Apr. 19th, 2014 10:16 am
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I am currently ensconced in a hotel room on the morning of my last full day at Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends, a smallish (400 people total, spread over a week and a half) boardgaming convention in Niagara Falls.

Let me first say that I am a big fan of having conventions right on the Canada border. Means I get cell service and data without having to prepay an arm and a leg.

[personal profile] uilos and I went out to see the falls, which are as impressive as advertised, and met up with [personal profile] culfinriel for lunch, which was neat. Other than that it's been all Gathering all the time.

The Gathering... I feel more consistently like myself here than I have in ages, since Farthing Party I think. I've played an awful lot of games with an awful lot of people, and nearly all of them have been good experiences. Even teaching games have for the most part gone smoothly.

I think I've played more games, and more good games, in the last week than in the previous six months combined (excluding Netrunner). I've missed this, and I don't know how to get it at home. Slowly, I guess. Building up a group one gamer at a time.

The last two mornings I've gotten up early to play an 18xx game. These are long (short ones are three hours) games of railroad building and stock market shenanigans. I came in unsure whether I actually like the games or just respect them. After these two I am pretty sure I like them, at least when they're focused on the building-good-railroads aspects. Now to find players at home. *sigh*

Tomorrow back home, to fighting with work and other fun things.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
PSA: 1) Change all your passwords everywhere, and 2) 1Password is on sale for at least the next few days. I haven't been using it myself but I think now may be a good time to start.

Let's see. Last week it rained. Real rain, not just Vancouvering. Good excuse to get a new umbrella from the Umbrella Shop (of course Rain City has an Umbrella Shop), on account of how my old black one snapped off at the top while I was on the way to meet someone for tea and cheesecake.

Most of the umbrellas they sell at the Umbrella Shop are either 1) solid colours, 2) busily patterened (plaid, small polka-dots) or 3) covered in Impressionist paintings. None of these felt right at all. I think what I was after was "solid colour with a sharp accent / picture of some kind." (Somewhere along the way I seem to have developed a modernist / Art Deco design sensibility.) I ended up with a grey umbrella with a picture of a rose on it. This is not at all what I would have thought I wanted but it'll do.

Meeting someone: I have been sociable and met someone! We've hung out a couple of times, and she seems neat. We have more or less opposite social strategies/habits: she doesn't like to pry / ask questions and assumes people will talk to her about things they think are cool, and I am crap at talking about myself unless specifically asked and much prefer to draw people out by asking them about themselves and their stuff. Learning to navigate this gap is probably a useful skill for me to acquire.

A couple of years ago I read the first of eBear's Nongol books (the Eternal Sky trilogy, a fantasy in a world inspired by fourteenth-century Asia Minor, in which one main character is a prince of the steppe tribes that conquered much of the known world a couple of generations back; hence, "non-Mongols," or, well). It was quite good, but irritating in that Bear's gone with the bound-book-fragment mode of epic fantasy publishing. I bought the second one when it came out, because supporting writers is the Right Thing To Do, but didn't read it. The third and last is finally here, so I'm going through those. Highly recommended. [personal profile] uilos has grabbed Sarah Monette's new standalone The Goblin Emperor and I figure we'll trade once I'm done with the Nongols.

(The Goblin Emperor is giving me headaches. Among the ways in which publishing is currently dumb is that if your first few books don't sell well, publishers won't buy your next book, unless you publish it under a different name. However, it's okay for that name to be widely known as a pseudonym for you. Which is why TGE has "Katherine Addison" on the spine rather than "Sarah Monette," and will be shelved either far away from her other books, or in what looks like the Wrong Place. You'd think that if I were willing to shelve a numbered set of Narnia books in an order other than the numbering indicated I'd put TGE with the 'Sarah Monette' books, but apparently some things are just Wrong and filing a book under not-the-author's-printed-name is one of them.)

Hunting the wily apartment is still a thing of frustration. Perhaps week after next will be better. And o yes: [personal profile] uilos passed her Canadian medtech exam, and can now begin actively looking for grown-up work. Cue sigh of relief.

