Monday, July 23, 2012

Is that a Real Lake?

One thing that I've often wondered when I've seen a lake is: Is it a "real" lake or is it a human made reservoir?

From the ground unless you already know, it's kind of hard to tell sometimes.

From the air and especially from Google Maps it gets much more obvious.

Natural lakes have rounded edges and look like they belong there.   This is Consultation Lake in the Mt. Whitney area in the Sierra Nevada.  Rivers enter and leave much the same way they came.  This particular lake was covered in snow when its satellite photo was taken so this is the map view.

Lakes created by dams have that stopped up bathroom drain look about them

This is O.H. Ives Lake in East Texas that I have only seen from a plane.

The fastest way for me to tell from the air is to look for that tell-tale straight line which is the dam.
This are some local resevoirs near me.  Briones and San Pablo:

Looking closer you can see the flat lines where the dams are located:

 Another way to tell a fake lake is to look at where you see where a river should be.
In the O.H Ives Lake pictured above, you can see two rivers streaming in, but only a ghost of one on the other side and sure enough that is where the dam is,  Zooming in on ghost river you can see a discontinuity that is the dam.

Another example is Red Bluff Resevoir:

Big River going in an just a trickle at the bottom.  Zooming in you see:

Some are harder to spot but you can using the same technique.
This is Shasta Lake in California.  It definitely has that plugged drain look about it.

There are several rivers so it takes some looking around to spot the affected river.
Looking on the West side there is a candidate on the bottom left:

And zooming in your see the dam:

But sometimes even natural lakes have human intervention.

Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous natural lake (

But even it has a dam where they can control the lake's level. I couldn't see it myself, but the Wiki page says it's in Tahoe City and on closer inspection in that area you can see it:

So now you have something to obsess over when you're looking out  a plane window.  Of course most people just enjoy the scenery or read a book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Reno-Tahoe" Has No Meaning

On the raiio, I've hear over and over again about a million dollars of advertising about "Reno-Tahoe" and it's such a marketing ploy.  If you drive way past Tahoe into Nevada you come to Reno which is fine.  But they have been trying so hard to pair the names as if they go together.  They really don't.

Here's the map.

When you are in Reno you might very well be thinking of Tahoe, BUT when you are in Tahoe you are so NOT thinking of Reno, in fact you're not thinking of the closer Carson City.  If you need to go to a city to go shopping, you go to Truckee.  If you want to go gambling, you go down the South Lake Tahoe.  What is Reno trying to pull?  Is all this advertising helping? It just seems surreal and artificial.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Writing Angst

Here I am doing it again: I am stressing about not easily being able to write fiction.

This is a joke as the very first thing I ever did was tell stories to myself at night.
It was because I had crushes on people I couldn’t have so I would create life and death settings where we were thrown together where I could say how I felt - mostly because they were dying.  I did died occasionally too, but mostly them because if I died it was most inconvenient to telling the story.

Let’s just say the Hunger Games strikes a chord.  I could have written it if doing so had even crossed my mind as something that would remotely appeal to anyone else.

I think I need to treat this like learning anything else.  Break it down into doable chunks, but it’s more a matter of figuring out the chunks.  I can come up with characters, but the overall story structure is something I am not practiced in.

But stressing about it is completely silly and just giving me a reason to beat myself up.  Stop worrying about it and just write stuff.  Bits and pieces is fine.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Writing Fiction vs. Blogging: Completely Different

I'm (casually) trying to learn storycraft and fiction writing, and I'm completely fascinated how different writing fiction is vs. blogging.  The philosophical approaches are vastly different in a way.  A blogger writes down their thoughs quite soon after they think of them and pretty soon after that publishes them.  A fiction writer on the other hand, will spend weeks, months, years working out a story and that story may not ever get printed if they can't find a publisher.  Plus they don't breathe a word about it for fear that someone else will print the idea first, and also publishers often won't touch something that has been printed before even if it's just the internet.

This secrecy drives blogger types like me nuts.  As I work out my ideas I'd love to show the process publicly as I think that would be extremely cool.  The problem is that I don't have a lot of ideas in the fiction realm and, unlike blogging, they're kind of hard to come up with.  As a result, if I were to do this I would have to come up with a throwaway example, or one that is just given away on the web as a way to show what I can do. 

All this while my really cool idea just sits there begging to be free.  Argh.