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Experience of note

Lofoten Islands

I haven’t posted in a while. Not because I haven’t wanted to but because I have been gone and was specifically keeping myself from the internet. My wife and I took a long overdue vacation to Norway where we hiked all over the place including in the Lofoten islands which are located above the article circle and pictured above. (An incredible experience.)

Travel does something to a person, especially foreign travel. There’s something about getting out from under your comfort zone and placing yourself in another culture that I find beneficial for my life and also for my writing. One of my favorite quotes comes from Gunther Holtorf famous for his ongoing 23-year road trip has said,

“The more you have traveled, the more you realize how little you have seen.”

It couldn’t be more true. There’s something about travel that helps stretch a person, it helps refine them and helps shape their experiences. It’s good stuff. Take time to unplug and get out there, doesn’t even have to be foreign travel. Time away from the manuscript is just as important as time in front of it.

Reading Recommendation: The Phrontistery

Okay, so before I get into it, right now bookmark The Phrontistery. You’ll thank me later.

If you’re like me you hear words but you don’t always remember them. You might remember the idea of them, or know that they exist, but can never remember the exact word you want when you need it. For me this can be frustrating, it slows me down when I try to write and I know there’s something out there that will be perfect but it evades me. A dictionary isn’t helpful, and typing random and vague searches into Google doesn’t usually yield great results.

Last night, I stumbled across the Phrontistery. The Phrontistery collects words and organizes them into handy buckets for quick and easy browsing. Sometimes it’s nice to have a long lists of fabrics, or the actual name of bullfighting (tauromachy,) other time I want base some made up scientific instrument off a rare and real world version.

It’s an awesome tool and next time you’re trying to remember what that unusual animal was you wanted to feature in your next story, you’ll be glad you bookmarked the Phrontistery.

Reading Recommendation: Railsea by China Miéville

Railsea by China Miéville

I read a lot. It’s one of my personal tenants for staying active with my own projects, the prose of other writers inspires me. I usually have a pile of 4-5 books stacked somewhere on my desk at any given time and it grows and shrinks as I churn through the stack continually ordering more. This year only a few of the books really stood out for me. However there have been a few gems, and unsurprising one of my favorites this year came from one of my favorite authors, Railsea from China Miéville.

Railsea is in part a retelling of Moby Dick, with a smattering of Robinson Crusoe, and a bit of Treasure Island – only in this retelling ships becomes trains and whales become giant moles or moldywarpes. It’s great fun and told through that new weird lens that is common in Miéville fiction.

The book follows Sham Yes ap Soorap (awesome name) as he explores the railsea – a endless tangle of railroad lines that twist and turn for hundreds and hundreds of miles – hunting for giant moles on the moletrain Medes. Strange ports, bandits, salvagers, ancient wrecks, and even a few angels fill the pages and the ride is fun from start to finish.

If you’re looking for a fun read, pick it up and let it take you along for the journey – I don’t think I could recommend it more.

Curiosity

Curiosity on Mars

Last night I watched with bated breath as the Mars rover Curiosity executed a picture perfect landing and sent back it’s first photo of it’s landing spot.  It was a crazy plan and not only did it work, it worked flawlessly.

This is a big deal, a big big deal. Weighing in at a little under a ton Curiosity is enormous beast, and has a lot more capabilities than it’s predecessor the Spirit.  The amount of data we’ll receive is going to be amazing and I cannot wait.

Think about it, we shot a 1 ton robot into space and landed it on Mars with a hover crane. There’s no way to cut it, that’s downright incredible. Good job and congrats to the team at Mars Science Laboratory, good job Nasa, and way to go humanity. I am so proud of you.

UPDATE:  Check out this rad pic take from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.