“I find having a mortgage to be a great motivator to keep on working.”
Mo Willems

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

fresh seafood in a landlocked town (but then you already know about the sushi)
Wed 2017-10-11 22:51:43 (single post)
  • 4,600 wds. long

Well, here's a thing I never thought I'd do in a Colorado ski town. I just went to the butcher shop next to the bakery (you know, on the City Market side of town?) and ordered a pound and a half of live lobster for Friday. BECAUSE THEY SAID I COULD. Also the price per pound is exactly the same as the discount price for that expensive wine at Northside I restrained myself from splurging on, so it all comes around.

I'm torn between making bisque and just boiling the critter along with some sweet potato and squash. And maybe some Cajun seasonings 'cause HOT DAMN.

I also bought a pound of currywurst for the next time I make dal (or an omelet, or, hell, the next time I heat up the frying pan). Currywurst is exactly what it sounds like: bratwurst seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, coriander, garam masala & etc. (Not so much on the tumeric, I am told.) Also bought a fresh tomato because, incongruously, the butcher shop had a display of local farm-fresh tomatoes on their counter, and I've just about used up the Diaz Farm tomato I brought from home. So my sandwiches are also set.

This after I went to the grocery to replace the lip balm I suspect popped out of my pocket on the trails yesterday (a fair exchange for the time my camera fell down among the sagebrush in the "picnic area" and I only noticed at the last minute) and also the La Croix I drank all up because I am an addict. And while I was there, I could not resist a couple of limited edition Oreo flavors (Hi Kerri! I was thinking of you and those PBJ Oreos!)--the cookie butter flavor, which is perfection, and the apple pie flavor, which has a disappointing tendency toward Jolly Rancher. The graham-flavored cookies are a nice touch in both.

No, I was not brave enough to try the "mystery flavor." I want to know I will enjoy my Oreos. "Mystery flavor" could give me no such assurances.

In other news, I sent "Caroline's Wake" back out into the slush. TIL HELL WON'T HAVE IT, UNCLE JIM!

(this is what we call burying the lede)

I get vertigo just looking at this picture. I kind of can't believe I sat for it.
the writer should get adequate exercise daily; one small mountain should be sufficient
Wed 2017-10-11 00:58:35 (single post)

First off, I'd like to correct any misunderstandings from yesterday's blog post. I was not, and am not, particularly displeased with the way yesterday turned out. In some ways, it turned out better than today. I did find time to spin, for instance. (I did not get to the spinning wheel today.) I did type up an entire Fictionette Artifact all in one go. (I only managed one page today.) And I visited a roller derby league to join them for practice, which is completely optional while I am on vacation. (I did not put on skates today. But I did exercise. A lot. Read on.)

Yesterday wasn't bad by any means or definition. It was disappointing from only a single point of view, that which asks, "Did I spend time revising short stories and brainstorming the novel, as is my Goal For My Week in Avon?" If the answer is "No, because I did other awesome things with my first day in Avon," then, realistically, the disappointment quotient is limited.

I still haven't gotten to short-and-long-fiction today, either, but after this post I plan to put in a couple minutes on each. Just open up the respective Scrivener files and reread a bit, give my subconscious mind a chance to play in those spaces during dreamtime tonight. It won't be much, but it's something.

Remember: If you can't do a lot, do a little.

Meanwhile, this feeling keeps encroaching on my contentedness, this sort of guilt/shame/regret feeling, this sense that I have to justify being up here in the mountains this week. Like, OK, I typically spend the week holing up in my room to write, venturing forth only to acquire library books or to visit a favorite restaurant (or, occasionally, try out a new one). Perhaps I might take my writing session to the library or a coffee shop, but--aren't those all things I could have done back in Boulder? What extravagance, to drive all the way up here and spend the week in a fancy vacation resort just to do things I could have done at home! Guilt. Unease. Shame!

I have to beat that feeling down with a stick. Whack! "It's about the solitude, dummy!" Wham! "I can't realistically hermit back home, you know!" Thwack! "It's about escaping responsibilities, the sort I can't just pretend don't exist when I'm at home!" Bap! Bop! Boffo! "They surround me when I am at home! I'm available to them when I am at home!" Whap! "I'm on serious me-time this week and you don't get to ruin it!"

