Monthly Archives: June 2013

Submit Something Somewhere

This weekend, my scifi writing group held a group event called “Submit something somewhere”. The premise of this event was for everyone in attendance to submit at least one piece to at least one publishing venue. We all know that the easiest way not to get published is to not submit for publication. I know I don’t try as often as I should, and almost every writer I’ve met doesn’t either. So we got together and did some research together about venues and submitted together. It was a good activity; since we pooled our findings, I think it could be good for any group of writers.

Mostly we looked at the SFWA (scifi writers of america) professional markets (aim high =) ). This is a great website for sff market info, if you ignore the 90s-ness of it. However I also found a list of all-genre short fiction markets by length that I thought was pretty awesome.

I submitted two pieces. Hopefully they will go better than my last submissions, but I know they won’t do worse. Each time I try I get better, and I’ll eventually get there.

So go submit something somewhere! It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all!

Fun Facts 76-100!

A few posts ago, I challenged myself to post 100 facts I found interesting, to celebrate the 100th post of my blog. It was rather hard to do this all for one blog post, so I stretched them across a couple posts. So here they are, the last 25! You can find the first 50 here, and facts 51-75 here.

It was a lot harder goal than I thought it would be, but it was also fun too. Probably it was extra challenging because in the mean time, I was preparing for a huge exam, finishing a novel draft, and on vacation. Now I’m through those, so no more excuses! 25 more facts!

 

76. Iodine is the heaviest element commonly needed by organisms with an atomic weight of 127. Iodine is added to table salt to help people get their daily amount of iodine. Consuming too little iodine can affect the thyroid gland; pregnant women who don’t consume enough iodine can give birth to less-intelligent babies.

77. Baseball player Hack Wilson holds the single season record for RBIs, with 160. His odd physique was considered notable; he had a barrel chest and tiny legs and odd facial features. Scientists now believe he had fetal alcohol syndrome, which results in distinctive facial features.

78. Water is an unusual compound in a number of ways. For one, its most common solid phase is less dense than its liquid phase, thus why ice floats in water. There are actually 15 phases of solid ice. The chart here shows a number of them.

79. Ice XI is found in some Antarctic ice. It’s actually thought to be more stable than regular ice, but it takes millennia to form.

80. A diamond isn’t forever. Solid carbon also comes in several structures, such as diamond, coal, and buckyballs. Diamond isn’t the most stable state at room temperature and pressure, and very, very slowly converts back to coal.

81. There are 109 species of tulips.

82. In the 1630s in Europe, speculation on tulips led to a bubble and then a collapse called the “tulip mania“. It is considered the first speculative bubble.

83. The Sognefjord in Norway is one of the longest and deepest fjords in the world (127 miles long, 4300 ft deep). This is deeper than the adjacent sea.

84. There are coral reefs at the bottom of some fjords, discovered as recently as the year 2000. This is why there is often rich fishing in the fjords.

85. The number of Norwegian descendants living in the United States is roughly equal to the current population of Norway.

86. There are fewer people living permanently in the fjord country of Norway today than there were in the mid 1800’s.

87. To some extent, you can tell when a person’s family emigrated from Norway based upon where they settled. The earliest settlements were in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Settlements then moved west to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. (This will irrelevant to most readers, but interested me: Westby, WI is the second most Norwegian speaking town in the US, and Vernon county, WI is the 6th most Norwegian speaking county in the country.)

88. The earliest chemical evidence for the existence of beer dates back to 3500 BC, though it may have been produced as early as 9500 BC when the grains were first grown.

89. The first addition of hops (the agent which adds bitterness and also acts as a preservative) to beer was mentioned in the year 822. The India Pale Ale is known as a bitter beer because many hops were added for its journey from Britain to India. They preserved the beer and helped to conceal bad flavors too.

90. Lagers are produced by bottom-fermenting yeasts, while ales are produced by top-fermenting yeasts. Lagers also are fermented at lower temperatures. Bottom-fermenting yeasts are a relatively recent innovation, and lagers weren’t mass-produced until the mid 1800s. The world’s top-selling beers are now all lagers.

91. Hops are being investigated as possibly useful in hormone replacement treatments. They are currently used in preparations for treating menstrual cramps.

