Connor’s Blog

The Super Bowl Hike 1

MNiC Feature SB Hike 2

Super Bowl Hike

Super Bowl Sunday was a weird one in Phoenix. Seattle brought a heavy fog I’ve never seen here before, and a drizzle. Boston brought traffic and a nice orange blanket of smog. As Lauren suggested, they were both probably due to the an atmospheric inversion–the fog and smog, not the traffic.

SB Lauren and I

 

We Don’t Share Well

We thought we’d take advantage of a rare opportunity to hike Piestewa Peak, on a weekend of low traffic. Lauren thought we should go in the morning to check out the fog. We ended up going in the evening, when I thought we might get some fun views of endless waves of ruby break lights in Glendale. Fog is cool, but I wanted to actually be able to see something if I was climbing a mountain. She may have been right, given that we couldn’t see anything later, either.

The Super Bowl is happening in that brown smudge just a bit right of center.

The Super Bowl is happening in that brown smudge just a bit right of center.

Normally, you can see the White Tank mountains fairly clearly, and the stadium is clearly visible. That day it was only discernible through the haze by the reflecting sun off its southern side.

The smog, fog, dust, and general haziness of the day did make for an oddly diffusely lit day and brilliant sunset. The trail was even emptier than we expected. We did, at least, get to watch the opening show flyby.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a distant world with a bigger, brighter, sun . . .

If you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a distant world with a bigger, brighter, sun . . .

 

The sun really was odd, like I said, but we got to the top just as it was sinking low enough to put the North Mountain park (the largest urban park in the world) in relief.

 

 

 


Now and Then Goals 2

Oh man, I have so little time today, but I need to keep up the blogging schedule. No more slip ups!

What should I talk about?

How about goals?

MNiC Feature Now and Then Goals

Why Goals Matter

Well, they don’t, intrinsically, really. In the same way a thing is worth what someone will pay for it, goals are exactly as important as they are. The goal of posting every Tuesday and Thursday on this blog is important to me. It forces me to blog about non-work stuff (because I save that for the other blog) and it’s a place to talk get more personal, which I sort of like, and sort of hate.

Mostly it’s a spot for random thoughts, which is why I tend to leave it until the last moment, rather than queuing posts up. I am going to queue up the Super Bowl hike for Tuesday, sometime this weekend, with lots and lots of lovely pictures, and I know what I’m going to talk about Thursday, too.

Goals matter, though, because without them, we don’t have goals. And how do you keep score of your life and its progress without goals? You don’t. You’re just an object in motion, like some sort of Brownian phenomenon. And that’s lame.

So, yeah, goals matter because the lack of goals is bad. So sue me, I’ve got like fifteen free minutes to write all this into a coherent post.

Now and Then Goals

The Now Goals

You have to have “Now Goals”. I’m actually awash in goals today. I have to finish two guest posts (at minimum the final of one and a draft of the other), I have to wrap up another paid project, and edit a web page for another client. These are small, immediate, goals, but they’re not bad ones. This is a good day, because my career and my bank account will both better facing a brighter outlook shortly.

I’ve started making lists of To-Dos, mostly because they seem to work for my girlfriend. So far, when I remember to consult them, they’re doing alright.

The Then Goals

Small goals only exist to serve the “Then Goals”, and to balance them. Without the “Now Goals” the “Then Goals” would be entirely impossible, and that would be sad.

They feed each other, though. Then inspires now, now becomes then, and when then is now, there’s a then, right there and waiting. I want to be more successful. That means making money, keeping clients happy, getting things done, and expanding my presence in the writing world. Sure.

But that’s not my whole life, either. I need adventure goals. That’s why going to the gym is on the list today, too. I’ve got a good friend who wants to set a record, and I’ll talk about this a lot more in the near future. For now, let’s just say it involves me getting in shape to walk a very long way with heavy weights, very quickly.

I should probably have had a year to train for it, but I don’t. That’s okay, because I need to be better, anyway. The worst case here is that I’m in really good shape, but not quite good enough, by this summer.