Tonight we fly out to Niagara for a week of boardgaming. The timing on this is either fantastic or terrible, depending on your perspective: I've managed to get pretty much everything wrapped up for work and there are no more deadlines for awhile, but taking time off now makes taking so much time off in May a little more awkward. Meh. Will sort that out when it gets here.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
As noted elseweb, Happy The Internet Gets Stupid day! If you're still planning an April Fools gag, first consult this handy reference guide.

... cripes, it's been six months since I last poked at my 101 in 1001 list. Partly that's because I slowed down something fierce after about mid-October. Partly it's because I've plucked most of the low-hanging fruit. I dunno. It's still a useful referent / reinforcement, long as I remember to check in with it every so often.

101 in 1001 update )


Mar. 28th, 2014 09:57 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Walter George Bruhl Jr., DuPont Co. retiree: "There will be no viewing since his wife refuses to honor his request to have him standing in the corner of the room with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand so he would appear natural to visitors." (See also.)

How to Kill a Wasp Indoors: A Guide for the Weak: "13. Quickly skim a thread on “Best way to KILL WASPS indoors!!!!!?????” and make a mental note that five exclamation points and five question marks do not, in fact, do your predicament justice."

The only possible way to reform the U.S. Senate: "If we're going to have a nonsensical system of government, let's at least push the ontological boundaries."

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel: "By the time the burritos reach Cedar Rapids (traveling well over a mile a second) they are heated through, and anyone who managed to penetrate into the tunnel through the Cleveland access shafts would find them ready to eat."

THE SEMI-COLON IS THE BEST: "For those of us whose thoughts digress; for whom unexpected juxtapositions are exhilarating rather than tiresome; who aim, if always inadequately, to convey life’s experience in some semblance of its complexity--for such writers, the semi-colon is invaluable."

The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See: "Standing on his front stoop, he could visualize, with an extraordinary degree of precision, the two pine trees on his front lawn, the curb at the edge of his street, and finally, a bit too far from that curb, my rental car."

Seasteading: "No, to the Valleybro, a city unwilling to exercise eminent domain to build a hyperloop, or an FCC unwilling open up a bunch of radio spectrum, or a court that won’t process their complaint about these things this week, is a society in its failure state. Oh my god, they say to each other, this is like driving around with the parking brake on all the time!"

How Iowa Flattened Literature: "Did the CIA fund creative writing in America?"

The World's Greatest Feminist Fishmonger: "In the 1930s, after his daughters had married, Russ made a startling move: he made them partners in the business and renamed his store 'Russ & Daughters,' a practice unheard of at the time."

The trailer for The Double, about which someone on Twitter said "Someone has made a better Terry Gilliam film than Terry Gilliam." Some notes: that's Wallace 'Vizzini' Shawn as Jesse Eisenberg's boss, and the design choices made a lot more sense to me when I found out it's based on a Dostoevsky story.

My Dementia: have only skimmed, mostly because slowly losing my mind is the thing I fear second-most (behind being trapped fully-aware in my body), but it's impressive.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)

What are you currently reading?

Rereading Walter Jon Williams's City On Fire, because I got a craving to reread it. Well, actually to reread Metropolitan, but why stop there. CoF is still excellent (as is Metropolitan).

What did you recently finish reading?

Metropolitan, naturally. That's three reads in, mm, three years, which feels simply decadent. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Before that, Watership Down, for no reason other than that I can't remember the last time I'd read it. Still quite good, still The Aeneid With Bunnies. My main complaint is that it's got too many characters, to be honest; several of the rabbits from Sandleford all blur together, and even the Efrafans aren't as well distinguished as they might be.

Oh, and another story from Lucius Shepherd's The Dragon Griaule, a cycle of corrupt, oppressive fantasy stories. They're good, don't get me wrong; I just can only read so much at once.

What do you think you'll read next?

Something new, I think; it's been mostly rereads and retreads for awhile.

and sent

Mar. 22nd, 2014 05:44 pm
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
I don't generally think in terms of 'drafts.' I'm more of a 'continuous revision' kinda guy. I guess a 'draft' occurs when something is done enough to send out for feedback, mostly so that I can keep the comments on different versions separate.

Which is to say, after a lot of delays and procrastination, culminating in an unexpected nap this afternoon, I've finished the next draft of "In the City of Memory." It's not done, but it's done enough to get some additional eyes on it, because I'm tired of staring at it and it's all running together.


