“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
Robert Benchley

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Postcards To Voters are a great place to try out new fountain pen inks.
So are Morning Pages.
we pause for a deep dive into more fountain pen ink
Tue 2020-06-16 16:58:24 (single post)

This past week, I took advantage of my Morning Pages sessions and another batch of Postcards To Voters to further explore the newly arrived fountain pen ink. Let me introduce you to them all.

The excitingly sparkly purple-maroon I used in some of the stars and to highlight the candidate's name is Diamine Mystique. I don't think the splotches Goulet includes in their demonstration photos quite does it justice; that color-and-glitter combo is intense.

The teal stars and checkmarks were drawn with Noodler's Blue Nose Bear, described as "a light blue with a teal undertone, and the light blue fluoresces under UV light (blacklight)." (I have not yet had occasion to test this feature.)

The main writing on the postcards is in Visconti Blue. Not terribly exciting. It's a nice enough blue, I guess, bright and deep, a decent workhorse for, say, writing postcards to get out the Democratic vote, but still, it's just blue. (I'm not likely to get excited over the Pelikan Edelstein Onyx that was included in my random sample 8-pack, either. It's just black.)

The excerpt from my Morning Pages shows what happens when a converter full of Noodler's Liberty's Elysium finally overtakes the Blue Nose Bear left in the nib. Liberty's Elysium is another serviceable if unexciting (to me) blue. It's slightly toward the blue-green end of the spectrum, where the Visconti Blue leans slightly toward the indigo end.

There are some gray/silver stars on the postcard, but those aren't from the batch of ink I just ordered. That's what happens when I try to stretch the tail end of a bottle of J. Herbin Stormy Gray 1670, a shimmer ink, by dumping in the latter half of a bottle of basic J. Herbin Gris Nuage.

Hot tip about the Noodler's inks: Those 3-ounce bottles arrive hella full. Well past the screw-top threads and right up to the brim. I'm not sure if this is because the manufacturer is very generous with his ink or very stingy with his glass. I'm amazed the ink didn't ooze out during its journey to my high-altitude address. Anyway, having been messily surprised by this when I first opened the Blue Nose Bear, I was very careful about opening the Liberty's Elysium. I set the bottle on my desk and opened it very gently. Didn't help. Still wound up with bright blue fingers. Not that I really mind ink-stained fingers. It's kind of a fun sort of badge of honor. "I messed with inks today! Checkitout!" Still. If you would prefer not to have bright blue fingers, take heed. Open these bottles carefully and maybe wear latex gloves.

Here ends the Geeking Out About Inks portion of this blog post. And also this blog post, period. I'd intended to pivot through the political postcards into some political thoughts I've been having these past couple weeks, but at this point I rather feel like I've already used up all the words, time, and reader attention in today's blogging allowance. So I guess look for those political thoughts tomorrow?

New ink! New ink! Whoo-hoo!
Inks featured: Robert Oster Morning Shine, Diamine Lilac Satin, J. Herbin Stormy Gray
came here to do two things
Thu 2020-06-11 17:13:16 (single post)

The ink I ordered arrived last week. It's glorious. I actually haven't tried much of it out yet, but just looking at all those bottles set out on my desk gives me a happy feeling. The sample bottles are especially lovely, with the jewel tones of the inks shining visibly through the clear sides. (The accompanying photo does not do the sight justice. But then I never claimed to be a good photographer.)

Which isn't to say I haven't tried them out at all. I've dipped into three of the little sample vials so far. I used the De Atramentis Document Red to do my next Morning Pages session--carefully, avoiding spills and stained fingers as much as possible, because that whole Document line of inks is waterproof. (I had to work hard with soap and water to get it off the pen's nib when I wanted to change colors.) The next day's Morning Pages were done with the Jacques Herbin Caroube de Chypre 1670, a lovely red-brown--not very much less red than the Document Red, now that I come to compare them. I didn't actually realize that the 1670 line is all shimmer inks--I didn't notice the flecks of gold in the bottle, and I hadn't read up on the ink until just now--so I didn't shake the bottle before filling my pen. That might be why no significant shimmer made its way onto those three pages.