So that’s part of what this blog will be about. Becoming stronger, faster, better. As a writer, as a person, as a body, and so on.

I do what I do now so I can be what I want to be then. 

That’s what goals are for, really; they’re just something to aim for. I may not succeed in all my goals, but I’ll certainly be better for trying.

Ten minutes are up, so . . .

Take care, and be awesome,

Connor

 


Old Folks in Bookstores

Workspaceless

The coffee shop I normally work at it is moving to a new building, so I’ve been moving about while it’s closed. Depending on how the new building looks, I may need a new workspace. In any case, I was going to put something up from the hike I went on instead of watching the Super Bowl (we could technically see the stadium though), but the internet in here is too slow to make uploading the photos worth it.

I’ve been wandering about, checking out new places, which is always fun, but would be more fun if there was anything except Starbucks around here. At this rate I may need to start a coffee shop.

Is anyone looking to start a coffee shop in the Phoenix area in of a Writer in Residence? I can sit there typing away, adding to the atmosphere of the place, and I will work for coffee.

Right now, I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble. One of the old-school smaller ones in a standalone building. Sort of grungy. That might be a sign of the Amazon Apocalypse . . . or it might just be for camouflage purposes here in Metro Center.

Either way, it has its perks in the people wandering about the place.

 

Old People in Bookstores

There’s this old lady here, not old-old, but middle-old. Seventy.

She’s bent over a walk and still my height. She was well over six feet in her youth. She has all those little things that say, “I grew up and lived in a ranch house on the edge of town.”

What she actually says, to the girl behind the counter is, “Make sure it’s nonfat, I’ve lost count of how many stents I’ve got.”

The girl smiles, and clearly has no damned clue how to respond to that.

There are a lot of old people here. I like snooping on people, and bookstores are a wonderful place, because everyone carries their current thoughts around, bound and labeled. There’s a Vietnam vet learning how to use a Nook at one table. The sales lady has been at it for an hour. She relieved someone else so they could go on their lunch break.

The lady with the walker is awkwardly carrying her own stack of hopes and fears on diet, or spirituality, or both . . . there seems to be a weird confluence between the two, as if you need to get in touch with your chakras to lose weight. I think it does make sense, though, right? Either way, it’s about taking control of a body intent on going its own way, and then, eventually away. All these little things meant to stay relevant, or stave off mortality.

And yet this surprises me.

You would expect–or I would expect–the reaction to the shadows of life growing longer to be a retreat into fantasy (I mean, that’s what diet and spirituality books are, but they’re not presented as such) but instead it moves the other way. The younger people are loaded down with outdoor magazines, science fiction books, and so on. The entire Young Adult featured section is about teenagers fighting violent shadow wars against the totalitarian whosits of whatever.

It’s the older folks who weigh themselves down with all this other stuff. How to eat yourself younger, will yourself healthier.

For the life of me, I don’t know whether it counts as prudence or desperation. Is it rooted in the fear of death or the desire to keep fighting. The sheer stubborn depth of humanity’s obstinance is beyond mapping. We fight and live and, yes, kill because to hell with everything that says otherwise. But maybe this is just another version of the drowning man grabbing at every floating splinter and bit of seaweed, though none will support him against the pull of the deep.

The real hell of it is that, though death has yet to lose a single game, we are getting better with every passing day at pushing him back. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light . . . 

It’s like any other window worth looking though; more to see than there is time to understand it all.

I’ve rambled sufficiently for one day, I think. Back to work!

Thanks for stopping by,

Connor


The “Look at me!” Game

The “Look at Me!” Game

I try to make sense of things, and sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. That’s half the fun of it all, I suppose. I’m not sure exactly why it all gets so complicated all the time, but damned if it doesn’t.

I’ve been discussing with another blogger the general ins and the outs of social media. She feels that it’s all a bit tacky, running around and promoting yourself everywhere. I agree. I don’t like it. I just stop from time to time. Everyone who knows me in the real world knows that I’m always half an hour of packing away from wandering off into the wilderness indefinitely.

Yet, here I remain, playing the silly self-promotion game. . .