92. The Czech Republic drinks the most beer per capita of any country in the world. Beer in CZ can be bought for 28 Kr at a restaurant. The exchange rate today is 19.6 Kr to the US dollar, or $1.43 for a pint. The US is 12th per capita.

93. Cashews are a relative to poison ivy and poison sumac. The irritant is contained in the skin of the fruit. This is why they aren’t sold in their shells. People who are sensitive to poison ivy can react to contact with cashews or mangos, which are also related.

94. Coffee first arrived in Europe in the 1500s. In 1600, the pope declared it a “christian drink”, settling concerns of its Muslim origins. Some have speculated that the arrival of coffee in Europe brought about the Renaissance.

95. Finland drinks the most coffee per year, at over 12 kg of beans per person. Most of the top of the list is dominated by Scandinavian countries, doubtless to fight off the long winter nights. The US is way down at #26, with 4.2 kg per person per year.

96. The earliest recording of tea drinking was in China in 1000 BC. Tea first reached England in 1660, but it took awhile before it was an everyday drink.

97. The greatest per capita consumer of tea is Paraguay, at 11 kg per year per person. The US is way down at #70, consuming half a kilogram a year. I am doing my part to bring our average up.

98. Chocolate was cultivated at least as early as 1100 BC in central america. Most of it is produced now in West Africa, specifically Côte d’Ivoire.

99. White chocolate does in fact contain derivatives of the cocoa plant. In the US, it is required to have at least 20% cocoa butter by weight. Since it does not contain cocoa solids, it doesn’t contain caffeine.

100. There is a strong correlation between a country’s chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel prize winners it has. This result was published in the New England journal of medicine.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found the facts as interesting as I did to find them, but boy and I glad I’m done with them. =)

Achievements!

Today I submitted my second technical paper. I should know its status in a couple of months. I really hope it gets accepted, because I think it has some really good results.

I also finished binding a rough draft of my novel. I finished the draft itself last Thursday =). To reward myself, I bound a copy for myself. Then I’m going to reread the words and mark up alllllll the things that are wrong or that I want to change. I’ve never gotten this far before, though, so I wanted to recognize that achievement with a binding. I’ve included some pics below. 360 pages (including some blank pages for my comments between chapters) and 82,000 words. Hooray! Just simple photos for now, maybe I’ll get around to a nice photo shoot in a few days.

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Souvenirs from the Beach

Last week I was at the beach. Whenever I go on vacation, I get hundreds of souvenirs: all my photos. Below are a few of my favorites from the trip. Our final day, we endured 35 mph sustained winds from Tropical Storm Andrea. In a house on stilts, that’s more fun than usual; the house rocked with every gust. I’m getting back around to my normal schedule, so you’ll be seeing more regular posts from me.

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Kite surfing championship

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Cape Hatteras Light House.

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Climbing the Cape Hatteras Light House.

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Wild grasses on the sound side. Very good of absorbing high tides from tropical storms.

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Science in Progress

Today I proposed my PhD and passed, which means only one test remains in a few months. So hooray for me. I’ll soon finish the first draft of the novel, and I just got back from vacation. I’ll post some pics of that later this week and finish the 100 facts post at last. Unfortunately the blog has suffered, but the worst has passed.

It’s been hectic, but the maximum pressure has relaxed a bit. The professors said the quality of my writing was very good, so here’s to the blog for improving that for me. Here’s to more improvement yet!

Interesting facts: 50-75

Today I post interesting facts 51-75. These last weeks have been incredibly intense, and it’s been tough meeting my 100 fact challenge celebrating reaching 100 posts. I will follow with the last 25 later this week or next Monday. The blog has had to take a backseat to work and to my book writing efforts; I will hit 70,000 words tomorrow and I am closing in on the finish. And without further ado, more facts!

 

51. Earth’s magnetic poles switch every few hundred thousand years, as a result of natural movements in iron in the crust. I wondered how this might affect migratory species using magnetic senses, but there isn’t enough evidence from the last switch 41,000 years ago to tell.

52. The creator of Kellogg’s cornflakes was at war with sexuality. The cornflakes were a part of this, as an unstimulating food. He was a strong advocate against masturbation– advocating circumcision and application of acid to the genitals.

