sarcasm and a guerilla marketing technique of some sort, but I still think it's sick.


Never Post Drunk, Homework and Lee's Story

Never Post Drunk
Last night I decided to post after having a couple. The result - the mess you see/saw in the previous post.
No doubt most of you were so entranced, moved and taken by the post that you couldn't take your eyes off it. Yes, I can delete it, but I choose to leave it there as a reminder.
Lesson learnt: Never Post Drunk or Semi-Drunk or even Somewhat Woozy
I should have known better...

Skin Deep by Lee Carlon
Skin Deep written by Lee Carlon is my kind of sci-fi flash. In less than 500 words Lee manages to tell a whole science-fiction story that covers a new technology, relationships and ends in a twist -- a funny one no less. Lee's use of dialogue helps bring forth the issues fast and to set the reader in the story. Conversely, the last part is devoid of dialogue for reasons you'll understand when you read the story. This contrast by itself is a clever technique.
Skin Deep is just fun all around and is also nominated for the AntipodeanSF Award. Go vote.

Now the homework.
We've been receiving so much homework lately, I don't know where to begin.
I'll start with 90 Great Comments Contest from the Glittering Muse
    I have two:

  • First from josh who said in my post about How does the singularity affect writers?:

      I have a friend who is a physicist. We have discussions.

      Him: "If you think 4 dimensions is hard, try eleven."

      Me: "Ahh, but what is a dimension, outside of something we as humans have invented as a benchmark of perception?"

      Him: "Now you're just being difficult."

      Me: "Ahh, but what is difficulty?"

      Him: "Get out of my house, you metaphysical titwomp."

  • The other best comment comes from carterCarter in response to my post about Creativity and Insanity:

      I'm not crazy!

      Yes, I am!

      No, I'm not!

      Yes, I am!

      Shut up!

      You shut up!

      *sigh* I could probably get more done if all the other voices would just shut up.

      You shut up!


  • There's another funny comment from Cavan, but I think it would be too obscure for those unfamiliar with Napoleon Dynamite.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hail Caesar

I was watching Rome the other day, you know, that new HBO series. Oh, well, maybe you don't know.
In any event, Rome. It's exactly about that, the senate, Caesar, Mark Anthony...

As soon as they mentioned Caesar on the show, I was in somewhere else. Ummmm, Caesar.
It wasn't before long that I was gingerly sipping on a bloody Caesar.

That was a few nights ago. Tonight, again, I saw the Clamato in the fridge, and immediately had the same thought - that is, ummmm, Caesar.

I'm sipping another Bloody Caesar now and posting so I couldn't resist telling you about my Caesar. And then it dawned on me. Brits know what a Bloody Caesar is, but do Americans? I believe not. I have tried to order Caesars in the States, but it was forever in vane - they didn't know what it was.

So, for my American friends:
A Bloody Caesar is like a Bloody Mary, only with Clamato juice instead of tomato juice.
This is how I make it:
In a glass full of ice cubes, pour some vodka, say 1oz.
Then add a bit of salt and pepper, a few lemon or lime drops, some Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Add the clamato and stir.
If you can put a celery stick in the glass, do it.
For the sticklers out there, there's a salt mix for the glass brim, but I don't go that far.

This was posted in a semi state of soberness.

By the way, do Australians know about Caesars?

Where is my blogroll?

So this is what I've tried so far:
- I moved the blogroll around different places in my blog
- I took it off, then put it back on
- When I log in to, I can see all my links
- I emailed blogrolling
Nothing helps. My blogroll is still missing. Day 3 (or 4) and counting.
If it doesn't appear by the end of the week, I'd have to use a manual link list, which isn't as easy as pressing a button on my browser whenever I encounter an interesting blog.

Suggestions anybody?

Seems this was only a precursor. I now can't see others blogrolls either. Only static links.


Monday, September 19, 2005


Last night, after not playing for over a year, the Leafs finally hit the ice.
I was sure I'd be glued to the TV along with some friends and some bottled companions, but guess what, we forgot.
Serves them right anyways.

No worries, I'm sure that on those cold winter weekends I'll be back watching hockey like a good little Canadian.


