This Is NOT The Time to Rebuild a Computer.

Maybe it’s all the giraffe videos, but right now, I can really hear the Computer of Theseus straining, lately. Forget jet engine taking off… the thing sounds like ice being fed through a garbage disposal. I think it’s the fan on the power supply, and I think I’m probably going to have to get another one before summer kicks in, and I actually need a fan on my power supply.

This is an old power supply. It may actually be the last component from the original build, or at least, the last one I’m using on a regular basis. I bought it cheap, back when I wasn’t sure I could make the thing work, and didn’t want to spend a lot of money, if it flopped.

It’s modular with UV reactive cables (there has never been a UV light in my computer, BTW) and it has more power than I could even slightly imagine using back when I started building the thing.

Since then, the machine has developed into a scrap-yard behemoth. Anything salvageable winds up there. Maybe not always plugged in and running, but… we don’t like to throw things out.

I repaired the thing once, when the fan grill came loose in shipping.

Very, very carefully, because a power supply can hold a charge for a long time, and opening it… well, it’s probably the only piece that can kill you.

Maybe I should have replaced it back then, and I know I should replace it, right now.

And maybe there are a couple of case fans I could switch out, too.

And you know… well, some of the new processors look pretty good.

Of course, that would mean a new motherboard….

Which would lead us to new memory.

I should probably just swap out the power supply and be done with it. Everything else can wait, at least until after I get through with the writing conference.

Love, Patient Zero

I’m giving up on calling this thing allergies and moving on to where I just admit that it’s a cold. The good news is that means it has a lifespan of a couple of weeks. The bad news is that by then, the farmers in Kansas will be burning their fields, so I’ll probably just transition smoothly into allergies.

I have pills that are supposed to help, and probably do, since I woke up at the stroke of “allowed to have another one” and a nifty OTC inhaler which smells like furniture polish, and works, if you’re actually able to… ya know… inhale.

Tea might be the answer.

I will be faking my way through work, pretending I feel fine because there’s just not an absence policy that lets me stay home that long.

After the next pandemic, I’m sure the survivors will all be sitting around, saying If only they’d just been allowed to stay home back when we thought it was a cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, It Really IS the Journey.

Once upon a time, I decided to hike the Ocean-View trail out of Muir Woods. I can’t remember who, if anyone, I was with. Family, maybe, or possibly a friend or two. It’s not the most rigorous trail in the world, and it’s only about three and a half miles long, but if you make it to the end, you’re promised–you guessed it–a view of the Pacific Ocean in all its glory.

It’s a beautiful trail. Redwood country, with a little stream (the site I was just on called it a “river”) about halfway up. And a nice, steady rise in altitude.

Well worth the effort, if you  happen to get out there.

And the day was perfect. Not too hot, and not too cold. More or less Hollywood style hiing up a mountain weather. Despite being in Northern California, we only ran into one nudist the whole way, and it was a small nudist.

But.

Ocean view? Probably not what I’d call a teeny-tiny sliver of slightly not-sky blue peeking out from between two mountains. I think someone had to point it out to me, because I would have missed it.

You were looking down across a deep, green valley, and some of the oldest trees in the world, under a blue sky and a warm sun… Are you sure that’s the ocean? I wasn’t. I’m still not, except that the signs promise it is.

Actually, the most prominent features of the place I’d just spent an hour or two getting to… Were the convenient parking lot and picnic tables just off the main road.

Blogging Ahead

So, in order to get some blog posts queued up and ready to go on the days when I’ll be at the Fabulous Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, I’m taking a quick peek at the A-to-Z Challenge schedule, and I find that if I include travel time, I’ll need posts V-Z while I’m there, and also one more post for the 1st of May.

April 26th also happens to be the StoryTime Blog hop, which means that letter V will have to be a short story in a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction vein. It doesn’t necessarily have to be aimed at children, but it probably does have to avoid sex, violence, and language.

And I believe the theme for my alphabet challenge would be the letter M.

I don’t have the faintest idea what I was thinking.

Oh, well. Too late for buyer’s remorse, now.

