Friday, June 27, 2014

Finally...

This will be my last post on this site as I am moving to my own domain. www.peterlast.com is my website where I will continue to post short stories and other articles of interest. Hope to see you over there!

P.S. It also looks a lot cooler than this website does!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moving Sites

ATTENTION: To all two of you who visit this site on a regular basis, with the launch of my first novel I have also acquired my own website to which my blog will be moving. The web address is easy, it's just this one minus the "blogspot"

www.peterlast.com

to go straight to the blog

www.peterlast.com/blog

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Journey Through Civil Engineering: Part 2



Hydraulics Engineers (i.e. wetheads)

In my last post in this series, I gave a brief overview of each discipline of Civil Engineering. Now I will proceed to break down each one in a somewhat more comprehensive manner. Because hydraulic engineering was the first one in my initial post, I will start with it.

Hydraulics Engineers deal with anything involving water transmission. This could mean moving water from a treatment plant to your tap or the removal of sewage to another treatment plant. Anytime water is moved, hydraulic engineers are involved.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Guardians of Magessa" FREE

Good news! Until Monday (23 June) my debut novel will be available for a free download on Amazon kindle. Just search "Guardians of Magessa" on Amazon or go to the "books" tab on my website www.peterlast.com

Also, please share so everyone can enjoy the goodness!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Big Announcement

I have recently launched a website in conjunction with the release of my book. In an effort to consolidate my workload, I am currently working on moving all of my previous blog content to the new blog. In this way, I will only have to visit 27 different websites a day instead of 28. In retrospect, this is probably more of a moral victory than anything else. I will still post new content at this location as well as on my new blog until I finish moving everything over so feel free to stop by or to use the new domain.

that's it for now,

Peter Last

Collindwood Depot Libraryvent

I would like to extend a special thanks to the staff of Collinwood Depot Library and everyone who attended the teen night yesterday (16 JUN). I gave a talk about superheroes and how in life working in teams is of the utmost importance. The people were very inviting and interested in me being there.

The Collinwood Library itself is a cool place to be. Though it is small, it boasts hundreds of volumes as well as computers to serve the technological needs of patrons. I also noticed that it is handicapped accessible, definitely a nice touch. The coolest part of the whole place is that it is located inside an old train depot. The place is amazing and the staff is great. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude at the opportunity to speak to the teens of Colinwood.

That's all for now,

Peter Last

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Journey Through Civil Engineering: Part 1

Per a request on my blog, this post will start a multi-part series on Civil Engineering. Don't worry, it's not as boring as it sounds and I will try to inject humor along the way.

In Part 1 of this series (that would be what you're reading now if you hadn't gathered that from the title) I will break Civil Engineering down into its seven areas and give a nick-name and brief description of each. So without further ado and in no particular order (just the order they pop into my head) here are the seven disciplines of Civil Engineering.

1. Hydraulics (i.e. wet heads)
Hydraulics engineering is something that many different disciplines can claim. For instance, mechanical engineers may deal with systems colloquially known as "hydraulics." This could be the shocks on a car, a system used to raise an adjustable chair, or that little tube thingy at the top of your glass door that keeps it from slamming. Civil Engineering hydraulics is nothing like that. It deals with water distribution and drainage systems. Examples of these things include pipes taking water from a water tower to your home, storm water runoff system, sewer pipes, dams, and detention reservoirs. In this discipline there are two main areas of study that I know of so far. Keep in mind that I'm still in college and obviously don't know everything. These two areas are:

·         Open channel flow
·         Pipe flow

I will discuss these in a later post.

2. Structural Engineering (i.e. high risers)
Any type of structure that is built will have one of these engineers involved. Whether it is a small bridge or house or the Hoover Dam or the Empire State building, a structural engineer designed it to make sure it doesn't collapse at an inopportune moment (for the Hoover Dam, any moment would be inopportune). This type of Engineering has the largest potential for fame (and fortune!) and also the largest potential for catastrophic failure (Tacoma Narrows Bridge or the World Trade Center Twin Towers)

3. Transportation Engineering (i.e. )
Transportation engineers have the distinction of thinking that everything revolves around them. This is a joke, of course, since all engineers think the world revolves around their discipline. transportation engineers design roads, bridges (though structural engineers also have a hand here), air ports, etc. If it carries people from point A to point B, the transportation guys probably have a hand in it.

