jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Jazz Fish)
On Saturday night I discovered that I tend to walk slightly on the blades of my feet. This is almost certainly doing terrible things for my posture.

cut for description of trauma, neither graphic nor permanent )
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
In early February I dropped a large sum of money on a viola. I ordered it through Long & McQuade, a Canadian music megastore, on the theory that they could a) get me a slightly better price than ordering direct from the manufacturer, and b) deal with any issues that I might happen to have. I was told it would likely arrive in late February.

In early March, when the viola hadn't yet arrived, I called L&M and left a message. I called them back a few days later, somewhat more irate, and got told that it would be here "hopefully by the end of next week." This sounded suspiciously like they hadn't bothered to even put the order in, but I let it go.

Today it's closer to the end of the week after that, and I've called them again.

It turns out that in fact they hadn't bothered to put the order in. There have been a large number of payment screwups in their head office, and mine was one of those affected. Not that anyone bothered to check this until I called to bug them.

So, I am told that the payment will definitely go through tonight, and the viola will ship directly to the Vancouver store instead of being routed through Toronto as was originally planned, and it'll be here in two weeks. Which probably means available for pickup the day after Easter Monday. And they'll give me a substantial discount on a bow as well.

Moral: do not purchase anything from Long & McQuade unless it is right there in front of you.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Two weekends ago, more or less, [personal profile] uilos and I went out to Harrison Hot Springs for a couple days of vacation. We soaked in a naturally heated pool and wandered around a small village and saw the source of the springs. We did not partake of the Spa Experience, as that costs ridiculous amounts of money, but we saw a bunch of people wandering around in white terrycloth robes. Also, it was spring break for the BC school system, and apparently people like to take their kids on spa vacations, so there were a ton of kids everywhere.

The rental company gave us a Big-Ass Truck instead of the compact we'd requested. Driving (and parking) that was an adventure in itself.

Overall it was alright. I don't know that I'd go back just-us but dragging a few other people along could be fun.

Last weekend saw the second annual Terminal City Tabletop Convention, a day-only Vancouver gaming con that an acquaintance of mine started up last year. That too was generally good. I played a number of games I'd been wanting to try for awhile, had some duds and some surprising hits (Red7 is sort of the lovechild of Fluxx and Uno, and fantastically chaotic fun).

Got in a game of 1889 with mostly-newish players on Sunday. I think I'm about done with 1889: it's 1830 with a different map and one less company, and the 'one less company' part makes a surprising difference in how aggressively the game runs. And the map isn't terribly exciting, either. Oh well, now I know.

Afterwards on Sunday we went out to a Thai place near Metrotown which makes a quite tasty pad thai. I keep thinking I ought to try other thai dishes, and I keep coming back to "but I really like the rice noodles in pad thai and can't get them anywhere else."

I also seem to have picked up an odd head-cold at TCTC. The last couple of days my nose has been stuffy & my throat sore (sinus drip), and I get out of breath and spacey in the mid-afternoon. This is making it difficult to get back up to speed after having E home for a week.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Hey, it's Wednesday again. Funny how that works.

What are you reading?

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, about coping when you're overly sensitive to stimuli. It's odd. I feel like I'm maybe borderline HSP at best, and then I read the stuff about growing up HSP and think "yep, that was me." Did I change / grow out of it? Did I talk myself out of it or let myself get talked out of it? Am I just not paying attention? Any of these are plausible.

What did you just finish reading?

The Zalozhniy Quartet by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. This is a set of adventures for Night's Black Agents, aka "Jason Bourne With Vampires: The RPG". It's exceedingly well-designed and well-written, and would make a fantastic HBO or BBC-TV series. I'd love to run it but I don't think I'll get the chance.

What do you think you'll read next?

The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford. Spies and Marlowe. I wasn't so impressed with this the previous time I read it; curious to see whether my opinion improves.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Because it's been a not-wholly-unproductive week.

Proceeds, or rather doesn't, as I seem to have hit a brick wall in plotting. I suspect that when the answer finally comes to me it will be utterly obvious and have been right all along, I just wasn't seeing it.

I can't tell if nothing I've come up with feels right because it's not right, or because it's going to take a decent amount of effort to make work. This is seriously frustrating. If I haven't cracked it by early next week I will put it aside and go back to the other piece that I have a decent start on.

