Hollyhock of Flourish

Sep. 21st, 2017 09:35 pm
[personal profile] ismo
The Sparrowhawk had to get up early this morning to go and work on a public service project in a nearby town. So, considerate person that I am, I made sure we went to bed early. And then I woke up shortly after midnight, lay around trying to go back to sleep, and finally gave up and went downstairs, where I was up for several hours. My brain had just flipped itself over to NOT SLEEPING mode. I went back to bed at four-ish and slept late. My Fitbit thinks I slept for 6 hours, but it was in discrete segments, so not the most restful.

The high today was NINETY FIVE degrees. That is the hottest day of the entire summer, and it's quite odd for the day before the fall equinox! This weather will continue for several more days. By the time I was up (again) it was far too hot to go for a walk, even in the shady part of the woods. I had to go to the dread mall to walk. I swear, there was an old lady bent over her walker who was moving along at a fast clip, and at one point, she was going faster than me! Oh, the indignity. I managed to pass her just outside the pretzel kiosk, where she ran into a friend and slowed down.

During my midnight episode, I read some more Kim Stanley Robinson. I was part of the way through "Sixty Days and Counting," the last of the Science in the Capital trilogy, and then I got distracted and didn't finish it, so I'm working on it now. If I ever write about these books, there will have to be an entire section hashtagged "Oh Frank Vanderwal NO." This character is really irritating me with his relentless evaluation of every single woman he comes in contact with. He's not as much of a feminist as he believes himself to be, either. For instance, at the gym: " . . . sweaty pink faces, hard breathing; obviously this was sexy stuff. None of that bedroom silliness for Frank--lingerie, make-up, even dancing--all that was much too intentional and choreographed, even somehow confrontational. Lovelier by far were women unselfconsciously exerting themselves in some physical way." Yes, Frank, that's nice of you to find us acceptable for your viewing pleasure at the gym. But has it not occurred to you that there's an inherent contradiction here? How are we supposed to remain "unselfconscious," the way you like us, when we are aware that there's always going to be someone like you watching us? You can't be unselfconscious when you're under surveillance. It's especially perplexing, because it turns out that Frank himself is under surveillance, and he doesn't like it. I wish I could believe that the author did that on purpose to comment on Frank's complacent male gaze, and how he's kind of an asshole. But I don't think Frank's creator noticed that. These are the thoughts I have in the middle of the night.
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[personal profile] rolanni
If you have read Neogenesis and want to talk about it, http://sharonleewriter.com/2017/09/spoiler-thread-for-neogenesis/
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[personal profile] rolanni

For them what indulges, the eARC of Neogenesis, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- the 21st Liaden Universe®! -- is now available for download (and reading, natch).

Get yours here!

I will, in the fullness of time, set up a spoiler page at sharonleewriter.com

Hearphones update

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:16 pm
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

So, we took the car in for the 10,000 mile check-up and tire rotation thingy, then went to IHOP for breakfast and a test drive of the hearphones.

The hearphones...are problematical on two fronts.

Front One:  I can't keep the damned things charged.  Admittedly, this files under Operator Error, but I'm not usually an idiot about keeping the toys charged, so there's some subtlety I'm missing.  And it doesn't lessen Operator Aggravation to arrive at the Test Location and find that the 'phones are, ahem, critically low on power.

Front Two:  Hearing my own voice in my ears is gonna drive me bugs.  And this may actually be a deal-breaker.  Steve urges me to give it another run, to see if I get used to it, which is fair, but at the moment what I'm doing is whispering in an attempt not to hear my own voice, which is...not really much better than sitting like a stump at a group dinner because I can't hear what anyone else is saying.

The plaque (and check) which together comprise "Wise Child's" Readers Choice award arrived yesterday.  The check we deposited in the bank today while we were out and about.  Here is a photograph of the plaque, being modeled by the delightful Mr. Miller.

So, my next order of business is to read another 50ish pages of the Neogenesis page proofs.  Lunch is on the schedule, and, very possibly, a nap, because we not only got up at stoopid o'clock to take the car in, but we got flu shots (the high-test flu shots reserved for those of us who are temporally elongated), too.

Everybody be good.

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[personal profile] rolanni

For those following along at home:  The hearphone movie test was inconclusive.  I could, indeed, hear the dialog in Fantastic Beasts clearly while wearing the hearphones, but!  So could I without.  I am forced to conclude that the speakers on the new television set are superior to those in the local movie theater.

I have not yet done the Noisy Bar test drive.  I have a window of opportunity tomorrow, when I need to be in Augusta insanely early so the car can get its 10,000 mile inspection, fine-tuning, whatever.  Steve has bravely volunteered to go with me, and the plan (The Plan) is that, after the car is taken care of, we shall adjourn to IHOP, which is really pretty noisy, and I will do a test there.

One of the things that's really freaky about the hearphones, besides hearing yourself talk through your ears, is that there's a option for "silence" -- which turns off your ears.  Or at least feels like it's turned off your ears.  No input gets through.

