alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Lots of interesting stuff over at the Book View Café​ blog today. Madeleine Robins​ writes about balancing acts in writing. You're writing a period mystery...and some of the attitudes and actions of the people of the past are abhorrent to well-meaning, thoughtful people today. You don't want to erase the sufferings of people who were abused and marginalized, yet you don't want to stick 21st century mores and words into your characters. What is the line there? How do you balance the concerns?

I think about these things all the time, too. I'm writing what evolved into a period fantasy. I can change things in my magical world, but how much? Will there be a civil war? There will be a war of 1812, because too many people had something to gain from it. But I am not sure Andrew Jackson will get to be a hero in a battle that should never have been fought. I plan to take William Henry Harrison's "victory" away from him, because if I can save Tecumseh I will.

Mad just had the Romani show up in her story. And her balancing act just became more intricate.

So--which way do you go? Should history ring true? Do you deny your characters the right to grow and change, see The Other as people, too--even if some of the things they say and do (at least at first) are not heroic? How do you handle this?
alfreda89: (Winter)
A lot of us think we've gone too far protecting kids--that they are wrapped in cotton wool, and they are not allowed to take the minor risks that help them learn how to gauge risk. That a lot of kids are living in an environment that is too structured. (And we forget that we used to accuse the Japanese and Chinese of having children who were too structured. They created economic empires with those citizens, but Americans were the ones creating new things for those empires to exploit. Now Japanese young people flirt with creativity, and many Western students are deprived of it.)

Down in New Zealand, a research study on playgrounds and playground behavior has led to startling results. One of the schools has ditched the playground rules book--and they're happy they did so.

"Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says.

The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
There really are three kinds of research, and Pat goes into them here. I just hit Half Price Books because I was Called for a book on Bushido, and found a couple of other things as well.

My unconscious definitely wants to write this book....
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Patricia C. Wrede talks about how to get past the "OMG I need a good battle" feeling. One of her suggestions is something that I've used for years, too. If the subject matter is incomprehensible, then start with a book written for younger readers and work your way up.

I've gotten grief for this, mentioning it on research panels. Perhaps I should have stressed the "No, you don't REMAIN at the middle school level, you just start there!" aspect?

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (USS Enterprise Lightning)
Geiger counters, old medical instruments and even toys connected to the Age of the Atom. A museum for scientific geeks!
alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
Writer Deborah J. Ross has a blog entry over at the Book View Cafe Blog on Jewish pirates in the Caribbean -- and trust me, you want to know about them! For those of you who missed this important event, in 1492 the Spaniards drove the Jews out of Spain -- and Portugal did the same five years later. The Inquisition was ramping up, too. Some Jews pretended to convert and hid their religion, while others fled. One of the places they ran to was the newly discovered Caribbean. They went in search of religious freedom, treasure -- and revenge. Some of them found all these things.

And in the end, with the help of Jewish pirates and several other nations, the Spanish Empire in the New World collapsed, cutting off their gold and eventually their empire. Certainly not what Spain thought would happen when they got rid of those nasty non-Christians.

At least read the review -- and there's a link to a video interview of the author, which Deborah says is a hoot.

Oh, go on and look! It's on my to-get list!

Video here:
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
You know how they ask you if you liked something and will review it? Well, I've been reading one nonfiction book for 304 days. I knew last year wasn't so great, but I only read it when I eat at a certain place -- and I haven't been able to eat there in months.

For the record, the book is good, but I like to think about sections before going on. I'm in the last chapter, I think.

Must pay on-line bills, and brace myself for a ton of work tomorrow. ZZzZzzzzzz
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Chai anime)
How about one of these beauties in your 500 gallon aquarium? Only one thing -- don't eat, don't even touch these nudibranchs (sea snails).
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Books read since 01/01-08:


BADLANDS -- Rosen/Underwood



Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

THE WAY OF MYTH: Talking with Joseph Campbell -- Boa

I liked all of these, although I confess to some skimming in AN ICE COLD GRAVE. Harris is good, and I hate serial killers with an ugly little passion that tells me I would shoot first and ask questions later if I knew one was prowling my city. Child killers are in the same category. People preying on children peg the meter.

