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I’m in Michigan today, talking about how to build websites.


I really didn’t mind shoveling snow: all the different colors laid in layers, or sometimes in wind-blown stripes. Iridescent, a peacock’s tail shimmering in each shovelful I lifted.

How could you not like that?

Sometimes the snow would be light and fluffy, and I’d throw each scoop toward the edge of the sidewalk. The stream of flakes would curve in the breeze, nearly always making it off the walkway. The hues would separate and blend and fly apart again, an effervescent rainbow intertwined. Those days I needed a scarf tied over my ears and heavy gloves to stay warm, even with the exertion of moving all that snow.

Sometimes the snow was wet and heavy, and I had to heave each scoop off to the side. The colors were muddier then, heavy on navy and mauve. Shovelfuls would pile up along the curb, guarding me from passing traffic. Sometimes when the snow was like that I would take off my coat and drape it on the corner fencepost because I was melting.

I hated snowplows, though. They’d churn the colors into a gray mush, solid and deep, hard to lift and difficult to move. I always left that part for last, even though I was most tired, because if I shoveled the plow berm first then inevitably the snowplow would be back through, filling my gap with monochromatic sludge.

If the snow was right and I had any energy left after the walkways were cleared and the car dug out, I’d make a snowman in the yard.

Sometimes I tried to roll the snowballs so that they were solid colors: a teal base, with a ruby red belly and a golden head, or brilliant blue all the way up, or… so many lovely combinations. I’d roll them back and forth in the appropriate patches, and even pick the snowballs up and carry them to another part of the yard to get more emerald, or lavender.

Sometimes I just rolled the balls around the yard, letting them pick up whatever colors accrued. Sometimes they were lovely, sometimes they made me wish I were colorblind. I tried to create a plaid snowman once, but I couldn’t get the base going in the right directions. I suppose I could have rolled a big ball then packed snow onto it by hand, picking the colors and blending them to get the pattern.

I’ve seen people do that, but with cold snow: like sand paintings, but even less permanent. You have to be so careful not to breathe on your work and accidentally melt it. I don’t have enough patience for that.

The sun came out as I finished the driveway, lighting up the last few jade flakes as they fell: big fluffy flakes, settling slowly onto the bare asphalt. I left them. They’d melt soon enough, and I liked the contrast against the black.

I didn’t much mind shoveling snow, though I can’t imagine how boring it must have been when it was all white.

Louder than usual

I didn’t sleep well last night. Homecoming was louder than usual, and there was a lot of screaming, and lots more fireworks. The football game was close, though Penn State did pull it off, but usually the riots stay downtown. I piled the blankets over my head and tried to ignore it.

There are definite drawbacks to living in a football-mad college town.

State College was remarkably quiet this morning, though. When I went out grocery shopping around 11 there was no traffic, and Wegman’s was almost empty. The streets were really dirty, though. I don’t know what the partiers were doing last night, but they made a huge mess. It’s raining now, so that should wash most of the slime away, but I hope the street cleaners come out soon.

Anyway, there was nobody in Wegman’s. Usually by noon on Sunday it’s entirely packed. They were out of milk and some other stuff, but I got most of what I needed. Only one cashier was working, but the store was so empty I didn’t have to wait.

It was really pretty odd. Maybe everyone was sleeping in with hangovers? I did see a few stragglers stumbling home, even more bedraggled than usual.

Football weekends in State College, always an adventure. Indistinguishable from the zombie apocalypse, even. But tomorrow is a holiday, so I’ll have time to recover.

It should be quiet tonight.


Yeah, pretty much

Only with more boredom.

Pondering science and fiction

I’ve been pondering the value of science in fiction, and I’d love to hear your thoughts over at Science in My Fiction.

Social Media Reminder: Tomorrow

Sarah Goslee: Social Media for Writers
Nittany Valley Writers

February 14, 2012 – 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Schlow Library

Is social media a time-waster? A networking tool? It’s both, of course. Sarah Goslee, author of science fiction, science non-fiction, and other types of literature will discuss how social media can be used to establish a writer’s presence. Sarah’s Twitter posts led to an anthology publication, her blogging inspired article assignments, and social media in general has led to increased book sales and invaluable networking, as well as helping her keep up with news in her field. She’ll also discuss the cons of social media, such as how to deal with annoying posts from authors, editors, and agents.

Social Medial for Writers

“Social Media for Writers” with Sarah Goslee, 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 14, community room, Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2012/01/13/2862652/detailsdetails.html#storylink=cpy

Short version: Engage, don’t just advertise. Anything else you think I should say?

Baby it’s cold outside

So I spent the afternoon working on the website. Nothing should have changed from the outside, but the serverguts are all pretty and shiny and clean: updated, backed up, tweaked and twiddled.

I don’t think I broke anything, but I trust you to let me know if I did.

How I spent high school

Minus the YouTube, of course.


William Gibson:

Cities look to me to be our most characteristic technology. We didn’t really get interesting as a species until we became able to do cities—that’s when it all got really diverse, because you can’t do cities without a substrate of other technologies. There’s a mathematics to it—a city can’t get over a certain size unless you can grow, gather, and store a certain amount of food in the vicinity. Then you can’t get any bigger unless you understand how to do sewage. If you don’t have efficient sewage technology the city gets to a certain size and everybody gets cholera.

Oh, YES.

There are constraints, and also opportunities, and realistic worlds have both, simply as a function of their shapes. Better science doesn’t change that, magic doesn’t change that, though both could change the outline of the constraints and the opportunities. A perpetual motion machine breaks all the rules: if there’s a get out of jail free card, the story is automatically no longer interesting.