Kablammie! Boom! Thud!

Nevertheless, when, via a casual search for charging stations on PlugShare.com, I discovered the existence of the Walking Mountains Science Center, I thought it would be a pity not to check it out this week. So I made time for it today.

I got there around 4:00, an hour before closing. I wanted to get there earlier, but I mistook the turnoff for being just the medical center parking lot and wound up driving pretty much the whole of Buck Creek Road from Nottingham to Metcalf, passing all the big beautiful residences with intimidatingly gated private drives as I went. (EV report: I left the garage with a 30-mile range estimated on the battery. At the highest point of my drive that got down to 19. After coming all the way downhill again to the Northside Kitchen parking lot to grab some internet and check my directions, the car was estimating a 30-mile range again. Mountain driving. I'm telling you.)

(The Walking Mountains Science Center does, by the way, have EV charging stations. They seemed to be working as advertised, contrary to Johnny V's recent comments on PlugShare.com. At least, both were in use by staff vehicles, and I'm sure the center's staff wouldn't let them get into a state of disrepair if they mean to use them for their vehicles. I can't tell you for sure; I didn't get to use them myself. But that's cool. I have discovered two additional parking spots in my hotel's garage with access to a wall plug on the support column between them. I am all but assured a convenient source of charge now regardless of what the driver of the black sporty not-electric-at-all car does.)

Anyway, with only an hour until the center closed and only some two hours and a bit until sunset, I thought it would be best to save the indoor science exhibits for another time and instead hit the nature trails.

The nature trails were fantastic, full of fabulous playspaces and outdoor "classrooms" that must really excite the kids around here. The kid inside me was sure delighted. But the real adventure began when I headed up the steep and alarmingly slippery switchbacks that took me up to the very top of the mountain, at an elevation of 8,050 feet according to the little trail map they gave me in the center. (HikingProject.com says the switchbacks belonged to the Saddle Ridge trail while the trail running the top of the ridge was the Overlook Trail.) The views from up there were stunning. The trail deposited me at the feet of three burly towers whose support cables and, I think, power lines were chittering in the wind. To the north, the ridge-top trail followed a couple saddlebacks to another peak, which I investigated, and beyond that a steep downhill trek into the valley, which I didn't. South of the towers was what the map called a "picnic area," leading me to expect some tables and benches strategically positioned to overlook the town of Avon. In fact, it bottomed out in a wide plateau covered in sagebrush and other flora: taller bushes with coin-shaped leaves gone red, shorter bushes with thorns and the serrated oval leaves of the rose family. The only furniture was a long-abandoned camp chair folded up in the grass, its canvas rotting away. (I stood it upright and took a picture.)

The headland ended at a steep drop-off above I-70. I found a great big boulder to sit on, and I baited my acrophobia by dangling my legs over the drop and forcing myself to identify the buildings below--Sheraton Mountain Vista, Four Seasons, Lodge at Avon, Comfort Inn, post office, Walgreens, Vin 48 and Blue Plate, the rec center--like sort of telling rosary beads or creating my own non-Dune-related litany against fear. Baiting acrophobia from a more-or-less safe spot can be kind of a thrill. I imagine it's the sort of thrill bungee jumpers and sky divers get, only way down the intensity scale and a lot quieter.

So that was about an hour and a half of intense walking and climbing. I felt that was an admirable amount of exercise for the day, for me. It is important for writers to get adequate exercise daily, to compensate for the sedentary nature of our work. Chuck Wendig says, on Day 13 of 30 Days in the Word Mines, that you should "[g]et up and move from time to time. Again: usher that sluggy blood around your floppy, galumphing human frame." I would say I unslugged my blood and unflopped my frame quite well today.

(Don't worry, Papa Whiskey; I still did my half hour core workout tonight!)

