Category Archives: Nature

75 times 365 gets closer to 24/7

I read a blog today that touched on the issue of security cameras, and in this case in the workplace. It reminded of a bit of information a year or so ago. Do you know that In major metro areas a person is on camera an average of 75 times a day – this was back in 2007!

There are also many studies all over the world talking about the current and future crisis of youth unemployment. A university education is certainly not a solution to this problem, nor is getting a trade. As I see it, the crisis is due largely to a lack of new industries, such as automotive, the telephone, and so many more that were launched in the last century. That kind of explosion can’t be sustained today, not by people nor by the planet.

The other issue is increased automation. Machines can lower production costs, increase efficiency, and create some jobs. However, the net effect may be less jobs overall.

I’ve had these discussions in the slow periods with a few of the workers at my 7-eleven down the street, especially with the young guy who’s been working there a few years now . . . the one with the honor’s degree in chemistry. We talk late at night while he’s whipping up tomorrow’s hoagies.

If you don’t believe me, it’s all on tape. We can actually watch each other live on the overhead monitor. One of these days I’ve got to remember to shine up the back of my head, maybe even use some of that glow-in-the-dark glitter glue?

Some guys will do anything for a halo effect!

On the serious side, it seems there are some simple solutions to all this mayhem. First, if I (we) no longer have any legal right to privacy, then dammit I (we) should have the right to at least look good on camera. After all, the president and so many others have their make-up crew nearby all the time, so wherever there is a camera there should be someone available to powder my nose, trim those nostrils, shine my head and so on. Voila, unemployment no longer exists.

I’ll leave it for you to add your own touch to these opportunities – feel free to add your own!

It seems appropriate to once again include that beautiful video, Diana Ross singing “Do You Know?” Aside from being gorgeous in both audio and video, it has this haunting cultural message to it. By the way, her image appears less than 75 times.

Finally, when you think about, almost everything in this Diana Ross video touches on the messages that are in Dawn at Last, right down to a little mahogany and especially the butterfly. You have to think about it though, and please do.

Life Without Fear

I wonder how many people in our culture, or any culture for that matter, really understand this teaching:

Girl in Yoga Position

Found on Pinterest, originally from Amy Jirsa – Quiet Earth Yoga

I know it may be very hard to comprehend the truth of this, especially in the part of the world I live in . . . this way of thinking is not widely taught. Certainly the main stream media, and many other institutions, do not want you or I to think this way – it flies in the face of greed when you think about. It’s also bad for a lot of business.

Put as simply as I can, this is why I like watching butterflies and trees and the wind and the clouds. There is this truth there, life without fear. That is part of what inspires me. Enjoy your Monday.

A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last

Now after posting a ton of text in my last few posts, it’s time for some pictures!

These are all from one of my boards on Pinterest. It’s a fun board, one where every pin is tagged with one of the chapters in Dawn at Last, but don’t worry, there are no spoilers in the picture, but there are some mysterious clues!

If you like this, you would be doing me a huge favor by using the StumbeUpon button at the bottom – it really does help – thank you!

These pictures are from chapters 1 through 13 (the first half of the book). The second half will come later – enjoy! 🙂

Chapter 1 – The Ending Begins

Chapter 1 - The Ending Begins

Chapter 2 – It’s Sunni and They’re Both Wet!

Chapter 2 - It's Sunni . . . and They're Both Wet - twitch- we all find our rivals by on @deviantART

Chapter 3 – Squishing a Grape

Chapter 3 - Squishing a Grape

Chapter 4 – A Shocking Surprise

Chapter 4 - A Shocking Surprise

Chapter 5 – Seeing Double . . . Again

Chapter 5 - Seeing Double . . . Again  Lights,Camera,Action! by on @deviantART

Chapter 6 – The Best Laid Plans

Chapter 6 - The Best Laid Plans - re-pinned from Shonni Hassoldt

Chapter 7 – Tossing One’s Truffles Away

Chapter 7 - Tossing One's Truffles Away

Chapter 8 – Exchanging Secrets

Chapter 8 - Exchanging Secrets  Repinned from @Clara :) Llanes

Chapter 9 – Trying to Plan a Destiny

Chapter 9 - Trying to Plan a Destiny

Chapter 10 – It’s a Date?

