Two Links Tuesday: Taste Edition

Link One: Flavors of heartache.

Link Two: Making the Grade: Why the Cheapest Maple Syrup Tastes Best

The first link is one post from one of my favorite webcomics: Indexed. Jessica Hagy posts all these hilarious and/or thought-provoking graphs and charts on index cards. Check it out.

The second link is an article from The Atlantic that will not only teach you some things about maple syrup, but about food labeling in general. Worth a read.

Two Links Tuesday: Writing Edition

Link One: SureFire’s (Nearly Indestructible) Pens Review

Link Two: Llama font – say it in llama

I think I want a SureFire EWP-02 – the $90 price tag will slow me down a little, but I’ve broken two pens in my pocket in the last two weeks. (Didn’t get ink anywhere, just cracked the cases.) I like the idea of an überpen, ready to go anywhere or do anything, tough, rugged, ready for the world. Won’t break in my pants pocket when I plop on the couch.

Link two is one of those awesome things that the Internet was made for – it’s just goofy fun. Go try it out.

I wrote a love poem for my wife!

I say “you’re a blessing”
and it’s true
but you are so much more:

A perfect jewel
endlessly beautiful
reflecting God’s light
in countless ways
my own dear Silmaril
delighting eyes heart mind soul

Even the flaws
(impossible to see
without a loupe)
do not detract
they merely add
detail and texture

Polished surface
prismatic depths
upon beauty
upon beauty

Non-guitar for guitarists

Rock guitarists can be a pretty insular lot. Ask one about their top ten favorite musicians, and you’ll probably get a list of ten rock guitarists. (If they’re adventurous you may get a jazz or fusion guitarist on the list.) Ask the same guitarist to talk about one of their favorite songs, and they’ll most likely talk about the guitar parts.  This makes sense – they love this instrument enough to want to play it. Then, as they’re learning, it’s one of the main things they think about, and one of the main things they’ll hear in a song.

That’s all probably fine if your goal is to be a guitarist.

But if your goal is to be a musician, there’s a lot you can learn from other instruments. (I should point out here that I consider voice to be an instrument.)  One of the reasons I specified “rock guitarists” instead of just “guitarists” here is that I’ve noticed that jazz and classical guitarists tend to be much more open to influences from other instruments. I think that’s pretty awesome, and us rockers can learn from that.

So here’s a couple of cross-training exercises for rock guitarists:

  • Learn to play the bass part from some of your favorite songs, turning it into a guitar part.
  • Do the same thing for the vocal melody. Don’t worry about this turning the song into elevator music – the goal here is just to learn how to make those vocal parts into guitar parts as a learning exercise.
  • Figure out how to do a percussion pattern based on a drum groove you like – slapping the strings, the body, etc. Make it funky, son.
  • Just listen to a great album that has no guitar parts. (You have to listen – it can’t just be background music.) I recommend Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, a fantastic jazz album. Since this advice is for rockers, guitar-less might be a little bit harder to find. (Of course, I also think it’s essential for rockers to listen to non-rock, but I can understand wanting to deal with one problem at a time. Baby steps!) Apocalyptica does metal with cellos and no guitars. If you enjoy electronic music, Crystal Method’s album Vegas has lots of food for thought for guitarists. Dig around, you’ll find something (and maybe discover some great music that you will be surprised and delighted to hear).

Two Links Tuesday: Keep Going Edition

Link One: Bloom Like an Artist

Link Two: Dunning–Kruger effect

Link one is a brilliant webcomic at Jellyvampire. Really highly recommend you read all the way through this – it’s a vertical scroller, but it’s not that long, and well worth it. It’s about pursuing your passion, even when it seems unrealistic.

Link two is the Wikipedia article about the Dunning–Kruger effect – which is a documented issue where incompetent people tend to think they’re better than they really are, and competent people tend to think that they’re worse than they really are.

Two Links Tuesday: Combat Edition!

Link One: Eye Candy: Porcelain Fighting Figures Dropped And Photographed The Moment Of Shattering

Link Two: The Rules of Sagefight

The first link is pretty well described in the title – but you have to look at the pictures to see how dang cool it looks. Very interesting photography project.