Certainly I felt it was enough exercise to justify dinner at the Northside Kitchen when I got back down the hill. I had only been to the Northside once before, a year or two ago, for a late breakfast, so I was expecting the same high-quality greasy spoon experience I had back then. Turns out, though, they fancify at night. They put out tableclothes and candles. They distribute wine lists with the sorts of wine on them that are $19 a glass at a discount. Their menu includes giant sea scallop, halibut, filet mignon. I said "what the hell" and indulged in their current special, a 3-course meal for $29.95 ($5 upcharge if you choose lobster ravioli for your entree, which I did). I also had iced tea. (I did not have the discounted $19-per-glass wine, but I was tempted.) Everything I had was wonderful. Only, everything the next table over ordered looked wonderful, too, and they ordered all different things than what I ordered. I wanted to come back and do it again with what they ordered. But, really, one $50 meal per week is plenty and possibly too much.

To be fair, I have been doing a lot of eating in house, at least two meals in for every one meal out. That is pretty darn good for being on vacation! I'm staying in the non-deluxe half of the resort's lock-off, which means I don't have a stove-top. The resort does, however, provide electric hot plates of the two-burner type, one large and one small, on request. I asked for one. They brought it right up.

Then I tried to cook with it.

It was going to be a potato-squash-greens-egg hash, like the sort I make at home all the time. No grater was available, but whatever, I am capable of slicing root vegetables and gourds thin. Problem was, after the veg was in the pan on HIGH for about five minutes, no sizzling nor indeed any cooking at all was in evidence. I took the pan away and place my hand palm-down on the cooking surface. It was... warm? Like a hot bath, or the sides of my mug after the tea has cooled down just enough to drink.

I made potato-squash-egg casserole in the microwave/convection oven instead and called down for a replacement.

Today I tried out the replacement. It represented a fifty percent improvement in that one of the cooking surfaces was functional! The small one, but still. It was enough that I was able to cook dal with baby kale and a poached egg for lunch today, albeit somewhat slowly.

Would you like to cook dal with baby kale and a poached egg? I just bet you would. You will no doubt have your own favorite recipes, but just in case you want to compare notes, here's my process. (You will note it differs somewhat from the classic/traditional process. To that I say, Oh well.)

  1. Sautee about half an onion, chopped how you like, with two or three cloves garlic, minced, in cooking oil. I prefer about one tbl canola oil and one tbl mustard oil, but you do you.

  2. While the alliums sautee, add whatever greens you have on hand. Thanks to my CSA membership, that's most often kale or chard for me. Destem the kale, even if it's baby kale. Destem baby beet greens, too. I mean, unless you like tough little strings in what ought to be a very tender meal. This is a good time, by the way, to add like a half tsp of salt; it helps the veg wilt and release its juices, and besides I find the whole dish benefits from a generous application of salt. Black pepper, too.

  3. When the greens are wilted and the onions soft and yellowish, add about a tsp each tumeric and whole cumin seed, maybe make it 2 tsp cumin seed. Also a tsp or so hot chili flakes, to taste. Let spices heat up about a minute. The fragrance will get quite strong.

  4. Add like half a cup of dry red lentils. Maybe three-fourths a cup. Stir 'em around. I don't know why I do this. Maybe because I used to cook Rice-a-Roni and the box instructions had you heat up the dry rice and 'roni in the sautee before adding the water? Maybe I have acquired a useless habit? Anyway, when you're ready, add the water. About twice as much as your lentils plus a few tbl more. Maybe this is an altitude thing, or a low humidity thing, but I find I have to use more water than I did in Seattle or New Orleans. More water seems to boil off in Colorado.

  5. Let it come to a boil, then simmer, covered, for some 20 minutes or so, whatever it takes until the beans aren't chewy anymore. It took more like half an hour on the fifty-percent-functional hot plate.

  6. Once the beans are tender, crack an egg into the middle of that hot mess. Push the beans up around the sides of the egg. Tuck that egg into bed. Replace the cover, allow to simmer for 5 minutes more or until the egg is whatever level of cooked you like.

  7. Ladle it into your bowl, let it cool as long as you can bear to wait, then hopefully don't burn your mouth when you scarf it all down.