Also proceeds, reasonably well I think. I'm working through the first Suzuki viola book, and am nearly to the Bach minuets. So, about two-thirds through, though it gets harder now.

Technically: I'm mostly pleased with my left-hand ability, and mostly frustrated by bowing techniques. I sound more or less in tune but not *good*, not by a long shot. I'll get there.

I strongly suspect that the music store didn't bother to actually order the viola I paid them for a month ago until I called earlier this week to bug them about it. Grr. It ought to be here sometime next week.

For once I am doing some of this! I'm emailing people on a semiconsistent basis. I am not the greatest correspondent but I'm trying to keep up. It helps that the best way to get mail from neat people is to write to them myself, so there's sort of built-in motivation.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I am home from the Rainforest Writers Village retreat, where I coined a new-to-me word (thaumobabble, the urban fantasy equivalent of technobabble), saw some old friends and met some new ones, and generally had a good time.

The weekend is best summed up by this photo.

More seriously, I wrote some 2600 fiction words, interspersed with stream-of-consciousness plot noodling to figure out how I'm actually getting from point A (the opening) to points X, Y, and Z (the action/suspense climax, emotional climax, and aftermath), and whether any of those points will look at all like my original conception. (Spoiler: kind of but not a lot.) This is kind of a big deal: in the last three years I've noodled on a couple of stories but never got past the 'crap what happens now' point after the initial burst of inspiration. It'll be good to finish something and I think it's doable.

A couple of years ago I had the idea to start a story pendulum: write two, revise the first, write a third, revise the second, etc. At the time, with work etc, I'd thought a month for each swing would be reasonable. I'll start trying to get that but I'd really like to get it down to two weeks, or maybe three for writing and one for revising.

To do today-ish, in no particular order:
  • Write this post WIKTORY
  • Email: [personal profile] uilos, Karawynn, Sonya, others?
  • Deal with pile of mail
  • Call Long & McQuade re viola No sign of it yet. Bah. Should have ordered it myself direct from the manufacturer.
  • Writing: work out character motivations, which will I hope explicate plot & climax
  • Viola practice
  • Box game for shipping, get shipping quote
  • Sort through receipts from this weekend, wince at exchange rate
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 838
Total words: 2709
Neat things: I looked at her hands, still dripping from where she'd torn out poor Daltrey's throat. "I hadn't expected to take the riddle quite so literally." "We're a literal people."

Ack. I know what I want to have happen and how I want the ending to come off, and it involves the main character standing around spectating instead of doing something. Which means I now have to figure out what she's going to do and why.

... I think I know what she's going to do and I sort of know why, but not quite why it's necessary. And after I figure that out (and I think that's the last "what's the plot" I have to solve) I get to see whether it makes a story.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 775
Total words: 1675
Neat things: Opening scene now has twice as many snarky characters. Unexpected plot twist is unexpected. Old arguments about ritual ingredients, arguments that are themselves practically ritualized by now.

The real triumph isn't those 700-plus words, it's having sat down and worked through why it is I've been stuck on the plot and fixed at least some of the structural problems so that I'm capable of writing those 700-plus words, and more tonight / tomorrow, and having a better than even chance that they're more or less the right words.

Three years ago Rainforest got me a couple of good friends and a finished draft of Bookwyrms. At this writing that's still the last first draft I've finished, excluding the spontaneous writing contest at Wiscon. Since then I've revised, mm, call it three things worth the submitting, and come round to the Ideomancer editor's view that Bookwyrms is a cute idea with no plot and hence not really a story.

I have no expectations that I'll meet anyone who clicks as well as Karawynn this year. But if I get unblocked or unstuck or whatever, I'll happily take that.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Late February isn't quite early enough to take the late train south from Vancouver: the sun has already set by the time we get moving. Late March is probably about right.

It's still about the most comfortable way to travel to Seattle I can think of. Less cramped than a car, less expensive than a plane, less cattle-car-y than the bus. Plus wi-fi. Would train again.

Note to self: getting mail from people makes me happy. The way to get mail consistently is to write it. How on earth did I ever send lengthy messages nearly every day for four years?

