“If they weren't solidly real dragons... it wouldn't have been worth doing.”
Jo Walton

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art incorporates public domain images from Pixabay.com.
Cover art incorporates tarot image via Wikipedia.org (public domain, U.S.)
my brain is a jerk: christmas reminiscing
Mon 2016-12-26 23:45:23 (single post)
  • 1,240 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,054 words (if poetry, lines) long

All right. Hi! New week. So: Friday Fictionettes for the past two Fridays were "Kill or Cure," which is about a symptomatic tree, and "The Miraculous Hide," which is sort of about Good King Wenceslas before he got to be all saint-like. I got 'em out both on time, more or less, but I never got around to announcing them here, so. There you go.

And now we are approaching the fifth Friday in a month, which means--woo-hoo!--I get a week off. Except I don't, because I still have to put together the Fictionette Artifacts for November and then do all the end-of-month stuff for December. And even if that were done, goodness knows I've got all the legacy catch-up work to do: backfilling the Wattpad excerpts, recording audiobook editions for the archives that don't have them yet, producing epub and mobi editions ditto. But it's cool. I don't have to do that and put together the next brand-new story-like object all at the same time, so things are vastly more doable than they could be.

So yesterday was Christmas. John and I did nothing special for it. We're more Winter Solstice types than Christmas types, which is to say, Pagan not Christian. Also our families are all multiple states away. So we did with Christmas the same thing we did with Thanksgiving: a whole lotta glorious nothing. We played on our computers and we cooked for each other.

Which right there puts it miles and miles beyond last Christmas in terms of enjoyability, i.e. I did not get into a shouting match with my bigoted, bullying, emotionally abusive uncle, and spend the rest of the evening sobbing myself sick. Yay?

Except I kept thinking about it. All my brain's idle cycles pointed right at it. I spent a self-indulgently huge number of hours just playing Puzzle Pirates all day long, which should have been uncomplicatedly fun, only it wasn't, because while my eyes and hands were busy with the mini-games, my brain kept re-running that shouting match and rewriting it and re-running the rewritten version and then revising that.

To be clear: My brain was not fixated on just one argument with my uncle. That shouting match catalyzed an epiphany about a lifetime of bullying at the hands of that uncle.

Wait. Wait up. Go fix yourself some coffee or something. Apparently I'm going to unload here.

Ready? Cool. Here we go.

Here's the thing. I think the reason he got so enraged when I called him on his hateful bullshit that Christmas afternoon is that no one else ever did. Everyone else in the family may grumble about him, but to his face they smile and reward him and tell him he's funny. Meanwhile, all my life, every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter that he ruined for me, everyone told me I lacked a sense of humor. That's why I didn't find his bullying of me funny. And they told me it was my fault, the bullying; he wouldn't do it if I didn't give him such entertaining reactions. No one told him that there was anything wrong with a grown-ass man getting his jollies by verbally tormenting a little girl until she fucking lost it, and then laughing at her while her parents punished her for her unacceptable behavior. Everything he said, every word that came out of his mouth, was by definition golden, because it was coming out of his mouth.

Of course he hasn't changed a bit--why should he? He gets perfectly fine results as things stand; why should he do anything differently? And why wouldn't he be flabbergasted to the point of near-speechlessness that someone finally told him he was being a shit-head? If anyone ever tried to say it to him before, they sure as hell didn't make it stick.

I'm surprised it took me this long to come to that realization. I suppose I had some idea that, now that I was an adult myself, and not a powerless child, interactions would be better. And, well, to some extent, they are better. At age forty (well, thirty-nine at the time, but still) I'm not getting sent to my room or told to sit on the floor in the hallway and stare at the wall and think about what I've done. There is a different protocol for dealing with other adults than there is for dealing with children. And, being an adult, I'm a lot more capable now of putting my thoughts into words even while I'm furious, and of resisting my uncle's attempts to put me back in my place, the place he was comfortable with me inhabiting, the place that's entirely under his power, the place where I have to dance for his entertainment while the rest of the family laughs at his wit and my immaturity.