I darn well did notice that the Robert Oster Morning Shine was a shimmer ink--teal with silver flecks. I used it to write a handful of Postcards To Voters. You can see how that worked out in the accompanying picture. Despite shaking the ink bottle and occasionally rotating my pen, I still managed to get some shimmer clumps, such that none showed up on the page, and then the pen clogged, and then once I cleared the clog I got a bunch of flecks at once. (That's pretty much me with shimmer inks, no matter whose. I have a love-hate relationship with shimmer inks.) Things smoothed out after a while, though. I'll be writing another batch of postcards with that ink soon enough.

Postcards To Voters is one of the political actions I can take when I don't have the wherewithal for political action. It's perfect for a low-energy introvert. I sit at my desk and play with my fountain pen inks, and, not long after, a handful of people get postcards in the mail reminding them to make their voices heard. The pictured postcards were part of a Florida Vote-By-Mail campaign, specifically for Osceola County, whose purpose is twofold: a general GOTV campaign to get more Democrats ready to turn in their ballots, and a specific push to make sure more Democrats are aware of the vote-by-mail option and are taking advantage of it.

Yes, Postcards To Voters absolutely is partisan. In general elections, their campaigns support the Domecratic candidate; in Democratic primaries, they support the more progressive candidate. If any hypothetical reader has a problem with that, I can't help you. I'm not going to pretend that at this point in time that there's some moral equivalence between the two major U.S. parties. I'm not going to pretend that the Republican party has not unequivocally positioned itself as the party of voter suppression, white supremacy, "bathroom bills" pushing trans people out of public spaces, attacks on queer rights and women's rights and reproductive rights and health care rights, corporate interests over individual life and health and well-being, stochastic terrorism, and police violence against people of color.

I'm not here to make you, hypothetical Republican voter inexplicably reading my blog, feel better about voting Republican. You know what you're supporting. Either make your own peace with that or stop doing it.

No, what I'm here to do is 1. play with fountain pen ink, and 2. advocate for the small but meaningful and highly accessible anti-racist, pro-social-justice act that is Postcards To (Democratic) Voters. Having done those things, I count today a small but meaningful success.

And now I'm off to pick up this week's CSA veggies. The end.

So it turns out this pen writes on BOTH these paper products equally well after all. Who know?
fountain pen NRE
Fri 2020-05-29 20:26:05 (single post)

So the Platinum Curidas arrived last week to much fanfare and excitement! It actually arrived two days earlier than the USPS Tracking widget predicted. I've spent the last week on and off putting it through its paces, and I think I'm ready to make a report.

Here are the pictures I took of it when it arrived. You can see what an elegant piece of work it is, especially in the photo where it's all disassembled. And don't miss the close-up of the nib retracting behind the little turtle flap! It's very impressive. It's relatively slim, which me and my wee little hands prefer. At 27 grams, it handles like the heavier sort of ballpoint--you know, the fancy-schmancy showoff sort. But without the cigar-shaped barrel (thank goodness).

The clicking action of deploying and retracting the nib is a little jolting; after filling it, I expect it will be more important than usual to blot the nib a bit to avoid spattering.

I had a real disappointment, though, when I used it for last week Friday's morning pages session. I assumed this had to do with my poor choice of notebook. I really like the BioBased "environotes" notebooks, both for being made of ecologically sustainable fiber and also just for their heft. But their paper is super absorbant and, frankly, terrible for fountain pens. Which hasn't stopped me from writing in them with my Sheaffer student demonstrator, my Sheaffer Agio, and John's Lamy Safari. All of the above have fine-tipped nibs, though what that means varies between manufacturer and even between models by the same manufacturer; the Agio's nib feels more like a medium while the student feels extra-fine. In all cases, the ink bleeds dramatically through this notebook's pages, making it hard to read what I've written once I've written on both sides. But morning pages mostly aren't meant to be read ever again, and besides, my handwriting is atrocious.

