Introduction to ‘Stories from an Alaskan Cabin’

Preface

As Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur,” and Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” can attest, our forebears were, much as they were in everything, better at telling stories. For what else was there to do in times before the Internet, television, movies, and radio? While modern man finds the need and the capacity to tell stories, the ability and opportunity is much diminished.

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How Does the Emperor Penguin Launch Itself from Sea to Ice?

This was interesting on how penguins fly through the air when they leave the sea to get on the ice. Emperors can weigh up to 89 pounds, “the same weight as a baby hippo.” So how does it get out of the water? Based on a new study, it could be preening that allows them to get so high in the air to make it over the ice shelf. Check out the video to see the details.

Polly is a newly hatched chick who wants to fly, but penguins can’t fly, can they? If you want your name in “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” sign up for our Patreon at any level before August 30, 2019. You’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements.

The ABCs of Creativity: Zone

When someone is “in the zone,” he or she is exhibiting the highest level of his or her talent through a seemingly effortless expenditure of energy. Michael Jordan’s 38 pts, 7 rebound, five assists, three steals and a block stat line while having the flu or his hitting six triples against Portland and shrugging about it after being criticized for his lack of three-point shooting skills are both great examples of being in the zone. Athletes are most often described this way because they are most often in the limelight, but artists, scientists and hobbyists can feel as if they are in the zone or, as creativity pioneer Csikszentmihalyi called it, “the flow.”

In Csikszentmihalyi’s “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” he describes part of the creative process as “the flow” and says that there are nine elements that characterize the flow:

  • Clear goals with no ambiguity: In the case of Jordan’s basketball games, the goal is clear; put the ball in your hoop. Whether you do it or you get a teammate to do it, the ball needs to get in your hoop.
  • Immediate feedback: The ball either goes in the hoop or it doesn’t. The feedback is immediate.
  • Challenge and skills are balanced: This is a little more difficult to illustrate. Basically, the question is whether or not the person’s skills are balanced with the challenge he or she is facing. If the challenge is too easy or too difficult, the person will not be able to enter the flow. It’s when the two are in alignment that the person enters the flow state.
  • Action merges with awareness: The person is focused on what he or she is doing. They do not think about anything other than the activity in the here and now.
  • No distractions: They exclude distraction from their minds. They are in the moment.
  • No concern about failure: The activity that the person is involved in is too consuming to give the person the opportunity to worry about failing or the outcome of failure.
  • No self-consciousness: The activity is too consuming for the person to be worried about how he or she appears to the outside world.
  • Time changes: Things slow down and time speeds up so that while the person is doing the activity, every detail can be examined, everyone else around him or her is slower, but when the activity is over the person doesn’t feel as if any time at all has passed. He or she loses track of time.
  • The activity is the end not the means to an end: If the activity is itself the goal and the required means to get to a greater goal, it becomes easier to enter the flow. If an author is writing to write a book and not to publish it or make money from it, he or she is more likely to enter the flow.

Getting into the flow creatively is why artists are depicted as absent-minded or the author doesn’t her someone calling out to him while he or she sits at the typewriter. It’s also what makes creativity so rewarding. Being in the flow indicates the person is operating at his or her highest possible ability without being overwhelmed. Get in the flow, or the zone, if you prefer, become more creative.

For more on creativity, check out, “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories for Greater Positive Creativity.” If you want more content like this, join our Patreon.

What would America’s ‘The Calling’ look like?

After watching “The Calling” on Netflix, I wondered what the show would look like in the U.S. First, I think there would be a lot more game playing and strategizing than there has been through the first seven episodes of the Indian incarnation of the show. That would take away from the appeal of the show because “The Calling” is at its best when the three contestants are helping each other and taking their individual strengths into consideration, rather than just focusing on winning.

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What’s Going on with These Penguins? A Giant Petrel vs Fledgling Emperor Penguins

Let’s travel to Antarctica to find out what happens when fledgling penguins are confronted by a predator. “Running isn’t a penguin’s strong suit.” Fortunately, the Emperor chicks are covered in down that falls away, and they can form a defensive circle. Standing about three feet tall, the lead chick rises up to defend those behind it.