For the past couple of days my blogroll isn't loading for some reason.
You're all still on it.
I wish I knew if the problem is with my template (I have been tinkering with it), or with
I hope to fix it soon.

My Blog Crush is...

As per Darren over at Problogger's request, I've started thinking about who my blog crush is.
This was hard.
I thought about it probably more than I should have, but it was interesting to me.
I started looking at the blogs I visit almost daily, the ones I enjoy so much and saw how in a way I have a crush on each of them:

While I have four new crushes, Eric, Lance, Jennifer, and Yzabel, I'm still just getting to know them.

11 Crushes
- No one touches me like Patry and Carter do.
- No one makes me laugh like Josh and Pat do.
- Then there is the wisdom of Jean and the ever smart Gina.
- There is the sci-fi crowd of Lee and Cavan who also introduce me to the latest trends in the book business.
- Speaking of latest book trends, Georganna is a fountain full.
- And Trée is so cool that I was afraid to comment on his blog for a while.
- Yet, in order to be the writer I want to be, I would like to be able to write like easywriter. Easywriter's descriptive language is one of the finest I've seen. It is literary in the true sense of the word. It is poetry in prose. In fact, I had to stop commenting on her blog because I was embarrassing myself.
My crush on easywriter isn't new. I've already written about easywriter in an earlier post.

So there you go, my 11 blog crushes.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

This post will stay on top until the run on Sunday

    Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 18-years-old.
    Terry's leg was amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977, but despite going through his own ordeal, the suffering of other cancer patients touched him and he decided to start running across Canada, yes, with only one leg, to raise money for cancer research.
    After practicing for 18 months, Terry started the Marathon of Hope in Newfoundland on April 1980.
    He ran 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day and reached Thunder Bay, Ontario, but on September 1st Terry's cancer appeared in his lungs and he was forced to stop after running for 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles).
    Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at age 22. Canada grieved.
    More than $360 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry's name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.
Terry's quotes:
I'm not a dreamer, and I'm not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.
If you've given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope.

You can find all about Terry Fox here.

Pledge Online
A person who is very dear to me collects pledges online here.
Donations are accepted from countries around the world.
September 14th - CAD$613.
September 15th - CAD$350 for a total of CAD$963.
September 16th - CAD$0 - for a total of CAD$963.
September 17th - CAD$205 for a total of CAD$1168.

I'll be running in Toronto, Beaches. Join me, if by running, donating or pledging.

My sincere thanks to Trée.

If you have any questions you can email me: allkindsmelly AT

Update: Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot. I'm glad I went, and I'm glad I ran, and I'm glad I donated. The support was phenomenal and people were amazing. Thank you Terry Fox for the legacy you left behind.

Festival Movies and Sucky Writing

The Toronto International Film Festival closed its doors yesterday, but not before duping me into watching one of the films.
Don't get me wrong, some of my favourite films started off as festival films (along the lines of some of my friends are...), but I tend to be very cautious about the type of movie I go see in festivals. Quite honestly, most of them suck.

Yesterday, I had the displeasure of watching Festival. Yes, yes, a film in a festival called Festival. Should have been my first warning. Actually it was, but the ticket was free, so I figured, what the heck.

As writers, and as readers, you're about to cringe when I tell you all offenses the movie has committed. Such basic mistakes.
  • First of, the movie has no plot. The whole bloody movie was bits and pieces of disjointed parts of obscure conversations, sex scenes (don't get excited, they weren't good), people hanging out, stand-up routines and fringe theatre acts.
    If these pieces had ever come together, I'd be more forgiving. But nothing. That's why I can't even give you a synopsis, but only tell you that the movie is about people who come to perform and judge in a fringe festival in Edinburgh.

  • Second, the characters. My goodness, I shudder at the thought. There were too many of them to be developed. The characters that were more central were flat and stereotypical - a couple of assholes, a spiritual priest, a virginal goody girl, a going-for-the-top ho.

  • The movie combined comedy and tragedy in a way that was unnerving. For example, one of the characters, a lonely person, dies alone, and the scene was comical - beats me why!

  • Fine. I'd still be a hell of a lot more forgiving if it wasn't for the fact that the movie committed the worse offense - it left the audience with a sense of - so what? There was no resolution, no issue resolved, no sense to anything. Completely unsatisfying.
Just to prove to you that I like festival movies, I'll give you two other festival movies I liked.

