The Smart TV vs the Luddite—Things Did Not Go Well

Tech 1Andrea here, channeling my inner Grinch today. Along with shopping for family and friends this holiday season, I decided to give myself a present—a new smart TV! My current TVs are, umm, not very smart. And after yesterday, I’ve decided neither am!
 
A very nice team from the Geek Squad at Best Buy showed up—because I wasn't so dumb as to think I might be able to set it up and program it myself, even though I’m fairly good at figuring certain tech things. They bring in the humongous box and eye the current TV in my living room and ask if I want them to haul it away. I explain that no, would they be kind enough to carry it upstairs to the bedroom, where an even older TV is the one that should be recycled. They smile cheerfully and say “No problem!”
 
Up we go. They regard the older TV. “”Wow, says one of them. “I used to sell TVs, and like that’s one of the first flat screens ever made. It’s from 2004, right?”
 
“Yup,” I reply.
 
They chuckle and switch the sets (and bless them, they program the remote as I upgraded my cable boxes in preparation for their visit.) "Okay, all done."

Read more

Musings on Mindfulness, Machines and the Art of Letterwriting

Letter writer 1Andrea here, taking a break from research (though I’ve been diving into some really interesting things of which you’ll be hearing soon) to muse on mindfulness and connecting the brain to something other than a machine.

I have been thinking about this lately as I take my daily “plotting walk,” which helps me unwind as I just let my thoughts wander. It’s amazing how often good ideas or the unraveling of plot knots happen when you turn off all the Heart Leafnoise in your head and take the time to look and listen to Nature. There’s an elemental delight in spotting a leaf shaped like a heart, or a sea-washed feather on the beach—that sense of discovery and wonder is a special reminder to stay connected to real world, not just the devices that have become such a dominant force in our everyday lives.

Beach feather

Read more

Art, Murder and Science—Regency Style!

Murder at Half Moon Gate-smallAndrea/Cara here, MURDER AT HALF MOON GATE, the second book in my Wrexford & Sloane Regency-set mystery series, releases on March 27th, (it's available for pre-order) and I thought I give you all a little backstory on what inspired the series, and on the specific theme in this upcoming book.

The series is inspired by two fascinating developments in the Regency. First is the birth of modern science in Britain—the spirit of curiosity, analytical observation and creativity. (I confess there is a certain irony about me writing about science, as the last formal class I had in the subject was ninth grade biology.) I now really regret not realizing how fascinating science is, but better late than never!

Humphry-Davy-1The second was the sense of camaraderie between scientists and artists during the flowering of the Romantic movement. They saw each as kindred souls, exploring the nature of life and the world around them. The Lake Poets attended scientific lectures at the Royal Institution and Percy Shelley was captivated by astronomy. In turn, Humphry Davy, the great chemist, wrote poetry. They cross-pollinated each other and helped each other see things from different perspective. I thinks it’s part of the reason for the great energy and excitement in both disciplines.

Read more