This video from BBC Earth begs the question why did the rescuer get involved? While I didn’t take anything particular from this video, it did inspire one scene in “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly.” Polly is a newly hatched chick who wants to fly, but penguins can’t fly, can they?

If you want your name in “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” sign up for our Patreon at any level before August 30, 2019. You’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements.

‘The Calling’ Explores India and Competition in Reality TV Show

Netflix’ reality game show “The Calling” pits three Indians against each other in a test of skills and personal knowledge of each other as they travel India checking items off their bucket list and earning miles toward the Grand Experience and a scholarship. Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are the lucky contestants who are traveling together and, at least up through episode seven, nominally competing against each other.

Each almost-30-minute show begins with a challenge related to the area they have traveled to. One show, they tied ribbons on Yak horns. Another show, they tried to steal pineapples while dodging arrows shot by local hunters. The winner of the challenge gets 1,000 points and the grand experience for that show.

The losers of the challenge must curate an experience for the winner based on two choices given them. Once the two experiences are over, the winner chooses who made the better experience. That person gets to go to the grand experience with the winner and 900 miles. The person, who’s experience isn’t chosen, gets 800 miles. At the end of the season, the person with the most miles will get a scholarship.

This show works as a quick showcase of India and the possibilities of tourist travel. It also exposes parts of Indian culture that people may not be aware of. It doesn’t work as much of a competition because the dynamics of the three travelers tends to make them friends first and competitors second. It would be difficult for three people who competed in a cutthroat manner to travel together, Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are aware of this.

However, through the course of their travels, each of them faces very personal challenges, and they need the support of their traveling companions to overcome the problem. In one episode, the support actually led to the person having the problem winning the challenge. It’s inspiring and nice, and it challenges what Americans know from their own reality shows. “The Calling” shows that people can compete and do so with integrity, respect, joy, and compassion. Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are enjoying each other’s company and the experience while having fun.

A Baby Penguin Hatches

Doing some research for “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” I came across this video from PBS. In it, one baby chick calls to another who is still in its egg. This encouragement helps the unhatched penguin emerge from its shell. The chicks all arrive at once.

The father has sat on the egg for two months. Once the chick has hatched, he or she needs food; the father and chick need to find the mother in order to get food and survive.

Polly is a newly hatched chick who wants to fly, but penguins can’t fly, can they? If you want your name in “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” sign up for our Patreon at any level before August 30, 2019. You’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements.

Matured Penguins and Their First Swim

When I was doing research for “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” the above video from National Geographic played its part. This video talks about the black tips on the wings, the down washing off during the penguin’s first swim, and swimming to the north for three or four years.

All of these concepts play a part in book, which is written for four- to seven-year olds. Parents can read it to their younger children. It is fiction, and is scheduled to be released in September. “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” but penguins can’t fly, can they?

If you want your name in “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly,” sign up for our Patreon at any level before August 30, 2019. You’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements.

Why Have I Chosen These Titles for My Poll?

Writing a book isn’t as simple as having an idea and running with it, or at least, it isn’t for me. Writer’s need to consider what will sell, what they have inspiration for, and what their writing plans are. It’s a lot convoluted and other writers have different ways of working. For the moment, these are the titles that I can work on and why they’re included in the poll.

Extermination of the Ice Goddess – This book is about a boy who is recruited into an army that wants to eliminate the Ice Goddess. His companion is a different species. Together, they go out into the world, find the worshippers of the Ice Goddess and destroy their power sources. I’ve already got a part of the story written. I’ve been shopping it to magazines, but I think I can grow it into a trilogy or more. “No man follows the goddesses.”

Rod Serling and the Fifth Dimension – I don’t have all the materials I would like to use for research, but I do have much of them. This examination of the Twilight Zone and its creator would take time; there are five seasons of the original Twilight Zone. But it would be fun to examine his genius and what the Twilight Zone has to say about creativity. My copy of “As I Knew Him” is in Oregon, but that’s a minor problem. This could be used for comic convention presentations.