Now for dinner and sociableness.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Last weekend's lessons: 1) if you're going to drop your powered-on laptop, 'flat' is the worst way for it to land, as that causes the (non-SSD) hard drive to skip and throw a fit; 2) as long as the geniuses at the Apple Store don't actually have to *do* anything they're unlikely to charge you; 3) I now know how to enter 'recovery mode,' as distinct from 'safe mode,' in OSX; 4) always, always, always back up your data.

Total loss: about a day and a half worth of fiddling around with stuff, plus the cost of a chai at Starbucks. Could have been a lot worse.

The Veronica Mars movie was very good: snarky, character-driven, filled with shoutouts to the series but still (I think) comprehensible and amusing if you're a newcomer. As noted elseweb, it had too much Logan and not enough Wallace or Mac, but that's a flaw it shared with the series.

We've started looking at new apartments. No real winners yet. The lack of wallspace for bookshelves has, as expected, been a problem. Heat in Vancouver tends to come from baseboard radiators, rather than vents, and baseboard heaters and bookcases are mutually exclusive. Oh well.

One place looked extremely promising: sort of like our current place, only in a more interesting neighborhood (closer to transit, further from groceries and a place to run) and slightly smaller. Not quite as much cheaper as I'd like but definitely cheaper. Downsides: first, they wanted a 1 April move-in date, which is awkward since we have a lease through the end of May. Second, they have a couple of bright orange cabinets bolted to the wall in the living room at about head height. I mean, *bright* orange. Don't-shoot-me orange. I have either not enough design sense to appreciate this, or too much.

Happy spring, or something like that.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Blergh day.

What are you currently reading?

Not a damned thing. It's an odd feeling.

What did you recently finish reading?

In the last month or so...

Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco. First reread in at least a decade. I believe I first read this book in late high school. It's one of those where I keep getting more out of it every time I read it.

The Merchant Princes (trilogy), by Charles Stross. As noted earlier, worldwalking economic/political thrillers. Good stuff; possibly my favorite of Charlie's work. They were perfect for a vacation read.

Ash: A Secret History, by Mary Gentle. It's... interesting. I keep mentally comparing it to The Dragon Waiting, the only other late-15th-century alternate-history I've read, which isn't fair at all. (Though now I wonder where Lost Burgundy is in the world of TDW. *checks Draco Concordans* Of course, Burgundy is the westernmost province of the Empire, and it's ruled by Dimi's father Cosmas. No remnants of Charles Temeraire here, alas.) Vicious and brutish and sometimes unexpectedly kind, and reasonably action-packed. At times I grew bored with the Ash bits and wanted to hurry up and get back to the weird present-day stuff. Worth reading, possibly worth rereading.

I am not entirely sure I like Mary Gentle's work. I loved loved loved Golden Witchbreed, hated Ancient Light an equal and opposite amount, and was mostly bored by Ilario. She writes well, just... at oblique angles to my preferences, I think.

What do you think you'll read next?

Maybe a reread of the Steerswoman books. Maybe something off the official To Be Read Shelf. Maybe Susan Palwick's Mending the Moon.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Over vacation I read Charles Stross's six- three-volume Merchant Princes series. They're good stuff. The first one's a normal SF worldwalker book, and the next two are much more contemporary thrillers that happen to include a worldwalking component. Also, the twin central messages are 'Economic development is tricky' and 'Stop romanticising the past.'

They are also, as Charlie noted, big fat books. I mostly didn't notice this, because ereaders are a thing of lightweight beauty.

Over the weekend I got a desire to reread Umberto Eco's big thick secret-history Foucault's Pendulum. My copy is a giant hardback, because it looks nice on my shelf and because when I was carrying a large backpack around campus one more big book didn't really make a difference.

Now? I am genuinely *irritated* that I can't just open it on the iPad. Instead I have to deal with a physical volume that causes me physical strain to hold in one hand, and that doesn't fit in my coat pocket. I am almost (almost) considering plopping down more money for an ebook edition.

I suppose this is how 'and then i replaced my library with ebooks' starts.