LOOK AT HOW AWESOME I AM!

On the other hand, every time–

OVER HERE LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!

–I stop, I have to start back over, and go through the same–

VISIT MY SITE AND MY OTHER SITE AND COMMENT AND LIKE AND SHARE AND–

–useless boring social crap except sans the followers I’ve built up, so you know, without the gratification of people actually acknowledging how AWESOME I AM AND MY WRITING AND STUFF!

Right? It’s frustrating.

On the other hand I would never go down the click-bait route because that’s just too low. I’ll fail, maybe but at I’ve got integr–

 

–ating into my blog down effectively.

Actually, do look at that thing. I love it. It’s the best clickbait I have ever seen. It’s the rare and beautiful Double Troll. Stupid people solve it and proudly share it, right? There is no way not to solve it. Every single path that doesn’t cross itself eventually arrives at the other entrance! Also, it’s just nested Swastikas. So, not only are compulsive sharers revealed to be a bit dumb, they’re also doing something amazingly insulting. It’s just a really great prank. I love it.

You could even say that, deep down, it shows how people who get too caught up in sharing how smart and wonderful they are to actually think about things inadvertently spread messages of hate. This is practically allegory for how the Nazis actually did come to power.

The Main Thing

It is hard to sell yourself. I mean, I don’t run a garage door business. I don’t sell chickens. I can’t say, “My chickens are the fowlest!” or, “Until you buy this door, it’s technically just a car port,” or anything like that. My product is my ability to put words together well. There’s just me. It’s . . . weird, at times.

Anyway, an amazing number of you have stuck around, or at least sporadically read, these ramblings for years now, and I appreciate you all. I wouldn’t still be doing this if not for the occasional like/comment from a friend I didn’t know was still reading, or the occasional, “Hey, I read some of your stuff, and it’s pretty good!” at a party, or whatever. It makes putting up with the Twits/Shares/Likes/SEO grandstanding soooooo much less difficult.

 

Cheers!

Connor


Guest Posts, Guide Books, and Lazarus Dogs

Apparently on Schedule

It seems like I was ahead on here just yesterday, queuing up a week’s worth of posts. Well, here I am, not quite behind. I’ve got this entire week, and part of next week, ready to go on the Cities of the Mind blog. That’s sort of the way of things, though. I seesaw from one to the other while doing the work-work in between, the extra stuff when there’s time, and maybe some fun writing on the odd days with twenty-five hours.

Still, you won’t hear many complaints from me about being busy. like busy. As they say, “Busy-ness is good.” However, right now, I ‘m waiting on replies from people, and have a bit of time to squeeze this out. So here’s what’s been going on.

The Dog Fight

There was a pretty brutal dog fight across the alley from me about a week ago. I’ve heard through the neighbor grapevine that the little dog did survive, which is a pleasant surprise, but (rather understandably) has no interest whatsoever in leaving its kennel. So basically I saved a dog last week by standing on a fence and yelling at other dogs.

A Guest Post

I’ve got a guest post that I’m rather fond of up on Donna Carol Voss’ blog. Her guest post will be up sometime next week, most likely. Mine was done a little ahead of schedule because the guest post was actually enormously fun to write. I’d planned to write a fairly generic post called “Why Everyone Should be a Writer,” expounding on the thesis that communication is the only common theme shared by all humanity.

Donna liked the idea, but said it didn’t fit especially well into her blog’s three categories (Faith, Family, Front Page), but maaaaybe Faith?

And I thought maybe I could fit it into that category just a little better. And of course I could. In fact, as soon as I thought about it, it wrote itself. Writing is, in fact, an ultimate act of faith. Not in God, or gods, or whatever, no, but in people. And in ourselves. As I said in the post, Regardless of what we are trying to communicate, we do so in the understanding that communication is both possible and worthwhile.

You can’t write unless you believe people somewhere, somehow, will care about what you say. Even journals are predicated on the idea that future-you will want to comb through the person they were. And so the article became, at Donna’s suggestion, Why Everyone is a Writer. 

