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Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

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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A brief, selective peek into my Random Thoughts drawer:)

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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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Let’s be honest, a lot of adulting is actually pretty ok.

Example:

Mr. Man: “Hey honey, want to have breakfast for dinner tonight followed by ice cream?”

Me: “Yes, yes I do.”

But other parts are not as much fun. 

Example:

Dr. Vet: “I’m so sorry, but it looks like your cat has about two months to live.”

oof

Time to make sure those two months are as close to breakfast for dinner as possible.

Because that’s something else adults can do.

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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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Sunday
Malibu Hotel

The sun just broke through the morning clouds bringing warmth and new life to the ocean. Not that it needs it. Birds are everywhere, their presence indicating a basically healthy ecosystem. It also tells me that despite not seeing much in the water, there’s a great deal of life in the ocean. None of this is familiar, from the crash of waves on a choppy day to the glint of sun off water or the gulls floating above the shore. I am here to attend a wedding but right now, that’s the least memorable thing about this trip.

On the way down to breakfast yesterday I passed an old photograph of Malibu Colony. It was taken from the north looking down toward the Adams House and beyond to LA. The houses were small then and pressed close to the beach, low against the wind. A two-lane highway separated the houses from a bit of farmland, a road house that is still there, and a series of empty fields that says all that’s needed about land values in those days. 

It was a very different place and yet the ocean still dominates, the hills still face the water. The narrow road still provides a winding lifeline to the city, although it’s less adequate than it was a hundred years ago. Life is easier here now, if only because the residents have discovered, and packaged, the true value of the land. These rows and rows of pink houses, mansions on the bluff, and motels of all stripes exist because we enjoy the beauty of this place, but also because we love to walk to the edge, lean over as far as we can, and wonder what’s out there.

In my mind, this town at the edge of the continent is an outpost, our leaping-off point into the unknown. What an appropriate place to start a marriage, at the edge of the familiar, loved ones sending you off with well-wishes and heartfelt blessings. 

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We met for brunch at a café down the road from the hotel and I was treated to my first insider glimpse of Malibu life. Despite its unprepossessing location on the strip the parking lot was full of Mercedes. This is a mall, and it is treated with respect.

Squinting against the summer glare, I thought I’d stumbled into a supernova. Instead I was surrounded by women with blindingly white hair, their helmets and war paint and sleek-fitting uniforms overwhelming. Perfect hair, boobs, makeup and noses all packed into bodies at various stages of preservation. I let them pass.

Hands grip the boat’s side
golden skin on the water
summer sets so fast.

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

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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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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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Phew!

William Shatner, the 90-year-old perhaps best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, flew 100km up into space in a Blue Origin rocket today. He and the other crew members returned safely to Earth ten minutes later.

In completely unrelated news, all those planning to zap Jeff Bezos with a phaser are asked to please stand down.

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Photo by Dom Talbot on Unsplash

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