The trouble with coming down late and crashing with Ederlyn is that we sit up talking until even later, and then I oversleep and she's later for work than desired and I'm half-braindead all the next day. Well worth it, though.

Am sitting outside a bakery/coffeeshop in Belltown, near the water. Belltown is... I don't think there's anything like it in Vancouver. Gastown is about the closest. Down here at least it's all older buildings and interesting shops and such, and lots of trees and the occasional view of the water. It's the kind of thing I think of when I say "i want to live in the city."

Soon [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies and Steph will have finished breakfast and pick me up, and we'll head off to the rainforest for several days of writing and writerly behavior. I am... not as excited about this as I'd hoped or expected to be. I think it'll be fun, and good for me. Kick my writing muscles back into gear, that sort of thing.

The cherry trees are blooming, and there are a couple of chickadees talking and flitting from tree to tree. The sky is grey and threatining rain and there's just a bit of wind. It's a good day.

argh tech

Feb. 21st, 2015 09:03 am
jazzfish: Windows error message "Error 255: Too many errors." (Too many errors)
Awhile ago I was having some problems with Scrivener's RTF output. It would occasionally eat paragraph spacing info, I would fix it in OpenOffice (a free MS-Word clone), and then the next time I opened the file it would be even more broken. I thought those problems had been solved.

(This is what us writer types call foreshadowing.)

For reasons that are still unclear to me but which I'll attack this weekend or early next week, it's turning the last paragraph of the story into single-spaced. No problem, says I, I can fix that in OpenOffice. So I do, and open it again to make sure it hasn't broken anything (looks good), and submit to a market noted for its super-quick turnaround times.

Got a response back last night saying essentially "No, and by the way please use standard manuscript format."


Opened it this morning in OpenOffice, and saw pages and pages of whitespace and broken headers.

So *that* was embarrassing.

I think (think) I have fixed the problem by switching to LibreOffice (a slightly different free MS-Word clone). I've heard before that this is something I should have done years ago but I have a great deal of software inertia.

On the bright side, the switch seems to have been painless, and LibreOffice is a touch faster than OpenOffice, too.

Stupid software. I'd go back to just using MS Word but a) while unemployed is not the time to start spending hundreds of dollars on software, b) versions of Word after 2003 have been increasingly less usable, and c) they've moved to a 'subscription' model where I get to pay them every month. As I don't anticipate using the software every month this seems like a terrible deal.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Well, that's a draft. And unlike previous 'that's a draft's I think I am sufficiently happy with this one.

By which I mean, I don't think I can make it much better, and certainly not enough better to justify the increasingly diminishing returns of pounding away on it.

So I'll send this draft off for a couple of final reads to make sure I haven't completely screwed anything up, and then I guess it's time for another page in the submission spreadsheet.

And also to figure out what I'm going to be working on at Rainforest next week.
jazzfish: Windows error message "Error 255: Too many errors." (Too many errors)
No motivation this morning. Up til midnight trying to fix my stupid computer. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me it has forgotten how to tell the phone where to sync photos (clicking the [Sync] Photos tab results in endless spinning, and syncing gets a complaint that it can't find the folder to sync photos and then an endless "Waiting for sync to finish" message), on top of its couple-months-old tendency to crash the System Preferences when I try to open either Desktop/Screensaver or Spotlight prefs.

Been needing to get a new battery anyway; this one only holds about two hours of charge. Maybe I can get the genuises to take a look at the system when I bring it in.

I suspect the answer is gonna be "full system restore to old Time Machine backup" again, at best. Don't wanna.

Meanwhile I sit here with a stuffed-up nose and no interest in doing much of anything.

Today I will:
  • Stop beating myself up for not managing to fix my stupid computer
  • Get up off this couch WIKTORY
  • Exercise while rewatching two episodes of Better Off Ted
  • Practice the viola for at least an hour (two sessions)
  • Knock at least one thing off the "things to revise in story" list, either by doing or by saying "nope not gonna do that"
  • Email Jenn, cripes how did it get to be Friday already, I blame the stupid not-quite-sick
  • Meet [personal profile] uilos downtown for fishes and Holst

Looks like a full day for no motivation.