It was a wonderfully refreshing thing to write about, because I rarely take time to think about what I’m doing, really. Any time I write, I’m taking part in something extraordinary and beautiful. Even if I’m doing it badly, or some small way. Sort of like that guy that swipes the little line of hanging chimes at the end of some epic symphony; even if your role doesn’t require you to be super-humanly skilled, well, you’re there. You’re part of it.

And, regardless of exactly what my role is in any given moment, I really like being part of it.

The article also led to a post on Cities of the Mind, and, actually, a small book. A booklet, if you will.

I Wrote a Writing Guide

For that guest post, which is good, and you should read it, because it’s good, I made, in passing, a calculation of how much time the average person would need to write each day to write an entire book. That seemed too good to be true, so naturally I created a spreadsheet. In fact, it’s not only possible to write a book in a year in five minutes a day, but it’s possible to handle all the planning, plotting, characterization, and basic editing.

So I wrote a guide, and an article about it. I mean, you have to stick with it, and you must avoid the common first-book pitfalls, but I came up with a method that should work, and created a nice little worksheet for you to follow. It’s pretty cool.

Somewhat ironically, I wrote the twenty-something page booklet in the two hours I had free that afternoon, but I happen to have more than five minutes a day to write.

In Theory, Theory and Practice are the Same, In Practice, They Aren’t

I guess it’s fair, since that project sort of grew out of the article regarding how much a person could write in a day.

I’m actually thinking about putting all this to the test on here. I mean, it might be kind of fun to do a five minute a day book on here, just to see if it could be done. And I could find a day or three to write for solid 8,12, and 16 hour periods, and compare theory to practice.

I suspect the best writing schedule would be a 4-1-4 or 4-2-4 sort of alternating on-off-on schedule. But why not give it a try, eh?

Well, it’s something to think about. Hope everyone out there is having a lovely day and so on, but I’ve got work to do,

Connor

 


Bloody Sunsets and Dog Fights 1

a another bloody sunset

Last night I was out on the back porch making business calls so Thaddeus could game in peace–and so I wouldn’t need to utter the phrase, “Oh, no, that’s just a dragon, don’t worry about it.”

Anyway, the back door was open, and I’d stepped in for a couple minutes. We were talking while Thaddeus played Dragon Age 3 (if there was ever a game designed for a writer, it’s this one), discussing politics and deities in the mythos–and how and why the leaders of that world had failed to grasp that the proper application of magic was not so much hurling flaming boulders at each other as building roads and refrigerating perishables–when we heard a noise.

Well, a cacophony, really. Dogs all over the neighborhood started barking, and still the noise moved through it all. I’ve worked around enough animals to recognize it. It’s the noise pretty much everything with fur–I’ve heard it from rabbits, cats, rats, and pigs–including, by I gather by inference, humans, makes when they are terrified, in pain, and, particularly, dying. 

It’s a high-pitched squealing sort of sound, and it grabs attention, screaming either “danger” or “opportunity” (or both) depending on where the listener falls on the food chain. The thing is, it sounds remarkably the same, whatever the vocal qualities of the animal making it.

I started putting on my shoes. There’s a yard across the alley from ours that has a lot of dogs in it. Three pit bulls, and three or so little mutts. There’s been some effort made to subdivide the yard. I figured one of the neighborhood’s stray cats had been a little too slow traveling through.

a dog house

I put on my shoes, because our alley’s not the sort of thing you cross barefoot, or with thin soles, unless you’ve had a tetanus shot this week.

I’ll tell the truth, I didn’t hurry too much. By the time you hear that sound from something, the best you’re probably going to do is turn a minute or two of pain into a few hours of slow death. In any case, it rarely leads to something you actually want to see.

I walked out and, after finding a spot mostly free of bird poop, hopped up on our fence, which is a trick, because it’s maybe four inch cinder block, old, and poorly built to begin with. A good kick could take it out.

I had a moment of slight relief. There was a mess of dogs, yes, but a mess of stuffing, too. I though, Oh, they just got really rowdy tearing up a toy, and someone got bitten. 

