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How do you like the new site? With the previous wordpress update breaking the old website template, it was time for a site revamp. There aren’t many themes out there that are suitable for authors to use, so I think we lucked out finding this one.

HF attire

This is what you should wear when interacting with HF. Keep a good 5 metre radius from him if not properly adorned with chemical face shield, chemical apron, chemical rubber gloves (check for holes!), and cleanroom bunny suit. Image from University of Alberta, Nanofabrication Facility.

The design also begged for a simple logo as a textbox with “Hal J. Friesen” seemed too lacklustre. So I came up with a monogram logo of Hal’s initials, “HJF”. Something bold with clean lines, functional and compact, maybe enclosed in a square or circle to hold it together.

I had to stay away from anything reminiscent of the periodic table (especially if the “J” is not included). The initials “HF” brings up very very very dangerous connotations for anyone who has worked with nano-etching of glass or in aluminium smelters. The CDC has a whole article on the immediate effects of associating with HF and what to do if you have been exposed to his presence. In summary, he’ll eat your bones! And leave you a nice globby mess.

I digress. Below, you’ll find a couple of ideas that I tossed around in the logo design process. The logo will also be on Hal’s new business cards. So be sure to ask him for a card the next time you see him in person. Just make sure you’re wearing your PPE and be ready to run if he spills.

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 3.55.46 PM



LLNL breakthrough

Image courtesy of BBC.

I spent a good chunk of my Master’s research on fusion, so I have to share this.

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab.

Wow. This is AWESOME news.

Why? At the end of a very expensive research campaign that made big promises, there was great potential for fusion research to be shunned and pushed to the fringes indefinitely, to the great detriment of humanity. This milestone means more legitimacy in scientific communities around the world, with more effort toward this ultimate source of green energy.

We’re not quite wearing fusion belts yet, Mr. Asimov, but we’re getting there.

The following is reposted from Lynda Williams’s Reality Skimming Blog, as the first in a series of posts leading up to the release of my novella, Shepherds of Sparrows!–

PromoLogo150This fall will see the release of Shepherds of Sparrows by Hal Friesen, the first title from Reality Skimming Press, and the introduction of a new tradition called the multivision’d promo.

Hal’s stories about Nestor, the Nersallian who fell in love with a Nesak, have appeared in Okal Rel Legacies titles Opus 3, Opus 4 and Opus 5, from the Absolute Xpress imprint of Hades Publications. Reality Skimming Press is stepping in to expand the story of the Okal Rel Universe.

Visit this blog weekly, from now through the end of 2013, to find out more about Nestor’s harrowing adventures assisting Di Mon, Liege of Monitum, with an outbreak of rogue science and a murderous backlash, on Monitum.

And experience what we mean by multivision.

For the promo, it means we’ll be illustrating scenes from Shepherds of Sparrows using the talents of more than one artist.

For books it means we plan to offer a choice of covers: character-focused ones and a Jeff Doten set featuring settings, instead.

Olivia, The Caddy, Dartha

Olivia, The Caddy, Dartha

As a sample, the composite image on the right offers two versions of Hal’s teenage heroine, Olivia, getting refugees to board a ship. Maja Madeline LaValley is the cover artist for the 2013 release of the book. Debbie Ha will be assisting in the promo.

Richard Bartrop portrayed Hal’s character, The Caddy, in the Opus anthology where he is introduced. And Yukari Yamamoto recently did the character sketch, at the lower right, of the ordinary-looking Lorel mastermind Dartha, who appears both in Shephards of Sparrows and in the concluding volume of the Okal Rel Saga, Part 10: Unholy Science, forthcoming from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Drop in to the Reality Skimming presence on facebook at http://facebook.com/relskim to ‘like’ our page and get involved. We love readers, tweeters, kibitzers, reveiwers, bloggers, SF organizers, filkers, fans, pros, artisans, writers, artists, lurkers, educators and kindred spirits of all kinds.

My race to space in the Axe Apollo Contest is finally over, after 167 days with the space suit. It will likely require fumigation at this point. The results aren’t in yet, but they’ll be announced on www.facebook.com/axecanada. There are way too many people to thank for their support, both in spirit and in practical matters like pie organization, but I’ll try here:

Debbie Ha for relentless support throughout the entire campaign. She’s the person not shown in almost every single picture and video. My family for rooting for me, recognizing the toll the campaign took on me, and supporting me in everything I do. Glen LaValley for his magnificent balloon art. Tyler Collins, Thanh, Linh, Jordana, for the balloon alien video. Tyler especially for his voice acting and sound editing skills (takes way longer than you can imagine). Michelle Lam for her inspiring Project 365 which sparked the idea in me. Kaitlyn Slump whose photography skills produced the featured Astro-Hal image at the end of every video (and at the beginning of this post). Jonny & J’Lyn at 92.5 Fresh FM for inviting me in for an interview. Ryan Jespersen for inviting me into an impromptu Breakfast TV appearance. Jason Halbauer for inviting me out for a subsequent later interview with the fabulous Bridget. Jordana Archer for taking pics of Astro-Hal throughout Europe, and for putting me in touch with the right people in Prince George. The folks at the TNRD in Kamloops for giving me such a warm welcome. Jennifer Stahn from InfoTel in Kamloops for a fantastic interview and article. Brittany (Zumba by Brittany) and many dancers who let me film a zumba class in an astro suit. Parson’s Shoe ReNu in Vancouver for fixing my astro boots, making them the closest to legitimate they’ll ever come. Edmonton Skydive for not only doing the skydive video, but putting me in touch with CTV afterward (Joey, you’re awesome!). Jesse Beyer for a fun interview on CTV morning, and Amanda for helping me get set up properly. My colleagues at work, especially Brian McPherson and his family. His daughter was probably tied for number one fan with my niece. Nick Rogers for donning the suit for a doppleganger shot. Jim Bauer and Dave Mailhot for doing a quadcopter scene. CFIS FM for a great interview long enough for me to really reflect on the journey. West Edmonton Mall for kicking me out before I got to walk anywhere in my space suit and space buggy (again made by the amazing Glen LaValley, who stayed up almost all night putting it together). City councellor Linda Sloan for being game to take a photo and video. Thomas McIntyre for showing up to countless events in support, including skydiving with Tyler, Natasha, and Laurelle. Brad OH Inc. (www.bradohinc.com) and Joe Wimberly for organizing the Bus Hijinx and Pie Hijnx, both of which were hilarious and awesome. The epic BBQ after the pie hijinx was a great time. Thanks to Kylie, the only person brave enough to be pied by an astronaut. The writing community in Edmonton for putting up with me and supporting me relentlessly, even when I show up at book launches unrelated to space in any way whatsoever : Billie Mulholland, Barb Galler-Smith, Eileen Bell, and all of the members of the Edmonton Writers Group. My favourite author, Robert J. Sawyer, for sharing and showing his support. EVERYONE who shared content and showed their support, for I’m sure I annoyed the news feeds of everyone within 3 or 4 degrees of separation. Thanks to @ReinventingBrad on Twitter, whom I never met but supported me nonetheless. Thanks to the lovely person who left me a note on my car saying “YOU ROCK!” Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who was willing to take a photo with a wacko in a space suit with a dream.

And thank you to the guy on Whyte Ave who called me Superman after I changed out of my suit in a public phone booth.

For your enjoyment, here are all the video adventures from the journey. And if you’ve forgotten where the campaign website is, check it out here: The infamous spaceman


Yes. You can. Here’s how I did it:

1. Find one on Kijiji. 

The one I got was a Free Spirit 302001, about 7-8 years old. Free Spirit is a good company for value treadmills without a lot of frills, and some other ones to keep in mind are True, Life Fitness, Pace Master, and Lifespan. I saw some Nordictrack treadmills in the $300 price range and most were willing to part with it for $250, but I’ve heard mixed reviews on their quality. I got mine for $180.

I ended up using angle brackets at the base for stability. Miraculously, it was level!

I ended up using angle brackets at the base for stability. Miraculously, it was level!

2. Buy wood & hardware. 

I bought:

-one 2 X 12 (for main support of monitor) : $20

-two 1 X 6s (for keyboard mount and platforms) : $10

-8 feet of corner trim (for the adjustable keyboard slots) : $10

-screws and nails: $5

-4 metal angle brackets: $12

-particle board for keyboard tray: $5

In total, I spent about $250. Assuming you have access to drills and saws, the rest is just putting in the time.

3. Construction.

I built the monitor holder first, and decided to make it slightly shorter, since I could always pile up a few books to raise the monitor height but I’d have a hard time bringing it down. The height for my treadmill was 1.5 m. The width was 0.75 m. IMG_20130320_235407

The basic idea was a shelf with some support in the middle–you might have to modify depending on the shape of your treadmill.

For the keyboard tray, I drilled 2 holes into each arm of the treadmill, and bolted my pre-assembled 1X6s to the sides. Using that slightly-expensive corner trim (with small nails to avoid splitting) enabled me to make a keyboard tray suitable for a variety of heights!


It took a few nights and part of a weekend to finish, but now I write this post on my treadmill desk! So far I’ve only been able to go about 2.25 kph (1.5 mph) before I get too distracted by the movement to do anything productive. Hopefully that’ll get better in time.

Fun Facts about Treadmill Desks

Apparently people are 16% less productive (typing speed and accuracy) on treadmill desks, but that doesn’t necessarily take into account the increased levels of energy. Google, Microsoft and Evernote are some companies that are already using them in the workplace, although more in common areas that employees can use for a while before going back to their regular workstations. Apparently when employees were offered bikes as an alternative to desk chairs, only 19% kept using them after four weeks. We’ll see how I fare.

This week’s “What-if” post was a bit closer to reality than normal, but next week I should be up to my regular hijinks.