Saturday, February 28, 2004
I read all these things (as you’ve seen) and it gets me to wondering. They always say we’re overdue for this or that.
Take a look at Parkfield. They’re supposed to be on a 22 year cycle for major earthquakes. And here we are, 16 years after the last expected quake and we’re still waiting. Of course a watched pot never boils. The more resources we throw at studying this exceptionally regular event, the less likely it will happen. Maybe that’s the cure ...
Take a look at Gorda and Juan de Fuca subduction zone. They are supposed to get a quake (part Native American lore and part geological evidence) every 300 to 600 years. It’s been more than 600 since it last ripped from the Mendocino coast to Vancouver - a huge quake that caused the coastal wetlands near the bays and inlets to either be pushed up or sink as much as three feet. This of course caused huge deadly tsunamis that were recorded in Japan at that time about 600 years ago.
Then Russ shows a link to a story about the new rumblings under Yellowstone. We like to think of Yellowstone as geysers and mudpots, but it’s really an ancient and dormant volcano. Turns out that supervolcano is 40,000 years overdue for an eruption. And when it goes Ö that’s gonna be a huge one. We’re talking something that’ll take out most of the park and spew debris and ash into the atmosphere that may cause the equivalent of a nuclear winter for the Eastern US. And some other reports of a worst case scenario say it would destroy every living thing in a 600 mile radius.
My personal favorite story is of Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands. It’s a large volcano that has a large portion of its western mount that is particularly unstable and could break away and collapse into the ocean. Why should we care? Well, it’s a mountian, and the displacement of water in such a short period of time would create a super tsunami that would race across the Atlantic Ocean and swamp all coastal cities with a wave as high as 100 feet. A 100 foot wave would swamp the entire state of Florida, which doesn’t have much above sea level. Okay, maybe we’re not overdue for it, because I don’t think this particular thing has ever happened before, but it’s a huge thing anyway. If you’re really interested in sub-oceanic landslides and the accompanying landslides, here’s some good reading for those days when you’re not fatalistic enough.
I’m not sure why I bring these up. I suppose there are plenty of times we’re told that something will happen and it does. I suppose there are lots of other times when we’re told that they’ll happen and they don’t. Of course you can never say never because there’s always more future out there.
Friday, February 27, 2004
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here before or not, but I’ve kind of been obsessed by these wild parrots I’ve been seeing in Los Angeles for the past ten years or so. It got worse when I started working in Hollywood, because there seems to be a large colony of them over in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
The story goes that these were birds imported to the US and they were in quarantine down in Long Beach. Then there was a big storm in 1992 destroyed the aviary and all the birds escaped. The resourceful little conures (parakeets) set up sucessful breeding colonies all over Los Angeles, including Hollywood, Santa Monica, Temple City and Pasadena. They’re entirely unexpected, in a way, when you’re walking down the street and you’ll look up into a palm tree and hear their cackles and see something the same color as the fronds flitting about. I’m not having much luck finding info out on the ‘net about them, except for this lovely but slightly outdated site called Parrot Project.
But this morning, not only did I get to see them much closer up than usual, I also snapped a few photos.
There were two out there today, though I only caught one of them with the camera. As far as I can tell, it’s a blue crowned conure. It’s not a bad picture of the cedar waxwing either ...
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I don’t know how it slipped my mind, dear readers three. But there it is. I am published now. You can buy it online. Or come by the house and take one of my complimentary copies the publisher sent me.
Of course sales have been going like gangbusters. I can track who has ordered copies and I’ve been quite suprised to find that 90% (9 sales) of those ordering the play don’t even know me (not that I know of, anyway). I’m very big in ... hmm, well, there’s really no rhyme or reason to it, no pattern I can detect. Leavenworth, Kansas; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Caspar, Wyoming ... Wheeling, IL.
I brought this up for another reason though. It’s about titles. See, the title is The Redeemer. Now when you go to the front page of the site and you can search by playwright (well, I can’t really change my name easily) or title. Well, take a lookee at my title and you’ll see that it falls in the last half of the alphabet. I’m thinking this is a bad idea. I have a similar issue with the short film I did a few years ago, entropy. Sure, E is pretty close to the beginning of the alphabet, but ya hafta go to page two to see it.
I’m not saying I want to be at the top of all lists, I just wanna be somehwere on the list where someone will see it before they get bored. I don’t have name recognition to get me started. I wonder if anyone else has thought about this.
So I’m thinking in the future, I’m gonna start all my titles with an A. I have no idea how I’m going to find appropriate titles that begin with A, but I think this might be the key to my success.
I had fun reading this article in The New Yorker today called Select All by Christopher Caldwell. It’s about how having choices, making decisions and feeling comfortable with those decisions may have a lot to do with our feelings of well-being.
