In The Weeds

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,101
Current Work Word Count [end of Day 6]: 13,144

Surprisingly, my despite being in the weeds of a massive work project and in the last two weeks of a networking class (I haven’t been keeping track of the words I’ve written for class), I’ve been keeping up with The Bone Sapling. The plot’s even coming together.

Something must be horribly wrong.

Horribly. Horribly. Wrong.

Things seemed to get easier when I gave up on the idea of having Thanksgiving. My work project’s due that week, and my class finishes that week … and Halloween didn’t turn out so bad after all (left a big bowl of candy on the porch and went to see an early movie with the Monster: the theatre was practically deserted, which was awesome!). So, maybe lowering expectations is going to get me through this without going insane.

My having removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone might also help.

On that note, I’ve already voted.ūüôā

Be safe out there tomorrow.

Low Bars

This is not a post about Halloween. It’s best that I don’t talk about how Halloween is going right now, or rather, not going. This year was supposed to be the year where we had our patio and fire pit finished, so we could have little monsters traipsing safely across our backyard instead of negotiating the dark spots and trip hazards to get onto our porch.¬† Preparations for this started in April, and were supposed to take three weeks.¬†Three! Weeks!¬† Notice how Halloween was not moved to Spring this year!¬† We were finally supposed to get the gas line run and everything hooked up today — but now there’s a problem with the permit, namely the County can’t find the one for the fire pit, and is questioning if one was ever obtained for building it, never mind that they’d already inspected it when they checked the landing and the patio back in early September…

Like I said, it’s best I don’t talk about how things are going wrong with my favorite holiday in this year where everything else is going wrong.¬† Not that the patio’s the only thing to go wrong:¬† haven’t decorated, haven’t carved any pumpkins, haven’t … arrgh.

My goal for today, work willing, is to put candy out in a bucket on the lawn and just not be here tonight.¬† Just not. I don’t want to deal with being repeatedly asked why we didn’t decorate this year.1

Like I promised, this is not a post about Halloween.

2016challenge

12 Books, Two Months ahead of Schedule.

Yeah, that happened last week.¬† I am both proud of myself for completing this year’s Goodreads reading challenge two months ahead of schedule, and embarrassed that I set the bar so low in the first place.

You see, when I was a kid, I used to read everything that was nailed down, and most things that weren’t. I didn’t start developing discriminatory tastes until I got older; when I was around my son’s age, I was reading beauty magazines2 side by side with nursing textbooks3, and a juvenile Heinlein in the same can’t-check-out-more-than-three-books-at-a-time-Shai library stack as a fat Herman Wouk and James Clavell (or The Silmarillion stacked with The Captains and The Kings and Gone With The Wind3 … or The Book of Skaith if GWTW was checked out.)

As an adult, well…

Okay, I still read everything that’s nailed down and most things that aren’t. Unfortunately, far more of everything is now articles, research reports/white papers, RFI/P/Qs, blog posts and lordhelpme Facebook shares5 than it is books. So, very likely I am reading the same amount of material that I used to, perhaps even more, it’s just not…

It’s not the same.¬† It aggravates me. Perhaps next year it’ll aggravate me enough to do something about it. Hey, it’s possible! I got aggravated enough at my lack of fitness this year to start working out with a trainer, and now I’m able to keep up with the Monster on his Cross Country days.6

In case you were wondering what books I read this year, here’s the list:

Plot Perfect, by Paula Meunier
Level Up (Fandom Hearts: Book 1) by Cathy Yardley.
A Bitch Called Hope & Betting Blind (Lennox Cooper #1 & #2) by Lily Gardner
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior
Best Served Cold, Red Country and The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

On second thought, maybe I haven’t developed discriminatory tastes after all. These are still a fairly random mix.¬† The only pattern I’ve noticed emerge is that I tend to alternate fiction with non-fiction/reference.

