Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Weird: The Baghdad Batteries

Taking a break from creepy creatures or what-have-you popping up in windows and doors, today we have something much more normal. But still weird.

In 1936, while excavating a 2000 year old village near Baghdad, a small, strange vase was discovered.
The vase was 6 inches high and made of bright yellow clay. Also, the clay was dated back two millenia.

On top of that, the vase contained a cylinder of sheet copper 5 inches by 1.5 inches and the edge of the copper sheet was soldered with a lead tin alloy similar to today's solder. The bottom of the cylinder was capped with more copper and sealed and the top was sealed in order to hold in place an iron rod suspended in the center of the copper cylinder. The rod had been corroded in places by acid.

Archaeologists examined the artifact and came to the surprising conclusion that it was, in fact, an electric battery, made 1800 years before their invention in 1799.

Replicas made of this battery (and others found in roughly the same region (close to a dozen in total)) show that the batteries could produce from .8 to nearly 2 volts of electricity.

Unfortunately, no one really knows what they were used for. Some people think they were used for pain killing, though opium and other, better, pain killing options were already in use at the time.
They could have also been used to electroplating - transferring a thing layer of metal onto another metal surface - but there hasn't been any artifacts discovered in the region with this kind of decoration or effect.
Or maybe they were just used as some sort of magical ritual. If you don't understand the science you created, it would be easy to say that touching an idol would give you a tingle.

Either way, it certainly changes the way, once again, we think about the past and the people who lived there.


Monday, January 28, 2013

In Which I Have Lunch

So, as mentioned on my 2013 Goals post, one of the things I plan to do this year is to seriously consider getting my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Lucky for me, I was invited to a luncheon at Hamline to learn more about their low-residency program. I thought about not going, but then Twin more or less smacked me upside the head and told me I should go and I realized she was right and I was mostly just trying to be lazy.

So anyway, I went to the event on the 19th. And man, am I super glad I did!

So the way the low residency works is, you're assigned a mentor (a published author) who works with you the whole year. You have a packet, which is, more or less, monthly assigned work. And then twice a year you attend an 11 day residency at the campus.

The luncheon event took place during one of the days of the current winter residency, so the prospective students (me and about 8 others) got to sit in on two of the lectures, then have lunch with some of the faculty, alumns and the director of the program, and then we were invited to stay for the rest of the day.

The lectures were great (I'll probably post more on them next week with specifics) and there were about 45 students currently enrolled in teh MFAC program. And it was clear they were an awesome little community of writers. And I totally want to be part of it.

Lunch was great. Well, the food was no big deal, but I sat next to a girl who also wrote YA novels so we talked a lot, and then we got to ask questions of the faculty and director.

When lunch was done, myself and two others walked out to our cars together (none of us had planned on staying) and the three of us talked about how awesome the program seemed. I know for me, it made me wish that I was already enrolled.

So as it sits, I'm pretty sure there's a high probability I'll be applying for the MFAC program for the 2013 winter semester. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to talk about in the future.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fun

Yay! The weekend! How you must have missed it, ape-friends!

Of course, moi, Yvie, am (is?) a dog, so therefore pretty much everyday is like a weekend for me. Because I can nap whenever I want to and eat the same good food every day.

It's exhausting

But because of that, I have time to gather funnies from around the Internet for you.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Hopkinsville Goblin Case

On August 21st, 1955, two families (11 People total, 4 of them children) were staying together at a rural Kentucky farmhouse. Around 7 pm, one of the men went outside to get a drink of water from the well (the house had no plumbing) and saw lights and an object in the sky.

Excited, he ran inside to tell the others but no one believed him.

About an hour later the people in the house began to hear strange noises and a dog that had been tied up outside began to bark frantically. Two of the men armed themselves and went outside to investigate. The dog hid under the house and didn't come out until the next day.

Then shit got real, so to speak.

The men saw two strange creatures, humanoid, with long arms, legs that seemed atrophied and silver skin. The men shot at them (because why not?) and the creatures flipped over and fled into the woods. The men said the bullets sounded as if they had struck a bucket.

sketch made by one of the witnesses

When the men returned to the house, though, the creatures returned as well. They would pop up in the windows, or in doorways, and each time the men would shoot at them, to seemingly no effect. The residents of the house could hear the creatures on the roof and the children were quickly reaching a state of hysteria when the 11 people finally decided to get into a car and flee to the police station.