The thing is, If I start early and stay ahead of it, I may be able to cram just about anything into my letter M theme.  If I slip behind, it’s going to take more and more time to find today’s appropriate letter. (As opposed to “hey, I can throw that over here.”)

The process might get me ahead of schedule for good.

The Great Theme Reveal

Anybody who’s read this blog for long knows I’m not much of a “theme” person. I have to drag themes kicking and screaming out of my novels, and most of the time, I have no particular desire to build or work with a theme. I’m not someone your tenth-grade English teacher would like. My tenth-grade English teacher(s) spent the entire year hinting about ways to do drugs in class, on the premise that stoned might be an improvement, and ultimately wound up being sainted for not killing me in my sleep.

At any rate, my theme for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge was a Fly-By-The-Seat-of-Your-Pants stroke of brilliance: Whatever the hell happens to pop into my head. It worked well enough. I made it through.

This year, I thought about doing an upbeat complicated relationships thing, because that always seems to work its way into my stories, but let’s be honest, I’m not really sure all my readers are up for a recitation of A-to-Z relationships, and quite frankly, it would almost certainly devolve into a list of rare and exotic paraphilias. Why no… I just needed something that started with the letter U. Why do you ask?

That could sure get thorny fast.

Do I really need a theme?

Okay, so the one that finally popped into my head was…

Words that begin with the letter M.

That doesn’t seem so unreasonable. I’ll need to add words that don’t begin with the letter M to make it fit the challenge, but with some effort, I think I can make it work.

Words that begin with the letter M it is, then.

If you want to join in the challenge, all the details are here.  Let me know if you’re playing along.

Books From Beyond The Grave

One of the bargains in my newsletter of the day was a Boxcar Children Book–Legend of the Irish Castle, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. (Apparently, if you’re a minor, you celebrate by reading. Who knew?) I was just intrigued enough to go look the book up, since I read a lot of Boxcar Children books when I was a kid, and I don’t remember any Irish Castle.

Turns out that Legend of the Irish Castle is book #142 of a series the original author only wrote 19 books of. It was released last year, which is pretty good, considering that Gertrude Chandler Warner has been dead since 1979.

I’m going to say that as a personal “thing” I’m not all that crazy about the idea of having other people keep on writing my characters, after I’m dead.

Part of that is just… I don’t want to be dead. And part of it is that I spend so much time getting my characters to be the way I want them. I don’t want them shipped to places and plots I never intended them to go. I mean, come on! They’re mine!

And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that I’m very deep and philosophical, and say that there’s something bordering on Hubris about the idea of my characters being so spectacular that someone else should be writing them, instead of their own.

I’m not sure what Gertrude Chandler Warner thought. She was a first grade teacher, which may actually mean that she’s happy just as long as the kiddies are reading. I tend to think of grade school as dear, saintly creatures who really might be that unselfish.

Then, I saw all the common core, ATOS, and Accelerated Reader bullshit **ahem** foo-fer-alls and thought again. I don’t know what Gertrude’s opinions on each and every individual one of those would be, but you can bet she’d have opinions. And I don’t think they’d support micromanaging children’s reading.

So, now, I’m thinking about what a writer’s educational philosophy–or their politics, or their personal beliefs– should mean for their books, and the way those books are managed after their death. For instance, is it really fair to use Sherlock Holmes to sell fried chicken? Or should you really add Zombies to Pride and Prejudice?

I’m bordering on an intellectual property rant, now, but the general question… if I have one… is how do you feel about your characters having adventures without you?

Ballerina Feet

I wandered off on a tangent, yesterday.  Something about kids and baby ballet. A bumper sticker on a car–one of those Activity/Kid’s Name things–made me think of it. Now, let’s be honest. I live in a small town in the Midwest, where there are exactly zero dance studios that have the direct line to Julliard.

I suspect there aren’t all that many parents who are looking toward dance as a future career for their kids, either.

There are a lot of things to be said for a good dance teacher and a positive dance experience.

And there are just as many problems with a bad one.

I have one dancing cousin who credited dancing with her continued ability to walk, following her MS diagnosis.

And another one who’s been luckier, but who is hobbling around on a cane with all kinds of nerve damage. Why? Because going en pointe isn’t all that good for you, and once upon a time… Well, she was at the top of her small-town ballet class for a flashing moment.

