Sunday, 31 January 2016

Simplification, Sociability and Silliness

The word of the week is ignorance.

Jan 25 – Focus

It really has come down to just work and writing for 2016.

Work's been solid, and almost everything I could want in a job: no complaints there. The main parts of decent pay, regular hours and a lack of general stress means that though I may go home tired, I don't crawl home in a funk to try and recover for the rest the evening.
That's critical if I want to get any writing done that night.

Writing: while I've considered getting up early in the morning( I usually wake up around 6 AM and don't have to leave for work until around 8 AM )that's not a habit I want to get into, at least not yet: it's not quite enough of a window to write at the lengths I'm used to. When I was creating the first draft of Book One, I took about an hour to write a scene and so the chapter was about three hours all together to create.

That's a little much to do before work every day, and the likely see me going to bed earlier each night, to the tune of 9PM or so - too early, in my opinion.

Jan 26 – Drone Racing!

Pod Racing was one of the coolest things about Star Wars: Episode 1. Jar Jar Binks, not so much...

Now it looks like we'll be getting a real-life version of it, on ESPN, no less!

The Drone Racing League is starting up in Florida this year, aiming to capture the growing interest in drones( a misnomer, but the name's stuck now )in general.

The remote-controlled aerial vehicles will zoom around closed-door indoor spaces, their human racing in tiered competitions for money and fame. This reminds me of the fun TV shows from the 90's like Robot Wars, where remote-controlled warriors would battle in front of live audiences, with surprise results.

I'm curious to see if this new sport takes off( sorry )and grows to join other e-sports in popularity. Given the cost of professional drones, it may be a few years before you see it locally, but I think the national coverage will only help speed things along.

Jan 27 – The Friendship Equation

Twenty-something years ago, I read something fascinating about friendship.

It was an article in the Toronto Start about how many friends a person would have in their lifetime, and it actually put numbers to paper based on recent( at the time )research that was being done.

I then promptly forgot about the article, because I hadn't saved it - meaning at the time I hadn't cut it out and filed it( along with the many I still have )for reference. In the years since, I've wondered exactly how I could find it again.

Lo and behold, today it found me, appropriately enough, on FBook.

Called the Dunbar Number, the theory posits that you have a group of about 150 people you regularly interact with, aside from family - call these Casual Friends. Going down from that, you have about 50 Close Friends you'd hang out with for dinner, and then 5 Best Friends you're able to use as support. Going upwards, you have about 500 people you know from work or other networks of friends, to a top limit of about 1500 people whose names or faces you can recall, with effort.

Neat stuff, and in this age of social media / networks, quite changable. I love reading about research like this, as it's directly applicable to my own life and can help shape the way I think about my own social interactions / foibles / hangups.

Plus, it just sounds cool: The Dunbar Number...

Jan 28 –Bye DropBox, Hi Google Drive

I don't need much space, it seems.

Six months ago, I signed up for the 1tb( 1,000 gigabyte )DropBox Pro, as I was using about 50gb of space, well over the 12gb the Free version maxed out at. Cosing about $14/month, I thought I'd be able to use the space for videos, photos and other storage to access it all on the go.


Turns out I have neither the time nor the bandwidth to take advantage of 1,000 gigs of space. Time-wise, I need a few months to organize my video collection, including reformating / converting movies to optimize them for video playback as streaming video - that takes a while, and to be honest, I don't have time to watch them. A

As well, I'd have to upload them to DropBox, and according to my calculations it would take 13 YEARS to upload at 2.75 Mbps, which is my current maximum upload speed cap with JUCE Internet( my download's over 10x that, thankfully ).

Not going to happen.

Instead, I've switched over to Google Drive, which integrates nicely into my mobile phone, laptop and desktop. For a mere $1.99 / month for 100gb of space( I'm using 80gb )it's a perfect fit. At least until I get my streaming media server up and running... which at this point looks like it will happen sometime in 2017.

Lots to do until then.

Jan 29 – Underground

Lately, when thinking about the future, housing comes to mind. I've asked myself: If I don't end up living in a tiny house, where else would I want to live?