Bhoneydew’s been after me to read Scalzi’s Redshirts next, which I might do after my networking class ends — which coincidentally, is around the same time my current massive work project wraps. I think I will need something to stop the bleeding from all the holes in my mind once those two things get yanked out of it. Some of my penguins like the idea of my adding Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy to the fiction side of next year’s reading challenge, so I might do that too, even if their agreeing on anything is a little disturbing.¬† I’m not sure what to read next in non-fiction, though Jane Ziegelman’s A Square Meal:¬† A Culinary History of the Great Depression looks fascinating.


1Because the house is always decorated for Halloween. Never with tombstones and smoke machines or zombies erupting from the ground or such things, but it’s always festively lit even if it is draped with fake spiderwebs and spiders.
2Because my aunt had left them at the house.
3Because my aunt had also left them at the house. I grew up in a household that never gave or threw books away, and married a man with a similar disposition — so our son has access to all sorts of books, plus the access to bookstores (and yes, Amazon) that neither one of us had as kids.
4Hands down, this is still one of my favorite novels. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the movie:¬† I think it scrubbed more warts off Scarlett O’Hara than it should have (e.g. she more-than-less abandoned her first two children, who weren’t even mentioned in the movie) in order to make her seem more conventionally appealing.
5Even though I spend more time blocking or hiding Facebook shares these days than I do reading them.
6I set a low bar for that too: get butt to gym, don’t fall on face or pass out during session, remember to drink your water. Yep. That’s my bar. If I clear that each week, everything else is cake. Umm … delicious caaaaake.

No Love For Robots

Oh, hey, the spammers found me again.

i see your website needs some fresh & unique content
writing manually is time consuming
[trust me]
[you will love your robot masters]
please help me to rank my website for some toys
[after you load this operating system atop yours]
[trust me]

-the latest #spampoetry

The spammers are right on two counts.

One,  I should stop talking about my laundry.

(Freaking laundry.)

Two, speaking of robots, I feel the need to vent some about Political Survey Calls.

We’ve gotten so many at home (we live in a county that CNN featured heavily in the last Presidential election) that I’m now cringing whenever I see a Caller ID pop up on the house phone that I don’t recognize.¬† If the number is flagged as¬†Anonymous or¬†Unknown or¬†Out Of Area, I don’t answer the phone at all.

It’s not so much that I don’t like answering questions about my political beliefs1, it’s that I don’t like not being able to answer questions about my political beliefs. Every single telephone surveyor I’ve had this election season has handed me a set of answers to choose from, like so:

SURVEYOR:  Do you support [Issue A]?

ME:  In what aspect?  I am okay with [A-1], think we could do a better job with
[A-2], and [A-3]? [A-3] just doesn't make any sense, even from a political
mercenary standpoint...

SURVEYOR: So is that a yes or a no?

ME: Uh. Let's say yes. I really am okay with [A-1]. I'd also like to see
[added feature]. This is something we are already doing in [other issue area]
and it is having a positive impact...

SURVEYOR: You said you support [Issue A]. Is it because of [Politician]'s work
in [A-3]?

ME: Did I not just say that I didn't think [A-3] made any sense?

SURVEYOR: [Politician] is looking out for [perceived social group:  since I'm a
middle-aged woman, this is usually 'families']...

ME: Interesting. Are you going to ask me what I think of [Politician]'s work
in [other issue area]? Because I'm pretty sure that's not what you're looking
for in a candidate who is looking out for [perceived social group].  Did someone
actually vet this individual, or was this more of a 'so and so can raise
a buttload of money and be the loudest dog in the park' scenario?

SURVEYOR: Ma'am?

ME:  Loud Dog Phenomenon. It's like a squeaky wheel, but ... okay, Google's 
now telling me nobody's ever published an article about that, so maybe I just made
it up, sorry, but ... it's from Dilbert, sort of, when Dogbert decides he 
can get what he wants just by making a lot of noise. 

SURVEYOR: I ... see.  So, is that a 'no'?

1Like my religious beliefs, my political beliefs have never neatly fit into a single easily-labeled box, so I tend not to talk about what’s in that box.¬† It’s just better that way, as I’m sure most of the political surveyors who have called me would agree.

