The Depressing Truth Behind Making Word Count

I have an ongoing weekly goal of 5000 written words a week. I have from Monday to Sunday to write, edit or otherwise create 5000 words worth of new material for a range of projects. (Yes, blogs count.)

I made my word count today for the first time in months, and that might be cause for rejoicing, the underlying reasons for my newfound productivity are not.

First, we brag.

On Are We Lost Yet, I finally recount my adventures in and around the Johnson Canyon Railroad. (Featured in Five Star Hikes: Flagstaff and Sedona).

The article is a few hundred words, but the video counts as a thousand.

In general, I need to figure an hour of total production time (writing, shooting, editing) for every minute of good You Tube video. The footage for this one (and ones like it) was shot years ago as personal notes, so that skews the formula. Nonetheless, I spent over three hours editing it.

Over on Curious Continuity, I popped out a thousand words ( separated by stolen, if credited images) on Fermi’s Paradox, and why our universe might remain terribly lonely.

I also did some artwork for The 64 (and drafted 1300 words on the sequel), but the artwork isn’t scheduled for months, and the novel for years. But we’ll get there.

Nobody on their deathbed laments that they wished they had made word count more often, or any other sort of job-related regret. They all wish they had spent more time with their family. I will to, I suppose. But this week, and perhaps many more to come, all I have is the work.

My wife of 29 years has left me, as in changed her address. As in I had to go start an account at a different credit union just to make certain  there is a hard line between our accounts now.

This was not my idea or desire. There was no problem with my wife or  the marriage that, from my end, I could not deal with or circumnavigate. She saw it differently, and here I am making word count.

I must, then refer you  to her, if you know her, for an explanation of why. I have gotten different answers, and I remain uncertain which if any I believe. There was, so you know, no particular incident or crime, or specific breach of faith. She was unhappy, and felt that leaving me was the way to deal with that. And there was nothing I could do – because I asked – to change her mind about that.

I’m not writing this in an attempt to elicit pity. I am still ahead of the curve in overall human experience. But I’m going to write these next paragraphs anyway, so that it doesn’t just plop out of me on Facebook or the like.

My marriage was one of the few enterprises in my life that I truly took seriously; the endeavor I put the most time, energy and money into (though the kids muddy that measurement), and it has failed. So when I write or speak of the scattered positive aspects of this situation, that is not, an attempt to disparage my wife or our relationship history. Rather, it is an attempt to convince myself that this is not the end of the world.

I have never been a single adult. I met my wife on my first day of college and we were dating by the end of that September. I was married at 21, and have remained so,  to that same woman, ever since. (Divorce is coming, but not here yet).

I have no clear idea how actual adults date in the 21st century. And, so we’re clear, I am not in a hurry to find out. In the summer of 1986 I rented a studio apartment for six months. Penny and I were still just “dating”. That was the last time I actually resided alone. I am kinda curious to see how I handle it.

Now, by alone, I mean with Penny’s two cats (also not my idea) and my daughter’s rabbit, all of which require food and attention. We all live together in a crumbling monument to all the compromises I made in the interest of a now failed marriage.

So bit by bit, I am reconstructing my house now that I no longer have to accommodate other human beings.

I am also working on developing a social life, because I haven’t been able to say yes to a party without side negotiations in 29 years. But I’m still not getting so drunk I have to sleep on your floor.

I still have to feed the pets.

This will be an adventure! So say the optimists in my life They may be right.

Being on a sinking ship is an adventure. And you will learn a lot about yourself and your true limits and priorities; things you might not have learned any other way.

But in your few quiet moments, you are still going to wish that the ship wasn’t sinking.

This was 850 words towards my goal. By the time I add links and tags, I can count it as a thousand.

 

Now you know.

 

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Accumulated Notes from Writer’s Groups

First an announcement: I have started One of 64 as a web-comic. Every Thursday, you can watch me teach myself, perhaps painfully, how to produce a web-comic. The first four pages came out, by accident of Friday. That has been corrected.

Start here.

For those who might be new here, I go to a fair number of open invitation drop-in writer’s groups. More about that here, if’n you care. Sometimes I share first or second drafts. Most of the time I take notes. Here are some that have accumulated over time, in more or less the order they appears in my notebook.

