Friday, June 22, 2018

What's Blogging About?

Who Let the Blogs Out?
Biz Stone
Who Let the Blogs Out?, by Biz Stone has a lot of good information about when and why blogging got started from someone who was part it. I read the book several years ago, and know that now, while the history is good, some of the tips and tricks for bloggers are outdated. One thing I hoped to learn, however, is why the general public is writing and reading blogs. I know why I write one--it's considered a cutting edge part of web development. I have a variety of “web presence,” from Twitter, G+, to a personal FB page, an art and photo gallery as well as a website (that covers all of the above), so I felt I should have a blog. Stone says it's good for links, for search engine optimization, for credibility. (Credibility? Hmm. I'm not sure about that. Now that anyone can develop a blog on any topic, how can credibility be ascertained?)
        When I first got in the mix, I was (and am still) baffled by online Web sites and blogs that reveal the private side of the creator with pages of family recipes, pages on favorite pets, and so on. What, who, how can someone believe their life is so unique and important that they should broadcast it to the world? I imagine many of those insider looks were meant for family and friends, and the Internet was rather intrusive. Yet even with privacy choices on publishing a blog, the majority are open for all to read.
        An insight in the Stone book suggests people are gaa gaa about splashing themselves all over cyberspace because it means they're being published. Blogs are considered a publishing tool, and it seems the mystique about "being published" has made blogging a godsend for many people. MY WORDS ARE OUT THERE FOR OTHERS TO READ! In his introduction, Stone says, "Blogging is…a low barrier of entry to publishing that gives everyone a voice." So what are we seeing, a world full of remote and unimportant "everyones" who suddenly have a way to make themselves seem more significant?
Image result for picture of cell phone        Is that what the modern culture has come to in the industrialized world? And “selfies” fit into this, too. On this level, blogging parallels the cell phone and electronic communication mania. To me it smacks of some insecurity that a person can't even go grocery shopping without calling a friend, parent, spouse, or neighbor while they're at it. Certainly the electronics and communication industries are making billions from this, and therefore promote it heavily, coming up with new incentives: the camera phone, a joke of the day, top hits tunes, streaming live TV, eBook readers. Most of the newer ones have more computing power than the average laptop.
        But the blogging provider-industry doesn't have the same monetary incentive. Many blogs are free, apps are usually built in to Web design software, and the development software (if you don’t want to use an existing service) is moderately inexpensive. Because of this, I consider blogs a more curious happening than the Madison-Ave.-induced need for electronic paraphernalia. Also, with the nearly instant Print-On-Demand trends, including DIY eBooks, there are many, many ways to get published. Yet blogging continues. 
        Unfortunately, Stone's book didn’t satisfy my curiosity. Maybe someone reading this will have an idea to what blogging really means (or reflects, or implies).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hard Choices for My Book Picks

 A recent go-around challenge on  Facebook was to show the cover of  a novel you truly appreciated: one a day for seven days. I had a hard time making my choices. I'm not a prolific reader, but I do finish 30 - 40 titles a year (sometimes more, if there's a lot of bad weather). I also read a fair amount of nonfiction, so picking fiction titles was a dilemna.
       I strated by checking my bookshelf. Most books I read I get from libraries--online and in town. When I find a title I really liked, I buy it.
From my bookshelf:
Liar's Moon by Phillip Kimball
The Hunter by Julia Leigh
Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons

 That took care of three days.
The next four were: 
Masterson by Richard Wheeler

Bone and Jewel Creatures
by Elizabeth Bear

I could do 365 of these "favorites."
An enjoyable exercise, that showed the variety of my reading interests: History, thriller, fantasy, contemporary, and more.

