So many industries are being shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, the retail section overall is suffering, but specifically, small retail businesses are hurting.
What with coming from a family of librarians and book-lovers, I’m especially keen to see independent book shops weather this latest storm, so I was happy to see an article earlier this month about how one online outfit, Bookshop.org is helping brick-and-mortar operations have an online footprint too.
My “unread” bookshelf is now too crowded for me to ignore, so I won’t be availing myself of them just yet, but soon! So very soon…
I hope this doesn’t become too frequent, but I had to post something about one of the recent victims of the pandemic. As is being reporting in multiple outlets, John Conway has died at the age of 82.
I know Conway the same way so many people know him: from his game of Life. No, not the family board game with the impressive spinner in the middle of the 3-D board. Conway’s game was abstract and far more mathematical (but it still has spinners!). It was like an endless civilization-building simulation.
I first tried my hand at it using graph paper, but found this to be very manual, so I took to using a Pente board, not realizing Conway himself had used a Go board when he was coming up with the game from the 60s. Thankfully, far cleverer people than I ported it over to the Interwebs, where you can test much vaster combinations much faster than I ever could manually. My favorite is over at Bitstorm.
So, take a moment at some point and play around with it. It’s very absorbing.
(Note: not being a mathematician, I really can’t comment on what I understand are vast contributions in terms of other areas of mathematics, but I believe there are some links to that and some interviews in the Ars Technica article).
It’s week two of a lot of us Americans staying at home. Per historian and librarian recommendation, I am keeping a journal during this time. Lesson plans and activities are set up for the kids. We’re doing our best to make sure Jabberwocky Audio Theater continues as planned for this year. And of course, there’s some home projects that are rearing both their practical and sanity-based heads.
In the face of all this, it can be kind of overwhelming, so it’s been nice see the take on some isolation subject matter experts: astronauts. Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has a nice quick two-minute video that might help you feel a bit more centered:
And if you want a longer, written take, former astronaut Scott Kelly has a great piece in the New York Times that covers some of the same topics in detail. I especially appreciate the idea of pacing oneself.
So here’s another list ranking tropes via Ross Johnson for Barnes & Noble. I might quibble with the ranking of the top 5 (dystopian governments and time travel would be my 2 and 1 respectively), but everything on the list should give you a knowing nod or a smile.
Much of this week has been adjusting to the very new reality of self-quarantining (well, with the fam). My social media feeds are now almost exclusively news and reports about the coronavirus striking the globe and memes to try and help with it.
Replicating the social media feed seems quite pointless, but I’ll certainly post links to resources or other fun things as relevant.
For now, one recommendation, which I heartily endorse, was for families to take respite in the original Muppet Movie.
Perhaps after that, and perhaps only for you and older kids, you may also be interested in the camera tests they did to see how the Muppets could work in “natural habitats” and, well, it gets a little Samuel Beckett.
Someone posted about Bobby McFerrin earlier this week (who many people still know best from his song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy“) and that made me think of this short video where he shows how humans naturally think in musical terms:
If you like the video above, it’s part of an overall talk that is just delightful in a geeky sort of way (which I’m biased towards anyway.
From over 3,500 responses, he breaks down Trek fans’ likes and dislikes of the various series and by different generations, with Millenials and Gen X being the most represented. Apparently, he’ll have a second installment of results coming after the season finale of Picard, so I’ll post about that too.
Back on March 1st, 2015, I re-entered the web world with a personal website, something I really hadn’t had since the 90s, which in Internet terms is ancient history.
Perhaps because March 1st doesn’t correspond with any other anniversaries in my life, I keep on meaning to do an annual retrospective about posts and such on the blog, but keep on forgetting.
This year, however, I made sure to set a reminder for myself. As with any eponymous blog, this post is mainly a self-indulgence, but for anyone who wants to go back and check some of the posts (over 400!), here’s an accounting of the “greatest hits” and some of the “deep cuts.”
Of course, these posts topped the list. My series, Crisis of Infinite Star Treks, lasted almost the full five years. There were long and short entries and ones that I thought were better than others. The three that seemed to best represent the series are:
I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my posts about writing got so many views. Writing and trying to do more work as a writer is near and dear to me… and frankly, one of the reasons I’m online anyway.
Granted, most of the posts are mainly linking to or commenting on articles or resources I found online, but it’s been great to share what I know. Some of the most read have been:
Integrally linked to many of these articles are the posts which talk more about motivation (one of them is up there). That was led to several posts about finding purpose, meaning, and motivation… often explicitly disconnected from a paycheck. These were a lot of fun to write (and probably helped me work through some thoughts):
As indicated above, part of the fun of a blog is the ability to indulge your whims and flights of fancy, often without a care for deadlines or the editorial rigor you yourself might expect from a magazine article.
Many of the posts grow out of articles I read online that I want to expand on, which include.
In fact, we have a second moon. No, really. Our planet has a temporary second natural satellite. See the coverage from New Scientist, NBC News, and Mental Floss. Now granted it’s not big enough to land on (it’s about the size of a car) and it won’t be parked in our orbit forever, but all you picayune trivia buffs rejoice!
Although I don’t have a huge number of posts on the site about space exploration, it remains something I always like to follow.
I mean, some of this should be obvious given the whole writing science fiction thing. The writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as it were. A couple years ago, I read a number of science fiction (and straight science) pieces about Mars, but I suppose I just scratched the dry, red soil surface.