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“Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.” - Girl Genius, by Kaja & Phil Foglio

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Perspective, it's all about perspective ...

Monday, February 25, 2013

That Writing Gig

 Here is a Telegraph interview with Richard Thompson in which he was asked how he works on songs (among other things, including playing electric vs acoustic guitars): 

"I write out my songs long hand and notate the music rather than trust electronic devices, which I tend to lose. If it is written down somewhere, then I stand more chance of hanging on to it. If I am in a writing mode, and have a couple of spare weeks, I do office hours every day, especially in America where there is a quiet guest-room at the back of the house with no phone. I start really early in the morning, about 7am, and work until noon. If it's going great, then I keep going, if not then I do something else. There are always distractions and everything intrudes but you figure out how to write wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You know, I have written songs with a baby on my shoulder, screaming in my ear. You learn how to write on the train and on the car. I jot things down. But it's best when I can shut the door and plough through."

My favorite line:  "There are always distractions and everything intrudes but you figure out how to write wherever you are and whatever you are doing."

One of my early fiction instructors strongly emphasized getting away from the desk when we wrote.  Go out into the world.  Write in restaurants, on park benches, at the beach.  The objective was to teach yourself to write anywhere and not link the creative process to any one location.  I followed her advice.  I can't yet write anywhere, but there are many places away from the desk that work for me.  I frequently write on my breaks at work.  It's amazing how much can be done in ten minutes!  Every paragraph written or edited gets you closer to a finished work. 

Soundtrack for this post:  Richard Thompson, "If Love Whispers Your Name" (Dream Attic), "Salford Sunday" and "Stony Ground" (Electric)

Friday, February 22, 2013

A One-sided Conversation

This is another of my SPAMmers' homeworks.  The prompt was "soaked in sadness" and as always the limit was no more than 500 words.

A One-sided Conversation

You'll find it an easy recipe.  A classic.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your cabinet right now, will only have to gather one or two.  Then you'll be on your way to, well, let's use the euphemism of wedded bliss.  Why a euphemism you ask?  I'm old and don't stand with that straightforward modern nonsense.  But you'll get what you want from this one, dearie.  There's a guarantee.  You must call back about how you get on.  

Yes, dearie?  Oh, you don't seem to have any henbane?  None down by the river at all?  Tsk.  What are things coming to.  No, you can't get it from me.  You must collect it fresh during a waxing gibbous.  You thought full?  Someone said that was more powerful?  Youngsters.  Dear, you want growth, and to get that you can't harvest when everything is already at it's maximum, now, can you.  You'll just have to wait.  Do call back. 

There are no proper mandrake roots this time of year?  Have you looked?  Yes?  You have amazed me, you truly have.  One could always find good mandrake anytime it was needed back when ... sorry, you don't want to hear about how things were in the old days. 

You find the bats are diseased and you fear their noses won't work as needed.  All are covered in white fuzz.  You can substitute dried wing, of course.  You have no stock of dried bat wings in storage?  None?  In the past you've always avoided recipes that called for them?  You haven't hunted for bats since you were eight?  Tsk, tsk, dearie.  You young witches certainly ... yes, do call back. 

It didn't work and you want to know about that guarantee.  Did you mix it with his potatoes?  Did you encourage things along?  Are you sure you followed the recipe exactly?  Youngsters often get impatient about some of the more time consuming steps.  Waiting for the proper phase of the moon took longer than you planned, and having to travel for a week to locate healthy bats set you back a bit as well.  But truly, dearie, if you'd had everything at hand the mixture would have been ready to use in a month.  Yes, a month.  Did I leave that part off?  In the old days these things were just understood by all, no need for written down recipes.  You ... ah, you want to know what I left off.  Yes, dearie, of course.  It must be soaked in sadness for a double fortnight or all the rest is just a waste of time. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


I signed up at Twitter back in November.  I mostly only looked at stuff through November and December.  In January I started retweeting more.  I still haven't made many original tweets.  Don't have a whole lot to share with the world, but I really enjoy reading what the little bit of the world I'm following has to share. 

Somehow I acquired six followers.  I'm still figuring out how the Twitter thing works, so I have no idea how some of these people found me.

I added a widget here that links to my Twitter account.  At least it's supposed to.  Let me know if it turns out to be technology fail.  I thought it would have the little blue Twitter bird...

Welcome to anyone new to my blog.  Here it's mostly science and fiction writing, with random stuff I find interesting and occasional rants. 

I don't seem to get many comments. Is it that I'm not leaving opening for you guys?  Are you all shy?  I don't bite, and won't permit nasty comments here in my little corner of the internets.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you enjoy what I have to say and share.  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Thursday the Chicago area received our first serious snow this winter thanks to Winter Storm Nemo.  About 8 inches (20 cm) fell where I work.  Saturday morning I passed this in front of an electronics manufacturer: 

The snowman is built around the trunk of the tree and is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall.

Insulated wiring is the hair.  The eyes, nose, mouth and buttons look like some kind of parts for what they make.  The belt is strapping tape.  The shiny red heart is a wonderful touch.  Unfortunately, it's raining today.  Bye bye, snowman. 

The same storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow on New England Friday and Saturday.  Here is my friend Laurie's  view of the storm from Massachusetts.   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sick, but I Has New Music

I'm home from work today with a bad cold.  The damn thing ambushed me on Sunday, wrecked my day on Monday, so here I sit with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and the internets.  I may continue my final edit pass on Rising Tide v3.  More likely I'll take a nap.

I'm worn out from buying music online. 

I now have Richard Thompson's latest CD, Electric:

It was released TODAY!  I haven't heard all the tracks yet, but what I've listened to so far is classic awesome Thompson guitar.  And there are good lyrics in there, too.  This review  says the body count is lower that on most of his albums. 

In my iTunes investigation I also found Suzanne Vega released four CDs I didn't know about.  I downloaded those, too.  She re-recorded many of her songs in a more acoustic, intimate way that suits both her and her work and organized them by theme. 

I has me lots of new music.  Lots and Lots. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fictional Biology

I am astounded by some people's lack of understanding of basic human biology.  The mens who think wimmens can control fertility and not get pregnant if we don't want to.  And THIS GUY, who thinks wimmens have tiny dead babies in our wombs.  

Ladies, we are carrying the future zombie apocalypse!

One day the signal will pass among the wimmens.  Those dead babies will be born.  Wimmens will use their magic necromancy powers and turn all the little dead babies into Tall Hot Zombies.  (Of course they'll be Hot, we wimmens aren't dumb.)  The Tall Hot Zombies will then eat the brains and junk of those mens who lack an accurate understanding of human reproductive biology.

Now I see why these mens are so afeared of us wimmens.