Then I noticed the beat-up limp toy they were throwing around was a bit too realistic, and bloody. The three pits had found the smaller dog and were taking tossing around and shaking it. I don’t know who got into whose part of the yard, but the other mutts, one puppy, one bigger dog, were back a bit and barking. I figured the other was gone at that point; it was maybe 20-30 pounds, so I didn’t figure it could have put up much of a fight.

Then, it started squealing again. I’ve seen dog fights, of the non-organized/non-planned sort where they’re working out dominance. This was three dogs hunting down tearing pieces off another one for fun. Tails wagging, happy barks, while the little one screamed.

I put on my Angry Authority voice, and shouted, “Kennel up!” to the pits, and they took off running. The little dog lay limp. The puppy and the mutt took off, too, looking for somewhere to hide.

Thaddeus came out, as did our next door neighbor, and theirs. I explained what was going on, and the across-the-alley-next-door neighbor went over to their place. Unsurprisingly, no one was home. She did manage to get the puppy out, at least.

 

To my surprise, the beat up little dog got up and took off running for its own kennel! Definitely a tough little thing.

I kept an eye on the dogs. One of the pits was still nosing around the other dog. Every time it came close, the other mutt would start barking a warning, and I’d shout at the pit bull, who’d go back to his kennel. I talked to the next door neighbor while Thaddeus figured out who to call. I was impressed by that second mutt, barking a warning to its friend. It wasn’t much bigger than the other dog, but took the risk of drawing the big dog’s attention to warn the other. On the other hand, it hadn’t jumped to the other dog’s defense, either.

She’d worked for the airlines, and had some pretty cool stories for Denver and LAX. Her family just moved in, so she had a few questions about the neighborhood.

Thaddeus ended up giving me the police non-emergency number for the local station . . . which was closed, so we tried the next nearest one. Their dispatcher answered on the first ring. I explained what was going on, and she said, “Oh no!” and asked for my name/address/phone number, and she promised to send Animal Control along, asking that I show them to the house when they arrived.

It ended up being an odd situation. Any time I dropped down the pit bull came back to finish the game, and so I stayed up and waited for Animal Control . The wall was too narrow to sit, or to balance a computer on, and it was rapidly getting too dark to read, so I was left standing alone with my thoughts–something that rarely (perhaps too rarely) happens these days–and nothing to do but watch and listen.

It’s always an interesting state to be in, where you have nothing particular to distract or entertain you, but at the same time, can’t let your mind wander. It’s a state we rather rarely indulge ourselves in in the modern world.

a up the alley

I would have missed the sunset if I hadn’t been stuck out there. It would have passed me by and I never would have known what I’d missed. It was a warm evening, capping a balmy day, and the birds were singing their quiet roosting songs as they gathered in the pine above me.

a blue dusk

The whole thing had started just after five, and I stood on the wall until seven. The pit bull had finally laid down and stopped coming by. I hadn’t seen or heard the smaller dog in awhile, which meant it was either holed up or dead.

I considered shutting the pit bull in their sideyard, or trying to get the small dog out, but my financial status is not one where I can afford to have a pit bull chewing on my leg. I could’ve shot the pit bull easily enough, but then there’d just be two dead dogs, which didn’t seem like an improvement, and didn’t seem warranted except if there had been a person being attacked. It was pretty clear the authorities weren’t going to show up.

The next door neighbor took out the trash.

“You can smell the blood,” she said. And you could. I’m not sure how much blood it takes to carry a scent across a few dozen yards, but, I realized when I thought about it, the answer is probably, More than a small dog can spare.

I’d done everything I could. So I hopped down, and waited for a phone call that never came. Phoenix Animal Control must have been too busy writing tickets for insufficient leash length or something. Maybe that’s not fair, but it seems strange that, “Hey, there’s a pack of dogs tearing another dog to pieces as we speak,” wasn’t worth at least a drive-by or a returned phone call. I didn’t hear any more attacks during the night, but I doubt the little dog survived without vet care overnight.