Most of these notes are things I am reminding myself to look up afterwards, and the link would be the most relevant site I found in a few minutes searching.

I am told by multiple sources that 24 reviews of your work on Amazon bumps you up a level in exposure via their algorithm.

The Cheyenne Tribe speaks of their prophet and greatest medicine man, Motzeyout. The piece presented at group suggested he was a time traveler who predicted the coming of the white man.  That’s not mentioned in the summary here, but not ruled out either.

I have a note that says “Iowa Bird Museum” which does not seem to exist. You can go visit the Talbot Collection at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and/or the Stempel Bird Museum in Macedonia Iowa. Both are sizeable collections of dead birds in various poses, but I think our author was describing the Talbot Collection. If you yearn to see living birds in Iowa, try the Iowa Raptor Project in Solon Iowa.

I have a note reading “history of Pima cotton in China” which I’m going to skip. You’re welcome.

I have two books noted:

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes 

Poltergiest – a Study in Destructive Haunting by Colin Wilson.

Below these I wrote: “Crackpot psychiatry is good fuel for fantasy”. So you were warned.

I have written “Akasha” which is either the Hindu equivalent for the Ethreal Plane or the name of the first Vampire. I have no idea which I meant here.

Finally, Skylark of Space is the first commonly recognized published space opera. The Author, EE Smith would go on to write the Lensmen series that gave us about half the known tropes in that genre. You can read it on Gutenberg, and so can I.

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Old Rookie

So I haven’t been updating blogs, but I have been plugging along on longer form fiction projects. A trade off. There’s that, and the learning curve of a new job.

I don’t have the advantage of being young and ignorant. I am simply ignorant. There’s some tolerance left to the occasional oh-that-adapter-won’t-work-with-that-gateway-because-reasons that I still encounter. But practical logistics I should be on top of. Case in point:

If you have a four am call, get your information in order the day before, in the sober daylight while informed grown-ups will answer their phones. The location in question was one small section of a labyrinthine medical facility. This particular section was nearly finished (they expected patients by 6am – hence the hour) while the rest of the sprawling site remained a dark wilderness of scaffolding and drywall studs and doors marked no entry.

Anyone on a construction site before sun-up generally knows what they are doing, and not much else.

It took me longer to find the section than to actually do the job. Happily, there was not much to it, and I wandering around looking for a way back to my car comfortably before doors opened.

My previous day job was a 24/7 operation, and I have already made the mistake of wandering around a maze of locked doors if the wee hours of the morning because I forgot to get a more specific location ahead of time.  I may be new but I should know better.

I should have a book launch/party thing planned for Beanstalk and Beyond, but I don’t have books in my hand. Because I kept forgetting to order them. (There was also a paycheck gap as I transitioned jobs). From now on, that’s in the contract – author copies.

Yeah, it’s my first novel, and my first book launch. Neither of the hiking guides had such an event. Of course, I also had 12 copies shipped to my door without asking.

I do not yet know if my publisher will have a table at Westercon, but I will be there anyway running Go Action Fun Time.

I should know better than to put that at the bottom of the post by now, huh?

Now we know.

Beanstalk and Beyond is Out!

They misspelled my name, but Beanstalk and Beyond is now an actual book that you can buy. You’ll need the link(s) below, because it’s nearly impossible to find via search engine at the moment.

9781934051689_p0_v1_s192x300

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934051683?ref_=sr_1_fkmr0_1&s=books&qid=1494379607&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=jack%20by%20pedegimas&pldnSite=1

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beanstalk-and-beyond-tony-pedegimas/1126296162?ean=9781934051689

These links might not be good after they correct my name.

Meanwhile, for those who have asked…

Environmental regulation has literally created my job. Though new building codes vary widely by jurisdiction, it is becoming increasingly common to require a higher level of conservation control in architectural lighting. Specifically, lights that turn themselves off when the room is empty and/or lights that dim themselves in bright sunlight.

These require specific programming, which is a large part of what I now do for a day job.

Even so, by the end of today, I was staring at a troublesome dimmer rack, and did NOT say, “Oh, there’s your problem right there. See on the front where it says Colortran?”

