Oh, forgot to mention this... The "campout in the apartment" phase ended today. The guy from the landlord came over, bringing a two burner electric hotplate for temporary till they could get the stove fixed. He thought of something and went into the back. He told me that my stove had been turned off from within the basement and then taped over to look like it wasn't working, and he thought "the girl in the other apartment" did it. He turned it back on. Works fine now. I can finally eat those two shoulder steaks I've been saving since it went out, and I already had pot pies for lunch.

So I mentioned the water - the other half of "indoor campout" was cold sponge baths because the hot water was coming in just lukewarm. Last time I mentioned it he said he'd fix it, and he didn't fix it, and I went on sort of treating it like an SCA encampment instead of a place with a real bathtub and all. Even if I'd use the bathtub to do it. I do not do cold showers. No. I can face cold water with a bucket, carefully, not immersing in it, the cold showers thing will cause loss of breath and a lot of pain from muscle cramps. I'd just wait to heat of the day to bathe, when it felt halfway good. But now it's coming in hot again!

So those two problems are solved in the apartment.

Now that strikes me as a little odd, though. The "girl in the other apartment" has a key into the other half of the basement, where the extra furniture and stuff is stored? And I don't, when my friend came over and said, "I'll go look at the circuit breakers or the fuse box..." Seems a bit weird. And I do not know this neighbor - I don't socialize with the neighbors beyond saying "Hi" once in a blue moon if I go out my door. They do not actually have any reason to resent me or get confused. I'm sure my reputation with my neighbors is "Stays in his hole and never goes out. I don't know what he's doing in there. Probably drugs."

"Yeah, but who is he getting them from? No one goes in either, but he gets all these packages."

"Uses a cane. Bet he's just addicted to TV."

"But he's got no cable bill. Come on, I see his mail, he's got no cable bill. What's he doing in there?"

"I don't wanna know..."

Soooo... I don't know what's going on, unless it's between the housing agency and the landlord. Beats me. But, even "camping out" in here was hands down better than the shelter, because I'm online. I belong online, I live online, it's about time I wound up becoming a Linux Convert on top of it all.

Hehehehe... in an earlier discussion in chat, I talked to my favorite ubergeek Dstar and I'm seriously considering partitioning Toshi for double boot Linux/Windows too. If I can really get the hang of Linux, I may gradually convert across the board...

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Linux is fun. That mouse opens fun things! And the screen savers go bouncy bouncy bouncy...)
Not exactly time off... just time spent doing other things. While waiting for Toshi to arrive, and restraining the urge to jump up and down every two minutes and run outside to see if the package man's here, I've been working on learning Linux. Specifically I've been trying to learn to use Gimp.

Today in chat, I had a Linux expert's casual comment: "Oh, Gimp is like Adobe Photoshop, but for Linux."

Picking my jaw up off the floor, I felt a weird silly lightheaded happiness hit. Right around the wallet region. Something like a hefty monster software item on the Someday List just quietly spiraled and the undermind went "Delete." I have nothing against Adobe. My typesetting machines all ran on Adobe and eventually I will still have to get the Adobe .pdf maker to do ebooks.

But I can do what I need to do before I get anywhere near the Someday List. All paid software has been on the Someday List for a long time now - with the sterling exception that as soon as Toshi sits in my hands out of the box, Toshi is going online and Norton AV is being downloaded. Possibly the Norton Systemworks package if that's not too dear, I'm used to those utilities. Linux doesn't seem to need them. It's possible eventually I'll be able to wean myself completely off the MS product and join the true Cult of Open Source Geeks as, well, a writer who Dances With Geeks.

First time I futzed with it I got a tiny black and white gradient, better than I could manage with Windows Paint but not exactly an illo for anything. Then yesterday I got a bit farther, got to colored gradients and resizing the picture and saving files, something I'm now getting familiar with.

Today, I've managed two representational artworks - one a slightly crude but fun dawn sky, the other "mantashadow" exactly what it sounds - sea-colored gradient with a silhouetted, highlighted at the edges manta shape. Not exactly photorealism but it's not real bad either.

I'm also still working on planning my file directory redesign - get it simpler, get it to where My Documents isn't a mess that's slow to open and it's easy to find anything. And the redesign of SelfHelp got a great boost when Zephrene at Forward Motion took an interest in the template project - and she's doing me a template that I can adapt to SelfHelp and to other sites, like my Index site. Basically all my links will go in the left side link just like they are on this Blog. But I could copy all of them off into my other sites sensibly - at least any that I'm putting up my own template. LiveJournal wouldn't use the template and neither would Authorsden - but such things as the Launchpad Website could use the same template. The Nomad Website for my SF series could use it. The Piarra Website for my fantasy series could use it - and the fiction emagazine I keep threatening to put up someday could use it.

