Inactivity Log

Okay, here is the thing. I am a web developer. I am also a writer. As such, I never work on my blog because these two personalities are always screaming conflicting things. When I get a blog post written, I hit publish, step back to take a look at my site… and am mortified by how bad it looks. A good sixty or so percent of the people reading this might think I’m being crazy, but I build web sites for a living. I know how they are supposed to look and this one violates so many of the rules and suggestions out there that it makes me irritated at myself.

“So redesign your web site,” you tell me. Of course! I would LOVE to. Here’s the thing about that, though. Web technologies are always changing. I learn the “best way” to do things, redesign my site and then take another contracting gig that shows me an even BETTER way to do things, and on and on it goes. It takes a lot of time to redesign a site. And when you are working on other people’s sites for eight hours a day, there is little time left for yours.

And because I have so little free time, I feel I should spend it writing. So, I am left with this constant battle going on in my head. Use my spare time to write or use my spare time to redesign my site?

Lately I have chosen to use my spare time to write. Looking at the timeline on this blog, you might not believe me. That’s because I don’t write where anyone can see it. I write at 750words.com daily and won NaNoWriMo this year, writing a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November. It feels so satisfying to get all of that writing done, but the major problem is that no one can see it.

In the case of my novel, that is a very good thing at the moment. The story changed about four times while I was writing and the whole thing is a jumbled mess. The hefty job of rewriting and editing is now upon me. In the case of my words at 750words.com, that is both a good and a bad thing. Much of that writing reads like journal entries and I don’t necessarily want to share (nor do you necessarily want to read about) the inner workings of my mind. A few of my entries have actually been short stories, thoughts about life in general, and “practice” blog posts, though. Those entries should be read.

Enter 2014. A new year. This year, I am trying a few things. I gave up facebook for one (so far, so good). Getting back in shape is another. The most important resolution for me this year is to get my writing “out there.” I will work on redesigning my site, but in the meantime, I am not going to be idle with the blog posts anymore. I still want to finish up my extras stories (I have a couple of really great ones). I have short stories that I want to publish and I now have two NaNoWriMo novels that are begging to be edited and distributed. It’s relatively easy to self-publish these days, so no more excuses!

Yes, my blog is a bit difficult to read. No, my site is not responsive yet. I will work on that when I can. When the site design updates, the blog posts will too (ah, the beauty of WordPress), so I am just not going to worry about it. Presentation is huge to me, but content is as well. Right now, I am focusing on content.

Now that I think about it, that is a lovely metaphor for why I put a hold on my Facebook account!

War of the Worlds 2.0

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

If you didn’t notice, my last two blog posts were a little… unusual.  While stargazing is a favorite pastime of mine, a few of the things I wrote about were… shall we say… “slanted” for entertainment purposes.  Hey, at least I’m telling you.  Hollywood never extends you that courtesy when they stretch scientific truths.  I’m talking to you, “The Day After Tomorrow” (though I still loves ya in my geeky way).

Everything I wrote about in my “Planetary Stargazing” post is 100% true.  Every time I take my telescope out, I look for Saturn and Jupiter first (and then I head over to the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy, if the time of year is right).  It was, however, a setup for an online mulitplayer reenactment of Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”  It was called “War of the Worlds 2.0” and it was set in motion by these folks at Twitter.  Twitter, as many of you know, is a sort of broadcast mini blogging system.  Those of us who took part in the broadcast offered updates throughout the day as we made our way through the carnage and terror.  The puppet masters at WotW 2.0 told us what was going on so that we were all on the same timeline.  Obviously, I made more of these updates via Twitter than I did via my blog because in the event of an alien invasion, I would be FAR more likely to have my iPhone with me for Twitter updates than I would be to carry a laptop around for making coherent, lengthy observations.  Whether or not said iPhone (or even Twitter) would be up and running in such an event is another matter.  Hey, it’s still fiction.