Saturday Mornings in the 1980s: A Study in Creativity – This would be a book full of nostalgia and it would examine everything about my Saturday mornings in the 1980s. Cereal, cartoons, and commercials would make up the largest components of this book. It would be fun and a lot of research.

Reimagining Tomorrow: Essays and Short Stories – There are a lot of dystopias out there and few utopias. With this book, I want to present a positive vision of the future and something we can work towards. This one will take research and brain power. It’s a little outside what I feel I can do properly, and I’m not sure I could get others to participate in an anthology style without coming up with some sort of payment. (I tried it with the “Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” and only two others participated – Thanks, mom and Darren!)

The Jungle Cruise Is Creativity – The third in the Disneyland Is Creativity series! The Jungle Cruise is one of the original attractions at Disneyland and opened in 1955, which means it has an anniversary next year. These books give me a presentation to pitch to comic conventions that may want Disney related content at their event. They are also my best-selling books. I would do this one a little bit differently because I want to examine the inspiration behind the Jungle Cruise, including “the African Queen” and the imagineers who made it successful, like Bill Evans. Also, no single tour can cover all of the humor in the Jungle Cruise since it changes with each skipper. I don’t have access to all of the information I would need, but I’m okay with that because I think I could get access to much of it by changing my entertainment provider.

Snow Wh-Island – That’s just a working title. I’ve also thought about “Fairy T-Isles.” Still a work in progress. This would be in the style and world of “The Pirate Union.” It wouldn’t be a sequel or a prequel; it would just be its own story. Something funny, something crazy, something weird, and maybe something timely. It’s hard to say what this story would actually be, though I have three chapters outlined, I have no idea where it would end up. Since my collaborator for “The Pirate Union” is no longer available for collaboration (or is he?), it will be a little more difficult to pull of the amazing humor and directions the PU took. Still it could be funny.

The Creativity Workbook – I don’t know if this needs another title, but basically, I have three sections outlined. This would be an intro to why the idea is important, and then how to improve your skills in that area. For example, believing that you’re creative is the first step to becoming more creative. The workbook explains why you’re creative, why you should believe it, and then it takes you through several different activities so that you can prove to yourself that you are creative. This book would contain fewer words than most books because it is a workbook.

Penguinate! At the Movies – This would be the easiest for me to pull together. It would consist of reviews of movies and essays inspired by the movies, most of which I have already published on my websites somewhere. I would just need to take them down, format them and then get a book cover. This would be the third in The Penguinate! series, which has been my least successful in terms of sales. Part of that is probably due to the title of the first one, which is in the process of changing to “Penguinate! Positive Creativity.”

Star Trek and Creativity: Where No One Has Gone Before – This would take a lot of research, and I only have access to part of it at the moment. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future is fascinating and should be great fuel for a book about creativity and moving toward that future. I don’t have access to any of the books, but I still think I could work this correctly and then use it for comic convention presentations.

So that’s a little bit about the books in my poll. If you haven’t voted already, please do. Thanks.

P.S. I have other titles that didn’t make the poll list because nine was already enough (Why didn’t I keep it to eight?) and I don’t have the necessary materials to make them happen. “My Life in the Peace Corps,” “Ray Bradbury and the Theater of Creativity,” and “My Life in the Soviet Union” are all under future consideration as is “My Life at Disneyland” though I don’t know exactly which direction, I’m going to take with that one, it’ll involve having to go through my stuff that is stored at mom’s.

There may be more ideas floating around, but I have to find the notes about them. For the moment, I’m just considering the nine that are in the poll.

Problems Starting a New Project: The Musical

While it may seem easy to start working on a new project, it’s actually one of the hardest things for any creative to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the need to market all of the earlier projects, the need to make money at a regular job, housework needs to be done, too many ideas without the corresponding time, not knowing which idea will be profitable, the last project isn’t truly finished but the creative person is waiting on someone else to do his or her job… The list goes on and on and includes at least one-part procrastination and one-part relaxation.

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