Chapter 10 - It's a Date?

Chapter 11 – Hot Topics on a Cool Night

Chapter 11 - Hot Topics on a Cool Night -    Nature's Canvas

Chapter 12 – It’s Not the Tips

Chapter 12 - It's Not the Tips

Chapter 13 – Fully Applying the Principles

Chapter 13 - Fully Applying the Principles  04122012 by on @deviantART

And there you have it, hope you enjoyed it, and if so please don’t forget to share! 🙂

little supergirl

Reading, the Environment

In my last blog I mentioned doing an assessment of the book environment – to call it an industry is a bit of a misnomer.

One of the challenges in strategic planning is defining an industry. In the 1960’s a guy named Ted Levitt wrote an article called “The Marketing Myopia”. It is now considered a classic in The Harvard Business Review. His article is what led to a bit of a paradigm shift – arguably, it is was instrumental in launching branding as we know it today – it definitely changed strategic marketing.

The key point he made is that a product shouldn’t be thought of as something physical, or just thought of as a set features. Depending on the product, these features are important, but in terms of understanding one’s competition (and one’s customers), you need to look at the intangibles – what are the benefits your customers are looking to have fulfilled? For a long time, identifying needs and benefits was how new product opportunities arose. However, that’s not as simple as it may sound.

To put that in the context of books, we’re really talking about the joys of reading. Think of it then as a form of entertainment –  and perhaps even broader in the context of leisure activities – in this context I’m really talking about fiction.

Without doing a formal numerical analysis, here’s what I see, and if I’m wrong, show me the numbers – just make sure they are accurate and valid. There’s a ton of questionable infographic material out there – very little background provided on how the information was obtained, sampling and so on – that kind of stuff really does matter!

How I See It

People are getting fed up with television as a source of entertainment (and information such as news) I’m sure sports is a constant – have you noticed how similar news coverage is to sports coverage? In the good old days a lot of television viewing was habitual, not so much any more. Younger people are becoming more selective, even though they can be very loyal to something they like. The content and credibility of the medium is not improving, and all the networks seem somewhat desperate. That may be partly do a faster, more instant society, where loyalties can be strong for a long time, then turn off in an instant.

Hollywood seems to be in the same boat as television, except perhaps for some genres. Although a lot of people still go to the movies, for many it is for something to do than for the film. More times than not, when I talk to people about this, about what they say, there is usually a tone of disappointment. Hollywood used to provide an element of escapism, but it seems that magic has gone . . . many people are rediscovering that magic through reading for enjoyment, whether that’s romance, YA, erotica, mysteries and so on. Perhaps what is saving Hollywood is that going to the movies is more of a social activity, while reading is done in isolation.

Social media has cut into television time, especially with younger people, but there seems to be a decline in that as well – the novelty is certainly over. The truth is that the term social is really misleading because no matter what the technology, it’s not the same as being there. In many ways it’s closer to a personal experience than a social one.

Reading offers a form of escape from so many stresses in the real world. This may be the age of information, but it is also a very unhealthy age of confusion – and that phenomenon is very strategic – that’s a topic all on its own.

A Little About Ebooks

I’m not sure that the e-book technology has increased the total time spent reading, even though it has changed the way people can find books, and created a certain amount of impulse buying. If there is a net increase in reading, then I’m sure it has more to do with the above shifts than ebook technology. The one caveat may be the impact of price – the lower prices certainly help increase the volume – maybe even having something to do with some people re-discovering the joy of reading. However, there comes a saturation point – there are limits to how much time a person will spend reading.

That issue of time is a big one, and part of that time concerns finding new books to read, and I do mean new, and not the discovery of older, and excellent, books. I’m not saying that every book published in paper is worth reading, but overall there is a pretty good standard that is lacking in the self-publishing craze. I would go so far to say that the supply far exceeds the demand.

That comment isn’t made because of the sheer volume – there is so much self-published work out there that I wouldn’t read even if it’s free. I’m doing some formal research now, and I can safely say that in my findings, and this is just based on my personal reading opinion, at least 80% of what I’ve researched isn’t worth a second look. While that may be based on my opinion, I can pretty much guarantee that most traditional publishers would say that number is low.