The police returned to the house and while they didn't see any creatures, they did note damage to the house and quite a few of them reported seeing lights in the sky. The closest neighbors to the farmhouse also reported seeing lights in the sky and that they could hear the weapons fire from the farmhouse.

The U.S. Air force investigated and would later rule the incident as due to "an escaped monkey, from a carnival, painted in silver paint". Because, right, that makes a lot of sense. Honestly, that almost makes less sense than something paranormal happening.

The owners of the house never wanted any publicity or money from their story, and in fact, stopped telling it to people who asked. A few months after the event, they moved, fed up with the attention from people who believed them and people who thought they were responsible for a hoax.

In 2002, a daughter of one of the men present for the encounter said this about her father:

It was a serious thing to him. It happened to him. He said it happened to him. He said it wasn't funny. It was an experience he said he would never forget. It was fresh in his mind until the day he died. It was fresh in his mind like it happened yesterday. He never cracked a smile when he told the story because it happened to him and there wasn't nothing funny about it. He got pale and you could see it in his eyes. He was scared to death. (source)

So, what do you think happen?
For me, I don't think it was a hoax. I really believe those people saw something that night. Though one police officer blamed it on moonshine, there was never any evidence attributed to drug or achohol use. And presumably the children wouldn't be drunk either.

I don't think we can say for sure what it was. If we're purely looking for a natural, common explanation, I think the closest theory we'll get is that the family mistook a pair of Great Horned Owls for gremlins, though that doesn't explain the inability to kill them.
But Great Horned Owls look a lot like the sketches and reports and will aggressively defend their nests. In fact, the Great Horned Owl is the only known owl species to have killed a human.

If you see this bird, do not confront it

Thoughts? Theories?

Monday, January 21, 2013

In Which I Rate Some Books

So. Here we are with a new year and a new year's worth of books to consume.

Which means it's time to look back on last year and pick my top 5 books I read in 2012.

In no particular order:

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch

I'd been hearing about this book for awhile. I think Alex Cavanaugh said it was one of his favorite books of 2011. And also, I'd heard Scott Lynch speak a few times at a local conference and he's kind of awesome and funny.
I was not let down by this book. I loved it hardcore. The magic, the debauchery, the violence, the characters. Even when horrible stuff was happening (and so much horrible stuff happens, guys) I couldn't put it down.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

My good friend TL Conway told me that this book kind of changed her life. So even though it was sort of on my radar, her rec bumped it up some.
It's a little slow to get into. And it's long. But oh so worth it.
I read the last third in a hotel in Madison (at the Wiscon conference) sobbing in my hotel room and using up all the Kleenex. Because even though I knew it would be sad (and there is plenty of warning in the book that specific bad things will happen) I wasn't prepared for HOW sad and heartbreaking it would be. I think this book made me cry more than any other book ever (even more than Where the Red Fern Grows).

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Learned about this one from my good pal Teebore at one of our writing group meetings. I went home that night, downloaded it for my kindle, and started reading.
I think I finished it the next day. Then I made Twin read it. Then I bought it for Brother's b-day, even though he rolled his eyes at me (he loved it too).
I mean, a book where it's all about video games and pop culture from the 80s? Yeah. Sign me up for that. Sign me up HARD.
I really hope the movie happens, though it seems it has stalled out some since the crazyness of trying to snatch up the rights.

Fire - Kristin Cashore

I liked Graceline a lot. I mean, really, I loved it Hard. But Fire - Fire I loved even more. It had all the awesomeness of what I loved about Graceling (the adult fantasy themes which I frequently find missing in YA fantasy (ie: pregnancy, violence towards women, poverty, etc) but then the world building pretty much blew my mind. I mean, a place where monsters are animals (or people) that are so beautiful they ensnare non-monsters? And how monsters crave monster-flesh?
Awesome. And the characters. LOVED all the characters.
I kind of wish I was Kristin Cashore. But not really, because then I would miss out on reading her books.

The Lost Girl - Sangu Mandanna

I snagged this book at an SCBWI conference. There was only a small stand selling books, and this was the only YA novel they had for sale, and since I'll be damned if I don't buy a book when there are books for sale, I snatched it up, not really knowing much about it.
Oh man, totally a good decision.
This book also made me cry. It's broken up into 3 section, and I cried all through the middle. It's really a novel about loss, and grief and love and trying to learn your place in the world. I highly recommend it to everyone. It's wonderful.

