Do You Persevere?


“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

Many times in life, I’ve been guilty of not hitting the finish line– and I’m trying to change that.

I started this year with one of the toughest things on my list of aspirations: learning how to swim. I’ve spent more than three decades being scared of water (even of a bathtub)– but last December, I decided enough was enough.

January found me at the swimming pool, terrified of dunking my head in water, choking and spluttering.

I let myself float a few times that month, gave up completely in February, dragged myself back to the pool in March, and swam my first lap– in the most ridiculous tadpole fashion, in April.

Swimming against the odds

Swimming against the odds

Today I swam a 100m lap without any distress. I may not be the most elegant swimmer in the pool, and I’m certainly the slowest, but I can make it from end of the pool to the other, and I can’t believe it.

Though a whole large chunk of the credit goes to my swimming instructor (you know who you are, and I can never thank you enough for your relentless patience!),  I feel some of it goes to my refusal to give up.

I plan to take this to all aspects of my life– whenever the urge to give up on something strikes me, I know I’m going to think of how I learned to swim.

So, when it comes to an endeavor, do you persevere? What inspires you to stick to it? When do you give up?

In Which I Contemplate Divorcing Google


Google is Watching you

Google is Watching You

It’s been quite a marriage. 9 years, to be precise.

Back in 2003, I fell for Google the first time, called Google ‘God’, for its ready answers to everything from ‘how to cook a roast chicken’  to ‘what is a large hadron collider’.

The same year, I opened my first Gmail account. Then another. Then I got myself a Google Blog, I got in to Google Chat, worked with Google docs, owned an Android phone for a bit. Last year I got on Google Plus, and began to watch some of my favorite shows on Youtube.

I’ve been married to Google and rely on it on a daily basis almost as much (gasp!) as I do on my real-life husband– and though I joked about how much of my life is lived on my blog and my mails, I did not realize how much of a hold Google had on me till I began to read this: How I divorced Google , of which the following is an excerpt.

When I sit at home, Google (unless I consciously prevent it) knows where I sit, on what machine, and what time of day I’m there. Data is collected not only from the search engine site, but sites that I visit that have Google maps, and so forth. The penetration of Google’s ability to sniff a single individual’s location and preferences is unprecedented. Google knows more about me than my mother.

Then, as I read about cookies, and super cookies and redirected host files, I hit another realization: I’m not equipped to do this—I can’t go after cookies, eliminate super cookies and then evade going to Google sites forever, not only because Google is everywhere, but also because, like a whole bunch of other people, I’m a tech-dunce.

As a writer, I’ve had a few ‘conspiracy-theory-like’ nightmares since, where Google would be able to buy and sell us (it already acquires and uses our info), choose our mates, and decide the fates of our children.

Privacy, once compromised, can lead to any slippery slope, after all.

But for the time being, I’ve decided to ignore these scenarios. It isn’t just Google. All of them do it—Google is just the biggest Shark. So, I’ll go back to my cocoon of the free bounties of Gmails and You tubes and Blogger, and pretend that all is well with me and Google. Isn’t that what most marriages are about, anyway?

When this post publishes, Google will know exactly when and where it was put up, and by whom. In a few years from now, they might decide (and be in a position to) to take action. Who knows, they may do it now–my blog on Blogspot is 4 years old, and I shall be sorry to lose it….!

One thing is sure, they, not me, would have that last laugh. Because, unlike Tom Henderson who managed to divorce Google, I’m both lazy and stupid (besides being a scatterbrained writer).

What is your take on Google? On its Privacy policies? Are you on/ do you use anything Google-related? If, like me, you’re married to Google, have you ever contemplated divorce?

The Backworlds is here!


MPax

M Pax watching other worlds

Mary has been an amazing blog-friend, always easy-going and supportive, and I’m happy to announce that her long-awaited book, The Backworlds , is here! It is a vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future, and I, for one, am intrigued.

Backworlds

Backworlds

The Backworlds

After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks

Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications.

NEWSLETTER

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spends her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, www.mpaxauthor.com and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodreads, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback.

How Paranoid Are You?


Paranoia?

Paranoia?

I’ve been called paranoid time and again. I try and avoid plastic as much as I can, I avoid canned and packaged food as much as possible, and I shop organic for stuff like apple, greens and peaches, because I believe they absorb the most pesticide.

The husband has forbidden the use of any food products made in China, so I diligently pore at labels to make sure of this…then, I open the New York times, and read this article:

A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises.

These days there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity.

Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias — a misplacement of the urethra — is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be. He suspects endocrine disruptors, so called because they can wreak havoc with the endocrine system that governs hormones.

Endocrine disruptors are everywhere. They’re in thermal receipts that come out of gas pumps and A.T.M.’s. They’re in canned foods, cosmetics, plastics and food packaging. Test your blood or urine, and you’ll surely find them there, as well as in human breast milk and in cord blood of newborn babies.

So, should I get further alarmed, or just dismiss this as paranoia? As a writer, I’m tempted to ask the infamous “What if” questions—I bet science fiction writers have already done that and produced excellent stories/ novels/ scripts.

What sort of things do you do/not do in order to avoid ‘harmful’ chemicals?

Memory Gaps: How Writing Improves Mental Alertness


Today’s guest post on Daily (w)rite is by Krisca Te who works with Open Colleges, Australia’s leading provider of TAFE courses equivalent and counselling courses. When not working, you can find her actively participating in local dog show events – in support of her husband.

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Memory and Writing

Memory and Writing

Wrap Your Mind Around This

Psychologists, language experts, and other professions and disciplines that deal with such stuff, have confirmed that writing stuff down increases the chances of being able to recall information. Dustin Wax,blogging on the lifehack.org site summed up the process: You write things down so that the memory of the thing is such that later you probably won’t have to bother with what you wrote down. So, you could end up composing pages of notes, most of which you’ll probably never need again. But, the note taking hasn’t been in vain.

The Deaf Ear

Even very attentive listeners will usually not do as well on recall as a person who takes notes. A listener is just listening, after all. When listeners take the information and write it down, they are involving the brain in a whole different set of processes than just listening. Our brains have different parts that deal with information in different ways, depending on how the information is received and what is done with it after receipt. When hearing information alone, the brain stores it alone as having been heard. It gets filed in the short-term memory brain section along with a lot of other sounds.

The Word Processing Brain

When you take those sounds and act on them, the information is going through another set of processes. One must physically move to react to those sounds, one must think about how to record the information, calling on outlining and spelling skills, and the very mechanical act of writing. Plus, when you are finished writing you have also made for yourself a visual memory. So, you end up with a sound memory, reinforced by a visual memory, and all dealt with through the mechanics of processing the words and writing them. The act of writing involves more of the brain than just listening.

Writing as a Resource Beyond Recall

Fortifying memory is not the only way in which writing can wring some usefulness out of your brain. A blog on ehow.com avers that research has proved that writing can actually diminish the release of corticosteroids in response to stress; these inhibit the ability to think clearly. Writing in itself can boost overall cognitive capacity and the greater retention of memories. Even expressive writing is helpful in diminishing stress and increasing coping abilities. Perhaps our E. Hemingways or our Y. Mishimas weren’t writing so much to share their brilliance, but as a way to physically and mentally cope with stress in their lives.