All of which added up to me being able to sit there and say, "That's some hateful, dehumanizing, transmisogynist bullshit you're spouting, not gonna pretend otherwise, I mean, you should be ashamed of yourself, and also you should grow the hell up, and, by the way, transwomen aren't existing at you just to spite you, and if you're tired of watching news stories about Caitlyn Jenner you can damn well pull up your big-boy paints, grab your big-boy TV remote, and change the fucking channel." And the worst he could do to me in response was sputter a bit and finally proclaim, "Don't get so fucking offended," like it was the last word on the matter (but it wasn't, because I could damn well spit back at him, "Then don't say such fucking offensive things, asshole," and walk out the room).

That's the worst he can do. But I can do so much worse to myself every day for the following year. I can relive that entire argument on a near-daily basis. I can also relive all the times he bullied me as a child, and I cried, and he laughed at me while I cried, and my parents told me I was defective for not enjoying it and/or morally weak for letting it get to me. That last shouting match doesn't exist on its own--it reconfigured my understanding of our interactions over my entire life.

I don't want to talk to him ever again. I don't want to see him ever again. But at the same time, I want to stand up in front of him and tell him, hey, you remember how you treated me while I was growing up? That wasn't even bullying. Bullying is between people of at least nominally equal standing. When a grown-ass man does it to a little girl, someone he has power over, and when he does it every time he sees her, from the time she's five to the time she's fifteen, that's straight up child abuse.

Wow. OK. So, that got real heavy real fast. Long story short: It's not that I fixate on 15 Minutes of Awful. It's that those 15 Minutes of Awful sort of recontextualized about 15 to 20 Years of Constant, Unremitting Awful. And that I'm liable to fixate on.

My fucking brain. My brain is a fucking jerk.

There's this fantastic Steven Universe episode, "Mindful Education," that kinda-sorta addresses the whole "I can't stop thinking about it, and it hurts, and I'm sick of hurting" thing. Rewatching it was soothing balm, but in a few hours the balm wears off. That's because the strategy of looking at the pain, understanding why it hurts, and being OK with the fact that it hurts, only goes so far. It's fantastic for surviving the painful thoughts, but it doesn't make them stop. And I can't spend another year going "Yes, I see that thought. Yes, it hurts. It's OK. I'm OK" on infinite repeat. I need to get my brain to stop running that damn program.

So here's what I did: I decided to actively fill my brain's idle cycles up with Other Narratives. I pulled up a blog I enjoy reading (one of several Steven Universe livebloggers, speaking of Steven Universe) and positioned it so I could read it while playing Puzzle Pirates. Then I pulled up some Mark Reads Discworld audio and listened to that while playing Puzzle Pirates.

The idea is, the longer I just sit there trying to play a particular video game while my brain keeps pushing the rewind-and-replay button on Worst Experiences Ever, the stronger grows the mental association between the two. It begins to feed itself: Playing the video game starts to cause the painful mental replay. But if I can associate the game strongly enough with something else, then playing the game will make me think of that something else--like, for instance, a gaggle of wizards arguing on a desert island, or the character development arcs of the Crystal Gems.

It's terrifying how easily programmable my brain is. The good news is, I can program it too. I just have to take, and keep taking, conscious action counter to the unwanted programming, until the unwanted programming has been thoroughly replaced my the preferred programming. That's all.

And in the meantime, well, I'm here.

YPP Weekend Blockades, December 24-25: No blockades for the holiday weekend; might I suggest pillaging instead?
Sat 2016-12-24 12:28:18 (single post)

As you may remember, there are no PVP blockades this weekend or the next. Unless some naughty flag officer decides to scuttle up some Brigand King action, we're all on holiday!

Meantime, we've got two great reasons to focus on old-school pillaging.

Firstly, as has already been mentioned, that's how you earn this month's limited edition Seal o' Piracy trophy: by completing 30 sea battles by December 31. Sword fighting, rumble, brigand king or plain ol' spawn, it doesn't matter. Just make sure you get to the melee portion of the contest so that it counts.

Secondly, we're in the middle of "A Pirate Carol!" That's this winter's holiday competition. You may have noticed, last time you logged in, that you've been transformed into a ghost. A ghost, to be precise, of holidays past, present, or yet to come! Those are the three teams competing for trophies and bragging rights through January 2. You earn points for your team for every sea battle you complete victorious. Therefore, the more you pillage, the more you help your team's standings. For more information, check out the "Competition" tab on your Notice Board, and/or click here.

