Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Search Results

Not to put too fine a point on it, my search history is a mess.

From what I've learned from other authors, this is a fairly common problem.  When we're working on a book, we find ourselves searching all kinds of weird stuff.  The kind of stuff that normal, right-thinking people don't search for.  The kind of stuff that makes the RCMP (or insert your local 'we-see-what-you-did-there' government agency) start taking notes.

In no particular order, here are some of the things that have permanently messed up my search history:

Haemocyanin:  blood that is copper-based instead of iron-based.  Found in certain species of creatures with very low body temperatures like crawfish, cuttlefish, and maybe some aliens.

Tetrahymena thermophilia:  a species of bacteria with seven biologic sexes.  Because I needed to know about this sort of thing.

White opera gloves:  back when I was writing Burnt Worlds, I played with making my own cover.  My initial version was a 'still life' of a pair of long white gloves laid on the desk in the captain's cabin, so I ordered a pair to take pictures and do some digital compositing.  I absolutely did not try them on.  On an unrelated note, they make it difficult to type.

Meh.  It was way cooler in my head.

Gamma ray burst:  when something big (like the Sun, or maybe a black hole) farts out a beam of radiation that could totally screw up all life on a planet in the line of fire.  Because, you know, these things happen.

Cargo cult:  where members of a less-technological society practice superstitious rituals in hopes of attracting the return of a more-technological society with modern goods.  For example, Pacific Islanders after WW2 building a 'runway' in hopes that US aircraft will return with cargo.

Gerd von Rundstedt:  after WW2, what happened to the German military leaders?  During the war they were household names, in some cases feared or respected.  Assuming they weren't implicated in atrocities, some of them got to live out their lives in relative freedom.  That means they were someone's neighbour.  The thought of a cranky old generalfeldmarschall moving in next door was an image that stuck in my head.

Total Existence Failuresupposedly, under some advanced theoretical physics its possible for quantum-level particles to wink in and out of existence at random.  That being the case, it is theoretically possible for an entire object to suddenly just fail to exist any more.  It's far-fetched, but it does explain what happened to my car keys.  I mean, they were right there a moment ago.

Rate of topsoil accumulation:  if I drop something in the dirt, in 500 years how deep will it be buried?  You know, in case I need to dig it up later.

Cadaver storage temperature:  I need to know this.  Because reasons.

So imagine having all this sort of nonsense in your search history, and then trying to search for something sensible.

Me:        I wonder what I should get Herb for his birthday...
Web:      How about some body bags?
Me:        What?  No.
Web:      Maybe a book about the end of the world?
Me:        No.
Web:      Here's a lovely ball gown.
Me:        Seriously?
Web:      We know where your car keys are.
Me:        What?
RCMP:  Maybe give Herb a gift card?

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