Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 20-26, 2020

It’s New Year’s Eve, the last thought Thursday, and the last curation of the year! This is your last opportunity to get your mental corn popping for 2020.

Chloe Alexander: body cam footage shows officer Jose Santos shooting Joshua Feast. It’s graphic. It’s distressing. This young man did not have to die. KENS5 News

Gregory S. Schneider reports that statue of General Robert E. Lee is removed from US Capitol. The Washington Post

Emmanuel Acho – How to have uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones.

Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde profiles nuclear scientist Senamile Masango. The Weight She Carries

15-year-old Jessica Hyatt, a Black woman chess champion, wins $40k scholarship. Season two of The Queen’s Gambit, anyone? Black News

Elly Belle: how white people can hold each other accountable to stop institutional racism. From last year, but we can’t lose sight of our responsibilities. Teen Vogue

Ryan Patrick Jones: Health Canada approves Moderna covid-19 vaccine. Between Pfizer and Moderna, we should have 1.2 million vaccinations available by Jan 31st. Good news for long-term-care homes, Indigenous populations in remote areas, and the rest of our valiant health care and other front-line workers! CBC 

Jamie Carter explains why 2020’s longest night of the year is special. Forbes

Mistletoe shouldn’t exist. SciShow

Danielle Prohom Olson considers the spirit of winter solstice: doe, a deer, a female deer. Gather Victoria

Dennis Zotigh shares Indigenous winter solstice traditions: a season of storytelling and ceremony. The Smithsonian Magazine

Ask an Elder: winter solstice in the Cree tradition. CBC

Piqsiq melds Inuit throat singing with classic Christmas tunes. CBC

Piqsiq – Coventry Carol

Researchers create entangled photons 100 times more efficiently than previously possible. The goal is to see quantum laptops in the backpack of every child. We’ll see. Phys.org

Chelsea Gohd reports that, following Arecibo’s collapse, China is opening the world’s largest radio telescope to international scientists. Space

Jonathan O’Callaghan and Lee Billings: alien hunters discover mysterious signal from Proxima Centauri. Scientific American

How Joan Feynman demystified auroras. SciShow Space

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts and earthquake rattles area. CBS News

Barnaby de Hoedt: hemp batteries are better than lithium and graphene. UK Cannabis Social Clubs

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to inspire your next creative project.

This weekend, I’ll be assembling my December next chapter update and year-end round up.

Until then, be well and stay safe, and have a happy New Year!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 12-18, 2020

Welcome to tipsday, the place to load up on informal writerly learnings.

Barbara Linn Probst wants a place to write. Kris Maze gives you three reasons to consider readability before you publish. Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy touts the freedom of writing without chapters. Diana Gabaldon does this too … think Imma try this some time. Then, she shares a simple trick to keep readers turning pages. Fiction University

It was question week on WU! Sophie Masson wonders, what do you save? Then, Jim Dempsey asks, do you really want to be a writer? Natalie Hart: what do people get wrong about you? Jeanne Cavelos extolls the compelling, emotional, complex sentence. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland offers three life-changing rules for finding more writing inspiration this year. Helping Writers Become Authors

Sacha Black shares six steps to setting yourself up financially as a writer in 2020. Writers Helping Writers

Sara Letourneau assigns additional reading on the theme of man and the natural world. Pamela Taylor is celebrating the solstice (a little late, but hey, SOLSTICE). DIY MFA

The Take unpacks the tough woman trope.

Then, Shaelin looks at the manic pixie dream girl trope (which, it turns out, is not a trope at all). Reedsy

Chris Winkle outlines six important differences between filmed and narrated stories. Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories where the heroes lack agency. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer considers when to use a while and when to use awhile. Writer’s Digest

Thank you for taking the time to visit and I hope you found it worthwhile 🙂

Until Thursday, be well!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 20-26, 2015

Here’s to having a Thoughty New Year!

Cameron Diaz sums up the meaning of happiness. The Huffington Post.

Lauren Alix Brown: In your 30s, you’ll discover that happiness is just persistence and sheer will. Quartz.

Yvette Cooper says that online sexism is so out of control we can no longer control it. The Guardian.

