October 28, 2014

Krakatoa, The Island Volcano

OK, I know there are plenty of islands out there that have been formed by volcanoes (just look at Hawaii for one prime example). So what's so special about Krakatoa?

How about being one of the loudest belchers in the world?

Fine, it's not like I've orchestrated a contest between volcanoes to see who could make the loudest, angriest sound. But in this instance, someone did record how strong the explosion one. And by someone, I mean many people...

August 1883: Krakatoa explodes in a series of violent blasts, bringing down tens of thousands of humans and countless animals. Its lava extended to neighboring islands, destroying all in its passage like a voracious monster. The eruptions were so loud one was heard 4800 km away, across the Indian Ocean to eastern Africa (a distance which took the sound wave approx. 4 hours to travel), while others were heard off the coasts of Australia and Southeast Asia.

Locally, the shock waves blasted windows apart and shook every house in a 160 km radius, and rendered many people permanently deaf. These shock waves were recorded all around the world while traveling 7 times around the Earth before they finally died down.

But you know what the scary part about all this is (if this wasn't scary enough)? Krakatoa isn't a supervolcano...

Historical eruption sounds

October 26, 2014


"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."
Walter E. Disney

October 21, 2014

Cardinal Points - Behind The Names

I assume that many of you already know the origin of the weekdays (at least in English; with, for example, Thursday standing for the day of Thor, Monday for the day of the Moon, Wednesday for Woden's day or Odin's day, etc.).

Well, turns out that even the cardinal points on a compass are named after mythical creatures of Norse legends. That's right!

Say hello to Nordri, Sudri, Austri, and Westri, strong dwarves who were bid by the gods to support the heavenly vault (which, incidentally, is actually the skull of the first evil giant, its brains forming the clouds) upon their shoulders.

I can understand now why one of the greatest fears of people from Norse and other neighboring countries was that the sky would fall on their head!

I'll let you figure out which stands for what ;-)

October 14, 2014

Easy Tip For Immediately Writing Better

Proust manuscript for A l'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs
A teacher once said it was interesting to have Proust, known to suffer from
asthma, write sentences that were pages long.
In my years working in the business world, I've had my share of editing technical papers, letters,

reports and such. One thing that caught my attention is that, the more important a person believes he/she is, the more likely that person is to want to impress others by showing off.

This showing off usually entails, when writing, long words, technical jargon, and run-on sentences a la Proust (and I admit that I too have been guilty on many occasions of the latter).

And here's where my tip comes in:

Don't be afraid to write shorter sentences.

They don't make you sound juvenile or, horror of horrors, dumb. In fact, quite the opposite: They allow you to convey your thoughts clearly and concisely, which the reader will always appreciate more than the head scratching and "huh?" that usually accompany never-ending descriptions.

That's it. Seriously! If you do just that, your writing will already greatly improve.

This is tip is mostly for those who aren't going for poetical lyricism, of course, though one doesn't preclude the other.

October 9, 2014

Writers: Be As The Tortoise, Not The Hare

I just read an interesting interview of Amélie Nothomb in Le Nouvel Observateur in honor of her latest publication Pétronille.

In the interview, the Belgian author is asked whether she is scared of running dry of ideas, to which she answers the following (translated from French)--please note she associates the process of creating a book to that of creating a baby:

It is true that I cannot stand not writing. I'm at my 80th novel! I always make it a point to start my new pregnancy the day following the birthing of the previous [novel]. It is the only thing that distinguishes me from other authors who, I believe, take some time off between two books.

I do not know how they do it, for the most difficult thing to do in this business is to set yourself to work again. One should now allow the the wound to scar over. If it closes up, there is no way to make it bleed again. And as it is a pleasurable hemorrhage which gives me great enjoyment, I don't allow myself any time off.

Though I believe there are more writers out there who subscribe to her way of thinking, I think Nothomb hits the nail on the head, at least for myself: I have found it extremely hard to get the ball rolling again once I let myself or outside events stop me in my writerly tracks.

I therefore will do my best as of today not to let anything break my stride as I feel each time I have done so I've had to relearn (parts of) my craft and, sometimes, even my own stories and characters (which, trust me, is a much more painful process than one might think)!

So on that note, all I've got to say to you is: To infinity and beyond!

October 7, 2014


I like to sometimes compare the movie credits for, say, an earlier Disney movie like Robin Hood, to the ones found at the end of, say the latest Marvel movie and am always amazed at how long they've gotten over the years.

And I must say, it's amazing how much the industry's grown since then, especially in terms of visual effects (VFX). That is because it's this is a very labor-intensive, time-consuming industry. 

And one can't deny how much work goes into creating such astounding visuals, as can be seen here in the popular show du jour Game of Thrones:

The crazy part is that, despite how in demand VFX companies are, they also operate on a rather low profit margin (what with all the competition out there). In fact, Rhythm 'N Hues Studios who did the visual effects for Life of Pi and won an Oscar for their work, went bankrupt...11 days before receiving it!

Anyway, props to all of them for all the amazing work they do--as someone who's dabbled a little in computer programming and animation, I've learned to appreciate all of their hard work (even if it's for something really small)!

Additional Sources:
Effects Corner
Rhythm 'N Hues Studios on what went wrong

October 2, 2014

What Is True Love?

In Christopher Moore's The Serpent of Venice (a mash-up of Shakespeare's Othello, King Lear, the Merchant of Venice among others), Othello finds himself with the Fool who's just lost his love. Following, is the discussion the two have about love and what it is...

Othello (aka The Moor): "I know love, fool. Love may not be mine, but I know it."
The Fool: "You lie."
Othello: "When a woman looks upon one's scars with wonder, and sees not the glory of battles won, but sheds tears for the pain of injury suffered, then is love born. When she pities a man's history and wishes away his past troubles with present comforts, then is love awakened. When that which makes a warrior hard is met with beauty offered most tender, then he can find love."
The Fool: "She sees past your handsome exterior to the dark, twisted broken beast that your years have made of you--the libidinous little creature that you are at heart. When she takes you not in spite of, but because you are the cheeky monkey, that is love?"

Of course, Miracle Max in the Princess Bride might have a different take on it:

"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT--mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean. and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that!

What do you think it is?

By the way:
There's a great review of the book of Venice done in Sonnet fashion here.
And found out about the book on Quora first.