Out of the remaining 20%, about half of that has some serious potential with some editorial help and a little re-working – that’s a lot of books! It’s almost painful to read some of this material, in the sense that I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh, you are so close to making this a good read!”

Where Am I Going With All of This?

This is far from a formal research report, but then I have no intent of publishing everything on this blog – each paragraph above could easily be a chapter in a book. Having said that, it will soon be time to move on to another platform, and I will no longer be giving away all my work . . . my expertise . . . I can’t afford to do that. I know it has value, and at the very least I will be asking for donations for some of it.

My next post will talk about the specifics of where I’m going with this – it will include a list of ten hard-to-find ebooks (fiction) that to me are worth a second look, perhaps even a few hidden gems – it only took 25 hours of searching and researching . . . over 150 titles examined . . . none of which are from known authors. Hopefully you can see that I can’t provide that kind of service for free. Actually, I could if this was simply a hobby or if I was rich, but neither is the case.

Having said that, there is a big need to be filled, for readers and indie authors as well, and believe me, from a business point-of-view, the last thing the print part of the industry wants is for readers to easily find those gems, at least not before they do! That does not mean that I see traditional publishers as the enemy of self-publishers; it is more that self-publishing is a potentially huge threat to upsetting the Apple cart.

A Final Note on Paper

Finally, I’m like a great number of people that still prefer a printed book for reading. By the way, I used to work with the big printers, the ones that print major magazines and newspapers. That’s when I was busy doing press checks, printing catalogs on the big machines – 30,000 sheets an hour, 32 pages to a sheet – I wasn’t thinking of the environment that matters most – the trees – paper is the biggest input cost. By the time I left that career behind, paper recycling was an issue, but the bigger environmental issue was with the inks. I guess I just assumed re-forestation was balancing things out. Apparently it’s not, nor is it covered in the sports . . . ooops, I mean the news.

Here is what I mean by the bigger issue:

Global Forestation and Deforestation

PS – I just came upon a memory from my McGill days, when I was studying strategic planning as one of two majors. Myself and a few classmates were having drinks with some of our profs one day. One of these was my accounting prof. This is back in 1984, when the personal computer was just coming out. Accounting went hand-in-hand with computing, and the MIS guy was talking about the concept of a paperless office. I remember how odd it was – the discussion with the accounting guy – turns out he was very shrewd. He was telling us about how he had invested in a paper brokerage firm, how he saw a big future in that because of computers!

PPS – In case you missed it the first time, that darling Supergirl up top is surrounded by trees!

Houston, I have a problem for you…


Standing on the Equator, compared to on the North Pole

About eight years ago I spent some time thinking about things, stuff like the earth moving around the sun. Don’t ask why, but it soon occurred to me that the earth could just as easily spin on its axis in a more or less fixed position, like a spinning top. Assuming that the sun is in a relatively fixed position, then this spinning top made as much sense as an annual ellipse around the sun. Oddly, it is simpler I suppose . . . less work?

Then there’s the other question, “Does the earth rotate at all?” I think about this stuff while I wonder about that other stuff . . . gravity. It struck me how remarkable it is that while a person stands in one place on the equator, they are moving at 1,670 km per hour. At the same time, someone standing on the exact north pole would basically be moving at .85 meters in a 24-hour day. That would be someone like me, with a shoe that measures 27 cm in length, so by standing there, the back of my shoes would move in one circular rotation in 24 hours, or about 0.85 meters, or about 3.39 centimeters per hour.

What’s really amazing, and curious, is how both people, and at the same time, would have the perception of standing still. I still wonder whether there is some kind of subtle perceptual difference between the two locations, even though I know that I’ll never really know the answer.

Standing in the airport, Winnipeg compared to Vancouver

For whatever reason, none that I know of, something odd occurred to me last night, so I did a little research this morning. This concerns flight times, flight patterns and such. For convenience I chose two cities to study. One is my hometown of Winnipeg and the other is Vancouver, B.C. – if you were to look at a map of Canada, you would see that both are basically very close to the 49th parallel.