But I couldn't get through three lines on that paper with the Platinum Curidas. It simply shut down, nib dry as dust. I was able to finish my session by treating it like a dip pen, and each dip got me another five or six lines before, again, the flow just stopped. My suspicion was that the nib's feed must be exceptionally narrow, and the absorbent paper was wicking the ink out of it faster than it could refill itself.

This suspicion, happily, turned out to be wrong. But I didn't find that out until just now.

So earlier today, I joined a Nebula Conference panel on fountain pens (because of course there was a panel on fountain pens), and while I listened to people geeking out about their favorite pens and ink and paper, I took the time to experiment further with the Platinum Curidas by writing out a handful of Postcards to Voters. I had to dip the pen once to restart its flow, but it flowed very well after that, gamely working its way through four postcards without a hitch. (One of the panel attendees, in response to my mentioning this pen in the text chat, warned me that there have been incidences of hairline cracks discovered in the feed and that I might want to examine mine closely. If the linked blog post is representative of what she was talking about, then so far so good. But I'll keep an eye on it going forward.)

So now that the ink was flowing nicely, I thought I'd experiment again with the Biobased environotebook. Hot damn! It worked great. Wrote my way down a quarter of the page, and nary a hiccup. Nary any visible "spread" in the stroke, either, despite how absorbent the paper is, and ridiculously minimal bleedthrough, too. So I guess the problem was temporary, or its long-term nature has yet to be determined, and in any case I can incorporate the Platinum Curidas into my morning pages rotation after all, at least for now. Yay?

tl;dr: DID I MENTION FOUNTAIN PENS ARE GREAT? THEY ARE GREAT.

to do this weekend: attend the nebulas
Wed 2020-05-27 17:28:07 (single post)

Like every year, this weekend SFWA will announce the recipients of this year's Nebula Awards. And, like every year, there will be a weekend-long conference centered on the award ceremony.

What's different, obviously, is the COVID-19 pandemic. So for the first time, this year's Nebula Conference will be entirely online. And while it's a bummer not to get to hang out with people in person, the truth is, I wouldn't ordinarily have been there in person. A lot of people wouldn't. Travel is a non-trivial expense in more ways than the monetary. But now travel is not a factor at all. All you need is an up-to-date computer, an internet connection, and the $150 membership fee.

So I signed up and I'm very much looking forward to this weekend. But the first official activities were this past weekend. There was a reception on Saturday evening, May 23rd, to celebrate all the Nebula Award finalists (two hours of awesome audiobook narrators reading excerpts of awesome stuff!) and to give conference attendees a chance to say hi to each other, first via text chat during the reception and later during the room parties.

I went to a room party. I connected to the main Zoom room, and the hosts there redirected me, at my request, to the karaoke party. I'd never done online karaoke before. It was pretty chill. I understand there was also a bar room, where a bartender would assist you with drink-mixing instructions. I may try that one of the evenings this weekend. And of course there will be All! The! Panels! to attend. I've very excited about this.

But first I have another frustrating session of juggling sound drivers ahead of me. That's right--the sound lag static bug is back. ARGH. I discovered this during last night's Spiral Knights session (just a relaxing hour or so soloing the Shroud of the Aprocrea prestige mission and listening to the soothing sounds of the Apocrean Harvester stalking me through the graveyard) which was intolerable over the computer's speakers. Today I experimented with voice recording, and the distortion was there too. Either I get this settled, or I'm going to have to connect to the Nebula Conference on the aging Asus, and I'm not looking forward to that.

But that is not your concern. What concerns you is whether you wish to attend the Nebula Conference, attend all the panels, enjoy all the room parties, sing all the karaoke, and mix all the drinks; or simply watch the award ceremony on Facebook, which you can do for free.

Or none of the above, I guess, but that's not the fun option.

