April 4th, 2007

muppetology need bears fozzie & kermit

ashes to ashes baby, dirt to dirt

It is amazing how whatever you have to do in a given day will expand to fill the available space. Some time off from writing actually seems to make me busier, because I feel like I should be doing all this other stuff.

And my hobbies and relationships have in fact expanded to fill the available space. elfshot, my geocaching buddy, wants to cache. (yay!) I'm heading over to netcurmudgeon's house tonight to play with firearms. (It's been rather a while since I handled any guns, and since I get to go shooting at Penguicon, I want to refamiliarize myself with the equipment. Mostly these days I shoot bows. *g*)

And I need to finish this book I'm reading and start the next one, so there will be a Journey To The Tub as soon as I finish this lj post. And then the obligatory math and guitar practice.

Oh, and picking out something from Carnival for jaylake to read when he plays me at Norwescon this weekend.

And hooking up my printer. Must be hooking up my printer.

Really, I need to spend less time reading livejournal and hanging out on the internets. Fortunately, now that I have furniture, it gets easier to walk away from the computer.

And I need to clean the closets. And do SOMETHING about my bedroom, which probably means taking a lot of clothes to Le Goodwill and organizing a party to retrieve an armoir from arcaedia's house that has been there since I moved to Las Vegas in 1999. Although it occurred to me the other day that if I lost weight a little faster than I have been, I wouldn't have to buy new clothes: I could just keep trading down in size as the ones that currently fit wore out. *g* So, I'm off beer and ice cream for a while. Oh, the hardship!

I got most of the rest of the cleaning done, but of course entropy requires no maintenance.

And stillsostrange will be here over the weekend for the Iggy Pop concert which means I have to remember to get her at the airport before archery tomorrow, and we need to make plans with buymeaclue and tanaise for Saturday, I think there will be a field trip to Providence so she can visit HPL, and then next week there is a lecture at Yale on the 10th (must coordinate with evynrude and suricattus) and a Vienna Teng concert on the 11th and a massage therapy appointment on the 13th. And then on the 14th a trip to Logee's with batwrangler to BUY PLANTS YAY.

And then the week after that there's a new Criminal Minds, which means Wednesday Night Pizza Night at my place (ladegard, elfshot, evynrude, ashacat, netcurmudgeon, if you are free, mi futon es su futon Wednesday the 18th?) and then dropping off the Presumptuous Cat with elfshot and the trip to Penguicon.

And then I fall over for a while.

I'm still procrastinating on my taxes. I'll buy software tonight and get it done before the deadline. (This is me, all over, by the way. Because I could not do them in February, when I generally do them, now I will put it off to the last instant. This is why I hand books in early: because I have a funny relationship with deadlines. Either I get things done while there isn't much time pressure, or I start to procrastinate. I hate being pushed. *g* Which reminds me, time to pay the April bills today....)

Also, I need to buy my plane tickets for WisCon, and buy my WFC membership, and pay for Sycamore Hill and figure out with stwish when would be a good time to visit him around that, and bring him some pieces of Bradford Pear with which to make musical instruments.

So, um. If I forgot I said I would do something for you? It's NOT YOU.

I need to make a written list, don't I?

I was going to go for the first bike ride of the season today, but it's icky out. Maybe a walk later, then. Or a trip to the gym, though I am not feeling enthused about the gym of late.*

But I don't mind walking in the wet. Too many years of not owning a car to be fussy about stuff like that. (I spent one memorable winter walking a mile to and from the bus, on each end, with walking pneumonia. I don't recommend that. God, life is so much easier now than it was when I was 24. You have to be young to live through the shit you put yourself through in your youth.)

Oh, it looks like I will not be making ComiCon this year, and all my potential roommates are not going, and frankly, much as I enjoy working the tables, the con's gotten a little overwhelming and so has my schedule.

And none of this, of course, includes any actual work I need to be doing. Because I am not thinking about books for a while.

You know, I had no friends in school. Being a geek improves vastly with age. But sometimes I wish I were two people.

*My gym buddy ashacat will be back from her six month research trip in two weeks, though, and that will help get me motivated.

criminal minds reid mathematics

same old thirst for more until they put you in the dirt

People keep asking me why I'm teaching myself math at the ripe old age of 35.

And you know, it strikes me as odd that so many people think you need a reason to learn something. Because it's kind of its own goal, isn't it? But then I realized that there's a better answer.

And the answer is, of course, because I am a writer.

And then they look at me funny.