The first is Broken Flowers. A Jim Jarmusch movie that won the Grand Prix in Canne this year. While not the best Jarmusch (but also not his worse), Broken Flowers is able to artistically combine the funny and the sad. The main character, Don, played by Bill Murray is developed and layered, as are the other characters, especially the brilliantly funny neighbour played by Jeffrey Wright. There is a plot, a conflict, some sort of resolution, all done in the Jarmusch understated way.

Another festival movie that became a cult movie is Napoleon Dynamite. The plot is minimal, the movie is slow paced, and yet there is character, evolution, resolution and even a cathartic ending.

From Napoleon Dynamite, I will leave you with one of the best speeches ever, Pedro's speech for presidency:

I don't have much to say.
But I think it would be good to have
some holy santos brought to the high school...
to guard the hallway... and to bring us good luck.
El Santo Nino de Atocha is a good one.
My Aunt Concha has seen him.
And...we have a great F.F.A. schedule lined up--
and I'd like to see more of that.
If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true.
Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2005

How does the singularity affect writers?

Uploaded on September 8, 2005
by null photography
Most people humanize different objects to some degree or another.
I mean, how many times do we catch ourselves talking to our computer? Our car? That blasted Zerox machine at work???
Heck, by a show of hands, how many of us ever named an object, say a car, and then continuously referred to it by name, even when talking to friends?

As writers, we humanize things daily. I say 'things,' because we don't limit ourselves to objects, we humanize aliens, monsters and other figments of our imagination. We humanize them because that's the only way we know. We can skew them vastly to be creatures of evil or beings of pure goodness, but these are always human traits that we are familiar with.
[I believe it was Gene Roddenberry, and please correct me if I'm wrong, who said that most aliens on Star Trek should be humanoid because it was very important that they'd have eyes to show emotions (not only he gave the aliens eyes, he also gave them emotions).]

What does that have to do with the singularity?
The singularity, to those unfamiliar with the concept as Vernor Vinge put forth, claims that within a few decades technological advancement will be such that we would create a superhuman intelligence. Some claim it would be the end of the human era, and Kurzweil even tries to predict the future after the singularity in his new book The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology

Let's assume for a moment that we are on the verge of such a change, how can we write beyond that? Even if someone was smart enough to see beyond, others wouldn't comprehend. I personally doubt that it is possible for us with our average 100+ IQ to understand beings with an average of, I don't know, at least 200+ IQ. I do not think we can understand beyond our intelligence and therefore we cannot envision or predict past that.

Another example: one of the best books I've read that is truly trying to grasp a concept that is beyond our perception is Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer. This fictional account tries to go beyond our instinctive understanding of the three dimensional space and perceive a fourth one. In order to do that, Sawyer utilizes a derivation of the fourth dimension. Ingenious. But even here, the derivation brings it back to the familiar three dimensions.

Before I lose the non sci-fi folks, I should move on.

Now I'm going to tie writing to the singularity concept. Sawyer, despite a noble attempt, couldn't possibly write about the fourth dimension without writing it in terms he and we understand. Continuing along the same line, regardless whether or not we believe in the singularity, we cannot write past it. And similarly, as far as writing is concerned, we cannot write past the 'write what you know.' Case in point - humanizing objects, we cannot really avoid that.

The 'write what you know' writers' dictum, is not to be interpreted literally, otherwise we would not have fantasy, science-fiction and horror books, for example. It is also not to be interpreted as not exploring things we don't know, just as Sawyer did in his book. Researching and learning is part of being an author.

'Write what you know' as a human-being and as part of the human collective knowledge, memory and imagination.

You can learn more about the singularity here.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Writers Blog Alliance

What is the WBA?
While the founders are still working on a precise mission statement, suffice to say that the WBA's initial goal is to become a central blog for writers and readers, one that can compete for a place with the top blogs.

As we all know, links are the currency of blogs. Therefore, in order to achieve a high standing, many blogs would have to link to the WBA. These blogs are us, the members.

