Google Scholar is Shiny!

The Grinch Avatar

When I write science fiction, I need to have solid research materials at my disposal. Have to. I’ve been disillusioned with the power of the Google because of it’s over-reliance on what my social network is saying, so searching takes me quite a while to parse out the rumor mill from fact.

Yesterday, I was looking up a health-related item, and in pops Google Scholar right into the search results.

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research. — SOURCE: Google Scholar

You mean… I can search for factual information on Google ScholarScientific research and academic papers?!?!! THE DEVIL YOU SAY?!?!!

Is it Christmas

    Mood: WOOO!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: WOOO! WOOO!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Huh. I forgot what I did. *face plant*
    In My Ears: Lots of thoughts.
    Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
    Movie Last Viewed: THOR: A Dark World
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


On SDD and Classical Music

You're An Idiot, Starscream

This morning I read a report that we’ve had more below zero days than above this winter. I’ve mentioned how the cold was getting to me and have been trying some solutions to boost my mood ever since. (I even wrote some flash fiction about this winter called “If I Had A Snow Day“. Hee.)

So what’s been helping? I’ve been focusing on my diet and have been taking a B-Vitamin complex supplement combined with St. John’s Wort. The supplement has worked miracles for me; I definitely can tell a difference and am actively getting more veg into my diet. I think I’m all growed up now. Scary.

The other thing I’ve been doing is discharging those extra thoughts that circulate in my head by writing them down in a notebook. It’s not journaling (I don’t want to go back and read the garbage, mind you) it’s simply scrubbing out the folds in my brain by connecting pen to paper. I don’t think. I just write either in total silence or to classical music. Mendelssohn, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart mostly. Listz is not on my list. (I have always wanted to say that.) Neither is Debussy, though I do love his compositions.

So why classical? Music is math, but it’s also art. Center-brain. (Like me!) There is some science behind classical music and stress reduction. (YAY, SCIENCE!) Smithsonian Magazine has an article written by Galina Mindlin about Music Playlists to Sooth Your Mind. The idea that music reduces stress isn’t new, but for me it’s a specific kind of music–especially since I’m so sound-sensitive. Every sound is a note to me. It’s one of the reasons why it’s easy for me to translate accents into words when I write and why I don’t like noisy crowds. There’s too many noises and sensations for me to parse out unless there’s a unifying theme like folks singing a song or chanting.

Anyway, so SDD (e.g. Seasonal Depressive Disorder)? Managed. YAY! We’ve got more snow coming this weekend and supposedly it’ll be above twenty later next week. I think even the forecasters are optimistic on that front. *rim crash* Plus, with National Craft Month on the horizon… This winter is coming to an end. Spring is coming. (Hear that! NOT SECOND WINTER!!)

P.S. I’m a firm believer that this is why animated films can also be very relaxing; there’s the logic portion of it where bodies move and characters talk in a specific manner, mimicking our world. Well, usually. And then there’s the artistic part. The lines, the colors, the style. Art forms that activate both sides of your brain force you to focus on the experience. Ergo, you relax because you’re immersed in what you’re watching and seeing.

    Mood: One day at a time
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I didn’t overdo it.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Recovery day.
    In My Ears: An annoying side-effect from a shaky box of Girl Scout Cookies. Guess I have to clean my desk!
    Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
    Movie Last Viewed: THOR: A Dark World
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


Moleskine Pen Wars

Jack The Pumpkin King Avatar

I love my Moleskine notebook. I hate my Moleskine notebook. Well, the paper that is. I like using gel pens and the Prismacolor graphic design pens to write with, but unfortunately I found many of the writing utensils I favor bleeds right through or worse — doesn’t dry fast enough. The only exception to this, is that I do favor Japanese pens, but I don’t know the brand and sadly can’t read the language. I picked a handful up at an import store and I love them so, so much. Just worried the ink’ll run out.

Since these notebooks aren’t cheap, I’d much rather use both sides of the page than abandon half the book. Pencils and ballpoint pens won’t do for me. I did try out the Pentel Wow! series, which comes in a variety of colors, and the ink doesn’t bleed, however it’s not as smooth and quick as a gel pen and the words leave a slight impression on the paper. The Bic Z4 0.5mm bled right through. So, I turned to the hive mind (a.k.a. Twitter) and asked them for advice.

I picked out three contenders from JetPens.com, all of which are pictured below. The Uniball Vision Elite 0.7mm in blue-black (I LOVE THIS COLOR!), the Pilot G2 0.5mm in black, and the “official” Moleskine pen in black ink which clips to the front of my notebook. Love that feature given I’m prone to pen loss. (It’s a disorder.)

The Pens

And now for the pen death match! Er… Writing test. You can see the Moleskine pen has a heavier weight than the other two. Annnnnnnd fight!

Sample Pen Test

The results of the missile test are?

The back

All three dried quickly; no worries there. Slight bleed at certain points, but manageable. I found the Pilot G2 tends to skip (this is likely do more to my handwriting than anything else) and the Moleskine pen feels like more of a novelty item. Big, bulky — I’m happy with it, but it’s not an everyday pen. The winner is definitely the Uniball Vision Elite.

Phew! That was a close battle! I think I shall celebrate with more writing.

    Mood: FEAR MY PEN
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I was falling asleep at my keyboard, so I had coffee and then switched to Jim Beam and Diet Pepsi later on in the evening. So tired today.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: W00T! Interval training on the AMT Open Stride
    In My Ears: Meh. Fans and all that white noise crap.
    Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
    Movie Last Viewed: THOR: A Dark World
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


What I Want for my B-Day

Emily Strange Avatar

I’ve had a few people ask me what I want for my birthday. (It’s coming up in a few weeks.) Normally I hem and haw or make a list or say something lame like play my games or I hope you enjoy my stories… Blah dee blah… But no. THIS year, I finally figured out what I wanted. Ready?