Which brings me to my “Flee?  Not me!” post.  Yeah, this one was a crock.  I mean, it’s all real, but it wasn’t observed two nights ago and no one was fleeing (that I know of).  The first two videos I linked to were taken about two years ago by local Colorado news traffic copters.  It is actually footage of a Russian rocket body re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.  It is NOT, as the idiots at Fox “concluded” the Quadrantid meteor shower.  For my full, original rant on that subject, read my post on Chicken Little and the Notion of God.  I mention it about halfway down.  The third video is footage of a fireball (big freakin’ meteor) that someone captured.  I offered them up here on my blog as the kind of post a quizzical astronomy enthusiast/healthy skeptic would write if alien cylinders were raining down on the planet.

I, for the record, am not that healthy skeptic.  I would simply assume they were UFOs and run around pointlessly through the streets, praying to whatever god would take me.  I mean, I’ve seen movies.  Duh.  Ahem.

If you are interested in reading about my “very bad day,” I will be posting my tweet feed within a day or so (I have to move into my new house first).  I’ll included a couple of other folks for clarity’s sake (because I “reply” to them), but there were too many players who made this fun for me to really list everyone.  You can also see the archive of the entire War of the Worlds 2.0 event here.

Planetary Stargazing

I have to say, it is always a pleasure to look at the planets when stargazing. They are sometimes shockingly bright. Venus is so striking that it is often called in as a UFO when it is at its brightest. Even if you don’t have a telescope, the planets “stand out” in their way in the heavens- they don’t twinkle as much as their neighboring stars, they are always in a different place in the sky, and their colors tend to stand out (particularly Mars, which is a bright red/orange). However, if you DO have a telescope, they can be a real treat.

The first time I looked at Saturn through a telescope, I remember seeing the shadow cast by the rings on its globe. I suddenly felt very dizzy and became keenly aware of the fact that I was standing on a similar globe- a “planet” called Earth. I realized that the solid ground upon which I was standing was in fact a sphere hurtling faster than I could imagine through the vastness of space (a sphere many times smaller than the one I was looking at through the telescope).

Many people never experience this sense of smallness and wonderment. I might add that many of these people also tend to be the “skeptical” voices when it comes to life outside of this planet. Once you start reflecting upon the vastness of space and the variety within our own solar system, extraterrestrial life doesn’t seem to be so far-fetched. In fact, we seem to be making new discoveries of extra-solar planets, and possibly even Earth-like planets, every day. Just one more variable becoming more of a certainty in the famous Drake equation supporting the likelihood of extraterrestrial life!

If you have clear skies and even a good pair of binoculars, I suggest trying to find Jupiter (and its four largest moons, which are easy to see with a small telescope), Saturn (and its rings), and of course, the red home of many a terrestrial science experiment: Mars (and its ice caps). I plan on doing so tonight, as we are having unseasonably warm weather and crystal-clear skies! In fact, it’s odd how still it is right now…

Don’t Vote. Wait… what?

The original sarcasm video went viral and prompted thousands to go and register to vote (reverse psychology works every time… or doesn’t it?)  This is Steven Spielberg’s remake (or a spoof remake, anyway).  I think it’s hilarious.  You know, just in case you aren’t one of the people swayed by reverse psychology:

Oh, and if you live in the USA and are registered, go vote.  Even if you’re cynical about it.  Seriously, we are required to do so little to actually live in this country is it really that big of an inconvence to make some federal-level choices once every four years?

The Evil League of Evil

It’s pretty safe to assume that when I do not update my blog regularly, it is because I am working on a project.  There have been quite a few things I’ve wanted to write about: how disappointed I am in this new season of Heroes (and conversely, how NOT disappointed I’ve been in Fringe), how excited I am that the winter constellations/Messier objects are coming back, how much I LOVE my new PS3 (favorite games so far: Everyday Shooter, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Echochrome and Stuntman: Ignition. I have others, but I haven’t had time to really play them enough to know if I “love” them. Oh, and the Blu-Ray player is pretty nice, too.)   Ahem.  Yes, all of this and more has been on my mind lately.

