Day Job Woes

Before I begin, a word from our sponsors: my Steampunk adventure Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia is just $1.99 for Kindle right now.

Promo spot over; back to the plot.

My regular readers (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Epping Forest) will have noticed that I’ve kind of broken my own rules for the last couple of weeks. I’d been making a point of posting here at least twice a week, and things had actually been going pretty well.

And then came the day job problems.

headdesk

Thanks to a problem that came up, the other developers and I have been in all-hands-to-the-pumps mode, making urgent updates to a bunch of web applications. I’m not going into more detail than that; it’s not that important or interesting.

As a side-effect, my regular work has had to take a back seat—but it still has to be done, so that’s meant I’ve had to work an extra couple of hours every day during the week. This morning (Saturday) I worked five hours to catch up some more. Right now I’m at a point where I can actually catch a breath, although I know Monday is going to hit the reset button and it’ll be back to panic mode.

The point being that my other work—writing, and other things I like to do—got pushed right off the cliff.

So: no blog posts the last couple of weeks. No work at all done on the timelining I’ve been working on for the SF book series. Basically I’ve been too tired to focus on anything that requires use of the brain.

Instead, what time I’ve had has been spent watching TV (Doc Martin, Dark Matter season 3); playing games (I just bought Dishonored and it’s a blast—one of the best I’ve played in a while); and reading (I’m partway into A Voyage to Arcturus, and I don’t want to hear any snide comments about it).

One other thing: I think I mentioned that I’d been watching a gentle British comedy called Detectorists on Netflix. It stars Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones as couple of ordinary guys who also happen to be (surprise!) detectorists—that is, they spend their spare hours out and about with metal detectors, finding bottle caps and ring pulls. And occasionally, cash, and parts of WWII German bombers. And sometimes, gold. Watching the show reminded me as a teenager I’d wanted a metal detector to mess with.

So I’ve bought one. Nothing fancy or expensive, but perfectly fine for the hobbyist. I haven’t had a chance yet to get out with it—it’s actually been raining almost every day for the last couple of weeks here in Colorado, and in any case I really need to get a cheap pair of headphones and a small shovel before I go detecting. But I’m looking forward to getting some exercise and fresh air, and you never know, maybe finding the odd trinket I can sell on eBay. Depending on the weather, I might get out with it for a bit tomorrow.

Now, as for the rest of today, I have a free afternoon, so I’m about to grab a coffee and get back to those timelines. I have something like five hundred scenes to timeline and so far I’ve done nineteen. There’s a long way to go. Time to get busy.

Until next time…

New Look

LIKE the new web page? Actually this all started out when I went to refresh a few things on the page and the thing flung me a message telling me that the theme I had couldn’t do what I wanted because it had been retired and wasn’t supported any more. Oh, well. So I picked out a new theme (another free one, because I’m a cheap git), and did a little customising and stuff. It might not be final, either—I like it but it puts the archives and stuff at the bottom instead of on the side, and I don’t like that. So I might find a different theme (or experiment with a few until I find one I really like).

I also went ahead and paid a bit of cash to upgrade from the Cheap Git plan (that is, the free one) to the next one up. So now you might notice that there are no ads. Yay!

Finally, I’m posting this mostly because I feel like slamming down a few words, but also because the sharing configuration was playing up a bit when it tried to send posts over to Google+ and this is going to test to make sure it’s fixed now.

On that note, that’s it for now.

[UPDATE: I changed it again, to get the widgets on the side. I’ll probably be tweaking it a bit too.]

Ranting and Reading and TV, Oh My

THINGS have been… well, hectic is the first word that comes to mind. I’ve been working ten-hour days and seven-day weeks on the day-job project for a few months. Hence: no blog posts, little Twitter activity, and so on. Most days after finishing work I’ve been too tired to do anything more than watch TV until I fall asleep.

At last, that’s coming to a close. Today is the first Saturday I haven’t had to work in quite a while (well, almost; I did about an hour first thing to tidy up a couple of little jobs). And so, time for a blog post. Whee!

So first, let me get the obligatory Trump rant out of the way. Yes, I’m worried. I’m concerned for the twenty million or more people who could lose medical insurance cover (including the people who voted for Trump thinking he didn’t really mean what he said about repealing the ACA… you silly people, you), and I worry about what the impact of a bigoted administration on minorities is likely to be, and I’m scared half to death about the long-term damage a cabinet-load of shit-for-brains climate change deniers will be, and I’m really worried about what a thin-skinned “president” with the maturity of a twelve-year old and access to the nuclear arsenal could do if someone slights him and sets him stomping his little feet.