Standard reminders: ...are entirely unnecessary this weekend, because of the aforementioned "no blockades" thing.

but just a brief delay
Fri 2016-12-23 23:47:18 (single post)

I'll be uploading the Friday Fictionette for December 23rd in, oh, probably about 10 hours or so. I have everything written up and recorded and illustrated, but now it is late and I am sleepy and liable to make some sort of embarrassing and tedious-to-correct mistake if I keep going. Ebook compilation and conversion is fraught with so many opportunities to make embarrassing and tedious-to-correct mistakes. Not to mention interacting with Patreon's publishing process and coaxing it to do things it's not actually meant to do in its current version. By which I mean, HTML formatting and inline links. Not recommended after brain-shutdown-o'clock!

So I'll get a good night's sleep (the first in several days, I'm afraid) and then upload the whole shebang and announce it here. Until then!

they are things but they are not the intended things
Thu 2016-12-22 23:23:46 (single post)

There were, in fact, more things "tomorrow" (referencing a tomorrow which was more than a week ago now). The problem is, none of those things were writing things. I mean, I got the Friday Fictionette out on time last week, yay, but... that was about it.

So what did I do instead?

Well.

Er. We bought a car? That was one thing. Almost six months after the Fried Transmission incident, we have at last acquired the Saturn's replacement. Only it's not a replacement per se, not yet, because we're keeping the Saturn. It's got a near-new transmission in it! Also four almost-new tires! And OMG it's nice having two cars in the house FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OUR LIFE TOGETHER.

True fact: When we first moved into our current home, it was an upgrade from a 1bath2bed to a 2bath2bed. In those first few weeks, we'd come home, and, as per ancient tradition, one of us would go, "I gotta go potty, brb," and the other would go "SO DO I WAIT ME FIRST" ...then we'd remember, oh, we can BOTH go, it's cool, and we would get absurdly giddy with delight about that fact. OK, so, same thing about having a second car.

Except there is still some car custody negotiation because, frankly, a 2013 Chevy Volt is really fun to drive. In addition to having features which most of our peers take for granted these days--electronic locks, cruise control, remote key fobs, keyless operation, an engine you can't hear half a mile away.--it is also an electric hybrid, which means it comes equipped with the addictive video game which I call Can You Maximize Your Driving Efficiency? There is multicolor pictorial feedback that tells you how you are doing at this game. My favorite is the bit where your battery is on zero charge, and the readout says you have 154 miles left on the gas tank, and then you manage to invoke so much BATTERY POWER REGEN via longer coasting times into stop lights that you actually increase your gas driving range to 155.

And of course there's the scavenger hunt where you try to find a free charging station that does not require a smartcard or app to operate and that has a vacant plug. (The ChargePoint card is on its way now, and John has downloaded the app. Huzzah.)

These are the kinds of things that gives me life. They will make me glow with accomplishment for days. Which, I admit, may be a bit of a brain-glitch on my part, but at least we can leverage that glitch for savings at the pump.

Any-hoo, there was also bringing the car back to the shop for installation of heated seats (the car was well under our projected budget, so John argued, successfully, that we should live a little). There was acquiring insurance on the Volt. There was taking the Saturn to the bump shop to have the license plate reattached up front since getting sat on by a careless SUV driver (they wanted to change lanes at the stop light and didn't see me behind them--good thing I wasn't driving the new car that night). There were, in short, other car adventures, not all of them related to the big one.

The other Thing taking up a large chunk of recent hours has been a joyful Thing, which is A New Floor To Skate On. For the past year and more, my roller derby league has been practicing on, essentially, a dirt floor. Packed dirt, yes, and of course a sport court floor on top of that, but still, it isn't what you'd call "flat." It has been described as skating on a slick-surfaced waterbed. It has been great for our ankle strength, but somewhat deleterious to our strategic timing. And most of us wind up going elsewhere to time our 27-in-5.

