Have you Experienced Pareidolia Today?

Pareidolia is the ability to find pictures in inanimate objects like rocks, potatoes, linens, the moon, inkblots, and anything else. Most often people will see faces but it can also be whole bodies, animals and cultural icons. You could look at dots of this and that on the wall and find an image represented in them. No one else may see it the same way you do. Overall, it’s one way to pass the time while waiting for the bus, doctor, etc.

Another form of pareidolia are sounds heard and attributed to mysterious sources, like ghosts. Some ghostly noises could be explained as our own perception of the noise/ sound.

What have you seen a face in lately? Think about the idea today and see what you notice in a different way.

The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data.

faceclock facetub Sources for more information:

Creating a Creative Routine

I’m running out of leftovers, frozen things and assorted edible make-do schemes. More importantly… I’m really low on coffee cream!

Grocery shopping has become my laundry day. That trudge to the basement, or the laundry mat in another building. Hauling baskets and soap too. Then trying to stay awake while everything spins around and around in hot water and then hot air. I didn’t like to leave my laundry unattended. I could have… it just didn’t seem polite I guess.

These days grocery shopping seems like more of a chore. But, I have laundry on the ground floor of a bungalow, I’m spoiled.

This year I found a trendy looking fold up cart for groceries. Nicer for taking everything on a bus ride with me. Possibly I will not take the taxi home nearly as often. It’s never been about waiting for the bus. I don’t like the pack mule feeling of carrying all that stuff. I had put it all in a backpack and then bags for whatever didn’t fit. One extra bonus about the cart is how much easier it goes up the stairs than I do. (With all the groceries I mean).

Anyway, this may seem less than interesting but… We write about routines. A routine shows character, cleverness, determination and so on.

How creative can you get creating a routine?

Think about grocery shopping, laundry day, commuting for work, or anything ordinary which is a bit more of a chore and requires a process, some thought and planning. How does your own routine show your character, if you’re not afraid to make it personal?

The Flash Fiction I Wrote for Inner Writer


The Shoes at the Edge of Tomorrow

Today I woke up and the world is broken. I’ve read about people having their shoes knocked off when hit by a train or a bus. But there are no trains, no skid marks, no blood or bodies. Just shoes. Far in the distance the sky is lighter, too light, without explanation.

The lack of sound, as if it were vacuumed out of the air, surrounds me. It fills my ears, creating a buzz of nothingness inside my head. I smash-kick a shoe out of my way to make it stop.

I love old houses, especially those which are weathered, neglected and left in ruins. I planned my weekend, charged up my camera battery, packed my map and left my hiking boots by the door. I’m photographing the derelict, forgotten houses but they seem less abandoned today.

The road is full of empty shoes and no one to wear them.

London’s Transit Advice Poetry

transit poetry
via The crappy world of Transport for London’s advice poetry – Us Vs Th3m.

What would you write to turn ordinary transit etiquette into verse? Think of the last time you took a bus, street car, or whatever they call the public transportation where you live.

Don’t forget to thank the driver
of his safe driving you’re a survivor.

Just kidding. I actually enjoy taking the bus. Though it can be really, bitterly cold waiting between buses.

Can You Go a Day Without a Cell Phone, or are you Addicted?

notaphoneboothCell phones have their place. When they first came out people bought them to have for emergencies. They are still good for that reason. But, they are dangerous too. Not the phones, but the way people use them and the time they choose to use them.

I’m anti-cell phone, mostly because it’s a bit lonely in a world full of people who seem to talk to imaginary friends – people who text but can’t spell.

People are addicted to their cell phones.

  • People are driving while texting and causing (or being in) accidents. New rules for the road have been created due to cell phone use and abuse.
  • Real communication is being lost. Instead of real, social interaction people are choosing to act like hermits, living inside their phone, ignoring people right in front of them, face to face.
  • Non face to face communication leaves people feeling less connected. Less concern for consequences and less care for others makes it easy to abuse phone or Internet communications. Bullying and minors ‘sexting’ (or creating and sharing porn) are bigger problems.
  • Cell phones are not reusable. They cause more garbage as they are continually being replaced rather than fixed or upgraded for the next, best thing.
  • Cell phone addicts are prone to withdrawal if they are without their phone. Then there is nomophobia – the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. People suffering withdrawal are more likely to have other unsocial behaviours, like road rage, or pick up other unhealthy habits, like smoking or over eating.