Did she ever have a chance at a career as a ballerina? No. Did she have a chance of being able to walk without pain well into her forties? Of course.

I’d pay for jazz, I’d pay for tap, or modern dance… I’d run screaming from ballet. Why? Because ballet is the one with the highest cost–in terms of your body–and the one with the lowest chance of having a career. And because a kid’s best interests change, depending on whether she’s a 17th century waif starving in Paris, or a 21st century child with a chance at all kinds of careers.

They say that everyone wants to be successful, until they find out how much it costs. I think I’ve seen that next to a picture of a ballerina’s feet, at one point.

But that makes it sound as if everyone can be successful, if they’re just willing to pay.

What about the kids who see what it costs, and pay–and keep paying–for success they never achieve, and never had a chance of achieving?

The Glories of Shitty Day Jobs

Today is the least popular day of the year, the day when the clocks get set forward an hour and we all lose an hour of sleep. Or, you know… in my case, an hour of early-morning writing time.  I’m most likely going to wake up at exactly the same time I always do, and then realize that it’s an hour later and almost time to go to work. So, naturally… blogging in advance. Like a disciplined person.

I am going to have to deal with vacation time–**again**– because somehow, the current incarnation of “management” missed the fact that there are two Karens and well… they got us switched. Which means that I was just given other Karen’s six week (unpaid) medical leave, instead of my own (much shorter, but compensated) vacation time. So… I have to check to be sure that I’m still good.

No, I have no idea how that’s even possible.

I am going on vacation. Oh, yes. I am. And I am going on a real vacation. It has been a really, insanely long time since I had a real vacation. Things just keep getting in the way. You know the family-stuff thing, where you use up all your time to do something that’s actually more stressful than just staying at work would be? That was the last couple years.

This year? I’m going out.

I’m going to relax, if I still remember how.

I’m going to wear heels the whole time, and see how many people I can convince I’m tall. Maybe even put on some decent clothes to go with them.

Going on vacation as a well-dressed tall person. Yes, I am.

And I hope that I’m doing it as scheduled with no unexpected surprises.

 

I’m So Healthy I Can Hardly Stand It

I am in the midst of a give-up soda and (some) other sugars and cling to a set schedule lifestyle shift for health. It’s actually working incredibly well for me. I feel great, I’m being productive. I’ve nearly reached the point that I’m saying “iced tea” when I order in restaurants, as opposed to “Coke” and then correcting myself. Nearly.

I’m not exactly used to all my new sugar alcohol friends. I’m not used to having a limit on sweets that is so ruthlessly enforced. If I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating, well… that laxative effect catches up with me. And that happens well before I get to the point that I would like to stop eating those sugar-free goodies.

Well, it will take time.

I do actually feel better, and I’m fairly sure that paying attention to what I’m eating probably means I’m actually healthier. Ordering a little thing instead of a big thing, too. I have a way of letting things pile up on me.

More nifty vitamins. Maybe a little more exercise.

Maybe not. After all, baby steps.

I’m getting there.

My writing teacher–Holly Lisle–actually suggests a revision diet. It’s something somewhat similar to what I’m doing, and is supposed to result in the mental clarity and stamina required to actually revise a novel.

As far as losing weight… well, I don’t really know yet. Maybe my pants are a little looser. I don’t do scales. I don’t believe in them, and haven’t since I stopped dancing and lost weight (muscle mass), But I feel better, and that’s more or less the point, isn’t it?

I have no idea where I was, today. Someplace in Kansas. I know that much. Saw a sign for the Russell Stover’s factory and store, and obviously had to pull over and take pictures. These boxes really stack up, and the prices are better than I’ve seen other places.

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I think the original idea of the trip was to look at wildfires. Of course, I’m not completely insane, so I absolutely wasn’t going anywhere near the places that are being evacuated. I never saw any actual fire, but there were some fields that might have been burned in the last couple of weeks, and I’m willing to call that good. (Kansas farmers burn their fields on a regular basis.)

It’s good to get out and do something, even if it’s just a pointless distraction from time to time.