So by getting the WBA to rise in the standings, the WBA will take its members higher in the standings with it.
Meaning - imagine a Boing Boing that is composed by its own members - that is you and me! Now, imagine Boing Boing linking to your blog. That's what it would mean - better marketing and PR for you and your blog.

But That's Not ALL...
It's not just about the links. The WBA will act as a meeting place for writers, agents and editors, and it will have many other benefits for both readers and writers.
One of the already existing features is a collaborative blog, because we know it's all about the content. Other features will include a directory, forums and a magazine. There is also talk about having sections about publishers, agents, self-publishing and more.
Everything writers and readers need.
With more members and higher standings, the more beneficial the WBA will be for its members.

To learn more about the WBA, visit Gone Away, one of the founders' blogs, where he put together an All About WBA post.
Other members of note:
Deborah Woehr - Webmaster
Joshua Estell - Webmaster

Improving the WBA
Deborah and Josh requested feedback and ideas for site improvement.


Kurt Vonnegut on The Daily Show

I totally forgot about this until Rarely Likable reminded me.

I saw the interview with Kurt Vonnegut last night on The Daily Show. He talked slowly and with difficulty, but he was more with it than many younger people I know, and he sure packed a punch.
It's not often I get to see a legend, and on one of my favourite shows too. (I probably shouldn't have admitted it in public, but oh, well...)

If you missed it, not to worry. Here's a link to a video of the interview.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reading Slump

summer reading list
Uploaded on August 31, 2005
by seanich
I'm not feeling 100% myself today, so this is going to be really short.

The past couple of weeks I haven't been able to read not one book.
I've tried everything. I've tried different genres, I went to the library and borrowed a few books, I even bought myself two brand-new, fresh smelling books.

I think I'm going to try an audio book next as per Lee Carlon's suggestions. I'd never thought of that before reading about audio books in his blog. He's also very knowledgeable about eBooks, by the way.

So I was wondering, how so you get out of a reading slump? Any general things you do? Specific books you might recommend to get out of it?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. HELP!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hodge Podge

Uploaded on September 10, 2005
by chrissy1003

I've mentioned once or twice here that I'm from Toronto, I believe.

While I wasn't born and raised in TO (say T.O.), I've been living here for the past few years and I've come to like the city... well, except in winter maybe when it's -20c (-4F).
If you want to get a taste of Toronto, the photo magazine Spacing Photos features beautiful pictures of the city as only gifted photographers can see.

I found this through Rannie from Photojunkie, a gifted photographer on his own accord.

Rannie's other claim to fame is getting one of the highest scores in Guess-the-Google after he stumbled on the game right here, at yours truly's blog. His name is second on the list of all times high scorers.

The second best scorer (from here) is Josh, and I don't think that anyone else even came close.

I'm also very embarrassed that I forgot to credit Rantings and Ravings of an Insane Writer for two of the quizzes in my weekend post. RandR wrote a beautiful post today - Tambo Asks: Why Do You Write?, well worth checking out.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Writing and Cooking - It's all about the feedback

I love cooking. Always did.

Yesterday I had guests over for dinner and so I spent the day cooking. (It was actually more like two hours, but who's counting?)

I made split pea and ham soup, trout in dill and lemon sauce, and garlic mashed. Not a big deal meal, but still very nice I thought.

We sat to eat and immediately I could see that the soup was a hit. The bowls emptied out fast.
Then we had the trout and mashed, and that's when the bread became very popular. I tasted the trout and to my horror, it was gross. I don't know what went wrong, but something did.

What does that have to do with writing?
In cooking, just like in writing, there is the issue of feedback and criticism. In cooking, just like in writing, the 'audience' has different personal tastes. In cooking, just like in writing, there is the question of target market.

Working backwards then, a meal cooked for kids would be different from one prepared for adults, just like when writing.
As far as personal taste goes, the same dish could be a favourite of one person, but a nightmare to another, just like in writing.
And finally, different guests at a dinner party may have different ways of giving the cook feedback. One might try to drown the taste of the trout with bread, another would say very politely, 'I think there's something missing in the trout, but I'm not sure what,' and yet another, usually kids, would simply state the obvious, 'yuck!'
As a cook, I tend to prefer the direct 'yuck' approach. At least then I am able to offer something else and salvage that person's meal.

