Steam Powered Giraffe

Hello Imaginary Friends,

There’s a lots of negative things going on (understatement I know). I was having a very hard time finding a topic for a post until I remembered that it was Pride and that we should be talking about fantastic LGBT+ creators.

Steam Powered Giraffe is a a fantastic musical group featuring some wonderful LGBT+ members.

Steam Powered Giraffe is a musical project from San Diego, California. It was formed in 2008 by twin siblings David Michael Bennett and Isabella “Bunny” Bennett. Together, along with a cast and crew filled with theatrical backgrounds, the group takes on the guise of singing antique automatons and the fictional robotics company that made them.

The quirky act combines comedic sketches, improvised android banter, and original music fused with multimedia visuals, billowing steam effects, and robot pantomime.

From their heartwarming nostalgic melodies to their funky cabaret rock, Steam Powered Giraffe’s songs are memorable, infectious, and as unique as the robots themselves.

More than just a band, Steam Powered Giraffe is an experience that must be seen and heard by the entire family.

https://steampoweredgiraffe.com/

Keladry used to break into smiles and dance every time their songs were played. (She still loves them.)

They are fantastically geeky, inclusive, and positive. All qualities that are comforting in these interesting times.

Be kind to each other,

Éric

Details on the publishing of my books

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Publishing my Books

This month I’ve received two publishing contracts for books I’ve submitted. They will be published by Renaissance Press!

Renaissance Press

Check out their website and like their Facebook page!

You’ll hear about any updates as I get them. I’m ridiculously excited!!!

They are a local Ottawa press that has existed for just under 3 years old and have roughly half a dozen authors in their catalogue and have also been publishing card games.

I’ve been constantly impressed by their professionalism and I look forward to working with them.

A Study in Aether

Release Date: 2016

This is the first book in the Elizabeth Investigates Series or Baker City Chronicles (Series title to be discussed with the publisher.) I’m hoping they’ll be interested in publishing the next ones in the series.

The Series will hopefully consist of:

  • Memories of Faust (Completed Second Draft),
  • A Case of Synchronicity (Completed First Draft),
  • The Hounds of Bakerville (Completed Outline),
  • The Camp of Fear (Completed Outline), and
  • 2-4 more untitled novels.

This is all hopeful thinking. The publisher has only picked up the first one and I’ve only written the first three.

Parasomnia (Working Tittle)

Release Date: Hopefully 2017

This is a stand-alone book and needs some serious re-writes which the publisher has gratefully offered to help with.

Serial Story

You have until 11:59 tomorrow night to cast your vote for this year’s Serial Story.

What story should move on to the last round?

  • Wargrave Island (38%, 3 Votes)
  • The Ruby Child (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens (25%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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The stories listed below with their first paragraphs.

Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Scifi
Inspiration: Neverwhere

The café was full. Sandra had placed her backpack on the chair next to her pretending that she was saving it for someone. She had her headphones on, she had her phone on the arm of the plush chair and she had a paperback book in her hand. She wanted to be left alone to drink her overpriced and unpronounceable coffee. Her headphones were wireless and she wasn’t listening to music.

Read More

Wargrave Island

Genre: Murder Mystery
Inspiration: And Then There Were None

“Best Party Ever!” yelled Jonathan. His hair was thinning and starting to go grey, but he was unmistakable.

“Remind me why I came?” Riko asked her partner Ethan.

“Because this is your ten year high school reunion and you’re the youngest person to make Inspector in Ottawa police history.” Ethan smiled proudly, looking at the quickly approaching island.

Read More

The Ruby Child

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Inspiration: Firefly

It was the middle of the night and darker than Mac was used too. When the clouds covered the stars in the rural islands there were no magical or electric lamps. It wasn’t the first time he’d wished he could use a magical torch or those fancy darkvision glasses but magic didn’t work on or around him. He just kept following the speck of light ahead.

Read More

 

Thanks for reading!

Éric

Discover Japan

Today, I was asked to price out a trip to Japan. Since the quickest way to figure out an approximate price for something is to search for tours that already exist, I went to G-Adventures because they are both an amazing tour company, and sustainable. They only offer small group tours, and always make sure that they hire local guides. Among many other things. Plus, they’re Canadian!

I also did a quick estimate for flights. I found that it costs between $1600-1900 CAD per person to fly from Ottawa to Tokyo. Not bad, considering it costs about half that to fly from Ottawa to Vancouver.

