Digital gardens and fungi research (Learning Things: May 15, 2023)

A pixel drawing of a cranesbill plant

It's really feeling like spring here in NYC (or summer, really—it's been toasty). My wife and I went to Central Park this week, which is in bloom and full of birds (we saw a black-crowned night heron, which is always exciting). The cranesbill bloom pixel art that accompanies this post is based on a plant I saw while in the park. (I've been having fun with pixel art doodles lately, which I suppose we can file under nostalgia.)

Also, on Thursday night, I went to one of the coolest concerts I've ever been to: the electronic musician Four Tet performed a show in an immersive environment created by an artist collective called Squidsoup. Basically, the show was set up with the stage in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by strings of lights that hung from the ceiling to the floor, which were programmed to put on a light show during the performance. I love seeing electronic music live because it tends to be meditative and surreal, but this really took it to another level. (Brooklyn Vegan did a writeup of the show, accompanied by pictures and video.)

Other than that, here's what I've been up to this week:

Paranormal research

This week, I finished reading Third Eyes Spies by Russell Targ (which just came out two weeks ago). I've mentioned this before, but I have a penchant for reading very similar books by the same author back-to-back, in part because hearing things multiple times helps me solidify the information in my head. So this book was very similar to Targ's 2010 book Limitless Mind, which I read a couple weeks ago. I did like that Third Eye Spies contained straightforward remote viewing instructions; overall, the book was a great primer on remote viewing.

Also, over the weekend, I set up a little "digital garden" website. It's not quite ready for primetime, but it's basically a place where some of my rougher notes and research will be available. I'll probably share it later this week!

DIY paranormal gear

I still haven't finished that biodata sonification device build. Maybe next week?

Art and paranormal investigation

Last week, I said I wanted to try automatic drawing using colored pencils, since I'd tried out oil pastels and liked the addition of color to my automatic drawing experiments.

So I tried that out, and I ended up feeling exactly how I thought I would: somewhat ambivalent. I didn't like the resulting drawing as much as when I tried oil pastels last week. But it's unlikely that I'd like any colored pencil drawing as much as a pastel drawing, so that's probably just on me. But colored pencils do glide better than pastels, so I'll keep playing around with 'em.


Last week, I mentioned that I needed to do some research on mycology for the queer solarpunk fantasy romance novel I'm writing. Fortuitously, after waiting for the audiobook of Entanged Life: How fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures by Merlin Sheldrake for two months on the New York Public Library hold list, my time finally came to read it this week. On the off chance that you haven't heard of it, Entangled Life is a famous (and obviously popular) book about mycology. It's good. I'm enjoying it. Hopefully I finish it before I need to return it.

Other than that, overall, I'm happy with the writing progress I made this week. I went through my scene spreadsheet (which contains every scene, word count, POV and beat info, scene types, etc., plus some formulas to help me out) and refined a lot there. I also started going back through the manuscript and lacing in some of the additional worldbuilding details that I've been working on. The good/bad news is that I'm happy with how this revision is going and I feel confident about the stuff that needs to change, but based on my scene spreadsheet, I have about 25,000 words of new scenes to write or old scenes to rewrite for this draft. So that's probably about 15-20 hours of work there (not counting reading through and revising the scenes that aren't total rewrites).

This month, I have a pretty light month of work (the gift/curse of being a freelancer), so I'd set the goal of finishing two more revisions of this book by the end of May. Might need to adjust that to just finishing revision two, which would also be fine.