Pretty roundup

A pretty roundup of pretty things…ooo shiny.


Solar system jewelry – not to scale…to scale would be interesting.


Punctuation hated by authors from Mental Floss

I have to say I’m with Vonnegut. Not a fan of the semicolon. When there is a need for it, like in a complex list, I’m always trying to find a way around it. It seems so pretentious and assy. Sort of like the word whom. Really? Whom? Whom sounds like “go fuck yourself I went to a fancy fucking school you peasant”…that might just be to me…

And pull it all together with…Punctuation Jewelry!


Though if I’m honest, what I really want is a big cuff bracelet with a bunch of interrobangs

Writing as a Job

I read a bunch about writing as a job. Chuck Wendig started the rabbit hole with a response to an article by Merritt Tierce at Marie Claire and then an article at Billfold by Ester Bloom who wrote another article at Medium which published another article by Martin Rezny. There is no way this is all that was written in response to this article or any of these. 

And now I’m going to contribute to this noise with my post! Late! Wee!

Hidden Jobs

I also listened to The Reality Check about the dream jobs recently. There are a lot of jobs in the world we don’t talk about. If you narrow it to legal jobs even fewer. I would be most interested to see a list of jobs that people think about when they are about 14-15. When we think that people (kids, really) are supposed to start deciding what to do with their entire lives.

Is there any surprise that we discard a lot of jobs as not real work?

Real work is stuff like police, doctor, teacher. If you asked my niece and nephew what the job titles of everyone I work with are? I’d bet they’d be totally baffled. (Heck, I bet half the people I work with would be baffled by what those titles really mean.)

I work with people who write. Heck part of my job is writing. (It is a pretty small part at this job, but at previous jobs it was a larger part, at one, the whole part.) 

But they don’t count

This is a weirdly common refrain. The people who write and survive are dismissed. 

Well that isn’t writing fiction. So we are only saying fiction writing can’t be a job? And then there is this implication that fiction is like writing or sports or dance or acting. It is one of these “jobs” where a few people make ALL THE MONEY! And everyone else does it because they love it. 

There are people who get by or are even *gasp* successful at writing who you haven’t heard of. There are also people in all those other categories doing the same. And not just because you don’t like sports or x music genre or ballet. People actually can do that as work. 

Back to the hidden jobs, I think a lot of these are hidden jobs. Out of sight out of mind. And unless you are interacting with project managers or writers or cellists every day they might as well not exist. So you think that no one can make a living making power points or writing romance or playing the cello. But they do. 

So I should quit my job!

NO! The throwing out the job because one single book did well? That’s like going well I got this one gig so I’m going to quit my job. Don’t…

Yeah she was lucky enough to have a husband to support her during this time. And if you have the resources to do these things, sure. Though I’d argue that having a job has a lot of other psychological benefits so if you don’t treat your writing like a job then you will suffer those things. 

I do think you can, and there are people who do, treat writing like a job. But that means you can’t get precious about it. Just like you shouldn’t get precious about any job.

Once you start to get precious about things you get fired. (I hope. I wish.)

Go dig some ditches!

Underwater roundup

Underwater roundup, well it might not only be underwater. But all waterish related?


Did people not already want to go and explore Europa? Because I thought that was always on the agenda of awesome places in the solar system to visit. But a lot of the stories I’ve seen about the venting ocean on Europa has been one of two things. OMG WE SHOULD FINALLY GO THERE. Um. Yes. We know. But like without any understanding that it has long been a fascinating place. And two…OMG LIQUID WATER! PROOF OF LIFE. Um…no? That’s…not how…I have a headache.

I’m not sure what happened to my news sources lately but this one just felt rougher than usual.

Europa is awesome. It has long been known to be awesome and fascinating.

On the one hand, they are further evidence that a warm-water, saline ocean exists beneath Europa’s icy surface. On the other, they indicate that any future mission to Europa would be able to access this salt-water ocean with greater ease.

Not gasp shock, but further evidence. Also? Universe Today is awesome and clear.

White Orcas

White (possibly albino) Orcas are being spotted in larger numbers in the western North Pacific which is kind of interesting, but what I thought was more interesting was:

Orcas often live in groups with a distinct cultural identity tied to their hunting style.

Now maybe much like Europa’s venting this was something we knew about long ago that I’m only finding out about now. And I’ve certainly read some things about group identity and tight familial groups.

But hearing them referred to as cultural identities? That’s…fascinating.


A quick (and as always awesome) comic from Indexed about boats, that’s my tie here.

And fish song. Seriously, like birdsong, but underwater.

Bird Brain

Birds and brains and bird brain, oh my!


Memory and the brain endlessly fascinates me. Everything I read about it makes me want to know more.

Forgetting seems like a bad idea, but remembering seems even worse. An article from Sci Am about Why We Forget?

The combination of both forgetting processes means that any message is unlikely to ever remain exactly the way you wrote it.

Read the whole thing but this line really sticks with me. I always try to keep this in mind. I think, but I might be misremembering it.



ʻalalā with it’s brilliant brain

Go watch these videos. This is a from Nature about the species wide tool use in Hawaiian crows. There are 6 videos of ‘Alalās using tools. They are extinct in the wild and only exist in captivity but they still use tools. They make their own, they pick the right one for the job.

I know humans who can’t always do that! Seriously, the videos are mesmerizing. (You have to have a subscription to read the whole article, though your local library may have you covered on that, check, librarians are your friends, but the videos are all there for the watching.)

Lest you think it is just the corvid that has a brilliant bird brain, no dear friend, the pigeon is happy to get in on that too.

I think we need to reconsider the “bird brain” insult. I can’t detect cancer cells on a mammogram. And sometimes I write nonsense…Hm.