Two quotes about Foucault's Pendulum:

1) "Dan Brown is a character in my book." --Umberto Eco, on being repeatedly asked if he'd read The Da Vinci Code
2) "Nobody gets Foucault's Pendulum except for literary critics and role-players." --James Palmer
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Bastion is a video game about ... mm. The gameplay is, it's an isometric action game, where you go into each level with your choice of two different weapons and beat things up, and you can improve your weapons as the game goes on. It's extremely well done, due to a) smooth gameplay and responsive controls, b) great art direction, brightly-colored and serious-yet-cartoony, and c) some absolutely fantastic voice work by Logan Cunningham as the narrator. The music is pretty good as well.

As for what the game's about... survival, and fear, and understanding, and empathy, I guess. At the start of the game[1] you think you may be the only survivor of some unexplained Calamity. As you go you meet a few more survivors, and you learn the truth about the Calamity, and why it happened, and maybe how to reverse it, or at least make sure it doesn't happen again. Maybe.

[1] "A proper story's supposed to start at the beginning. It ain't so simple with this one."

One of the survivors you meet is Zia, a girl from the next country over, the country that might have invaded, or threatened to invade, or something. She's singing a song to herself the first time you find her. It's a quiet, dreamy blues song, and the fragments of lyrics I could understand during the game were something about building a wall.

I realised this week that I'd gotten the soundtrack when I picked up the game, in one of the Humble Bundles. So I downloaded and listened to it. Most of it's frantic beat-stuff-up music, even for the more reflective bits of plot, so "Zia's Theme" stood out. I've been listening to it off and on the last couple of days.

I hadn't realised until today quite how... ominous... the lyrics are.
Gonna build that wall until it's done
Gonna build that wall until it's done
But now you've got nowhere to run

So build that wall
And build it strong
'Cos we'll be there before too long...
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I miss the sunshine. And the company. Not to mention the fruit trees everywhere. If I weren't a city boy I think I'd like to have a small sunny garden/plaza type of thing, with decently comfortable chairs and a pomegranate tree.

Based on a sample size of one[*], I am not the target market for bed-and-breakfasts. Morning is not a time to be sociable with strangers. Not to mention that we may have been the youngest people there by a factor of two. It was a nice enough place, just... not really my kind of place.

[*] "Everybody generalizes from a sample size of one. At least, I do." --SKZB

Fresh fruit and fresh yoghurt makes for a pretty decent breakfast. Also, the 'frozen yoghurt' place literally put raspberries, chunks of cheesecake, and yoghurt ice cubes in a blender with some sugar, and handed me a spoon. Delicious.

The zoo at Guadalajara is decent. It's not the National Zoo or the San Diego Zoo, but it's got an awful lot of critters, in what mostly look like pretty good habitats. Much amusement from the exhibit containing a sloth, an anteater, and a small monkey, who were all eating lunch when we went by. The sloth would slowly pick up a piece of lettuce, and then roll over on its back and slowly crunch on it for awhile. Also wolves, who had somehow gotten themselves a red baseball cap to play with.

We woke up far too early in the morning on Satyrday and stood in a very slow line to check in with United, in a line that was long enough and slow enough that we were seriously worried about not making our flight. Thankfully the security lines were nonexistent. I have no idea how that works.

Landed in San Francisco and did a bit of wandering around and touristing. Visited the Nat'l Park Service museum, and the farmers market, and Chinatown, which feels touristy. Too many gweilo. SF seems like a decent enough place and I assume the rest of the city is not quite so heavily touristed; where we were, it didn't really speak to me. Also the BART system is stupidly expensive. $8.65 for a one-way ticket means I will never complain about Metro or Translink prices again.

And then home, where the cats insisted they didn't care that we'd been gone and where it snowed the next morning.

Perhaps the oddest part of the trip was traveling with just the iPad as entertainment: no physical books, and I had my laptop but I didn't cart it around with me much. Strange, to have what used to be a bag of books and a case of tapes or CDs reduced to a slim screen.

I think I've adjusted to being home again.

en ajijic

Feb. 27th, 2014 10:10 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
It was snowing Satyrday morning when we left Vancouver, and from all reports hasn't really stopped yet. I'd be a little sad to have missed the snow, except that it's supposed to either still be going or start again on Sunday evening. What a winter.

impressions from travel )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Francis Lawrence (dir.), Constantine

I'm a Hellblazer fan from way back (where 'way back' is defined as 'the late nineties,' which will get me scoffed at by people who actually are Hellblazer fans from way back). I got excited when I heard they were making a John Constantine movie, a decade ago now, and then immediately switched from 'excited' to 'indignant' at the reveal that the actor playing Constantine was Keanu Reeves. (John Constantine has blond hair and a Liverpool accent, as well as a great deal of personal presence and charisma. Keanu Reeves ... does not.) So I never got around to seeing the movie. From everything I'd heard, that was quite okay.