This tour completely blew my mind: Discover Japan. It covers temples, castles, and gardens outside of Tokyo, as well as giving the travellers plenty of opportunities to purchase food on their own.

For the geeky traveller, there are tons of things that you can do in Tokyo before and after the tour. Here is an article that helps you to find a bunch of apps that are pretty cool: with one, you can type in your question in English, and it will translate it for you!

If you like robots, (who doesn’t like robots?) the US challenged Japan to a giant bot-fight, and that will be happening next year, date undeclared at the moment. Pacific Rim or Real Steel, anyone?

Akihabara seems to be the place to go, if you’re interested in seeing video games, popculture collectibles, and other attractions.

If you like monster movies, like Godzilla, here is a pre-planned walking tour by Vili Maunula, complete with mini descriptions of the sights you will see.

Mt. Fuji with fall colors in japan.
The beauty of Japan. Image courtesy of www.japaneseammo.com

This article sums up the best high-tech locations to visit in Tokyo, including the incredible National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

Japan is definitely on my bucket list! If you are interested in any of these tours or trips, contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel.

Suggestions for the next place you’d like to see me write about are welcome! Where would you like to go?

Faeries VS Robots Vs Aliens

This will be one of several choices for this year’s serial story.

* * *

The café was full. Sandra had placed her backpack on the chair next to her pretending that she was saving it for someone. She had her headphones on, she had her phone on the arm of the plush chair and she had a paperback book in her hand. She wanted to be left alone to drink her overpriced and unpronounceable coffee. Her headphones were wireless and she wasn’t listening to music.

“May I sit here?” asked the middle aged man in a sharp looking sweater vest. Sandra looked at him over her glasses and growled and he froze. His natural instincts were telling him that was a wolf’s growl, not a human girl’s. It was low menacing growl and it startled the man enough that he looked her in the eye instead of at her breasts.

It was warm outside and she was wearing a low cut t-shirt and medium length skirt. Her hair was in a high ponytail. When he didn’t move, she scowled and said, “No.” He moved away.

Less than half a page in her book later another man came up to her and just stood there. He was looking at her expectantly and she ignored him. When he stepped closer and waved his hand in front of her, she considered breaking his fingers.

When she took off her headphones, he said, “You look like you need company.”

“Oh? What part of my, leave me the hell alone to enjoy my book, attitude give you the idea I need company?”

“Dressed like that, in public reading a trashy romance, you’re obviously trying to find a man. It’s a good thing I thing I like desperate.”

A wave of disgust followed by anger flowed through Sandra and her brown hair turned bright crimson. Her olive skin turned pure white and she poured power into her words, “Go play in traffic.” She took a deep breath as the man went out of the café. Her appearance went back to normal and she put her headphones back on.

The honk of a large truck made her smile.

She managed to almost finish the chapter before someone moved her bag off the seat next to her and sat down.

The smell of iron and grease clung to the man. From the outside he was the perfect man. Well built, handsome, and easy to smile. His designers had even added smile lines to his eyes that made the nearly inhumane shade of blue look soothing.

“Sandra. Did you really think you’d get away from us that easy?” He smiled as if he’d just said something witty.

Her heart raced, she knew how dangerous he was. “I had hoped they’d given up on me. Does this mean,” She paused concentrating her power into her voice, “Leave.” The android Francis didn’t move.

“Your Faery magic doesn’t work on me.”

“It wasn’t meant for you,” she smiled as all the patrons in the shop and the barista behind the counter decided to leave the store.

“The collective has an offer for you.”

That wasn’t what she had been expecting. She was expecting, even hoping for a fight.

“Go on.”

“We’ll release you from your contract if you do something for us.” Her human mother had sold her to the Collective before she was born, traded her for talent with a paintbrush. Sandra visited her mother’s art at the Louvre every once in a while.

“No tricks? A pure release?” Her faery nature meant she couldn’t break a contract and she had tried for almost a hundred years. She had hoped that by running away they’d forget about her. Her Faery heritage meant that she was bound to follow contracts but they had never told her not to run away. Never the less she still felt the pull of magic to return to them. It was like a leash.

“No tricks. Our facility in Moonbeam has gone dark. Find out what happened and we’ll release you.” Moonbeam was a small town in Northern Ontario, it had a large UFO statue and boasted being visited by aliens. It was a Collective front. The whole town was dedicated to research on aliens.

“I’ll do it,” she said, almost tasting freedom. She wondered what if would feel like not to have a magical leash around her neck. When he nodded, she put the book in her bag and her phone in her pocket.