It was, other than that, a good day. It was strange, though, spending a beautiful evening standing a pointless vigil over the dying.

a Bloody Sunset


Antler Carving Project

I’m a writer. My funds are often. . . limited. Yeah, limited is a good word for it. But I’m supposed to be creative and stuff, and fortunately everyone in my family likes gifts that err on the side of thought and effort, rather than spending a bunch of money.

I decided to use the rest of the antler I found out hiking to make something for each of them. I debated exactly what I was going to make. I considered a bunch of things, and I wanted to make something cooler than just a polished lump of antler, yet also something I could do without screwing up miserably. My mom, gram, and sister all have names starting with ‘S’ so I figured I could probably work out how to carve one letter without too many mistakes and discarded attempts–an important criteria, since my supply of antler was quite finite.

Carving antler turned out to be easier than I expected. And harder. Easy to carve and shape, difficult to do without throwing up due to the smell of burning bone. Oh deer god did it smell! On the positive side, that did discourage them from coming out to the garage and snooping on my work.

g 1 full antler

 

I clamped the antler and cut it into sections about two-and-a-half inches long.

 

G cross-sections

 

You can see the thin layer sheathing the spongy bone beneath. The first order of business was grinding out that spongy inner material, which was the really really smelly part. I actually quit and found some menthol rub to smear under my nose to block out the smell.

SAFETY NOTE: If you do this, wear a mask, at least, a respirator if possible. Bone dust can cause nasty lung infections!

I had to cut the sections in half lengthwise to do that. I used a hacksaw and it wasn’t too terribly bad, although making the cut straight was a bit tricky at times.

 

G 2 Antler cutting

Then I got to the carving, which I didn’t take pictures of, because I didn’t feel like getting my phone coated in bone dust, plus it took some serious concentration not to screw up.

To my surprise, I got roughly what I wanted on the first pass through. I tried three different stains to seal the pieces, since they’re fairly porous and fragile–and I figured that might make them smell less “bony”.

 

 

 

G Makeshift Dremel

 

I needed a small grinder for the work, so I improvised a bit. This arrangement was much easier than trying to keep the big Dremel steady and clamp tiny bits of antler. If you try this, please note that this method does put your fingers in proximity to tips specifically selected for their ability to cut and/or grind through bone. So be careful. And not stupid. Mostly the latter, really.

I had enough leftover to make some keychain decorations for other people, include one for my dad (the side pictured here is the back, so you’re viewing the letters from behind).

 

g finished

 

The little stick figure dude is the little logo dude from a game called Kingdom of Lothing my housemate has been playing for. . . at least half a decade. As long as I’ve known him.

So I made a couple of those for friends, and I even had enough left over to make a small one for myself.

G compass

 


A Project for the Birds 2

My girlfriend got me my Christmas present this week. We hadn’t seen much of each other, with one or the other being gone for most of the three weeks. I think it’s pretty cool, and, if things go as planned, you’ll be seeing a lot of it on here.

Also, she needed my help mounting it.

 

Wrapped up with a bow!

 

Anyway, she’s a bit of a bird nerd. A nird, if you will. Our other whiteboard contains a growing list of birds we’ve (she’s) spotted in and around our house, and so on. So I thought, while I was home Christmas, I’d take advantage of the Garage of Wonders–a perilous cave stacked high with tools of every description, where brave souls can simultaneously test their  I Spy and Jenga skills, and their luck–and make something cool for her.

 

First, I needed a log. Fortunately, my family being my family, my sister had an assortment of logs in the back of her car through lucky coincidence. I carefully peeled the bark off (because I needed to put it back later) and was pleasantly surprised by how pretty the grain was.

My dad helped me work out the way to actually do the job, and it went pretty smoothly with his advice.

 

Drilling

Drilling

I drilled and cut out as much as I could, for the sake of saving myself hours of chiseling.

This is the fun part, though.

This is the fun part, though.

Even then it took an entire afternoon to hollow out.

 

Getting there. . .

Getting there. . .

 

Then a simple matter of gluing the bark back on. I really wish I had thought to take a picture of this process. The log was about an inch too wide for the clamps to fit around, so I ended up balancing a nexus of sledge and building hammers on it, to provide pressure.