Then at some point I became a fan of Tilda Swinton, because she is awesome, and at some point after that I found out she was in Constantine. And I stumbled across a cheap copy of the DVD on Monday night, and [personal profile] uilos needed a Bad Movie to distract her from test stressing, and, well.

So, that was two hours of my life I'm not getting back.

How bad was it? Chas Chandler, London cabbie and Constantine's oldest friend, became Chas Kramer, Constantine's young apprentice, portrayed by Shia LeBoeuf. That right there pretty well sums it up.

Everything about the movie that wasn't either Tilda Swinton's Gabriel (who is fantastic in her one scene in act one and in the last twenty minutes, and otherwise entirely absent) or Djimon Hounsou's Papa Midnite was terrible. Not even 'so bad it's good' terrible either, just plain bad. The plot makes almost no sense, the characters (again, Gabriel aside) are an insult to cardboard cutouts and occasionally have similar names to characters from the comic, and the scenery... um. They sure do love their early-21st-century CGI backgrounds.

On the other hand, it's made me want to dig out my old back issues of Hellblazer, and to rewatch The Prophecy (starring Christopher Walken as Gabriel and Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer), so I guess it wasn't a wholly negative experience.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The trip home from Arkansas was almost more exciting than it needed to be: a nasty ice/snow storm swept up through the middle of the country in the middle of the week. It looked like it wasn't causing any trouble right up until I checked my mail before walking out the door to go to Memphis, and discovered that my flight to Chicago had been cancelled. Some scrambling on the computer and sitting on hold with United revealed that, to replace MEM-ORD-YVR (8 PM), they'd routed me MEM-HOU-SFO-overnight-YVR (11 AM). Luckily Dad was able to get through and convince them to fly me MEM-DEN-YVR (9 PM) instead. I'm sure San Francisco is a much better city to unexpectedly spend the night in than LA but I would rather not find out.

On the recommendation of [personal profile] sorcyress we watched The Middleman over the past few weeks. It took a few episodes to grown on us but by the time we started the third disc (of three) we'd reached the point of being very sad that there isn't any more. It's nominally a superhero show (with a superhero who appears to be channeling Benton Fraser) that mixes unexpected pop-culture references and millenialist ironic detachment with enough earnestness and genuine humor ("Guy I Don't Know, you're starting to sound like Guy I've Known My Whole Life") that it doesn't grate. Its sensibility reminds me of Wonderfalls, a similarly doomed one-season show... but I think Middleman did what it set out to better and more coherently than Wonderfalls.

Still feeling wrung out and dull. Not sure what it'll take to shake me out of this. Hopefully spending next week in Mexico with sunlight, neat people, and no work will do the trick.

done now

Feb. 4th, 2014 10:50 pm
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I've been down to Helena, to see where they buried Gram and Pop and uncle Jim.

I've been to Hoxie for Grandmother's funeral, and then out to Smithville where they buried her next to Granddad.

Today I've watched the sleet fall in Jonesboro.

I'm tired, more tired than I expected to be.
As the light changed to red
I wrapped a scarf tight round my head
I was cold as the Kittery tide
There was not much more to see
So I turned round quietly
And crossed back to the other side.
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)

The Voynich Manuscript is a book dating from the middle of the last millenium, in no known language, with pictures of plants and animals that no one recognizes. Consensus has been that it's either an elaborate hoax, an elaborate forgery, or evidence of aliens or parallel dimension travellers or other weirdness. Now a couple of botanists may have started the process of cracking it. (Their theory is 'Mesoamerican from the time of the Spanish Conquest,' which seems reasonable to me.)

The Wine-Dark Sea: Color and Perception in the Ancient World: "Homer's descriptions of color in The Iliad and The Odyssey, taken literally, paint an almost psychedelic landscape: in addition to the sea, sheep were also the color of wine; honey was green, as were the fear-filled faces of men; and the sky is often described as bronze."