As a writer, I have the distinct impression I would like the direct approach much better than having to decipher the true meaning of a feedback given to me in a roundabout way. If you're wondering, here's the code as I know it:
- 'This part was a bit slow for me,' means the writing was boring.
- 'I'm not sure what exactly you meant here,' means the writing was vague.
- 'I thought some of the word choices and language was a bit awkward,' meaning this part was poorly written.
- And my all time favourite - 'I understand this is your first draft, so I'll only comment on...,' means the writing was raw and bad despite it being your fifth draft.

How do you prefer to get your feedback? Wrapped in a blanket to cushion it, or thrown directly at you stone hard?

Result of weekend post was no surprise:
- 15 clicked on Guess the Google
- 6 clicked to take The Sexual HELL Test (I guess that everything with the word sex in it would score high :)
- 4 clicked on What obsolete skill are you? quiz
- and finally 2 clicked on The 3 Variable Funny Test
No one felt like getting too deep and my list of posts received 0 clicks.

Last - I am working hard on changing my template to a 3-column design so if the page looks weird on occasion, please forgive.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Some Weekend Fun

I think that we deserve some fun today:

I'm going for a swim. Over and out.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Holding Science Accountable - or Morality and Writing

A favourite recurring theme in sci-fi is holding science accountable for its own progress and inventions.

One of my first short stories ever written didn't deal exactly with that, but the element existed in the story. The story was a runner-up in some contest and to my surprise, many of the judges' comments related to this aspect of the story. They were impressed with the moral ramifications of cloning and genetic engineering I was able to bring forth.

This got me thinking of course (well, what doesn't get me thinking?). Do writers have a moral responsibility? And if they do, to what extent?

We all have different morals. For example, a story about a pregnant teen can take different directions depending on the writer. We put ourselves and our morals in the stories we write. We can't help it.
A beautiful post from Patry Francis (does she have any other kind?) over at The Marvelous Garden about the unlikable protagonists stuck in my memory. Don't we also sometimes use morally questionable characters to accentuate our true beliefs? We make these hateful characters... just that - hateful, so as to contrast with virtues they should have.

I don't have any answers (do you?), but I think it is almost inescapable for a writer to put himself inside the story and thus make the story morally compatible with his own nature.

Tree Of Life
Uploaded on
April 14, 2005 by THX 1981
The idea for this post came to me because of the death of one of science great - Joseph Rotblat. I admit I don't know much about his scientific contribution, but he made an impact on science nonetheless. "Joseph Rotblat was the only scientist to resign from the Manhattan Project and later received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to rid the world of atomic weapons."
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Joseph Rotblat Dies

There is always the flip side of course. Here is the latest weapon invention burning bullets.

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A Little Bit of Canadiana

Canadian shocker: Beer is booze of choice

When it comes to spending bucks on booze, beer wins hands down in Canada.

Statistics Canada says that as usual, beer was by far the most popular beverage in terms of dollar value, capturing 50.7 per cent of sales compared with 24.7 per cent for spirits and 24.6 per cent for wine.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Creativity and Insanity

Okay, it's official - Fine Line Revealed Between Creativity and Insanity

History suggests that the line between creativity and madness is a fine one, but a small group of people known as schizotypes are able to walk it with few problems and even benefit from it.

A new study confirms that their enhanced creativity may come from using more of the right side of the brain than the rest of us.
"They’re not abnormal, they live normal lives but they often have idiosyncratic ways of thinking. Certain things may have special meaning for them or they may be more spiritually attuned."
Folley speculates that what may be happening is that schizotypes may either have more access to the right hemisphere than the average population or there may be more efficient communication between the two hemispheres.

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Mainstream Imagination

Mainstream imagination - isn't that a contradiction in terms? And yet, somehow, mainstream imagination has a hold of us.

Dragon hatching on a Plaque
By Robin Hutton

We tend to imagine what's been imagined before. We dream of faeries and elves and our nightmares consist of zombies and vampires. We even write fanfiction. All because this is what we know and are familiar with.

