Tag: Writing

Pressure, Temperature, Volume!

| October 14, 2010 | 6 Replies
Pressure, Temperature, Volume!

Warning – Science Geekery ahead!

Am I the only person in the world who gets that we can control for Boyle’s Law?

While reading a (Science Fiction) book, by a very respected author*, I encountered a scene where a character brews some coffee. Yum! I love coffee! But my delightful anticipation was immediately spoiled by the character’s complaints about how the low ambient pressure makes for lukewarm coffee!

Seriously?

Have people never heard of these amazing newfangled devices called pressure cookers? Heck, Europeans have had little stovetop espresso makers for many many years, that are essentially little one-shot pressure cookers! With the correct setup such equipment can produce strong, hot coffee regardless of the ambient pressure!

Whenever I come across such obvious stupidity it kills the story for me.

Get the little details right, people! Let me enjoy my stories and enjoy my coffee (regardless of ambient)!

* in defense of the Author, he is an older American, so can be excused for not really understanding the difference between coffee and the pale brown caffeinated beverage that shares that name in the States.

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To Read Or Not To Read, And Yet to Write—’Tis A Conundrum Devoutly To Be Solved

| July 24, 2009 | 3 Replies
To Read Or Not To Read, And Yet to Write—’Tis A Conundrum Devoutly To Be Solved

I’ve heard of this phenomenon, but never before encountered it directly. Excuse me, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the utter vapidity of this…

I have a MySpace page. Admittedly, I pay less attention to it these days in lieu of my Facebook page (all these Pages…for such a functional Luddite, it amazes me I navigate these strange seas), but I do check it at least once a week. I post a short blog there. And I collect Friend Requests.

I received such a request the other day from someone whose name I will not use. Unless it’s from someone or something I recognize, I go to the requester’s page to check them out. Saves on a small amount of embarrassment. This person had a legit page. Aspiring writer. Claimed to be working on several short stories and a novel. Great. I’m all about supporting other writers. Sometimes we’re all we’ve got. But I scrolled down to the section where he lists his interests and find under BOOKS this:

I actually don’t read to much but I do like a few. Twilight, Harry Potter, Impulse, Dead on Town Line, etc.

I sat back and stared at that and the question ran through my head like a neon billboard, “How does that work? Just how the hell do you want to be a writer and not like to read?”

So I sent this person a message and asked. I told him that to be a writer you have to love words, love stories…

Well, here’s the exchange, sans names:

Okay, you sent me a friend request, so I looked at your profile. It says you want to be a writer, but then under Books you say you don’t read much.

How does that work? You want to be a writer you have to love words, you have to love stories, you have to love it on the page, and that means reading A LOT.

You might just blow this off, but don’t. If you really want to be a writer, you must read. That’s where you learn your craft, sure, but more importantly that’s where you nurture the love of what you say you want to do.

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What if every scientist (and every author) had a unique identification number?

| April 10, 2009 | 4 Replies
What if every scientist (and every author) had a unique identification number?

The March 27, 2009 edition of Science explores the issue of personal identification numbers for scientists. Why? Because it’s getting difficult to tell authors apart.

A universal numbering system could aid scientists trying to stay on top of the literature, help universities more readily track staff productivity, and enable funding agencies to better monitor the bang they’re getting for their buck. An effective identification number might also make it easier to find information about an author’s affiliations, collaborators, interests, or simply their current whereabouts.

This article indicates that published scientific papers are growing in quantity by 3% annually. Many authors are getting married or divorced and therefore changing their names. Some journals have varying style rules for noting first names and initials. Chinese authors often transliterate their names using opinion. “At least 20 different Chinese names, many of them common, are transliterated as “Wang Hong.” And, of course, there are many scientists not of Chinese descent who have common names who don’t want to be confused with others.

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You too can be part of the Web 2.0 (if you’re willing to invest time and money on technology).

| February 10, 2009 | 1 Reply
You too can be part of the Web 2.0 (if you’re willing to invest time and money on technology).