Utopias are an interesting thing, and quite often a topic of lots of sci-fi. (And their more dramatic half dystopias.)
Atlas Obscura has a great map of failed utopias in the US. 

I was kind of surprised by the nudist colony in the 1900s. And apparently not just one of them but there were lots? What? Huh. It does reinforce the idea that we just aren’t that shiny or new. There are lots of things that seem progressive that have much older roots.

I did get lost in the wikipedia article on utopias, I’ll just share the list of fictional ones.

They are nearly always used as a background for satire, political or philosophical discourse. I can’t think of anything that is a true utopia (not a GASP! It’s really dystopian!) that is a romance or is a thriller or a myster. Utopias must have romances, but maybe they don’t have the misunderstandings that lead to drama? Hm.

Take a break!

Stop and take a break! Everyone needs one sometimes, frequently even. We need big and little breaks. This is about little breaks. “micro breaks”

Breaks article at 99U

One of the things they very specifically call out to not do, is make your break like your work. I think this applies especially to writing. Taking a break from writing to do a blog post? Not actually a break. Taking a break from editing to go and do social media promotion? Not a break.

At my day job I try to take actual breaks in the am and pm and when I’m stuck. I go for a walk, a few blocks, about 10 minutes. It is awesome for steps on my fitbit. But is is also awesome for getting into the right head space. I know that people sometimes get the side eye for this, especially when things are busy. There can be pressure to work through lunch (which the article talks about specifically too) or skip breaks. But taking them makes such an enormous difference in the quality of my work. I’m not making widgets, it isn’t just tab a into slot b, but even that needs breaks. To come up with creative solutions to problems (which is my job) requires a lot of effort. A walk makes a huge difference, I put on headphones and listen to a podcast and try to stop thinking about work. I may look at my phone too much during my breaks and I’m going to try to cut back on that a bit again.

I find myself running into the same thing with writing. I’ll come home from work and try to get a little writing done but my brain is still stuck, I had a short walk home, but I haven’t really taken a solid break. I know I always do better if I stop and make dinner first, like actual cooking seems to help. Clears my head, creates space for my brain to shift gears.

On the weekends where I write the most I try to actively build in get out of the house breaks. A walk to the coffee shop, a walk to get groceries, a walk along the river. I’ve got lots of parks and things nearby. I need to take even more advantage of them than I do. Just stuff my phone with my podcasts in my pocket, and head out the door.

I feel like I can still sometimes think about writing (and I’ve had to quite often stop the walk to take some notes on my phone) but I don’t always do that, sometimes I try to shift out of that mode entirely. When I’m having a writing problem I try to specifically not listen to fiction podcasts or audiobooks but instead trying for something else, usually science because I love science. It helps to clear my brain so that the problem can work away at the back of my brain.

Naps too.

Future me: Take a break! Get off the computer, get off the phone, get away from screens, don’t even pick up a book. Take a short 5-10 minute break. Your work will thank you.

More Updates

Hopefully, there won’t be any issues with this, but there will be some shifting around on the website today. Ideally, you’ll notice nothing. You’ll see no difference. If you do, please hang in there and I’ll get it resolved as quickly as possible.

(This should be done by noon but I won’t be able to finish checking until tomorrow evening.)

And I don’t want to leave you hanging with just that information so updates on the “alien” signal.

Universe Today

Ars Technica (They communicate with ALIENS memes. Therefore aliens!)



Pretty pretty HiRISE pictures of Mars.

If you’ve never explored some of the photos and some of the amazing work that happens in space I highly recommend it. You can browse through a map.

Sometimes there is so much going on that just looking at thousands of pretty pretty pictures of Mars is amazing, mesmerizing, and a wonderful thing about the world. Human beings populated Mars with robots and they are exploring and finding amazingly beautiful things for us. We are doing powerful things that humans haven’t done before. We are filled with a sense of wonder and we want to discover what else is out there. Each time we discover more it opens more wonder and more ambition. All answers bring about more questions because the universe is amazing.




Dune Field


Valley with flows


Gullies and Dunes

iOS Writing Apps

I’ve been thinking about and setting up iOS apps for writing. (I’m still pretty sure that I’m going to get an iPad Pro this fall.)

ipad pro

iOS Writing Apps

  • Firefox: I’ve been doing all my writing stuff in FF on my desktop and have it synced so it knows all the stuff about me.
  • Pintrest: Pintrest keeps telling me I should use the iPad app. I’m trying to be better about using social media, including this one. (Check out my Smoke Jumper Wedding thing, I’m planning a murder at a wedding. Mysteries are fun but I want to have all my ducks in a row.)
  • Facebook: The social media thing, plus easy sharing.
  • Scrivener: YAY!!!
  • Google
    • Drive
    • Sheets
    • Docs
    • Keep: I’ve been using Keep to stash my ideas, links, and a lot of other stuff, I’ve been quite liking it.
    • Inbox
  • WordPress
  • iBooks
  • Overcast: Have I ranted about how much I love this? I love Overcast.
  • Overdrive: Did you know Overdrive does audiobooks too? Overdrive is likely the tool your library uses to let you borrow books. Super handy.
  • Goodreads
  • Dictionary
  • Dropbox
  • Pages
  • Wolfram Words: I think I like this tool in use more than I actually use it.
  • iCloud drive
  • Kindle
  • Wattpad
  • Nook
  • Audible
  • Canva
  • iAnnotate: This is more of an audio tool, but I may use it in the future when critiquing things. We’ll see?
  • LastPass

Anything I’m missing? Anything I should have? Anything you have questions about? Anyone have a great audio editing app?