A few years back I was part of a writers' workshop (a group of writers that get together regularly to critique each other's work). One time, one of the members submitted to the group a short story about a song coming to life. This was not an easy concept for most of the workshop members to grasp, especially since they already had another idea from mainstream imagination, one of a shaman calling a spirit with song and dance, an idea they felt comfortable with.

When the author explained his story more clearly, they looked confused. "But how can a song come to life?" they asked. "How can someone summon a spirit?" I retorted in a needlessly snappish way. It just didn't make any sense. The same people, who accepted "the spirit realm" so readily, had problems accepting a song coming to life. The same people who read and wrote about magical forests, mages and faster-than-light space travel had a hard time with a living song.

Alien sunset
By Robin Hutton

I realized then how our imagination is set with fictional staples such as spirits, elves, vampires, dragons, wizards etc. making it easier for readers to receive and even expect these things, and making it easier for authors to write about them. The ready-made concepts are easy to explain or describe, sometimes, none is even necessary, doesn't everybody know what a dragon or an elf is? But these imagination staples are making it very hard for us to accept original ideas/imagination to the point that it's almost frowned upon.

A while back Lee Carlon wrote a post about how hard it is to be original, come up with something completely different that hasn't been done before. I agree. Fully. And it's frustrating. Heck, even when we think we're original, most times it turns out we aren't. However, as writers, we carry the banner of imagination. It is our responsibility to come up with original ideas, or at least to try.

I don't think I have come up with one original idea yet (I don’t even know if my friend's 'living song' was done before somewhere, you're welcome to enlighten me), but I always try. I rack my wee brain for hours searching within and I have nothing but admiration for those who can work their imagination differently and show us new things. I take my hat off to them. They are the Einsteins of literature.

Note: Before anyone jumps down my throat, originality can come in a variety of forms, not just new "monsters." Originality can be in the style, writing, plot, etc. It might be that I make a differentiation between imagination originality and writing originality. But the post is getting too long.

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Live Feeds from New Orleans

I found this link to live feeds of New Orleans on MadTV's blog.
Mad says:
Apparently there is a small hosting firm in New Orleans who are still working and they're blogging about the situation around them in the beleaguered city.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Today is a good day...

  • Turns out I had nothing to worry about (re my previous post - Waiting)

  • A friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl

  • It's mom's b-day. If you read this mum, Happy Birthday. Again :)

Now, if only I could get 2,000 words in...


Katrina - From National Geographic

I found this article today in National Geographic:

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

If you're wondering what this is all about, well, it's a "tragically accurate" scenario from the October 2004 issue of National Geographic. They assure there in the article that "chances of such a storm hitting New Orleans in any given year are slight."

I'm putting this here because of many reasons. One being my interest in science and the ability of scientists to make accurate predictions. Another being the lessons we should learn with respect to these scientific predictions and warnings about the environment. Warnings and predictions the world tends to dismiss.

However, I am not putting this here to blame anyone. While it's most important to learn lessons from this disaster, be sure to know, America, that no other nation in the world could have reacted with the same magnitude as you have.

You had who to blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but who can you blame now? God?

So as you search for the guilty party, you are ignoring the amazing things you have achieved and done. You did save and evacuate most of the people, you did open your big hearts and your communities to your fellow country men, you did donate money and blood, and you did pray. You even took the time to care for and save your pets.

I'm telling you this because sometimes it's easier for an outsider to see things. Well, this is the view from here, and it's quite amazing.

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Waiting sucks.
I'm not one for waiting.
And I've been waiting. For a while now. Waiting for today.
Soon I will hear...

When I wait, I act as if I don't.
I pretend there's nothing I'm waiting for, nothing I'm stressed about.
Me? I'm the coolest person in the world, didn't you know? I'm never stressed. I can handle anything and everything.

I put on a such an act, I even fool myself.
But my body isn't fooled and won't let me forget. The stress comes out in small physical manifestations which I will spare you, especially for an early morning post.

My body is kind though, never makes too much of a fuss about it, nothing painful, only annoying little things. Just a reminder, in case I forgot.

That I'm stressed.

That I'm waiting.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Accuracy in Fiction - or - How Real Should Fiction Be?