There is a two-hour time difference between the two cities; Vancouver is two hours earlier than Winnipeg. Today the sun rose at 5:12 in Vancouver and will set at 9:09 tonight. In Winnipeg the sun rose at 5:28 and will set at 9:28 tonight. The difference in sunlight between the two cities is 3 minutes out of 1,440 minutes in a day.

I can get from B to A, but how do I ever get from A to B?

The distance between Winnipeg and Vancouver is about 1,865 kilometers, by air. Winnipeg’s location must be kind of “in the same spot” during its sunrise, the same spot as Vancouver at its sunrise. Put another way, if earth is rotating, then Winnipeg must “travel” 1,865 kilometers in 2 hours and 16 minutes, or moving at a speed of about 823 km/ hour.

So how do the airplane flights come in to play? First of all, apparently the flight pattern is basically right along the arc of the 49th parallel, so it’s very much a direct flight. Since the plane is following such a direct path, and if the earth is rotating at a speed of 823 km an hour between the two cities, shouldn’t it be a lot quicker to get to Vancouver from Winnipeg than getting to Winnipeg from Vancouver?

Apparently the planes fly at 500 km/ hour in both directions, and the flight times are 2 hours and 55 minutes between the two cities, regardless of the departing city. So what am I missing? I mean, if you’re miles up in the air, travelling at 500 km/ hour, and below you, your destination is travelling in the same direction as you, but at 823 km/ hr, how do you ever get there, never mind getting there in just under 3 hours? I really have no problem being wrong about something here, so if I’m missing something simple, silly me . . . and if so, what is it?

One verb or two?

This is a work in progress, using some candle wax and pieces of a wick in lieu of charcoal.

This is a work in progress, using some candle wax and pieces of a wick in lieu of charcoal.

For many months now my art process has taken a back-burner to the writing process. Why do I use the word process? It’s because the most precious aspect of it for the artist, this artist, is in the joy of creating . . . when something is finished there is a kind of sadness, I suppose mainly because the process is finished.

Many times I’ve found myself moving on to another picture, and right away, simply as a reaction to this sadness. It’s not a deep depression or anything like that, but merely a recognition of a need to move on – it’s a very natural feeling.

Why do I even raise the issue?

While the process is very much a pleasant imaginary journey, often times the discussions about the finished work becomes a bit of nightmare. For lack of a better term, it often gets bogged down in dogma, such as, “What kind of art is that? What is the intent? Is it fine art?” For me the biggest issue surrounds the use of technology . . . as if the use of software negates the “validity” of the final piece, and for that matter, the process. Sadly, there are many who think the machine does everything, while the truth is that it does very little, at least in my experience.

It’s strange how the focus on the piece can get so negative, so divisive, but thankfully nothing can take away from the experience of the process. I’m very tempted to respond to that technical issue here, but I won’t, because no matter how I put it, any comment will only add to the controversy.

The Bigger Picture

I’ve noticed that this kind of controversy seems to be in so many fields. For example, I can experience the same kind of exasperation in a discussion with physicists, especially about issues such as the big bang theory, the nature of the universe, and the center of the universe.

Many people get upset because of my views come from a different way of knowing, such as by simple observation and perhaps a little logic? I don’t why it’s important, or if important is the right word, but it seems it’s easy to learn things this way, more so when there is simply no intent. This issue of intent, or lack of it, is what I refer to as important.

A Very Kind Way of Learning

One of my favorite learning experiences comes from spending time with a candle now and then, gazing into the flame and watching pieces of the wick kind of swimming in the melted wax around the flame. I mention this because I’ve learned so much this way. After watching the dance within the flame, a wonderful dance, one night it hit me . . . there is no center. It is completely impossible to find the center of any given flame on any given candle.

As this is true, then it follows that if you cannot find the center of a flame, how can you ever hope to find the center of the universe? For me there is great beauty in this truth, as in my experience in the process of art. Unfortunately, the discussions that follow aren’t so wonderful, especially with those consumed with quantifiable measurement . . . sometimes logic and a little imagination should be enough . . . some say art is an expression of life without numbers.