Whatever happens, the country (and the rest of the world) is in for a rough ride, but there are a few glimmers of hope: there’s still the chance that the Electoral College will do their duty come December 19 and reject Trump the Chump; if they don’t, there’s the possibility that he’ll do something incredibly stupid and illegal that’ll get him impeached (I can kinda see that happening before this time next year, to be honest); meanwhile there are plenty of sensible people on both sides of the aisle who’ll oppose him and his Bizarro-world cabinet of defectives, hopefully enough to be able to stop some of the worst from coming to pass; and then there are the activists like the ACLU and others who’ll be doing their level best, too. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but the alternative is ulcers, and having had one of those I’m trying to stay hopeful.

RANT OVER.

Now to other things. As I said, I’m back to something like normal on the work front, and that means more time for other things INCLUDING GETTING BACK TO WRITING, YAY! The Artemis Device has been sitting there since, what, April? waiting for me to edit it so that it can be published. I actually did some work on it today. After so long away from it, I’m rusty; I still haven’t finished chapter 1, even. But I’ll do some more tomorrow and I plan on setting some time aside on work days, too, to get more done. The more I do, the more momentum I’ll get built up and the easier it’ll get. I’ll be glad when it’s all finished, because I have two other writing projects I want to work on but I’m not allowing myself to get sidetracked until this editing is done, done, done. But boy, today was kinda rough.

What else?

Reading: I’m about 80% through Abaddon’s Gate (book three of The Expanse). Damn, these books are good.

TV: I admit it, I can be a terrible binge-watcher at times. I’m finally watching the last couple of seasons of The X-Files (for the first time ever). I watched both seasons of Carnivàle (don’t you hate it when a damned good show gets cancelled because, hey, good TV don’t mean nothin’ if the advertisers aren’t making their pile). I’ve been watching Fringe again, and I’m part way into season 4. Things on my list that I haven’t got to yet: Westworld and Twelve Monkeys.

Enough blog post for now. I call beer o’clock, and time for dinner. Meanwhile, here’s Vixey the cat to keep you company:

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Until next time, gentle reader…

Vacation

What I Did On My Holidays

THIS is more of a diary entry than anything else. Most pro writers agree you should write something every day. And so…

Dear diary…

I took extra days off work to bridge the gap between the Labor Day weekend and the next, so I have a nine day break, of which I have three and a half days left. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Writing Stuff

ON Sunday I went through a three-and-a-half hour editing marathon that finished the long-running first pass of The Artemis Device at long last. That went off to my editor the next day, so now it’s just a matter of waiting until she gets a chance to look at it from her side and start feeding back suggestions for improvements. Not holding my breath, as I know she has at least two other projects on her plate right now.

So the plan is to get started into my own self-editing pass of the next project, Smoke & Mirrors. I’ve deliberately taken a breather before I get on with that, but now I feel ready and I’ll probably get to it tomorrow or even (time permitting) later today.

I’ve also been writing a series of blog posts about Google Chrome. You might have seen them. I have a couple more written and scheduled to auto-publish over the next few days.

Bought a New Printer

OLD printer was old. It kept getting clogged print heads and was having problems feeding paper. So I took advantage of a Labor Day special at Office Depot, and got a nice new printer for $50. It’s wifi so we can set it up pretty much anywhere, and thanks to Google Cloud Print we can print stuff directly from phones and tablets from anywhere we have an Internet connection. Nice.

Watching TV

NO vacation would be complete without some actual rest, and in my case that means lying in bed and watching TV. I watch quite a bit on my tablet using the Netflix app. Recently I’ve been watching The 4400, which despite being more than ten years old, I’d never heard of until recently. I’ve also been re-watching Warehouse 13. Fun show, that. I actually wanted to watch The Dresden Files again, but it’s disappeared from Netflix (why? WHY?), so I’ll have to see about buying it on DVD, if it’s even available.

Reading

CHUCK Wendig’s Miriam Black books, a book about writing (The Snowflake Method), and Ian Watson’s God’s World (which is SF, by the way, not a bible tract).

Pest Control

THE warm weather brought with it an influx of insects. Earwigs (which seem to have died down without help from me), and tiny little red ants which (thank you, Internet) I was able to identify as grease ants. I bought some stuff from Home Depot that took care of that problem in two or three days, and they haven’t come back. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

That’s enough for now. Until next time . . .

Various Sundry Items

I haven’t written anything here for ages… Since March, apparently.

