Astrobiology Course Completed

I have just completed an online open course at Coursera.  That course is Astrobiology from the University of Edinburgh.  It was only a 5 week course, so it didn’t take long to finish.

It was an interesting course that went into the origins of life, possible places for life in the solar system, how we could communicate with aliens, and more.  It was a rather broad subject, surprisingly.  It involved biology, astronomy, and philosophy.

The course is still going on, since it will finish at the end of the week.  After that, they’ll send me a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the professor Charles Cockell.  It isn’t an official document, so it’s really just a kind of trophy.

I’m still doing two other courses at the moment, one on dinosaurs, the other on finding other Earth-like planets.  Next month, I’ll be starting another course, this one at FutureLearn about the moons of our solar system.

For the other courses I’m planning on taking, check out my studying page.

James Bond

Ever since I was a kid, I’d always enjoyed watching James Bond movies.  My cousin and I often watched them whenever I stayed over at his house.  When they were on TV, I made sure I watched them.  At that time, Roger Moore was the current 007, so he was the Bond in my young mind.

I enjoyed Moore’s portrayal of James Bond quite a bit.  He was the humourous Bond, though his movies were a bit corny.  I also enjoyed Sean Connery, of course.  He defined the role.  Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby never left an impression on me, because I can’t even remember their movies, though I have seen them.  When the movies restarted in the 1990s, Pierce Brosnan was the new Bond, and he seemed to be the suave, smooth James Bond.  Daniel Craig is the complete opposite, gritty and darker.  Of all the movies, I haven’t seen the last one, Skyfall. However, for some of the movies, I barely remember them as I haven’t seen them since I was a kid.

As for the novels, I have never read one.  I would like to, though.  I’m surprised they’re so short.  They’d be easy to finish reading, I think.

So, I have two questions for you.

1. Who is your favourite James Bond actor?

2. What is your favourite James Bond novel?

Leave your answers in the comments.

February Lull

I hear crickets.  It’s been a bit quiet around here recently.  No reviews, not many posts about writing, and I’ve only been posting about once every two to three days.  Why?

Lots of reasons.  You should know one of them: my computer is failing.  It had a blue screen a couple days ago when trying to go into sleep mode.  It takes longer and longer each day to get any web browser to work smoothly.  The other reason is a more exciting reason.  My sister is coming to Japan at the end of the month!  I’ve been busy preparing for her arrival.  While she’s here, things will be very quiet on this blog.  But after she’s moved on to her next destination, things should return to normal.

Another thing is that I’ve been working on Cousera courses, and I’m about to finish the Astrobiology course this week.  I started the course about finding other Earths last week.  Dino 101 is going strong, though I’ve actually got myself ahead of schedule by a week.

Never fear, I’ll be back as strong as ever.  And I think I need to do an Encyclopedia Entry on crickets.  It seems appropriate.

Weather in Writing

It’s a snowy day here in Japan, only the second time this year it’s snowed a significant amount.  Probably the last, too.  The normally sunny winter has become a very cloudy and snowy one, and that creates a completely different atmosphere outside.  Weather can set the mood in books, too.

Starting a book with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” is quite cliche now, but when it was originally written, it probably set the mood. It’s an important part of any novel that involves outdoor settings.  But do we really need an ominous and dark day to be stormy?  Can’t we have a frightening scene on a beautiful sunny day? I’m sure we can.

In world-building, we create new worlds which will also require weather and climate.  For Ariadne, I created an entire planet with a variety of climates around the world.  There are four main continents.  The southern continent is mostly a polar climate with a colder temperate region, as well.  The largest continent extends from the far north to the far south and has everything including arctic, temperate, alpine, desert, humid rainforest, and so on.

The other two continents are smaller.  The northern one is mostly temperate and arctic, but also has a warmer region.  The equatorial continent is mostly tropical.

On Ariadne, the weather will help me create the atmosphere for different regions as I explore the world.  The original colony will be a warm, subtropical grassland with a risk of cyclonic storms.  The second colony will be in a tropical rainforest with plenty of rain. I’m excited to make this world come alive.

If you write, do you pay attention to the weather a lot?  And when you read, do you imagine the weather as its described, or is it often forgotten?  Leave a comment!

Canada’s Early Olympic Domination

What is going on?  Ever since I was a kid, I watched the Olympics and saw Canada either perform poorly or somewhat mediocre.  Well, things sure did change in 2010.  The Vancouver Olympics gave Canada a huge boost in performance and they won more gold medals than any other country.  Now, only four days into the Sochi Olympics, Canada leads the world in both gold and total medals, with 4 and 9 respectively.  It just seems that Canada has gone from an underachiever to a powerhouse.  Incredible.