Wash On Monday … Or Something

It’s a month(ish) later, on another Holiday Monday, and I’m doing laundry. Don’t even try to look surprised. At least the weekend wasn’t a frame-for-frame reshoot of Labor Day Weekend:¬† while I did go out of town for work last Monday through Wednesday, and I pulled a work-related all-nighter on Thursday, I didn’t do…

Okay, at least I didn’t do as much questioning of life choices this weekend, and I didn’t at all have to hide from people I care about so I wouldn’t have to fight the urge to scream at them. I even left the house for reasons other than going to the airport or a grocery store or to take the Monster somewhere.¬† Yes, really!¬† Despite the weekend rain, I succeeded in participating in the charity walk I signed up for all the way back in August, and as a nice bonus, was able to drag @bhoneydew and the Monster along with me.

Of course, we did have doughnuts after that.

It also was for a good cause.  Or something.

Random Notes:

  • In week three of the Networking class.¬† My first exam’s on Wednesday. Things are going about as well as I was expecting from a refresher-must-once-again-officially-prove-that-I-know-this-stuff course.
  • Dropped the systems biology Coursera course after getting into Week Two and realizing, yep, I need to spend some quality time with my old biochemistry textbooks before I can get back into this stuff. Quality time, yes, I can schedule that! I am already almost done with this year’s Goodreads Challenge, and I am so proud of myself that it’s ridiculous. Just don’t ask me how low I set this year’s bar, okay?
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, because :masochism:. Or my armadillo life is getting to me and I want to feel like part of a community again without, you know, having to put on war paint or pants. The officially sited reason is that I do have a personal writing project I want to work on in addition to the stuff I get paid to write, and NaNo gives me a great excuse. Or something.
  • Speaking of pants, I’ve become mildly addicted to LuLaRoe leggings. If only they had pockets…

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry

…exactly when the universe tends to decide to drop more Bright Shiny Objects into my life. Or Dark Spiky Objects, because it‚Äôs 2016, and I am beginning to think that as a planet we‚Äôve hit a cloud of them like we haven‚Äôt seen since, oh, maybe 1968.

-from Points on a Woogedy Timeline.

As soon as I posted last week’s blog post, I learned that Gene Wilder died. Forget that I predicted anything outside my own little universe.¬†And that universe? Yeah, it’s predictable, but only in its unpredictability.

I’m writing this blog post on Monday like I’d intended, longhand, in a¬†notebook I have sitting on top of the dryer while I’m putting away laundry. Today’s¬†exchange rate is ten pieces of put away laundry for each paragraph — and why am I not just putting away the laundry, then writing the blog post? Or writing the blog post, then putting away the laundry? Don’t I know that multitasking is the new Bad for You?

Of course I do.

I’m using laundry as cover. It’s a holiday, and everyone’s here, and the work project that kept me up until 1:00 AM each night since Thursday is done, and laundry needs to be done and this blog post doesn’t1, and I really don’t want to be even more antisocial-except-for-all-those-interruptions-that-kept-happening-until-everybody-else-went-to-bed, but I also kind of want to, because I’m crispy around the edges and more unhappy with the universe than I want to be, and if¬†I’m noticing my own foul mood, I imagine it’s pretty bad, so it’s better I’m just not around people until it’s sorted.

Fortunately, there’s laundry. There’s always laundry.

Nobody here can argue that laundry doesn’t need to be done, because it always does.¬†It’s not been suggested that the laundry should be someone else’s problem to deal with, because I’m not being paid enough to deal with laundry, and that my time is too valuable to waste doing it.

I don’t even suggest that to myself.

So, laundry makes good cover. Are you working again, Shai? No. I’m doing laundry.

And, yeah … also writing a blog post, because my brain is too fried to go work on that Coursera stuff I couldn’t touch this past week, in part due to a Dark Spiky Object that ate about twelve hours of otherwise uninterrupted time that I could have used for something else. ¬†Not that work project, no, because that came up after the DSO incident.


1

You now NEED OnPage SEO.

-more #spamadvice from a mailbot whose owner doesn’t actually read this blog. My blog posts do not need to be fluffed, filled and promoted, because I don’t earn money from them. I just need to take them out of the dryer right away and hang them up, else they’ll be a pile of wrinkles and have to go back through the washer again, because ironing? Screw that. I don’t have that kind of time.

