What moves faster: a snail or a glacier?

13 03 2011

snailDo you know? I didn’t. Here’s another fascinating fact I learned as I was researching one of the 266 articles I promised to write by the end of next month. (Yes, I’m certifiably crazy!)

Snails move waaayyy faster than glaciers. The average snail can run rings around a glacier. A snail’s easily more than a hundred times faster…

Now that you know this, don’t you wonder who spent their time conducting races for snails and glaciers? And how long did it take to do the research? If an average glacier moves 6 feet a day, how many glaciers did they have to time and how long did they spend studying each one and averaging the results? And even though snails move faster, conducting snail races to get an average would be time consuming. Bet those researchers got government grants.

Why Do You Write?

28 09 2010

I stumbled across some fabulous quotes on writing and rejection, again as was researching an article that’s due to a publisher. This research was a bit off topic, but once again my wanderings proved fruitful (though they delayed my writing assignment).

As part of an interview with Alice McDermott, the Catholic author shared advice from literary agent Harriet Wasserman, who claimed that “writing and publishing have very, very, very little to do with each other; almost nothing.” Have to chuckle (and agree). She continues, “For writers, it’s a matter not so much of deciding you will write fiction with the hope that you will publish fiction, but rather writing fiction because there is nothing else you can do that will give you a satisfying sense of yourself or of life.”

McDermott expounds on Wasserman’s statements: “…early in your career it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that the work itself is the most essential thing. As frustrating and depressing and discouraging as a day spent writing can be, that day of work is also the best reward this career will give you. That’s where your satisfaction has to come from-from creating those challenges for yourself, sentence by sentence, using whatever talent you have. You don’t do it because you’ve got a contract with a publishing house. You do it because you have to, because that’s what you’re here for.”

Getting back to the real reason we write can often lift us from the doldrums of rejection letters and help us take our work to the next level.

Pirate Party

4 08 2010

One of the dangers of researching a book is that you stumble across fascinating information that has nothing to do with your topic. Or it’s connected to your topic, but can’t be used. I have a bad habit of getting sidetracked, and here’s one of my recent forays into the world of pirates.

I was fascinated to discover that there’s a new political party that’s taken off in many countries. Ever heard of the Pirate Party? Yep, they actually have candidates, some of whom have won elections. It started in Sweden, but it’s spread to Germany and about 14 other European countries. And Canada now has one too.

Led by young tech-savvy voters,  PPI (Pirate Parties International) members support free sharing of intellectual property. As the Canadian Pirate Party leader, Jake Daynes, a 19-year-old video-game-design student, says, “We think that for the dissemination of culture — music, books, movies, you name it — that should be [considered] fair use.” They also want more government transparency as well as no patents on pharmaceuticals or software.

Interesting concepts… It would certainly reduce Internet piracy if all the copyrighted material were available free. It seems many of the younger generation are ready to embrace it, even those who design video games and create software. Then all countries and individuals would have equal access. Maybe the next step would be to compensate those who design intellectual property–including artists, musicians, writers, and inventors–the way we compensate our sports figures.

It seems the Pirate Party is gaining a foothold around the world. Here’s a list of places that either have or are starting a Pirate Party:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Czech Republic
New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom
United States

Quote from: Barber, Mike. “Pirate Party of Canada Calls for Canadian Copyright Reform,” National Post, May 1, 2010.

Does Exercise Make You Smarter?

4 05 2010

I just read a study that showed monkeys who ran on a treadmill for an hour for five days a week showed increased cognitive ability along with greater blood flow to the brain. But if they became sedentary afterward, they lost those advantages.

This information from Medical News Today set me to wondering. As a writer and editor, I spend a good portion of my day sitting. So does that mean my brain power is slowly (or perhaps quickly) draining away? Very scary thought.

Perhaps that explains my memory loss. Is it possible that, rather than aging causing a loss of brain cells, the decrease in cognition comes from becoming more sedentary as we age? I like that explanation. It gives me hope that I can reverse the effects of aging. All I have to do is get on a treadmill five days a week.

How likely is that? Probably as likely as me swinging by my tail from a tree. Let’s just say those monkeys have me beat by a mile (or more).

That leads to another, even scarier, thought. If the monkeys keep running and I keep sitting, will they eventually become smarter than I am and take over my job?