Underground springs to mind, oddly enough.

The homes in particular that seem most appealing are in Australia, of all places. I first heard of them when I saw the film Mad Max 3 in theatres back in the 80's: it had a scene which featured some of these unique homes, from a town called Coober Pedy - great name!

The homes are dug out the sandstone rock that underlays all of Coober Pedy. Sandstone is relatively easy to shape by hand using simple mining tools, and the town had its origins when miners discovered opals in the area. As each small mine was played out, miners would turn the excavations into dwellings, to escape the heat of the day in the area which could easily rise to well past 120F - whew!

Carving out one's home by hand from rock isn't easy work, but it's cheap and allows for some unique dwelling possibilities. As well, the homes in Coober Pedy tend to be much drier than homes built underground in damper climates, and that's one aspect of underground living that I've always found unappealling.

You could say I really dig those kinds of homes...

Jan 30 – Flat Earthers? Really?

Can people be that stupid?

I know, I know, it's a silly question... but come on: you have to be a special kind of Dumb in the Information Age to ignore fact in favour of your own distorted opinions.

Or do you?

What's got me shaking my head like a rabbit with an ear itch are so-called 'Flat Earthers' who, as the name implies, don't believe the world is globular. Seriously. They've come up with all sorts of strung-out rationalizations to explain why the masses of evidence we have today showing the world is wrong are wrong, and why they( the few enlightened souls )are correct in the face of overwhelming info to the contrary. Here's an excerpt of somone trying to baffle-gab their way into 'proving' their point that people 'assume' the world is round, when it's 'not' ...

Here's an example of someone trying to convince others that he's 'right' about his theory:

Notice how he avoids talking about the planet itself?

Myself, I think it boils down to their need to be 'special' via their 'unique knowledge' that contradicts the rest of 'the brainwashed masses' as well as a certain need for them to ignore anything they don't see with their own eyes.

Which means a trip high into the upper stratosphere should cure most of them, fast.

However, I am also of the strong opinion that when we see a Stupid outbreak such as this, it needs to be quickly and firmly addressed, as it only takes a little doubt to make people wonder about all sorts of things they take for granted. Not that a little doubt is a bad thing: we should always be ready to question things in our daily lives, so as not to take things for granted.

However, questioning if the earth is round, that's... dumb. Unbelievably so, in fact it makes me wonder if global access  to information makes people more willing to disbelieve everything, to form their own weird worldview by picking and choosing what they want in their version of reality... the sheer number of sites and videos 'proving' the earth is flat will attest to those words.

Scary stuff, folks, when the internet can make people more ignorant.

Jan 31 – Rewards

I came up with a great idea today to help with my writing.

Coincidentally, I was out and about and ended up stopping at a local shop, Curious Comics, where I made a pleasant discovery: there's a new Groo The Wanderer series! In fact, it came out LAST YEAR in January 2015, so I'm remiss and so happy I found it today, in a random encounter...

Groo, as some of you may know, is one of my all-time favorite comic books. Coming from a guy who doesn't really collect comics, that's saying a lot. If you haven't checked out Groo before now, I highly recommend it, for the art work and the humor and the writing in general; it's a treat.

Back to my writing idea, which is this: for every two chapters I finish, I get to read one of the new Groo , books as a reward. Pretty simple, and it all depends on one thing...


Well, two things, if you count discipline. I trust myself enough to ensure that I'll complete two chapters before I tear open a page of the new Groo comics; to do otherwise would be to cheat myself and I've never done that, especially regarding my writing.

So I have incentive now more than ever to dig into my writing and Get It Done. 2016 is already a month gone and essentially I've only organize my notes for the revision of my first books fourth draft.

Tomorrow the new month begins, as does my revision of Book One.

It’s been a quiet week, though a busy one at work, enough so that I’ve not felt energized but rather the opposite at the end of the day. I really need to get out and get more exercise, as I’ve said already. Walking’s been really solid this week, but I’ve been lucky in that I could get out more as it hasn’t been raining much; that won’t last. Time for Plan B…