101 in 1001 update )
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Last week I finally put in my order for a custom carbon-fiber viola from Germany. Paid extra for a "hybrid" model, which comes with an electric pickup built in, and to have it dyed a dark dark green color. I went with 'carbon-fiber' and 'hybrid' on the grounds that I don't know exactly what I intend to do with it, but I'm more likely to do goofy things than to play in an orchestra. The hybrid model makes it easier for me to turn out to be the next Zoë Keating or John Cale, and carbon-fiber travels better and holds up better in varying weather & humidity than wood.

So, excitement! Also nerves. This is literally more money than I've spent on any single thing other than my second car, and that includes my first car.

[The "costs more than my car" metric is one I started using when [personal profile] uilos and I were browsing in a furniture store in Rockville that was supposedly having a huge Going Out Of Business Sale. Their prices were ... not commensurate with what I think of as Going Out Of Business, much less Sale. At one point we passed under a giant crystal chandelier with a low-five-figure price tag, and I realised that the people who buy this sort of thing are, to quote Fitzgerald, very different from you and me. ("Yes. They have more money." --E. Hemingway)]

I've also ordered a decent case. It is bright blue, and looks like a tiny cello hard case, complete with wheels. It's being shipped to my parents because the seller wouldn't ship it internationally, and from there to here. Hopefully it will get here not too much later than the instrument itself. Also, hopefully the viola will fit into the case. The thing about violas is that there is no standard size viola, unlike for the violin or cello. It's just sort of "for best sound, make it as big as you can handle."

My actual playing continues to improve, I suppose. Fixing my posture fixes a bit of the bow bounce, and relaxing my hand fixes some more of it. I am now at the point where I have to take the various techniques I've been learning and apply them to music, which is of course harder than just doing them individually. I have some faith that I'll get there. Eventually. In the meantime I run through a lot of left-hand exercises, because I'm relatively good at those.

Other news, noted mostly so I'll have a record of it: E has been mildly ill for the past week, and I have a sneaking suspicion it's getting to me as well. I've had a stuffy nose since about Thursday. As of today I have the sore throat of sinus drain. Bleh.

Also, a week ago last Friday I started having pain in my right foot when I stand on it. I'm blaming this on having done something weird to my hip and having that affect the nerve running down to the foot. Stretching seems to help, as does staying off it. The trouble with staying off it is that it means I can't use my office, since my desk requires standing.

If the foot isn't better by later this week I'll look into seeing a doctor, I guess. I ought to find one of those anyway.
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
ME: *goes into spare room*

CHAOS: *wanders in*

ME: You probably don't want to be in here, cat.

CHAOS: *sniffs curiously*

ME: *opens viola case*

CHAOS: *bolts*
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Ack. Sat down at 12:30 to read my book for half an hour, ended up buried under cats until nearly two. My entire schedule for the day has been thrown off.


The thing about learning the viola is that at this point it's all about getting to Carnegie Hall: that is, doing the same damn thing over and over and over again in the hope that eventually the muscle memory will stick. It uses effort and brain but not creative-brain, which is what seems to be more burnt out. So it's easy to put in an hour and a half of viola practice every day, but inordinately difficult to get through even an hour of (fiction) writing or revision.

The other thing about learning the viola is that I don't have to smash any of my awful pots. They come pre-smashed. This is sort of the nature of performative arts: you have to keep doing the same damn thing over and over again, but on the other hand there's (for me anyway) not the pressure to make it Absolutely Perfect In Every Particular.

I am, as it happens, horribly precious about my pots stories. I'm pretty sure that before I can really get anywhere as a writer I need to let go of that. I have little to no idea how to go about it.

("Just do it!" AHAHAHAHA yes. It really is just that easy. And it's just that impossible, too.)
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)


I got out my cello this morning and tried some of the viola stuff I've been having trouble with.


By which I mean, I am so much better at cello than at viola.

By which I mean, eight years of lessons followed by a two-decade hiatus beats three months of lessons.

Which shouldn't come as a surprise, and yet.

The trouble, of course, is that I'm more interested in playing the viola. Largely on account of portability, but that's still a reason. So... I guess I push on through the fumblefingers and wandering bow and completely losing my place in the music and on the fingerboard.

I just hope it takes less than eight years. (I'm still shooting for two.)

