Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Rubik's Cube & Writing

Buy One

It's hard to believe I have been blogging about the Rubik's Cube and writing for over two years.  Especially since I never thought it would last much beyond my "10 Ways Writing is Like the Rubik's Cube" post.

This blog began mostly out of curiosity.  Just how far could I stretch it?  Could I continue to make new connections between something so technical and something else so abstract?

I'm happy to say, yes.  The ideas continue to come.  This is part of the creative process and I love it.  Making connections that were not there before.  Uncovering personal truths by challenging myself and pushing the limits.

I feel like I have accomplished my goals here.  But being the kind of person who enjoys pain and thrives on challenges, I must set new goals.  Truthfully, I'm not sure exactly where those new, lofty goals lie.  And thus, I will be taking a hiatus from my blog for a few months while I figure it out.

Honestly, I never thought I would have any visitors to the blog -- let alone followers.  Thank you.  I am grateful to all of you and your wonderful comments.  I look forward to reengaging with you all very soon!

I also never thought I would write a novel in 30 days or be able to solve the Rubik's Cube blindfolded.  But none of that would have been possible without the discipline of blogging and encouragement from the writing community.  I hope you will be encouraged to set new and higher goals for yourself, too.

Thank you for your support.  See you soon!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

13 Examples of Evidence for Evolution

13 Examples of Evidence for Evolution

1. The independent arrival of useful traits.  For example, the wing in insects, birds, and bats.  Or, the complex eyeball in humans and squids.

2. The human appendix, tail bone, wisdom teeth, goose bumps, and male nipples.

3. Vestigial organs in others.  Whales have 'leftover' hind leg bones. The eyeballs of the blind cave fish, Astyanax mexicanus, and penguins' wings are other examples.

4. Fossil evidence.

5. Drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

6. Pesticide-resistant insects.

7. Dog breeding.  (The Great Dane, the Chihuahua, and the Dingo.)

8. The Flounder and other flat fish. The eyeball on the "bottom" travels to the "top" of its head.

9. Flu vaccinations. Every year.

10. Modern transitional examples. From the eye spots of flatworms to the primitive eye of the nautilus.

11. Nylon eating bacteria.

12. A peacock's ridiculous tail.

13. DNA.  No, you are not a monkey, but you do share genes with a pea plant.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Am I Missing Something?

I'm still fascinated by the Rubik's Cube even though it's been around now for more than 30 years.  It's such a complete and unique puzzle.  And it's satisfying to the very end.

But what if you didn't realize a piece was missing until the very end?

Wouldn't you feel just a little cheated?

Well, I had similar feelings after finishing the book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs.  I don't normally write book reviews, but this is such a unique and interesting book that I feel compelled to share my thoughts.

The story is told by 16 year old, Jacob Portman, but is also told through a series of strange, vintage photographs interspersed throughout the book.  On their own, the pictures are quite interesting and fun to flip through.  The cover art picture, featuring a levitating girl, and the book's title were enough to hook me.  Overall, it's an intriguing book and I recommend it.

I read the Kindle version, so I probably did not get the full experience had I read the print version, but for me, the screen display of the pictures was sufficient.  If you're really into the visual experience, then I suggest buying or loaning the print book.

The narrative story can stand on its own without the benefit of the photographs.  But the pictures really do enhance the overall experience of the story.  It's a fun and quirky book.


The story revolves around the murder of Jacob's grandfather and the adventure Jacob embarks on to learn the truth about his grandfather's strange childhood.  But the story is really more fantasy than murder mystery.  It may be dark at times, but it's also not scary, so your tweens won't have nightmares reading it.

Jacob is just like any teen and doesn't fit in anywhere.  Nobody quite understands him except for his quirky grandfather -- who just may be losing his mind.  They have a special bond and his grandfather always tells Jacob fanciful tales about the children he lived with at an orphanage in England before World War II.

Jacob is older now and is no longer convinced by the poorly altered old photographs that "prove" that these children had supernatural talents.  Jacob assumes the children were special because, like his grandfather, they were Jewish refugees of the war.  Thus, Jacob is saddened by his grandfather's dementia and increased paranoia of the "monsters" from his past.

It is not until Jacob's grandfather is brutally killed by a strange looking animal that Jacob begins to wonder if those fanciful stories may somehow be true.  Jacob is called to adventure by his grandfather's cryptic dying words and seeks out the old orphanage.

His family assumes Jacob is losing his mind out of guilt for not being able to save his grandfather's life.  With the encouragement of his psychiatrist, Jacob visits Wales to find answers.


I really enjoyed the prose of the book and thought it flowed well.  There is a passage where all these years later, Jacob walks into his grandfather's dilapidated orphanage expecting some ancient crime scene, "...but all I found were rooms that had become more outside than inside."  There is a nice visual style to the writing and the main story elements flowed naturally.  Although the story line weaves its way through unusual hoops, it's easy to suspend disbelief and just go with the story.

Of course the book is peppered with the strange photographs, too.  I appreciate the challenge it must have been for the author to brilliantly spin a truly unique story around the dozens of photographs.  This was like a writing prompt on steroids.  Just take an album of weird and random photographs and make a story out of it.  I love this about the book.  I love even more that it's a good story and not just that he incorporated all of the photographs.

The story was well written for a debut novel and had great promise.  I found myself guessing about what might happen in the next chapter and then the next.  However, the piece that I was left missing was the ending.  I was disappointed in the ending because there was no satisfying resolution.

I'll admit the question of Jacob's grandfather's death was solved -- so technically that's a resolution -- but that's not enough given all of the build up of the story's main adventure.  Too many unresolved and unanswered questions remain and then the story simply fades to black.  It's rumored that a sequel is in the works, but not everybody wants to go to the next book to see how things play out.  I certainly don't.

Just like the Rubik's Cube missing a corner piece, I felt the last pages were missing from this book.  I wanted more -- not from a sequel -- but from this book.  On the one hand, I usually feel if you don't have a sufficient ending, then you don't really have a complete story.  However, this book is so fascinating, unique, and interesting in its premise and how it's executed, that I still recommend reading it.