advice: research

Doing Your Own Research

Originally posted by teded

Or, more appropriately titled: Doing Your Own Research, Without Just Looking Up Someone Else’s Correspondence Lists. Because while those lists are very handy to get started or have a shorthand reference, it gives us memorization, stopping just short of real understanding. What’s more, most correspondence lists won’t have your local (overlooked) plant life, or whatever niche plant, rock, animal you need. Sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty and figure it out from scratch.

Anyway so here’s some stuff you can do to aid in that.

 The Science
Look into what it physically is. What family does it belong to? If that weird plant growing in your backyard is closely related to say, basil, it will likely have similar properties. Was that crystal formed under heat and pressure, or is it a sedimentary rock? What does this animal do? How does it live and survive? A lot of correspondences come from this level, and it’s the easiest level to research. Physical traits and fun science facts are all welcome here and fair game to use in magic.

The Folklore
Okay, so we know what the Thing is made of, but let’s look into its relationship with humans. There’s nothing demanding that roses be the Official Love Flower, but rather it’s a collective cultural thing. That has worked itself into magic as well. Are there any stories involving your object of choice? Local superstitions? Home remedies? What does this item get used for in wider culture? For some things, there may not be much here. But for those that do have lore, it’s a valuable resource.

The Vibes
The actual, spiritual sensations you get from holding or touching the Thing. (This is going to apply more to rocks and plants… please don’t go out and touch wild animals.) This will give you some better understanding beyond just what it does, but how it does it. Does the energy seem aggressive? Is it fast or slow moving? Does it give you the impression of being related to a certain element? Which brings us into the next…

The Voice
If you communicate with stuff or spirits at all, this is for you. Just ask the Thing for yourself! “Hello. I am ____. Tell me, what sort of things would you be able to help me with?” Prepare an interview, maybe. This will likely be more specific than “love” or “cleansing,” because they’re giving you a pitch and will know themselves very well. It may be “I help someone realize romantic feelings they already have but don’t know about,” or “I help other cleansing items so that cleansed spaces stay cleaner for longer, but I don’t work by myself.” If you get an answer, record it!

Experiment
Use the Thing! If you have a general idea of what it does, throw it into the mix for your next relevant spell and see how it changes the result. You can read a lot about something, but the research doesn’t stop when you start using it! As you discover things through repeated use, make note of that as well!

Happy researching!

Just little sensory-pleasing things about lab~ add your own!
  • the sound of tips clinking into a glass beaker
  • the magnetic click of the nanodrop
  • the cold smell of the -80 freezer
  • the slightly burnt smell of the autoclave when it’s doing plastics
  • the oat-y smell of the mouse food bin
  • the feel and smell of the ice machine
  • small crunchy ice pieces
  • making gels with the nice thin smooth pieces of glass
  • cracking open a pre-cast gel
  • tiny smooth smooth glass coverslips
  • the little test tubes with the push down lids that are nice to press
  • the sound, sight, and feel of aspirating anything
For decades, our minimum-wage debate has been dominated by ideology — the zero-sum claim that if wages go up, employment must inevitably go down — leading even many progressives to believe that the minimum wage is at best a necessary trade-off between fairness and growth.

But 78 years of evidence demonstrates that this old trickle-down model just isn’t true. On the contrary: When workers have more money, businesses have more customers and hire more workers. That is the virtuous cycle that has always described the way market economies actually work.
In the past couple months, you’ve requested books on Southern California music culture, parasitology, the neurology of PTSD, modern practices in Reform Judaism, locked-in syndrome, children’s literature… and your request for a book on alien conspiracies just arrived. I gotta ask: what the hell is your research area?
—  The guy who works the Interlibrary Loan desk at my university

One of my favourite documented curses is:

“Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”

[Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.]

Cologne, Historisches Archiv, G.B. quarto, 249, fol. 68r

A Deventer scribe, writing around 1420, found his manuscript ruined by a urine stain left there by a cat the night before. He was forced to leave the rest of the page empty, drew a picture of a cat and cursed it. Cursed it and then made a realisation about his own involvement in his frustration. Rage to self-awareness in the time of a scrawl XD.

6.21.17 // 9:30pm // lab notebook

so for the summer (and also into the school year), i’ll be working in a cardiovascular research lab at a local hospital. i was making some notes + diagrams on the pcr i did today and really like how it turned out so here we are. what are you guys doing for the summer? xoxo, m

SciShow Is Hiring an Editor/Writer!

