5 Links Worth Following

Fellow lovers of words,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some links to other cool places on the internet, and for that I apologize. There are many wonderful things out there, and I was selfishly trying to keep you here on my blog and on my blog alone. But I’ve realized the error of my ways and I’m excited to send you out to some of the places that I’ve been. If it isn’t too selfish to ask, I would love your thoughts on the pages linked below. So visit them, then come back here and share. And as always, thanks for reading.

shapes_of_storiesThe Shapes of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut | Writers Write

I just recently added the Writers Write blog to my list of noteworthy places, and I am glad that I found them. If you use Facebook, their pages is constantly updated with fun prompts, thoughts on writing, and author birthdays and facts. For word nerds like me, this site is pure bliss.

silver_blade_clichesGrand List of Fantasy Clich├ęs | Silver Blade Magazine

I stumbled across this page while seeking a publisher for some of my flash fiction, and it is too good not to share. For anyone who reads or writes in the fantasy genre, you will appreciate this list of overused fantasy tropes. Enjoy!

flash_fiction_contestFlash Fiction Writing Contest | Literacy Center of West Michigan

I was referred to this contest by writing friend and Guild member, Cynthia Beach. If you have an interest in flash fiction, please consider this contest. The grand prize is $150 and submissions are being accepted May 15 – June 30. There is an entrance fee of $15.

flying_pigImagine a Flying Pig: How Words Take Shape in the Brain | NPR

This is an interesting article about how words and language affect the way our brain works. Scientists used to think that we had a separate module in our brains that made language possible, given that human language is so much more developed than any other creature. But what scientists actually found was quite shocking.

writingWords | Radiolab

The NPR Article above reminded me of a podcast from Radiolab, so I went back and listened. It was great all over again. If you are fascinated by words, you won’t be disappointed by this podcast!

I am a twisted dreamer.

Hitchhiker's_gestureI had a dream last week. In it, my wife and I picked up a hitchhiker. But rather than taking the hitchhiker as far as we were going and then leaving her somewhere where she might be able to hitch a ride further, we brought her to our house.

I don’t think my wife or I had kids in the dream, or if we did, they were somewhere else. All for the best though, since within a few minutes of getting into our house, I realized (in a fit of dream logic) that the hitchhiker was going to kill us.

How exactly we became her captives, I don’t remember. All I know is that my wife and I were at her mercy. When her phone rang and she turned her attention from us for a moment, I grabbed my wife’s hand and we ran out of the house.

Knowing that we had to get away far and fast, we ran toward the garage.

The garage door is open! I thought. We normally keep it closed, so I was pretty happy.

My keys are in my pocket! I thought, patting my pocket. Great!

We jumped into the car, knowing that we just beat death. But as I turn the key, I realize that our hitchhiker had rigged our car to explode. My wife and I die.

I didn’t see that coming! And it was my dream.

As I thought about this, I remembered an episode of RadioLab that I once heard that included a bit on Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and other classics. Stevenson’s dreams were also not always predictable.

Anyway, it was a great episode of RadioLab, so I’m linking to it here.

Do you ever have unpredictable dreams?

On Trying New Things

My wife and I recently went on a lunch date. We both skipped out of work early, left the kids at Grandma’s house for a few hours and went out to eat. We went to The Wild Chef, a Japanese Steakhouse with hibachi grills in front of the tables.

For all the times I had seen this sort of thing featured on television shows, I had never personally experienced it. Being there at lunchtime meant that we had the restaurant pretty much to ourselves, which was nice. Our cook put on a wonderful show of flipping his spatula and fork, playing with fire, breaking eggs, and flipping rice into our mouths (both DeAnne and I caught the rice like pros!). And the food was delicious. I’ve already decided that we’ll be coming back for the next meal-type celebration.

We chose The Wild Chef for lunch because my wife had been to the one in Holland with her workmates and she really enjoyed herself. She was pretty sure that I would like it too. She was right. I did.

While we ate, I remembered an episode of Radiolab where they talked about a gentleman who was trying to slow down his perception of time by trying to do something new everyday. The theory goes that we remember time moving slower as children because we are constantly doing things we had never done before. For a while, everything is a first (the first time you rode a bike, the first time you went camping, the first time you read Lord of the Rings). But as grown-ups most of our schedules look the same. We get up, go to work, eat, drive, and sleep, pretty much everyday. Time seems to move more quickly because there isn’t anything in our schedule that stands out in our memories as noteworthy.

The gentlemen who underwent the experiment to slow down time was Matt Danzico and his adventures can be found at The Time Hack. Everyday, he did something he had never done before. He brought someone along who ran a stopwatch to record the actual time Matt spent doing the activity, while Matt estimated the time he spent without having access to the stopwatch. So if something he did felt like it took ten minutes, but it actually only took eight, he gained two minutes of experiential time. And his year would have felt like it passed more slowly since he wasn’t doing the same thing everyday.

Although I am mostly a creature of habit, I really like the idea of trying to slow down my perception of time by trying new things. This is why I am glad that we went to a Japanese Steakhouse. Not only did it stand out against the humdrum of normal life, it was delicious. My wife and I could easily have gone to a restaurant that we had both been to before and knew that we both enjoyed. Instead, she shared with me a new experience.

Next time an opportunity arises to try something new, I think I will try it. I will slow time. And I might just find something new that I really enjoy.