4. Construction Engineering (i.e. do-ers)
It doesn't matter how well you design your road, sky scraper, or dam, the construction engineer will be the one to implement it. These "do-ers" are quite skilled at planning and coordinating projects to accomplish them in the least amount of time with the least amount of money. Another name for them is "project managers." They also tend to know what they're talking about in legal matters that are within their purview.
(Tip: Getting a do-ers' opinion on a project while designing it will help make it much more "do-able" when it comes to actually constructing it. They can make sure the design doesn't call for threading an eighteen inch pipe through a fourteen inch hole or other impossibilities)

5. Geotechnical Engineering (i.e. dirt boys)
When any project has to do with dirt (and every project involves the stuff), dirt boys are involved. How porous is the soil? How much will it compact when a 500,000 ton building is put on it? How deep is the bed rock? These are all questions that the dirt boys can answer. This discipline is particularly important because it makes sure that projects have a firm foundation so they can last for a long time.

6. Materials Engineering (i.e. hard heads)
I nicknamed these guys "hard heads" because some of their best work is done with concrete and asphalt. In principle, they use a lot of the same tests and methods as the dirt boys as they test for strength, compressibility, porosity, and other characteristics of asphalt and concrete. They also work to develop better (stronger, cheaper) methods of making the stuff. They are important to the durability of roads and structural foundations. This is about all I know about materials, so if you have anything to add, please feel free to say it in the comments.

7. Environmental Engineering (i.e. guilt stricken)
This nickname came from my friend and I sitting in "Engineering Orientation" listening to what each of the disciplines did. That presentation made the guilt stricken sound like a bunch of tree huggers, but the truth is quite different. Water treatment, sewage treatment, water table analysis, and site runoff analysis all fall under this area. As you can imagine, the guilt stricken and the wet heads work closely together on a number of projects. Together, they make the Civil Engineering profession the one to lower the mortality rate the most of any profession in the world. The take away? clean water is more important than advanced medical care any day of the week.

Well, that is the most brief run-down of the Civil Engineering profession that I can possibly give. Actually, it would be shorter if I simply removed all of the article adjectives, but I think the decrease in readability would not justify the decrease in length. Stay posted for future posts dealing with each individual discipline.

As always, thank you for reading.


Peter Last

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Book 1: Proof Copy



The gem in the hands of that buffoon is the proof copy of my first book, "Guardians of Magessa." (I'm the buffoon, in case you were wondering) Feels good to finally be able to touch the thing after eleven years of work!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Polls vs. Poles

First, did you know that a "poll" can mean a person's head? More specifically, it is the part of the head from which the hair grows (i.e. the scalp) It's amazing what a google search will turn up.

Now that the important issues are out of the way, it's time to talk about the frivolous ones, that is: it is time to take a poll. When I started this post, I couldn't remember if getting people's opinions was a "poll" or a "pole" hence the google search and word of the day. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I figured out how to spell "poll" correctly. It also prompted me to ask the second question in this particular poll.

Question 1
I am currently working on a sci-fi stroy called "Dead Space." It has correlations to the two short stories i wrote ("The Black Market" and "The Poker Table"). Would you be interested in me posting this story?
1. Yes
2. No.

Question 2
You are asked to "take a pole." You notice the spelling and, instead of assuming a mistake was make you go take a pole. What kind would you take?
1. Flag pole
2. North/South Pole
3. Pole (a Germany music artist)
4. Your own answer.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Peter Last

Blog Review

http://candicemareeperini.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/guardians-of-magessa/

I was just going to leave it at that (i.e. just a link) but I'mm too much of a windbag to do that. The link will take you to a blog, the author of which read my book and wrote the review you will find. Special thanks to her for her help. She has written reviews on other books, so be sure to check them out as well. As always, thanks for reading.

Peter Last

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 14



            "They're making me sick now," Leopold said in a low voice that only Raven could hear. "I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I never thought I'd say that about my brother."
            "Then don't look," Raven said, smacking him. "They won't get to see each other again in who knows how long."
            "Which of course begs the question of why they're starting this." Leopold said.
            "Sometimes you just can't help who you fall for," Raven answered. "It could be a baroness who you won't get to see very often, or it could be a cynical, unromantic dweeb who kills people for money."
            "I kill people for money," Leopold commented.
            "I know," Raven said.
            "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Leopold asked, pretending to be hurt.
            "I just put out a hypothetical situation," Raven said. "Draw your own conclusions if you want to."
            "I don't think I will," Leopold finally decided. "Thinking too much about hypotheticals can get you in trouble."