So we have bit the cost-and-time bullet. We have begun constructing a raised and leveled subfloor. IT IS GOING TO BE AMAZING. In the meantime, it's a lot of work. Anyone who can has been dropping by each day to donate labor hours. I've been there almost every other day, and when I'm not there, I'm cleaning tiles of sport court that I brought home. We've been crowd-sourcing the sport court cleaning. It needs a cleaning. The dust you would not believe. (This would be another advantage to the subfloor: less dust billowing up from between the sport court tiles.) Tonight's labor involved one team nailing joists between barn-long pairs of two-by-eights, while another, smaller team (me and another skater and two eager children) cleared furniture and other large items out of the wash stall so we could start cleaning sport court on site. If I manage to free up a couple hours to go in tomorrow afternoon, it's very likely I will be hosing down sport court.

And then I added a Thing by insisting on observing the Winter Solstice in the Traditional Way Of My People (in this case, My People is me and sometimes John BUT IT IS STILL A TRADITION DAMMIT). So my Tuesday and my Wednesday were shot and today was only marginally better. It's so easy to knock my sleep patterns off schedule, and so hard to realign them to the diurnal round.

And I still haven't had that slice of fruitcake!

Well. I expect tomorrow that Things will improve. Especially the writing things. I mean, I've got another Friday Fictionette due!

happy days-get-longer-from-here-on night
Wed 2016-12-21 03:35:40 (single post)

It's the eve of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and I did not plan a party.

See, I usually do. And by "usually" I mean every single year since not long after moving to Colorado, except for last year when I was out of town.

I'd bake the savory medieval pie and cook the orange-and-tomato soup and do up my friend's best egg nog recipe ever. I'd unveil that year's fruitcake, which would have been boozing up for the past two or three weeks, and have that first slice. I'd stick as huge a chunk of wood in the fireplace as could fit, and I'd burn that sucker over the period beginning at dusk and ending at dawn. I'd let all my friends know that we were At Home to Visitors for the entirety of dusk-to-dawn as well. And sometimes, if there was interest in doing so, we'd carpool over to Red Rocks for the Drumming Up of the Sun.

This year, the Solstice snuck up on me and I wasn't prepared. Hell, I didn't even know what day it was until I saw the Facebook event for Drumming Up the Sun, which helpfully stated the astronomical time of the actual astronomical solstice. And if I had known, and had tried to prepare, I would have despaired, because, like pretty much this whole week so far and last week too, there was stuff to do today and there was no time. (About that, more later.)

So. No party. No sausage-leek-apple pie. No egg nog. No huge chunk of Yule Log in the fireplace.

But--and this is important--no stress.

I'm still upholding my Winter Solstice traditions, if in a minimalist way. I'm keeping my traditional vigil through the longest night. I'm keeping my fire burning. It's not a Yule Log, but what the hell. John happened to have brought home three bundles of firewood from the store the other day, and that's plenty enough to keep the light from going out. And while I may not have made my traditional Solstice party foodstuffs, I did wrap a cheddar brat in aluminum foil and roast it in the coals a little while ago. Yay!

When dawn arrives, I'll go out on the back porch, beat a few (quiet) notes on the drum, and (quietly) cheer for the return of the light. Huzzah! Io evohe, Sol Invictus! Hooray!

And then I'll probably have First Slice of Fruitcake for breakfast.

And you're all invited to our Winter Solstice party next year. Probably. Stay tuned.

YPP Weekend Blockades, December 17-18: Mr. Owl, What Did This Recent Update Do?
Sat 2016-12-17 13:23:15 (single post)

It's Saturday and the Puzzle Pirates blockade schedule is underway. I'm jobbing on the Emerald Ocean, where Illusion just moved one ship's worth of volunteers from the Aimuari to the Armstrong competition--which isn't to say they aren't pushing their suit at Aimuari, mind.

If you're not into the blockade scene and prefer old-school pillaging, you'll be happy to hear that the latter bears an extra reward this month. Complete 30 sea battles and you'll earn your December 2016 Seal o' Piracy.

Only other news I've got is, my YPP client updated itself this morning, and I'm not quite sure why. Since the official Releases page on Yppedia hasn't been updated in months, the world may simply never know.