The Girl who Wrote in Silk
by Kelli Estes

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simmons

Friday, June 15, 2018

Futurist Perception

A few decades ago a colleague had business cards made for each member of our writers group; each card had some words referring to that person's interests. On mine he put "Historian and Futurist" (I still have the cards). It seems quite a dichotomy, and I found it amusing. My published books, at that point in time, had been historical fiction, but he knew I was reading, absorbing and wanting to write science fiction. Now I've published science fiction, but to me, the futurist tag still didn't fit--until that past few years when I'd read traces of things I'd imagined in physics and neuroscience books.
One of my favorite authors, David Brin, is an affirmed futurist. Concepts and science happenings he wrote about in the ’80s are now coming to be or being proved. Christian Cantrell, is one of many young authors who have published books with some projected techno possibilities that have now become realities. My scientific background is minimal, so I sketchily created future technology on some standard foundations others had developed; I've always felt that my science fiction has dealt more with future social possibilities and conundrums than with any hard science.
Imagine my surprise when I watched a new episode of "Through the Wormhole" on the Science Channel and scientists told about a probable gene-mod future that would alter/advance the human mind and could lead to a world of Super Humans. It wasn't the Super Human part that rang my bell, but the gene modification references. In my first science fiction book, Daughter of the Stone, the people have had their DNA altered so that they have selective, perfect memories and abilities. It had been a project of another species who intended the humans to be a working class, and their intended jobs were programmed into their system to be passed down from generation to generation (through bio-nanotech) to alleviate the need of extensive training and education. The current gene-mod references given in the TV show, matched my imagined occurrence quite closely. (I veered from the science end to the social aspect, focusing the story on the problems when the "slaves" became autonomous.)
So with a tad of perception about a could-be future, I now feel comfortable calling myself a Futurist.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Horsing Around

Photos and digital painting are combined to get the "horsing Around" images. Three photos are from my film days, and one was taken with my early digital cameras (when the resolution was very low).




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Poetry for Focus and Fun

I enjoy writing and reading poetry. I often use it to jump-start a prose project, because word usage is crucial in poems; reading, and especially writing poetry, gets me focused.
     Poetry comes in many forms, some of which have been around for centuries. The sonnet dates back to 13th century Italy. Japanese haiku: evolved from the 16th century; this form and tanka were favorites of the ruling courts. Other poetry styles are newer structures. Free Verse: is the English for vers libre; the term was coined by French Symbolist poets in the late-19th century.
     The limerick dates to the mid-19th century. This humorous and often ribald style of poetry was popularized in 1846 by Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense. A limerick consists of five lines, and thirteen beats (3, 3, 2, 2, 3), and the rhyme scheme is aa, bb, a. The first line most often ends in a place name, and the last line ends with the same word as the first line. Puns and plays on words are usually included. Here's a generic example, often used to show the form:
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
But his daughter named Nan
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
Although I've written and published poetry, I've never been able to come up with a limerick.
An old woman lived north of Helena
and went...
Wait a minute. Duh, what rhymes with Helena?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Montana Event

June is when activities heat up in Montana. The weather heated up, too, with 90 degrees on 9 June (but down to the 60s on the 10th). On the weekend of the nationally-recognized Governor's Cup (foot) race in Helena, Montana, was also the second day of Montana Mule Days. I attended for a bit, and have put up photos on my Facebook page: Kae C's Images 

So many other events that weekend and from now on.
I'll be watching more draft animals when I go to Deer Lodge, Montana on 29 June for the 3-day Draft Horse Expo. I'll be a vendor there, and also have time to take pictures.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Homework Outdoors

Nearly the end of May and I've been marginally productive outside. So much rain, I've had to cut the dandelion-ridden back yard once every five days. I also trimmed back the juniper that was encroaching on the raggedy parking area. Before the trim the leggy branches would have been beyond the edge of this picture.

I also visited one of my favorite plant nurseries and bought a few colorful items.
The new plants have been installed in a few places, such as this chair/planter near the door.

I also completed the area where I put the some of the iris I thinned out last year. Always intended to do more with the area. Finally done!
And a wonderful part of this Spring...May is nearly ended and I've yet to see a single grasshopper!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nell Martin--Intriguing as Her Book Title

A followup on the "Book Titles" post. I realized the book cover didn't even have the author's name on it. I don't know if that was a fad 90 years ago, but I don't like that trend. 

I put the author's name into a search engine, and came up with some facts as intriguing as her book title.  A U.S. author from Illinois, Nell Martin wrote eight novels and more than 200 short stories. According to Wikipedia: "Her 'Maisie' short stories were published in Top Notch Magazine in 1927-1928 and later inspired a movie and radio series starring Ann Sothern"

She also published under  the pseudonym of Columbia Boyer, and also her full name--Nell Columbia Boyer Martin.

How about having an affair with Dashiell Hammet! She did that. Wow!  Hammet even dedicated a book to her.

Martin's novel Lord Byron of Broadway was made into an MGM musical in 1930.

For the era, she was quite well acclaimed. My antique-store find is a winner, just as it appears Nell Martin was.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Compelling Book Title

While strolling through an antiques mall this book caught my attention. Actually it was the title; the cover is quite generic and dull. But the title: The Mosaic Earring.
Written in 1927, it seems to be a mystery, with the opening sentence giving intrigue: "Kenneth Baird did not need a trunk..." This strongly suggests he's going to get one.

