Friday, December 12, 2014

Draplin designing a logo

Aaron Draplin Takes On a Logo Design Challenge from on Vimeo.
Via Kottke.
Yet another professional who makes it look so very easy.  I could become a designer.
Among other things, I like that he gets into the nitty gritty - not just a logo in a PDF surrounded by white, but on a business card or as a watermark or T-shirt.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TWIC: Bruce McCulloch, Buzz Feed and a lot of Boingboing

I watched Bruce McCulloch and the rest of the Kids in the Hall with my dad.  As a young adult, it was one of the few things we both enjoyed.  He now has a book out.  Bruce, not my dad.
Buzzfeed is looking for science reporters in the US.  I find it interesting to look at what professional writers are expected to do as opposed to what amateurs or laypeople think is required.
Responsibilities:Find stories that make people who don’t care about science sit up and take notice
Always be reporting: Strive to get exclusives, from places where no one else is looking
Pitch early and often -- and be willing to regularly spitball the other reporters’ ideas
Work quickly
Work on more than one story at a time
Methodically fact-check every draft
Understand basic statistics (or have a statistician on speed-dial)

Requirements:A proven track record and great clips of science reporting
Proven ability to turn complicated/subtle/contentious ideas into clear and lively prose
Must have specific beats that you’re not only interested in, but have a track record of covering well
Genuine enthusiasm for reporting, even when it’s annoying
A critical, skeptical eye for hype / baloney
Love for and excitement about the internet
CBC has been promoting the Hour Of Code,
When is the Hour of Code?
Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime, but the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. Is it one specific hour? No. You can do the Hour of Code anytime during this week. (And if you can't do it during that week, do it the week before or after).
Why computer science?
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. See more stats on
How do I participate in the Hour of Code?
Sign up to host an Hour of Code event here and start planning. You can organize an Hour of Code event at your school or in your community — like in an extracurricular club, non-profit or at work. Or, just try it yourself when Dec. 8 arrives.
Hugh Howey is famous for his self-published books.  Ah, I'm sure he's famous for the content of the books as well.  Many have described their awe at his skill.  Recently, he offered a video showing how he goes from a document to a paginated book.
 I’ve had a few requests for details about how I paginate my print books, so here goes. Below you’ll find a 50-minute video of me walking through my pagination routine. It’s not quite everything, but I show 95% of what’s involved for a few sample chapters. From there, it’s just a matter of repeating the steps throughout the book. Once you do a few of these, it comes very naturally. You’ll also find that the process speeds up with practice.
Work on the right thing.  Nikole Dieker describes a variety of creative project she worked on until one just felt right and comfortable to her.
I brought the same Nicole to every project, and every time I started a new project I was prepared to become a professional children’s theater director or project manager or indie musician or whatever it was.
And I’d say I was reasonably successful at many of these potential life paths. Hard work, persistence, and natural ability does get you pretty far.
But it was only when I ended up on the writing path—and I did “end up” there as a fluke, when I started looking for ways to make extra money between indie musician gigs—that I realized my work felt different than all of my previous jobs.
Dungeons and Dragons can protect your creativity and imagination.
The French Situationist author Annie Le Brun, in her 2008 book The Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal Realm, suggests that information technology is causing blight and desertification in the world of the imagination just as surely as pollution and global warming are causing blight and desertification in the physical world. We are gaining the ability to communicate and hoard information, but losing the ability to imagine.
literally cannot get my head around what it must be like to be a child or teenager now, raised in a completely digitized world -- where fantasy and long reverie have given way to the instant gratification of electronic media. There can be no innocence or imagination or wonderment in the world of Reddit, Pornhub and 4Chan 
I think the fear of electronics killing unstructured play and imagination is overblown, the newest form of "kids these days".  But maybe there's something to the value of collaborative imagination, where a group works together to visualize and understand the bizarre.
And, my son would love the URL for the post above: it ends, "/the-awesome-glory-that-is-dung.html"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

TWIC: Huronia, Ferguson, Alaska and beyond

Fellow Huronia creative Chrys Wiltshire recently offered two images (that was one, this is the other Larger size found at the link.).