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 13

            Sneaking into Baron Jasven's apartment was literally the easiest thing Leopold had done in a long time. The baron's guards may have been highly trained for direct confrontations and to pick threats out of a crowd, but against The Group's assassin, they were no match. All it took was a basic stop-and-go strategy and a few shadows, and Leopold was past the roaming guards. Of course, it didn't help that they were trying to be as nonchalant as possible, a task they failed miserably at. They could easily be identified as guards from a mile away.  Leopold snickered to himself as he watched them from the shadows. It is hard, he noted, to try to look like a civilian out for a stroll at midnight, especially one who walks the same path time and time again.
            Getting to the baron's room was even easier. He was situated on the second floor, a laughably easy climb for Leopold. The window shutters were closed and latched, but ten seconds from Leopold's knife, and they were open. With a glance down to where the guards were still pacing back and forth, he inched the shutter open just far enough to squeeze through and dropped silently into the room beyond.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 12

            "What do you mean you're not going to do it?!"
            The prediction that Daniel would not be happy with the  decision was definitely correct; in fact, such mild language was an understatement. Daniel wasn't just unhappy, he was angry or furious or enraged. A vein bulged on his forehead as he continued to yell at Raven, Midas and Leopold. The sad part was that Leopold only found the whole thing vaguely amusing. Some people had the ability to scare when they were angry; it was almost like thunder clouds hovered over their heads and the whole world got a little darker. Daniel was not like this. Livid was the word that Leopold finally settled on. It implied anger and frustration but visually had connotations of bulging blood vessels and a face so red that it looked ridiculous. As far as Leopold was concerned, Daniel met all of these criteria.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 11

            "You wanted to see me?" Maria asked.
            Raven looked up from her work absently. It took her a moment to realize who had just walked into the room. In a moment she was on her feet.
            "Good afternoon, Lady Maria," she greeted the baroness.
            "Good grief, not you too," Maria said with a groan. She sank into a chair. "I was hoping you would lay off all the formalities since you're not from around here."
            "I'm not sure I understand," Raven said. "When I am a guest, I make it a point to be particularly polite."
            "Because you never know which barons and baronesses have sticks shoved up their..." Maria caught herself. "Shoved up their spines, I guess."
            "I guess that's the case," Raven said uncertainly. "Where exactly is this going, ma'am?"
            "Nowhere," Maria answered. "I'm not the type of person who will order your head off for not using my title. Sit down, stop calling me ma'am, and treat me like a person, for goodness sake."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 10

            "Do we seriously have to go to this thing?" Midas asked. "How many times has Daniel warned us about Christianity?"
            "You don't have to come if you don't want to," Raven said, "but this was the best part of my childhood, so I'm going."
            "You aren't really giving me a choice. You know that, right?" Midas asked. "If you go, I'm going to have to go too, to keep you safe."
            "Right, because people who put up tree decorations and take care of orphans are a huge threat," Raven said sarcastically.
            "What?" Midas mouthed to his brother.
            "It's a long story," Leopold said. "Don't ask."

On Life

"Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient data."
-Samuel Butler

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 9

            "This is bad; this is very, very bad," Raven said. She was pacing back and forth across the boys' small room, wringing her hands. Leopold had never seen her this upset.
            "Just calm down and we'll wait for Midas to get here," Leopold said.
            "What's he going to do?" Raven retorted. "That man was definitely the client. Midas can't change that."
            "That's correct, so we'll wait until he gets here and together we'll decide what to do," Leopold said.
            "We don't have to wait for him," Raven said, moving toward the door. "This is a trap. We have to leave now,"
            "Count to ten and calm yourself," Leopold said, putting a restraining hand on Raven's shoulder. "He doesn't know we're here yet, so we're safe for now. We're better than him, and we will beat him. Just wait until Midas gets here and we'll figure this out."