Also, I finished a 14k word short story about how Atlantean wizards saved the world from collision with a comet, but at a terrible price. . I have no particular market in mind for it. I finished it though, and I’m happy about that.

Someday, it may be published, with my by-line spelled correctly.

Now you know.

Passwords are the enemy of progress

I have a new laptop and a new cellular phone and this has forced a renewal of my electronic life.

There are many places I used to go that I am no longer welcome because of unrecoverable passwords.There are other places I am seeing anew because I can no longer rely upon encoded habits. It’s somewhat like cleaning out a storage room and finding relatively important things you forgot you had. But first, the hardware.

Let’s start with my brand new HP laptop.

THE GOOD: more capacity, bigger screen, a non proprietary HDMI port

THE BAD: The “improved” touchpad is actually less responsive (though that might be a learning curve issue).

The keyboard is smaller than it needs to be given the surface area available.

The primary purpose of Windows 10 appears to be the delivery of adware.

Oh, and memo to HP: The reason I don’t volunteer to give feedback or anything like that is your reputation for flooding any seem with adware – as demonstrated by your printer drivers. I bought the thing already. Back off.

win_20170118_22_43_17_pro

A picture from my laptop of me taking a picture of my laptop with my new phone.

I was actually happy with my trusty Kyocera Torque until I dropped it just the wrong way and shattered the face. I was eligible for an upgrade, but Sprint no longer carries the Torque or anything like it. I valued the Torque’s smaller size and relative durability – but I would have had to go all the way back to a flip phone. . Don’t despair – I have insurance.

The insurance could replace my phone with an equivalent – in this case the Torque XT, which is the same phone with more internal memory. Only we discovered they gained that memory by filling the SD slot with their own card. And the camera would launch. So I took it to the Sprint store

And they restarted it, as they do, it came back demanding a password.

I don’t assign passwords to anything if I don’t have to. This was a refurbished unit, and the encryption was left over from a previous user.

So now I have a second replacement device: a Kyocera Duraforce Pro, which is like 5x the phone it replaces. (Also larger and heavier – so it goes). I just got it activated minutes ago, so we may come back to this.

http://www.gsmarena.com/kyocera_duraforce_pro-8268.php

Not so much a review as someone reading the tech specs verbatim:

https://youtu.be/dNAd0VHvtMU

An actual review:

http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=18607

Cool as this is, there is the problem is getting into my various accounts from devices where those passwords have not been saved. In that regard, I am the reason your IT guy grumbles about the liberal arts.

Here’s what that guy knows that we don’t:

Password security is more about length than variety. Media Labs explains at length:

https://www.ymedialabs.com/password-security/

LifeHacker has similar advice with pictures:

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/01/why-your-brain-naturally-sucks-at-password-security-infographic/
Now you know.

Post Election Memos to my friends left and right

OK – Let’s get this over with. I am done trying to predict anything our presumed President Elect, Donald J Trump, might say, do or accomplish. I have been wrong at every turn. Now, I have not been alone in this, but at some point you have to stop touching the stove.

So I have been largely ignoring all the social media, bliggidy-blog pronouncements about what the future holds in store for our dear republic, because the only person who knows what Trump might do is Trump, and I can’t say with confidence that even he knows. This is a man who will contradict himself on policy within the same press conference, and then later, when asked to clarify, will offer a third, completely different policy, none of which will square with known facts.

I raise my hands and walk away.

A Memo to my friends standing to my left:

Protesting almost never works. How much did the Occupy movement really change anything? How much better is the Middle East after the Arab Spring? You have every right to do this, of course. But you do not have a right to be taken seriously, and no one who isn’t marching with you is taking you seriously.

(Before you start: MLK and his whole movement persevered for nearly a decade, organized politically, and did most of their real damage through strikes. You guys are nowhere near that level.)

If you want to influence the outcome of the game, you must actually play the game – and I mean politics. Right now, you’re just a bunch of rowdy fans in the cheap seats.

(Also before you start: Clinton beat Sanders by too many votes for that to be all DNC shenanigans. By the time Sanders realized he could win he was already too far behind, which sounds like nonsense, but that’s what happened.)

A Memo to my friends standing to my right:

What I can report with some confidence is that those who were hoping that our New Orange Overlord would wipe away all pretense of political correctness have it exactly backwards. If you are or have been a vocal Trumpster, the presumption is that you’re a racist, or are at least more willing to tolerate racism than the rest of society at large. If you don’t care, stop reading here.

