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nanowrimo 2010


Diary of a Blind Madman

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Busy! Busy! Busy!
nanowrimo 2010

Harry Turtledove. IMHO the definitive writer of Alternative History.

         I hadn't realized it but I am actually quite busy lately despite my recent avowals to the contrary. Here's the list.

    General Stuff
  1. Creating Spore Creatures
  2. If you read my last post you know what this means. My goal is to create 100 creatures that I like before Spore is released. This means I'll probably have to create 500 creatures. I only keep about 20% of the ones I make (so far).
      Writing Alternative History
      I've been a fan of alternative history since I discovered "Guns of the South" by Harry Turtledove. Harry has set the standard for "What if the South/Nazis/whoever had won?" books. I have entered into a project to rewrite perhaps all of human history in conjunction with my long-time friend Ed and my newly-acquired friend Laura. Any of my other friends want to jump in here?
    1. The Roman Empire adapts and becomes a commonwealth instead of falling
    2. My initial thought of what if the Dark Ages didn't happen led me to the theory that the Roman Empire didn't fall, but became a Commonwealth of nations and continued more as a colonial empire than a military one. Ask me for details!
    3. Universal literacy becomes the rule in the 4th Century
    4. Ed came up with this one. Suppose universal literacy had become desirable/available before the fall of Rome… badda-bing badda-boom, no Dark Ages!
    5. The "Plague" happens in China and India instead of Europe and it isn't Bubonic, but AIDS or Smallpox.
    6. This is interesting. Asia becomes chronically, the most underpopulated continent, perhaps for a very long time (until there's a cure for smallpox in the 13th or 14th century (by our accelerated timeline). Hmmmm…
  3. Writing a fantasy piece about a wizard's apprentice
  4. This started out as "Why can't wizards use a sword and has grown into a "coming of age" piece of sorts. <sigh>You know how it goes</sigh>
  5. Looking for a spam blocker that works with Opera
  6. Not as easy as it sounds. I detest the idea of buying/finding a free spam blocker that runs continuously. I don't need yet another program running all the time on my already slow machine.
  7. Searching for a 4-star hotel in St. Louis with an in-room Jacuzzi
  8. Just try this online. Just try. I'm having to call hotels and I genuinely hate shopping by phone in this venue.
  9. Planning a vacation in St. Louis
    1. Finding places to shop/visit in St. Louis
    2. Looking for Z-coil shoes
    3. They're in Kirkwood. More than that I don't know. I guess it's a matter for Google Maps.
    4. Looking for v-neck t-shirts with a pocket
    5. Yes, yes, I know. But I need 2XL or 3XL. Yes, yes, I know. King Size. They had 'em. They discontinued 'em. Just try finding a T-shirt with all these requirements. <sigh>Yeesh.</sigh>
    6. Need jeans/slacks
    7. Eddie Bauer? I don't know the stores in St. Louis anymore. I don't even know the names of the malls. It's been a full 35 years since I've gone shopping there.
    8. Need button shirts
    9. I hate K-mart shirts. I hate Wal-Mart shirts. I don't want dressy stuff, just a casual shirt with buttons. I don't want to pay $50 for one either.
    10. Need women's clothes for Sis
    11. Underthings. Overthings. Sleepwear. Casual dresses. Casual Pants. Casual tops. The list does not end.
    12. Want to visit the Wax Museum, where is it?
    13. I just learned St. Louis has a Wax Museum. Who is there? Famous midwesterners? Historical Figures? Apart from Lewis and Clark what can I expect?
    14. Want to visit the Fine Arts Museum
    15. I visited this place in the '60s. I was unimpressed then. I suspect with my much wider exposure to the world of museums I will still be unimpressed. I have to give it a shot, though. This may be one of my last chances to see artwork worthy of the name before my vision gets to the point where it doesn't matter if it is a masterpiece or not, it'll look like paint-by-number.
    16. Want to visit the Science or History Museum
    17. I don't know if St. Louis has both or just one of these. I read about it somewhere and can't find it back. The History museum would doubtless be heavily Louisiana Purchase oriented with a Dash of Gateway Arch. It could still be interesting. The science museum? Oriented on grade-school expeditions as so many are?
    18. Want to visit the Botanical Gardens
    19. I remember "Shaw's Garden" from a zillion years ago (well, it was '65, so 43 years ago). I hope it has been maintained.
  10. Who will feed my doggies?
  11. I suffer a distinct lack of friends and neighbors on whom I can rely for this. <hmmm>Ponders</hmmm>

         Wow! Once I got started I just couldn't stop. OK. Actually I could. I have a buncha things to add to that list, but they are stuff you don't care about. Trust me on this one. Still, that was lotsa stuff.