It was the winter solstice last week, and Newgrange is one of the most magical places in the world to experience it. Irish Central.

Phil Plait got in on the solstice action, too. Slate.

Is your brain a computer, or is it a quantum orchestra, tuned to the universe? Interalia Magazine

So, Space-X launched its latest Falcon 9 rocket last Sunday night. And guess what? They stuck the landing 🙂 Both events were reported by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, for Slate.

No, this asteroid that passed by Earth on Christmas Eve did not cause earthquakes . . . Slate.

Pluto’s moon in near-perfect alignment. Space.com.

These are cool: sky wolves. I don’t care if they’re Photoshopped. They’re awesome. The White Wolf Pack.

Take a visual tour of New York’s most beautiful subway station, abandoned since 1945. Hyperallergic.

China’s ghost cities: the largest urbanization movement in the world. CBC’s The Current.

This 800 year old Icelandic hymn is pretty damned special. Pulptastic.

I haz a want. Samurai hoodies 🙂 Rocket News 24.

More evidence of the cleverness of crows from Phys.org.

So they built this hotel over an elephant migration route . . . Mental Floss.

David Wong shares the real meaning of Christmas that everyone forgets. Cracked.

Have a great time tonight and celebrate with the ones you love.

The future is yours to make. Make the most of it!

Thoughty Thursday

Solstice and other things that happen around this time of year

Today was, in case you didn’t notice (you could be forgiven for missing it), the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. It’s also the first day of winter, though you wouldn’t know it up here in the Sudz. It’s been snowing and cold since mid-November. It usually is, this time of year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it.

Now we face the longest night, but you know what? Things get better from here on out.

You’ll notice that the days start getting longer again and we start that long stretch to spring.

Christmas is coming, and with it the latest Doctor Who special 🙂

New Year’s is coming, with all its promise for another fresh start.

We actually have a chance to appreciate the people we’ve taken for granted all year, or the activities we’ve cut back on so that we could work/get the promotion/pursue various important things.

We can put things in perspective.

We just went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was yesterday, but we celebrated tonight because everyone’s off. I was a terrible kid and forgot to wish Mom happy birthday yesterday. I took her shopping this afternoon. I don’t think it really made up for the lapse.

The 20th of December was also the day, twenty years ago, that Phil asked me to marry him.

We were getting ready to take my mom out, and I’d just gotten off work. I was a life guard back then, and I was rushing to get changed. I noticed that every time I turned around, Phil was there, but I whirling-dervished around him until I turned and nearly tripped over him.

Phil was kneeling. I was stunned until I realized what was going on. Then, I was all *amazeface*! He asked my parents’ permission and everything.

I’m always rushing at this time of year, and I have to remember to slow down and appreciate the people in my life.

Slow. Down. Appreciate. People.

Don’t be a dervish douche. Don’t forget your mom’s birthday. Trust me. It sucks.

Other reasons I like the solstice

It’s scientific.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because of the tilt of the earth’s axis and the way we orbit the sun, we have seasons. The solstices and equinoxes delineate the divisions of the year.

It is a fact that the winter solstice is the occasion of the shortest day of the year and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere, anyway.

It’s pagan.

Well, neo-pagan, at least.

Seemingly on the opposite side of the spectrum, the solstices and equinoxes form some of the pagan holy days. In case you haven’t been following me for that long, my spiritual inclination is agnostic with pagan leanings.

Agnosticism, according to Richard Dawkins, is the worst form of self-delusion in that we aspire to atheism, but can’t quite commit because of the niggling doubt that maybe there is a God …

Well, Phil is atheist, and we’ve discussed religion at length. I think that the atheist position is very sensible. I also acknowledge that there is a lot that science hasn’t made clear for us yet, and while I think that the existence or non-existence of God is not one of the questions that science can answer for us, I think that there is enough mystery left in the universe that the answers science will provide us will be surprising.

I like to keep an open mind.

Besides which, I’m a fiction writer. A fantasy fiction writer at that. Gods, goddesses and magic are kind of what I’m all about.

I’ve studied shamanism in some depth (though not, I would say, comprehensively) and I’m fascinated by the ancient sites and their purported use in astronomy and astrology, time-keeping, the precession of the stars, and the observation of the sun.