And then keep adding sites as I put together projects and series - but keep the template. And keep the right column bookstore listings consistent across all of them too, my favorites and the writing books and a few bestsellers to kick the trickle income up.

Most of all it will be very easy to adapt and update. That's the big thing - I have to be able to keep it up regularly the way I do this blog and SelfHelp. The columns in SelfHelp have been a little erratic but I update fairly regularly. On average in about a year of operation, I've done a new article every two or three days - some gaps were longer than that due to server crashes or personal crises, but overall I update regularly. It's got a readership. That will grow even when I move it and that's not something to ditch.

Did an article yesterday for SelfHelpForWriters too, which pushed me up over my 1,000 minimum Daily Count and gave me an excuse to repost a particularly good photo of Ari that I'd used for an avatar on the new community site. Temporarily there won't be any pictures on my posts at Forward Motion, but everybody missed my cat so I put him up in my column and did a column entry about him. In a few days, when I get my network cards and cords, I'll port over the pictures I'm doing and do an article on Gimp - a dummies article mostly on how to use the Help Index and how to get around in it.

So I'm still getting a lot done - even if it isn't the same as working on fiction. I need to open my focus to shorter fiction and do some rewrites - that would leave me feeling good. >^..^<

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Time off is sometimes very hard to justify - but I'm between projects. I didn't get much done today. Chatted. Relaxed. Rambled around looking at the new board at Forward Motion. Wrote my section of the second round robin I joined, cause it was my turn. Had fun introducing the cat character, occult investigator and small game hunter (professional). And while feeling mildly braindead, friends asked me to play a roleplaying game online. Got new MUD software. Fun new MUD client that lets me read the game without a horrible lag to my keystrokes. The game was fun. I missed that game and we had a good four hour session that left off on a cliffhanger.

It just happened naturally, one of the players conked out tired but his character was really needed for the big shootemup battle scene that interrupted the battle planning scene (Whoops. Bad guys showed up early for the battle! Ain't plotting FUN? ) and realized it would be a lot more fun to halt on that note and let him come in to save the day next time.

This after some frustration trying to figure out how to work the "how to dial up your dialup connection" software in Sonata so that I could download some stuff during the game - flubbed that, just blew it, could not figure out what to do and was getting a major brain crash. It's a little hard finding the right information in Help for this software. Dstar will talk me through setting up a clicky thing icon that makes it simple to use and that'll solve that problem, but there's a teeny bug in the shakedown process. I have a feeling the bug's more in my brain than in Sonata.

I have a high IQ and some knacks. There are a few things I can do mentally that would be very difficult for most people, and I take them for granted as conveniences. I don't expect other people to have those knacks - one of them is visual spelling, it literally takes me longer to stop and recite the letters of a word than to just remember what it should look like and backspace to the right key. But I have trouble retaining keyboard commands - and no more than any average person's ability with math and numbers. Further hobbled by a paralyzing phobia of making any kind of mistake with numbers or abstract codes. I can't memorize well. I did lousy in grade school on lack of memorizing ability. Retention is not the same thing - I was already a writer and I'm pretty darn good at the core skill of infodump - rephrase the important point of what I read and restate it in a way that makes sense. Often simpler than the original. I never had the knack of letter by letter memorizing - or the habit of retaining anything memorized.

And in relation to me, it leaves me feeling stupid because I'm behind myself. It's the same paralyzing shame that I feel when I walk down the block with some friends or go walking in a mall and they walk ahead and I'm way behind, or have to ask them to slow down, or have to ask to stop and take a rest. I'm not good enough, I'm ashamed. With an episode of that behind me again, it's time to renegotiate the assumptions I make. I am not Superman. I am not equally good at everything with all the superpowers there are and no problems. I am more like a decently readable hero type with some knacks and some flaws and a good attitude.

So a little of this is just - facing that problem because I've found in this life that if I face problems, I can beat them up. I am not an idiot savant when it comes to words versus numbers. Numbers and math are just the one area in life that I experience what regular people do in terms of difficulty - if it's difficult, it's difficult, if it's as easy as making change after years of making change it's easy. It's not even in a category with walking around the block. It's worth writing about that shame, because I do base characters on my own experience. That is the kind of weird shame that could make a high achieving protagonist plausible and sympathetic to readers - because no one is Superman. Not even Superman is Superman. He's not as good at getting beat up and feeling the pain as Batman or any of the X Men ... and no one is average. It's so easy for anyone to take their strengths for granted and yet be mortified at any flaw or weakness that it's one of the commonest weaknesses there is - expecting yourself to be perfect, but not patting yourself on the back when you do something well or over the top wonderful.