I Don’t Want a Cell Phone

I don’t own a cell phone. I had one for a week and returned it to the Bell store. I never used it and I really didn’t want anyone phoning me any time day or night. I like the land line. I like to ignore the phone. I listen to the caller, in case Timmy fell down a well, but I don’t answer it.

I’m coming to really dislike cell phones. I go to work and sit at a table with co-workers at lunch. Everyone is talking… to their phone. They share jokes that no one else can really see because the screen is too small or has a glare from the lights. I pretend to laugh. I bring a book to work now. I sit at the table in the middle of all that conversation and I read. I ignore them all just as they ignore me. It’s weird how no one wants to talk to people actually there. Cell phone is the latest unsocial medium.

I take the bus and hear people on the phone, telling their caller which bus stop they are at and estimating the time it will take them to arrive where ever they are going. They talk about their day, they swear and curse at each other and have fights while on the bus. All conversation they could have been having at home, together, face to face. I would much rather they shut their phone off so I could enjoy the peace and quiet of the bus. But, no… they have a phone attached to them like an umbilical cord and they can’t stop.

Cell Phone Addiction

Bookpacking is Such a Great Word

winter readingI first heard of the word, bookpacking, in the Suite101 post which I have linked to below. I think it is great to have an actual, understandable, word for something I have been doing since I learned to read.

In the bookpacking post the writer combines bookpacking with exercise. I haven’t always done it that way, at least not deliberately. I do take the bus, walk along downtown, go shopping or even take a day trip or road trip. I always pack a book with me (and my camera for the past several years).

Bookpacking is such a great word.

Are you one of the people who typically carries at least one book around with you, where ever you go? Even if you might not get a chance to settle in somewhere and have the alone, or quiet time to read… do you always have a book, just in case? I do.

I don’t think you can take an eReader on a bookpacking excursion. It might get bumped and banged around, it could get wet or you may not have enough battery power to keep the lights on. Besides, there are always times when the old reliable paperback is just what you need.

The Elements of Successful Bookpacking

First, the book you want to read. Not just any book you happened to pick. You need a good book and a book you are in the mood to read. You could pick a book which is well written and seems to have a great story… but you just aren’t in the mood to read it for some reason. So, you need the right book at the right time.

Second, you need something to carry your book and other accumulated gear around with you. These days we often carry around more stuff in order to be green. I keep a backpack with cloth bags for grocery shopping, sometimes a reusable coffee mug too. The mug doesn’t work out so well if you stop at a second place before you have washed it out.

My backpack gives me space to stash my purse inside it too. If I’m on a longer trip I carry a map book, my camera, paper and pens and assorted other standard stuff (for me).

Make sure whatever you use to carry around your stuff is easy to carry around. Don’t pick something which is already a bit heavy, even before you pack it up. It’s only going to get heavier.

Next up is location. Not everyone can read just anywhere. I like semi-quiet. A little distraction with people watching is nice too. I tend to pick coffee shops. I really like enjoying a coffee while I read. Other nice places are libraries, museums, restaurants… pretty much any place with a comfortable chair, table and a niche that blocks out noise if it’s a busy place.

Assorted Extras

Bookmarks. Of course, you can turn down the top of a page. But this contributes to making books dog-earred. Meanwhile you can use anything slim enough as a bookmark. You could even use a real, actual bookmark.

Those real on-the-go sort of bookpackers might want a portable chair. However, this isn’t practical for the added weight of hauling it around yourself. For those with a vehicle to haul a portable chair around for them, it seems a bit redundant when you already have a nicely padded chair in the vehicle. But, it could be nice if you are on a bicycle or motorbike and want to take a break to read in the great outdoors. (Even then it occurs to me that a picnic blanket would be a better choice for it’s weight and multi-purposeness).