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, December 17 ***

12:00 p.m. - Armstrong Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: A Boosted Monkey
Attacker: Illusion

12:00 p.m. - Nightshade Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Chthonic Horde (2)
Attacker: Smoke and Mirrors

12:00 p.m. - Aimuari Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: A Boosted Monkey
Attacker: Illusion

1:29 p.m. - Fintan Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Radioactive
Attacker: Infamous

2:06 p.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Black Flag

2:07 p.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Black Flag
Attacker: Pirate King

3:00 p.m. - Ansel Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Meridian's Most Wanted
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (3)

5:15 p.m. - Raven's Roost, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Consensual Restraint
Attacker: Legion

6:00 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Delirium
Attacker: Cluster Service

11:01 p.m. - Penobscot Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Fleet of Dreams
Attacker: Candle

11:58 p.m. - Cochineal Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Infamous
Attacker: Indifference

*** Sunday, December 18 ***

12:00 a.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Defender: Meridian's Most Wanted
Attacker: Indifference

10:00 a.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

10:00 a.m. - Gallows Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Illusion
Attacker: The Enlightened (2)

10:44 a.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: A Boosted Monkey
Attacker: Going Down

11:45 a.m. - Garden Cradle, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (2)
Attacker: Infamous

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, December 17 ***

12:13 p.m. - Kirin Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Enlightened (7)
Attacker: The Wanton

*** Sunday, December 18 ***

11:31 a.m. - Jubilee Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The All-Consuming Flame (5)
Attacker: The Coalition

on realistic scheduling, and things
Tue 2016-12-13 00:16:03 (single post)
  • 3,339 words (if poetry, lines) long

First, the good news! "It's For You" reported back from the slush-mines that it had discovered a promising vein. It will let me know again soon whether it manages to dig up any valuable ore.

Er. That's probably more cryptic a metaphor than it needed to be. Basically, the nice people deciding whether to publish it said that they like it quite a bit, so they are going to show it to other nice people further along the purchasing decision chain.

Thus: It has not been rejected! Yet.

It is probably my most-submitted story at this time, which means there are days when I get a rejection letter on it and I think, "Seriously, maybe this story's just not up to snuff. Maybe all the editor people are backchatting about it, like, 'Has she sent it to you yet, too? Gawd.' Maybe I should just give up on this story." Which is silly. Stories get rejected lots of times before they finally cross the desk of just the right editor and get published. I know this--up here (pointing to my head). But I get insecure. I get up, I get down. I get very down. I get epic Yes songs stuck in my head and I share the love. I'm a writer and we do this.

So that's when I remind myself, "Hey. This story has been held for consideration before. It's publishable. Keep sending it out." And I send it out again.

Because that's what I did last time it got rejected, now, going forward, I'll get to remind myself that, "Hey, this story has been held for consideration twice before..." If, that is, it becomes necessary to send it out again. I mean, I might not! It hasn't been rejected! Yet! *(hugs that "yet" very tightly)*

Next, the hopeful news: I swapped my schedule around this week, because life changes and time has to change with it.

I originally decided not to expect a full day's work out of myself on Monday because Mondays were, at that time, when I worked a volunteer shift at a farm. Looking just at the clock, I had plenty of hours left in the day after I came home. But I came home exhausted and unable to do anything useful. So it wasn't realistic to expect a full workday out of myself on Monday.

I considered changing that when Mondays stopped being farm days for me. But that didn't seem wise. It was useful having one weekday available to take care of household chores, administrative tasks, and so forth. So Mondays continued being a sort of gentle half day, and also a good day for random appointments and cleaning the house.

In retrospect, I should have thought harder.

Flash forward to now. I'm going to Cafe of Life for adjustments and traction twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays. I've got roller derby practice on neither of those days, unless I sign up to fulfill my monthly training responsibility on a Monday night rather than a Saturday. And I'm absolutely failing, week after week, to get my Wednesday writing day done.

Why? *facepalm* Because I also have an hour's volunteer reading on Wednesdays. Remember, self? Remember recording the "Employment Opportunity News" for AINC every Wednesday? That you've been doing for years? Remember that? It does not take zero time!