So there you have it! What were some of your favorite books of 2012?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Fun!

Woo hoo!

Yvie here, ape-friends! Because we've made it to another weekend.

Time to eat all the junkfood!

Now it's time to have some fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Sailing Stones

Yay! I'm glad I worked out a way to upload pics again, because for today's Wednesday Weird, the pics are some of the best parts.

Why? Because we're talking about Sailing Stones!

In Death Valley, there's a playa (a dry lake bed) called The Racetrack, because giant boulders resting on the surface move of their own accord.

No one has ever seen or filmed the stones moving, and though there are some really good theories as to what causes them to move (and even NASA has been involved in investigating them) no one's truly sure how they actually move.

A lot of people suspect wind. Because it's surrounded by mountains, the wind can really kick up a fuss. Throw in some rain, which turns the lake bed to slick mud, and maybe there's enough force to move the boulders (some which are as large as washing machines).

The problem with this theory is that the wind blows in one direction across the playa. And as you can see, some of the stones don't.

Another theory is involves. ice. Even though this is Death Valley, ice has been seen and reported on the playa. If you get enough ice freezing around the boulders, you may get an effect where ice collars form around the stones, and when the water level rises, the stones are floated off the ground enough for a much slighter wind to push the boulder across the lake bed.

So there you have it! Sailing Stones. What are your thoughts or theories?

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Which I Make New Goals

All right! We're already a few weeks into 2013, so time to get going on these 2013 goals!

It seems IE is the problem with my inability to upload pics. I switched to something else and Voila!

2013 GOALS

  1. Revise All That Remains
  2. Query All That Remains
  3. Take at least one writing class before querying ATR
  4. Start another novel
  5. Lose weight
  6. Read 62 books
  7. Revise Break Free (again)
  8. Seriously consider getting my MFA

1. Pretty clear what this means. Revise the shit out of it. It needs it, too. I really hope I can get the word count down. BUT I'm also worried the word count is going to grow...

2. Just what it says. When it's ready, start querying. (unless of course I snag an agent with Break Free, which is still a possibility, since I'm not even halfway through my query list yet (things were delayed due to revisions))

3. I had a discussion with a writing pal recently (*cough* Lola *cough*). And I explained to her that I feel like I put in a lot of time and effort and hard work into writing. And even though I truly believe all things happen when they're supposed to, I'm also constantly worried that maybe my "trying hard" isn't quite good enough. I feel like I need to grow as a writer and though I did have some growth this year (Break Free was a HUGE step in the right direction for me) I still feel like maybe I didn't grow quite enough. SO! That means writing classes. At least one. Maybe more. I'm going to skip some conferences this year and put that money towards classes. I've already signed up for one, which starts at the end of Feb. I'm super excited!

4. I always like to have something going when I'm querying, so when I start querying ATR, I'll need to start a new novel to keep my mind off it. And, if for whatever reason I don't start querying it this year, there's always NaNo.

5. Same old goal. Already down a few pounds (probably just Christmas fat)

6. I hit my goal of 60 books last year so I moved it up a bit more. If I succeed, next year I'll up it again.

7. I got a free edit from an editor a few weeks ago (due to QT connections) and I got the notes back. The majority is just little line edity stuff, and since I agree with most of it, I'll be digging in zazzing it up once more. But it won't be anything huge, so I don't have to worry about the existing fulls already out.

8. Yep. Hamline University, which is a local university here in the Twin Cities (of which my good pal Teebore is an alumni) has an MFA in Fiction Writing for Children's and Young Adults. Which I knew about, BUT I just recently realized it was low residency. Which means I can keep my job AND work on the MFA at the same time. And since it's just down the street (pretty much) the twice a year on campus residencies is as easy as getting in my car and driving a few miles. I have some serious decisions to make, regarding this, as well as submission materials and all that jack to get in a row (not to mention financial stuff, which I am not great at figuring out) so I don't want to force myself to make a decision. BUT I do want to force myself to have a sit down, crunch some numbers, get things aligned before I decide one way or another.

So there you go! Nothing too crazy or out there, and I see 2013 being successful.

How about you? What are some of your new goals or resolutions? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fun

So unfortunately blooger still won't let me upload photos. Which means I don't have a Friday Fun post today.