Standing up, she took the headphones, put them on the robot’s head, and pressed a button. “Some of my magic works.” She released the electricity stored in the headphones and walked away. The smell of burning metal made her sneeze as she left the store.

Outside two policemen were escorting the man who’d been playing in traffic. Sandra removed the compulsion and giggled at the fact that the man was naked.

Technogedon?

Hello,

I watched a video that, I think, was meant to scare me but instead it confused me. Not its message but its lack of solutions. Here’s the video.

But Eric I don’t want to watch the 15 minute video

Fair enough. Here’s a quick explanation on what you’ll see. The human world is on the precipice of a revolution the likes we’ve never seen. Robots and robotics are at a level that they’re either affordable enough or close to affordable enough, to replace 25% of the workforce.

They talk about four tiers of work and how they can be replaced with robots or machinery of somesort. The biggest being transportation. Self-driving cars are already better at driving then all but the best human drivers. Then there’s retail which has had things like automatic checkouts and online shopping for years.

They go on to talk about computer programs, which they call bots in order to be thematic, which can effectively fill in reports and replace most paper pushers.

They then talk about Watson, a self-teaching computer, that is attempting to create the best possible doctor replacement program.

The last is a vague attempt to tell us that creativity isn’t solely a human trait and we are working on robots that can do the same things we can.

The moral seems to be that change is inevitable and that we are completely unprepared for the robots taking our jobs.

It’s important to know that all this technology exists and it’s not science fiction, or speculation.

Technophobia?

The first reaction I had to this was, “OH DEITY! OH DEITY! We’re all going to die.” Totally reasonable right? Well not really. All this technology exists and is getting cheaper and easier to use and may replace all the jobs mentioned. That’s what it is, by the way: Technology, not bots nor robots etc. Your vending machine is a machine, not a robot.

The Oxford English Dictionary says a robot is “A central European system of serfdom, by which a tenant’s rent was paid in forced labour or service”… Oops wrong one. It says a robot is: “An intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal”.

So no, robots are not rising or trying to destroy us. Yet!?

But my Job

The technology may exist but there are two things you need to remember about them “taking” your jobs.

The first is simply fear. People are slow to adopt new technology. It takes time. Think about electric cars, they are completely usable and not to much more expensive but it’s taking a long time for people to adopt them. Same will happen with self-driving cars, unfortunately. As a person without a license, I’d love a self-driving car. As for the rest of the technology, it will take longer to get rid of retail employees only because most people prefer to buy from a person. Especially large or vanity items.

The second is stupidity. Machines are only as smart as their programing. There are some self-programing machines out there but they’re expensive and difficult to make. Anyone who’s tried to use speech-to-text software, or tried to use website autobuilding software knows that it’s not as simple as it seems.

Between fear and stupidity, it’ll be a while before we see robots replacing most jobs.

However, if you’re a Pay Phone repair man, you might look into another vocation.

What about when it does happen

Some jobs will disappear. That’s natural, I haven’t seen a town crier in a while.

The video is right, we’re not ready and I don’t think we should be. Technology changes quickly, and occasionally we adopt technology faster than normal, like cell phones. Trying to guess what the next big boom will be and where it’ll come from is fun but not worth serious effort.

It will happen, jobs will be automated, and people will lose their jobs. I think the first and hardest hit will be transportation probably in the next 25 years. But that industry is also going to need to change anyways due to Climate Change and evolving technology.

If it happens as quickly as the video (fear mongers) suggests, it would have devastating consequences on the world economy. If a quarter of the developed world’s population lost their jobs, the economy would screech to a standstill and that technology would become too expensive to upkeep and after a hard couple of horrible decades we’d find a balance. (yay uplifting!)

Ok, but what can I do?

Enjoy your job while you have it. Unless you want to become one of those survivalist nuts that have a bomb shelter in the woods with years of supplies etc, there’s no way for you to tell what will go first.

I’d assume the safest jobs would be in hard sciences, engineering, or leisure. They’ll be the last ones fully replaced. If you’re super terrified become a Physicist, Engineer, or Party Planner. Could be an interesting unified field theory.

Bottom Line

Hehehehe, Bottom!

Seriously, though. If you can think of a good way to help 45% of the population losing their jobs, tell someone. No, tell everyone!

Do you have a plan for when technology makes your job obsolete?

Eric

Related: Speedy Locksmith in Boulder CO.