2This week was the first time I was hired for a gig that turned out to be a scam. The scammers executing it managed to keep their ugly covered until I was in Day #2 of a “training session”, and yeah, that did rattle me. Oh, sure, not enough to keep me quiet (even though I didn’t lose anything other than my time); I went directly to the fraud department of the legitimate corporation the scammers had been claiming to represent behind identities stolen from people who did in fact work for that corporation. It was … aggravating. I do have better things to do. Like laundry.

Freaking laundry.

Points on a Woogedy Timeline

Woogedy (woo-geddy) was a word I grew up hearing1; [x] is woogedy or woogedy [x] translates to “[x] will progress or is progressing, but the progression will be/is neither in a direct nor predictable manner”, comme √ßa:

curvy-road-ahead-sign-01

Having woogedy in my vocabulary made it possible for me to understand one of my Most Favorite Short Stories Ever (Alfred Bester’s “Galatea Galante”) as soon as I accidentally read it as a young’n2, without needing to know what the heck a Drunkard’s Walk was.

So, this week?¬† Woogedy life is woogedy. I’ve made it to Week #3 of that Coursera course, yep, Week #3 and there’s only four. Only four, so I am so close to finishing it that I can almost taste it … which is exactly when the universe tends to decide to drop more Bright Shiny Objects into my life. Or Dark Spiky Objects, because it’s 2016, and I am beginning to think that as a planet we’ve hit a cloud of them like we haven’t seen since, oh, maybe 1968.

History books strongly suggest (to me, anyway) that year also sucked. I can’t say much of it was my fault, since I wasn’t born until that December. Nor can I take much credit for our going to the moon the following year, even though I’ve been told I was genuinely fascinated by all the news about space … as opposed to just staring into space so intently that I look blurry in almost all of my candid baby pictures.3

We did go to the moon in 1969, though. We also managed to get through the Cold War without blowing ourselves up, so we didn’t terminally screw things back then — and¬† though we’ve had as many setbacks as we’ve had successes, there are still signs that as a whole, we’re still growing and learning more about our universe, despite some of us being hellbent on keeping us locked in windowless dark basements listening to the mice chewing the insulation while telling ourselves they’re all Godzillas.

And I’m rambling … because I’m also woogedy. I sat down to bang this out in an hour, and while it’s probably been about an hour of writing on this, there have been many, many Do Now Objects between when I sat down and now, and probably there will be many more before I finish this.

Today is the Monster’s first day of Middle School. He got up, got dressed, ate most of his breakfast, then noticed that we hadn’t taken out the garbage and recycling yet, so he wandered away from his breakfast and took care of that before getting on the bus.¬† When I was eleven, I wouldn’t have wandered away from shoving breakfast in my face before school to take out the garbage, no matter how necessary it was to get done.

So, I got some sun in my eyes, and got all misty about The Monster’s not being where I expected him to be, but still growing and learning, and being exactly where he needs to be on his woogedy.4

We’ll be okay. The rest of 2016 will probably find new ways to suck, but we will be okay. Eventually. Overall, we are still better than we were.

Except for the laundry.

Freaking laundry.

1 I did some quick prepost research to see if woogedy was a genuine word, or just one lifted from (what is becoming increasingly apparent and a little uncomfortable making) my family’s invented dialect … which, yes, I’ve spread to my husband and son, and good grief, maybe that’s how language starts in the first place. Woogedy was apparently used in a kid’s cartoon series called Rocket Power starting back in the very late ’90s. I’ve never seen the series — as a semi-grown person then with not a lot of time I wanted to spend watching television, I was only following this obscure cult cartoon called The West Wing. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. [INSERT APPROPRIATE EMOJI HERE]

2While I’d repeatedly read every science reference book I could get my hands on by that point5, I wasn’t introduced to science fiction until 1980, when Tara Thompson, one of my middle school classmates, got stuck with my name for the classroom gift exchange. She had no clue what to get me, but knew I liked books and I liked science, so she gave me Terry Carr’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year #9, which probably wasn’t appropriate reading for a just-turned-twelve year old but heck, since it wasn’t a romance novel6, my grandmother and mother didn’t mind, and that’s what mattered.