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 8

The meeting hall, or "throne room" as Midas insisted on calling it, was an impressive room to say the least. The walls extended upward for two full stories and a balcony circled the whole place. This had been the first location that Leopold had thought to spy from. It was out of the way and since people didn't tend to look up would put him out of the path of scrutiny. It wasn't difficult to reach either which was his first indication that it might be too good to be true. Sure enough, when the baron was sighted by the lookouts and Leopold had headed to the meeting hall, there were guards stationed along the balcony, keeping an eye on the whole area. far from being stymied by this turn of events, Leopold reverted to plan B. Now he was perched on the catwalk used to access various sections of the room's vaulted ceiling. from here he would have an unobstructed view of the baron and his entire entourage. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 7

            "You're not going soft on me, are you, Midas?" Raven asked. "We do the job that pays the bills; that's the way it's always been."
            Leopold and Raven had been taking a nap in their room in the compound when Midas had burst through the door, back from his errand. he had barely dropped the luggage on the floor and shut the door behind him before he started raising concerns about the job they were doing.
            "Yeah, make sure that Maria isn't getting into your head," Leopold said.  "The last thing we need is for a woman to ruin our operation. It isn't great, but it's the best we have."
            "I'm not letting her get into my head," Midas argued. "And I'm not soft, just concerned. Guess what I just found out about our horse?"
            "It's a stallion?" Raven asked sarcastically. "I don't know; what did you hear?"
            "You know how the client said he wanted us to kill a man's horse which was why I assumed there was a lord of this castle?" Midas asked. "Well there's a baron or some sort of nobility coming to visit. He's just passing through on his way to a horse competition or show or something and guess what he's bringing with him?"
            "His prized horse," Leopold said. "Unless you were going someplace entirely different with that."
            "So we've got our horse now," Raven commented, ignoring Leopold's comment. "I say we wait for it to arrive, do the job, and get out of here."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thanks

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who has or is currently reading my book to review it. All my hard work would be for naught without people like you to help get the word out. Thank you so much. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without your help.

-Peter Last

Never Too Young

My writing journey started out almost 11 years ago. I actually started writing because I was bored and had nothing to do. Drat those parents who don't believe in excessive video gaming and television watching! I distinctly remember the time because we were trying to sell the house and so the school room was on the second floor (long story I'll probably never tell you).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Publishing Journey

I am beginning a new series of blog posts about my publishing journey. Actually, more specifically, they will be about my journey from beginning to write my first book to my expected publication date (yes, for those who are wondering, this is going to be relatively soon). If you are interested in creative, fictitious writing, this series is for you. I will focus on the things that I have learned and that I have tested to be true in the realm of writing. I'll even throw in some information on my experiences trying to get my work published. To conclude the series, I will have a series of posts about things that I learned that don't necessarily fit into the narrative.

If you are interested in writing, I would recommend this series in particular. Comment, ask questions, etc. and I will do my best to get back to you in a timely manner. As always, share this series with anyone who would be interested.

Thanks,
-Peter Last

P.S. You will be able to navigate to the posts in this series using buttons at the top of the page.

Spirit of the Season: Part 6

            Leopold lay on his stomach on one of the beds and stared at the fire. Midas was not present, gone to fetch their belongings. Leopold had offered to come along and help, but Midas had insisted that he could get them by himself. Raven had taken advantage of the shower room to wash up, leaving Leopold with nothing to do but build a fire. Within ten minutes he had a crackling blaze started on the hearth and once again had nothing with which to occupy himself. Absently his mind had strayed back to the job at hand. They were inside the compound now, but he still needed to get to the stables undetected if he was going to kill the horse. Or perhaps he wouldn't have to. A small amount of the right poison in the beast's food would do the trick. The question then was, would he be able to get access to the horse's food? He was so lost in thought that he didn't notice Raven until she passed between him and the fire. She had obviously just finished washing and her hair was still wet. It glistened attractively in the flickering light. She wore a knee length skirt and short-sleeved shirt, though Leopold knew that with the temperature being what it was, she would be adding to her attire as soon as she was sufficiently dry.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part 5

