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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Part of what good fiction does is to create a world and place the reader in it, allowing you to imagine yourself battling the Empire, slaying the dragon, or rescuing the fair prince in distress. But I get it, fiction is also a distancing mechanism.

Satisfying stories open with a problem and close when that problem is resolved, leaving the reader with the sense that they’ve helped and no more needs to be done. I think that can be particularly true when it comes to real challenges like climate change. 

Sometimes what’s needed is a picture.

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Meet ThisClimateDoesNotExist, a project by a group of scientists from the Quebec AI Institute in Montreal. They’ve put together a tool that lets you visualize the impact of climate change not on the world in general, or even a region, but on an address.

This Montreal-made website uses AI to show the potential impact of climate change on any address | CBC News

Take Killian Court at MIT, overlooking the Charles River. What would it look like flooded? Or the US Capitol Building? Or the Sam’s Club parking lot in West Palm Beach, The Alamo in San Antonio (and I’m pretty sure we can kiss the River Walk goodbye), Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, or (now it’s getting real) the Guinness Brewery in Dublin?

Not worried about flooding? Try the options for wildfire or smog. Also unpleasant!

Then picture yourself there too. Who better to be the hero of that story?

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Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

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xkcd

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Grey and rainy? Not on Mars! Photo by Nicolas Lobos on Unsplash

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I found this visualization of ocean denizens and depth fascinating. It looks simple but keep scrolling down (and scrolling, and scrolling) to see what lives where and how.

The Deep Sea

Elephant seals can dive to 2400 meters deep? That may be why the Headless Chicken Fish (real name) goes 500 meters deeper. Then there’s the Cookiecutter Shark, Flabby Whalefish, Dumbo Octopus, Sea Pig, Faceless Fish (who comes up with these names, they’re awesome) and not-really-related to jellyfish Comb Jelly.

And did you know that Orange Roughy can live up to 200 years? Or that the Patagonian Toothfish is found down to 3900 meters and has antifreeze in its tissue? I didn’t.

Next time there’s a choice of fish for dinner I think I’ll head over to Seafood Watch to find the most sustainable options. And skip the Orange Roughy.

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Photo by 毛 祥 on Unsplash

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Forty-two years ago this month, we learned the answer to life, the universe and everything. Even if humorous sci-fi isn’t your thing, Douglas Adams’ work has permeated pop culture.

42 years later, how ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ has endured

The influence of the Hitchhiker’s Guide “is everywhere,” says Marcus O’Dair, author of The Rough Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“We can see it in culture, where Adams’ story is rumoured to have inspired everything from the band Level 42 to comedy show The Kumars at No. 42,” he says. “We can see it in tech: in the real-life ‘knife that toasts,’ for instance, or in-ear translation services reminiscent of the Babel fish. The most visible sign of its ubiquity, though, might be the fact that we can celebrate its anniversary not at 40 or 50 years but at 42 — and everyone knows why.”

This book let me know that there was a place for humorous absurdities in writing, and that it really doesn’t pay to take yourself too seriously.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an indispensable companion to all those who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and confusing Universe, for though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does at least make the reassuring claim, that where it is inaccurate it is at least definitively inaccurate. In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong.

This was the gist of the notice. It said “The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Cake with bypass, made by me. To scale.

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My public service announcement for today: Good does not equal perfect. While they may be related, I’m pretty sure that Good is Cinderella and Perfect is the wicked stepmother. Just saying.

Here’s a Venn diagram for the visual learners out there.

It’s an idea I’ve discussed before but needed to hear again, and I thought you might too.

Go forth and be awesome!

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Photo by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash

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You know how sometimes you see a thing and it sets off little creative sparkles in your brain parts? Well, that’s what happened when I spotted this striking piece of art:

©Von Wong Production 2021 – http://www.TurnOffThePlasticTap.com

Giant “Faucet” Spewing Single-Use Plastic Urges Us To Reconsider Our Plastic Use

When I saw this my first thought (after “Ok, that’s insanely cool”) was “How can I do that? 

Lucky me (and you, if you’re so inclined), the artist has not only created this installation* but turned it into an interactive opportunity. Just as I was visualizing the steps needed to trim a tap like that and build a fountain of plastics, I spotted this:

If you are an artist or creative that would like to participate, join us in creating a remix of the Giant Plastic Tap

— This three story tall giant art installation is leaking plastics into different environments – Von Wong Blog 

Don’t mind if I do! If you want to join the fun, all files needed to remix your very own giant plastic tap are available here:

Remix the Giant Plastic Tap – Photoshop Challenge! – Dropbox Paper

Check out this post for more details on usage.

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I’m practicing new photo processing techniques and thought this was a good place to start. Lots to learn (ugh, lighting and color balance! I was in a hurry, but still) and this challenge is a great way to do it.

Tap image ©Von Wong Production 2021 – http://www.TurnOffThePlasticTap.com, Photos by Jordan RowlandJeff Finley on Unsplash
Tap images ©Von Wong Production 2021 – http://www.TurnOffThePlasticTap.com, Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

* Von Wong’s mind-bending original project was sponsored by the Embassy of Canada in France. Because Canadians are awesome. Every single one!

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I spotted this article the other day:

What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation

Hmm, I said, “That’s interesting in an upside-down sort of a way. I wonder what my writing looks like without, you know, words?”

My first thought was that I probably use too many commas. I headed over to the site developed by the article’s author and lo! I was right.

Punctuation from “Just Like [Illegible] Used to Make,” about 5400 words.

My second thought was to see how that story compared to other authors’ work. I visited Project Gutenberg and evaluated first chapters from a selection of famous and/or cherished books. 

Now that was interesting, both for the differences in punctuation and for the variety and length of chapters. (Nineteenth-century authors also loved commas, it seems. Is it time to hang up my keyboard and pick up a quill?)

This approach certainly provides a new perspective on the building blocks underpinning different authors, eras and genres of writing. Will it help my writing? Maybe, maybe not, but it was fun.

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Photo by Nitty Ditty on Unsplash

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What am I reading with lunch? How about a graphic novel about a woman, space, and a spunky little robot? App and interactivity are optional (but could be fun).

NASA – First Woman (read onlinedownload PDF)

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NASA

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This is a nice combination: Green yaupon + peppermint lemongrass tea* = pretty very good. Maple syrup takes it over the top, because it’s awesome in everything.

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Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

* No Camellia sinensis was harmed in the making of this beverage.

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I’m bouncing from project to project again, doing some work work and some practice work. I’ve also started about half a dozen posts but nothing feels right, because none of them said what I was really thinking, which is that today I am the Queen of Meh.

This is not to say that things are not a-ok, I’d just prefer to be making more progress.

Mood: pretty groovy, thanks for asking.

Fine, let’s roll with it.

I did nothing amazing today but do things I did. The project I had the most fun with was practicing photo compositing. Here’s a chimera that is not very good but I like anyway: Behold, the Winged Buffabear!

Original photos by Steven Cordes and Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash,
daguerreotype overlay from Spoon Graphics

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I think I’ll try to follow this advice by Christine Carter, and my own, and aim low:

The 1-minute secret to forming a new habit

Here’s why we need to be willing to be bad: being good requires that our effort and our motivation be in proportion to each other. The harder something is for us to do, the more motivation we need to do that thing. And you might have noticed, but motivation isn’t something that we can always muster on command….

The goal, remember, is repetition, not high achievement. So let yourself be mediocre at whatever you’re trying to do, but be mediocre every day. 

— Christine Carter

That I can do!

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Look at all those minutes!
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

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