So as of this week, Wednesdays are now my gentle half-day and my household chores day. Mondays are a full five-hours-of-writing, log-it-in-the-timesheet day.

REALISTIC SCHEDULING!

Did I actually do my full five hours today? No. I did not. Because I suck. OK, well, because one of the tasks I had on my docket today wasn't one I relished, and so I managed to put it off and put it off and put it off until far too late for five hours to be mathematically possible. This is not a problem with Mondays; this is a bug in my core programming, which I am working on.

Work in progress! It says it right up there in the header. Doesn't it? Well, it should. 'Cause it's true.

I'll probably manage at least a few minutes' work on the novel between publishing this post and going to bed, so, that's a thing. And there will be more things tomorrow. Hooray for things!

Cover art incorporates Illustration at p. 73 in Just So Stories (c1912) (public domain) via Wikisource
several things you should know about today
Sat 2016-12-10 01:05:48 (single post)
  • 1,111 words (if poetry, lines) long

Thing the first: It's Friday; there's a new Fictionette. "How the Elephant's Child Lost Her Voice" (ebook | audiobook) is exactly what it says on the tin. It is not about an elephant. It is about an elephant's child. The distinction is key. The one has a trunk; the other is full of 'satiable curiosity, and that means that she asks ever so many questions. Until... well. That would be telling.

In addition to trying to keep my Friday Fictionette releases punctual (check out those timestamps!), I've been on a push to catch up with the Wattpad part of the equation. When I started this project out, I'd publish each release to Wattpad, too. The excerpt, anyway. Then I'd come back and add the rest of the text for the Fictionette Freebie at the end of the month. But at some point, probably the same point at which Friday releases started being delayed until Saturday, well OK Sunday, well no later than Monday I swear, I fell off the Wattpad wagon. And then every week it was "I can't post the latest excerpt until I'm caught up; they have to be posted in order, so." And then the big catch-up never happened, and I fell farther and farther behind, and--

--and a couple weeks ago I said "screw it" and just started backfilling at the rate of one per day, or almost that. And on Fridays the one I post is the current one, because, what the hell, Wattpad lets you rearrange your story order, how'd I miss that?

Speaking of things I missed: Patreon may no longer let you paste in raw HTML or do much more than Italics and Boldface in its publishing interface, but there's still a way to publish linked text. If you copy HTML-formatted text out of a browser window--not the source code, but the actual display--and you paste that into Patreon's text editor, it retains all styles and links. Except for paragraph marks; it seems to change them into single line breaks. Pleh. But easily fixed.

So that's cool.

Thing the second: I baked the annual fruitcake today. Its fruit-and-nut-etc. ingredients for Winter Solstice 2016 are:

  • Degla dates
  • black currants
  • green raisins
  • cranberries
  • candied ginger (rinsed)
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • black mission figs

...in more or less equal proportions to add up to about four pounds. This was a quarter pound more fruit-and-nuts-etc. than the recipe called for, but the cake still seemed to hold together. Still, if it crumbles more readily this year, we'll know why.

The fun thing was, just as I was about to mix the fruit-and-nuts-etc. into the batter with my clean bare hands, the water to the building got shut off. Thankfully I discovered this while I was still staging the kitchen in preparation for this step, and not after.

The reason the water got shut off: Our next-door neighbor unit to the south was in full flood. And the owners-or-tenants were not home. And initial attempts to gain entrance were failing. And there was a general panic and hue-and-cry.

I scooped up a few quarts of clean water from the toilet tanks and staged that for post-fruitcake-mixing hand-washing. That worked.

I assume eventually the management called in some pop-a-lock service to get into the unit; in any case, they discovered the cause of the flood. The owners or tenants of that unit had shut off the heater before they left. We just had a few nights of deeply arctic temperatures--well, down in the teens and single digits Fahrenheit, anyway. Cold enough that you should not shut off your heater, because otherwise your pipes may freeze and burst. Only someone didn't get that memo.

Oops.

For the rest of the day, the song of the shop-vac was heard in the land. Or, as it turned out, the song of the commercial cleaner's van. Management called in ECOS Environmental & Disaster Restoration to mop up the environment and haul the disaster away.

Our neighbors are in for a nasty surprise. Alas.