Behold! (Click through to see more gorgeous pictures in the slideshow on the product page.)
did i mention i love fountain pens i may have mentioned this once or twice
Wed 2020-05-20 19:10:10 (single post)

I am very excited! The Goulet Pen Company has at long last resumed shipping orders, and the pen I ordered is scheduled to arrive SATURDAY! Eeeeeee.... This is it: the Platinum Curidas retractable fountain pen. I've never owned a retractable fountain pen before. I hope it's as pleasant to write with as it is to look at.

I ordered it because April had begun, which meant my birthday was coming up, which meant I should give myself a treat. Well. Turns out I should have waited until the actual date of my birthday, because that's when Goulet sent me a Happy Birthday email with a coupon code for a free random 8-pack of ink samples. And of course then it was way too late to add that coupon and item to my fancy pen order! *facepalm* And, what with the pandemic and all, all Goulet shipments were on hold while all Goulet staff were working remote. Shipments would resume when it was safe to return to the building, whenever that would be. I didn't want to have two orders sitting in limbo.

But then I got the email saying that my pen was on its way! Also, I'd just run two of my J. Herbin bottles dry. So, what the heck, how about I order some replacements in the blue-to-turquoise range, maybe try out a couple Noodler's inks just to shake things up? And then thwack the free samples on top, since the coupon code was good for up to 30 days past my birthday?

But Goulet's free shipping offer only applies to orders of $50 or more. Two bottles of ink comes only up to about half that...

So I ended up ordering four Noodler's bottles. Coupla turquoisy blues (Liberty's Elysium, Blue Nose Bear) and a couple of excitingly heirloomish reds (Red Black, Black Swan). And the "Surprise me!" 8-pack of samplers free with birthday coupon code, of course. WELL PLAYED, GOULET.

No idea when that will ship--Goulet's got quite a backlog to work through--but I'm sure it will be a delightful surprise in more than one way when it arrives.

In summary: SQUEE! FOUNTAIN PENS!

a long road to nowhere but with some interesting stops along the way
Tue 2020-05-12 23:45:53 (single post)
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long

Item the first: I want to make sure I've linked y'all to the correct version of the Dreams and Nightmares website, which is here: https://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/. That's kind of important, since the place I linked you before is out of date; I hadn't realized that where it said the May issue had just been released, it was referring to May 2011. Whoops. Sometimes I am not a very careful reader.

It's early days yet. The issue featuring my poem "The Ascent of Inanna" won't be out until September. But why not get a head-start on bookmarking the webpage and maybe subscribing? (I will point out again that for $90, the same price as a three years' subscription outside the US, you can get yourself subscribed for life.) Meanwhile, the editor is posting a new poem every day on the magazine's blog (the page you'll land on when you click the link above), so you might as well make a habit of checking back every day, maybe over your lunch break. Doesn't lunch go down better with poetry? I certainly think it does.

Item the second: The Laptop Saga appears to have arrived at a satisfying conclusion, if by a long and twisty route. No, Thursday's replacement replacement motherboard did not resolve matters. But it got the ball rolling in the right direction.

Also, the onsite technician who visited on Thursday? He was a lot more pleasant than Tuesday's guy.

Tuesday's guy--I won’t sugarcoat this--he was a tool. Rather a jerk, is what I'm saying. He was the kind of guy who shows up during a pandemic under Colorado's "Safer at Home" phase of restrictions with no mask and no gloves (which I was cautiously OK with) and a snide attitude about how "everyone's getting paranoid these days" (which made me less OK about the no mask or gloves thing). The kind of guy who asks you what's going on with your computer, and when you try to answer, he talks over you. The kind of guy who says "I've been doing this thirty years, trust me, I know what I'm talking about" multiple times in a conversation. The kind of guy who, when the planned hardware replacement results in unplanned problems (the aforementioned failure to load Windows), calls up Dell Dispatch and straight-up abuses the dispatch tech. "Do you even know what you're doing? Look, I've been doing this 30 years, I am telling you, this motherboard is glitchy! It needs to be replaced!" The kind of guy who then, after hanging up the phone, starts explaining to you, his captive audience, why it was justified for him to yell at the dispatch tech like that, that dispatch tech doesn't know what he's doing, dealing with people like that dispatch tech is so hard. Also, the onsite tech was white and the dispatch tech was not, but that couldn't possibly have factored into the situation, could it? (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

So Tuesday's onsite tech made everything extremely uncomfortable. But a different technician showed up Thursday to install the replacement motherboard, and the difference was like night and day.