I find it hard to write coherently when something “big” is occupying my thoughts, however.  Lately, that’s been quite a bit.  I injured my foot, which, despite the fact that it is purple and swollen and painful, my doctors have assured me is “nothing to be concerned about.”  Whew!  All I have to do is stop using it ever.  While I don’t invest heavily in the stock market, the financial weather has kept me patiently sitting at home, doubting my desire to just jump into L.A. in the immediate future.  That’s fine.  In fact, it’s so fine that I’ve signed a 1-year lease for a new bachelorette pad here in Boulder, not that such a thing cannot be broken if Pixar decides to hire me (which wouldn’t be L.A. anyway, but that’s beside the point).  My workload at my day job ballooned last week.  I’ve also just purchased a new (and by new, I always mean “used”) car from a friend who is currently in Europe.  Oh, and I’m officially “single” again, which has been a strange realization.  To summarize: breaking up, buying a car from someone in Italy, busy at work,  moving, foot injury, and working on a new project (in addition to planning a website overhaul, but I’ll save that story for later).

Now for the Project:

I would hope that the people who read my blog have seen Joss Whedon’s “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” by now.  If you haven’t, go watch it for free from hulu.  It’s three 15-minute episodes.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

You back?  Cool.  Fantastic, wasn’t it?  What an outstanding trio of talent, guided by that Whedonesque sensibility!

So, now that you have the background, I will give you the scoop:  The DVD version of this “show” is going to be coming out relatively soon.  The creators have decided to hold a video contest in which we must make our argument for why we should be included in the Evil League of Evil.  The winners will be featured on the DVD and viewed by dozens and dozens of geeks worldwide!  I wrote and directed the below video and made it with my friend Robert Bowen, who is probably a bigger fan than even I am.  Camera and sound (and fancy equipment) by Carl Fuermann.

Oh, and there is some vocabulary you should be aware of:

Deus Ex Machina: any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot.
Perepeteia: a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal.
Anagnorisis: the critical moment of recognition or discovery, esp. preceding peripeteia.

All three will make an appearance…

Firefly

summer glauThat was a great show, wasn’t it? It made me love Summer Glau, who I’ve mentioned before on this blog. Her ballet performance as Cameron in “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was way cool. Add that to her awesome butt-whooping scene in “Serenity” and it equals me as an uberfan. Any female who loves ballet and can kick major ass at martial arts (“sci-fi” martial arts, to boot) is a person I’d like to meet in real life someday. Alas, I didn’t make it to her panel at Comic-Con (where I’m sure we would have met, had coffee, discussed politics and martial arts, exchanged phone numbers and like totally become BFFs- or not).

The awesomeness of Summer aside, I’m not talking about that Firefly right now. I’m talking about the one that is in the upper right quadrant of this blog. It’s a pretty cool little application. Well, it’s not really “cool” on my blog (yet, anyway), but go to their website at firef.ly and play around with it a bit. Basically, if you turn it on, you can “tag” my page with graffiti or chat with other users (all one of you). Go ahead, try it out. You can “rewind” the history to see what others have said. “Others” being mostly me and any friends I’ve forced to use it. You can even send anything you write on my page to your Twitter account. Tight.

Speaking of Twitter, I have been pretty much obsessed with it lately. If you feel that I don’t update my blog often enough, just check out that little orange bubble in the sidebar for 140 character (or less) blurbs of randomness 5-10 times per day or “follow” me. Another cool social networking application is last.fm, also on the sidebar menu. It lets you listen to what I (or other users) are listening to, create playlists of your favorite artists and discover new artists that you might like. Finally, the thing I’ve been using to pull it all together is friendfeed. This application lets you pool all of your social networking tools into one place and gives you updates when your friends post something to flickr, twitter, youtube, delicious, digg, or even when they add new movies to their netflix cue!

I bet hardcore stalkers are a little miffed right now. I mean, it’s not that hard to figure out what people are doing at all hours of the day- it doesn’t take the skilz it once did. We’re pretty much just telling you. I was reluctant to do all of this for a while after someone broke the “online/real life” code of conduct and kind of freaked me out, but I figure psychos will always be out there and it’s fun to network with the sane people.

Not only that, but jeeze! What else could I possibly tell you about myself? I’m pretty much telling you everything I do, eat, dream about… “Get out of my tree. Get into my blog!” Could be a catchy tune…