We’re seeking an experienced full-time science editor/writer to contribute to SciShow, one of YouTube’s most viewed and trusted sources of science information.

If you watch SciShow, you know how we talk to people: with intelligence, clarity, hopefully a little wit, and an abiding sense of wonder about the universe.

Applicants should have an academic background in a scientific discipline, and demonstrated experience writing about science for a popular, non-academic audience.

Experience in and understanding of online media and YouTube would also be wonderful. An awareness of both why people click on things and how to write things that aren’t mindless clickbait drivel are preferred.

Responsibilities include editing several scripts per week, writing occasional scripts between 500 and 1500 words, fact checking, assigning stories to freelancers, generating pitches, and being thoughtful and kind.

Your writing must be:

  • 100% bullet-proof and fact-checked accurate;
  • completely freaking fascinating;
  • entertaining, by which we mean “witty” more than just “funny”; and
  • passionate about imparting hard science to humanity in a way that is both educational and engaging.

If your experience hits these marks, then prove it!

Fill out and submit this application by June 19, 2017, 11:59 PM Mountain Time.

NOTE: If you applied for this position a few months ago, there’s no need to reapply.

stormears  asked:

Do you know of any resources for "what it's like to live in X environment?" I'm trying to write about a character living in a village in a desert. I've checked your "research" and "resources" tags and didn't find anything that I could use. My google research gives me things like "facts about deserts/tundras/rainforests" but these are more trivia facts instead of how a person has to adjust their life to use/deal with their environment. I want to read about the human experience of living there.

Let’s turn this into a chance to do deeper searches. I don’t know what you’ve already found, but some of the trivia might be helpful later. Don’t discount it when you need to go hunting or gathering for dinner.

Three things before we jump down the rabbit hole: 

1. There are indigenous people who’ve lived in climates we Westerners think of as inhospitable for millennia. Focus on people, not climates. (Research both, though.)

2. I’m not going to filter out any results that might send anyone to articles that are culturally insensitive/appropriative/exceedingly white. I haven’t vetted all of them all the way. That part’s up to you.

3. You might want to outline or list the building blocks of the world you want to create so you can focus on those specific topics. 

First, make sure you are asking questions in natural, or close to natural, language. Just searching “desert” or “desert life” will probably give you way too many generic articles. 

My first search was “what is it like to live in the desert” and actually, the results that looked most promising were some of the related searches all over the page. 

That gave me the idea to search for “human inhabited deserts” and that got a lot more promising. 

I saw one article, Facts About the People in the Arabian Desert, and it looked like it was meant for kids. But I checked the references at the bottom of the page and found the name of a travel journalist named Ryan Murdock. A few dead ends later, I got to his Articles page on his own website and found a few good links to articles about Jordan and Namibia.

I went back to “human inhabited deserts” just looking for areas/specific deserts/specific peoples and found places like Alice Springs, Australia, the Sonoran Desert, the Kalahari Desert/San people, and the nomadic Tuareg people. 

Don’t forget National Geographic. There are articles available online. Hot tip: You’ll need to filter the search to avoid sifting through hundreds of single photographs. Unless you want to do that for landscape ideas. 

This looks like a start: 

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/hejaz-desert/salopek-text

[Beware the paywall … you might need to use a library database. :-( ]

Then I realized I wanted to find other longform journalism articles, so I searched “where to find longform journalism online” and found several promising, free sites where you might want to search for specific articles.

References on seemingly useless articles might be of the best help. You’re going to have to search more than the first page of results a lot, too. 

See what other authors have done with the topic. Other searches I dove into: 

“books about people living in the desert”

https://timesflowstemmed.com/2013/04/28/top-10-books-about-deserts/

“books about desert cultures” might be good, too.

There’s no guarantee that this is the research path you need to follow, but maybe it will get you started and you’ll find the road you need to take. 

Bonus advice: 

If you’re looking for desert living in a fantasy/sci-fi setting, I recommend reading the classic Dune by Frank Herbert. It’s a master class in using setting to frame a story (and in fact an entire epic saga).

If spec fic isn’t your thing, then I offer up Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop – another novel where setting (New Mexico; the book was published in 1927, so keep that in mind.) is as important as the characters. 