So I read the relationships, and skimmed the details of the murders.
alfreda89: (Winter)
The disappearing Prairies....

The wallpaper of my journal echoes this article. The northern prairies are slowly becoming depopulated. To be honest, they should never have been farmed -- not enough water, too much wind, too much drought. Each year more people leave, or die -- of old age, of loneliness. The young either flee or struggle to own more land, because it takes 3000 acres of wheat to survive. North Dakota has stabilized at around 600,000 people, because the big cities have new folk on their fringes.

I've been to South Dakota, and can report it is wild and beautiful, but distant, not a place for people who need a lot of people. North Dakota sounds like leaving the planet.

If not the return of the buffalo (and I eat buffalo, so could appreciate this irony) perhaps a huge wind farm will be born. I've heard the constant wind on the north Texas prairie, and it moans, it screams, it whispers outside your door. I have great admiration for those who fled Europe, looking for a new life. I hope they found some joy in the Dakotas, since their descendants have continued moving, looking for Home.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
I love to make scones. I'm good with them, having inherited my grandmother's "pastry gene", as my mom calls it. Right now this is sad, since I can't eat them, but I have a bunch of recipes, and I collect stories.

One variety is called "Singing hinnies". It has been mentioned as Welsh, or Scottish,'s another variant of the story, and it follows the same lines, no matter where I've found it. This is a UK site about Geordie (NorEast UK) cooking:


The singing hinnie was so called as, when the butter and the cream melted during the baking,
it sizzled on the hot girdle and was thought to be singing. An old tale is told of how this large tea-time scone first became known as a singing hinnie.. a north country housewife was baking this scone for tea and on repeatedly being asked by her children if it was ready to eat, her final reply was "No, it's just singing, hinnies". (Hinnies a Geordie term of endearment for children and loved ones)"

I always bake scones, having never tried any of the griddle versions. But I have noticed, more than once, that when I put a bit of butter in a pan, add wedges of sweet potato (peeled and microwaved 1.5 - 2 minutes to take off the knife edge of it) and sprinkle with allspice, cinnamon, and a bit of sugar, cooking and turning on mid-heat, the combination of heat, butter, sugar and steam escaping from the potatoes makes them sing.

We're not talking about a weird little noise that might echo singing. No, we're talking an entire glade of birds determined to wake up the world with their singing!

So, if you have kids, you might try this just so they can hear the wonderful weirdness of singing food!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
But while I'm caulking, I'm thinking up story stuff -- and occasionally finding weird, wonderful stuff. You know you believe the following:

My favorite was this one, which "assesses the link between country music and metropolitan suicide rates":

Country music is hypothesized to nurture a suicidal mood through its concerns with problems common in the suicidal population, such as marital discord, alcohol abuse, and alienation from work. The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate. The effect is independent of divorce, southernness, poverty, and gun availability. The existence of a country music subculture is thought to reinforce the link between country music and suicide. Our model explains 51% of the variance in urban white suicide rates."

The actual paper:

Yes, I am amused...grimly amused.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
I was visiting [ profile] sartorias's page where she mentions a post on [ profile] truepenny's LJ about "Scullery Boys and Fantasy Expectations". I enjoyed her comments on how newer readers still adore those conventions we longtime readers immediately recognize and could be bored by. (I.E. Eragon, etc.) Is there a way to use some tropes that will satisfy both new-to-genre and longtime fan readers?

Finding the word to explain what we're doing ("second-world story" as opposed to "epic" or "high" fantasy, for example) is often difficult. Many of us seem to have simultaneously thought: "Need a new word, here". I have a "big book" fantasy that has epic and high elements, but is really about a people who would just as soon not have anything to do with all that crap -- they just want to live quietly in their part of the world and let the idiots deal with the rest as they wish.

