Friday, March 20, 2015


While on a canoe trip in 2013, I was horrified to learn that I hadn't packed any cutlery.  I didn't need a fork because chopsticks are so easy to make but I did need a spoon and chose to make the spatula, well, just because I had the materials.  The photo of them below is foggy because I tipped my canoe early in the trip and my camera got wet... Really, it was a  pretty good trip and I do enjoy canoeing.  If you are interested in that trip, look here.  Here is the link to another spoon I worked on.

All that to introduce this post about a man serious about spoons.  Stian Korntved Ruud has been carving a spoon a day for, well, some time now.  He has thrown away the desire to make standard spoons and has been exploring, um, 'spoonness'.  I copied and pasted into Paint to display two of them and how one of them started.

via Boingboing.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How the Sea Wasp writes, how Pratchett signed

On a Google Group that discusses speculative writing, a man with this nym 'Sea Wasp' has described how he writes I added a link to one of the books he describes:
For instance, I just completed Phoenix in Shadow, sequel to Phoenix Rising, and the outline mostly went out the window pretty quickly. As I know that world so well, I didn't even use the outline once I started writing, except to look up names or something similar that I remembered inventing for the outline and didn't want to re-invent. But for the most part, I literally just let the characters lead me through their adventures until they reached the climactic points which I did know.  

That latter bit is one of the crucial parts of writing for me. I absolutely must know what I'm heading for, and specifically I need to have in my mind some awesome, spectacular, and/or tearjerking scene that will serve as the climax of the story. I write towards that scene, as a goal. Everything within the story will be focused on serving that goal of reaching that climax, and making sure that every single piece needed to make that envisioned scene work will be there, precisely as required.
Terry Pratchett passed away recently - a victim of Alzheimer disease.  That makes this article written at Bookseller more special.  In it, Pratchett discusses the care and literal-and-figurative feeding of authors on tour.
It's a good idea to make sure advertising for the event takes place before the event. I wish I didn't have to say this.

The eventIs there a table and chair? I wish I was joking, too. One shop once forgot these completely, and elsewhere I've sat on, at or around various strange items of bookshop furniture. It should be a real table and a real chair, not a stool in front of a shelf unit with no room for the knees. Try and put together something you would be comfortable sitting and writing at for several hours.
Give some thought to where the signing table is.  I prefer to have my back to something - a wall, shelves, whatever. That means the kid with the blue anorak and one blocked nostril can't stare over my shoulder for two hours, which is off-putting (there's always one...)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Road Runner Rules, advice and a contest.

9 rules for Road Runner Cartoons.

Follow the link for the final five.
Female characters as real human beings, some advice:
1. Have enough women in the story that they can talk to each other.2. Filling in tertiary characters with women, even if they have little dialogue or no major impact on plot, changes the background dynamic in unexpected ways.3. Set women characters into the plot as energetic participants in the plot, whether as primary or secondary or tertiary characters and whether in public or private roles within the setting. Have your female characters exist for themselves, not merely as passive adjuncts whose sole function is to serve as a mirror or a motivator or a victim in relationship to the male.
Who will make the next MacGyver?
3.  All proposed ideas must meet these requirements:
            a. Must be a good story, well told. Entertainment is the highest priority.

                As Walt Disney famously said: “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned
                something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
            b. Show must feature an engineer or engineers as the main protagonist OR
                engineering as a central element to the show (MacGyver, for example, was a spy
                who used engineering in every episode).
            c. Show must be compelling to a middle or high school audience (from which we will
                get the next generation of engineers).

Deadline for Entries is April 17.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Another day, another poster, and Twitter Fiction Festival

At Google + and via Kevin Hodgson on Twitter, comes this poster of 40 ways to stay creative.

See the rest at the Google+ link.
Also Via Kevin is this blogpost on seven surprising things about creativity.
6. Creativity isn't finite. I remember using the term "creative juices" and imagining that creativity was this finite set of "stuff" inside of me that I had to save up so that my creativity didn't dry up. Now I realize that it's not like that at all. It's more like a muscle that either grows or atrophies. 7. Creativity isn't always fun. I had this picture of creative work as something that is always enjoyable. Go look up creativity on Google images and you'll see pictures of kids with finger paint and color objects popping out of your head. What they don't include are those agonizing moments when you want to give up and you are convinced your story sucks or your painting is ruined or that dish you are trying to make will turn out awful. We say "embrace failure" but in the moment those mistakes suck. They are gut-wrenching. Creative work encompasses a range of emotions and "fun" is just one of them.---
If you have an idea and are ready now, you might be able to take part in the Twitter Fiction Festival.
The festival takes place May 11-15 and:
March 2nd is the start of the open call for submissions. Check back to submit your ideas for a chance to be a featured participant.
According to Boingboing on the subject:
Entries can involve everything from parody accounts and poetry to Vines and crowdsourced fiction, just so long as they're tweeted. Check out last year's top entries for inspiration, and then get inventive. "We love fiction that uses Twitter functionality in the most creative way possible," reads the festival's website. "That means perhaps something more than just tweeting out a narrative line-by-line."
I browsed through last year's entries and found a narrative just tweeted out line-by-line but also an interesting story of people trapped in an airport during a snowstorm.  The author. Chris Arnold, apparently set up a variety of accounts and retweeted their reports to keep it a coherent story.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

TWIC: Fair use, Korean Soccer players, a cool cave and more

Fair Use is the practice of using isolated fragments of the work of others.  I think we can agree that use of a single frame or still of a movie, perhaps in a review or critique of the work, will improve the review while not damaging the financial prospects of the movie.  A few seconds is probably fine.  A minute?  Now it might depend on which minute is copied and shared.
On this blog, I have shared a fragment of various comics - typically the first frame or two out of four or five.
In the US, fair use is legally protected but what are the limits? At the Center for Media and Social Impact, a set of guidelines on the subject are available.

"Can an artist use images from Facebook in her collage? Can an art teacher show pictures he took at an exhibition in class? Can a museum put a collection online?"
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use was created with and for the visual arts community. Copyright protects artworks of all kinds, audiovisual materials, photographs, and texts (among other things) against unauthorized use by others, but it is subject to a number of exceptions designed to assure space for future creativity. Of these, fair use is the most important and the most flexible.Via Boingboing which also states and links to interest by Audio artists.

I have written before about Korean education practices and the way they seem to stifle creativity. (Earlier on education.) The current coach of the national soccer team is concerned about how robotic they seem in their attack game.
German coach Stielike, who recently won overwhelming plaudits from the Korean public for taking the national team to its first Asian Cup final in 27 years, told Spain’s daily newspaper AS that he has been taken aback by the players’ tendency to relentlessly follow directions without improvising what they’ve been taught to do on the field.
“I’ve never worked in an Asian country before,” said Stielike, who took charge of the Korean team last October with the mission of revamping the soccer landscape in the country. “In terms of team discipline, a coach couldn’t ask for more from these players. Their willingness to work hard is impressive. What they lack, due to the education of players, is greater creativity.”
---In what seems to be a hobby, a man in New Mexico has spent ten years carving and digging and expanding a system of caves, designing a beautiful set of tunnels.
The purpose of this gigantic artwork is to create an environment that would inspire “spiritual renewal and personal well being.” It will also serve as a venue for artistic events once it’s finished.
Regarding fair use, is the use of one image from the 21 plus a video on the linked site?  Here it is:

There is a documentary of the man and his work at the link above.
How can you glue metal to plastic?  Wood to nylon?  Ask This-to-that.
Strong leadership can unleash group innovation. This is a stub of an article and the rest is behind a  paywall.
Maybe a good bookend to the Fair Use guide is a look at how photocopiers have changed the way we work,
  • The bizarre welter of things being replicated made even the folks at Xerox worry they had unleashed Promethean forces. “Have we really made a contribution by making it easier to reproduce junk and nonsense?” as Sol Linowitz, CEO of Xerox International, fretted in Life magazine.
  • “There were these copies where you had a Rorschach blot and you had to fold it and hold it up to the light, and there were people having sex in more positions than you could imagine,” says Michael Preston, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who published an early collection of what he called Xerox-lore—the folklore of the copying age.
Added later:

Robot School - an app to teach kids about programming.
101 things I learned in Architecture School. One of many books at - I can't seem to link to one specific book.

The picture and idea above is interesting to me.  When I can't think of an answer or solution to a problem, I try to think of the problem from a different angle.

My best ideas come 3 minutes after I leave the computer

Colin Marshall at Boingboing looks at the question of why your creative ideas all come when you are driving.
"I guess the nice thing about driving a car is that the physical act of driving itself occupies a good chunk of brain cells that otherwise would be giving you trouble overloading your thinking," writes Douglas Coupland in Life After God. "New scenery continually erases what came before; memory is lost, shuffled, relabeled and forgotten. Gum is chewed; buttons are pushed; windows are lowered and opened. A fast moving car is the only place where you're legally allowed to not deal with your problems. It's enforced meditation and this is good."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A chair from a champagne cork.

At Design Within Reach, people were challenged to make a chair from only the cork, foil and label and cage of one or two champagne bottles.  I like this entry from Michael Parker.
The entries were due between early December 2014 and mid-January 2015.  Time to think about this for next year.