Sunday, 1 March 2015

Spock, Space and Sociability

The word of the week is ornery.

Feb 23 – New Space for Writing!

I spent hours after work today at Ground Control – the café, that is.

For the last two years, my writing group has been meeting at the Atrium downtown, which is a lovely building and free for the public to use – for good and bad. The good being lovely architecture, lots of space and a nice central location, with the bad being incredibly uncomfortable seats, tons of noise from other groups or the indoor restaurant patio and insufficient lighting to see one’s notes by.

Thankfully, that's all changed now with our new location! 
They've added many HUGE TV's since for presentations! Techie delight!

The Ground Control Café is downtown as well, only a block away from my work and it's quite simply a meet up groups dream come true. It's ultramodern, has tons of meeting space( with very comfy seating )plus the owners have been extremely accommodating about our needs and schedules. I could not have asked for a better venue to move our writing group to or better timing; the last few meetings we've had with speakers have been abysmally rife with noise, to the point where people only a few seats away could not hear half the presentation.

I'm extremely excited about the possibilities that the new space opens up for our group, not the least of which will be to attract back members who had issues with meeting in the Atrium due to the seating or the noise levels. It's just such great luck and timing that we've found such a terrific venue that has agreed to host us on a regular basis. All for the price of a few coffees for the evening!

There, I just pinched myself again. It’s real – huzzah!

Feb 24 – I Snagged a Pebble!

Whoa, I almost missed it!

After waking this morning at my usual time, well after the sun was up but long before my brain had kicked into gear, I logged into my computer to check what was going on in the world.

An e-mail was waiting from Pebble: did I know Something Big was happening this very AM?

Apparently I had missed their previous e-mail and so I wasted no time in clicking their link to find a brand-new kick starter had sprung up while I had been sleeping.

It was for a new COLOUR Pebble watch, called the Pebble Time!

Scanning Pebble’s Kickstarter site info at super speed, I was shocked to discover that most of the 10,000 Early Bird watches had been spoken for already – at $40.00 off retail, they were a fantastic deal! With frantic haste I logged into my kick starter account and placed an order as I saw the counter for the Early Birds dip below 100 remaining. I held my breath and nearly stopped breathing as the server timed out… making me try all over again! With nail-biting slowness, I let out a breath as the ‘Confirmed!’ Message flashed on my screen.

I’d done it, I had snagged a Pebble Time! 

The watch has all the great features of my current Pebble Smartwatch, with the added bonus of color and a built-in mic to allow me to use all sorts of voice-enabled app features. To top it all off, the watch will start shipping in only a few months time in May 2015, far sooner than the original Pebble had reached its backers. That’s crazy-great!

For scale: that lunchbox on the nose is cathedral-sized inside!
Also this evening: Jupiter Ascending, the movie.

Since it was cheap night at the cinemas, I cycled all the way over to the Tillicum Mall, a 30 minute ride that I counted as my quote of regular exercise for the week. Jupiter Ascending, the latest film from the Wachowskis, creators of The Matrix, is a space opera with tons of eye candy… and a distinct lack of a solid story.

Now, I knew that going into the film and I didn’t care; I wanted to see what they had done with the film as a whole. The special effects were excellent, if not inspired and quite honestly a few sequences went on far longer than they should have. The characters were all right, but nobody stood out enough for me to identify with; even though Sean Bean survived unscathed until the end of the film( sorry, was that a spoiler? )even he couldn’t make me care about the plot, which had more than a few logical flaws in it. I think the part I like the least about the film was the main villain, whose wheezy whispering voice annoyed far more than it terrified me.

I think that when – not if – I find Jupiter Ascending on BluRay in a year or so in the discount bin, I'll pick it up just for the visuals. Who knows? Maybe by then a dedicated soul may have put together a fan cut of the film that makes far more sense than what the Wachowskis assembled.

Feb 25 – Homeworld Remastered!

At last, the wait is over!

My copy of Homeworld Remastered finished downloading and installing( from Steam )after work today. While I missed out on getting a cool light-up model of the mothership( all the pre-orders sold out immediately )it’s still a thrill to be able to play the game again.

-sigh- I really wanted that model.

There’s just so much about Homeworld to love. The graphics: detailed yet not overdone, in an art style inspired by my fave scifi spacecraft artist Chris Foss. The gameplay: real-time strategy that’s perfectly balanced without being too complex. The story: well, that’s what got me…

The story in Homeworld is epic and relatable: a world’s peoples discover they aren’t native to their planet and are forced on a Hero’s Journey to discover their roots in the galactic core.
It’s epic and gorgeous and I can see it eating a lot of my time up all over again. I never finished the original( big surprise )though I have a feeling there was a good life-reason for that at the time; I can’t recall. I did finish the sequel, oddly enough, which was so satisfying a feeling!

All the same, I can see myself finishing the game this time around. It’s just too good a game not to…

Feb 26 – Yo-Yo-Me? Also: Oops

I don't know what it is, but I've been all over the place this week.

Even testing my blood sugar hasn't really prove conclusive, which kind of surprised me. I don't know if it's the weather or something else, but each day I've been up and down mood-wise several times, which is unusual for me - I'm usually much more straight-on-the-level when it comes to mood.