The way the book title compelled me to pickup this book, and even buy it, got me thinking about titles and first lines. Some famous one get a lot of attention, and blog posts and articles occasionally talk about strong first lines of books--usually well-known books.

I took a look at my own titles. Compelling? I thought Dead Heroes would be a strong title, but found a music group and other entities on line using that. My book was already in production. Too late to change.  The opening line is nothing spectacular.

Then there's The Adventures of Elizabeth Fortune, where the word adventure might be a grabber. I began the book with a prologue, however, and I wish I had started with Chapter 1's fist line: Elizabeth rolled across the floor, scooted behind the bar and grabbed up the double-barrelled shotgun the bartender had dropped when he was shot.

Notice also how the bland cover of The Mosaic Earring differs a lot with commercial covers today, where use of photographs, drawings and anything "provocative" are often the norm. A strong title and on a bland cover might couldn't work today when books are competing with the the visual entertainment industry that wasn't about in the 1920s.

Can't wait to start reading this 1927 book, and hope it lives up to the expectations the title has given me.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Raven Festivities

I raised the blinds on the front windows this morning (13 May) and saw an abundance of ravens across the road at my neighbors' place.  They migrated to my front pasture, too.

One raven seemed to be carrying something. It was like a game of tag.

They continued this for quite a while, and passed over my house at low altitudes. I'd like to learn what they were up to.

Friday, April 27, 2018

How I Create a 2d Digital Sculpture

Someone suggested I make a video of me at work creating 2d digital sculptures. Such a video would be so cut and spliced, it would look hokey. It takes me four, five, even six times (over the course of several nonconsecutive days) before I get the image what I want. 

By definition, a digital sculpture is "the use of software that offers tools to push, pull, smooth, grab, pinch or otherwise manipulate a digital object as if it were made of a real-life substance such as clay." [from wikipedia]

Visualize this: I start with a shape  and fill it with colors I think will work--even manipulate them for an abstract effect. 
This is my "clay." I then use a warp tool to push and pull the shape into the form I want. I have several programs that offer a warp brush. The one I prefer can be sized, both in diameter and in warping ability. This allows control of the bend and pull of the colors. I use a stylus on a tablet rather than the computer mouse, so I have pressure-sensitive control. 

There are also pre-programmed warping selections (twirls, waves, bloating, pinching and more) that can be applied to all or various parts of the image. I mostly use those for digital abstracts--not figurative abstracts such as 2d digital sculptures.

I reference a photograph to keep the anatomical features fairly accurate. I usually add a shadow to the subject to make it stand out from the background. 

Once satisfied with the 2d Critter sculpture, I layer it onto a background I have digitally painted, or, as with this grizzly, one of interesting textures.

Visit my Digital Sculptures gallery to see more images.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

For the Bees

I like taking pictures of what goes on in rural life, and my plan to shoot a local bee yard was pleasantly enhanced yesterday. I headed out with a very long lens on my camera but when I got near the field where dozens of hives were, I saw they weren't alone. Bee workers, garbed in protective suites and head gear, were busy around the hives.
I pulled onto a rough road nearby and, camera in hand, hiked across the field to shouting distance of the workers. They said I could take pictures, but not to get too close or I might get stung.  Well, I knew that. duh.

Bees filled the air. A trailer and fork lift set nearby.
And a large swarm was on bee boxes stacked on pallets.

While I was shooting, I became aware of buzzing that I hadn't heard before. Lo, there were several bees approaching, one already circling my hat. I slowly turned and walked farther away from the hives.
The bees scouts didn't follow.

Worker smokes a hive to calm the bees.

I wanted to ask questions; my long lens worked pretty well, but I wanted to be garbed as they were so I could get closer. Curious as to what they were doing, I finally shouted another question and learned they were sorting hives and stacking them to be transported to their main facility, where the hives would be shipped off to beekeeping customers.

My rural life shoot turned out much better than I expected.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Photos from a Saturday Outing

A row of watering cans
I started out at Valley Farms for their gardening class. Took in good information about pruning tools and fertilizers, and was allowed to take pictures after the class.

cork pads look almost edible

Purchased a trowel with serrated edge.

On the way home I stopped by the Sieben holding pens, and got permission to take pics of the shorn sheep.

A pleasant day, and so inspired, I did a bit of  gardening when I got home.

Emerging tulips seemed to like the clean out of weeds.

I left the combine clean out for a later date since we're supposed to get snow and cold temps tonight and tomorrow. Thought the dead foliage could continue to give protection. Tulips growing here, too. Another couple of weeks and there will be color!