A Speck in the Sea, in which a man is rescued after spending twelve hours overboard in the North Atlantic. Excellent reading.

The Truth About Evolution: "I want you to take a moment and absorb the fact that your great^55,000,000 grandfather was a rodent. More specifically, he was a Eutherian-- the first placental mammal, and the father to all mammals besides marsupials and egg-layers. So if there's a whale out there with a similar blog who plans on writing an article like this one, tracing his father's father and so on, he's on his own up to this point, but from here forward he can just plagiarize this article and it’ll apply perfectly for whales too."

A Toast Story: How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? (not about the feminist online magazine): "Baker assured me that he was not the Chuck Berry of fancy toast. He was its Elvis: he had merely caught the trend on its upswing." In which a coffeeshop serves coffee, coconuts, grapefruit juice, and, yes, toast.

The Greatest Investment Opportunity Since Dogecoin: "BUT THE INTERNET IS LIKE 10,000 DOLLARS WHEN ALL YOU NEED IS A BITCOIN."

Lol My Thesis: "Summing up years of work in one sentence." Often hilarious user-submitted summaries of their theses.


Breaking Madden: In which the machine bleeds to death: "That GIF goes from good to great once you watch the player in the background. He kind of ambles right into his own tackle, but not before rubbernecking at the misfortune of his friends."

The Values of Money, amusing pull-quote: "Like everything the internet does, internet money is over-technical, over-engineered, probably not very well thought out, hilarious, profoundly male dominated, and eventually compared to Hitler."

Serious pull-quote:
In America, even relying on community is a source of shame. The long admired idea of the "self-made man" isn't self-made because he's built the strong and loyal social connections that will support him, defend him, and turn to him for wisdom and affection throughout his long and social life. The self-made man is defined as someone who has hoarded enough money that he can pay for those things even if he is universally reviled, because destitution and need drive others, even if they despise him, into servitude to him until he dies, presumably alone.

A word to America: you may want to rethink this conception of esteem, because that is all kinds of fucked up.
Quinn Norton is on a hopefully brief medical hiatus; I'm rather looking forward to reading more in this series when she returns.

The Techtopus: "The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as 'an overarching conspiracy' in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, and at times it reads like something lifted straight out of the robber baron era that produced those laws." I've seen little coverage of this elsewhere; hoping for more when the trial gets going in late May.

Why we should give free money to everyone: "Our welfare state is out of date, based on a time in which men were the sole breadwinners and employees stayed with one company for their entire careers. Our pension system and unemployment protection programs are still centered around those lucky enough to have steady employment. Social security is based on the wrong premise that the economy creates enough jobs. Welfare programs have become pitfalls instead of trampolines." Analysis of a couple of programs that purported to alleviate poverty through the simple expedient of giving people money, and their remarkable success.
jazzfish: A small grey Totoro, turning around. (Totoro)
Happy fourth annual International Eat Some Cake Day! Although the first one wasn't international. Whatever.

Sunday's cold seems to have been a twenty-four-hour affair. I was mostly back to full functionality (as full as I get these days anyway) by Monday.

In other news, I misinterpreted Dad's email about Grandmother, and then he turns out to have been overly optimistic anyway. She's just been moved to hospice with congestive heart failure, and is more or less nonresponsive. So I'll most likely be flying to Memphis and thence to Jonesboro or Hoxie this weekend, and spending the week in Arkansas.

As I recall, the last time I did this I was having a relationship meltdown. That seems much less likely this time. Small favors.

... and there's Dad's phone call. She's gone as of a few minutes ago. So it goes.

(I am pretty much okay. As I told my boss, one side effect of an Army brat upbringing is that extended family is only about two steps removed from 'strangers.')


Jan. 26th, 2014 05:54 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Things I want to be doing: emailing Karawynn about the February trip, organizing the April trip, writing/polishing the last two %&$ scenes in this story, calling Dad to make sure I read him right regarding my grandmother's health (generally not good, but not specifically bad), doing legwork for a hypothetical Vancouver writing group, answering other email, answering DW/LJ comments, organizing my music, reorganizing the board games.

Things I ought to be doing: work.

Things I am actually doing: staring into space, dozing off, sniffling.

I seem to have overtaxed myself last week and this weekend, and I've been rewarded with an unpleasant cold.