Here is what I know about Werner Herzog.  He's a cranky but brilliant film maker.  Maria Popova of Brain Pickings has reviewed his recent book. Review, Amazon link.  From the review:
The bad films have taught me most about filmmaking. Seek out the negative definition. Sit in front of a film and ask yourself, “Given the chance, is this how I would do it?” It’s a never-ending educational experience, a way of discovering in which direction you need to take your own work and ideas.
I don't embed Tweets often.  This one was retweeted by .
Short Stories ExplainedMary Robinette KowalSaturday, January 24, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM (CST)
Ferguson, MO
Class requirementsAn interest in writing and a willingness to learn are all you need to participate in this class. Bring your preferred writing tools, whether that's a laptop computer, notepad and pen, or a typewriter. If you don't have anything handy, paper and pens will be available.
FAQWhy do I need to register if it's free?It tells us how many chairs to set up. But if you don't know until the last minute, that's okay.We can do fiction or non-fiction stories? Really? Yes, with one caveat.  This workshop is focused on stories, not journalism or articles. So if you want to tell a story that is based on real life, (narrative non-fiction) the tools are the same as those for things that are made up.
In more personal news, I have bought Brick Flicks, a book on stop motion movie making with LEGO for my nephew for Christmas.  He's the 'Alaska' in the title of the blog post.  He saw this one I made for my students and was very excited with the idea.  Of course, now that I know such a book exists, I want it, too.

The C.B.T. is an English as a Second Language test my university students need to take.  Every year a few forget and it is so frustrating to total a student's scores and think, 'maximum of 80%.'

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dongseo University professor directing a film needs a foreign actress

The (Korean) professor is making a film about five foreign teachers living their lives in Korea. I don't know much more about the project but the professor is at my university, so that's neat.
From the Koreabridge ad.

We are looking for a foregin actress who can act for our
feature length film project aimed for international film fests.
It is omnybus styled narrative along with five english teachers
with different background living their lives in S. Korea.
30,000 won will be paid at the end of production and will get
certain amount of share if any profit was made during distribution.
Here is director's website :
Director is currently a professor teaching film in Dongseo University in Busan.

Tim Powers interview

I'm a huge fan of, I think, 80% of his books.  The others are so-so.  But the ones I love, I really love and I like hearing about how he writes.  Fortunately, he was interviewed earlier this year.
“And you need to remember that first draft work is supposed to be pedestrian and lifeless and stupid, and so if you write thirty or forty pages of first draft and you read it and find that it is in fact pedestrian and lifeless and stupid, you’ve got to tell yourself, good, we’re right on track, this is how it’s supposed to be. This leads to a finished book, which will ideally be good. This is one of the necessary steps. Rewriting and revision will make it, we hope, lively and interesting and suspenseful.
“I’ve always thought people who claim to have writers’ block are snagged at that point when they see that it’s stupid and tepid and lifeless. And obviously a person who has writer’s block isn’t claiming that they’re incapable of writing a sentence or a paragraph. They’re lamenting that when they do write a paragraph it’s dumb. And I would want to tell them, keep going, good, it’s supposed to be dumb. You’ll touch it up, you’ll fix it, you’ll polish it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nanowrimo 2014: Completed -kinda

On November 27, I crossed the magic number of 50,000 words (while writing my story, I would have written that as "fifty thousand" to get the credit for an extra word and also because I vaguely recall an elementary school teacher telling me that was the proper way to do it in prose).

The story isn't done.  It is just in the middle of the climax.  Right now, on a large island on Lake Baikal, Russian, British and Chinese forces are battling with muskets and steam powered engines that can fly over who will rule Asia.  And, what's that?  A scorned shaman is dancing for an audience of seals, imploring their help?  Will they bring in a new super weapon from the depths of the deepest lake in the world?  Really?  In the last chapter, a whole new group of characters, motivations and weapons are being introduced?  Ah, probably to build interest in the sequel.

The story has been fun to write and I hope I continue it this afternoon.  I am happy that the stress is off but the point of Nanowrimo is that this stress is often the only thing that gets one to write in the first place.  God knows my first story hasn't been touched in eleven months and three days.