Now my whole hotel room smells wonderful.

some things still hold true, even with extra altitude
Mon 2017-10-09 23:38:04 (single post)

Tonight is my second night in Avon, Colorado. I arrived yesterday around 5:30 or 6:00 PM or so. Hi.

The drive was pleasant, if more tiring than I expected (though I should have expected it; I'd been up since 7:00 AM and had attended a full 3-hour roller derby practice from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM already). Traffic was light, the weather was good, and I enjoyed watching the Chevy Volt recharge itself as I came downhill after the Eisenhower Tunnel and later after Vail Pass.

I got a great view of the aspens going golden all down I-70. Well, having gone golden. In some cases, having gone bare, or sometimes only mostly bare and retaining a yellow-gold match-head up top. The maples were bright red and the ash trees were purple and the pine trees were, of course, still green. Also other trees I didn't know to name were contributing to the overall kaleidoscope. Basically, Colorado's classic leaf-turning season isn't so far past its peak that you'd feel you missed out. Get up here and check it out quick, is what I'm saying.

I felt a strong upwelling of relief just coming around the traffic circles and turning right on West Beaver Creek, just seeing the familiar lodging and retail locations that have been there every year--the Christie Lodge, Vin 48, and the Blue Plate on the left, the bank and the Walgreens and the Lodge at Avon on the right. I've been coming here once a year for more than a decade now, and the place is heavily associated with a much-needed break from stress and extraneous responsibility. I don't think I realized the extent of that association, though, not until I got off the highway, caught sight of the building housing the Blue Plate and Vin 48, and just sighed. I don't even like the Blue Plate much, to tell you the truth. It always struck me as unjustifiably pricey. Haven eaten there once last year has not shaken me of that impression. And I've never been inside Vin 48 to know if it's worth the price or not. It doesn't matter. What matters is, seeing that wedge-shaped building on East Beaver Creek means I'm here now.

So. The following is a non-exhaustive list of things I have done since getting here:

  • Fully charged the Chevy Volt off a 120 volt wall socket overnight for the first time. It was my first opportunity to do so; we don't at this time have access to a wall socket in our parking spot at home.

  • Ate at Nozawa Sushi for the first time. Wondered why I'd never done it before. They have a daily half-off discount on their sushi rolls and dinner entrees for the entire off-season, "from when the mountain closes until the first of December" as the server told me. I told her she'd see me again.

  • (Realized this discount had really only brought their specialty rolls down to a reasonable price. Thing being overpriced at restaurants around here is a theme.)

  • Went grocery shopping to prepare for Monday's snowpocalypse.

  • Went to bed early and slept very late. "I should get up," I told myself; "I have all sorts of Writing Goals to accomplish today." But then I told myself, "You have nowhere to be today. You can start your working day late. It's cool."

  • Was very considerate and moved the Volt out of the only parking spot with access to a wall socket, seeing as how the battery was now fully charged. (I won't deny this considerate gesture was more than partially motivated by wanting to have the adapter cord safely locked inside the car once more. Because someone's going to randomly steal a J1227-to-120-volt adapter cord and, I dunno, resell it on eBay I guess? But I get paranoid about that.)

  • Got a reply to my message to 10th Mountain Roller Dolls saying of course I was welcome to drop in with them, and in fact there was a practice tonight, 15 minutes away from me, at 6:15. Thought ruefully back upon my rationale for sleeping late. Accepted my fate.

  • Realized it wasn't all that snowpocalypse after all. Decided to go walk some errands.

  • Went to the post office. The post office was closed. Today is a national holiday.

  • Went to the library. The library was closed. Today is a national holiday and I am, apparently, slow on the uptake. But the walk was nice. The sun was back out again. After the brief flirtation with winter this morning, the region had returned to the comforts of fall.

  • Typed up one whole Fictionette Artifact, the whole thing, all in one go while dinner was cooking. I hope people passing by in the hotel hallway heard the typewriter and were amused. I'd be amused if I randomly heard a typewriter in use.