         I need to budget time for fun.

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It's interesting how much alternative timelines have managed to sneak into novels, largely science fiction. The entire Dune series as written by Frank Herbert is a very long-term "What would have happened if Alexander's Empire had persisted?" That is, in fact, the First Empire in the Dune universe. There's a couple books by Greg Bear in which a starship launched from an alternate, future Earth arrives just in time to interfere with the history that caused the creation of the starship in the first place (a major thermonuclear war). Along with that, though, the starship pilots have found a way to bend time and space into a complex sort of wormhole that, among other things, leads to some of the characters ending up in an alternate 20th Century Earth where, again, the possibility is explored about Alexander's empire persisting. The world becomes very Ptolemeic in that version.

I lost interest with making creatures in Spore rather rapidly. I suppose if I dropped the $10 for a full copy, I'd think otherwise, but the lack of parts exhausts possibilities pretty quickly. Also, spinal fins, like a dimetrodons, tend to act in bizarre ways, which seems like something they'd have fixed by now.

I became bored with "What if the Roman Empire was still around" stuff long ago. Ditto for Alexander's Empire. Ditto for the Greeks, the Nazi's and the Illuminati. You name it, it's been done. I am much more interested these days in exploring the variances in the introduction of certain concepts at different times. What if China was not the most populous continent? What if the Dark Ages didn't happen. What if the Norse colonies had prospered in North America? What if Heron's "Aeolipile" had inspired research into a steam engine in the 1st century instead of the 18th?

Spore character creater (I bought it) isn't that great all things considered, but I am finding it fascinating anyway. A friend indicated to me that the characters were too "cartoonish" and ridiculous. That's what I LIKE about 'em. I am looking forward to spore.

Does Asia being the most populous continent actually have a substantial impact on world history prior to the 20th Century? This is a blind spot in my knowledge, but my understanding was that China, India, and the smaller nations of Asia were fairly insular and not engaged in the European world at all beyond trade.

It's Spore... if you're going into the creature creator planning to make photorealistic imitations of elephants and monkeys, you're going at it in completely the wrong way. At least, that's my opinion on the matter. The hordes of phallus-shaped aliens are entirely too much in the opposite direction, too. Then again, I've never understood why some people are so offended by the exaggerated style of cartooning. People complain constantly about Warcraft's visual style as though there was something fundamentally wrong with it, rather than just acknowledging that they prefer more "realistic" styles of insanely large, glowing weapons and imaginary races of anthropomorphic cows and shambling corpses.

I've never understood the complaint about WOW's style. Other games all look like characters are running in front of a "traveling mat" sort of background that is a big jarring to me. When the wall in the background looks like a drawing of a wall, I don't care if it is a "realistinc" drawing.

I guess its all about "willing suspension of disbelief" ... yes, I know CSI is not like the real world of forensics... I didn't believe Star Trek was real either.

As to Asia being underpopulated. Well, if China was less full, it is possible it might have fallen to Japanese influence. When contact with the rest of the world did come, Chinese vs. Japanese culture makes a world of difference.

India might have well expanded Northward or Afghanistan or Persia (depending on your era) might have expanded toward the East.

Interesting to conjecture in any event.

The Botanical Garden is beautiful. Take walking shoes. It's one of my favorite places.

StL Science Center (http://www.slsc.org/) is cool. They also have an Omnimax. I've never been to the history museum (http://www.mohistory.org/home/).

Historic St. Charles is a nice place to stop on the way.

There's an outlet center in Wentzville on the way too.

There's a great outlet mall in Lake of the Ozarks. That's the place to shop. You guys aren't too far from there.

Yay for alternate history...

One I would like to explore is an early victory for Matilda during the Anarchy...

I know almost nothing of this period. I've read Ken Follet's Pillars of the earth which is set in this era but don't know the actual history or any fictional treatments.

I think it would be interesting if England had been ruled by a woman as early as 1140.

indeed it would be...especially as she was more experienced as a ruler (trained as she was to help run the HRE)
And a less battered England, with relations with Scotland not being strained by the civil war, you could be looking at a decent power in the region...

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