3. Other Things Authoring Writing Life

Time for an update post

It’s a gray achy kind of day, weather-wise, and a grey foggy day, brainwise, but I have taken a dose of my fancy ibuprofen+acetaminophen OTC pills (they are magic, btw, better even than prescription naproxen) and I am doing things I can get done instead of gnawing at myself over things I am not doing.

That’s the idea, anyhow.

I knew I would be wiped today after a yesterday that started 2 hours earlier than usual. It was worth losing sleep to accompany Spouseman to a car maintenance appointment & walk home w/him afterwards, but adding to an already-long ‘brar day had me dragging by the end. That’s on top of the way this week’s “Chill Drear to Sunny & Back Again” rollercoaster weather is kicking my ass.

So far so good. I got up earlier than I planned–7:30 according to my body, 8:30 according to the semi-annual clock fuckery–but it was a “I feel rested & awake & have Things to do” kind of wakeup, not the ass-dragging kind.

AND I have crossed off all but one thing I hoped to achieve. Granted, it was a short list. Laundry, Chili, Spread Clover Seed. And I don’t want to start the chili until closer to supper time. But it still feels good.

Getting in a blog post, too? EXTRA BONUS ACHIEVEMENT.

To-Do Lists are wonderful organizing tools, but days like today are why I rarely make “normal” ones with assigned priorities & firm timelines. That would be setting myself up to fail, given my inconsistent energy level & focus. Instead, I just list All The Things & then pick my way through them like it’s a smorgabord.

This week I evidently have an appetite for tactile, physical tasks. Writing has happened, as it often does when I stop putting pressure on myself, but I’m mainly indulging in Hand-intensive activities. Fingertip splits are making typing an annoyance, but otherwise my hands are staying in pretty good shape.

And wet weather sucks for me, but the garden loves it. Rainy days are good planting days, actually, and I’ve been plugging through seasonally-sensitive but generally time-forgiving tasks.

Here’s a tidy summation of Various Things I’ve done in the last week:

  • spread lettuce seed in improvised cold frames (planters covered w/recycled plastic greehouse roofing)
  • took down old, broken yard lights
  • stow the last of the holiday lights
  • reset bird feeders
  • removed squirrel-guard wire toppers off the bulb plantings
  • cleared all the herb beds are clear
  • overseeded front & back lawn w/a red clover and grass mix. (today!)

And now I can make new lists, all about starting seedlings, shopping for patio furniture & a pergola, researching low-decibel leaf blowers, and dreaming about MOAR PRAIRIE PERENNIALS.

Inside things I’m working on:

Restocking things I have to order online, like tea & replacement storage container lids.

Baking: I’ve already done biscotti & banana muffins this week. Apple crisp might get made tonight, depending on energy level. Otherwise tomorrow.

And adding things to grocery lists for curbside pickup to minimize in-person shopping. Because yes, I’m still minimizing in-person shopping & yes, I’m still masking in public spaces, including my workplace. (The one exception being a (VERY) few restaurants w/excellent ventilation & mitigations where I’ll unmask to enjoy a meal w/a trusted friends.)

Yeah, I’m vaxxed & boosted. But I also know how to calculate risk. If and/or when the local case count & positivity rates drop below the thresholds we hit last June, I’ll enjoy wandering around stores unmasked like I did last June. But we aren’t there.

Until then, I’ll just keep making that extra set of lists.

That’s enough blathering for one post. Have a photo of Pippin being angry I emptied the humidifier in my office.

Until later!

Writing Life

Daylight Saving Time: not the rant you might expect

Grumpy Research Nerd rant incoming.

I know a lot more about Daylight Saving Time than the average bear. I’ve lived through every change made to the 1966 Uniform Time Act (yes, federal DST is younger than me) & the issue lives in my sweet zone at the intersection of history, biology, and data analysis. I’ve done a ton of research & have the bibliography to prove it.

Because of this, I’m doing a lot of muttering to myself online this week. As in, “do not read the comments, do NOT read the comments, FFS THINK OF YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE, DO NOT LOOK AT THE COMMENTS!”

The number of people trumpeting DST opinions from positions of total historical, statistical, & medical ignorance is always high around this time of year, but THIS year, it’s worse than ever. The potential for permanent DST has turned up the crankiness to 11.

Yes, I have Firmly-Held Views on the topic. They’re probably weirder than you think. They’re also data-driven conclusions which address a lot of the objections from both sides of the “but permanent X would suck because Y” line, but I have no illusions that my ideas would ever be implemented.

No, I’m not going into detail. In person, over a beverage, with popcorn? I’ll be happy to pull out my charts, tables & beloved graphs. It’s fucking fascinating stuff, I swear.

I’ll say only 2 things here:

1) if you think the main purpose of The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 is to make federally-mandated Daylight Saving Time permanent everywhere in the US forever, you are wrong (go look at the text of the bill. Go on. I’ll wait. It won’t take long.)