  • Discovered the best way to boil water for tea in the microwave. It involves having a microwave with a BOIL/SIMMER setting. I put the teapot full of water into the microwave for five minutes on that setting; it comes to a boil around minute three and holds temp at a simmer until I come back and hit CANCEL. The tea steeps up strong. I am pleased.

  • Spun, on my spinning wheel, a good handful more yardage of laceweight ply from the half-fleece of black lamb I've been working on forever. Or, in fact, not working on, which has been the whole problem. I worked on it tonight, I did.

  • Went to the 10th Mountain practice. Rediscovered that living and practicing at a bit over a mile above sea level is of dubious preparative value when you drop in on a practice at 7,861 feet. It's amazing how much of a difference that extra 2,400 feet or so make. And everything this team does at practice, they do with endurance in mind. Thank you for kicking my butt tonight, 10th Mountain!

  • Mildly cussed out whoever had parked that sporty black not-even-a-little-bit-electric car in the only parking spot with access to a wall plug while I was at practice. Dude, you're not even using it! You're wasting it! Grumble grumble grumble

Things I didn't do since arriving in Avon, Colorado: Anything at all beyond the same bare minimum I managed all last week. Sigh. Well, I mean, yes, the Fictionette Artifact in addition to the usual daily cluster of morning pages/freewriting/this week's fictionette. But no short story revision. No novel brainstorming. Damn. Certainly no work after derby practice (this blog post excepted). Damn damn.

Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I really don't have anywhere to be in the evening. Still... just to be safe... better not sleep late.

I also got a photo of Joe DiMeowgio. Score.
what we call a great start to the week
Mon 2017-07-03 23:41:39 (single post)

Oh, and speaking of making up for things, I slept in today. A lot. I needed to make up for the weekend, in which I failed to get pretty much any sleep and so I failed at pretty much everything else. So. Hi! I'm well rested now!

Tomorrow is party day. Tomorrow is get up, make the ambrosia salad, make with about half a workday's worth of writing, and then make with the partying. Yay party.

Apropros of just about nothing at all, did you know that the latest version of the Android emulator Bluestacks (2.7.320.8504) is actually compatible with Neko Atsume? OH MY GOD IT'S FULL OF KITTIES. I finally got a picture of Ramses the Great today. This makes me feel so accomplished I cannot begin to tell you.

which doesn't make the date less significant
Thu 2017-06-29 17:08:10 (single post)

About the same today: Got the daily stuff in--did my freewriting, finished drafting this week's Fictionette release, and typed a page against the Fictionette artifact backlog. Then I had to leave for errands in Longmont en route to the usual Thursday scrimmage. But maybe, maybe, if I am very good, and if I do it in an idle sort of low-energy way that is compatible with the post-derby portion of the evening, I might manage to spend a half hour or so on the novel I started brainstorming last year. I might not actually write any of it--I might spend that half hour simply reading all my notes from last November and maybe adding to them--but it is nevertheless an exciting prospect.

To make that more possible, I'm doing the blog post now rather than later. Hi!

Greens in the fridge notwithstanding, I am enjoying a bowl of pho at Pho Huong Viet. They have become my pre-bout ritual, only I missed out on Saturday what with that whole "oops, I left my shoes at the Fairgrounds and now the building's locked and it turns out the people at the restaurant would really rather I didn't skate on their nice wood floor" thing. I mean, they did let me order spring rolls to go, but it just wasn't the same. So I'm making up for it today.

I made up for a different oversight by calling Dad. My parents have the same wedding anniversary date that me and John do, so generally it's easy to remember to call. But this year, what with our frantic roller derby schedule, we barely remembered our own anniversary. So I called today.

It was weird, though. I had this awful feeling that wishing Dad a happy anniversary would not actually be kind. Like it was more likely to add insult to injury. I mean, if Dad was widowed, there'd be no question; the anniversary of the start of a fantastic marriage is no less something to be celebrated just because death did you part. But it feels wrong somehow when Mom is still around in body but entirely gone in her mind. The marriage continues but one of its participants has changed beyond recognition (and does not herself recognize most of the people closest to her in her life). Are we celebrating? Are we in any position to celebrate? Was the 20th, in fact, a happy day, or was it just an occasion for the calendar to stick a knife in Dad's ribs and twist it?

