Mar 31 2013

Le Guin reviews Jo Walton’s Among Others


Jo Walton’s Among Others, which I loved, just received an excellent review in The Guardian by Urusula Le Guin.

Not just positive, but accurate. As in: she got it.

It’s a lovely review, well-written, insightful — you should go check it out.

Mar 29 2013

There’s no going back!


Correction: Apparently I said “right” when I meant “left”.   Which rendered my little joke incomprehensible.  Serves me right for writing my post too fast — and for trying to make dopey jokes!

Because the right-arrow  left-arrow key on my keyboard is broken.

So… Can’t go back.   Right?

Yeah.  You had to be there.

I sure hope I don’t have to buy an actual entire new laptop just to get my habitual navigation buttons back.

I popped off the key covers to see if I could see anything preventing the switch from contacting.   Only dust, which I removed, and which made no difference.

It might have something to do with the coffee I spilled on the arrow-keys the last time I was at Starbucks.

Just a hypothesis, of course.

ADDENDUM:  Apparently I forgot to mention that my computer is a laptop.   I realized this when people started telling me, “Hey, why don’t you just get a new keyboard?  They’re cheap!”

Because, hey, it’s a laptop, not a desktop.   Which I failed to mention.

If the lack of a back-arrow becomes too annoying, I can always go the route of using my laptop AS a desktop by plugging in an entire separate second keyboard… let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


Mar 25 2013

One of my better ideas, if I do say so myself….


You know that thing? Where I moved a day from the DayJob category and put it into the writing-or-related-activity category?

That works really well.

Result number one:  I got my brain back.

The kind of work I do at the DayJob is absolutely non-intellectual, but requires intense crazy focus, because it’s the sort of thing I’m naturally bad at.   A person who was actually good at it would be able to do it with one hand tied behind their back.   But I have to do two things to get it accomplished: first, stop my natural mode of thinking, and then, do pretty much the exact opposite — for hours on end, without making any errors .   The most effective way to keep that level of focus?  Sheer panic -  I needed the job, and could not afford to lose it.

(How I ended up there  is a long story; let’s deal with it another time.)

It was stupid, and yet exhausting.   Trying to accomplish anything creatively useful on weekdays was extremely difficult.  I could manage incremental advances — until the next day, when I would have to fracture myself again.

And weekends were just too damn short.   I felt like it took a day to disengage from DayJob mode; and by Sunday I was busily dreading the upcoming week.

But now: it takes less time to disengage.   I just does.   And I load up all my peripheral chores onto Saturday, as early as I can manage them.  Leaving me the rest of Saturday, all of Sunday and — well, hello, Monday!

So… my brain is working a lot better.   Seriously, I feel like some recognizable version of myself.  Plus: freakishly happy.

Result number two:  I have a much clearer view of exactly where my several projects stand, and what it will take to accomplish them.   Each of them can be done — and yes, this does include the next volume of the Steerswoman series.

Amazing, the difference a day makes.

If I could, I’d cut my DayJob hours even further… I could probably survive on the reduced income until other income streams develop.   However, I’d never be able to afford health insurance, and 32 hours is the cutoff for insurance at my company.

So, I’m going to go for a couple of more months of this, and then re-evaluate where I stand.

Completely unrelated thing: here’s my favorite stay-awake-and-creatively-focused tea!

Take some Lapsang Souchong.   That’s the smoky-scented tea.  Hu-kwa is a milder version of the same thing, and much more civilized.  I’m opting out of civilized.

Use a lot.  Make it strong.   I generally use one and a half tablespoons per 8 -ounce cup.   Yes, you read that right.

Add some Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice.  One bag per one-and -a-half cups.   Which makes it hard to make just one cup of tea.  So, make a whole pot!

Steep for eight minutes.   This is absolutely contrary to what any sane and cultured tea-drinker will tell you.   But long experimentation has proven to me, for this tea: yes, eight minutes.    Be sure to use a tea-ball  (or several, or some other infuser of appropriate size), so that you can take it out when steeping is done.  Because, you don’t want that stuff to keep on brewing in there.   It’s already been eight minutes!