In the meantime I can break out the cello to remind myself that it does get better. I hope.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict: "CW: So, you made your own opium den? MARTIN: That's exactly what we did." Once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. (Via a commenter at Lawyers, Guns & Money. There are four sites I know of where the conventional wisdom of Never Read The Comments does not apply: LG&M, Crooked Timber, The Toast, and Making Light.)

A New Physics Theory of Life: "You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant." Fascinating stuff.

Reinventing the Potato: "Consider what happened to apples: By the 1980s, Americans were so fed up with the dominant and inaptly named Red Delicious that all kinds of tastier varieties soared in popularity.... The potato's champions want to bring this same kind of diversity to the humble spud."

How a crazy scientist duped America into believing vitamin C cures colds: "Over the next few years, [Linus] Pauling upped his intake of vitamin C, eventually taking 18,000 mg per day. Vitamin C became his scientific obsession."

Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter: "Round about then, we wondered, if it's not a joke, how should we now refer to Kirby Delauter if we can't use his name (Kirby Delauter)?" (Note the first letter of each paragraph. Someone had a lot of fun with this.)
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I guess the apartment faces south-southeast. We can't ever see the full-on sunset but in winter we get some amazing sunrises.

On clearish days this means that until about eight in the morning the sky is gorgeously dappled-magenta. Then at around eight the sun crests the Surrey hills and I have to close the blinds or, well, get blinded.

I haven't been writing much here because, I don't know. Because it feels like my days are slow and lazy and not good fodder for documenting.

After feeling entirely useless and ineffective on Friday I hosted a houseful of people on Saturday and a smaller gathering on Sunday. Monday was exhaustingly full of maintenance and chores. I think I'm getting back to feeling like myself again.

I have unformed thoughts on Transistor (the next game by the makers of Bastion, which attempts the same in-medias-res start as Bastion but doesn't quite make it work, at least not for me) and on ... mm. On using LJ as a write-only medium, I guess, which has rubbed me wrong for most of a decade now but in general isn't worth the effort of going on about.

I take care of the house and the cats, I exercise, I practise the viola and occasionally write/edit. I play boardgames and read and poke at the internet or the iPad. Sometimes I'm sociable. It's a good life but it's not going much of anywhere. Not that I've worked out where "anywhere" might be.
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
This week I have run headlong into a bunch of things I can't do.

Cut for whining.

viola )

writing )
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Let's see. I spent the week of Christmas in a bit of a fog due to a cold, which remarkably did not transform into an unpleasant sinus infection. Then I spent the week of New Year's on vacation from my vacation. Having trouble getting back into the swing of a semiregular regular routine, now.

What are you currently reading?

Frances FitzGerald's Fire In The Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. I'd picked up the wargame of the same name on a whim earlier in the year, and the book was cited as an important and useful source for the game, and I happened to stumble across it in early December in the thrift store. I'm about fifty pages from the end. It's good, I think: I knew basically nothing about Vietnam or the war going into it. I'm coming out with the impression that there was no good way for the Americans to interfere or to "stop the rise of Communism," and they still managed to go about it in the worst possible way. FitzGerald puts much of the blame for this on Westmoreland, who persisted in fighting a conventional Western war in a situation that was none of those things, and on Johnson, who created a culture where no one involved could say anything negative about the 'pacification' efforts or suggest a change of direction.

(The title comes from the I Ching hexagram for 'Revolution.')

I've also started reading Kameron Hurley's God's War, because I snagged it and Infidel (the sequel) for free in ebook a couple of years back. Three chapters in, it's good stuff: gritty Muslim-influenced SF.

What did you recently finish reading?

Before that I blasted through The Wire: Truth Be Told, which [personal profile] uilos got for my birthday, which gives you an idea of how long I've been at the FitzGerald book. It's a companion to the TV series. I skipped the episode recaps but the rest of it is really good stuff: interviews and essays with various people involved in the making of the show, and on how it ever got made in the first place, and all that.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ebook, Infidel, and then I'll likely pick up Rapture, the third of the trilogy.

Hard copy, William Gibson's The Peripheral, because I promised semilocal J-- that I'd read it next and also because I really want to. I like Gibson's recent contemporaryish novels a lot (well, I liked Pattern Recognition and Zero History; I felt like Spook Country was a lot of buildup for next to no payoff, but it's also important backstory for ZH), and I'm looking forward to what he does now with SF.


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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