Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Author’s Retreat…Changing the World with Your Mind...And Faith


Last week I went on an author’s retreat at my friend’s cabin near Manning Park in British Columbia. Some of them were going skiing at the nearby ski hill and Anne thought I’d appreciate the rustic setting as an ideal place to write. I leapt at the chance. I had lots of writing to do and had set myself up for quite a work schedule: I’d promised ten articles and some excerpts to my publisher, three articles to the online magazine I write for, a review of my manuscript contract with my other publisher, and to write as much as possible on my prequel. I’d set myself up for quite a work schedule...Hey, didn't I say that already?...There was no internet access at the cabin. In fact, no cell phone coverage either. We were pretty isolated from the rest of the world—except for the bustling ski hill not far from us…

Then my computer refused to work…
The ski hill beckoned…
And the snowshoes came out…
And the sun blazed…
And the hoarfrost on the frozen lake sparkled like jewels in the snow…

Monday, February 16, 2009

What’s BMI and Why Should I Care?


BMI stands for Brain Machine Interface and will likely play a fundamental role in how we manage our biological and mental selves, and—in the long run—how we view ourselves as a species. I’m talking about controlling robots—and other machine parts outside and inside ourselves—with the mind.

Do you remember a few decades ago (the early 1980s) how Apostolos P. Georgopoulos of Johns Hopkins University recorded the electrical activity of single motor cortical neurons in macaque monkeys?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Margaret Atwood’s Wise Words About Debt & Altruism… “A Portrait of the Artist as a Real Hero”


My wise friend, Margaret, recently passed me the current copy of Zoomers, a new magazine devoted to those of us fortunate enough to have attained the age of 45+, and she pointed out another Margaret’s article in it—Margaret Atwood, that is. Entitled, “Debt: not just a four-letter word”, Atwood's article follows the theme of her book called “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth”, that came out in the fall of 2008, just as the financial meltdown hit the globe. As usual, Margaret’s timing was impeccable.

Why was Atwood interested in writing about such a depressing subject back then when the sky was the limit? “Because the sky is never the limit,” she replies. “There’s always an invisible ceiling, and there are tremors when it’s being approached.” Atwood tells us that debt and laws about debt go back to the Mesopotamian Laws of Hammurabi. “Heavily in debt?” she quips about how they handled things back then. “Sell the wife and kids into slavery.” Every major religion uses the vocabulary of “debt” and “payment”, says Atwood. She brings up the notion of reciprocal relationships and describes the habit of chimpanzees to scratch each other’s backs by keeping track of who is owed one in return.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The “Aha” of the “Aha From a Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop”


A short while ago, I gave a writing workshop at the local library to an interesting group of writers. Participants ranged from budding writers interested in creating short stories to established writers of non-fiction. Entitled, “A Writer’s Toolkit”, I entertained them with my misadventures in the publishing industry and then launched into a “show and tell” using a bazillion examples, many of which appear in my latest writing guide, The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now! by Starfire World Syndicate.

For instance, one example in the book (in Chapter R under the heading “Something Worse Than Rejection”) relates the story about my multiple submission of the short story, Angel’s Promises. Here’s an excerpt:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Treacherous Ice Storms in Kentucky—What is Gaia Saying to Us?


Keeping with the theme of climate—and climate change—this time last year (January-end, 2008) I was in Louisville, Kentucky, unknowingly braving the devastating effects of an unseasonal tornado. Commanding a 100 mph wind, it tore up concrete and roofs off houses, uprooted trees and flung huge signs hurtling into cars. The tornado set down twice, once just metres from my friend’s house and knocked out the power in large sections of Louisville for days. How did I not know, you ask. It was night time and I’d never experienced a tornado before…And I was in Kentucky—not Kansas (LOL!). I remember huddling in the dark cold of my friend’s house for hours in the dead of night (while she worked the graveyard shift at the airport), writing to the flickering light of a candle, with a blanket wrapped around me to keep warm, and listening to the raging wind.

Flash forward to this past week (January, 2009), as Kentucky faces its worst-ever natural disaster: over 600,000 Kentuckians are without power (200,000 without water) following major ice storms that struck a large section of the Midwestern United States across nine states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Virginia.