One thing I can not do is read on a moving vehicle. So, you may find yourself enjoying to read on the bus, ferry, and so on. There really are endless great locations to pull out your book and read a few pages or a few chapters if you have the time. If you do discover you can’t read on a moving vehicle either, just put your book away and try to look off into the distance for awhile. You may need to abandon the vehicle for at least a short time. Stop off at a coffee shop and read awhile, outside the vehicle or while the vehicle is parked.

On a Side Note…

There are a few times and instances when you shouldn’t bring out a book and read. Your brother may not think well of you if you bring a book to his hockey game and sit in the arena with your nose stuck in a book, not really watching his hockey game more than the odd quick glance up. Every once in awhile this comes up in my family. But, I am the only true bookpacker in the group. Still, its good to remember that not everyone is into bookpacking.


Bookpacking Combines Travel With Reading | Suite101  by Nelson Shogren

Writing Help and Creative Writing Inspiration

ASCII art computerI seem to have too many ideas. I’m missing the focus and time I need to get them all from my brain and onto the page (or the virtual/ digital page). I make notes for myself with ideas as I get them. I try to use a notebook rather than bits of paper which end up misplaced, but the notebook isn’t always right there when I need it.

I don’t understand writers who have a lack of ideas. To me it seems there is an endless stream and the real problem is keeping tack of the ideas, organizing and finding storage for all the notes, magazine clippings, and so on. I have even begun to use my digital camera as a quick note taking tool. So my hard drive is just as cluttered. I’m considering a hand-held scanner, just dash out the note and then scan it in for later. This would give me a back up plan for the bits of paper notes.

How do I get ideas? Such a short and simple question when the answer is massive.

Here are some of the ways and places I get ideas:

  • Read the newspaper, a magazine.
  • Study a religion other than your own.
  • Watch/ listen to a talk show.
  • Volunteer to edit someone else, be constructive.
  • Watch a documentary.
  • Read the dictionary until you find a word you don’t know.
  • Look at books in the library, outdated ones too.
  • Talk to people at the coffee shop, grocery store, bus stop…
  • Attend some kind of local group, event or workshop.
  • Go to the bookstore and see what’s new in your niche/ genre.
  • Talk to yourself.
  • Draw something – it doesn’t matter whether you think you can draw or not.
  • Go shopping, look at new inventions in hairbrushes, mouse traps…
  • Take a walk outside.
  • Listen to music and then read the lyrics.
  • Take your laptop on a road trip.
  • Photograph your family. Get as many together as you can.
  • Try creating something in text art.
  • Read the newspaper classifieds.
  • Go to the local thrift store and buy yourself a new coffee mug.
  • Talk to a teenager. They really aren’t that scary.
  • Read about fashion or something else you don’t care about much.
  • Read an opinion that does not agree with your own.
  • Brainstorm about life. What is the meaning of life?
  • Send a postcard or a real, full letter to someone.
  • Try something new in papercrafts: paper flowers, paper cutting, paper folding…
  • Take a lawnchair or a blanket outside and watch the sky, the clouds.
  • Get a hot shower with a soap and shampoo you love to smell.
  • Take the bus all across the town or city you live in.
  • Buy a new pen and some blank paper.
  • Read one of the classic books you never read for school.
  • Do an online personality quiz, just for fun.
  • Read a few blogs by people you don’t know, leave a comment or three.
  • What’s the most boring thing you can think of? Do it.

In the end, it isn’t about where or how you find ideas. The real way to get ideas is to keep your mind open looking for them. Don’t become close minded, too literal, too judgmental or sure you’re so right about everything. It’s when you are open to new things that you are able to find them. You see things you might not have noticed or ignored because they weren’t flashing a neon sign telling you “this is your idea!”.

If you have writer’s block, distract yourself. Get away from that heavy focus and all the pressure. Once you release your mind, give it new roads to travel, the block will weaken and you can shake it off.

Take the seed of an idea and grow it. Look for more information, look at it from another perspective, combine it with other ideas to make something new and interesting. Be open to them and ideas will just come to you, trust me, ideas are everywhere!


