Calendar of Goal Tracking 2012 wrap-up

December 31, 2012

 

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Since it’s the last day of 2012, I thought I’d take down my Big Bang ‘Calendar of Goal Tracking’ to see how I did. (I took pictures of every page, though, to share with you, though it’s a little hard to make out the letters from the photos.)

Some overall thoughts:

  1. Counting hundreds of little letters from a calendar is hard! I’m sure I’ve made some counting errors, but I’m not worrying about 100% accuracy tonight.
  2. This has really been a good experiment for me, and a great way to motivate myself to do time-slices, especially for things like exercise and cleaning that I have a hard time motivating myself for otherwise.
  3. There were quite a few letters missing that I was able to work out from other evidence, including several R’s, one E in March, a D on a Sunday in November when I know I went to a write-in, and so on.
  4. I’m definitely going to try something of the sort for 2013. Since I’m trying to save money where I can, and I got a decent looking ‘Muscle cars’ calendar free from the oil change shop, I guess that’s my goal tracking calendar for next year!

Details about the goals I tracked:

  • B for Blogging: I marked a B to indicate a day that I posted a new blog post 297 times. This seems low compared to my WordPress.com annual report, even taking into account that I never went back and updated the calendar for the 2 weeks I spent in Kansas (and at Polaris, the weekend after I got back from Kansas.) I suspect that several times, I did a blog post last thing in the evening, went to bed, and never went back and marked my B.
  • C for Cleaning: I got 166 Cs for a timeslice of at least 20 minutes cleaning, tidying, or organizing things around my apartment. Occasionally this was a double C in a single day, if I was feeling exceptionally cleanergetic.
  • D for Driving. 197 days got the letter D for days that I drove, either driving practice before I passed my licence, borrowing a family car, or just driving in Ghost once I’d bought my own car.
  • E for Editing. I have 251 of the letter E marked in the calendar for working on my own editing. 50 of them are in March, where I was using one E to indicate one hour logged for National Novel Editing Month. Otherwise, it’s any significant amount of time, at least 20 minutes or so, one E per day.
  • L for Losing.  Each letter L represents a half-hour time slice of walking around outside or other cardio exercise. Could be double Ls in a day. I got 335.
  • Read the rest of this entry »
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Six Sentence Sunday: The Gnomes are Missing, 6

December 30, 2012

Happy Holidays and Merry Six Sentence Sunday to you all. It looks like I’ll get up to ten snippets for “The Gnomes are missing” before the SSS list goes down at the end of January 2013.

I’m going to skip ahead out of the flashback at this point:

First Six Second Six Third Six Fourth Six Fifth Six

The school bell started to ring, and for a second Kinwer was startled, because that wasn’t the way the memory went. And then he shook himself, and went back to the present. He had to get to the schoolhouse NOW. He wouldn’t be able to meet Gibbs this morning. So he ran the long way around the family farm. He’d be late to school, but he could tell the schoolmarm that he was doing chores, and Father wouldn’t know that he’d been out to the gnome mound.

Happy Boxing Week, and here’s wishing you all a happy New Year!


An eventful day of snow and driving

December 29, 2012

Winter has definitely settled in on Hamilton over the last few days, and I’ve been learning quite a few things about winter driving that you don’t learn until you have your own car in the winter. Like how important it is to have a snow shovel, especially when you live in an apartment building and park your car in the open lot out back.

I went to the local mall this morning, being careful to brush the car off very carefully before – luckily there wasn’t enough snow that I needed to actually dig it out. Walked around the mall enough to get my exercise for the day, picked up my groceries, got back to the car, brushed it off again. Turned on the ignition, wiped off the windows, noticed that there was some ice on the back windshield that I hadn’t brushed off, so I grabbed the scraper/brush, got out again, took a few seconds to go scrapy scrapy…

and the door wouldn’t let me back in. I was locked out of the car, with the engine running, my groceries sitting in the front seat with the heat going.

Luckily, I had a cell phone in my jacket pocket, and I was able to call CAA. It was a long wait for the guy to show up, brushing my car off again every fifteen minutes or so, but finally he showed at the mall entrance, followed me to my car, with the wipers still going every so often, and pulled out the tricks of the trade. One little doo-hickey that inflated itself with air to pull the passenger side door open, just a little up near the window. A metal wedge to help keep the door propped open just that crack, And a slightly flexible angled bar, which he stuck in through the crack in order to pull the unlock switch.

It took him about half a dozen tries – he kept complaining that the door was unlocking and then relocking itself – but finally the door was open. I dived across, unlocked the driver’s side door, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and then hurried around to get in the driver’s seat. As soon as the tow truck pulled out, I hurried for home to put the meat, the eggs, and the frozen potatoes into the appropriate cold storage.

Later, I drove over to my Mom’s place, to help her get packed and move out of the condo. The drive down the main streets was fine, but once again, the visitor’s parking lot was full. (This happened on Christmas Day, and we ended up parking my car in her spot on the P2 floor of the building while driving her car up to Kitchener.) So I drove around her neighborhood for a bit, looking for a decent parking spot on the curb, but the side streets there looked like they hadn’t been plowed since yesterday afternoon.

I tried to pull off to the side to let a truck go past me on the street behind the condo building, and got myself well and truly stuck. After the truck managed to inch past me, a friendly man out brushing off his own car came over and asked if he could help, and he was able to help push me out of the groove. I kept driving around a little while, and managed to pull into a three-hour spot down the street from the condo building.

Once the packing for the day was done, and Mom and I were heading off to dinner, there was more snow-driving fun. My three hours were almost up, and somebody had parked behind me, cutting off the easiest way of getting out of that spot without driving through a low snowdrift. My mother actually helped talk me through without having to resort to shoveling or salt, showing me how to ‘rock’ the car back and forth, switching between reverse and first gear, something I don’t think I’d been taught before.

I hope the roads are a little less eventful when I head down to the Pier for a modest holiday write-in tomorrow!


Doctor Who versus the Snowmen!

December 28, 2012

Yay, new Doctor Who, finally! It took me a few days to track down and watch the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special, but if you’re further behind than me, don’t read ahead, because – you guessed it. “Spoilers!”

I’ll start off with a few odd notes on characters and casting. I hadn’t remembered that Madame Vastra’s human sidekick (and wife, apparently,) was named Jenny, and so when I read somewhere that the trailers hinted that Vastra, Sontaran Strax, and Jenny would be back for the Christmas special, the first character I connected with Jenny was the title character of the David Tennant episode The Doctor’s Daughter.

Also, the first thing I thought when I heard the voice of ‘The Intelligence’ was “OMG, it’s Patrick Stewart”, and I couldn’t shake that connection even when I found out that the voice acting was actually done by Ian McKellan. Weird.

Okay, so – great adventure with the Doctor. I liked lots of things about it, starting with the plot arc where the Doctor began as very withdrawn and remote, observing the Victorian world but not interfering in it, and ending as once again very engaged and excited about the future. Also, loved all the Sherlock Holmes references.

Jenna-Louise Coleman. Clara Oswyn Oswald. There’s a lot that Moffat is obviously trying not to give away about her still, so I’m really looking forward to more regular episodes coming out – whenever they do. Moffat does well with women of mystery, I think, looking back on Amy Pond, and River Song, so if he’s specifically trying to keep us off balance and not sure what to expect next, I think we’re in for an amazing series; though I do have one guess, as I’ll mention later.

What I was most aware of in a lot of the scenes with Jenna-Louise and Matt was how they were going through a lot of the established tropes of a long-term companion falling in love with the magic of the Doctor’s universe – but that this was really the first time we’ve really seen those tropes in a Christmas special, at least with New Who. Rose Tyler and Amy Pond were both established companions before their first Christmas with the Doctor. Many of the Christmas specials have had ‘one-shot Companions’, and even Donna Noble, who became a long-term companion in the end, was not established that was in “The Runaway Bride.”

Read the rest of this entry »


My Boxing Day present arrived

December 27, 2012

 

 

For quite a few years, I’ve been in the habit of getting myself a Boxing Day present. I don’t always get it on Boxing Day, (the day after Christmas,) but it’s usually while the Boxing Week sales are still around, and often funded with gift cards, cash, cheques, or the promise of money given to me for Christmas. Two years ago, the Brother laser printer was a Boxing Day present, and a very good one that I’m still getting a lot of use out of.

Going back to September or so, I had my eye on a SmartTV, a flat screen television set that could connect to a wireless network and play digital video from internet sites or other devices on your home network running media streaming software. I asked my friends and family to get me Futureshop gift cards for my birthday and Christmas to help fund it – they didn’t actually, but my Mom gave me some cash and promised to write me a cheque for more, as she was giving away so much cash that she ran out of bills. When I got back home on Christmas Day, I researched smart TVs on a few websites and placed my order – a 32″ Samsung from Best Buy Canada, with free delivery.

And it arrived today!

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At the moment, I’ve got it all hooked up, checked that I can watch from the LG DVR or the DVD player, browsed YouTube just a little, and experimented a little with Samsung’s own video library service, but I haven’t actually registered for it yet. My Netgear Stora NAS box is apparently already running a media streaming server that the SmartTV recognizes – but it doesn’t have any of my video files set up to stream. So I figured out how to browse to the NAS admin page – it told me that a software update was ready and I wanted to apply, so I figured, why not?

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Sigh. It’s been stuck on ‘Applying update’ for half an hour now, and while it applies the update, the network share drives are offline, so I can’t even copy any videos to a flash drive and try playing that on the TV. But it’s good to be patient. While waiting, I’ve gone and read a fun ‘Six Sentence Sunday’ snippet, edited a few pages of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ to reach my revision target for the day – and got this blog post up for y’all.

Happy Boxing Week!

 


A Christmas gift of battery power

December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays again, friends and followers. December the 25th is almost over in this time zone, and I hope you had a great Christmas, (or an alright day, if you don’t celebrate Christmas today.)

I went up to Kitchener to celebrate with my family, and had a great time – catching up, exchanging presents, throwing things at each other in the traditional Christmas wrapping paper fight, then a great turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, and dessert after.

But the present that I’m thinking about wasn’t something that anybody in my family set out to buy for me, but just a simple favor of a moment’s time that was given without hesitation.

As I’ve probably mentioned several times, my Alphasmart Dana has been having some issues for several months now. I think I first  noticed it in the spring, with little things – it was taking more time to respond after powering on and showing weird screens occasionally. Over the months, as I used it to work on short stories, to do Block Revision and start the first draft of “The Witches of Arion,” it became clear that the battery was no longer as strong as it once was, and all of the other issues might relate to insufficient power.

During November, I got to the point where I was nervous about losing my words on the Dana in the middle of a write-in, so I started taking the netbook instead, and I backed up frantically after every screen when doing the Block Revision for “Storm Mirror.”

Now, the Dana comes with a rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack, and on my particular unit, the battery compartment was screwed shut with a tiny screw that I’d never been able to loosen. Today, I packed Dana along with my Christmas cards and wrapped presents, and asked my brother-in-law for his help. He’s an engineer, a generally handy guy, and I was pretty sure he owned more screwdrivers than I did.

Quickly the two of us and Dana were down in his basement, and after trying half a dozen screwdrivers he found one that worked. Together we figured out how to pry the rechargeable battery pack out of the compartment, and unclip it from the power cable. He even had some AA batteries sitting around, and we were able to use them as a replacement power source, (which is an option listed in the Alphasmart manual.)

 

 

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I’m not sure where I go next with my Dana. Probably it’ll be worth using it with the AA batteries for a while to see how much they last, and I’ll look around to see where I can get a replacement recharge pack here in Canada, and how much it’ll cost. But I feel blessed just to know that this wonderful writing tool has more life left in it, that I wasn’t going to see it fade further and further away until it couldn’t even write a single word for me.

I also got eight lessons in Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Think Sideways’ course from my sister! Not quite sure when I’m going to be able to focus on these, especially since I haven’t finished ‘How to Revise your Novel’ yet, but I’m sure I’ll have fun when I get to them. Oh, and here’s a picture of the Christmas tree, just because it’s nice.

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There’s a kind of magic in a Holiday eve

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve is one of those days on the calendar that is defined by a sense of anticipation, of being there to wait for what’s coming. It doesn’t have to be fixed on the calendar, either. I really like the sense of anticipation from the day before I leave on a really great trip, or some other event that I think I’m going to love.

This sense of being almost there has actually taken over Halloween for me. It’s been a while since I’ve dressed up or gone to a theme party, and I don’t get any trick-or-treaters at my apartment. October the 31st is just filled with the knowledge that it’s the day before National Novel Writing Month starts. And every year, I can hardly wait to start.

Merry Christmas to everybody. I hope it’s an occasion worth the wait.


Six Sentence Sunday: The Gnomes are Missing, 5

December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays and Merry Six Sentence Sunday to you all. After this week, it looks to me like we have five Six-Sundays before they end – January 27, 2013 will be the last SSS.

We’re still in a flashback, with my main character, Kinwer, meeting his first Gnome friend:

“So if you’re eleven… how long until you’re full grown? They say that men don’t live as long as we do.”

“I might be as tall as I’m going to get by the time I’m seventeen.” Kinwer counted on his fingers. “I’ll be a man by law once I’m fourteen.”

“Gosh,” Gibbs repeated.

Thank you very much for reading! I’ll try to send out Xmas presents or cards to everybody who comments!


TGIFBC

December 21, 2012

This acronym was offered by a friend of mine at work today, and I think it’s very appropriate. Thank Goodness It’s (the) Friday Before Christmas. 🙂

I’ll be able to work a half-day from home on Monday, for Christmas Eve, and then I have Christmas Day up at my sister’s place, Boxing Day, and I don’t need to go back into the office until next Thursday. On the other hand, I’m kind of on-call for work stuff, but I don’t expect that’ll be too bad.

On the creative front, things are going fairly well. I’ve done some Block Revision on ‘The Storm Mirror’ every morning this week except for Monday, (when I left early to take the bus and got some writing done on ‘Time Bubble Trap’,) and I picked up my art stuff with ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ today, for the first time since October.

TGIFBC to all of you, especially anybody who doesn’t need to go into work on Christmas Eve! 🙂


The Vinyl Cafe in Hamilton

December 20, 2012

My mother and I went to see Stuary McLean and the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Tour last night, which is something of a holiday tradition for us. It was a great evening – Reid Jamieson performed, as well as John Sheard, Dennis Pendrith, and a vocal trio dubbed “The Vinylettes”. Stuart retold the classic story about Dave building a snow machine, gave us two brand-new tales, (or at least ones that haven’t been featured on the radio show yet,) and was very funny organizing the prize giveaway just before intermission, with the help of a young child from one of the first two rows.

Stuart has an unfair reputation in some circles for telling long, pointless stories very slowly. Last night I think I really appreciated just how funny he can be, and how good his sense of comic timing is, especially when describing a scene where things are about to go very, very badly. Yes, he’ll dole out one sentence and pause, long enough to let us rev our imaginations into gear, and then drop another little tidbit. But it works. The heartwarming ending is also a big crowd-pleaser, of course.

One fun little moment involved what Stuart called ‘losing control of the show.’ The set-up began before the intermission, when Stuart said that he was giving out a prize for the oldest person in attendance. One lady called out 87, and before taking any other contenders he told the crowd that he wanted to talk with her a moment; Stuart asked her if she’d ever won anything before, she said no, (which could be a natural lie in the circumstances – you wouldn’t want to get passed over because you’ve won something before.)

‘Really, never won a thing in 87 years? I wonder how you get out of bed in the mornings.’ Paraphrased, but that was the sentiment, and we all laughed a little.

Then there was somebody else who won the prize for being 88, and Stuart gave the 87-year old lady his regrets. After the intermission, he checked with his young helper to make sure that everybody had got their prizes, and a sort of chant emerged from somewhere off to audience right. The people wanted the 87-year old woman to get a prize.

Stuart went along with it, making wisecracks the whole time. The woman got a Reid Jamieson CD, autographed by Stuart and each of the performers for the show, and also signed by the delivery kid. Somebody called out that it was his birthday at this point, and Stuart fished out one more prize CD, but drew the line at having anybody sign it. Enough was enough, at that point.

So it was a really fun evening, and definitely helped me get into the Christmas spirit. Less than a week left!


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