In other news, the page proofs for Neogenesis, the twenty-first book in the Liaden Universe®; the eleventh Liaden book we've written for Baen -- landed in my in-box yesterday.  Today, after breakfast, Sprite and I sat down with our red pen and our sticky tabs and went over the front matter and the first 48 pages, which takes us through the first section/chapter.

I will now go on to other things, including working on Fifth of Five, the sequel to Neogenesis and the last book in both the five-book arc beginning with Dragon in Exile, and the last book in the arc begun 29 years ago, in Agent of Change.

Twenty-nine years ago.

Well.  I guess I've earned those purple hairs.

Before anyone asks:  Nope, still don't know when the eArc of Neogenesis will appear at a Baen.com near you.  The last word I had, from two "Baen insiders" (editors, actually, but "Baen insiders" sounds infinitely cooler than "editor") was that the eArc would be available in September.  That is the sum of my knowledge on the subject (honest!).  If you need to know more, you need to write to Baen.

What else?  The fountain pen experiment continues to go well.  I have one pen (out of, er, four?  that escalated quickly) that I'm not really crazy about, but I am declaring success.

So, that seems to be all the news.  Everybody be well.

48 / 435 pages


Burdock of Flourish

Sep. 18th, 2017 09:10 pm
[personal profile] ismo
I had my scheduled checkup with the doctor this morning at 8:30, after waking up about 4 and not being able to go back to sleep. Hilarious/discouraging, depending on your point of view: after all my efforts to exercise and my attention to my diet, I weight exactly what I did last time. I mean, EXACTLY. However, my A1C went down a tenth of a point. My doctor is not particularly worried about it and says I can come back in six months and we'll see. I haven't been using my Symbicort inhaler since we went to Helsinki, and it doesn't seem to have affected me in the least. She says I can continue to not use it if I want, but if I start wheezing or needing to use the emergency inhaler frequently, I have to start again. That's okay with me. It's super expensive, so it would be nice not to need it any more. Also, if I get very thirsty or have other diabetic symptoms, I have to call her immediately. I got my flu shot and my last pneumonia shot, one in each arm. I was doing all right until supper time, but now both of my arms hurt and I'm feeling wiped out. I also had a LONG conversation with my mother, which seems to have cheered her up but did not have that effect on me. Whoever is giving her their New York Times should stop it, please. It is a lot of work to converse pleasantly when the topic is politics.

The water was off most of the day for some kind of repairs. Last night, the power went out for a couple of hours. The reason, as given on the power company website: "trees." Are the Huorns toying with us? What's going on here? I spent as much time as possible out of the house. Pursuant to the phantom lure of fitness, I went for a walk. As I passed by the lake, it was misty and overcast, and it seemed to me that autumn had finally laid its hand across the trees. However, the weather persons say that temperatures this week will be close to 90. Cats and dogs living together, I'm telling you!

Rowan of Flourish

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:38 pm
[personal profile] ismo
We came home from Washington DC last night, tired but happy. I had a lovely time visiting with Tron, and the Lumberjack was also able to come in to town and have dinner with us on Thursday night. Tonight we tried to attend a symphony concert. I really enjoyed the first two pieces. One was a world premiere of a piece by an American composer, Jeremy Crosmer, called "Ozark Traveler: A Celebration of Americana." It incorporated homages to Bernstein, Copland, and Charles Ives, and it was beautiful and fun. The next was a piece commissioned by violinist Sarah Chang. David Newman created a "mini violin concerto" based on West Side Story, "Suite from West Side Story for Violin and Orchestra." Sarah Chang herself played, in an amazing virtuoso performance. I was really enjoying the evening when my eyes started watering, and I nearly choked myself in an effort not to sneeze until the melody ended. It's just misery having a coughing spasm in a concert hall. The Sparrowhawk was kind enough to take me home and skip the second half of the program. I guess I was a little over ambitious.

The weekly ketchup

Sep. 16th, 2017 12:48 pm
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

. . .bearing in mind, as always, that, in my accent, "ketchup" rhymes with "catch-up".

So, let's see. . .

I finished the story I was working on, in first draft; it's resting at the moment, titleless, and with a page of notes.  I'll get back to it, oh, early or mid-October; plenty of time for a mid-November hand-in.  I'm anticipating that the finished story will be about 10,000 words.  Including, yanno, the title.

On the mundane side of life, Steve came home from Maryland; I celebrated my 65th birthday quietly, and managed to miss yoga two weeks in a row because Reasons.  I shall endeavor to do better this week.

Fifth of Five is moving along. . .slowly.  Clean-up books are hard.

I've gotten in a couple more fountain pens -- demonstrator pens, so called, which take ink in right from the bottle via a piston mechanism -- and some fun colored ink:  Noodler's Borealis Black; Noodler's Wampum Purple; Diamine Ancient Copper; Diamine Sherwood Green.  The company I bought the demonstrators from, included a bonus eyedropper pen -- no piston, you fill the barrel via an eyedropper.

One of my new pens has a bold nib, which I'm tentatively preferring over what has been my go-to, the medium-nib Pilot Metropolitan.  The ink flow seems smoother -- granted, this may be the difference in the inks; the Metropolitan uses a cartridge.