Attitude takes maintenance. I haven't done enough to maintain mine lately with the things I've done - but I have, I just get bad days sometimes. Who doesn't? Days vary and people vary and everyone I know is a mosaic of knacks and difficulties and bests and worsts and sick days and glorious achievement days. Life's got variety. I am just not the math and symbolism geek variety...

And on that note, just thinking about minds and focus... maybe that's because I read and retain too easily and it's no trouble to spell out the whole word instead of using an acronym. Maybe a lot of it is more than forty years of paying no attention to math and lots of attention to writing. That could have something to do with it. Are minds like athlete's bodies, that wind up gradually developing in the direction of greatest interest? I don't see much at all in the way of brain research or aptitude research that measures the results of training, interest and years of experience on aptitudes. I think it would be interesting. I also think that in terms of all those test scores, they focus a whole lot on developing children and not as much on adults who have spent significant chunks of their lives doing something. Well, that's my working hypothesis. Using it isn't just not losing it, it's building it up - and all those studies would prove is that if you're impassioned about something and practice a lot, you get good at it. Which life shows by observation.

But the phobia's annoying and I do really need to desensitize it.

I know that I actually have a normal learning curve for that sort of thing. Coding came naturally when I was typesetting and changing jobs meant grinding down to a quarter of my usual speed while learning the new machine and its codes. I've got a feeling slowing down to make the Dvorak keyboard switch - something I should do within a year because otherwise I'll beat my hands to pulp - is going to be that same level of miserable frustration and I'll need to be prepared for it.

Good strategy would be not doing it all at once. HTML is enough for this summer. The next levels of cgi and perl and those other things can come later. I'll set low writing goals till class starts and while class is going, so that I can concentrate on class. I'll work on projects spur of the moment but try to get something done every day, including necessary shakedown of new software and getting used to new software till that drops to background again. It's a good season for writing short stories on impulse and rewriting them when I feel a need to get something done and get them chucked out the door - while working up energy to pick up the Quest rewrite again and get the rest of it to the quality its front and rear ends are. I am almost looking forward to writing the queries and synopses, they'll be a lot of fun. I've been rehearsing them throughout in chat, not really jotting them but telling the hook lines over and over again as new people ask "what's it about" and so polishing that stuff in background. A line a chapter is just my usual working synopsis to keep track of a book and most of that is already done - it just needs polishing to turn each of those into a hook sentence so that the synopsis reads like action-packed fun stuff beginning to end. The book is.

I just visualized the book as a mosaic of all the scenes in it, neatly divided by scene breaks that I see as grouting. There's one or two tiles missing on what's otherwise a darn good book, and most of the middle ones are still low shine though good design. Laugh if you want, but that gives me an idea of what it'll be like when I'm really done with the final draft... and that makes it seem easier to write the missing little scenes, so tiny a proportion of the whole and so necessary when every scene in it has to be that good and holds up the whole thing. Structurally it's sound. I feel good about it.

And that's part of the mental preparation for full immersion, because when I pick up that rewrite I will not want to put it down again till it's done. Whang, slam, bury myself in it and get that hooked on it all over again listening to its soundtrack till I put that final gloss on it and do the presentation packet. I have two weeks to do that in if I want to knock it out before class.

I've got the move hanging indeterminate, but inevitable. It's going to be a better apartment. It's also going to take some days away from writing - first to get into it, then to get sorted out in it and do the little taking care of myself settling in stuff. I might take a day sorting my books and organizing them, I'll have the bookcase to play with. I might take a weekend and do the "stained glass" art quilt I've premeditated for oh, three or four years now? Once there's a table and room to set up the sewing machine that will be tempting. I've got all the tools and materials to make that grand thing and it would be fun.

I just don't divide my time by hours in the day with some being work and some leisure and so on - it's more likely I do things by "what I'm doing" and like to focus on that, whatever it is. I know this week I will be doing more sessions of dummy learning computer stuff new, because this will be my first time networking more than one computer. Once that's set up and all the electronics shaken down, the system will be stable and I'll get very used to it. Found out a neat thing today too - the IR port on Toshi will let me hot sync a Palm or Visor without the cradle thingie so that'll be great! Especially at SCA events when Toshi's battery time is extremely limited and the Visor keeps on ticking on ordinary drugstore batteries - do more of the writing on the Visor and then hot sync. Hilarious if the Visor winds up living in Toshi's carrybag and the two connect like that, but it could happen... and I will get to a point where I'm going to those under my own steam, on my own wheels, not frantically calling around to see who's got a spot in a car but being able to offer rides. They're goals. They're good goals and I'm closer to them today than ever before.

The order's been processed and Toshi is shipping.

G'night all! Happy writing!

Robert and Ari >^..^<