This was an email forwarded to my from my Mother today:


They are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, and frequently humorous.
Winston Churchill loved them.

1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it is still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’

13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

20. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

21. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

23. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

25. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

26. Where there’s a will, there are relatives.

And one more:

I’m supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Writing Mysteries

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.

Writing Mysteries

By Janet Blaylock

Janet Blaylock writing on Helium


What are your favorite genres? Romance perhaps? Maybe it’s Adventures or Comedies? How about the more intense genres of Mysteries, Detective Fiction, Suspense, Horror, or just good old Thrillers? Have you ever wondered how they are written? How the author builds up the suspense and the excitement that keeps you turning those pages right to the very end? If you do, then you will probably find “Writing Mysteries” intriguing. In the previous course, “Mysteries,” you learned about the different writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie; or the later writers such as Catherine Coulter, Nevada Barr, Sara Paretsky; or the famous authors of suspense or thrillers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, and John Grisham. They have learned the essence of a good thriller/suspense book. When you first pick up a book and you say to yourself, “This looks like a great book.” They have already captured you and will now hold you hostage until the plot is inevitably revealed. Finally, you say to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could write a book like that!” Well, you can! You will learn about the elements of fiction writing such as settings, themes, characters, plots, etc. You will also learn how to write mini-mysteries and short stories. The information you receive in this course will help you to write your first novel, so lets climb on board and let the suspense begin! Continue reading Writing Mysteries

21 Techniques for Writing Your own 101 List Post

  • Don’t be intimidated by the big number (101). Write down 10 and just keep going as long as you can.
  • Brainstorm, don’t edit your ideas until you are getting nearer to your goal for 101.
  • Don’t go to other sites or other sources for ideas right away. Start your brain thinking and work on your own ideas first. Give yourself the chance to get into it before you just give up and copy what others have done. If you don’t make this your own, unique post, it just won’t be all that interesting.
  • Take a break. Go for a shower, take a walk, grab the bus for a tour around town, make coffee, something that gets you away from your list but doesn’t fully occupy your mind. I get my best ideas when I stop trying so hard to get ideas.
  • Don’t pick a generic or overly general topic. Yes, 101 seems like a lot, but you will be surprised how quick you can come up with ideas once they start to flow.
  • Phone a friend. Get fresh inspiration from family and friends. You might not get anything from them but something they say could start you thinking along a new track.
  • Read forums in the niche/ topic your list fits into. Then read forums, and sites you find in the forum posts.
  • Use the numbered list when you type in your ideas. It saves you counting them plus, as you get past each mile mark you get a surge of accomplishment.
  • Read back the ideas you have already written. I always get new ideas that way.
  • Pick your topic wisely. Don’t try to write something you don’t really know anything about. It will show when people who do know the topic read your post.
  • Don’t write it just for SEO or keywords. You’re going to need a passion for your topic to stick with it for all 101.
  • Don’t think you have to have a fabulous idea for each of your 101. Go back to the basics for those might not know anything about your topic.
  • If your topic is a hobby or something you can physically do, do it. Pay attention to each step along the way. There are always little things you have come to take for granted.
  • If you stall out consider breaking your ideas up into categories. Sorting them out can show you ideas you overlooked.
  • Search for inspiration in unlikely places. There are so many feed type sites, just pick one like HubPages, Squidoo, etc.
  • Try something other than text based sources. Flickr is a photo sharing site with an amazing diversity of user groups for all kinds of ideas and topics.
  • Take a real break from it all. Put the whole thing away for a week and stick to that week. Don’t come back until you really want to.
  • Look for another angle. If you’re writing a list of people as resources mix it up by adding people on Twitter or skip people and link to places they could go to offline,  or a forum instead of links to blogs and websites.
  • Spelling and grammar count. Pay attention to spellcheck. If you aren’t sure about a word, don’t use it. Check the spelling for names of people, companies or sites.
  • Look for memes, and other 101 posts with your same topic or something similar/ related.
  • Turn it around, write about poor resources, tips that don’t work and ideas that didn’t pan out.