Sweeten with honey.  Why not?  You’re going to be so wired that you’ll burn those calories right off again.

If you like (and I do) lighten with powdered milk.  Not real milk — that would a) dilute it, and b) make it cold.   Powdered milk adds milkyness without actually weakening the tea.


I can’t drink this during the week, after work — it keeps me up.   Coffee, I can drink up to 9PM and still get a good night’s sleep, but not this stuff.

Love it.

Free (small) prize to the first person who correctly identifies the quote contained in the hovertext (tooltips) for the picture above.  Unless you're my sister.  Or Jo Walton, who first directed me to the book from which the quote is taken (sorry, Jo!).

Free (small) prize to the first person who correctly identifies the quote contained in the hovertext (tooltips) for the picture above. Unless you’re my sister. Or Jo Walton, who first directed me to the book from which the quote is taken, so it’ll just be too easy for her (sorry, Jo!).


Mar 13 2013

In the carrell sans caffeine!


Oh, no! I forgot to grab a big cup of extra-strong coffee before setting up and settling down at the library. What will this mean?

Apparently, that I’ll be completely unable to focus. And that attempts to concentrate result in descent into near-sleep episodes.

Plus, my usual location is too crowded, and I don’t even have a window. In my search for solitude I’ve ended up in the reference section, among the sad little abandoned encyclopedias. Who reads these mysterious tomes, now that all wisdom is available online?

Your random quote:

“Almost universal throughout Polynesia, tattoo symbolized courage and was invariably regarded as an art sacred to the gods. Consequently, it was highly ritualized and its practitioners generally were of hereditary priestly status. Marked by feasts, ceremonial dancing, and even on occasion by human sacrifice, tattooing was an art of intricate design. Its motifs included spirals, abstract birds and fish, and naturalistic plant forms. The finest tattoo was reserved for chiefs and proven warriors who often paid tattoo experts in decorative mats, tapa cloth, and carvings.” — Historical Dictionary of Oceania, ed. Robert D. Craig and Frank P. King, Greenwood Press 1981

endpapers are maps!

Mar 8 2013

Good grief.



Out the front door at the DayJob.

Yes, really

Yes, really

They say March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.
I don’t recall polar bears being mentioned….

(More later… Shh!  I’m at the DayJob right now!)

Mar 4 2013

Attempting to move a day from one category to another.


At the DayJob, I approached my boss about reducing my work-week from 40 hours to 32. Rather surprisingly, he had no problem with the idea at all. He has to clear it with his own boss, and has not done so yet, but doesn’t see why it should be a problem.

So, it’s not actually official yet… and it could still all go south, as they say. We’ll see. More on that as news breaks.

So, that would take Monday out of the category of DayJob day, and put it into Do-What-You-Want-Meaning-WRITE-or-Some-Related-Activity day. And it’s not just a day, alone; it’s a day attached to two prior days.

See, I work ever so much better when given big fat chunks of time, instead of little slivers here and there. The more I can put things in contiguous blocks, the deeper I can lose myself in the story at hand…

Plus: night time is the right time as far as my subconscious is concerned. The Muses like to boogie all night, yes they do.

Having a normal daylight-hours DayJob forces me shut down the music just when the party’s getting started. No wonder the gals look for other places to hang.

So, if this can become official, this should help.

Mar 3 2013

You don’t need me to tell you…


You almost certainly already know about this, and have already watched it — but on the extremely unlikely chance that my blog is the only blog you ever read (and if so, hey! You should read some blogs! Not just Facebook), I thought I’d let you know about Amanda Palmer’s incredible TED talk.

Seriously, check it out.

Or you can go to the TED site and watch it there…

I love the TED site, the TED talks, and the TED phenomenon.

After watching this talk, I went to Amanda Palmer’s site and downloaded an album, and gave her some money. And if I like the album, you know what? I’m going back to give her some more.

In other news: The week vainished, blogless. I shall amend that with yet another post today, but now I need to go cook some soup.