While I was ordering things in, I also committed a new coloring book:  The Art of Cursive, which looks like a lot of fun.

Let's see. . .my new glasses arrived, so, yay! new glasses!

On Thursday, Steve and I drove three hours one way to the Burlington Mall in -- surprise! -- Burlington, Massachusetts, there to sign books at the BN (which is technically across from the Mall), and also to test drive a pair of Bose Hearphones.  Frequent auditors of this journal will recall that I'm starting to lose my hearing, as one apparently does, especially if one spent a Large-ish Chunk of one's life, earphones in, typing copy from a Dictaphone.  Anyway. . .hearing aids not required at this point, says the last person who evaluated my hearing, right before the insurance companies decided they weren't in the ear bidness.  However! More than a few studies now have indicated that people who have uncorrected hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia; and! that for the best results from hearing aids, one ought to start using an assist before the loss is so significant as to be disabling.

Thus, the Hearphones, which Bose is very careful to say are not hearing aids; they merely assist in direction hearing, and in blocking out background noise.

I did a test drive at the store with the trainer.  He asked me what I would be using them for, and we briefly discussed the fact that writers spend a lot of their time in bars, and I can no longer hear my tablemates in that setting.  So we did that scenario first -- he pulled up a recording of a 250-people restaurant, and had me adjust the gain on the Hearphones, until I could hear him speaking directly to me.  I could still hear the background noise, if I concentrated, but it was a whole lot easier just to listen to him.

One of the weird things is that you also hear yourself, sorta like using a microphone. . . which, actually, I guess you are.

The trainer then asked if there was anything else, and I said, yes -- movies, television.  I can't hear dialog any more.

So, he pulled up a clip of The Theory of Everything, where Eddie Redmayne is explaining Life, the Universe, and Everything to the nice young lady, and I heard every word, clean and clear.

When the clip ended, the trainer asked how that had worked for me, and my answer was, "I watched Fantastic Beasts and I did not understand one word that man said during the whole movie!  This -- I got everything."

So, I brought the Hearphones home.  They are not cheap, and they are getting a rigorous field testing, because they can be taken back to a Bose with no penalty within 30 days.  And the Extra Good News Is? We don't have to drive 6 hours round trip to take them back, if that proves necessary.  They can be returned to the Bose store in Kittery (which doesn't sell the item, sigh), a mere hour-and-a-half down the road.

Today's test was to be Fantastic Beasts, but, when I put on the Hearphones, I was told that the charge was dangerously low; which is a little scary because I charged them yesterday. It's certainly possible that I forgot to turn them off after my tutorial session yesterday, but a device with a two hour charge isn't going to be as useful as it might be.

In any case, after the Hearphones are charged -- Fantastic Beasts.  If we pass Mr. Redmayne, then Steve and I will take ourselves out to a noisy bar, and I'll see if I can hear him through the din.

. . .I think that about catches us up -- Oh.  No.  I am remiss in reporting that I purchased a blue Totoro at the BN.  Yes, I am weak.

Everybody have a good weekend.

(no subject)

Sep. 13th, 2017 07:22 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Posting from my extremely fancy hotel room in the Park Hyatt in Washington DC. I'm waiting for the Sparrowhawk to return from the events he's attending at the conference that brought him here, so I'm catching up with some internet things, which seems like a luxury after the last week. We arrived this morning after getting up at 4:30 for a 7:30 flight. That's the part of traveling that I hate. For some reason one always has to get up at some ungodly hour. And I couldn't got to bed early last night, because I wanted to finish the Sparrowhawk's birthday cake. He had one delicious chocolate slice, and we froze the rest for later.

I wasn't sure I wanted to travel any more right now, but the Sparrowhawk really wanted me to come with him, and I was looking forward to seeing Tron and the Lumberjack. Our room wasn't ready, so we sat around in the hotel restaurant having breakfast with a couple who had been on the plane with us--one of them is a work colleague of his. The Sparrowhawk was given his oatmeal free of charge after the wait person dumped a pitcher of milk over his computer bag! No harm done, fortunately. We dawdled over breakfast, hoping our room would be ready. Then Tron texted to say she was taking the metro to Foggy Bottom and would come and have lunch with us.

By the time she arrived, the Sparrowhawk had to leave for his conference, but he said hello, and then we had a lovely lunch. The restaurant brings a bowl already adorned with garnishes and then the waiter pours the soup (in this case, mushroom) out of a piping hot cast-iron teapot. A glass of Gruner Veltliner, a salad for Tron, and we were all set. For me, it was breakfast segueing into lunch, but I made up for it by not having dinner. Tron came up to the room for a few minutes, when it was ready, and was very impressed. She opened the closet and exclaimed, "It's like a nightclub in here!" It is--it has lights and mirrors. Not at all the kind of place that would take you to Narnia. It would probably go to Fhloston Paradise instead! I tried to nap in the room after Tron left, but couldn't. When I talked to my mother, she said that she and her sister used to live just a couple of blocks away from where we are--at 25th and Pennsylvania. I think that apartment building is long gone, but maybe I'll walk over there and have a look tomorrow.


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