53. Left-handed people are at a higher risk for numerous ailments, including schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. I am what they call mixed-handed– I do some tasks with my right hand (writing), and some with the other (sports).

54. Eta Carinae is sometimes one of the brightest stars in the sky, and sometimes not. It is a system including a luminous blue variable, which grows a coat of obscuring gas, and then periodically blasts it off. In 1843, it was the second brightest object in the sky. It currently cannot be seen with the naked eye.

55. George Washington did not have wooden teeth. His dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).

56. Goldfish actually have memories of about three months. As anyone who ever owned a goldfish should know.

57. Alfred Tennyson was troubled and interested by the science of his time. Themes about evolution and references to the contemporary phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” (a since debunked scientific concept which claims an organism develops in vitro according to its phylum order) can be found in his poetry, specially In Memoriam.

58. Water-induced wrinkles are not caused by the skin absorbing water and swelling. They are caused by the autonomic nervous system, which triggers localized vasoconstriction in response to wet skin, yielding a wrinkled appearance. This may have evolved because it gives ancestral primates a better grip in slippery, wet environments.

59. Eating nuts, popcorn, or seeds does not increase the risk of diverticulitis.These foods may actually have a protective effect.

60. The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction that water rotates in a bathtub drain or a flushing toilet. The Coriolis effect induced by the Earth’s daily rotation is too small to affect the direction of water in a typical bathtub drain. The effect becomes significant and noticeable only at large scales, such as in weather systems or oceanic currents. Other forces dominate the dynamics of water in drains.

61. Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball.

62. Nikola Tesla was a badass scientist. Thomas Edison isn’t as great as you thought. Tesla pioneered AC current distribution and the lightbulb. Edison stole ideas from Tesla and attempted to undermine him to increase his own profits.

63. Paul Erdös wrote over 1500 math papers. If you’ve heard of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, this was originally known as the Erdös number, the number of degrees of separation from publishing a paper with Erdös. He was very eccentric. For years, he lived out of his suitcase, traveling across the world and collaborating on papers. He didn’t know how to open juice containers and used amphetamines to give him energy. His epitaph was “I’ve finally stopped getting dumber.”

64. Catherine the Great was the longest-ruling female monarch in Russian history. She was actually prussian, and married Peter the Great’s grandson. She probably conspired in his assassination, and took the throne. Her son changed Peter the Great’s succession laws to exclude women from rule.

65. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a nobel prize, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She discovered polonium and radium and x-rays. She used x-rays to help diagnose injuries in WW1. She eventually died due to radiation-related illness.

66. Ramanujan was an indian-born mathematical genius. With little formal instruction, he devised many theorems that are still being incorporated into mathematical theory. He died at 32.

67. Michael Faraday was a pioneering scientist in electromagnetism, although he also received little formal education. He discovered benzene, and discovered the relationship between light and magnetism. He knew little math beyond trigonometry. The unit of capacitance, Farad, is named after him, as well as numerous constants and devices.

68. the symbol pi, π, originally referred to the perimeter of a circle. only in 1706 was it used to mean the ratio of perimeter to diameter.

69. James Tiptree Jr., a prominent science fiction writer, was actually a woman. She wrote under the pseudonym for two decades until she killed her husband and then herself.

70. In the early years of the Soviet Union, a type of genetics besides Mendelian genetics became accepted as correct, known as Lysenkoism. In Lysenkoism, the way you raised a crop determined its outcome, not the type of seed. Widespread starvation occurred in the Soviet five-year plans, partially due to Lysenkoism.

71. There are over 20,000 species of orchids, or four times the number of mammalian species. Many of them are epiphytes, meaning they grow above the ground in tree-borne habitats.

72. East germans could only buy Trabant cars. Used Trabants were more expensive than new ones, because the waiting line was shorter.

73. A girl in Sweden survived her body temperature dropping to 55 F (13 C) in 2010.

74. Hypothermia is highly correlated to age. Older people suffer hypothermia at a much higher rate.

75. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is the tallest base to tip lighthouse in the United States. Due to shore encroachment, it was moved in 1999. Its light can be seen 20 miles out to sea.