A few days ago I came across a comment in one of Miss Snark's posts. Aside #1 - I'm sorry I'm not giving the exact post permalink but Miss Snark posts often and has so many comments to each of her posts that it would be hard for me to track down the exact post. Aside #2 - Miss Snark's blog is one of the best agent blogs around. If you're interested in the subject of agents and writers you should definitely read her blog daily, and even then I doubt you'd keep up. Aside #3 - this is not to say that Agent 007 isn't one of the best agent blogs. Quite the contrary. If interested in the subject, you should read this one too.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. So I came across this comment about how it irritates people to find inaccuracies in fiction books they read. Let's be clear about the kinds of accuracies I'm talking about here - accuracies about facts from the real world, not plot inaccuracies. To my astonishment, most people felt the same way. They were annoyed if historical facts got confused, annoyed if car models were used inadequately, annoyed if geographical tidbits were wrong.

I say 'to my astonishment' because I could never care less. If I read fiction, I assume everything in the book is fiction, including scientific, historical and geographical facts used to tell the story. (Maybe that's why I couldn't understand what the big deal was with The Da-Vinci Code, it was fiction after all.)

Naturally, I started thinking. Why is my attitude different from so many others, and what is the right attitude if at all.

With regards to the why part of the questions I decided that it's because I'm coming from the science-fiction genre in which authors easily change history or the laws of physics. In fact, these changes are the basis of many books. It might not be called "changing facts" per se, but authors use devices such as time travel to change history. Similarly, authors don't "break" the laws of physics, but have scientists develop past these laws. And so on.

But what about mainstream/mystery/romance novels where the characters are fully integrated in our world? What about historical fiction where characters live our history? How correct should the facts be in these genres? How real should the fiction be?

As far as I'm concerned - not very. For example, I'm not deterred from watching shows which supposedly are based in real life like House and Traders, even though they don't really depict what's going on in real life. However, as far as most people go, fact accuracy does matter. I don't know how aggravating inaccuracies would be to most readers, nor the point at what point they would put the book down saying, 'enough with this crap.' Maybe it's something authors should consider. Then again, maybe it's not. Depends on the author I guess.

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Apparently I'm not the only one who complained about Blogroll yesterday. Holly Lisle did too.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Labour-Day Long-Weekend Yawn

Seems as if the WWW is off on holidays:

- Half the sites I'm trying to load won't load, but while some are nice enough to tell me they're taking advantage of the long weekend to do some maintenance, others simply give me that 'cannot find server' crap page.

- Blogroll wasn't working and for a while I couldn't access my link list or add anyone to the list, and it just so happened that I found a few very nice blogs yesterday. Blogroll is working now finally.

- Most of the blogs I visited today (and yesterday) haven't updated or posted in a couple of days.

Am I (and a very few others) the only one around?

I vowed last year, after it took me five (5!) hours to get home instead of the normal hour and half, that I'm never going away on the Labour Day Weekend again. This year I stayed in town. But just like the WWW, the city too is empty. It's actually nice and very quiet. I like it.

To pass the time, here's another puzzler (game): Nine Bows. I haven't tried it yet, only looked at it and I have no clue what to do next. (Sorry to do this to you again Carter, but I need you to figure this one out :). The link to the game is courtesy of Hazard. I do think this one is the most obscure one of all. Those who feel like trying it out may want to start with an "easier" puzzle called Mazito. You'll find the link here.

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New Banner / Header

To those of you who don't know me much I should mention that I'm really graphically challenged, so creating this banner (or header, how do you call this?) was a real feat for me. Pat on the shoulder.

I hope it appeals to your delicate sense of art... blah blah... I hope you like it. Please tell me and be honest.

More important than the artistic merits of the banner itself is how it loads on different systems. Or maybe it's not more important.
In any event, if anyone encounters any problems could you please tell me?

Thanks in advance.

BTW - the pics are of an Atlantic Ocean beach in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Writing in the Age Crisis

It was yesterday, or perhaps the day before, that my best friend (let's call her Gloria) and I, sat in a patio at dinner time.
[If you've ever been to Toronto, you'd know how passionate Torontonians are when it comes to their patios. I guess that after eight (8!) months of really crummy weather we want to take advantage of normal temperatures as much as possible and spend every moment we can outdoors. But I'm digressing.]