The second link is for a game that looks like fun – I haven’t played this, but it actually looks like it would be a fun challenge for a martial artist, thinking about tactics and balance, leaving strength and speed out of it.  I don’t know, maybe not, but I’d like to try this with a few of my training partners at some point.


A murder of crows
the color of void
wheeling against a white sky
black branches, barely budded
a grid to track their flight
below, all is green
with splashes of
white yellow pink red

A murder of crows
omen of battle
noisy and social
low-class cousins of
lonely and noble ravens
thinking of death and hunger
(but mostly death)
your death, mine
the dog across the street
crows dream of death
even in springtime

Book Review: The Art of the Dueling Sabre

I just posted this over on SFI, but thought I’d cross-post on my own blog, too.


My wife gave me a copy of Chris Holzman’s new book, The Art of The Dueling Sabre for Christmas. While it’s been mentioned here on SFI, I haven’t seen a real review of it here yet, so I thought I’d write one. Short version: go buy it! Long version: keep reading:

The bulk of this book is a translation of Settimo Del Frate’s 1876 textbook on Maestro Guiseppe Radaelli’s sabre and sword method, but Holzman has added a wealth of supporting materials (more on that below). It’s a hardback, with a very stylish cover. This is a gorgeous book – I particularly enjoy the 19th-century feel of the fonts used, and how the design feels “old-timey” without being annoying or inconvenient. The crowning touch is that the the oversize fold-out plates from the original are reproduced here – there are ten 21.5″-long plates at the back of the book. These are fantastic – beautiful artwork, and also quite useful for the fencer studying the material.

One of the things I liked in Holzman’s introduction was his acknowledgement of the historical fencing community, and the reality that many in this community must practice without regular access to instructors. As we shall see below, it is clear that he kept this in mind while writing the additional materials for the book. The Historical Note does a nice job of putting Del Frate’s book in it’s historical context – some biographical information about both Radaelli and Del Frate, some context of who this was written for, and even a little bit of information about Maestro Parise, the great rival to this system of fence.

Continue reading

MoD: Terrorist Activity

This was my submission to Machine of Death II – so the story follows the requirements for that book which can be found here.  (It wasn’t accepted for that volume, so here it is for everyone to read for free!)


Sarita stood in the doorway, eyes wide open, laughing almost loud enough to hear over the sound of her machine pistols. A terrible shot, with no idea even how to aim, much less any interest in doing so, she enjoyed the pose and the loud noises and the drama. I am so sexy! She knew how good she must look right now. She did wish that Steven had let her wear her high heels tonight, but she had to admit that the knee-high French paratrooper boots she’d just bought were pretty hot with her all-black outfit. The soldiers who had come around the corner of the steel corridor, maybe thirty feet away, weren’t in much danger, but they had no way of knowing that. They jumped back around the corner. This gave Sarita enough time to toss her glossy black mane out of her face, reload her left pistol, and yell “Wooooooo!” as she started to fire again. I am a sexy badass!

“Wooooooo!” wasn’t much of a war cry, but Sarita wasn’t much of a warrior. That is what she used to yell on the dance floor when she was clubbing, and it was all she could think of now. This rush of adrenaline was why she’d joined Free the Future, and it made all those boring conversations and planning meetings worthwhile.

Jane, ever practical, had been ignoring all the gunfire and had picked the lock on the door behind them, leading into the heart of the MAU Ops Center. One of the soldiers shoved his rifle around the corner and started firing wildly down the hallway.  Steven and Pedrag dove through the now-opened door, while Jane grabbed the back of Sarita’s black silk jacket and pulled her into the room. They tripped and fell over, Sarita landing on Jane. As Pedrag slammed the heavy steel door shut Sarita sat up and tried to fire a few more rounds down the hall, but they just bounced off of the interior of the door and ricocheted around the room. Steven grunted softly, leaned against the wall, and slid to the floor. There was a perfectly round 9 millimeter hole in the exact center of his forehead.

Continue reading

Two Links Tuesday: Elemental Edition

Link One: The Wooden Periodic Table Table

Link Two: The Periodic Table of Science Fiction

Link one has a great overview of all the chemical elements (properties, common applications, etc.), all done in a beautiful bit of woodworking. Yeah, I know, I don’t know why, either! But it is very cool. Check it out.

Link two features a short science fiction story for each of the elements. Sweet!