A summary for those who hate to click: unless you’re familiar with the 1966 Uniform Time Act, The Calder Act and other federal laws governing Daylight Saving, The Sunshine Protection Act reads like gibberish. The meat of the whole act is the line reading, “and for other purposes.”

It’s putting the right to decide state time back in state hands. Not Big Guvmint Overreach, but a unicorn rarity of a law that corrects a past overreach! No wonder states-rights limited government Republicans like it, eh?

2) all change is hard, and while not all change is bad, there’s not much good to say about twice-annual time shifts. It’s self-inflicted change for change’s sake. None of the reasons for the initial adoption of DST over 100 years ago make sense in this day & age. And no matter when the clock says the sun is coming up or going down, there will never be adequate daylight in winter at higher latitudes.

(My favorite comment so far was someone’s response to a lengthy polemic on kids dying at cold, pitch-black pre-dawn bus stops, which went like this: *Laughs in Alaska at Midwinter Solstice*)

ANYway. I said I wasn’t going to get into details, so I should stop now that it’s already too late.

One last thing: do not come at me with any of the Usual Arguments, please. (“Why not Just One Global Time Zone? China Does it!” “We can’t do DST year round, we’ll All Die In The Dark!” “DST Would Work Better For Everyone!”)

I am not in the mood & I have delete-comment powers.

I’ve been Very Busy Offline & On, but that’s all for later. Ta for now!

Writing Life

Oh, that explains it

My Monday was a total loss. I put in the desk time, but the work was an annoying, ineffective slog, and I ALSO didn’t accomplish any of the many small but important non-desk activities that have been piling up for a while. I was seriously frustrated with myself by the time Spouseman & I went on our Neighborhood NightWalk on Monday evening.

He listened to me gripe about not getting done what I wanted to do (bc he is awesome that way) & explained it all in one statement:

“Makes sense. We had people over yesterday.”

We did. It was a celebration weekend. We had friends over for fancy takeout food, toured folks around the new game room for the first time, and gathered around the firepit for posh drinks & dessert on the new patio afterwards. It was a GREAT time. Hours & hours of enjoyable relaxing, conversating, catching up, pet talk, & planning for future funs.

But it was still a social event, one involving significant advance preparation & loads of communicating.

So, DUH. Of course I was made of mush the next day.

I keep forgetting my brain doesn’t care if events are satisfying or stressful, fun or frazzling. Brain only knows social interaction = major processing required, and that means a mental crash+emotional rebound ripples WILL follow whether I like it or not.

(For the record, I do not like it.)

I’m still feeling the effects today, (HELLO, SELF-DOUBT & ANXIETY, YOU CAN LEAVE ANY TIME NOW) but knowing the cause helps me better cope with the effects. I’m focusing on physical chores so I have those small victories to boost me.

And Pippin is doing his best to model proper relaxation for me.

sleepy kitty in a box

That’s all for now. Until later!

Whimsy Writing Life

I click links & read things. It’s what I do.

This episode of me is just three rambly items. That is all. Yes, HUGE things are going on In The Real world. Bad things. Humanity being awful to humanity at home and abroad. But. Not here. ITRW I’ve done what I can for now–I’ve put my money where my principles are, voiced words of support–and I will continue to do what I can. As I have been reminded, so I remind others: dwelling & doomscrolling & working up a knot of stress helps no one. So. This blog post isn’t about anything Real. It’s about the usual: reading & cats & randoming.

Thing the First.

Did you know Lido means beach in Italian, and in British English, it also refers to an outdoor swimming pool + its associated amenities? I did not, until today.

At long last, I have an explanation for why there are “Lido Decks” on cruise ships! The term always puzzled me when I watched Love Boat in the late 70’s. This trivium comes to us courtesy of a Guardian interview with some BBC broadcaster who’s probably a household name in Britain but who was completely unknown to me. Score one for a beautifully designed enticing headline.

Which I’ve already forgotten.

Random thing 2: the latest in Cat adventures.

Pippin’s current Favoritest Toys Ever are the tear-off strips from boxed Trader Joe’s hot chocolate packets. (not the packet w/chocolate! The litle strip you pull on to open the box.)

These bits of paper hold a narrow lead over mylar strips cut from the bottom of pita chip bags. Something about the way those things crunch fascinates him endlessly. There are a dozen or more Stacey’s Pita Chips bag-ends scattered about the house, built up over the last few months.

He is generous with his toys, too. On any given morning I’ll find up several of crunchy mylar strips on the bed. Pips naps with us at night, but he comes and goes–and every time he returns from a ramble he brings us a toy in case we wake up and want to play with it.