During the week of March 10th

If you normally commit random acts of kindness for other people, do something nice for yourself.

**** OR **** OR **** OR ****

If you normally do something nice for yourself, commit a random act of kindness for another person.

No idea where to start? Here’s a list of twenty-five things you can do that costs less than five dollars. If you feel weird about talking to strangers, just tell them it’s your friend’s birthday and she asked you to do something nice. I should also point out that yesssssss, some of these ideas may require permission in advance blah, blah, blah. Please don’t get arrested. Or fired. That would not be good.

1) Buy coffee or a $5 gift card for the person behind you in line. Encourage them to keep paying it forward and see how long the chain goes.
2) Offer a single rose/flower to someone who’s feeling blue.
3) Compliment a stranger on their fashion sense.
4) Write a fan letter. (Doesn’t matter who you’re a fan of. Non-celebrities included!) Mail it.
5) Go to a Senior Citizen’s home and sing, read, or play games with the folks there.
6) Volunteer at your local animal shelter for an afternoon.
7) Show up at a children’s hospital in costume.
8) That thing you’ve always wanted to do for yourself but never did? Do it. If you can’t afford it, create a schedule and take the first step.
9) Say “Have a nice day!” to people in the elevator.
10) BAKE CUPCAKES! Share them.
11) Meet your neighbors. (Or, if you already know your neighbors, invite them to dinner.)
12) Plan a day where you say/share nothing but positive news/feel-good posts.
13) Wear the brightest color you can find and the largest, most obnoxious hat. (This is taking “brighten someone’s day” to a literal extreme.)
14) Donate canned goods from your kitchen for your local pantry.
15) Drive like a driver’s ed instructor. (e.g. NO TAILGATING OR CUTTING PEOPLE OFF!)
16) Play a brand new game or read a new book.
17) Get your library card. (If you already have one, visit your library.) While there, be sure to tell the librarians how awesome they are.
18) Support a local band/musician (or writer) and go to their performance (or reading).
19) Pick a day and get all dolled up!
20) Buy a bag of Hershey’s Kisses and distribute one to everyone you meet until they’re gone. (If you’re afraid people will think you’re a serial killer, try smiling instead. If that STILL doesn’t work, go to the dentist.)
21) Read every post all the way down to the bottom before you comment. (This might be more for me than for you… Heh.)
22) Rent a comedy.
23) Procrastinators untie! Make a list of what you’ve been putting off. Do 3 things.
24) If you’re attached, write a love letter. If you’re not, write an “I appreciate you” letter.
25) Explore someone else’s fandom that you’ve avoided because you think you’ll hate it. Ask them for help.

And for my fellow writers…

26) Write a piece of flash fiction for one other person.
27) Just write that book blurb/review already.
28) Write a children’s story. Draw the illustrations yourself.
29) Stop re-re-re-re-re-revising and submit!
30) Use March as your FiMyDaNo month. (Credit for the term goes to Kat Richardson. It means Finish My Damn Novel.)
31) Write. Every. Day. (Credit for the advice goes to Lili Saintcrow.)
32) Write a sonnet.
33) Organize a reading at a bookstore/library you’ve never been to before.
34) Halt all administrative activity and don’t answer e-mail for an entire day. Facebook and Twitter, too!
35) Pick a book you haven’t read in ten+ years. Read it again with your critical writer’s eye. What’d you discover?

Of course, you may decide to do something totally different and that’s great! If you wind up posting about what you did, please share that with me.

The idea behind this gift-to-me, is that I’m proposing you do a nice thing that’s outside of your comfort zone. Yes, this would make me happy because it’s a way of low-key partying without throwing a big bash. Sadly, I know many of you spend your time devoted to making other people happy. Sometimes? You need a teeny nudge to spoil yourself. (This is it, by the way. Subtle, eh?) A week of reconnecting, a week of smiley faces, a week of chocolate?!?! That sounds great to me–especially after this neverending winter. Can’t. End. Soon. Enough. Jack Frost, I am SO over you.

P.S. I blame George R.R. Martin for the longest winter we’ve had in 30+ years.

P.P.S. *jazz hands*

    Mood: Nostalgic.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Cutting myself off at 2 p.m.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Blargh.
    In My Ears: True Faith by The String Quartet
    Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
    Movie Last Viewed: Ghostbusters
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


Lovely Strings

hobbes avatar

We finished watching Game of Thrones: Season 3 on Blu-Ray this weekend. I really love the opening soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi, so I kicked up Pandora and made a new station adding the string version of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. You can listen to a free version of this on the Dallas String Quartet‘s website. It’s hard to separate out the soundtrack from the strings, which is why I started with The Beatles, but this station has turned up some new performers like 2Cellos and The Section Quartet. I teeter toward percussives and I love what instrumentals can do to explore the full range of an instrument’s capability. It’s especially helpful to listen to these songs while writing — no words. Well, that and let’s be honest. This is loads better than muzak. Loads.

For example, here’s a great example of percussive guitar. You can listen to two guitarists on TED talks, Usman Riaz and Preston Reed. Riaz is a self-taught guitarist who picked up his skills from YouTube! Just astounding amounts of creativity.

I have to say, though, I am curious what my frog hears. Ever since we moved him to a new (and much larger) tank in my office, he’s been very opinionated about the music I play. Sometimes, he even sings along.

    Mood: Zen. For a Monday and a week filled with ridiculously cold weather, this is a good thing.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Only two. (Yep, I counted.)
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Still recovering.
    In My Ears: True Faith by The String Quartet
    Game Last Played: Sonic All Star Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology
    Movie Last Viewed: Game of Thrones Season Three. I have strong feelings about the Lannisters.
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Freedom Flyer
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


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