Random thoughts: Miscellany

It looks like temperatures here will drop down into the 70s, starting this coming Sunday and continuing next week – hope so! That means I will probably have the energy to start catching up on the Civil War posts by August 27th, unless we get a hurricane (that’s about the time of year that Irene sloshed through here in 2011).

In the meantime, a brief summary of what I’ve been up to.


I’ve published Helium content articles on the Atlantic Ocean’s floor and on locating the ancient city of Phocaea on today’s map. Those topics may sound boring, but they were really fun to write. Am currently getting together an article for Helium on phyllite (a foliated metamorphic rock that’s used today on roofs, etc).

Also, I’m taking a big step and getting ready to pitch an article on supervolcanoes to Cracked. If accepted, the starting pay is 100 times better than Helium’s rate, and it’s not a content farm. I unwind there just about every evening – why not also write for it, as most of the articles come from readers. There’s something there for almost every taste (be warned, though, the F-bomb is frequently dropped there by some writers and it apparently has a certain daily tastelessness quota to meet – not unexpectedly, since it developed from a magazine that had been in competition with Mad Magazine).

What I really am impressed with is how much you can learn at Cracked.com (example ); this is true even with the more potty-mouth (example – note, you have been warned about the language) and adolescent humor stuff (example ), because it’s all fact based. . .and I know facts. Will see how it goes.

And in the deep background, as always, I’m developing the next Jack Murphy and Kendall Springs stories.

As mentioned before, I’m going to continue using the B. J. Deming pseudonym for nonfiction, since it is already established at Helium, and my name, Barb Beier, for fiction.


Besides Man on Wire, I’ve watched Touching the Void (heard of this excellent movie at Cracked) and Battle: Los Angeles (very good! – it deserves a higher rating at IMDb) and am in the middle of streaming Jeremy Brett’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on Netflix. Some of the later productions in this Holmes series weren’t very good, but others are the best film interpretation of Conan Doyle’s works I’ve ever seen, particularly that first season. I’m up to probably the last episode of the first year – Reichenbach Falls and Moriarty loom.

I’m collecting Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books on Google Books and have read several recently, having traveled from the 1930s through, I think, 1957. His writing was similar to that of his friend, P. G. Wodehouse, in that it’s light and goes quickly, but is always a pleasant past-time (as opposed to a waste of time). I have to be in a certain mood to read Wodehouse, but whenever I need to relax, I can always count on Stout.

Yeah, nothing more modern at the moment, in either films or reading, although I have also read a couple books on volcanoes, Clive Oppenheimer’s Eruptions That Shook the World and Stanley Williams’ Surviving Galeras. The former is fascinating but a bit technical, and the latter is emotional but really conveys what it’s like to be on a volcano when it erupts, even just a small eruption. For survivors, the whole world changes.


The heat has made it difficult to keep going at the day job (at-home medical transcription), so I am definitely looking forward to cooler temperatures. Work has been light, too, since July 4th. I do hope eventually to transition from full-time transcription/part-time writing to full-time writing/part-time transcription and eventually just to writing. That desire in me has clarified more in the last few weeks. Hope I can do it.


I don’t even have a car and just travel via the Internet or with books right now. This isn’t the best neighborhood and I suspect if I got a car, it would get trashed frequently. Cohoes has some beautiful buildings and an interesting history, but this is presently a very low moment in its story, and I will be glad to eventually leave it and New York state.

That’s another concern about a car – I wonder if I would be able to resist the temptation, if I were driving, to ignore the side street that leads to my apartment house and just head out onto the 787 arterial that would take me directly to the Thruway and then to I-81 – which I know well – and on into the South. I can’t do that right now, unfortunately.


Live-blogging Popocatepetl’s eruption

This is another project that has been on hold, but I’ve been collecting time-lapse images from CENAPRED’s webcams on clear days (it’s the rainy season in Central Mexico and the volcano is often socked in) and will eventually make the best catches into a movie for the live-blogging thread.

Popo has just been pretty much chuffing along, but is still at Yellow Alert, Phase 3. On those clear, crisp mornings, even a small steam plume is a magnificent sight. Here’s an image from a more cloudy day, when Don Goyo was wearing a bit of a lenticular sombrero:

Lenticular cloud on Popocatepetl, under stratus deck.

Lenticular cloud on Popocatepetl, under stratus deck. (CENAPRED)

Again, hopefully the Civil War series will start back up on August 27th, picking up where I left off, and depending on the schedule, coming out two times a week until we’re back on track. Thanks, everybody, for your interest!

Categories: Random thoughts

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