– mod Aliya

4

My day in four photos. I left pinedale this morning super excited to do high-resolution sampling for paleosols at Honeycomb Buttes, but the road (“road” = faint two track literally just through fields of cows having sex) got potholey and muddy and I was nervous about driving another hour out, so I sadly bailed and headed down to Utah early. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive - great weather and breathtaking views the whole way. Then I had to decide: camp or cheap motel? The campground I have booked for my planned nights here is full, so my options were KOA or BLM. which normally, BLM any day. But driving through the Swell area I wasn’t sure about where to go, and it’s 100 degrees and a shower after fieldwork is veeerrry nice. So I’m being a lame wimp and moteling it. Hoping tomorrow goes better…

Last two photos are from around the Swell at sunset. Pretty gorgeous.
vimeo

La Palma in the Canary Islands, was one of the first places in the world to apply the Sky Law, which states - An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right equivalent to all other socio-cultural and environmental rights. This law protects La Palma from all forms of light pollution and as a result of which, it boasts of truly dark skies, apt for astrophotography in all its forms.

In September of 2016, i spent two sleep deprived weeks on this beautiful island, whilst capturing over 20000 images. These, I have strung together in the timelapse - Heavens On Earth La Palma .

While i was editing the images i decided to make the music to accompany it as well ….

owivizzle  asked:

Hey there! I currently have an idea for a story/script that I'm really excited about. I have an idea for a group of people who call themselves 'The Kites' ((there's symbolism there)), and I just wanted to ask if there's any negative connotations with that? Is there a group in real life called the kites? ((I worry about this stuff when writing a lot-))

Use the Google, Luke. 

Seriously. It’s a good habit no matter what. Think up a great sci-fi/fantasy name? You should google it. It might mean something nasty or offensive in another language. It might be the name of a heinous corporation. You probably don’t want those kinds of associations with your characters or your story.

And by Use the Google, I mean deep searches. Use qualifiers. Use excluders. Put quote marks around “The Kites” and add the word group or groups or association, etc. Check the list at the bottom of related searches, and search on those. Search images. Kite is a type of bird. Read the Wikipedia page

The link on the words “deep searches” above is a resource for doing better searches. Here’s another one. And here are our tags, including another post on how to use Google. 

Doing your own research will lead you to other ideas. Doing your own research will set you free. Unlike a kite.

– mod Aliya

sharkie-heart  asked:

Hi there! I'm not sure if you've answered something similar to this, but I'm wanting to write an autistic character. She's very severe, and has trouble communicating (slurred speech), her personality is also very spacey and oblivious. Any tips, or things to learn about writing an autistic character when I myself am not autistic? Thank you! Take your time!

Thanks for your question, love!  I apologize for the wait, but I’m happy to finally get to answer this :)

So first, I’ve got a a note on what you’ve described about your character.  For one thing, it’s preferred among most autistic people that there be no “sliding scale” of severity – because there are so many different symptoms and combinations of symptoms, and “severity” seems to only relate to symptoms that bother allistic people most.  Here’s a masterpost on how to handle this topic.

So now that this is out of the way, here are my official tips for writing autistic characters!

How to Write Autistic Characters

So it took me some time to prepare for this question, primarily because I saw so little information out there for writing about autism!  And that’s understandable, since it’s such a complex topic – after all, no two autistic people have exactly the same symptoms and coping mechanisms.  Plus, since autism is basically a top-to-bottom different living experience, it’s difficult for allistics to identify with.

But I’m going to discuss this in a few different parts: symptoms, coping mechanisms, positive qualities, and stereotypes to avoid.  I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible without sparing any information :)

Symptoms of Autism

There are many different symptoms of autism, although the mental/emotional aspects of the disorder is most often overlooked by the general public.  It’s important to recognize that every autistic person’s experience and symptoms are different.  Some people have few social problems but they can’t handle the sensory experience of a restaurant; some have few physical problems, but they struggle with OCD and can’t maintain a conversation.  The only difference between symptoms is that some are talked about and some are not, which makes them seem “uncommon.”

