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5 Things I’ve Learned From One Year of Blogging

May 30, 2011 3 comments

Happy Anniversary! A Quantum of Knowledge went online one year ago today!

It seems like the older you get, the shorter the years get. Because it certainly doesn’t seem like a year since I started blogging.

But it has been. 312 posts. 63,000 hits. Not to shabby :)

From what I’ve read, the majority of blogs die out in the first few months after creation. So how do you keep it going?

There are a few tidbits I’ve picked up over the past year that have not only kept me blogging, but kept me loving blogging.

1. Write about what YOU find interesting.

Too often I find myself trolling the news trying to find stories that I think others might be interested in. But this inevitably causes problems.

First, if I don’t find the subject interesting, I’m not going to do a good job writing about it.

Second, you never know what people will find interesting. If you try to pick topics based on what you think people will like, you are just playing a guessing game.

Stick with what you know. Because if you write about things you like and you find fascinating, you will write great posts that people will want to read and share with their friends.

2. Post OFTEN!

It doesn’t have to be a long post. If you are busy, treat your blog like a Twitter feed. Or just post a video you thought was funny. Just post SOMETHING!

Regular posts not only keep your readers coming back, but they keep you in the habit. Just like an exercise routine, you need to keep it up regularly in order to make it a habit.

After you keep a regular schedule for a few weeks, it will be a cinch to continue posting all the time!

3. Talk about yourself

Even if you write your blog anonymously, you should still talk about yourself.

What are your personal feelings on an issue? Have you been happy or sad lately? Did you just go on vacation? If so, where to?

In my case, even though I blog about science, I’ve found that some of my most popular posts were actually about me and not science news.

Whether it be where I spent my weekend, or my Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies, people seem to like hearing about my life. And I’m happy to oblige them.

Not only that, but I’ve found that personal anecdotes do wonders when trying to explain a complicated subject. Inserting a funny personal story into a technical post makes it much more readable.

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break now and then

If you haven’t blogged in a while, it can feel like a weight on your shoulders. You start to think,

“I haven’t posted in a while. I really should…but Dancing with the Stars is on…”

And the more days you miss, you more you feel like you should blog. But when you start feeling like you should, you really don’t want to.

So my advice? It’s ok to miss a few days of blogging. It’s even ok to miss a week or two. In fact, you should probably put the blog aside on purpose every now and then so you don’t get burned out!

And if you’ve intentionally taken a break from blogging, you will soon find that you miss it. You will want to blog again.

5. Do it because you love it

“Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”
— Richard P. Feynman

The same goes for blogging. In my case, spreading the word about good science or disparaging pseudoscience may be in the best interest of the public; but that’s not why I do it.

I do it because I love writing. I love writing about other things that I love. Science, video games and other geekery, it’s all good.

And if you enjoy the fact that you are blogging, it will show through in your posts. People will be drawn to come back and keep reading your stuff.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned. I hope you all have enjoyed the blog so far, and I hope you continue to enjoy it!

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #1 – The Martian Chronicles

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

#1 – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)


Back in university, I would take the Greyhound bus to get home for the odd weekend. I took the bus a lot. It was about a 5 hour trip, but it gave me time to actually read books that I enjoy, instead of just physics textbooks. (Not that I don’t love physics :)

Late one Friday night, I boarded the bus and opened up a musty old paperback I had picked up from the used book store. It was called The Martian Chronicles.

I read the entire thing in one sitting.

I had never done that with a book before! Cover to cover, non-stop, I read that book. It kept me enthralled that entire ride home.

The book is a collection of short stories, loosely woven together, detailing the human colonization of Mars. It follows the first humans to land on Mars, their encounter with the indigenous species, and from there it just keeps getting better.

The style of the novel being a collection of short stories means the book never gets stale. There is always a new character or a new problem. I read it about once a year, and still usually read the entire thing in single sitting. 

So that’s it! My Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy novels. The Martian Chronicles takes the top spot because it continues to be entertaining after so many reads. 

What did you guys think of the list? Was I way off base? What did I miss? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Happy Reading!

“We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things. The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.”

– Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles


Previous Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #2 – Flowers For Algernon

April 29, 2011 1 comment

#2 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)


This is the only book I’ve ever read that has actually made me cry.

Yup, this 200 pound dude has actually starting shedding tears while sitting and reading a book. This  book.

Algernon is a laboratory mouse which has undergone a procedure to increase its intelligence. When the procedure works, the scientists decide to try the procedure on a mentally challenged person named Charlie.

