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October 2009
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December 2009

How to write stuff

A friend has been telling me I should write sci-fi stories.

I do admit I’ve been an avid reader of science fiction since my teens in a small town in Northern Ontario, haunting the new books shelf of our tiny library on Duncan Avenue, waiting for each new acquisition. They were on a 7 day limit – not a problem for a speed reader. Back then my obsession focus started as a way to escape the boredom of life as a smart kid in a school of jocks, but now it’s just because I enjoy the genre. In addition, I do seem literate at times, hence my friend’s prompt of "you could write science fiction, you’d be good at it".

I admit I do appreciate a well written book, so if I did somehow manage to produce a good one I’m sure I’d recognize it after the fact. However, I wasn’t sure how I would get from good intentions to a finished manuscript.

In the meantime, I knew that she too churns through sci-fi books, and can string some good phrases together, so while musing on my own talents I tossed the suggestion back to her and went looking for a "how to write" book for her birthday.

Turns out there were dozens of choices in that section of Chapters, covering areas like how to write novels, poetry, essays, plays, term papers, and advertising copy. I browsed the selections, talked to the clerk, chatted with other would-be writers – all things you can’t do via online shopping by the way. Anyways, I didn’t find anything specifically on sci-fi but I’m sure it’s there on the shelf somewhere, I know there are lots of references online.

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Double-dipping to the max

My grandson Noah dropped by for lunch today with his dad. It's always good to see them both, and always fun to see him (the grandson) run amok here. He's a bundle of energy and very inquisitive about things. Besides being entertaining, these visits are a good incentive for me to keep my place relatively tidy too, although he is pretty good about not getting into things. If in doubt, he'll touch whatever he was going for and cautiously look back at you while shaking his head and quietly saying "no no no no". He has a drawer in the kitchen for his toys, and all the Zip-Lok bags he wants. He uses the bags to sort out his plastic blocks and then carry them around - a cheap but fun toy. 

Getting back to lunch here, besides serving up some sodium-laden Chef Boyardee noodles, I tried carrot sticks and low fat dip on the little lad. He liked the dip. Carrot sticks were just a tool for him though, he used one to grab some dip, then lick it off, then go back in for more dip. All the while he was being very careful to not accidentally bite the carrot. I must admit it was more sophisticated than just scooping it out with a finger. When he was finally done with his multiple dipping, he carefully placed the stick back on the platter with the rest of them, ready for someone else to use.  Good to see he's into the environmental concept of re-use, or maybe he just confuses grandpa with Davis Suzuki. 

David (Small)      Mike-1 (Small)


Google alerts

I thought everyone knew of these, but after talking with some friends - maybe not. In Google's words, 

 Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Pretty simple - here's a link to the page. Using alerts you can have Google periodically search for whatever you want to follow, and you restrict the search to just web or just video, or ask for everything. You'll get a list of links and summaries sent to you as an email,  as it happens, daily, weekly - whatever you choose. I know, seems like yet another way to get more things piled up to read, but it can help to focus on some areas. 

I want to look for positive online coverage of graffiti, of graffiti murals, and of graffiti legal walls, so I have set those three searches up as alerts. Then in my Gmail  I have a filter that tells it to skip the Inbox with these messages and label all with "graff alerts". That way they don't clutter my Inbox and I can check whenever I want to pick the ones I'd like to share with others. And being online, check from wherever I have access.

Here's the web page where I share the links and summaries of the ones I like, maybe add a few words, using categories graffiti articles, legal wall, or mural.

Aliens - are they Catholics or Rastafarians?

I tweeted a fair bit yesterday (again), and added text to some of the items when they auto-forwarded to FaceBook. Some piqued my interest enough for a post in here, such as ...

The Globe and Mail (and many others) reprinted an Associated Press article about a conference the Vatican hosted recently, to study the possibility of alien life in the universe and the implications for the Catholic Church. The Vatican Observatory's chief astronomer, Father Funes, ventured that there may be other alien races out there, also created by God, but perhaps following a different religious path. In a statement last May, quoted by the Catholic News Service, he said "God became man in Jesus in order to save us. So if there are also other intelligent beings, it's not a given that they need redemption. They might have remained in full friendship with their creator." In other words, just because we blew it, that doesn't mean other alien races did too. Encouraging. He does seem to assume we would all share the same creator, there's no mention if the various galaxies in the universe were divided up between various deities or maybe contracted out, or whether the concept of multiple universes includes multiple God's.

It is interesting that the Vatican is willing to explore this topic, as there could be many twisted paths of logic/faith to go down. Were these other intelligent races, and their religions, all created at the same instant in time? What about the whole "man in his own image" thing, was that just for us? Some aliens may look like they really need to be instead part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, made in the image of a differnt god. Would we want to eventually send missionaries to these distant planets to convert their heathens to the one true faith - as in whichever faith gets there first? Maybe a distant planet will beat us to it, appearing in our midst with one hand raised in benediction, the other holding a collection plate. Maybe they already have been here, touring various galaxies, stopping off on a small back-water planet and inadvertently inspiring our religions before wandering off again. If so, we're lucky they were benevolent, humankind has justified many activities in the name of religion - some nice, some very nasty. These celestial visitors may not just ring our doorbell with copies of the Watchtower in hand and smiling kids in tow - what if we meet a race on their own crusade, hell heaven bent on saving the universe and in search of perfection through Borg assimilation of our uniqueness?   

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