Thursday's tech was not a tool. Thursday's tech was entirely pleasant. Thursday's tech I would quite happily go out for beers with, or coffee, once we're allowed to go out to bars and cafes again, and talk tech and play board games.

To start with, he had no snide attitude about the pandemic; on the contrary, he arrived in facemask and gloves, and he opted to do the repair out on the front patio, "to minimize contact." So I, too, donned a facemask and helped him get set up on the folding table and chair out there. I pried open the screen on the office window so we could pass the laptop's charger cable through. Then I hung out at my desk in the office so we could easily communicate through the window while practicing responsible social distancing.

When he asked me questions about the computer, he listened when I answered. When I had questions, he took them seriously.

When he found the screws that the previous tech had stripped, he replaced them. (Seriously. Tuesday's awful toolish, jerkish tech stripped the screws. I suppose that, when he said, for the tenth or twentieth time, "I've been doing this 30 years," I should have asked, "Doing what?")

And then, after Thursday's entirely pleasant and professionally cautious tech put my computer together again, and it booted up successfully, he said, "I've got a couple other appointments in the area; when I'm done with those, I'll give you a call to see how it's doing and whether you need me to come back." That's how awesome Thursday's tech was.

And indeed, when we spoke again, the computer was not doing so great. Again, on the second or maybe third reboot, right after I installed all the drivers Dell's SupportAssist app told me to install, it choked. Black screen, Dell logo, infinitely revolving wheel of dots forever. Alas.

So the tech set me up another dispatch, one where they ship me a box for me to ship the computer back to the Repair Depot, and that was that.

Only, over the weekend, I got to thinking--am I really helpless here? Does my laptop have to be a paperweight? Must I limp along on the backup ASUS, afraid of running two programs at the same time for fear of bringing the whole machine to a grinding halt? So I booted up the Dell, tapped F8 until the advanced startup options menu appeared, and I invoked Windows Startup Repair.

And it worked. Dang thing rolled back the driver installs and booted up like a charm.

After that, I installed the recommended drivers one by one until I hit the one that caused Windows to fail to load. Turned out to be one of the optional drivers. Easy enough to just refrain from reinstalling it. Meanwhile, replacing the motherboard did seem to have resolved my webcam flicker issue. Sound out the speakers was worse than ever, but after some hours spent juggling Realtek drivers I apparently hit a winning combination; the stutter-lag-static is more or less gone now. I was able join in yesterday’s co-writing session over Zoom and my writing group’s critique session today over Discord without any problems.

The only real issue of note is that the power button will only power the computer on; any attempts to perform a hard shut-down by depressing the power button fail. Which is weird, but hardly worth shipping my computer away for a week. If the computer stops responding and I need a hard shut-down option, I know how to detach the battery.

So, as far as I'm concerned, the computer's fine now.

The box for shipping the computer to Dell arrived yesterday. I emailed the Repair Center to let them know I won't be using it. And they're cool with that.

The Fictionette Freebie for April 2020. Cover image incorporates and modifies photo sourced from Pixabay.
surfacing in between crises to bring you all sorts of flash fiction (not all of it is mine)
Tue 2020-05-05 23:21:31 (single post)
  • 950 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,189 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,260 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,240 words (if poetry, lines) long

I'm still catching up on last week, and this week isn't helping. The bunnies are settling in nicely, and the water-from-the-ceiling crisis is resolved with the exception of needing to replace the vent fan--an irritation, but hardly an emergency. However, the laptop warranty repair situation is blowing up again.

