I’m knee-deep in appliance shopping (yes, 1, 2, 3, 4 again), but I ran across a fun dialect survey and thought you, gentle readers, might find it amusing. There are fireflies (or are they lightning bugs?). There are drive-through liquor stores (or not). There are maps!

Word choice is also a useful dimension to consider when developing a character.

Here’s the source that tipped me off:

The Decade-Old Dialect Quiz You Should Take – Now I Know

And here’s a link to the survey:

And here’s a more in-depth look at firefly vs. lightning bug:

Why Some Americans Say ‘Firefly’ and Others Say ‘Lightning Bug’

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Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

Two of my fellow Writers of the Future v39 winners have posted blogs about craft, and I wanted to share:

Writing Resilience | by David Hankins

One Writer’s Journey | by Elaine Midcoh

David and Elaine are great writers and terrific people, and both of those traits come through in these posts. Enjoy!

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Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Do You Ramen?

The answer to a recent Wordle was “ramen,” which brought me back to after-school second lunches and some of my first creative attempts at cooking. Ramen is salty and delicious and while I don’t eat the instant version much anymore, the memories remain fond.

If you also enjoy ramen, may I suggest this interactive idea generator:

Inspiration Wheel | Shin Wheel

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Photo by Nguyen Phuong NGUYEN on Pexels.com

Here’s an interesting puzzle for the science-minded:

A message just arrived from outer space (but not aliens). Decode it!

After decades of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, humanity finally picked up a message from outer space today. Three of Earth’s top radio astronomy observatories detected the signal coming from somewhere near Mars. Its content has yet to be decoded.

Okay, okay, the message is not actually from aliens. Humans arranged for it to be transmitted to simulate receiving a signal from extraterrestrials. Consider it a dress rehearsal — a chance for us all to see how we’d respond if aliens really did transmit a message to Earth.

For more background on the project and the coded message, head to A Sign in Space.

Also, who knew that SETI has an artist in residence (and are we sure she isn’t an alien?)

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Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

Day of Memories

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Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

Working On It

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”

— Duke Ellington

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Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash

Cyber What Now?

Spotted on the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

I thought that company was Terminated.

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Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Lions Teeth

My lawn is lovely, with white and purple and yellow flowers. The dandelions are going gangbusters, as they do. And I’ve just been out front tidying them up in the hopes that my neighbors won’t get too stressed out about our lawn’s diversity.

In that vein, I give you a brief history of that underrated flower, the dandelion.

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Photo by Jeff Rodgers on Unsplash

Art Adjacent

I find myself wanting to try out a new project. I don’t have time and have no idea where my watercolors ended up, but this tutorial caught my eye. Perhaps it will inspire you, too.

Painting whimsical watercolor birds, a tutorial | The Kid Should See This

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Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

Today’s post is brought to you by fiber optic cable, the innovation currently being inserted into my lawn.

In a discussion about grass vs. clover lawns today, I mentioned that our neighborhood is being wired for fiber internet. For weeks, we’ve had orange-vested dudes (and they’re all dudes) roaming in packs, hauling giant spools of multi-colored cables, digging up driveways and yards (and reseeding with industrial-strength grass seed), and generally doing their best to drag our 1990s development into the modern era.

Now we’ve got cable ends sticking up everywhere, a new panel in the grass looking like a secret bunker entrance, and neighbors wondering whether all this fuss is worth it. 

It also led to the question, how do fiber optics work, exactly?

Answer: I have a layman’s understanding of the technology (data becomes light and zoom zooms down a shiny glass tube) but yeah, better look that up:)

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Here’s a quick backgrounder about fiber optics from the folks who invented it.

Educational Resources | Optical Fiber | Optical Communications | Corning

Corning scientists Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. Donald Keck invented the first low-loss optical fiber in 1970. Inspired by their belief that information could be transmitted through light, Drs. Maurer, Schultz, and Keck spent four years experimenting with different properties of glass until they succeeded, creating the first low-loss optical fiber for telecommunications use.

How does it work?

Encoded into a pattern of light waves, information travels through each optical fiber by a process of internal reflection. The waves move through the fiber from a given source to a destination such as a cable box where it is then decoded.

(So is it a little like a super sophisticated version of an Aldis signal lamp? I guess that’s one way to think about it.)

For more (and more scientific) details, check out this excellent video:

And just for fun, how do they connect North America to Africa to Asia, and everywhere else?

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Photo by Umberto on Unsplash