I am so over January.
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
As I said on twitter, holy crap, dayjob, you can die in a fire any time now.

It's been a stupid week. Some amount of that stupid is my own fault, lack of focus earlier resulting in rushing now. More of it is due to the horrible dev team I'm working with.

Anyway, that's why I haven't been replying to comments.

Also did my annual self-evaluation, which makes me feel simultaneously 1) like a huge slacker (no surprise, I *have* been a huge slacker; see above re lack of focus) and 2) absolutely drowning in work to the extent that it's amazing I've gotten anything out at all: maintained three large and difficult books (~2000 pp) plus attendant Help through two releases, and created from almost-scratch documentation for three medium-sized additional products in the space of about two months each. Those latter three were all projects that $boss handed me with "X started working on this and got a skeletal structure in place but now he's totally slammed with other stuff can you take over?" To which I say "sure!" because she asks when everything else is at a temporary lull, and also lack of focus (see above) makes me feel like I'm not doing anything so clearly I have time to work on something else.

I still feel like my job performance is awful, but I feel a little less bad about how awful it is.

Did I mention that the permanent resident paperwork arrived? The permanent resident paperwork arrived a week or two back. We were going to jaunt down to the border but then we realised that there will be several weeks when we're without either work permits or permanent resident cards (they take the work permit, and eventually they mail you a Maple Leaf card [that's Canadian for 'green card']), which will make leaving and re-entering the country more difficult than it needs to be. And since spring is travelin' season, and the landing stuff is good until mid-November, we decided to just wait until we get back from WisCon (late May) and deal with it then.

jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Some links about not writing, which have been open in Firefox for the past month or more because my response keeps being "this is helpful" crossed with "i do not have the emotional bandwidth for this to be as helpful as it could be."

Flight or Flight as Applied to Writing: "It was a trigger-state choice: I wanted to run. Therefore, I chose to fight, and I felt better fighting than running." This is deathly familiar to me.

Writing In Life: "A riverbed doesn't stop being a riverbed in periods of drought. A writer doesn't stop being a writer while raising children, loving families, caring for friends, or enduring and processing emotional upheavals." (Have I mentioned that Blair is smart? Because Blair is smart, and also kind and perceptive.) (Related, Creative Fatigue.)

I'm not willing to say that writers' block doesn't exist: a lack of ideas to write about has never, ever, been my problem but that's not to say it isn't someone else's. My blocks are of my own making, primarily of exhaustion and fear.

2013: A Learning Year: Managing Expectations: "If I'm calling it a Learning Year, what exactly did I learn?" Answer: "I am saner and happier and more me when I write." Yeah.

I am personally offended by the 'graphomania or gtfo' crowd, and I don't know that I've ever really laid out why. You know the types: the ones who spout 'if you don't have a burning NEED to write then you have no business being a writer' nonsense, who hand out the poisonous 'if you can possibly do anything else then do that' advice to aspiring writers. I'm perfectly capable of not writing. I burned years of my life shutting down that part of myself, because the messages I heard were that I wasn't dedicated or passionate enough to be a Real Writer. Sure, I was miserable, but that was all my own fault for not being a Real Writer.

"But that proves it," you say. "You're miserable without writing! See, you Have To Write!" To which I say cheerfully, fuck you. It is a goddamn miracle that I am alive and breathing right now, because making myself miserable to be what other people wanted me to be was a survival strategy for longer than I care to recall.

I'm starting to get over that now. I still get angry every time I see or hear someone pushing that crap, because I'm only starting to get over it. It still sounds like "you, tucker, have no business writing," and it still sounds almost true enough to take hold. And if I don't get angry at it, it will take hold, and it will eventually strangle me, all because you thought it'd be cool to hold up your creativity as some weird combination of Special Flower and Vicious Taskmaster.

So, contrariwise, anything that tells me 'it's okay to not write all the time' is a lifesaver. A small kindness, and something to be treasured.

My tag for noodling about writing is 'not writing,' from something Gene Wolfe once said: "To be a writer, you must write. And no amount of prep-work is writing. Research is not writing. Taking notes about the world is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Only writing is writing."

It's nonjudgemental, it's not prescriptivist, and it leaves it as something you, the writer, or aspirational writer, have control over.


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon


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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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