The Onsite Technician came to visit today and replaced the motherboard and speakers, and for a few lovely minutes everything worked. We played and recorded sound, and there was no static. We tested the webcam, and there was no flicker. Hooray! So I signed the paperwork that said "All is resolved," the tech walked out the door... and I noticed the laptop's latest reboot cycle hadn't finished. I ran out to grab the tech before he could disappear, and he took a look. The reboot still never finished. Also it wouldn't respond to holding down the power button; the only way to turn it off was to unplug it and detach the battery.

So Thursday I get another visit from another tech with another new motherboard and maybe a hard drive too. And I'm using the backup Asus laptop because I can't even boot up the Dell in Safe Mode, with or without networking. The tech managed it once, but damn if I can figure out how. Good thing I backed every little thing up that changed since the last time I backed every little thing up, because I don't think I'm getting into that computer again without another Windows reinstall.

Nevertheless, I have been working diligently in between all these interruptions, and have at last arrived at the point where I can bring you the April 2020 Friday Fictionette Roundup!

Friday, April 3, 2020: "Real Friends" (ebook, audiobook) In which the protagonist discovers her origin story and determines to get real--and to take her best friend Samantha with her.

Friday, April 10, 2020: "Marla in Two Rooms" (ebook, audiobook) In which Marla endeavors to be a model citizen, unlike her parents and big sister.

Friday, April 17, 2020: "Human Capital" (ebook, audiobook) In which euphemisms aren't.

Friday, April 24, 2020: "She Danced for the Queen" (ebook, audiobook) In which the curse on the Beast and his castle turns out to be transferable. Now the Fictionette Freebie for April 2020!

The Friday Fictionette Project is short-short stories by subscription, a new one every first through fourth Friday (or, as we see from last weeks, a near facsimile thereof), which you can access as an ebook (HTML, PDF, epub, Kindle mobi) for $1/month and as an audiobook (mp3) for $3/month. Powered by Patreon. At the end of each month, one of that month's releases gets to fly and be freeeeeeee! to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

All right! So. That done, my next task is to make sure not to be late with the Friday Fictionette scheduled for May 8, or at least endeavor to be less late. Thankfully, there is a fifth Friday at the end of this month, which I hope to use to get a week ahead of schedule so that weeks bearing multiple crises (or, hey, weeks with a roller derby bout at the end, assuming we get to have roller derby bouts again someday!) don't throw the whole schedule off.

Also I am participating in the latest Escape Artists flash fiction contest, which means I have a lot of very short stories to read and vote on. You, too, can participate as a reader and a voter, even without entering a story! Just point your browser at the Escape Artists Forum, register yourself an account, then go find the "Flash Fiction Contest VI - Escape Pod" in The Arcade. (As a new forum user, pay especial attention to the thread "Can't see the story groups? Post here!")

It is an anonymous contest, so I can neither confirm nor deny any guesses as to which story might be my story. I guess you'll just have to read them all!

Cover art incorporates and modifies 'Mirepoix' by Matthew Yglesias (CC BY-SA 2.0)
i reveal more details. i also jump up and down a bit.
Mon 2020-01-27 23:48:05 (single post)
  • 990 words (if poetry, lines) long

So this past Friday I received an email indicating that the contract I signed Tuesday was complete, all parties had signed it and everything, so this thing is real and I can tell you everything now:

My very short story, "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner", originally a Friday Fictionette and the Fictionette Freebie for March 2018, will be produced and podcast by Cast of Wonders, part of the Escape Artists podcast family and the leading voice in young adult speculative short fiction. I do not at this time have a specific air date, but I will report the moment I receive one.

Or at least the moment I have a moment to blog after that.