Dementia sucks and makes everything awkward.

But I called, and I said happy anniversary, and Dad kind of laughed and returned the good wishes, and we took the rest of the phone call as just another opportunity to catch up on the last few weeks. I told him about the most recent bouts; he took the news about his daughter getting a black eye in stride ("So you scored points, and you got a badge of honor. Nothing wrong with that!"). He told me about how his day's been going. Things were OK.

He put Mom on the phone. Mom said hello and that she hoped everything was going well for me, and then, this having used up her scant verbal reserves, she handed back the phone.

"Well, that didn't go so well," Dad said.

"I dunno," said I, "she put words together to form sentences. That's a thing."

So. I guess the moral of the story is, however awkward the conversation, it's never actually wrong to call. Well, rarely, anyway.

but i'm supposed to blog so i guess here is a post
Thu 2017-06-29 00:09:28 (single post)

Hullo the blog. Not much to report. Continuing to plug along at my daily tasks and inch through the overdue ones. Also there are household things and the everpresent specter of roller derby, so each day winds up having less time in it than I think. Still haven't managed to get to the exciting things like "and work on that novel you started brainstorming last year!" or "get a new short story ready for submission!" But that will come. Meanwhile, I am showing up every day and putting in a solid session, and I am no longer actively falling behind in anything.

The linden tree out back started blooming about a day after I complained that it hadn't. So that's nice. The fragrance was particularly delightful late last night.

I am sporting my very first derby-related black eye! It's awesome. One of the staff at Murphy's last night, where we often go for post-practice dinner and drinks, asked me if I gave as good as I got. I had to admit that I had, yes, by definition, seeing has how I had given it to myself in the first place. Remember about the inadvisability of playing offense with your face? Yeah, well, same goes for jamming. Also I need to get better at my hockey stops so I have other options when approaching a pack at speed other than "success!" and "panic, fall over, go boom."

In other news, it's CSA season and my fridge is full of greens. I keep thinking, "I've been good, I've worked hard, I should treat myself to five spice wok chicken at Jin Chan," and then I don't go, because my fridge is full of greens. I have been coming up with all the ways to eat them. There's sauteeed mizuna to keep my leftover kung pao chicken from getting lonely, there's finely shredded kale mixed in with shredded potatoes and scrambled eggs for a sort of hash brown/omelet/egg-fu-yung/potato-pancake hybrid breakfast (don't forget the apple sauce), there's stewed chard in a pot of approximate dal, there's anything leafy at all in my sausage-mac-and-cheese (featuring more cheddar brats from my teammate's farm), there's sprouts on my fake-bacon-and-cheese sandwich, and then there's straight-up salad.

WHAT MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY I AM EATING ALL THE THINGS WITH MAGNESIUM IN THEM.

(The foot does seem to be cramping less during practice... but that could just be the results of, y'know, practice.)

So. Like I said, not much to report. Just stuff. More stuff tomorrow if we're lucky.

walking around on a Monday afternoon (now with more writing)
Mon 2017-06-19 23:10:31 (single post)

I would like to get to the point where I am no longer patting myself on my back just for getting the day's work done. I feel like "puts in the hours writing" is a bare minimum to call myself a writer, much as "has four wheels and an engine" is the bare minimum for calling something a car. But years of painful experience tells me that it's not a given, so: Today was a good day. I put in the hours writing. This week is off to a good start.

I can tell you this about procrastination: It's not fun. Knowing that I've got a writing task to get to, and yet doing anything other than starting on that task, is a weird sort of self-administered torture that makes absolutely no sense at all. So there was a sense of relief today when, rather than doing the avoidance dance for hours on end, I just said to myself, Enough of this crap, clocked in on my timesheet, and got to work on the next task.

By contrast, my four-hour Puzzle Pirates session at the Rayback on Saturday was blissful because I had done my Friday work and had no reason to feel guilty. I had earned my self-indulgence.

It's really, really silly how much it's in my own power to reduce my own stress and increase my own happiness, and how nevertheless I so often don't take the steps to do it.