Since I can't spot a single cause, I'm inclined to chalk it up to my subconscious working overtime on a whole bunch of things and my conscious mind is getting the flak from that. Which is fine as exclamations go, but it doesn't really help in dealing with the fallout each day. All I can do is try to consciously moderate my moods, though to be honest they’re in no way what I described as serious swings… just more like blah and rah and back to blah again, mostly over small things.

Strange, but there you have it.

And…. It’s hard to believe, but I only played Homeworld Remastered for one day before I managed to screw up my computer so that I can't play a whole host of games, HW:R included. It has to do with Microsoft’s .NET architecture and… well, it’s really technical. So much so that I can't see any immediate solution to the problem save completely reformatting my system and reinstalling Windows 7, which is a royal pain to do and not only because of the sheer amount of time it will take.

Quite honestly, I may just wait until Windows 10 comes out later this year and install that. Until then, I have 1.5 novels to write and more revision to do than I have time for, so as usual, entertaining myself will have to go on the back burner...

Feb 27 – I have been, and always will be…

One of my idols passed away today: Leonard Nimoy.

No other actor had a greater influence on my life than he did, in portraying the character of Spock on the original Star Trek. I wasn't drawn to the flashier characters, but rather to the cool capable intelligence of the half-Vulcan science officer who always had the right answers.

Being a rather smart kid, I really liked that concept.

If there is more to it than that. The depth and layers that Leonard Nimoy gave to Spock meant that the character continue to resonate with me as I grew up; the fact that I can still raise my right eyebrow in a mirror imitation of Spock's own expression had nothing to do with that. More so than any other fictional influence my life, Spock was an ideal I aspired to without truly knowing why. 

At least, not until this very week, when a letter Leonard Nimoy wrote in 1968 came to my attention which perfectly explains why I was so profoundly affected by Spock:

Click to read the letter Leonard wrote, it's very much worthwhile.

The fantastic letter to the young fan sums up, in my eyes, what I now see as Spock's enduring appeal in my life. I was profoundly affected today, and still am, by Leonard Nimoy's passing; I hadn't known until he was gone how big an influence he was on my life from such an early age. I never developed into a Trekkie, as I felt that wasn't really the kind of fannish ‘worship’ that Leonard Nimoy inspired in me, after seeing each episode of the original show a gazillion times.

Instead, the character of Spock inspired me to be a better me.

From the ISS in space, over Boston, Leonard's home town

Reading the outpouring of tributes from so many who mourn his loss has only strengthened the admiration I have for both the man and his work. I will continue to revere the gifts he has between the world and none more so than Spock.

Live Long and Prosper, my friends.

Feb 28 – Social, me?

I took 3 hours to be social today, more or less.

It was a friends birthday, with invitees gathering at a cozy sushi spot out in Langford. Not having a vehicle, I hopped the bus to travel half-hour in either direction, entertaining myself en route with a freshly-minted ebook copy of the first third of my second novel’s first draft; try saying that quickly! It was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the trip on the noisy bus all the more because my lovely Parrot headphones completely tuned out the rumble and roar of the trip.

The party itself was great; there's quite a few g33ks in the crowd and the sushi itself was excellent. What I did find most amusing was that many of the people present were young parents and it seems that I'm now in that socio-age group all over again. Being single and childless puts me in a minority among my friends, but it's nothing that I feel the lack of; most everyone I see around me is quite happy to be apparent with their partners.

I guess societal pressure is and what it used to be, because I feel fairly content as I am.

It does bother me, from time to time, as I've been told over the years repeatedly that I'd make a great dad. I'm sure of mentioned this before, but that sort of thing just makes me all the more determined not to just be a dad, if it comes to that: I want the whole package, thanks very much. I know several people who were desperate to have children and that primary time-sensitive urge meant they didn’t make the best choices when it came to their partners, at least in my eyes( wow, that sounded so judgemental... ). All the same, it’s been interesting to see how things have worked out for them and I'm happy to say that from what I've observed, most of them have had it on towards the fairytale life for the most part.

Me, I just write about that sort of thing; it’s far easier to edit.

March 1 - Mecha Anniversary!

Thirty years ago today, anime magic erputed on TV’s across North America.

The show, of course, was Robotech and from its first few episodes, millions of kids were glued to the screens each week to see what was going to happen next. Giant robots, aliens, space battles with a female Japanese pop star singing her heart out in the middle of everything going on: it was excitement overload and I couldn't get enough.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to fly a fighter jet that transforms into a robot too? Here's a modern 720p remake of the opening sequence - love that music!

One of the major things about Robotech that grabbed my imagination( apart from the music! )and never let go was the art design: all of the mecha looked real. They moved and leaped and fought and flew as though bound by the rules of physics, grounding the show and making everything that happened believable, at least to me. Combined with the gripping story and fanciful settings, it was enough to spark my imagination even to this day. Sure, the stories and sometimes sloppy editing to chop together the North American version of the Japanese episodes don't hold up nowadays, but I can still sit back and enjoy the show for what it is: my introduction to anime.

And giant freakin’ robots fighting space aliens. Can’t forget that!!!

The passing of a friend's father this week, along with Leonard Nimoy, has again brought the issue of mortality to the front of my brain. I need to get more writing done and less not-writing, even when I'm tired or off-kilter or whatever. That all-important first draft has to be brought into existence, sooner or later, before I go non-existent. Which, I hope, is many decades and many completed book series from now!