The book is written in the first-person from Charlie’s perspective. Charlie was asked to write progress reports before and after the experiment, and this creates a very unique reading experience.

The first few reports are before the procedure. Charlie has poor grammar, spelling mistakes and finds it difficult to write very much. But you gain a sense of connection with Charlie, especially when he discusses how he is treated by his family and co-workers.

As the procedure begins to take effect, Charlie’s writing becomes more lucid and he actually starts to do his own scientific research. He falls in love. Basically, he begins to live a normal life.

Then, Algernon begins to deteriorate, and Charlie wonders if the same will happen to him.

Despite being published 45 years ago, the themes of ethical scientific research and treatment of the disabled are still very much relevant.

It’s an incredible book that shared the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

“all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.”

– Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (2002)


It would seem that I have a soft spot for comedic-fantasy novels. Comedy can be very difficult to write and I guess I just appreciate authors who can do it well.

Christopher Moore certainly falls into that category. Most of his books are good, but this one truly blew me away.

The book follows Jesus’ life from the vantage point of his vulgar, well-meaning but not too bright buddy Biff. The book takes the point of view that Jesus was not always the well-spoken leader that he is depicted as in the Bible. He had to hone is craft, practice his healing and work on his vocabulary.

The books also follows Jesus through the ages of 12-30; years that are markedly absent from the Bible. Where did he go? What was he doing? Moore follows these misadventures with heart and hilarity.

To my surprise, the book was not as blasphemous as I thought it would be. I’m not all that religious, but I was a bit worried that the book would cause some backlash in the religious community. But Moore does a great job of making Jesus looks like a real human, but keeping the book humourous; mainly by making Biff the one who does all the blasphemous stuff. He has quite an affinity for prostitutes.

Mary Magdalene is also quite prominent in the novel. She, of course, is not a prostitute, but she grew up with Jesus and Biff. Poor Jesus truly shows how human he is in his relationship with Mary Magdalene, as he knows he cannot marry her, but still cares very much for her.

Even if you are not religious at all, you will really enjoy this book. I’d call it a Bro-mance set 2000 years ago, and it is awesome.

“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….”

– Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #5 – Doomsday Book

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

#5 – Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)



Another novel by Connie Willis which follows time travelling historians. This time, a history student is sent back to the 14th century, further back in time than any history student before her.

She wishes to go back to the 1320, but she ‘accidentally’ arrives in the year 1348; the time of the Black Death epidemic in England.

The story then switches back and forth between the 14 century and the 21st century, where a history professor desperately tries to bring his lost student home. However, another wrench is thrown in the machinery when a flu epidemic breaks out in the 21st century as well.

Is it possible the Black Death came forward in time?

Despite the dark overtones of being in the worst flu epidemic in history, Willis manages to make this more of a dark-comedy than a straight up thriller.

The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards and is considered one of the greatest works of science fiction in recent history.

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1997)


Connie Willis has become one of my favourite authors. Most of her books take place in the same universe, in which University history professors have access to time-travel technology to help them study the past.

‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ is a comic science fiction story following the (mis)adventures of Ned Henry and Verity Kindle, two folks from the year 2057 who have been sent back to pre-World War II England.

Their objective is to find the ‘Bishop’s Bird Stump’, a piece of Victorian…something, that is necessary for a wealthy American woman to complete the restoration of the Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed by German bombings during the war.

While the main story sounds a tad dry, Willis’ hilarious writing style,  lovable characters and possible time paradoxes make this a real page turner; something difficult to do for a comedy novel.

“Cats, as you know, are quite impervious to threats”

– Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #7 – The Stars My Destination

April 24, 2011 1 comment

#7 – The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)



First serialised edition cover - Image via Wikipedia

Often described as ‘The Count of Monte Cristo‘ in space, this is a hum-dinger of a novel.

It follows the adventures of Gully Foyle, the lone survivor aboard a destroyed merchant spaceship called the Nomad. He waits in darkness for 6 months for a rescue.

When he spots another spaceship passing by, the Vorga, he fires some rescue flares and thinks he will finally be rescued.

The Vorga leaves him behind.

From that moment on, his only mission is revenge on the Captain of the Vorga. His quest takes him through a prison escape, facial reconstruction, and a slew of other craziness that I won’t spoil for you.

All this takes place in a world in which people can instantly transport themselves, or ‘jaunte’, from one place to another.

Seriously, how can this book not be good? I’ve read it many times and it is thrilling every single time.

Yes, no matter how we defend ourselves against the outside we’re always licked by something from the inside. There’s no defense against betrayal, and we all betray ourselves.

– Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles