Happy Holidays!

December 26, 2013

As I write this, my Christmas vacation, such as it was, is pretty much over. It’s 6pm on Boxing Day, and I’ll be working from home tomorrow. But it’s been a good couple of days.

Late on Christmas Eve, my brother called me up with some last minute change of plans. He had to work through the week, including Christmas Day, and the original plan was for the Hamilton branch of the family, (the two of us and Mom,) to go up to Kitchener early and then drive home in time for him to get to work for the afternoon shift, which would mean me leaving at seven thirty in the morning and having just about enough time to unwrap presents and have turkey brunch at my sister’s place. The change in plans was that I drove up separately in my car, which my brother borrowed after brunch when it was time for him to leave. Mom and I stayed, played some cards with my sister and my two nieces, enjoyed a light lunch of desserts, then I drove Mom home in her car, and switched to mine, which had been dropped off at her place.

The gift exchanges went pretty well too. I kept to a tighter budget than in years past, but managed to come up with some stuff for all of my family that they seemed to like. Myself, I scored some gift cards, chocolate treats, three new books to read, and a cool decoration with quotes about writing that I’m going to keep on my desk. Oh, and a wizard’s staff that my Mom made for me! 🙂

Today I did the budget Boxing Day shopping. I picked up a cool new Modern Family calendar for my 2014 goal tracking, and a fancy Bluetooth mouse to use with my Nexus 7 tablet. One of my gift cards helped pay for the mouse, and I used another to download some new music, including albums by Great Big Sea and Amanda Stott.

And I walked to all my shopping; four and a half miles round trip, which is a lot longer than I usually walk in a day, but I feel good for having done it.

So, how were your holidays?

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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.


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! 🙂


Merry Christmas presents!

December 25, 2011

Well, I’m back from spending Christmas day with the family – lunch at my Mom’s Condo, and then presents under the tree, wrapping paper fight, and turkey dinner over at my sister’s house in Kitchener.

Of course, the great joy of Christmas is in the giving, but I’m not that comfortable sharing the list of what I gave to my family and friends here on the blog. Somehow, babbling on about all the loot I got doesn’t seem quite as awkward!

  1. Gift cards – two for ‘The Source’ electronics chain, and one for Sears.
  2. New AAA rechargeable batteries.
  3. Socks.
  4. A quilted blanket with a pentomino pattern on it!
  5. Cookies and other goodies from my nieces and nephew.

So, did you get any cool gifts?


In the bleak midwinter

December 22, 2011

I guess we’ve passed the winter solstice sometime in the last 48 hours or so, the shortest days of the year up here in Ontario. I’ve been busy enough with work and Christmas preparations and a few other things that I haven’t paid that much attention, but the long nights are getting me down a little. It isn’t too cold yet, but that’ll probably be coming after New Year’s.

Happy Mid-winter’s day, and have a good Festivus tomorrow!


Shortfic: Only the Elves know for sure.

February 18, 2011

This was another contest entry in the SDMB holiday short fic contest. I blogged about the contest when it was starting, and shared another entry with you a few weeks ago, so here’s the Christmas 2010 story.

I’d love to hear what you think if you give it a read.

—–

Eddie looked around the playground field. Most of the kids had gathered into two crowds, with a lot of children, like Eddie himself, scattered in between them.

“Of course Santa Claus exists,” Holly Scott declared from the center of the group to Eddie’s right, her blonde hair bouncing slightly as she nodded. “You have to believe in somebody like Santa Claus. Or else what’s the world coming to?”

“He’s not real,” Jason Berlin countered, and the other cynics gathered around him cheered slightly. “It’s all a made-up fake. The presents are all paid for by your parents, and the malls hire guys to play dress-up as Santa Claus. Nobody really flys around on a sleigh in the middle of the night delivering toys. Deal with it.”

There was more to the debate, and several of the undecided eventually picked a side, but Eddie still wasn’t sure what to believe in by the time Recess was over. So he walked home from school by himself and ended up telling the whole thing to his mother.

Read the rest of this entry »


So many great storytellers…

December 24, 2010

This isn’t a particularly uplifting holiday thought for Christmas eve, but – sometimes doing critiques for other writers can be very personally discouraging. Because most of them are so good.

I keep thinking that I shouldn’t feel that way, that it should be incredible how many interesting stories are being told, but… in terms of my goals of becoming a famous, published, or notable author, it can be depressing to stand in a huge crowd, and not be able to turn in any direction without seeing somebody who looks just about as talented as me, as far as I can tell. There can’t be enough room for all of us in the bookstores, can there? There just might be enough room on Amazon for all of us, but how many people would keep searching that long?

I’m going to stop this ramble early, or I’ll just bum myself out even more. Happy Christmas to us all, and goodnight! May whoever you believe in provide good loot under the Christmas tree.


Happy Holiday season to all!

December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas, or whatever other winter holiday you may happen to observe. (Festivus for the rest of us, anyone?)

I’ve got all of my Christmas shopping done, and nearly all wrapped, though one item that I bought on ebay looks like it won’t be arriving in time to actually give it on Christmas – my sister will probably get that for her birthday in about a month’s time. I also went to see Stuart McLean live in concert Monday night, at Hamilton place, which was a great show, and he told some really funny stories.

Saturday afternoon will be the big family celebration up at my sister’s place in Kitchener, along with my Mom, brother, nieces, nephew, brother-in-law, and my brother’s new lady friend. Once that’s done, I actually have three days off, and can hopefully catch up on my creative to-do list, which has been falling somewhat behind, as well as maybe getting some Boxing week shopping done.

And a happy winter for everybody!


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