Thankfully, we are all on the bottom floor. Water is still dripping through the insulation and drywall in the parking garage ceiling, but not, Gods bless, into anyone else's home. Nor did the water seep through or under the walls into our unit--the guy who shut off the water came knocking moments later to double-check that with me.

"All's well that ends well?"

"For you."

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

Thing the third: What the eff, does everyone in my novel have supernatural powers? The hell kind of sense does that make? *grumbles off to figure it out*

on convincing protagonists to climb trees that are bad for them
Tue 2016-12-06 23:59:37 (single post)

OMG you guys I KNOW WHAT THE CAT SAYS. (No, smartass, the answer is not "Meow.") I mean, I kinda know what it says. Maybe not word-for-word, but enough to get the plot moving both forward and away from the main characters' homes and workplaces.

My problem--what had me stumped--my stumparoo--was in thinking the cat would just open its mouth and impart some sort of Cosmic Wisdom upon poor, confused, troubled Delta. When your pet cat suddenly starts talking to you, it's kind of a momentous occasion. I thought that what the cat had to say ought to be momentous too. Oracular, even.

But that was my mistake. The cat is a kindertotem, an animal made up of all the parts of its human that its human outgrew. An externalized inner child, if you will. Inner teenager maybe. I think Michael was fifteen, maybe sixteen, when he went fully human and the cat showed up? So the cat might angst. The cat might be very intelligent but also whimsical and reckless. The cat might have a simplistic point of view. The cat will most definitely not spout the Wisdom of the Ages.

(This is a good thing. I'm not particularly good at coming up with Wisdom of the Ages for my characters to spout.)

In fact, it's the cat's simplistic point of view that helps move the plot. He points out a very simple solution to Delta's complex problem. Sometimes, it takes a simplistic, straightforward POV to cut through the complexities and deliver a simple solution.

What was it H. L. Mencken said about that? "There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong."

Of all the ways I could get my characters up a tree, "It seemed like a good idea at the time" is a great one. After that, the rocks pretty much throw themselves.

YPP Weekend Blockades, December 3-4: Blockade now, supplies are limited
Sat 2016-12-03 13:18:02 (single post)

Bookends! My last meal before leaving Avon, just like my first in arriving, is at China Garden. (Today I'm having the snow peas and mushrooms with beef. It is OK but I think I liked the crispy duck better.) But unlike last Saturday, I have no overdue homework to angst over, and I'm not exhausted (despite being at Loaded Joe's until 2 AM last night) nor even out with food coma quite yet, and the series of buses is still in my future. Thus, blockade post!

I am as we speak jobbed with Barely Dressed in defense of Duat Island on the Meridian Ocean. 'Cause they're my flaggies, that's why. Also I'm all about earning more PoE to trade for doubloons. But there's also a 'kade running on the Cerulean Ocean, and all the 'kades on Emerald, so you have your pick.

Actually, there may not, for all intents and purposes, be a blockade on Cerulean; the BK attack on Kirin will be undefended.

Correction: Though the player posting may not personally be defending, I can attest that some defense has been mustered at Kirin. They will need all the help they can get, though. They're about to lose round 1, 319 to 59. Get in there and help 'em out!

Ocean Master Demeter can tell you exactly when there definitely won't be blockades:

Confirming the blockade closing dates here : islands will be closed to blockades on the weekends of December 24th and 31st. You will still be able to scuttle brigand kings.

So get your 'kading fun in before End Of Year Holiday Week is upon us!

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, December 3 ***

12:00 p.m. - Duat Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Barely Dressed
Attacker: The Enlightened (4)

1:14 p.m. - Basset Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Unwanted
Attacker: Cluster Service

1:46 p.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Cluster Service

1:47 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Cluster Service

3:26 p.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Midknight Sun
Attacker: The Corsairs Alliance

5:57 p.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Delirium

9:42 p.m. - Marlowe Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (2)
Attacker: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Black Flag

*** Sunday, December 4 ***

10:09 a.m. - Doyle Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

10:50 a.m. - Aimuari Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (5)
Attacker: Illusion

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, December 3 ***

12:00 p.m. - Kirin Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: The Coalition
Attacker: The Enlightened (6)

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