That’s also how I see nature – an expression of life without numbers.

Truth moves around . . . thankfully!

Two Strings Attached

Of all the arts, music is regarded as the most universal in its appeal and acceptance. This universality,however, does not mean that music is without individual character. Each country has its own kind of music that embodies the total experience, the collective consciousness of its people. Music, therefore, is the collective expression of the musical genius of a particular people.

Such is the case of Philippine music which today is regarded as a unique blending of two great musical traditions – the East and the West. Being innately musical, the Filipinos, from the earliest to contemporary times, have imbibed these traditions and have woven their musical creations along these mainstreams of musical thought. Through time, Philippine society has witnessed the evolution of music expressed in different forms and stylistic nuances.

A people gifted with a strong sense of musicality, the Filipinos turn to music to express their innermost feelings. Hence, every song they sing, every instrument they play, every music they make is a direct, almost spontaneous reflection of their hopes and longings, frustrations and fulfillment, failures and triumphs.

The above quote come from Antonio C. Hila, found in a wonderful article on the musical instruments of the Filipinos.

My little musical journey continues, and it is starting to feel like the missing element of a troika . . . the art, some writing, and now the music . . . there will certainly be some dancing along the way.

I’d have to agree with Hilda’s first sentence (above), and It does seem like less there’s less arguing and such when it comes to music. I’m tired of getting involved in so many trite ones – yeah, one happened today in an online discussion – in the end though, it seems that I did help the art student with one of my observations. It was his discussion. He took my comment back to his teacher, who was caught off-guard by it.

There’s a strange mentality in some of the art world revolving around the issue of integrity when an artist sells their art, and how that is somehow “less than noble”. In the context of this discussion, the issue was about fine art ‘versus’ commercial art (advertising). One or more artists/ participants seemed to be offended when I said, “If you do a painting and have it hung in a gallery for sale, it is also a form of advertising.”

It got pretty quiet when I asked whether the picture of a can of soup is fine art. When you think about it, the can is actually covered. The picture is mostly a picture of the label of a can of soup, and believe me, packaging is all about advertising. Funny how no one knows who did the graphic arts on the original label . . . I wonder if Andy had the talent to do that?

As you can see, these kinds of discussions are pretty non-nonsensical – though I’m glad the student and his teacher saw the humor in the truth of it. I really don’t like any discussions on the issue of “what is art” . . . it gets wearisome and only leads to frustration, and this can literally throw me off for hours, if not the whole day or evening.

I don’t care to rank them either, but still there is the music . . . perhaps the common thread in all of it is the heart? That certainly helps makes a good book – the words –  special, it draws one in to a painting, makes the music charming and exciting, and when you add some dancing in there it can be down right exhilarating. There’s no need to judge it, much more need to enjoy and celebrate it. Hopefully as time goes on that message will come through in this blog – hopefully another way of sharing pleasant surprises.

Some words, a little music, lots of light and some dancing – get the picture? 🙂


Other People’s Stuff

A picture of a twig

This is another unfinished piece…it’s based on a variation of a leaf.

Normally I don’t comment on other people’s blogs, nor do I publish a list of favorites, who I follow and so on. That’s totally because I’m worried about leaving someone out by omission. Some days its tempting to single out those who can really strike a nerve, but I’d rather focus on the positives . . . so hopefully I won’t “make the wrong mistake” as Yogi Berra said.

I’m really just getting the hang of Pinterest. I spend most of my time related to that site looking for original pins, as opposed to simply repinning. However, there are a small number of pinners that I’m following, and some or all of them also have blogs. I’m not going to comment on the blogs here, just the Pinterest boards.

If you haven’t spent much time there – or if you think it’s somehow less than blogging – I think you might re-think that if you visit Julie Green’s page. It is fascinating to explore, an intellectual and visual treat . . . the kind where you stop watching the time, so be careful!

Here’s the link, and I hope you check it out for yourself: Julie Green on Pinterest

I’m learning how busy the world of Twitter is, though it has been all pleasant surprises, kind of “rapid-fire” so it’s hard to keep up. I still have much to learn over there, but aside from that, there are some people over there. One guy, @PhilTorcivia , is amazing because of his constant and pretty consistent stream of humorous one-liners. For example, “I told my girlfriend she’d drawn her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” I’m not surprised that he has over 64,000 followers.