Of course, that doesn't work. And how it plays out is the story. Just recently I realized that I couldn't write this book years ago -- I had to reach a point of maturity that I could see where it was going, and still bear to go there.

And still have a hopeful ending.

And that will have to tide folks over until I get back on that story.

(This appeared in a slightly different form over on [ profile] sartorias's journal.)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Pedophilia patients are found to have deficits in brain activation

A snip:

"Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, Walter and colleagues report that pedophilic patients showed reduced activation of the hypothalamus, a brain region involved in regulating physiologic arousal and hormone release, as compared to healthy individuals when they were viewing sexually arousing pictures of adults. Deficits of activation in the frontal cortex were associated with the extent of pedophilic behavior. In other words, when shown erotic pictures of adults, the brains of the pedophilic patients had reduced reactions in the pleasure center of the brain, indicating an altered sexual interest."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Red Cascade)
This bit of fun is courtesy [ profile] suricattus.

Analytics According to Captain Kirk

By Matt Bailey (Founder, SiteLogic)

"In my seminars, I enjoy teaching analytics because the fun is in finding effective and memorable methods to help people understand the concepts. One of my favorites is an analysis of the Red-Shirt Phenomenon in Star Trek.

"What? You don't know about the Red Shirt Phenomenon? Well, as any die-hard Trekkie knows, if you are wearing a red shirt and beam to the planet with Captain Kirk, you're gonna die. That's the common thinking, but I decided to put this to the test. After all, I hadn't seen any definitive proof; it's just what people said. (Remind you of your current web analytics strategy?) So, let's set our phasers on 'stun' and see what we find..."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)

Bill McIntosh uses a pitchfork to level the last few loads of hay on one of his stacks last week on the family ranch near Avon. “A loose haystack can sit here for 10 years and the quality of the hay will be the same, but you get any moisture in the baled hay and it will rot,” says McIntosh.

Not the best newspaper grammar, but worth visiting. I've also heard that there are ways of layering hay so rodents don't get into the stack. And a platform under the stack is even better.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Massage Table Cats)
This has been the week of finding things that remind me of Suri. This one is just silliness:

Cold remedy stops meerkat fights

Animal experts from a family theme park have discovered an ingenious new way to stop their meerkats fighting, by using a humble cold remedy.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Chai anime)
20/20's Elizabeth Vargas Looks at the Chemical Changes That Occur Through Life That Change How Men and Women Think.

This article suggests that instead of the blank slates some think them to be, the brains of babies are already hardwired for certain things. (I know you moms will not be surprised by much of this article.)
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
"One morning last July, in the rain forest of northwestern Brazil, Dan Everett, an American linguistics professor, and I stepped from the pontoon of a Cessna floatplane onto the beach bordering the Maici River, a narrow, sharply meandering tributary of the Amazon. On the bank above us were some thirty people—short, dark-skinned men, women, and children—some clutching bows and arrows, others with infants on their hips.

"The people, members of a hunter-gatherer tribe called the Pirahã, responded to the sight of Everett -— a solidly built man of fifty-five with a red beard and the booming voice of a former evangelical minister -— with a greeting that sounded like a profusion of exotic songbirds, a melodic chattering scarcely discernible, to the uninitiated, as human speech.

"Unrelated to any other extant tongue, and based on just eight consonants and three vowels, Pirahã has one of the simplest sound systems known. Yet it possesses such a complex array of tones, stresses, and syllable lengths that its speakers can dispense with their vowels and consonants altogether and sing, hum, or whistle conversations. It is a language so confounding to non-natives that until Everett and his wife, Keren, arrived among the Pirahã, as Christian missionaries, in the nineteen-seventies, no outsider had succeeded in mastering it.

"Everett eventually abandoned Christianity, but he and Keren have spent the past thirty years, on and off, living with the tribe, and in that time they have learned Pirahã as no other Westerners have."

August 2017

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