Speaking of steps (she segued masterfully), I did a lot of walking today. Mondays I take the Volt on my various errands and charge it, which means a lot of walking between whatever charging station I use and whatever errands I have. Today's errands were: 1. While charging the car at the Village on the Peaks station, my weekly Cafe of Life appointment, lunch at Leenie's Cafe (oyster remoulade omelet, grits, biscuit, and coffee while accomplishing some of the aforementioned writing tasks), and groceries; 2. while using the plug that a small business owner in Gunbarrel very kindly makes available to the public via plugshare.com, New Recruit Night at Finkel & Garf. (There will be another on Wedensday at Left Hand Brewing, so if you missed it tonight and you're interested in learning more about roller derby in Boulder County, put that on your calendar.) My knee appears to be all better, or if not all better then as close as makes no nevermind; it got tight and sore from all the walking more quickly than the other knee did, but no more than that. I think I'm in good shape for tomorrow's practice.

I passed linden trees in Longmont that were already in bloom and smelling gorgeously sweet. Not sure why the ones at home aren't blooming yet, but it can't be long now. The two or three weeks of high summer when that scent is constantly wafting in our bedroom window are glorious.

YPP Weekend Blockades, May 13-14: Grudge-matches galore and BKs to beat on
Sat 2017-05-13 12:53:25 (single post)

This weekend's blockade schedule appears to dominated by, on the Meridian Ocean, Barely Dressed's war with Infamous (seven blockades all kicking off right about noon today) and on the Cerulean Ocean, The Coalition versus The Stumbling Solo (three blockades at various times throughout the PM). Cerulean also hosts a handful of Brigand King encounters, so if you like bounty payments and hauling up treasure, don't miss the action at Chaparral, Labby Moors, and Nu.

It's May and there's a new Seal o' Piracy to be won! This month, your task is simple and clearly explicated:

Engag[e] in melees with 3 Brigand Kings. (Cursed Isles and Brigand King Blockades not included; credit is awarded for reaching the melee, whether you win or lose)

I don't think it has to be three different BKs, but rather three different encounters. If so, it's pretty simple if you've got some PoE on you and the standing of Officer in a crew: Go buy yourself three Brigand King Compasses and use them, solo if you must! I've done that before. But it's much more fun, in my opinion, to win a BK expo during pilly with a decent crew.

(The Friday Fictionette for May 12 will go live later on during this weekend. My apologies. Last weekend being derby-stuffed led to this week being a short one with little margin for error. But I made rocky road brownies last night with my crock pot! That's gotta count for something.)

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, May 13 ***

12:00 p.m. - Corona Reef, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: Infamous

12:00 p.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Cochineal Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Dragon Lords

12:00 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Radioactive
Attacker: Black Veil (3)

12:00 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Swampfen Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:00 p.m. - Havoc Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Leviathan's Wrath
Attacker: Bullcannon Bonanza

12:00 p.m. - Tigerleaf Mountain, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Barely Dressed

12:01 p.m. - Drogeo Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Imperial Coalition
Attacker: Barely Dressed

5:37 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: The Corsairs Alliance
Defender: Per Aspera Ad Sol

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, May 13 ***

12:00 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Undertow
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

2:01 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Ice Wyrm's Brood (2)
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

4:00 p.m. - Nu Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Midnight Yacht Club
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

4:34 p.m. - Dendrite Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

4:52 p.m. - Byrne Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

8:50 p.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Stumbling Solo

It looks something like this.
whatever gets you out of bed in the morning
Wed 2017-05-10 23:53:17 (single post)

I think I'm finally getting back into the everyday swing of things. Got up on time, did my daily writing deeds, dynamited huge chunks out of Mt. Overdue, uploaded the Wednesday volunteer reading recording on time, and went to an optional derby practice because why not.