Instead, you can have this video. May it make you smile.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Washington D.C. UFO

First Wednesday Weird of the year!

I try to space out weirds, so like if I did an animal, or space, or ghost one recently, I try to avoid them for a bit. So today, we're back to UFO sightings.

Between July 13th and the 29th of a series of UFO sightings were reported over Washington D.C. They were seen by eyewitness on the ground.

The first substantiated report, though, came in on July 19th, when an air traffic controller of Washington National Airport noticed 7 unidentifiable blips on his radar. They had erratic movement (not like normal aircraft) and weren't following flight paths.

And it wasn't just their radar either. At Andrew's Air Force Base, air traffic controllers were also tracking the same objects on their radar. According to the military's report on the incident, both towers were tracking an object that was hovering over a radio beacon.

Then it vanished on both radars at the exact same time.

One week later, on July 26th, the exact same thing happened. Same radars, same blips, same day of the week. So the air force sent fighter jets.

One jet saw nothing. But the other reported four orbs of light zipping around. The pilot even called to ask if he should shoot them. Then the lights streaked out of sight.

All of this was enough to attract the attention of President Harry Truman. At this point, Project Bluebook was going strong (project Bluebook was the government's response to UFO sightings, mostly to debunk them, but also to make sure they weren't, like, Russian spy machines).

Bluebook was headed by an Air Force captain and their solution to these sightings were the radars giving off false signals due to temperature inversion (where layers of moist air covers layers of dry air and can reflect radar signals). This, of course, didn't account for the eyewitness sightings, or the fact that temperature inversions are common and don't show up on radar.

So the government's official position ended up being a temperature inversion (which, remember, doesn't show up on radars) AND a meteor storm at the same time to confuse the eye witnesses.



Monday, January 7, 2013

In Which We Reflect On 2012

Well, we're about a week into the new year. I've already had one cold (hence no post on Friday) so that has to be my quota for the year, right? RIGHT?

Anyway, I thought today would be a good day to look back on my 2012 goals to see how I did. And then next Monday I'll probably write up some new goals. I have some in mind, but haven't actually sat down to think about any others.

Okay, so here were my goals for 2012:

2012 Goals

  1. Query Glimpse of Another Shore
  2. Query Break Free
  3. Finish another novel
  4. Sell another short story
  5. Attend a writer’s conference
  6. Join a new crit group or find some more crit partners
  7. Go on a date
  8. Lose weight
  9. Read 60 books
All right, let's break these down some more:
1. Check. I did Query Glimpse, up until the end of April. Then I stopped because I wanted to query Break Free and while I know some people query more than one MS at a time, I'm just not one of those people. I make enough query mistakes without doubling up
2. Check. I took a short break (well, I guess it was more like 4 months) for some requested revisions, but now I'm back at it and plan to keep querying into 2013
3. Check. All That Remains clocks in at a whomping 110K, but I've started revisions and am hoping I can get that down with a new beginning the removal of an extraneous character
4. Not check. BUT! I have 2 out on sub right now. If you think querying is slow going, short story subs are glacial. So slow.
5. Check. I hit Wiscon. And while it's not only a writer's conference, I tended to stick to the writerly panels. It was a lot of fun
6. Uncheck. I had a few new online CPs, but they've all vanished into the ether. I came close to joining 2 new local ones in in the cities, but one had older members and they were uncomfortable with swears or off screen sex (both of which I tend to have in my writing) and the other is full up, though I'm on a waiting list. Le Sigh. On the plus side, we did add another member to my Hannah and Teebore writing group, and that's been awesome! We actually have our first 2013 meeting tonight. Woo!
7. Check.
8. Check and uncheck. I lost 15 pounds early in the year. But then I gained 10 of it back. So I'm still down 5, but I still need to lose a lot more.
9. Check! With about a week or two to spare.
So how about you guys? How did your 2012 treat you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Woo Hoo! First Insecure Writer's Support Group of the year!

I love the new year. Every time it comes around I feel rejuvenated, ready to tackle my plans and goals, get to it again.  

Everything's new again and all our chances are fresh once more. Was there something you really wanted to happen in 2012? Well 2013 is a brand new chance!

A new chance to write another story. To revise the shit out of something. To query a new novel. A chance at getting representation. Or getting a book deal.

So here's to 2013. I hope it's damn awesome for all of us.
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