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Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Geeky Day

Not tech related, this is pure writer geek. ;-)

At work, someone brought in their old magazines, including several issues of The Smithsonian, and I browsed through them. I started out by skimming through the article on Edvard Munch, the painter who did The Scream, but I was more interested in looking at the pictures of his other works of art than I was in his life.

The next article that I looked at, though, really drew me in. It was titled In John They Trust and it was about a cargo cult in Vanuatu. They wait for the return of John Frum who will come with cargo from America. The article suggests that John Frum may never have existed, but had been used as a way to get the missionaries off the island in the 1930s. This wasn't the main thrust of the piece, though.

From there, I went on to an article about how coyotes have moved from the American West into nearly every city in the country, including Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. I knew we had coyotes around the Twin Cities, but I didn't realize exactly how that had happened.

I'm not ready to subscribe to the magazine, but my geeky writer side was in heaven. Then it just kept going!

On the drive home from work, I was flipping through radio stations and stumbled over NPR's Science Friday. They were talking about the mass extinction of amphibians that's going on right now. I was like, wow, I didn't even know that was happening! It has to do with some fungus that is suddenly on the upsurge. Even the call-in questions from listeners were fascinating. I actually sat in the garage and listened until the show ended.

Next up in my geeky day were online articles. I found links to these stories in the Most Popular section of some social tagging sites like and Furl. The first was from a NY Times columnist who talks about a story she was working on about training exotic animals and how she put those techniques to work on her husband. It's titled "What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage." You need to register to view the NY Times articles, just an FYI if you're thinking of clicking over. As I'm reading this, I could see how this not only would be interesting to use with a heroine in a story, but that it might be interesting to try it out on people besides SOs. :-)

Then I read an article from Yahoo News titled "Roots of the Human Family Tree Are Shallow." Also fascinating about how everyone who lives on Earth now is descended from someone who may have lived around the time of King Tut.

My last foray for the night was an article on picking and remembering passwords. Since my day job requires that we pick a new password every 90 days, and since I'm running out of clever and memorable letter/number combinations, I figured this might be a good read. The author laid out some interesting ideas, but in the comments section, others suggested that her method would make it easier for hackers who came up with one password to come up with them all. There's supposed to be a follow-up story and I'm going to try to remember to watch for it so I can make a decision on the password situation.

Did you notice how these topics are all over the spectrum? This is why I had 240 credits when I graduated from college (180 were necessary) and I didn't have a minor or a second major. :-) I find the damnedest things spellbinding and happily go off reading or watching or listening to whatever.

I think, though, that wide-ranging interests is a trait a lot of writers share. After all, you never know when something might be the piece that brings a book to life for you. I've told this story before, but it had to be 8-10 years ago when I was fascinated by nanotechnology and the possibilities for the future and that ended up coming back to inspire me on The Power of Two. The whole story was born around the idea of Quantum Brain Nanotechnology.

Today, I'm hoping to get to my writing chapter's meeting, so I need to logoff and try to get moving.