Friday, January 30, 2009

Vancouver, Canada’s “Cloud City”

Last week an incredible veil of heavy fog blanketed the Lower Mainland and the City of Vancouver. It got the photographers snapping some incredible pictures and the newspapers soliciting them for those pictures like the ones posted on this site by thumper.

Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is no stranger to fog and morning mists, particularly this time of the year. But this last foggy phenomenon was just a little out of the ordinary in its persistence and generated a lot of buzz in the blogosphere and internet chats as a result.

There followed a whole lot of buzz last week when a close relative of the photo above (but not the same; you can see it in the clouds)--the top photo of a Vancouver sunrise in the clouds-- started appearing in email boxes and blogs across the city and worldwide eventually. The other photo eventually appeared in the Vancouver Sun last Thursday and was attributed to Scott Miller. Others attributed it to photographer Blair Kent. Obviously, a number of people took photographs from that same perspective. I don’t know who took this particular one, but it’s beautiful, as are the others I’ve posted below (sent to me by a friend and unattributed). If you are one of the photographers, please let me know and I would be happy to credit you. I’d be delighted to take you on board Vinnie and interrog—uh… interview you, even!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nina Goes to Victoria, British Columbia...And Signs a Book

A short while ago I had the fortune of finding myself in not only one of my favorite book stores (Chapters) but in the quaint and beautiful west coast capital of British Columbia, VICTORIA. What a cool town! Several years ago, I lived in Victoria and taught biology courses at the University of Victoria (UVic). I used to hang out at the bohemian bistros and “karma” cafés on Government Street with students of mine and drank free espresso thanks to my betting prowess and an infinite collection of willing succ—eh—betting partners. We used to loiter beside Roger’s Chocolates, snag the freebie samples, and watch the tourists navigate their way through “souvenir-alley”. I used to take students on field trips past Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to the breakwaters of the Pacific Ocean and watch them scramble the slippery rocks in search of the elusive Postelsia.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Or What’s a Heaven For? Writer’s Contracts and More Elusive Things…(than Higgs boson)

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?— Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto (1855)
I recently signed a contract for the publication of my prequel to Darwin’s ParadoxAngel of Chaos—and mailed it off to my publisher at Dragon Moon Press. As I walked home from the post office in the brisk winter wind, I reflected that this very act was something I’d dreamt about as a beginning writer: signing and mailing off that elusive contract between publisher and writer for a novel. It had so long exceeded my grasp, and here I was, having done it a few times without a second thought. Well, my thoughts were of the movie rights and foreign rights and… yes, soaring ambitions…

Funny, how the reality of a dream invariably translates into a new dream to attain. We are such strange creatures, always reaching for heaven (“or what’s a heaven for?” said Browning above), never completely satisfied, always yearning, dreaming for more. But we are all on a journey, aren’t we? So, perhaps that is a fitting sentiment. Else we should stagnate into complacency…get fat and comfortable and settle for the mediocrity of an ordinary life…not grow…not evolve…not fulfill our destiny to “be more”… Heaven forbid that we should sink to becoming boring!

But, I digress. This post is really about manuscript contracts and I want to tell you a little about them…what a standard novel contract looks like and all the mysterious details that come with it that you need to look for—especially if you are looking at your first contract. Here’s the scoop.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Fractal Wonders of Cern—Searching for the Elusive Higgs Boson: The God Particle

This artistically-enhanced image of particle tracks was produced in the Big European Bubble Chamber (BEBC) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Physics—the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, built in 1954 in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border. Liquid hydrogen creates bubbles along the paths of the particles as a piston expands the medium. A magnetic field produced in the detector causes the particles to travel in spirals, allowing charge and momentum to be measured.

The BEBC was installed at CERN in the early 1970s to study particle physics. CERN's main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. CERN operates a network of six accelerators and a decelerator. Each machine in the chain increases the energy of particle beams before delivering them to experiments or to the next more powerful accelerator.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Creative Destruction—Embracing Contradiction & Paradox in 2009

My last post for 2008 documented my experience with a dead eagle in the back yard. It brings me to this first post for 2009: about death and rebirth.

Nature—and God— is full of contradiction and paradox. There is so much that we do not understand (at least on the surface)… and apparent contradiction proves that to me: reciprocal altruism; aggressive symbiosis; evolution through cooperation; morphic resonance; autopoiesis and spontaneous order; creative destruction...

I understand something of paradox. As an ecologist, I deal with it all the time. Destruction in creation and creation in destruction is inexorably ingrained in the life-cycles of everything on this planet, indeed in this universe. A forest fire can destroy life but in so doing creates a more vibrant, healthier forest. Nature reveals many such examples from its divine circular patterns, fractal self-organization and infinite spirals.