3The Monster inherited this trait.

4The Monster is more even-keeled than I was at eleven, and more cheerful than @bhoneydew was at the same age, and is still more of an athlete than both his parents will ever be, unless we snap and start doing Ironmans (which he’d want to do too, and be better at it than both of us, so vicious cycle).

5If I didn’t understand things then, I just kept reading them until I could make them make sense, and honestly, that hasn’t changed all that much now that I’m a little further along on the grownup trajectory. We do have Google now, which does make that process faster.

6I was reading those, too, just when they weren’t looking — especially the ones they’d thought they’d hidden under the dryer in the bathroom.

Working Through The End of Summer List

Since July 12th, I’ve…

  • Made two week-long-away-from-home business trips. These are the first I’ve been on since The Monster was a year old.
  • Turned in multiple projects, including one co-written while on flights back home. Let me tell you, having wireless on an airplane is fantastic, both when it works and when it doesn’t (because if I hadn’t had that involuntary nap on connector flight #2, I would have never stayed awake long enough once I got home to finish the project).
  • Done a lot of laundry. There have been a number of times I’ve seriously reconsidered my life choices because of the amount of freaking laundry that’s been done and It Still Keeps Coming Back. Other times, I’ve just wanted to cry into the fresh clean clothes that I’d bought two washes ago, and they fit fine until after their second wash. ¬†Just¬†wanted to cry. ¬†Those were The Monster’s clothes. ¬†Had they been mine, I would have definitely been booing the hoo.
  • Managed to get in only one workout, and my eating wasn’t consistent enough to be called a habit. I gained ten pounds one week, dropped twelve the next, gained four back, lost ten … yes, just nuts. ¬†I am genuinely looking forward to getting my butt kicked at the gym again — and all of that will resume once the Monster starts back to school. ¬†Will the meal planning also resume? ¬†Let’s hope. ¬†Though I must say, I did manage two planned dinners so far this week, so I’m kind of excited.1
  • Signed up for my first charity walk. It’s a walk, not a run, but it’s for the same cause who had that charity run I freaked out about four years ago. I’m healthier than I was then, at least physically. ¬†Mentally? ¬†It’s okay, you can say “jury still seems to be out on that, Shai”.
  • Made it to Week #2 of another Coursera course. ¬†Will I succeed in finishing this one? Tune in next month, after I start the on-line networking2 class that I’m taking to keep my enrollment current so I can get back into this spring’s on-campus PL/SQL course and finish my freaking data certificate. ¬†Yes, while I’m going back to the gym, and working, and trying to figure out why it is Taking So Long to get the patio finished. Oh, and that bioscience Coursera course that I so wanted to take this spring? ¬†It has another session in September, so, there’s that too…
  • In the quest to let more positive energy into my life…

…yes, I did just type that, I’m sorry. I couldn’t think of a less fluffy way to say it. I’ve been Twittering along with an author named Kathy Grubb (@10MinNovelist) for, oh, probably a few years now. ¬†She’s a sunny person who has figured out a way to herd her cats and flatten her dragons while also making sure her goals stay important to her3, and as an extra bonus, achieving those goals in the process. ¬†I admire the heck out of that, and since I’ve wound up wading in the Facebook, I decided to splash over and check out the pool where she and other similarly minded folks hang out.

To my delight, it’s been a wholly non-toxic experience. ¬†The group’s also active enough to drown out a lot of the unhappy-making¬†stuff that still manages to creep into my Facebook feed, despite my best efforts not to paint my own wall with troll poop.

The one downside? ¬†The group encourages their members to share their blog posts, so you might be seeing more of these from me in future. ¬†Notice that I’m saying¬†might.

1I’m not kidding. ¬†I do get excited over tiny things like that these days.
2Computer networking, not people networking. Yes. Even though I’ve worked in that field and taken classes in that … yes. Don’t get me started on how many credits I’ve lost in transfers because they were over ten years old.
3Emphasis wholly mine, because I’ve always found it easy to toss or change my goals and objectives in reaction to circumstances instead of sticking with them.