I may have mentioned that this is one of my dream markets? Very much so yes. I've been listening to a lot of their recent episodes, pretty much every time I've got a drive of at least twenty minutes' duration--and January is a great time to listen to Cast of Wonders, since that's when they replay their favorites from the previous year with all new commentary from the staff member who fell in love with each story--and I keep telling myself, "This is awesome wonderful fantastic fiction and someone decided my story is good enough to hang with them."

I can't quite get over it.

The acceptance letter includes a reminder that, hey, obviously we like your stuff--please send us more the moment we're open to submissions again! So OK. I shall.

I'm currently writing this post off-line. Every other Monday I'm in Longmont for the evening, charging the Volt at Village at the Peaks and putting in a work session at The Post Brewing Company in Longmont. The chicken is amazing, the beer is tasty, and the bartender is good company. Unfortunately, their wifi has been kaput for a couple months now. But! I have a new flip phone! It's an Alcatel Go Flip, rather an epiphany after the 8-year-old Samsung M360 I was limping along with until it took a fall onto cement a couple weeks ago and cracked its housing and severed the connection to the display. And this brand new flip phone, it has a wifi hotspot as long as I don't mind spending my entire teeny tiny data plan allowance on it. So I was able to do today's Submissions Procedures session and enjoy the Post's amazing roast bird with garlic mojo--right up until I ran my phone out of battery. At which point I switched to composing blog posts offline.

(Update: I will probably be increasing my data plan just a little. Tonight's hotspot session used about 45 MB mobile data, and my grandfathered plan only includes an eensy 25 MB. Which was more than sufficient when I had a phone that never did more with data than send or receive the odd photo, when the sending or receiving of photos could actually be bothered to function. It didn't always. Hell, the Samsung couldn't even surf the web without choking on SSL. But things are different now, and I'd better adjust.)

This phone--well, it's kind of like when John and I got the Volt. We simply could not get over the fact that we now owned a vehicle with modern features like cruise control. I can't get over that I have a phone with wifi and an mp3 player and viable import/export of .vcf format contacts over bluetooth and the ability to access its storage via my laptop over USB. Things any old modern dumb phone ought to be able to do. Things that should not be so exciting except that I'm enjoying them for the first time now. Whee! "Hey, who else is available to time someone's 27-in-5?" says the coach, and "Me me me me!" says me. That's how stupidly excited I am to have a stopwatch with a lap counter on my phone. (The Samsung did not have a stopwatch. It did not have a timer. It had a function called "Countdown" which was exactly the same as a calendar reminder only without the ability to input a text memo.) Listening to podcasts in the car is a lot simpler now; the phone has less storage space than my laptop, but it's a hell of a lot less clunky to deal with at stoplights. Also it doesn't fool the car into thinking I have a passenger who forgot to buckle their seat belt.

Oh! So, if anyone out there reading this is familiar with the Alcatel Go Flip: I found one review claiming that it can handle .m3u playlists, but it didn't go into detail, and I can't for the life of me figure out how. Meanwhile I'm kludging playlists by editing tracks' Album metadata. If anyone is able to share a more graceful way to make the Alcatel Go Flip do playlists, I'm all ears.

All for now--I'm trying to keep my blog posts short and sweet so that 1. they don't take me an hour and a half to write a post, and 2. I stand a chance blogging once daily rather than weekly or, gods forfend, monthly. More tomorrow AND I MEAN THAT THIS TIME. Good night!

Cover art incorporates and modifies image by GLady (Pixabay)
a list of things which are not excuses followed by a list of things which are good things
Tue 2019-07-23 23:58:18 (single post)
  • 1,299 words (if poetry, lines) long

Last week was eventful. Not the good kind of eventful, either. I had a headlight to get replaced on a car, a sudden flood of water from the ceiling to investigate, and, most worrisome of all, a computer that wouldn't power on. It all pretty much hit last weekend and overshadowed the week. Not that these things are precisely what made last week so dire in terms of productivity, but it can't have helped, you know?

In any case, the headlight was easily taken care of. The mysterious leak less so, as it involved coordinating with my upstairs neighbor; thankfully, the maintenance crew who responded to the emergency call took point on that. As for the computer...