Physical Symptoms

  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – SPD is defined as the struggle to process different sensory input – visual, auditory, tactile, taste, olfactory, proprioception, vestibular and interoception.  SPD causes hyper- or hyposentitivities to certain sensory stimuli (e.g. certain clothing textures, food textures, scents, and lighting – especially fluorescent lighting.  Ugh.)
  • Dyspraxia – A result of SPD, dyspraxia makes it difficult to control one’s physical movement.  It creates problems with planning and executing actions, as well as speaking or judging spacial proximity.
  • Sleep Disorder – Many autistic people struggle with sleeping for various reasons – hypersensitivity seems to be the greatest cause.  Offensive sheet fabric, noises, or lighting can cause sleep problems, as well as racing thoughts or anxiety.
  • Lack of Energy (or Spoons) – Often caused by sleep problems or SPD, a lack of energy intensifies normal symptoms.  Understand that when an autistic person engages in a stressful or energy-consuming experience (prolonged socialization, insomnia, bad sensory environments, anxiety, etc.)
  • Nonverbal Communication – This type of communication is used by nearly one-third of autistic people, either because they aren’t able to use language in a meaningful way, because it requires an excessive amount of mental/social energy, or because they suffer from a learning disability.  Some people go temporarily nonverbal in times of stress to conserve energy.  Most nonverbal autistic people learn other means of communication, like writing, sign language, or scripting/echolalia.

Mental Symptoms

  • Executive Dysfunction – This dysfunction makes it difficult for some autistic people to start, finish, and quit tasks; to make decisions and switch activities; and/or create, organize, and follow through with plans.  This should not be confused with procrastination, as it is not a decision – it’s a result of low energy.
  • Alexithymia – Alexithymia can cause autistic people to struggle to identify their own emotions, or separate physical feelings from emotional feelings.  It’s closely tied with lowered interoception, which is defined as the struggle (or inability) to define and assess physical sensations like hunger, thirst, tension, etc.
  • Meltdowns – Meltdowns are an emotional response to overstimulation and stress, causing some autistic people to “lose control” of visceral emotional responses (e.g. shaking, kicking, crying, shouting, etc.).  There is another type of meltdown called a shutdown, which causes an opposite reaction: dissociation and lack of external response.  It’s a flight reaction rather than a fight reaction.
  • Increased Likelihood for Other Mental Disorders – Since the world isn’t exactly built for autistic people, there are plenty of everyday challenges and stressors (as well as difficulty maintaining supportive relationships) that can cause other comorbid disorders, such as OCD, anxiety, and depression.
  • Learning Disability and Late Childhood Development – While autism itself is not classified as a learning disability, it’s often comorbid with different types of learning disabilities.  Autism can also cause late development of speech and motor skills, among other things.

Social Symptoms

  • Hyperempathy or Low Empathy – On two ends of the spectrum, autistic people often struggle with the “right balance” of empathy – being either unable to identify, express, and empathize with emotions, or unable to shut off or control their own emotions as well as to separate themselves from other people’s emotions.
  • Impulsive Behavior – Because of a (sometimes) weak understanding of social rules and/or imbalanced empathy, an autistic person may struggle to stop and think before they say or do something impulsively.  This can cause interpersonal issues, as impulsive speech may offend or hurt others, while impulsive actions may feel too “out-of-control” or “hard to manage” for loved ones.
  • Difficulty Interpreting or Expressing Social Cues – Autistic people often struggle to understand facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, sarcasm, flirting, or figures of speech – and because of this, they can often come off as “oblivious” or “simple” (although this is inaccurate and contributes to a lot of misrepresentation).  It can also be difficult to express social cues, which is why some autistic people can appear to be awkward, clingy, aloof, or uninterested in friendship/romance.
  • Social Anxiety – Social situations can be especially stressful for autistic people, due to the amount of thinking it requires – to interpret cues, to “pass” as allistic, to express themselves clearly, to curb impulses, to handle sensory challenges – and this leads to social anxiety.
  • Social Isolation – As a result of social anxiety, some autistic people experience isolation, as they may feel more comfortable in their own environment, alone.  This is an unfortunate result of ableist culture, and may be worsened by executive dysfunction which can make it difficult to reach out to others.
  • Struggle with Change – Whether in routine, environment, appearance, or the natural changes of life (such as graduation, moving, marriage, death in the family, new job, etc.), change can cause great stress for some autistic people.  This is why many autistic people enjoy comfort objects, old music, childhood memories/interests, or specific, consistent colors, styles, or textures for their belongings.

Coping Mechanisms for Autistic People

There are many methods of coping with the negative aspects of autism, but there are a few that are most popular:

  • Behavioral & Occupational Therapy – Therapy (often combined with medication) is a continuous process of reducing symptoms, coping with stressors, and learning how to function in an allistic world.  (The most common method of behavioral therapy, ABA, has reports of being abusive, so be mindful of this if you’re researching/writing about therapy!)
  • Stimming – “Stimming” or self-stimulating is a physical coping mechanism for sensory overload and similar stress.  Stimming can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the action involved (some unhealthy stims include skin-peeling or hitting one’s head), and it can be conscious or subconscious.  It’s often seen as “weird” or “bad” by allistics (especially parents), so some autistic people train themselves out of the habit from a young age.
  • Special Interests – Special interests are half a coping mechanism and half a natural part of autistic people’s lifestyles.  It’s defined as a devoted interest to one or two subjects or activities – special interests can reduce stress, help focus, and provide motivation against executive dysfunction. 