Then I came home and ate yummy crock-pot shepherd's pie. Look, it was yummy. I had half the potatoes I was supposed to and no carrots, and I cooked it too long so that it came out looking sort of all-over brown in every part and that includes the peas, but it was yummy. Then again, I'm easy to please. It's full of meat and potatoes and mushrooms and onions and tomato paste and beef broth. I'm not likely going to complain. Besides, it was after derby. After derby, you can put a plate of pretty much anything in front of me and, five minutes later, the plate will be sparkling clean and I will say, "Thank you, that hit the spot. By the way, what was it?" So. Don't take my word for it, is what I'm saying.

So it was good day. Still didn't get everything I wanted done, but getting up on time helped me come mighty close. I would love to say that I leapt out of bed like a young Ray Bradbury who's so overcome with eagerness to write that I just! Can't! Stay in bed any longer!!! That's how he describes himself in Zen in the Art of Writing, anyway. I always envied him that. For years I felt like a fraud because I couldn't describe my mornings that way. What saved my self-esteem was becoming cynical enough in my old age to begin to doubt his self-reportage.

Anyway, no, though the prospect of writing (or, rather, getting all the writing done) was what kept me going all day, it was not what got me out of bed in the first place. No. That honor goes to the frickin' weekly extreme jigsaw sudoku.

Heaven help me, I've fallen off the wagon and landed face-first in my old addiction to that website's sudoku competitions. There's a new batch of puzzles every day and a midnight deadline to submit the solution and that, skaters and gentlefen, is all it takes to turn a casual passtime for me into an obsession. MUST INCREASE MY WINNING STREAK TO 350.

But it doesn't just push my gamer-acquisition-achievement button. It also pushes my mechanical obsession button. See, I made myself this .xcf document (like .psd only for the Gimp rather than Photoshop) with a layer group containing all the different jigsaw shapes, a layer group where I put screenshots of all the puzzles for the coming week, a text layer with the exact leading and kerning needed to put the digits right in the screenshot cells--and because it's a text layer, I can select-all, copy, and paste my solution directly into the website's submission form--and, most importantly, there's a huge library of paths which make selecting all the 2s in Box 3, Row G and Column 8 a matter of five keystrokes and a couple mouse-clicks. It is very, very clever and it is terribly satisfying to use and OK, I need to get out more. Granted. But I'll give you a copy if you want.

Last night, just before going to sleep, I was reading solving strategy articles, trying yet again to understand the point of X-Wings. I never quite understood before. I mean, what could they do that double box/line reduction and double pointing pairs couldn't? But this time around it finally clicked (Oh! It has nothing to do with boxes! It's purely about the columns and rows! I get it now) so I Alt-Tabbed over to the puzzle I was working on to test my comprehension. And, wouldn't you know, I spotted one. For the first time ever, I spotted a goddamned X-Wing in the wild while there were still candidates for it to clear.

It was very late at night. I was pleasantly drowsy and tightly swaddled in the blankets. I decided that, having spotted my X-Wing (on the 6s in rows G and H and columns 3 and 8), I'd process its candidate removal in the morning.

So although I'm vaguely embarrassed to admit it, it's dog's honest truth: It was the thought of finally getting to remove sudoku candidates by the X-Wing strategy for the first time that got me bounding out of bed on time.

Ray Bradbury would be ashamed of me. But I don't have to care.

objectives acquired
Wed 2017-03-15 21:59:03 (single post)

Everything has gone according to plan: packing, cleaning, other preparations, all successful. Getting the necessary things done took up all the hours available between when I got up at 8:30 and when I left, ten minutes late, at 3:40. I choose to interpret this as confirmation that the expectations I set for myself were both reasonable and sufficiently challenging.

I am now ensconced in "Frederick's Library." As promised, it has a desk. It also has several shelves of books, mostly classic literature but also including some oddball novels I've never heard of but which I assume were popular at the time they came out.

I am also a little more than half-drunk, having just now thoroughly enjoyed tonight's Ska Brewing beer-pairing dinner at The Roost. Everything was fantastic, even the courses that featured IPAs (I am not normally an IPA fan). The Pink Vapor Stew Sour was an especial epiphany. There was more beer involved in this single sitting than I'm used to drinking in a given week, so I was very glad that I had only to walk three blocks before collapsing.

Speaking of collapsing--

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