And I think it’s true to a large degree. I think it’s one of the reasons I like shopping at Trader Joe’s. Let’s face it, when you go to the standard grocery store, you’re presented with 60 different choices for one thing - different sizes, squeezable bottles, brands, off-brands, names (catsup, ketchup, etc.). We try to eliminate choices. “I’m not buying an off-brand” or “I want organic”. This all makes it more manageable. Well, Trader Joe’s offers little of that. The most overwhelming part of the store is the cheese section, and not because it offers so much of the same thing, there are few different brands of the same cheese, just lots of different kinds of cheese.
I think a great deal of middle class depression can be eliminated by not shopping. I think if I didn’t go shopping as often, I’d probably be happier. Of course not having enough choice makes us feel trapped. Thank goodness I’m not the one who does the grocery shopping.
Monday, February 23, 2004
I’ve been thinking about my writing lately. Which is good, because there are large spans of time where I don’t think about it and I worry that makes me a bad writer, or worse, not a writer at all.
Anyway, the point is that I was thinking about my first novel (heehee), The Exchange. I’ve decided to amp up the drama in it and maybe bring it into the 21st century. For those of you who have joined this blog more recently than two years ago, the story centers on a teen girl who reconnects with her father through a series of letters. Of course that doesn’t make sense now, it would be email. So I’ll fix that.
And I think I’ll kill off the grandmother while I’m at it. That way she’ll have a huge hole in her life and it will propel her on her trip to meet him. Grandma won’t die in the car accident. I think it’ll just be a stroke or something rather quick.
So, it looks like I’m in for NaNoEdMo. And the best part is that much of my editing will also be writing, which as we all know is the only fun part about editing.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
I’ve been sadly lax lately blogging. I can’t think of much to blog about that would be of interest. Though I’m not sure that stops many bloggers.
Sean Bonner says that you have to update your blog lots. I fail that test.
I loved his posting called Al-gebra. Very funny.
Does this count as a post?
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
I’ve noticed that I never talk about what I read on my blog.
I’m not really into fiction. Yeah, I know, I’ve been doing the novel-in-a-month thing, but I think that’s more of an exercise than anything else.
My taste, first off. I’m a science aficionado. Not science fiction, which is great for movies and TV shows and books and all, but I like pure science. I think it goes back to trying to understand this mixed-up world of ours. I read a lot of consumerist science stuff (‘cuz I’m not well-versed enough for the real journals). I’ve been reading Scientific American for many years, Discover, because it’s great for really short bursts of reading, kind of like the Entertainment Weekly of science journals. I like Tuesdays because that’s the day that the New York Times has their expanded Science section. I like physics and the ideas behind quantum physics and the search for the superstring theory. I don’t understand it all and I’m trying to read Brian Greene’s book right now, The Elegant Universe.
I like the life sciences and I’m fascinated by the beasts that are only recently gone from our world, like the Steller’s Sea Cow (like a manatee only twice as big and lived up off the coast of the Alaska). I like stuff about animal behavior and organization. I like to watch bees and ants and I’m interested in animal culture as it relates to understanding our own brains. I like it when we discover that crows are smart, because I hope it makes us more humble.
When I was a teen I read books like Carl Sagan’s Dragon’s of Eden and everything of Lewis Thomas I could get my hands on. I struggled to get through Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which I never did and it still sits on my shelf as a testament to my failure to learn more about the mathematics of music.
I like geology and plate tectonics. Mostly because I lived in Humboldt County, which is pretty much on top of the Gorda Plate as it’s being subducted under the North American plate and from the geology class I had at college, someday that fault is going to rip starting at the Mendocino Triple Junction and head all the way up the coast to the Juan de Fuca plate and past Seattle to Vancouver. It’ll be a big earthquake - that’s the Big One - not the San Andreas that’ll hit North America. For some reason I check the recent quakes every day. Like that’s going to warn me.
My favorite TV show is Nova - it has been since I was a kid. I remember the first show I watched on Nova was about dreams and the subconscious. I think that was in 1977, back when we still had a little 14” black and white TV. I watch the Discovery Channel and National Geographic channel but I think that they sensationalize stuff a lot or gloss over the reality of our breadth of knowledge. They also only like to do shows on stuff they can get film of - so you can count on lots of animals and not a lot of hard science.
Don’t get me wrong, I like other brain candy type TV shows - I’m embarrassed to list them, but it goes something like this (in really no order), Star Trek (Enterprise at the moment), Angel, Stargate, ER, Law & Order. I’ll watch silly sitcoms or reruns of old shows on Nick at Nite (Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched), but that’s all it is, brain candy. As empty as a bowl of starlight mints.
I think my interest in non-fiction is actually pretty helpful as a writer. I know that there are plenty of other playwrights that try to merge the technical with the dramatic (Stoppard, David Auburn, Michael Frayn).
During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.