But if you do, if you prefer to be thought of as civil , perhaps even tolerant, you were warned, even if you couldn’t recognize, that Trump has presented himself as the most openly bigoted serious candidate we’ve had since George Wallace ran on Segregation Forever in the 60’s. And you have approved that message – even if you voted for him for some other reason.

Now that doesn’t make you necessarily a bigot until … you post that one slightly bigotted thing on Facebook. You may have noticed, then, that anyone who is not also a True Trumpster reacted quickly and harshly, right?

If Trump actually carries through with his most extreme threats policies, it will become increasingly difficult to carry out a normal, peaceful existence unless you are a straight, white Christian male, ideally older than 40. For the rest of your friends – anywhere – these policies represent an existential threat to their ability to participate in society, if not life and limb.

That is a very different level of anxiety and discomfort than name-calling, which is what calling you a racist or homophobe, or islamophobe, or a general bigot amounts to.  And if you’re doing this on purpose, knowing that it will upset people, the name we use is asshole.

So if you openly endorsed Trump, and you don’t want to be considered a bigot by the majority of us who did not, then it is upon you to not be an asshole.

And so we’re clear, “Why do you say Trump is racist?” or “White lives matter too…” or “I don’t think I bigoted by my definition” or any of that tired, old crap will not work with anyone who does not agree with you already. (And if you’re claiming he didn’t mean any of that, I refer you to the top of the post)  The rest of us are exhausted in explaining this to you, and if you try to make us do it one more time, you’re being an asshole.

You live Trump down by being super cool – just as Jesus would want you to do anyway. There is no other path.

Nader’s warning

Normally, I would have forecast the presidential election months ago, and I have a pretty good record at that. I warned my tea-party friends sometime last March that if John Kasisch was not the Republican nominee, they need to get used to the idea of President Clinton again. But I never got around to writing that down. So you might take my word for it, but you don’t have to.

There’s who I think will win, and there’s who I want to win.

I’m kinda of fond of Ralph Nader’s  answer to BBC when they asked him who he would vote for. He didn’t answer the question directly, but insisted that the two major candidates were equally dangerous. The incredulous BBC guy pressed him, and he claimed that Hillary being clearly more competent made her even more dangerous. “Trump is so erratic that the Republicans will have to resist his policies to save their brand,” He said (I think – I’m paraphrasing a little) “At least until they find an excuse to impeach him.”

Clinton, meanwhile could do a lot more damage, by Nader’s reasoning, in small, reasonable increments. I hope he’s wrong, because she’s almost certainly our next president.

For the Trumpsters grinding their teeth about that, you can take some tiny comfort at this: history has not been kind to the same party successors of transformational presidents. That’s a tradition that goes all the way back to John Adams, and includes Martin Van Buren, Andrew Johnson,  William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Poppy Bush.

Maybe we should cut Johnson and Ford from that list. They were never elected in their own right. Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman are the only ones to buck this trend.

There is nothing about Hillary’s performance as a candidate or as an official that makes me believe she could follow Roosevelt or Truman. She has an insular, defensive management style. She lacks both vision and real charisma. She is too business friendly to become beloved by the left, and too not Republican to become beloved by business. This does not leave her a working coalition that will survive the Never Trump movement.

Republicans are already talking about impeaching her. Absent of a dramatic changeover in congress, I don’t think Ralph Nader has much to worry about.

Then I reflect upon Richard Nixon, one of the most qualified men to ever run, who initially lost to a charismatic junior Senator, but then learned from his mistakes, and ran an exceptional campaign against an erratic demagogue that failed to capture the support of his own party. Nixon had a an insular, defensive management style. He lacked both vision and real charisma. He was too regulatory to be beloved by the business community (he was the father of the EPA) and to not-a-democrat to get any help from the left.

He was re-elected in a historic landslide.

I’m still going to vote for her. As a radical moderate, I really have no better choice. She is, really, the paragon of Reasonable Progress in Due Course. (This has been a journey for me. I voted for Nader in 2000).

But Nader’s warning haunts me. It will be up to her to prove him wrong.