            Leopold and Raven walked along the road, pretending to enjoy the sunshine but actually examining the surrounding terrain. A storm had blown in last night complete with howling wind and lots of snow fall. It had died down before dawn leaving the landscape beautiful and flawless, the driven snow covering all the imperfections.
            “What do you think?” Raven asked. She didn't specify what she was talking about, but Leopold knew. After all, they were out here for a very specific reason.
            “The approach path is terrible,” Leopold said. “The bushes and shrubs by the road would provide decent enough cover if I blended into them, but they’re all covered with snow. I’ll stick out like a sore thumb against the white.”
            “I thought that might be a problem,” Raven agreed. She looked worried and Leopold knew why. Going against Daniel’s suggestion to not take this job had been gutsy on her part. Now that it appeared as if the wizard might have been right, she was becoming very anxious.
            “Look Raven, for every problem there’s a solution,” Leopold said. “All we have to do is figure out what it is.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why IQ Tests are Bad

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is supposed to indicate how much potential you have to be...intelligent I guess. The odd thing about IQ is that it can't really be disproved nor, realistically, does it actually indicate any real information. See, if someone has a high IQ and doesn't do well in school, we can say they either are not motivated enough or they are "just not good at taking tests." In light of the problems and restrictions associated with IQ rankings, I am going to discuss several reasons why IQ tests are less than beneficial.

First, IQ tests have a certain amount of inaccuracy built into them by their very nature. The were created by humans, and humans can only accurately evaluate subjects that fall within their scope of expertise and intelligence. For example, if you are in school and a teacher introduces a new concept, how are you to know if that concept is true or not? Simply put, there's no way you can possibly know the validity of the claim unless you can devise some method to do so. Even then, the method of evaluation you use must fall within your arena of knowledge. I have said all that to say that in the same way, intelligence can only to accurately determined for people with IQs below that of the test creator. If this is true, how can we make statements as to the IQ of Einstein? All that we could accurately determine is that he is more intelligent than a given test creator.

The second reason that IQ tests are not useful is that they only measure a specific type of intelligence. As stated above, a given evaluator will stick to subjects and ideas within their own knowledge bubble. This creates a very one-dimensional test. Even "good" IQ tests can never fully encompass the full scope of intelligence. In fact, the idea had come out recently that there are different types of intelligence. I support this theory and believe that a single test can never fully evaluate a individual's intelligence in all sectors, nor are typical IQ tests equipped to do so.

The third and most important reason that IQ tests are not incredibly useful is that they only measure potential. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much potential you have if you don't use it. By the same token, it doesn't matter how much potential you don't have, if you use it effectively, you can be much more than an unmotivated person with a lot of potential. This can be seen often in school. Many times the person who got straight As without studying in high school will not do as well at college as a person who struggled to get Bs in high school. See, college, believe it or not, is harder than high school and it is more important to have a good work ethic than to be incredibly gifted. Both help but work ethic is much more valuable than IQ.

To quote Will Smith in the movie Hitch, "You can't use what you don't have." He goes on to say that you have to use what you have. In the same way, it doesn't matter what IQ you have but how you use it. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you so nothing but sit in front of the tv, it is of no benefit. After all, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

So what exactly do IQ tests do? For any person taking an IQ test, there are three likely results. One, they may score exactly what they suspected they would. In this event, nothing is likely to change in the individual's outlook and the test is a waste. Two, the subject might score lower than expected. This could result in either depression and less production or a desire to work harder to make up for lost ground. Third, the subject might do better than expected and be called a "genius." He will then either continue as before and the test will be a waste, or they will develop a large ego and consequently not try as hard as they should. Ironically, the only likely solution where an IQ test will do good is if the result is bad.

In the end, an IQ test is just like any other test. It is biased, far from perfect, unfair, and certainly not the end all of intelligence measures. I've said it before and I will say it again: it doesn't matter how smart or dumb you are, what you do with your intelligence is what defines you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spirit of the Season: Part Four

            "So killing this horse is going to be a real chore," Midas said as he sipped a hot beverage in the safety of the group's room. He had just returned from a recon mission. "There must be something really special about it. I've seen barons who didn't have as much security."
            "I knew something was fishy when he was offering so much to kill an animal," Leopold commented. "That being said, I've passed some of the best security in the world, I'm pretty sure I can handle that of a horse. What's it look like?"
            "Well, whoever it is that owns the beast is one rich man," Midas said. "He has entire herds of horses, cattle, and other animals. He also owns thousands of acres of land and, by my estimation, must employ the vast majority of the people in these parts."
            "So why the interest in his horse?" Raven asked.
            "No idea," Midas answered. "As far as I can tell, people around here owe their livelihood to him."
            "Maybe that's why," Leopold speculated. "With as rich as he is, he must have acquired some enemies."