I was born in 1956, when ordinary people had far fewer opportunities to communicate their ideas to mass markets. For most of my adult life, there were only a few choices to get the word out. You could send out mass mailings or you could hit the telephones, dialing number after number. You could hang paper flyers on telephone poles and fences. You could knock on doors and talk to the folks house by house. Or you could stand on a soapbox and shout your ideas.

These traditional “techniques” are still available and they are still sometimes quite effective, at least to those with hordes of volunteers at their service. The Internet, however, has opened up many additional possibilities for spreading your ideas far and wide. With that great power, however, comes serious responsibility to spend the time to obtain a working knowledge of the underlying technology. How many bloggers are out there now? At least 100 million.

Being a proficient user of a word processor is only the first step. Putting your written work on your own website also requires you to understand at least the basic tools of blogging software. With those two steps, you might already be on a big slippery slope.

Many people are perfectly happy blogging on a free site such as LiveJournal MSN’s Spaces or Google’s Blogger, or one of the many sites with low fees as long as your traffic is modest (e.g., Typepad). Choosing to place your blog with one of these simple on-line sites keeps things really easy. You needn’t ever load any software or maintain the “backend” of your blog.

In 2006, I suspected that I would want to take advantage of many modern day multi-media tools. That’s why I chose to base my blog on WordPress. Going with WordPress allowed me to take advantage of numerous constantly evolving add-ons. I chose it because it kept my site flexible for using multimedia technology that, in return for its flexibility, can require a substantial investment in time. If you’re like me, you will thus develop a love/hate relationship to the flexible do-it-yourself blogging software and the many multi-media tools that allow you to feed your blog in sophisticated ways. You’ll become enthralled with the power these things give you to package your ideas. But you might also become frustrated when you see how much time it takes to learn to make proficient use of these tools.

Here’s an ironic twist: Since 2006, the free online sites now allow you to easily incorporate many kinds of images, sounds and video on blogs. Therefore, if you aren’t exceedingly greedy for technology or traffic, you can now have it all. Yet you’ll still need to decide how much multi-media to incorporate into your blog, even if it’s free and simple. Therefore, much of this post applies to all of us who have decided to jump into the world of blogging.

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2009, finally!

| January 1, 2009 | 1 Reply
2009, finally!

I haven’t posted here in a loooong time.  So sorry – but have been in the midst of life and starting a blog of my own, which covers more parenting stuff, just life stuff, than anything.  I have committed to a group of friends to write a post a day for all of 2009, and […]

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Introducing…

| January 9, 2008 | 3 Replies
Introducing…

Missouri’s first State Poet Laureate.  Walter Bargen. I can’t tell you how pleased I am by this.  Walter is a first-rate poet and, just if not more importantly, a decent human being. He will be formally introduced on February 13th at the state capitol.  After that, he will serve a two-year-term, administered by the Missouri […]

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PreCambrian Ephemera, Satan’s Snares, and Horse Dung

| November 15, 2007 | 3 Replies
PreCambrian Ephemera, Satan’s Snares, and Horse Dung

Writer John Scalzi recently visited the Creation Museum.    He  has written his report, assessed his impressions, and concluded…well, you should read his conclusions for yourself, here. I do  not have Mr. Scalzi’s flare for describing expensive nonsense in such finely satirical, subversive, and somewhat detached a manner.  There is also a FlickR show attached worth a […]

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A Poet Laureate For Missouri

| November 2, 2007 | 1 Reply
A Poet Laureate For Missouri

The state of Missouri has never had an official poet laureate.  Like many people, I didn’t know that, although unlike many of those many people, I should have.  One of the hats I wear (besides the one in the cool profile photo above) is the president of the Missouri Center for the Book. What, you […]

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Scientist Retracts "Origin of Life" Paper that he Wrote 52 Years Ago

| October 30, 2007 | Reply
Scientist Retracts "Origin of Life" Paper that he Wrote 52 Years Ago

Why would a scientist pull a paper that he had out there for over 50 years? Because he is embarrassed that Creationists are eagerly citing parts of it as proof that life cannot have arisen spontaneously. Here’s the story. That is not because he objects to religion, he said… “Religion is O.K. as long as […]

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