 

Finished!

Finished!

I think it turned out a pretty cool, actually! Here it is mounted. I might update it with a better picture later. Among other things, I’ve made the rope look a bit fancier.

 

Looking gooooood!

Looking gooooood!

I managed to get in the one spot you can see from the kitchen window on the first try, which was probably as much luck as planning, and was feeling very satisfied with myself. Lauren loves it!

Of course, the birds are all scared of it, and won’t go anywhere near it. Stupid birds.


Home(work) for the Holidays

I’ve been working on reorganizing the Other Site. Trying to give it that sleek, modular, animated-everything, sexy look that says, “Hey, yeah, I’m doing well for myself and am so tech savvy.”

On the one hand, it’s been really fun seeing how far forward technology has leaped in the two years since I’ve done more than a cosmetic overhaul to my sites. On the other hand, it’s been rough going. There are so many new things to learn, thankfully things I benefit from learning, and so many little ways to break it all.

In a way, it’s a game. WordPress is very modular. It’s framework that you hang a theme on, and then you use plugins to add functionality to your theme. There is a large and phenomenal community built-up around WordPress, and I love it. There’s that critical number of people using WordPress, of various levels of expertise, that every single problem you might have has been had, and been talked about, and been fixed. So there’s that.

On the other hand, it makes everything a bit like a group project, where you have to create your plan, then modify to meet the restrictions of your theme, and the various plugins. To compound the issue, I use the various free options, not the paid ones, so that makes things a bit more complicated, still. It involves a lot of tricking things into functions they weren’t exactly intended for.

I’ve been working, and working, and working on it over holidays during the lull, and I’ve made a lot of progress. There’s a rhythm to it that’s a bit addictive, like the Civilization games, where you can spend a whole night on, “Wow, it’s late, well . . . one more turn couldn’t hurt.”

You make a change, save it, and refresh another window, to see what the change did. Suddenly you’re in a loop of “Review, Revise, Refresh. . . Review, Revise, Refresh, Review . . . well . . . one more revision couldn’t hurt.”

I have nine tabs open on various pages and plugins right now, messing with things. I just needed to step away for a little bit and actually do a bit of writing. I have a lot of work left to do on Cities of the Mind, but I can see that narrowing on the horizon, where vision and practicality meet at an acceptable average.

Then I’m coming right back to this site, and tearing this one apart. I’m actually keeping the same theme, but I’ve become much more comfortable messing around with the Moesia theme while implementing it on CotM, so things are gonna change.

I’m home in Las Vegas, with my family. It’s the first time in a couple years we could all be home on Christmas, and it was really nice. It also snowed! In Las Vegas. . . well, okay, it sleeted for half an hour and didn’t stick, but that counts as snow on Christmas in Las Vegas. It’s been another mild year. The roses are still blooming, and the grape vine’s just started to turn to red. If this is global warming, Las Vegans can rest easy.

I still have the travel bug sunk deep into me, but there’s not much I can do about that just now. I’m feeling good, though. There was a long ebb of motivation in me this summer, as I worked, and worked, and got nowhere. Things did pick up again, of course, but there’s momentum to these things, and I was pushing uphill all autumn.

I work, even when I don’t want to. When the goal is apart from the inspiration, and it all feels like plodding. It’s not that way anymore. It might be a little seasonal. I don’t know for sure. I’m one of those oddballs who loves the rainy, cloudy, blustery, cold days. They electrify me, and the it may not be a complete coincidence that I’m hitting my stride as the cold finally arrives. In any case, I’m feeling it. That sense that the goal on the distant horizon isn’t really standing still. I look up and there it is, just a little bigger.

Enough metaphor.

It’s almost the New Year, and I’ve said it a thousand times; I hate New Year’s resolutions. Every day is a chance to be better than yesterday. I do love New Year’s reminders of that, however. And I could have been better this last year, in many ways. On the other hand, I think I’ve done a lot of pretty good things in my life this year, too. Gotta look at the good and the bad, and understand that one doesn’t cancel the other. They are each separate plugins; they have to work together, but they’re running their code independently.