Well, it's amazing how much I was able to get done, or at least could have gotten done, despite not having up-to-date backups of my Scrivener files available. These days I mostly do my composing and editing on 4thewords, which meant all my current projects were accessible as long as I could remember my 4thewords password. Which I could. And so many of the places I submit stories to use online submission management systems (Submittable, Hey Publisher, Submission Manager) that I never had trouble keeping up with my daily submissions; I just logged onto whichever system I'd submitted a given manuscript through last and downloaded a copy. I had recent enough versions of many useful things on the two Asus laptops that were my previous two workspaces before this Dell. And I was able to keep up with email via the webmail options my domain host offers.

Which is not to say I didn't breathe a huge honking sigh of relief when, after the Dell onsite technician installed the replacement motherboard not 6 days after the power-on failure (always spring for the extended warranty if you can afford it; Dell's is particularly good), the computer booted up to windows and demonstrated that all my data was sound. And you can bet I initiated better backup habits that very night. (Did you know Mega.nz offers 50 gigs cloud storage on just their free account?)

It turns out I could have accessed and backed up my data at any time. I assumed that my hard drive would be buried under intricate layers of machinery, but no, it is surfaced for customer access just like the battery is. I could have yanked it out and slipped it into a usb shell that I already possess and ported my entire life back onto the old Asus machine that became my workstation during that week. Well. Now I know, should a similar calamity befall me in the future.

(And it might. I seem to average one computer crisis per year. I'm kinda death to laptops. Again, spring for the extended warranty every time you can afford it--it is so worth it. I know mine's got me covered through December 2021 or thereabouts.)

However. During that time I kept up with my daily submission procedures and nothing else. Failed to do my short story revisions. Got another week behind on Fictionettes, Just kinda sucked in general. It was like my own personal physical/mental/emotional system wouldn't power up any more than my Dell would.

But the first two days of this new week have been a lot better. Like, oodles of percents better. And I have good things to report! To wit:

The Friday Fictionette that was due July 5 is finally out. It's "A Practical Guide to Your Magical Hero Destiny" (ebook, audio), which is an ironic title because you don't actually get an instruction manual for that kind of thing ha ha ha are you kidding? I'm hard at work on the July 12 release as we speak, with hopes of getting entirely caught up by sometime this weekend.

Since I last blogged, I've received notification that two more of my submissions have survived the first slush-culling and have been "bumped" to a secondary round of consideration. Both of them are currently unpublished drabbles, or 100-word short stories, which I had considered long shots unlikely to find favor at any market. You just never know.

And I'm going to suggest that you go ahead and subscribe to The Epitaph, the newsletter of the Denver Horror Collective, for no particular reason other than that you are clearly a fan of Denver-area horror writers, right? Or at least one particular writer who resides in the Denver area and writes things that might be classified as horror? Anyway, it's only monthly, so it won't fill up your inbox like some newsletters I might mention. And you may be intrigued by what shows up there.

And that's the news for now. With any luck I'll manage to post more tomorrow.

bam, just like that
Sat 2019-03-30 20:36:09 (single post)

And now everything's working again. No more broken bits. Bam.

I'm not even sure the actual code had anything to do with it. I only changed one "mysql_connect" to "mysqli_connect", and I think I actually changed it back. Which isn't to say I shouldn't move all the code over to the new standard, mind you--deprecated code won't be supported forever--but I seriously don't think that was the problem.

I think the problem had to do with a change in how passwords were handled, and also with my database user account somehow losing privileges on the Writing database (but not on the Journal database? weird). After going into the control panel and changing the password and re-granting the privileges, EVERYTHING WORKED.

Three months this blog was broken because I couldn't even and THAT'S all it took to fix everthing? WELL THEN.

You may expect regular blogging to resume Monday. Probably there will be a recap of my trip to New Orleans, I dunno. I haven't blogged regularly in three months, I'm sure I'll come up with something.

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