Tag Archives: Amazon

Creativity and Felicia Day

FeliciaDayWe all know that in order to create a successful web series you have to hire Felicia Day (of ‘The Guild’ fame) but today I found out that it is also advantageous to listen to her new video Blog Geek & Sundry.

She recommended a book “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland and somehow that resonated with me. Thanks to Amazon and Kindle books I was in the possession of that book one click later. OK, it were a few clicks first to find the book on Amazon but after that it really was only one click and four bucks later that I could start reading this amazing book.

Try this:
“So remember these two things: you are talented, and you are original. Be sure of that. I say this because self-trust is one of the very most important things in writing…”

“This creative power and imagination is in everyone, and so is the need to express it, i.e., to share it with others. But what happens to it? It is very tender and sensitive, and it is usually drummed out of people early in life by criticism (so-called “helpful criticism” is often the worst kind), by teasing, jeering, rules, prissy teachers, critics, and all those unloving people who forget that the letter killeth and the spirit giveth life. Sometimes I think of life as a process where everybody is discouraging and taking everybody else down a peg or two.”

”…the only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and the poet alive and make it flourish.”

All this reminded me of a ‘decision’ made many, many years ago. During my last high school years I loved the natural sciences including math but also art. Physics was the strongest in terms of appreciation by others.

Now it was the custom that the local news paper (it was a smaller town in Germany) published a list of all the high school graduates with their intended carrier. I was really honest for a moment there and answered the survey’s question about my intended carrier with a simple ‘Artist.’

Unfortunately this honesty did not last that long because after summer and some brain storming I entered college with a major of physics. That was more more ‘realistic’ choice, one that would allow me to ‘make a living.’ Fortunately this field was also something I loved and it got even better when I was done with my masters because those were the days when the field of computer science really started up and needed contributors. There was no major of Computer Science yet, so mostly mathematicians and physicists started to bootstrap this field and I was happy to pitch in – probably partly because in those early days, writing software was more of a creative and artistic activity than an engineering one.

I am glad that the ‘pure’ art also remained in my life even though I had chosen a real money-making carrier as my daytime job. Photography became my medium of expression and somehow musicians were always in my life, sometime to the extent that I was the only ‘audience’ in a big group of musicians.

But I do want to do more writing and so Brenda Ueland’s book came just at the right time.

Thank you, Felicia, for bringing it to me!

JD Flora will be all done soon – or not?

Work is currently being done finalizing the third volume of the JD Flora trilogy. In working my way through the third volume I just enjoyed the logs where JD in his different manifestation on various time lines actually meets the author (the real on – even though ‘real’ might be a bit far-fetched) remarking on his even worse bad breath.

Should you have no clue what I am talking about then it’s about time that you remedy the situation. Volume I and II are available on Amazon and the ‘Look inside’ feature there will jump start your appetite.

The Logs of JD Flora: Daughter of Time

The Logs of JD Flora: Within the Sphinx

In order to make things a bit more real you can get a glimpse of some real footage of the author, Joachim Steingrubner, on the trails of JD in Cambodia, more particularly at Angkor Wat…

[slidepress gallery=’angkorwat’]

The origin of the name Google – where it really comes from

Google LogoHave you ever wondered where Google got its name from. There are some of these companies that have become household names and nobody really considers any more where their names come from – Amazon, Yahoo, et al.

But somebody must have sat down and really thought about it. It is rare that something is materializing out of thin air. Often we get an inspiration from something that passes by – even if only fleeting.

Google, after being known around the world and even becoming a verb now could not possibly admit that its name would not reflect deep thought (pun intended) and consideration, so the official version is that Google comes from the mathematical term “googol”, to equal 10100, a number much larger than even the atoms in this universe.

But here I now have for you the “real source” of the  name:

Today I re-read, for the xth time, Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and there it was – plain and simple:

In the story of this (must read) book where the two programmers Lunkwill and Fook talk to the computer Deep Thought the first time after its completion to find out if it will indeed be able to compute an easy answer to all the questions about life, the universe and everything, and this computer classifies itself as only the second most powerful computer in the universe, the following dialog pursues:

“There must be a mistake,” he [Lunkwill] said, “are you not a greater computer than the Millard Gigantubrain at Maximegalon which can count all the atoms in a star in a millisecond?”

“The Millard Gigantubrain?” Said Deep Thought with unconcealed contempt. “A mere abacus – mention it not.”

“And are you not,” said Fook leaning anxiously forward, ” a greater analyst than the Googleplex Star Thinker in the Seventh  Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity which can calculate the trajectory of every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabat Beta sand blizzard?”

“A five-week sand blizzard?” said Deep Thought laughingly. “You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.”

There you have it – modest Google does not (yet) compare itself with Deep Thought.

A little side note that other well know subjects have been inspired by Douglas Adams. Many of you will know the TIFF file format used to store image data. This format is a tagged format and one of the initial tags that identifies the file as a TIFF file has a value of 42 and the official comment was that this value was chosen for the deep meaning of this particular value. The drafters did not quite come out with the full credits for this value which took seven and a half million years to compute, but made this tongue in cheek choice for all those geeks who know TIFF and Douglas Adams.

Summer Camp – or Wasting Time

For the first eight summers we have been following what modern parents do – send kids to camps and have them entertained, offer them programs and generally take away from them the opportunity to create their own summer.

That is so different to the way I grew up. OK, it might have been once or twice that the whole family went on some vacation trip, but that was for maybe two weeks while the summer vacation from school was at least six weeks. So I did have the need and opportunity to invent my own summer, and I don’t remember ever being bored.

I had kept some of my sanity when I became a parent myself to a degree and did not cover all corners with padding, and my general idea about child safety was that if the damage was not permanent then it was OK. But we did make the mistake of not giving the kid time  to explore on his own, there was always a class to go to and a program to be in.

Lately there are more and more things coming into my life that indicate that the situation is being restored to proper working. One of them is Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids. Ms. Skenazy gained notoriety by letting her son take the subway all by himself to get home – and talk about it. Her blog has become a center for parents, who want to let their kids gain confidence by doing things themselves,  to congregate and share their experiences. There is also Ms. Skenazy’s book Free Range Kids available at Amazon, but I have to admit that I did not read it yet myself.

Today I ran into a TED talk by the founder of the Tinkering School, Gever Tulley, demonstrating that it is OK to have kids work with power tools. This talk was just the last drop that made me think about writing this all up.

Yes, it is a camp, but I believe it is different enough to set a good example of not over protecting our children.

Now, what do I do about all this? This year, at the age of nearly ten, we did not sign our son up for any summer camp. Instead we are up there in the mountains in a little cabin and the junior has to find something to do while I work. Fortunately I do work from the house, otherwise I don’t think it would be possible without going straight to jail.

What is the experience so far? There were a few upsets and mis-emotions, and we are not quite there yet where junior uses his time wisely (by my irrelevant standards), but he has gone beyond the initial mostly playing computer games to learning how to get videos of those game plays onto YouTube, and just today, probably in response to my teasing that after the summer he will be the proud owner of a big butt, he started to exercise without any prompting.

So, yeah, I think we are going in the right direction here. Any other experiences with summers without camps that I can learn from?