Critically, we are not abstract concepts, we are individuals. Self-improvement doesn’t come from realizing or pursuing dreams, it comes from setting and attaining goals. It’s not about working towards, it’s about being.

So, here I am.

I’m not trying to be motivated to finish, I’m trying the sort of person who finishes.

I’m not trying to be a writer, I’m trying to write.

And, because life is full of contradiction, right now I’m going to be the sort of person who doesn’t write, because they’re finishing up their website overhaul. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Holiday/etc.

 

Family time.


Anonymous Sexually Assaulting a Girl Isn’t Funny.

English: Anonymous Español: Anonymous

English: Anonymous Español: Anonymous (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed a bunch of people on Facebook talking about, and amused by Anonymous. I’m stuck in Kingman on my way home from PHX to LV–not stuck stuck, just timing my drive so I can avoid the staring contest with the setting sun that is the 93 at this time of year–so I decided I’d write about that.

Because what the hell, people?

Synopsis:

Iggy Azalea is an Australian white female rapper, Azealia Banks is a black American of the same basic description, and they don’t like each other for shallow stupid whiny popstar reason as outlined in this Huffpost article I skimmed. They both try to sound like Nicki Minaj on purpose which seems like an objectively awful idea, but I’m pretty sure none of them are having trouble scraping up to $200 for rent these days, so I might be wrong about that. Maybe I should have tried to become a rapper.

Anyway, Anonymous got involved. You’ve probably heard of them. Ironically, they’re one of the better known hacker groups, and they occasionally dress up what they do as social justice. They’re definitely the kids that never got over not being liked in high school, who never had that epiphany most of us prickly types have, where we realize people don’t like us for reasons, adjust our sails towards a comfortable middle ground, and plot a happy course through society. These are the guys that are still mad at society for not appreciating how wonderful they are, and how stupid the rest of us are. Still whiny. And they really, really, want people to fear them, because fear is better than the contempt and dislike they’ve encountered their entire lives.

Unfortunately, the only venue where they aren’t impotent and ineffectual is manipulating data and breaching security, which, being the sort of illegal thing that brings you into contact with angry men with guns (either law enforcement or angry victims) requires them to do so in hiding. But boy, oh boy, are they fierce while they cower in the shadows!

The Current Thing

Now, there are few things more irrelevant to my daily life than hackers or popstars, but this actually made me mad. This got my attention because of what Anonymous is doing. What they want today is for Iggy Azalia to apologize to Azealia Banks for what they believe to be racist comments, in 48 hours, or they’ll release a sex tape of hers.

Give. Me. A. F*cking. Break.

First off, if you are the sort of person who looks at pictures or videos of naked ladies that they didn’t want to share with you, punch yourself in your dick, right now, as hard as you can. You deserve it. Then get a life. I realize the internet lets you do things from the comfort of your home, but you’re functionally no different from any creep hiding in a tree with a pair of binoculars, okay?

Second off, if you’re applauding this, what the hell is wrong with you? I didn’t bother reading through Azealia/Azalia Tweet war, maybe one or both of them are racists who should apologize. Doesn’t matter. You know what’s worse than racism?

A bunch of masked men ganging up and sexually assaulting a twenty-four-year-old girl.

Which is exactly what Anonymous is threatening to do. It’s not okay. Don’t get me wrong, racism is Bad; it’s damaging, painful, and generally messes stuff up that doesn’t need to be so complicated. Still, if a girl shouts something racist in a public park, it’s still not okay to pin her down, tear her clothes off, and post the pictures on the internet. Even if her music is awful. 

Is that. . . like too complicated a concept or something?

We should not reward them for saying, “Hey bitch, cave to our desires or we’ll basically rape you on film.”

I guess maybe if Anonymous admitted women were actually people, and treated them as such, they wouldn’t be able to rationalize how afraid of them they are. So don’t be amused. Ridicule them. Anonymous doesn’t matter, doesn’t deserve to matter, and it’s about time they remembered that.