Positive Qualities of Autism

Now that we’ve gotten all the bad stuff out of the way, I’m gonna list a few common positive qualities of autistic people.  Remember that these do not apply to all autistic people, but may be a natural consequence of autistic traits:

  • Determination
  • Dedication
  • Divergence (from trends and social expectations)
  • Passion
  • Honesty
  • Uncritical nature
  • Attention to detail
  • Good memory
  • Logical reasoning
  • Active imagination
  • Integrity
  • Understanding of what it’s like to be judged or left out
  • Skilled with children

Autistic people, of course, have many other great qualities, and may struggle with many of the above.  Creating a character with all these qualities will yield you a stereotype, so be mindful!


Stereotypes of Autistic People

Finally, there are a few popular stereotypes of autistic characters, which should be avoided at all costs:

  • Autistic People are Psychic – We get this courtesy of shows like Touch, where the (usually nonverbal) autistic child suddenly starts speaking because they see ghosts or are somehow connected to “another world”.  Autistic people joke about themselves being “aliens”… but allistic people really shouldn’t.
  • Autistic People Need Caretakers – While some autistic people do struggle to manage their lives alone, it’s a pretty harmful stereotype in media considering the lack of positive representation autistic people get.  Plenty of autistic people (whether you consider them high- or low-functioning) lead successful lives on their own, and they deserve representation.
  • Autistic People are Burdens – The most stereotypical portrayal of autistic people is that they are the weight pulling on their parents’ ankles – that they destroy parents’ sex lives and make teachers crazy and their friends need a “night off” from their autistic friends.
  • Autistic People are Childlike – While many autistic people enjoy activities geared toward children, and while meltdowns can resemble an allistic child’s temper tantrum, autistic people are not childish or unintelligent.  Autistic adults are adults, no matter their struggles.
  • Autistic People Look Different – Autistic people don’t all look a certain way from birth – this is a myth that has been debunked time and time again, the same way that the Vaccines Cause Autism myth has been debunked, time and time again.  Don’t perpetuate these myths in your writing.
  • Autistic People are Like Robots – Autistic people may not express their feelings well, but they have feelings.  Being nonverbal, being dissociative, being aloof or awkward – none of these things make an autistic person unfeeling or non-human.  Be mindful to show the emotional side of your autistic character, even if they struggle to express it to others.

Resources for Researching Autism

A lot of these are courtesy of @anonymusauthorin, whom I thank very much for her information and deep connection to the autistic community!

  • Ballastexistenz’s blog (on her personal experience with multiple disabilities and autism). [NSFW language]
  • Yes, That Too (blog on the personal experience of an autistic person with other neurodivergencies).
  • Aspects of Aspergers (specifically about Asperger’s, which is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder).
  • Disability in Kid Lit (discussions of disability representation in children’s/YA literature).
  • @scriptautistic is an active advice blog for writing about autism.
  • @autism-asks is an active blog that takes questions about autism.
  • @undiagnosedautismfeels is an active blog that receives submitted anecdotes about autistic struggles, some specific to being undiagnosed/self-diagnosed.
  • @autisticheadcanons is an active blog that receives submissions of characters that actual autistic people headcanon as autistic.  You can find some common submissions (e.g. Lilo Pelekai, Newt Scamander, Sherlock Holmes) and check them out for examples!

Final Note: You may notice that none of these links are affiliated with Autism Speaks, which is for a purpose.  Autism Speaks has a long history of promoting eugenics, abusing autistic children and adolescents, silencing the voice of actual autistics, and promoting a “find a cure” narrative that’s harmful to the minds of both autistic people and potential parents of autistic children.  When doing research, I’d advise you to refrain from using their resources.


Anyway, this was hugely long but I wanted to really go into it, since I didn’t see many other extensive guides on writing about autism.  Note that while I, myself, am autistic, this is only the perspective of one autistic person.  Either way, I hope this helps you with your character!  If you have any further questions, my inbox is open and waiting :)

Good luck!


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask me!