For all the authors out there, I also came across some named Jane Friedman, but I can’t remember how I came upon her first – Twitter, blog, Pinterest or somewhere else. What I do know is that wherever I come across her, I learn something new and important when it comes to writing and publishing. If you’re looking for book reviews, that’s not what she does, but for tons of great information, resources, and opportunities, I suggest starting with her home page: Jane Friedman’s Home Page

There are many other kudos I’d like to send out, and will over time. There are some bloggers that have made an extra impression lately, including Jackie Jones, especially for her wonderfully honest and great photographs of the Caribbean on her blog. She keeps apologizing for this and that photography, but I’d never have noticed without her mentioning them – they’re imperfections make them all the more intriguing and endearing: Jackie Jones’ Caribbean Photos – the little stories add to the charm.

Finally, thank to Jill Paterson for your tips on writing that all-important blurb, as well for being a friend on Goodreads: Jill Paterson’s Blog

A little music, a little picture, and the “Blurb” . . .

If I could put the some of the tone of it to music, it would be as in the above video.

I feel like I’ve accomplished something with this book – lots of mystery and intrigue, yet funny and heartwarming, characters you come to love even though they can sometimes be insufferable, and something about love – with honey, not syrup, and believable.

Book – Dawn at Last – Why it’s not Free . . . Yet

Before I can give my book away on Amazon – and I can only do that for a few days – I’d really like to get a “critical mass” of people who like to read on Kindle – get my book out there for free for awhile – it really is a nice read.

Also, I’ve rewritten the “blurb” – this is such a hard thing to write! I’m still waiting for Amazon to update the new one, so here’s what it says:


New Blurb – Don’t be fooled by the Title!

Titles can be deceiving and no one knows this better than Donna Belauche. She is the envy of every woman she knows and adored by her eight male clients and two partners . . . or is it seven and three?

With her natural beauty, education and “special” training – and with her ability to charm on a dime – she has it all, but only according to others. She prides herself in playing the game of love, winning by acting and remaining unattainable . . . but in control.

Then her plans become unravelled in sleepy Victoria, a deception of its own . . . her secrets are only a pale part of the bigger picture. As events unfold beyond her control, what was once all so predictable becomes a battle with the past, a duel with deception, including the intrusion of a few simple tulips . . . will she learn to dance or will they cripple her forever?

“Then the strangest thing happened . . . Karen covered her naked body with Andrea’s robe, put her hair up and then put on that chauffeur’s hat . . . she told me to sit down again and just wait there for a minute. Then she went over to this platter. It had three tulips on it, but she only left one on the platter and put the lid back on. Then she disappeared with this platter – after all this – such a fuss over a single tulip?”

After 300 pages you will have the answers.


From my "Playful & Cheery" collection - which goes nicely with my novel, "Dancing With Tulips"

From one of my art collections – which goes nicely with my novel, “Dawn at Last”


So there you have it. Now to get that free copy – when its available – the best way is to follow me on twitter @ljgrodecki.

I’m hoping/ planning to do this launch two weeks from now – May 17th – depending on how much interest there is . . . and if you’re wondering why there is an error message up in the top right, under “Tweeter in Person”, that’s probably because as of this typing, I’m still a tweet virgin . . . I haven’t tweeted anyone yet . . . I’m so nervous as to who will be the first! 🙂

On the Lighter Side

Since my artistic medium is really light, I suppose if I introduce a new picture then it’s fair to say that “it’s on the lighter side”! So the picture I’ve thrown on here today turned out quite nice, but for me this is more of a doodle – I tend to call them that when they only take an hour or two, instead of 50 or a hundred or more – hope you like it.


As all my art is done on a screen, it is all done in a process of light moved around on that screen – eventually that is translated into ink on paper or canvas.

When you think about it, all artists are involved in a form of communication in one way or another – a form that involves light. Caravaggio is perhaps know for “his use of light” . . . though it is difficult to say whether this is actually “his” light!

It seems he was a colorful character . . .