"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, March 31, 2011


The typewriter undergoes a renaissance. I tried to learn to type on an indestructible manual typewriter -- haven't seen one of those old war horses in ages -- tho I did not do much typing on it. The keys would all bunch up as if the machine were frustrated with an inept user and throwing its hands in the air. The first typewriter I loved was a big old IBM correcting Selectric, blue, with interchangeable type balls and changeable pitch. So I totally understand wanting one of these, manual or electric. As well as a tablet PC, a Nook and a cellphone that takes hi-def pix.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Shed of One's Own

Writers' writing spaces. Including Virginia Woolf's -- who apparently had a shed of her own.

I really like the idea of a writing room built on a turntable to follow the sun.

When Librarians Go Wild

They launch a boycott.

Divorce and Longevity at the WSJ

The best childhood predictor of longevity, it turns out, is a quality best defined as conscientiousness: "the often complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, close involvement with friends and communities" that produces a well-organized person who is "somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree."

The Wall St Journal review of The Longevity Project, in which we are informed that a parental divorce in childhood shortens the child's life -- or did, anyway. This study was from a time when divorce was really a social disaster. Also, there is no way to compare the result of a miserable, non-divorced childhood had the parents not divorced. So, bearing in mind that there are lies, damn lies and statistics, this looks like an interesting book:

"...chipper types were also more likely to die from homicide, suicide or accident. Of course, the authors don't suggest telling happy kids to wipe the grins off their faces..."

So, conscientious, obsessive, prudent kids live longer... or does it just seem longer?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Keeping in Touch

I just renewed my domain name, ZenofWriting.com -- altho this blog is accessible also by zenofwriting.blogspot.com -- while wondering how the readership numbers compare with Facebook friends who actually read my (usually non-blog) posts.

Well, I'm trying to keep in touch. Soon, I'll have to put pages of my novel up on lampposts...oh, wait. Someone has already thought of that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brave New Orange Juice

This is a bit depressing:

Most are surprised to hear, for instance, that the big brands [e.g., Tropicana, a Pepsi company and Minute Maid, owned by Coca-Cola], which market their product as “pure” and “simple,” add flavor packs to their juice to make it fresh.

Flavor packs are fabricated from the chemicals that make up orange essence and oil. Flavor and fragrance houses, the same ones that make high end perfumes, break down orange essence and oils into their constituent chemicals and then reassemble the individual chemicals in configurations that resemble nothing found in nature. Ethyl butyrate is one of the chemicals found in high concentrations in the flavor packs added to orange juice sold in North American markets, because flavor engineers have discovered that it imparts a fragrance that Americans like, and associate with a freshly squeezed orange.

Freshly squeezed orange juice tastes fresh naturally, and some supermarkets do sell it. However, “from concentrate” and most “not from concentrate” orange juice undergo processes that strip the flavor from the juice. The largest producers of “not from concentrate” or pasteurized orange juice keep their juice in million-gallon aseptic storage tanks to ensure a year round supply. Aseptic storage involves stripping the juice of oxygen, a process known as “deaeration,” so the juice doesn’t oxidize in the “tank farms” in which the juice sits, sometimes for as long as a year.

, by Alissa Hamilton.

I guess we have to squeeze our own oranges, now. Most disturbing is the fact that these facts are hidden from us, that a product that contains "flavor packs" can be sold as pure orange juice. I thought we had laws regarding that... hello?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Dogs of Fiction

Not just "books about rascally lovable mutts and bad dogs that impart life lessons to simple-minded human masters." A fun look at books by and about dogs.

Which are not my favorite dog books, anyway. This list is not exhaustive, but it's a look at the uses writers have for dogs. Sci fi dogs, best friend dogs, wise dogs, foolish dogs, dogs who capture the imagination.

The Awesome Future of Literature

Some more links in the ongoing gender discussions, from Monkey Puzzle Press.