No excuses. Yes, I’ve been really, really busy at the day job, and that hasn’t left a lot of time for much else. But if I’m honest, I could have probably found a few minutes here and there to put a post or two together. I have most definitely been remiss. But anyway, things have slowed down a bit, so—at least for the time being—I do have a bit more time. And so…

Writing Progress

WORK on The Artemis Device was going very slowly until recently (same reasons—not enough free time) but the last week or so has seen a change in that. I finished a related set of new scenes that I’ve been bashing my head against for a while. I have notes in place for seven or eight more, yet to be written, and I’ll be getting into those soon. Under normal circumstances I’d be doing that over the weekend, but there are other things around the house that I really must take care of: there are boxes in the basement and garage that need to be unpacked and reorganised, and I’m planning a big push on that tomorrow. If I can hit my targets, I might be able to spend some time Sunday working on writing. Fingers crossed on that.

I also did find some time to do a little bit of editing work on the Smoke and Mirrors project. Mostly just reading it back through, looking for obvious mistakes. That one is on the back burner for the foreseeable future, though.

Well, it turns out this is going to be just a short post. It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve just finished the day job work, and now I have to go and run a few errands. But I will be making more of an effort to post here more often. I promise.

Until next time…

Resurrection

THE aftermath of the house move continues . . .

We’re still basically recovering from the move. (Yes, I know, it’s been well over a week. We’re taking our time, and in any case after several weeks of back breaking work followed by a killer weekend—see the previous post—I think we deserve to go at our own pace. That’s our excuse and we’re sticking with it.)

Bathrooms have been cleared of boxes and fully usable pretty much since day one, except for one that’s waiting for me to hang a new shower door. The kitchen is, as of last weekend, fully usable. The master bedroom is usable but still has a lot of boxes on the floor; much the same is true of the office. The living room is still a bit of a disaster area, although it’s not as bad as it looks because there’s a sofa and love seat hidden under the boxes—so there aren’t as many boxes as it appears.

As a result of all that, writing is still suffering some. I’ve managed a couple of hundred words on the Gunn & Bohemia sequel, and that’s all. The problem isn’t really that the house thing is taking time away from writing (it is, but not too badly) so much as that it’s been really, really hard to get my writing momentum back. I need to just write—any old thing at all will do, whether it’s a blog post or a throw-away few hundred words of fiction or an idea for a story. Hence this blog post.

A while ago I mentioned that I need to write something every day. The house move killed that. I need to resurrect it.

Until next time . . .

Is This Thing On?

Back On The Air

I haven’t had time to catch my breath, let alone write even a short blog post, for a couple of weeks. I haven’t even found time for Twitter. My laptop was packed up, and there were some problems getting Internet up and running in the new place (but that’s nothing next to the problems I had getting the phone working; I won’t go into that here). However . . .

The House Move Thing

THE house move is OVER.

Or at least, the worst part—the actual moving of all our stuff from the old place to the new—is all done. We still have piles of boxes cluttering up just about every room, closet, and hallway, waiting to be opened and emptied into cabinets and onto shelves, but that can be done at a relatively leisurely pace.

Relative to what? The answer to that centres on the fact that the last week has been a nightmare. It became obvious that going the way we were, trying to pack and move just about everything on our own just using a car, was going to take weeks. So we called around and found a moving company that could help at short notice, and with their help we got all the larger things and a lot of the packed up stuff moved over. (I’d already loaded a three-seater sofa and matching two-seater love seat onto our rented truck single-handed; not bad for someone as out of shape as I am. I really need to get more exercise.)

That still left a LOT of smaller things. We worked—and I mean worked, hard—for forty, count’em, forty, hours, with only the shortest breaks for food and drinks. By around the thirty hour mark I was so tired I was hallucinating; my eyes made people out of shadows, I kept thinking I could see men in the corners of the rooms and under the truck. In my whackedness I managed to cause a shelf unit to overbalance and fall on Kate’s shoulder, then I couldn’t get a grip on the damned thing to lift it off her.

I finally got the last things out, and locked up the old place, just before midnight Sunday. Then I went to the new place, climbed into the bed, and died. (I truly expected to sleep for at least twelve hours, but woke up after about six. I still don’t feel like I’ve had enough sleep the last couple of days.)

And now, as I mentioned, we have a lot of unpacking ahead of us. The kitchen and living room are basically unusable because the floors are covered with boxes. My office desk was that way, too, until circumstances this morning forced me to do a rush job of clearing enough space to set up the work laptop. But I have to say that, even with the remaining clutter around me, working at this desk (I’m sitting behind it right now) is a dream. A few more days of organising things, then I think I should be able to allow myself some time to get back to writing. And about time, too.

One good thing for now is that I have some time for blogging, Twitter, and so on, so expect to see more activity there.

Until next time, gentle reader . . .