How to Hear an Underwater Earthquake

English: An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a we...

An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a week after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a story in progress (now available!), I was doing some research on infrasound and sea animals and hydrophonics, and I happened across this amazing and terrifying recording.

The March 11, 2011 Tōhoku earthquake off Japan, which produced a devastating tsunami killing perhaps 16,000 people, was recorded by a hydrophonic array in the Aleutian Islands, more than 900 miles away. Despite the great distance, the recorded seismic disturbance is the loudest they’ve ever captured, even louder than the nearby underwater volcanoes.

Listen all the way through to the end, when the sound simply buries the microphone. It’s terrifying. Continue reading

“I Can Only Do This Once”

This entry is part 2 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66
Portrait of a male tabby cat

Portrait of a male tabby cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I checked into my Winnemucca, NV motel last night, I asked if a service dog in training could stay for free like a working service dog, instead of me paying the pet fee. (She could.) Upon learning that I’m a professional trainer, the desk clerk realized that I obviously needed an education in what service animals do. (But if I’m a trainer there with a service dog in training, wouldn’t I probably already know what service animals…. Never mind.) It included this exchange:

Clerk: “And there are even service cats! And do you know what they do? When a person is dying, a service cat is trained to get up on their chest and die with them.”

Me: “Um. /awkward blinky moment/ But they can only do that once.”

Clerk: “Right. But it happens.”

Continue reading

Toilet Poetry

So on the final stop of my trip home, I went into the women’s restroom at the train station in Indianapolis. I found this on the wall.

handwritten text on a bathroom wall

He told me he was afraid of commitment with 13 tattoos on his body.

I confronted him.

He said:

“but I don’t have to worry about these tattoos leaving my body.”

/snap snap snap snap snap/ Rock on, restroom poet. Rock on.

Snow Ribbons & Other Winter Things

Winter brings us pretty things. While the north apparently got some good accumulation, the Great Winter Storm turned out for us to be largely rain and slush — actually, I would have much preferred the snow — the mild temperatures did at least create some fun snow effects.

Snow sliding down the windshield, but still cohesive, coiled and then formed ribbons!

Snow sliding down the windshield, but still cohesive, coiled and then formed ribbons!

Like on this windshield, where the snow melted just enough to slip and slide, but not enough to come apart, resulting in some pretty cool snow ribbons.

I kinda wanted some heavy snow, though, so I could feel totally justified in holing up at home by a fire and catching up on blog posts, accounting, and other gets-pushed-back tasks. But I guess clear roads are better for the majority…. But for anyone else missing snow, hop over to the Yuki-Onna photos to get a chill.

In other news, I sold two short stories in January and hope to be able to announce them soon. And in other news, the groundhog apparently says we’ll have six more weeks of winter, so stock up on hot chocolate and a few more books of your favorite variety. I’m still holding out for my snow day!

The Monumental Marathon 5k: Go, Me!

Totally just an achievement post.

Last week I was traveling, spending much of my days on a bus. In the evening I found a hotel treadmill or, one lucky evening, a great trail by a river. I wanted to lift weights, but hotels don’t always offer weights. But all hotel fitness centers have a treadmill.

One night on a treadmill, I bumped up the speed to a jog. And when I was able to maintain that pace for a solid five minutes, I felt ridiculously proud of myself. (I know, I know. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll even laugh with you.)

Where I’m going with all this is, while high in a fit of optimism and fitness enthusiasm, I stumbled across a tweet warning of the imminent closure of registration for the Monumental Marathon. I hadn’t even known it was happening, but it offered a 5k. I signed up. Continue reading

Mowing and Murder

A swath of wildflowers between a pond and old barn.

I left most of the wildflowers for butterflies and other pollinators.

Mowing is pretty boring, and I have a lot to mow. So sometimes I think about stories while I spend hours on the mower.

I’m also a sucker for the wildlife on my property. So my mowing/plotting sessions go a lot like this:

So what if she opens the door and finds a body? Maybe he’s been dead for a long — Move, little snake! Get away from the mower! — okay, so anyway, he was probably tortured before — hang on, lemme wait for this vole to get clear — so, tortured, and so there’s this traumatic issue with everything she imagines — oh, are you butterflies using these wildflowers? I guess they don’t have to be cut, after all.

I’ve heard some people say they’re disturbed by things written by people they know, like they can’t believe someone they know could imagine such things. But writing violence or horror doesn’t really predict violent or horrible behavior. I’ll eviscerate a fictional character, but when I saw a rabbit running into the field I was mowing instead of away from it, I deduced a nest of bunnies hidden somewhere and didn’t mow there for another two weeks. Most writers I know are like that — ruthless in fiction, but in reality such softies. Continue reading

Story Ideas from Life

ghostly hands translucent over keyboardSo, where do story ideas come from? For many writers, it’s stuff like this.

I live in the middle of acreage, surrounded by fields. No one could possibly reach our wi-fi, but it’s encrypted anyway. A thunderstorm darkened the sky and knocked out the power, so in the dim light I turned on my phone’s mobile hotspot to quickly save the blog post I was working on.

Alone in my house, thunder rolling, I glanced down at the phone screen and saw, “Two connected users.”

SPOILER: I’m okay, and there was no internet ghost or wi-fi burglar in my house. It turned out the tablet I’d used for notes at the weekend’s conference was still powered on and open to wi-fi. But it’s a good start for a story, you think?

Ask the Author and S’Mores

The water was a lot of dead algae and also a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

The water was a lot of dead algae and also (not pictured) a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

So, I missed the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference last weekend, and I feel pretty bad about that. I’ve been to the Colorado Gold only once, last year, but I really enjoyed the people I met there and the conference sessions themselves.

We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

Dead fish everywhere. We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

But I did get to spend a weekend at another (non-writing) event with friends, being eaten by mosquitos beside the highly questionable waters of Maumee Bay and Lake Erie, so that was some consolation. The tap water was officially safe again, but the lake water, not so much. I’ll let you know if the pollution-affected mutant mosquito bites turn out to have imbued me with superpowers. We can always hope. Continue reading

The TASTE of Montgomery County, a tasty fundraiser

Every year the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum hosts this fundraiser designed especially for people who like to eat. Like me. This was only my second year to attend, but wow, I wished I’d brought a couple of extra stomachs.

The TASTE features a lineup of nearly 20 local restaurants and caterers bringing their A-game to the study grounds. For very reasonable prices, you can buy little (and not so little) samples of fabulous foods. And by “reasonable,” I mean nothing costs more than $4, lots of items are $1, and many of those big-ticket items could be meals in themselves, if you didn’t need to save room to sample everything else. Continue reading

I Walk a Lonely Road: my new treadmill desk

English: 2009 ESPN Zone Chicago Ultimate Couch...

2009 ESPN Zone Chicago Ultimate Couch Potato Contestant – Steve Janowski (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, it turns out that sitting on your butt for long periods of time, like writers do, is really bad for you.

This should be one of those no-brainer things — sedentary lifestyles are bad, this isn’t news — but it really came home to me when I realized that since I became a published author and started really taking my writing seriously, I’ve gained almost 20 pounds. Ouch.

Time to take back my life! Continue reading