I could geek out on ancient cosmology all day and all night.

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter sols...

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter solstice The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere falls between the 20th and 23rd December depending on the year. In 2007 the solstice occurred on the 22nd with the period between sunrise and sunset being 7 hours 49 minutes and 40 seconds. The sun set in London at 15.54 today, 22 minutes after this picture was taken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s quiet.

Because a lot of people travel to visit relatives at this time of year, the city (small, yes, but a city nonetheless) grows quiet. In the morning when I’m walking the dog, I can feel the increased stillness, the anticipation of a world holding its breath for the next sunrise.

It’s about light.

This is why we have so many festivals of lights at this time of year. We’re fighting back the darkness, recalling the light, celebrating with our wee candles in the night, shielded against the wind.

I prefer strings of LED lights on the stair rails outside my house, though. I plug ‘em in the night before solstice and don’t unplug ‘em until New Year’s Day.

I’d just like to wish everyone, regardless of your religious or spiritual convictions or devotions, the happiest of holiday (holy day) seasons.

And ‘cause I was raised Christian and still celebrate with my nearest and dearest: Merry Christmas!

I woke up today = epic win :)

We’re all still here.  No zombies.  No rapture.  The apocalypse, it turns out, it just a calendar reset, very much like the solstice, or New Year’s Eve.

Then I got the G+ notification this morning that in the Julian calendar, it’s actually December 8 and that the end of the Mayan calendar  and Christmas are both days away yet.  Needless to say, my response to that particular bit of sharing cannot be repeated on Writerly Goodness.

Up here in the north, we got our first real snow storm of the year, right on time.  Five to six inches fell yesterday and last night, necessitating a one and a half hour snow-blowing odyssey for myself, and that after a kind neighbour cleared my mom’s side of the driveway.  Heck of a way to spend a day off 😦

Back to the matter at hand.

Maya Calendar

Maya Calendar (Photo credit: Xiaozhuli)

The Mayan calendar restarts at this point.  They may not get to celebrate this particular new beginning every year, but that’s what today represents for them: a new beginning.

Similarly, the solstice is the renewal of the sun in the northern hemisphere.  The shortest day and longest night passes, and from that point in the year, the days become increasingly longer and the nights increasingly shorter until the summer solstice flips the switch.  Here’s astronomer Phil Plait’s informative article on the event.

For those of you with paganish leanings, or the Celtophiles among you, here is a link to this year’s solstice ceremony at Newgrange.

English: Newgrange, Ireland.

English: Newgrange, Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cultures throughout the world celebrate the solstice in one way or another.  Christmas celebrations (among others) can be traced back to, or related to the pagan solstice celebrations that predated them.

It is not only the beginning of a new season, but the beginning of a new year for some.  If you think about the 12 days of Christmas and start the count on the solstice, the final day of celebrations will be anywhere from January 1 to 3, depending on the year and the day the solstice actually falls on.

That’s why I think that we call it the Christmas season, or used to call it that before the political correctness police descended en masse and advised everyone that we had to say “Happy Holidays” and not “Merry Christmas.”

I get the inclusiveness of the message.  I’m not Christian myself, but I was raised in that tradition and I celebrate Christmas with my family and friends like most people of Anglo-European descent.  My paganish side honours the solstice and the season it starts for me, culminating in the New Year.

Like the Mayan calendar, and the solar/astronomical year, our calendar restarts at this point as well.  January 1st marks a new beginning for most of us, a time of putting up new calendars and taking down Christmas decorations.  The tree (a pagan tradition, by the way) is shipped to the curb for recycling, or repackaged back in its box until next year.

Resolutions are made and adhered to or abandoned as our nature demands.

So what do you think about renewals, the Christmas/holiday season, and what it represents for us?

Coming soon: I’ll be posting on Christmas Day, creating a “best of the year” post, and blogging about planning and resolutions with a writerly focus.

Sunrise over Stonehenge on the summer solstice...

Sunrise over Stonehenge on the summer solstice, 21 June 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For now, I’ll simply wish everyone a happy solstice.

A solstice soundtrack:

Write on, my friends!