Archive for October, 2013

Well. Damn.

Back in April, I posted my grand idea for a Drink Transfer Protocol, a way for geographically remote people to owe each other a drink. It wasn’t a perfect idea, certainly, but it was a fun idea to think about. Apparently I shouldn’t have posted it on the blog, but instead to the patent office, because someone else thought it was a good idea, too.

Starbucks.

Today they announced Tweet-a-Coffee. They’re a logical company for the idea. It immediately solved the two biggest problems I identified: needed a network of locations participating and deciding on a defined value for “a drink.” Starbucks is international, and the coffee being tweeted is actually a five dollar gift card.

There is a downside, it requires both the sender and recipient to give a lot of personal information to Starbucks for the purpose of completing the transaction. It’s simultaneously a way to move five dollar gift cards, which might not get used, and collect customer information. Delicious, delicious customer information, the currency of the new internet.

Still. Damn. Woulda been nice to get this to market somehow before a big conglomerate came up with the same idea.

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Crashing the Hugos

Last two years I’ve paid more and more attention to the Hugo Awards. I’ve sat down and watched the ceremonies, I’ve started reading the past novel winners, I’ve made sure to be educated on several categories before the awards so that I can be disappointed in the results. I’ve now taken the next logical step.

I’ve bought myself a ballot.

That sounds like a bad way of putting things. I purchased a supporting membership for Worldcon 2015, which results in Hugo nominating and voting privileges for 2014-2016, including the upcoming 1939 Retro Hugos. While I’m thrilled for the opportunity to financially support Worldcon…I really did it for the ballots. For the chance to vote.

And the chance to nominate.

That’s where crashing the Hugos come into play. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows the exact category that I’ve had issues with. Dramatic Presentation, specifically Short Form. I know I’m not the first person to suggest an organized nomination push for this category. Those often get labelled, even by those behind them, as protest votes. That’s not my intention. Instead, I’d like to pick out a piece of media that falls within the rules of Short Form and I think is legitimately strong enough to nominate.

In short, I don’t want to think of it as a protest vote. I want to think of it more as an awareness campaign. And what I’ve chosen is the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. If you’re not listening to this podcast…well, statistically you’re listening to this podcast. For a few weeks it unseeded This American Life as the #1 podcast on iTunes, and is still sitting solidly at #2. I didn’t want to go after a piece of media that I didn’t think people would be consuming. As an audio presentation, it is eligible as a Dramatic Presentation, and each of its episodes falls well under the Short Form threshold.

However, if this is going to move forward towards a successful nomination (which it probably won’t, I lack the necessary megaphone) it will need to a concentrated effort. Which means pushing a single episode for nomination. Identifying their best work, and putting any concentrated push we can behind that one episode. The natural choice would be A Story  Of You. Unfortunately that was the last episode on 2012 and thus not eligible. I would currently lean towards either The Sandstorm or One Year Later, but I’m also not entirely caught up.

So…if you’re reading this and interested in helping, a few things you can do.

1) Become a Worldcon member 2014 or 2015 member. Even just a supporting member. Seriously, there’s something awesome about knowing that I get a voice in the Hugo Awards, even if this is what I’m currently choosing to do with it. If you’re looking to maximize your Hugo participation, go with 2015. Right now that’s just $40.

2) If you’re not already listening to Night Vale…seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Listen to Night Vale. Especially keep an ear out starting with Episode 14 which is the first episode eligible for next year’s Hugos.

3) Give me some thoughts on the best episode to put some votes behind. I’m a big proponent of the one-nominee-per-show rule, so it would be hypocritical of me to push multiple episodes.

Join me, won’t you?

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State of the Writer, October 2013

Halloween-card-mirror-2Wow, we’re a week into October already and I haven’t posted State of the Writer yet. Which…I suppose my last post in September was basically what I would say this month during my State of the Writer report. I’ll say that I’m keeping the chain alive, even though that meant getting out of bed at 10:45 one night this weekend because I realized I hadn’t written yet. I might not normally, but in my sitting and thinking about whether or not to get up and keep the Chain alive, I came up with some imagery for the next scene.

It’s a powerful thing, chaining writing like this. It’s working as well for me as any other motivational tool has. I’m thinking about upgrading the process. Right now each day that I hit 500 words or 30 minutes of solid editing or outlining, I get a big red X on my calendar. I’m thinking about adding symbols for doing 150% or 200% of the goal, so that those symbols will start popping up and become a chain of their own. Not quite yet, I want a full month of this system under my belt before I play with it. But the thought is there. This all means that my manuscript is up over 12k words, and should soon pass the barrier from novelette to novella. I’ve found my way to tie all the plot lines together, so for the first time I have a good look at what’s happening at the end of the novel, if not a specific notion of the climax and dénouement. But those will come.

State of the Author’s Bees: We had a warm snap here in the DC area that finally broke yesterday. The bees loved it. They were going crazy for it. I don’t know if something somewhere was doing one last round of spitting out pollen or nectar with the warm weather, but they were doing something. They were busy as beavers. Both hives are still going strong, we’re still feeding them syrup, and we have our fingers hoped that one or both will make it through the winter. If they do, next year we can start harvesting honey, which is step two towards home sourced mead.

State of the Author’s Beer: Still waiting for the Tree Trunks and Pi Stout to properly age, haven’t tucked into Mustache Cat or Lemongrab recently. But have you seen this thing? It’s a beer machine, much like a bread machine or ice cream maker. I don’t know what to think about it. On one hand, it simplifies home brewing. On the other hand, a lot of people aren’t interested in simplifying home brewing. However, clearly enough people are, since it’s brought in over twice its asking price with three weeks still on the Kickstarter. I do know it’s well out of my price range. I also wonder if, like bread and ice cream makers, what percentage of people will use it once or twice then put it away, not thinking about it for like two or three years, then making two more batches out of guilt for having spent money on this thing but not using it and…I’m not the only one who uses kitchen appliances this way, right?

Later this week (hopefully) thoughts on the 1996 attempt to Americanize Doctor Who, and the first steps of a plan I have to infiltrate a Hugo category, though not with my fiction. Stay tuned.

Oh, and here’s some extra content. I used that same picture for October last year, so I should provide some extra science to justify reusing it. The notion of staring into a candle-lit mirror to see one’s future spouse is tied to several similar legends, including Bloody Mary. There’s actually some truth behind them. A study showed that subjects staring at mirrors in poorly lit rooms reported seeing various illusions, including

…(a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f ) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%).

For more, check out Mind Hacks.

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