You know what?  Although I love watching the Olympics, and I’m really cheering for Canada, I haven’t watched any of it.  Ever since I got married and had a kid, I haven’t watched the Olympics at all.  The London Olympics were in the background all the time, just not on my TV.  The Sochi Olympics should be something I want to watch, and I do want to watch it, but with my family sleeping in the next room, I’m reluctant to turn on the TV.

But you know what?  I think I will watch it for a while, just with the sound turned down.

Photo Fiction: Palm Trees in the Snow


“I’m being transfered,” said David Martin.

“I see,” responded his wife, Beth.

The blowing wind filled the silence, while the snow on the palm trees emphasised the chill.

“They’re sending me to Mars,” he said.

“You’re running away again,” said Beth without looking at him.

“It’s a government assignment. If I refused, my career would be over. If you interfered, your career would be over. I can’t say no.”

“You’re running from life here. You’re running from me. You’re running from Earth,” said Beth, her voice cold and even. She turned and walked away without waiting for a reply.

David stared after his wife. California must be colder than Mars.

Writing Is a Waste of Time

I’m sure every author and aspiring author hears this.  “Writing is a waste of time.”  “You’ll never make any money.”  “Get a real job.”  “No one will read it.”

So, why do I write?  For myself.  I do it for purely selfish reasons.  I’ve been developing this story of mine for 14 years, and I am in the process of writing it.  I want to finish this book, and read it.  Because I want to write what I want to read.  So, how do I address these comments?

Writing is a waste of time.

No, it’s not.  It’s my free time I’m using to write, so I guess it’s like a hobby.  Hobbies do something for people, they help reduce stress, they help increase enjoyment, they help improve mental health.  It all helps me be a better person.  That is not a waste of time.  It doesn’t matter if I never publish (I will self-publish at least, though), all that matters is that I write this book for myself.

You’ll never make any money.

I’m pretty confident I’ll make a little money, but no money?  With the amount of time I spend promoting this book, a book that’s nowhere near finished, I’m pretty sure people will buy it.  Many?  I don’t know.  I can hope.

No one will read it.

Actually, people have already read what’s on my official page.  So, no one can say that no one will read it.

Get a real job.

I have one, thanks.  Writing is unlikely to be my primary job.  I have a full time job, and that is what supports me and my family.  It’s also what gives me a limited time to write.

So, authors and aspiring authors, what comments annoy you?

Up Again? Idea for My Expected Downtime

It appears my web browsers are working fine today.  That’s strange.  Yesterday, I couldn’t get a thing done with them freezing no matter what I did.  But I can’t expect it to continue to run normally for long. So, I had an idea.

My idea deals with two of my hobbies at the same time.  For each day that I can’t use a web browser on my computer, I’ll take a picture with my iPhone, then post it here with a short scene written  based on the photo.  I’m thinking of calling it “A Picture is Worth Ten Sentences.”  I’ll be able to continue posting daily, and it’ll be an interesting writing exercise for me.

What do you think?

Computerless for the Foreseeable Future

I’m writing this from my phone, as I can’t get any of my computer’s web browsers to work without locking up. This means I’m restricted to my phone for the Internet. Not the best thing for typing up blog posts. So, I won’t be able to make long blog posts without tiring myself out, because typing on an iPhone takes far too long.

So, what should I do now? I’ll be reading a lot more. I’ll be writing on paper, both for my book and book reviews. Everything will get typed up once my computer is replaced, whenever that will be.

As for this blog, I’ll try blog often from my phone, hopefully generating some discussion from you in the comments. That means it’s your turn to talk a lot on this blog. So please leave comments often!

The unfortunate thing is that my Coursera courses are being put on hold for now. One course I won’t be able to finish at all because it’s done this month. I can’t watch anything. I don’t have iOS 7, so I can’t get the Coursera app. I tried.

Anyway, please bear with me until I get a new computer. When I’m fully up and running, I’ll have plenty to say.

Another Book Idea

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been developing another idea for a novel.  In fact, it’s four novels.  Why would I be developing another series of books when I haven’t even finished my current one, you may ask?  Well, this idea was just too good to let it be pushed aside and risk being forgotten.  I have absolutely no intentions to start writing them while I’m working on Ariadne.

So, what is my idea?  It’s fantasy.  And while Ariadne is science fiction with a strong element of realism, this new idea is a somewhat dark fantasy.  My previous post was about violence.  Well, this series will involve violence, which is a very central theme of the story.  It’s quite important to the story, but it does not glorify violence.

The people of this story are basically all the same race, but there is a cultural and geographical separation which makes them all very unique.  Not only will I have to develop a common origin for the different groups, but I will also have to create different interpretations of their shared mythology.  Different environments and resources will lead to totally different societies.  It just makes me anxious to develop it more.

But don’t worry, I’ll be working on Ariadne as much as possible so I can finish the first book, hopefully by the end of this year.

Now, all I have to do is get over this cold so I can resume my regular blog posting schedule.  I’ve been feeling quite fatigued.