Again, the story has been fun.  It starts off in the Himalayas with an expedition heading toward Tibet headed by a man named Oldwife.  Is that clever?  I have tried to use connections to historic events - like Younghusband's expedition to Tibet, but I am not sure if it is too heavyhanded or not.  Anyway, the story takes place around 1800 and Oldwife is an ex-naval officer who sailed with Cook.  His chief engineer is a man who studied watchmaking from the man who supplied Cook with his chronometer and apprenticed under Harrison, the famous clock-maker who made the first timepiece accurate enough to determine longitude at sea.  There is a man who basically invents scuba diving - a tuque-wearing Frenchman of course.  A female Korean martial artist, smiling, deadly Gurkhas, flamboyant, deadly Kazakhs, gruff, deadly Tashkentians and more.  I needed a few browser windows open to find names appropriate to each nationality as I went along.

I love the term 'plot bunny'.  You think of a few plot points and suddenly they've mated and you're overwhelmed in them.  Probably adding semi-sentient seals in the last chapter is an example of too many ideas without enough mortar of story holding them together.

A shovel that someone carried a long distance - not a special shovel, just an ordinary one, appears in the story and is used with intent to kill.  One could call it a traveling shovel of death, if one so chose.

My planning this time was minimal. I wanted something 'steampunk' and that meant a steam-powered giant dragonfly and more.  I also wanted Tibet or the Himalayas and I can't explain why although the area has always fascinated me.
From my notebook:
In my notebook, I see that I thought about the previous year's story - The Distancing Engine - on September 11.  I had written some notes about where the story was and how to move it forward.  I don't think I got beyond that point.

On Oct 9, I have the start of Nanowrimo prep - one thing that stands out is that I spelled 'Himalayas' correctly - recently I have caught myself using two 'i's and two 'a's instead of one and three respectively.  I then wanted the story to be about local areas rejecting imperial power.  Nepal did fairly well at that, compared to India - I'm sure the location helped.  I also wanted to include Tantric sex.  Maybe I could still add that in the revision.

Oct 28: some attempt at character sketches.  Discovery of 'Orion' as the religion that offers meditation training that turbo charges your brain.

I have just found a list of names.  Some of the names are from Cook's final expedition.  I took the surnames and given names and shifted them a little so they don't match the original.
I also have notes comparing the education of three individuals - Oldwife who received a Classical education - Greek and such, Kasher, who learned even older dead languages and Mi-suk, who studied Confucianism - the Classical of east Asia.

As with last year, everywhere are numbers. Nanowrimo drives home the message of record keeping and if the story was going slowly, I would stop many times in a day, write down the current and the most recent number, subtract one from the other and record the difference.

I consider myself to be fairly objective and numbers oriented.  In descriptions of battles and fights, I often found myself writing "The charged the final 50 meters to the enemy line." or "The landing field was a little more than ten kilometers away."  Is that kind of precision valuable?  when writing about gunfights, does it make the action more visual, more relatable or more obviously wrong?  I don't know how accurate a pistol made in the late 1700's is.

The leader of the main group is an ex-Naval officer - naturally Forrester and Hornblower figure in my mind as I write his exploits.  Forrester once described Hornblower as having a pair of rifled pistols that were accurate to fifty meters and that always seemed excessive to me. Forrester did not have Hornblower picking off individuals at that distance so the question might be moot, but, well, I clearly remember it.

There are a total of 17 pages of notes, including two mind maps.  I also used two sheets of A3 paper - that's the double A4 size - for maps and other notes.
Well, that 's over nine hundred words.  More than half a day's work at standard Nanowrimo pace.  Enough for now.  Time to exercise or do school work or any of the millions things I put off doing for the month.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A good day to Nanowrimo

I am currently at nearly 2,400 words for the day and am satisfied with the progress.  Now, I have to focus on how to end it all.  The story, I mean.

I found a fellow K-blogger's posts on his nanowrimo exploits from days-past.  Liminality 1, 2, 3, 4.

From the first link:
 ... ending that features lightsaber-wielding penguins in the catacombs beneath the Vatican.
Since then, I've always wanted some unlikely foes to do battle 'in the catacombs beneath the Vatican.' This year, I might have a story line fits - if any does.  My story could have proto-Nazis fighting steampunk-powered Victorians and Yetis, in the catacombs, beneath the Vatican.

All the action so far has taken place in Asia - Nepal and Lake Baikal, Russia, so having them travel another 6500 km, to an entirely new continent, seems a little unwieldy.  We'll see - soon, I hope.
I was curious about windows  open to internet sites.  I currently have 10 windows open, including the one i am typing in right now.  The two that responded, don't do research during the month, but perhaps after the month is down and during revision time.