But it's true. If you're interested in writing books (well, in writing anything, I would guess, but books are what I know from), you might as well get invested in the whole lifetime learner thing now, because you are gonna need it. See, the problem with writing is that you need to know everything.

No, I mean it.

For example, for the seven thousand word fanfic I posted the other day (just for a fanfic!) I looked up: Boston street maps, Boston public transportation schedules, Boston bicycle routes, statistics on handcuff escapes, how to pick a pair of handcuffs, the name of a specific handgun firing position, various information on the current state of the art in large-caliber handguns and suppressors (and somebody wrote me to complain, but I have given up arguing with experts, especially since no two experts ever agree), HIV needle-stick infection rates, a whole bunch of information on abnormal psych, the procedure for obtaining a marriage license in Boston, the relative heights of a couple of actors, ballistic vest failure rates, a bunch of stuff on Pavlovian and operant conditioning, information on how the brain handles denial, information (spotty) on homosexual serial killers, a whole bunch of stuff on David Berkowitz and the Zodiac killer, and about seventeen other things.

For a fanfic. That I only did one draft of. And that I didn't invest a lot of time researching, because it was for fun.

Now imagine how much research goes into a novel.

I've walked through or at least driven past every real place I describe in Blood & Iron. (I have not however ridden a horse the entire length of Broadway.) I have however ridden a horse, and read accounts of it by people who actually know what they are doing. I've swung a sword. I've fired a gun.

I am not really a novelty seeker, but I try to make a point of, whenever an opportunity to do something new comes up, giving it a whirl. (I'll never water ski again, though. Ow.)

And even so, when I write any of those things, I still stop and research.

And the thing is, underneath that research there needs to be a layer of general knowledge that tells you when to stop and look something up. Because it's not the things you don't know that trip you up. It's the things you *think* you know. That you don't stop to think about.

Because often, you are wrong.

And that's why I'm learning math. And guitar. And why I practice archery. And why I juggle. Even though I do all of those things incredibly badly.

And it's also why I go for long walks. And read constantly, about as many topics as I can sustain an interest in. And why I love reading blogs and books written by people who live in other countries.

Because you never know where the telling detail will come from. And that detail is everything.

The more you know, the better you write.

Also, learning things is fun. And, you know, you have that neuroplasticity for a reason.* You might as well exploit it.

*neuroplasticity is cool. I started juggling in high school, took it up again in 1994 or so, and then pretty much abandoned it, like everything else I used to do for fun,. when I moved to Las Vegas. Having now taken it up again for six months ago (and when I say I suck, I really suck) I'm noticing that it's having effects.

For example, when I drop something these days? A lot of the time, my hand just sort of reaches out and catches it without bothering to inform the conscious mind that it's about to do that.

That's pretty cool.

Or will be until the thing I drop is a red-hot frying pan or a just-sharpened kitchen knife.

More on this later today, after I finish the Schwartz book. But first, food and then math.
  • Current Music
    Detroit Cobras - Ya Ya Ya (Looking For My Baby) / Squirrel Nut Zippers - Put A Lid On It
  • Tags
can't sleep books will eat me

of course i've had it in the ear before

Book report #26: Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Sharon Begley, The Mind And The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Ignore the kind of self-helpy title: this is a fabulous and rather dense tome that manages to synthesize the state of the art in neuropsychology (Schwartz is one of the pioneers of cognitive therapy for the successful treatment of patients with OCD), neurobiology, quantum physics, Buddhist philosophy, and the question of free will into a sensible whole.

Basically, this manages to get consciousness, mindfullness, volition, neuroplasticity, and the observer effect into one great big web that makes a great deal of sense.

A lot of this is stuff I was chasing in Undertow, and I wish I had read this book before writing it. And also, before the last argument I had with Peter about the nature of consciousness, because I could have just handed him the damned book and he wouldn't have been interrupting me every ten seconds.

Also, one of the best layman's explanations of quantum mechanics I've ever read.

For full effect, I recommend reading this book in conjunction with some Ramachandran, Zen in the Art of Archery, and Peter Watts' Blindsight. (Peter is still wrong. Brilliant, but wrong. And this book is part of why, and Schwartz has the PET scans to prove it.)