So we sat there at the patio, Gloria and I, and had dinner. She had a pizza and I had... never mind. Something disappointing, expensive and far too small. I finished eating within two minutes and remained hungry, which didn't help the original fiery mood I was in.

"I think I'm going to call in sick tomorrow," Gloria suddenly said, taking a break from her pizza.

I glanced at her plate. Thin crust, lots of cheese, just the way I like it. "Oh, really?"

"Yeah, really, and this time I mean it!"

"As if," I snorted.

Gloria looked at me for a moment, wrinkling her forehead. "Well, you know what's it like," she started her apologetic routine. "Responsibilities---"

"Yeah, yeah," I didn't let her finish.

"What is wrong with you today?" Gloria asked.

"Other than being f***ing hungry?" I grumbled. "You know, same old," I said as Gloria put a slice on my very empty plate. "Age crisis."

"But I thought you're past that," she said.

"How can I, Gloria? It's not like it's getting any better."

"No, I guess not," Gloria laughed. "But you look great. You don't look your age---"

"What does that have to do with anything?" I retorted with my mouth full, somewhat snappish. "And you know what kills me?"

Gloria shook her head.

"They still didn't find a cure."

"For what?"

"For aging," I said exasperated.

"It's how one deals with aging that's important. You're young at heart---"

"Blah blah blah," I cut her off again, undoubtedly acting very 'young.'

"You still have the majority of your life ahead of you," Gloria tried a different approach.

"You say that now, but a few years ago I actually had 90% of my life ahead of me, now it's about 60%, and in a few years it will be 30%. It sucks." I was on a rampage and I wasn't taking any prisoners. "Fact is that with each moment that passes I'm that much closer to my grave, and there's nothing I can do about it. Nothing!"

Gloria looked at me for quite a while before she banged her hand on the table. "Fuck, you're right. Now I'm depressed."

No worries folks, Gloria and I still had fun for the rest of the evening. I felt much better after taking it out on poor Gloria.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm obsessed with my mortality. It's that I'm obsessed with my aging. I feel it. I know it. It's in my bones. Literally.

But you see, a writer, even if s/he can't live in a fantasy world, can, however, create one. So I went back home and revised the age of all my protagonists down. If they die, it will be by my hands and not because of any other reason. That's the way I like it, thank you very much.

(I did write 1,500 words yesterday. Today's tally isn't done yet).

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

America - You're Not Alone. International Community Wants To Help

Yesterday I started noticing some resentment around the blogsphere about the international community. Perhaps the offers came a tad late and perhaps they came alongside criticism of US policy, but they came nonetheless. It's possible that most nations thought the US, being so rich and powerful, can handle the crisis alone, and it probably can, but the offers are now on the table and help and monies are pledged - it never hurts to accept help from friends :)
My American friends, you're not alone. Everybody wants to help out (we'll leave some crazy extremists out of this).

  • International community offers help, prayers - The Pope, Chinese President, Red Cross Societies, EU, Britain, Germany, Russia and Venezuela
    Countries from Russia to Venezuela offered assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina yesterday but said they will wait to hear from the United States what is needed before they send the aid.
  • Foreign governments line up to help after Katrina - Perhaps most important in the past two articles is Venezuela's offer to send cheap fuel.
    "The State Department said offers so far had come from Belgium, Canada, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, China, Australia, Jamaica, Honduras, Greece, Venezuela, the Organization of American States, NATO, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, South Korea, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of the United States, offered to send cheap fuel, humanitarian aid and relief workers to the disaster area.
  • EDITORIAL: Finding unity in tragedy - This is a newspaper from Thailand. People there didn't forget the US's helping hand. Now, they want to reciprocate.
    Thailand, both its government and people, should provide whatever assistance it can to aid the Americans. We still remember when the US government dispatched dozens of aeroplanes and thousands of soldiers, to help tsunami victims in Thailand and other Asian countries. Furthermore, Washington has pledged $950 million out of the estimated US$12 billion promised by all Western donors.

    The rest of the world that has benefited from American generosity should show solidarity with Americans who are now picking up the pieces.
  • And from CNN - World leaders offer sympathy, aid - We'll add France, Australia and Sri Lanka