Lastly, I have discovered A Best New Game for me, courtesy of Louis Evans, who I follow on Twitter because…yanno, I don’t know if I met him or someone suggested I follow him, or he followed me for inexplicable reasons and I followed back, or what. I try not to let that ignorance bother me, but it still does sometimes. My discomfort over the parasocial nature of online connections is one of my biggest peeves with social media, and I have a LOT of peeves…never mind, this is digressing even more than usual, ANYWAY.

This game is Semantle, and it’s SUPER FUN. Like Wordle it’s a once-daily word puzzle, but that’s about all they have in common. I like Wordle’s simplicity, but that’s about all I do like about it. It’s a pretend word game. it isn’t about language at all, nor really about vocabulary. It’s letters as numbers, essentially. Finding a solution w/in 6 guesses is a process heavy on betting the odds of a given vowel or consonant being used, plus luck and eliminating variables.

I find it fun, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t…stimulating, I guess? It’s about spelling, not words.

And don’t get me started on people who get hung up on use of wordfinders, dictionaries or other tools. Is it legitimate or does it constitute “cheating?” It’s a SOLITAIRE WORD GAME FFS. What is even the point of getting judgey & snobby about how someone else plays it? Any yet. People gotta feel superior, I guess.

Solving a Semantle occupies a lot more of my wording brain than Wordle. That’s my favorite part. My second favorite aspect is the no-limit guessing. There’s no “genius!” for a lucky break or any competitive triggering at all. Guess until you get it right, for pure solution satisfaction.

And like the name implies, it’s all about semantics. Associations. Connections. Right up my happy neighborhood parkway, in other words.

You’re attempting to guess a secret word based on hot/cold responses to your attempts. The more similar your word is to the secret one, the higher your guess’s rank will be. And once you get within 1000 words of the secret one, you get that clue as well.

Look. It’s kinda hard to explain but super-simple to play. Type words, type more words that seem related, rinse & repeat. My best result so far is solving the puzzle in 33 guesses, my longest game was 87 guesses.

I find Semantle MUCH more satisfying to play. There’s no right or wrong way to think of connections. I’m fond of for inspiration, but also fond of typing a bunch of ideas into Google & skimming the results for a word that just feels right as a guess, and also blindly staring at my list of guesses until the next inspiration strikes.

Spouseman still doesn’t understand how I could look at bureaucrat and leap to the secret word (historian) in two guesses. (president and constitution in between)

I can’t explain it either. But that’s the wild thing about inspiration. It’s always a leap into the dark that pays off. It’s an idea arcing across a void of not-knowing.

And that’s that for tonight. Gonna go play wordle as soon as it’s midnight, and then off to bed.

TOmorrow I’ll try to write my Winter Subscriber Newsletter before it’s spring, and also get up some book reviews for all the amazing new speculative fiction I’ve been consuming.

Until later!

The water has disappeared. Pippin is disappointed.
Authoring Writing Life

The illusion of progress

Writing a whole post of accomplishment lists has led to pondering WHY I like making “I did this” lists so much. Here’s my answer: it’s a frame adjustment.

I know, I know, “WTF frame what?” Stick with me here. Start with the idea of “progress.”

See, all our lives we’re taught–both formally and informally– to find worth in achieving goals and measuring progress, but that whole plan is fundamentally mismatched with the way life WORKS.

Progress is grounded in linear concepts of direction & endpoints. It’s all about the quantifiables.

When a task is done, it’s done. When a thing is filled, it’s full. When a goal is achieved, it’s over. There are jokes about the reward for a job well done being another job, but the system is accepted as valid.

Except it ISN’T. Reality doesn’t work that way.

Life is built on multiple, interlocking circular processes: sunrise to sunset to sunrise, winter to summer to winter again. Washed dishes get dirty, dinnertime comes around again, dust returns again, plants need tending, laundry piles up AGAIN.

No wonder people feel like we’re always failing. We’re judging ourselves by a metric that’s incompatible w/the medium.

Measuring success & satisfaction by progress is like measuring slices of bread in a loaf by weight. You can do it, but it takes some mental gymnastics.

Lists are my favorite way of somersaulting past frustration & feelings of failure. They line up my position in the endless cycle of Life Doings with the idea of “done,” and presto, I HAVE DONE THINGS.

It’s not only gymnastics, it’s kinda like a magic trick when it works.

Now I’m wondering what neat tricks other people use.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you want to celebrate by curling up with a cozy kissing book, may I suggest Weaving In The Ends? I wrote it, it’s all about love, but not only and not even mostly the romance hearts & flowers kind. It’s about the prickly kind of love, sibling love, family love, and formed-family love, the patient kind and the kind that makes mistakes and owns them and makes amends.

Also, there is knitting. And empaths. Available most places books & ebooks are sold. You can find it here along with the other books in the Restoration collection.

Sleepy cat for everyone who got this far. Until later!

all tuckered out after a long ponder