Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for July, 2010

A Strange “New” Species

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A few days ago, motion drew my eye to the window. A bird was hopping around in the butterfly bush. Nothing unusual about that, but this particular bird made me do a double-take:

What was going on? Had I been transported to the Island of Dr. Moreau? Was someone in the neighborhood doing weird experiments on the local bird life? Please tell me that is not really the head of a black finch transplanted onto the body of a cardinal . . . .

A Google search soon informed me I wasn’t the only one who had seen such a sight and wondered about it. The bird in question is definitely a cardinal, but it’s a bald cardinal, with no feathers on its head.

Opinions on what causes cardinals to lose all their head feathers are mixed, but most seem to involve mites and seasonal molting. It is agreed the condition generally takes place after the breeding season, that it isn’t permanent, and that the feathers grow back.

I have to say though, that a cardinal with a head as bald as a vulture’s is a rather disturbing sight.

Anecdotal Evidence

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

This is my personal observation on the nutrition/weight-loss wars. To be upfront, I’ve never had much of a problem with weight and I’ve always been fairly physically active, but over time I got to be maybe ten to twelve pounds heavier than I needed to be. No big deal, and I wasn’t emotionally invested in losing the weight, but when I started working out at the gym it seemed logical to think that I would lose some weight— and I did. Maybe three pounds. That was it. And I work out hard. I run the treadmill. I’m the one breathing hard over increasingly heavy weight. Didn’t matter. Two years passed, and I didn’t lose another pound. However, I was only working out two, or at most, three days a week, and continuing to eat as I had for years, which was sort of middle-of-the-road okay.

Then I picked up a terrific book called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., which can be summarized thus: “Exercise hard one hour a day, six days a week and don’t eat crap.” So together my husband and I cut down on the crap and started working out more, and lo, I dropped a couple more pounds.

Shortly thereafter we embarked on a deliberately low-fat diet, while continuing the exercise regimen, and after a few months I stepped on a scale and laughed, knowing the damn thing was broken. But a second scale concurred exactly with the first. Those twelve pounds I wasn’t worried about losing? They had just gone away.

I credit it to the diet.** Our focus is on low-fat and high fiber/whole grain, and for myself, I think the food is great. I don’t feel like I’m suffering or deprived, but I will concede it’s challenging to eat out and still stick to the rules. Also, meal prep can take longer, but not all that much longer.

It works for me. Just thought I’d share.

** When I say “diet” I mean “what I typically eat” and definitely not “going on a diet.”

This is An Album by the Black Keys

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Holy crap!

A few weeks ago I picked up a new CD by The Black Keys. I was rather amused to open it and see that the back of the CD was utterly black. I held it up to the light. I looked around the inner rim. Nope. No writing. No song titles. Nothing. Okay, well I guess this is novel, post-modern, whatever.

So I finally popped it into the iMac this morning, imported the songs into iTunes, and popped it out again. To my *shock* the back of the CD was now gray, with all the usual sorts of black writing on it. Oh cool! I thought. First-use reveals the writing!

But as I sit here the CD, warmed up a bit in the drive, is cooling off and the impenetrable black finish is returning, flowing in slowly from the outer perimeter. I’m entertained.

Maybe this is an old trick to you more worldly types. Then again, you more worldly types don’t buy CDs anymore, do you?

Titles can just be seen behind the black finish.

What I Learned From Inception

Monday, July 19th, 2010

I enjoyed and admired the movie Inception, and highly recommend it. I also learned a couple interesting things from it, from a writer’s perspective. (I don’t think there are any spoilers in the following, but if you’re like me and want to know as little as possible about a movie once you’ve decided to see it, than come back later . . .)

* The tech doesn’t have to be explained. The script successfully handles lots of tricky concepts, but says not one word (that I can recall) about how the architecture of shared dreams is communicated, and that’s okay. I don’t need to know. I just need the “What if”—what if we could do this. Coming from a hard science fiction background, this was enlightening.

* World building isn’t always necessary. So far as I could tell, the story was set in the present, in the world we live in, except that this dream technology exists. There’s no attempt to extrapolate what the world might look like ten or fifteen years hence when this technology is maturing, or to explore what other effects it might have on society. The story is tightly focused on itself and not at all interested in the world at large, which works great in this movie.

And a minor bonus lesson:

* Titles are tricky. I love one word titles, but “Inception” was hard to get my head around. Exception? Incision? Invictus? What the hell was it again?

If you can remember the title, go see it, and let me know what you think.