Further to the discussion, watch some interviews with serial killer Ed Kemper and maybe some of Dr. John Nash's autobiographical writings. And then get back to me on how comfortable you are with the inside of your own head anymore....
criminal minds reid mathematics

their armor of righteousness is going to save the world

[23:19] leahbobet: Just if you're pretty sure you're going to fail it, the job is not to make it good, the job is to get it out of your face.
[23:20] atheilen: oh, if i could write it
[23:20] atheilen: i would not fail it
[23:20] atheilen: i am just...completely blank
[23:20] leahbobet: When's it due?
[23:21] matociquala: write anything
[23:21] matociquala: just hold down the e key
[23:21] leahbobet: I mean, just slap stuff on the page.
[23:21] matociquala: it doesn' matter
[23:21] matociquala: a forty is better than a zero
[23:21] leahbobet: Because even if you fail--
[23:21] leahbobet: yes.
[23:21] leahbobet: exactly.
[23:21] leahbobet: And it feels better to have turned something in than to have turned nothing in.
[23:21] matociquala: Have we had any reason to think physics is tidy since october 17, 1900?
[23:22] leahbobet: Physics was tidy ever?
[23:22] atheilen: ...yeah
[23:22] matociquala: take it up with that nice Dr. Bohr.
[23:22] leahbobet: hee.
[23:22] leahbobet: Niels and I are buddies, I'll let him know.
[23:22] matociquala: I understand he's a good correspondent.
[23:22] leahbobet: Yes, very nice man.
[23:22] leahbobet: Pity about that grad student of his.
[23:22] matociquala: Heh
[23:24] matociquala: It's always the students.
[23:24] matociquala: That Kepler guy, too
[23:27] cpolk: you got uncertainty in my peanut butter!
[23:28] matociquala: You know, Heisenberg was like, done at 25?
[23:28] leahbobet: Tenure'll settle them down.
[23:28] leahbobet: Yup.
[23:28] matociquala: Physicists burn out fast
[23:28] matociquala: They are the anti-authors.
[23:28] leahbobet: Well, it was all the crack cocaine.
[23:28] matociquala: LOL
[23:28] leahbobet: They didn't have rock stars then, so someone had to snort it.
[23:28] atheilen: hah
[23:29] atheilen: i am not writing a paper about tenure
[23:29] atheilen: maybe that can be one of the arguments against
[23:29] matociquala: What are you writing a paper about?
[23:30] atheilen: Tenure
[23:30] atheilen: maybe i should have written it like this: not-writing
[23:30] cpolk: how about
[23:30] cpolk: tenure sucks.
[23:31] cpolk: basically you work your ass off to make tenure and then you have a free ticket to be a wanker until you die
[23:31] leahbobet: yes.
[23:31] cpolk: and that's why it is bad.
[23:31] leahbobet: and it means idiots can't get fired.
[23:31] matociquala: on the other hand
[23:31] atheilen: actually my position is that it sucks the least out of some very sucky alternatives
[23:31] leahbobet: like my one prof.
[23:31] leahbobet: she's an idiot.
[23:31] matociquala: it does mean that if you want to buck the establishment
[23:31] matociquala: they can't fire you
[23:31] cpolk: and idiots not getting fired? awful.
[23:31] matociquala: but first you have to become the establishment
[23:31] matociquala: so um.
[23:32] matociquala: Hrm.
[23:32] leahbobet: LOL
[23:32] cpolk: and then you can be a wanker
[23:32] cpolk: except cool.
[23:32] matociquala: Yes.
[23:32] atheilen: the thing is, though
[23:32] matociquala: Tenure lets you sleep with your grad students.
[23:32] cpolk: except none of you tenured fuckers are cool,.
[23:32] cpolk: and that rocks
[23:32] leahbobet: Yeah, but we established grad students are nothing but trouble.
[23:32] matociquala: especially in physics.
[23:32] cpolk: except that you could basically make it so they have bad grades if they say no.
[23:32] matociquala: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
[23:32] matociquala: my eyes
[23:32] matociquala: my eyes
[23:32] leahbobet: ...did you just do that?
[23:32] matociquala: I did
[23:33] matociquala: you did too.
[23:33] leahbobet: ...did you just make Heisenberg/Bohr?
[23:33] leahbobet: Because that is bad bad bad bad bad.
[23:33] leahbobet: *gets the brain bleach*
[23:33] matociquala: YOU SENT ME THERE
[23:33] cpolk: omg yay
[23:33] leahbobet: Oh I sooooo did not.
[23:33] cpolk: title! I have title!
[23:33] atheilen: ...............
[23:33] cpolk: "But that's not why we do it."
[23:33] matociquala: You so did
[23:33] leahbobet: ('splains why they weren't speaking after the war.)