Sunday, August 30, 2015

I'm thinking

So many things to think about. Some big, some not so big. Some with consequences, and some with no consequences to speak of. None the less, they are all competing for the very limited number of  thinking cycles in my brain. (No snarky remarks from the peanut gallery!)

Part of the problem is that one can't thoroughly think something through, then put it on a shelf and be done with it. Usually something else intrudes along the way and lucky if it's only one something else.   There is a cost when we stop thinking about something, and start thinking about something else. It's not just mental effort to let a whole bunch of stuff go, so you can load up other stuff so you can think about it. There's actual physical effort. It takes energy. The fact that nothing is seen to be moving doesn't mean nothing is happening.

I was tempted to list all the things that I'm thinking about, off and on, but that would just encourage the things further down the list to yell louder.

Where to start? The default thing in my brain now is my novel. I got some really good advice about a small part of it, but it applies to the whole thing. I'm trying to take a step back and look at it again. I want to clarify what the story is and who is involved for what parts of it. Then comes the part of arranging words on a page so that the reader knows what the story is too and what's more, has a reason, or reasons, to keep turning the page.

It's not just one of three large Scrivener files, each of which I'm pleased to call a novel. All three hook together, and I want to consider all three together. What is the actual sequence of events and why? What do I tell the reader about, and what remains hidden?

Part of the problem is that publishers like to label things. Mystery, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, are just a few of the labels. They know which they are interested in, and how to go about selling them. The buying public is fickle, so there is a lot of uncertainty about the whole process.

There's a joke. How do you end up with a small fortune from farming? Answer, start with a very large  one. (badabump!) The same could be said for publishing.

Of the three files that I'm pleased to call novels (call me an optimist), one is a mystery and sideways love story. One is mostly science-fiction with a hint of mystery. The last one, well, I don't know. Modern life. Beyond one tiny very plausible thing, it's all life as we know it. A big mix of stuff.

Expect me to be working on this for a while. At the moment I'm trying to think about it as a unified whole, broken into reasonable sized chunks, each individually packaged. Later, with great fanfare I'll announce a boxed set, a few with autographs for the faithful fans. (You remember what I said about being an optimist?)

Friday afternoon was spent with my buddy Sean D, drinking beer, eating appetizers and dessert. Neither of us had to go back to the office, so we had several hours of leisurely conversation. I won't say we solved all the problems of the world; we didn't drink that much! But we talked about lots of stuff, including the state of Calgary's market for our profession, that is, business analysts in oil and gas. It's a pretty precarious time. Many of the people we know are not working. One just got a job after looking more than a year.

One of the rules in our business is that you have to make hay while the sun shines. We never know how long till the next contract. I was in a right spot when the music stopped this time. That hasn't always happened. At the moment the job is tough sledding for some reasons I don't propose to get into. The advice, "suck it up, Princess" applies, and is being applied. But I don't think anybody is going to lose the narrative thread if I mention that the words vacation, and retirement, are coming to mind a little more often.

Some lighter topics. We went to the Global fest fireworks show last night. Impressive! If the issues involved in getting many tens of thousands of people out of the park were easier to cope with I'd go every night. As it is, they close 17 Ave for blocks in each direction, and it's full of people heading for wherever they parked, or hope to find their shuttle bus. We did very, very well to be home 45 minutes or so from leaving the park gates.

As it is, we strolled some of the booths, hung out with a buddy, and watched the excellent show with the full moon as a backdrop. It was beautiful. I didn't even try to take photos this year, other than the one of the moonrise below. Why bother when you can go here and look at stunning Neil Zeller images?

And the cats. They had the right idea today. We settled for lunch with buddies, and puttering around.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The prettiest yet

The smoke cleared a bit this morning. Long enough to go for a short run and get the photos below. In the space of a 2 K easy run the air went from fresh with a slight taste of smokey, to just smokey that was beginning to dry out my mouth and make my lungs unhappy. Still, it was my first run in a week or so.

Linda has started some garden clean up already, figuring if she leaves it, the job will only get bigger. In the mean time, there are more lilies! And cats, don't forget to scroll down for the cats.

The cats have been a bit more determined lately to be in my lap. Poor Curtis, Celina curled up on top of him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The inner shark does CSS

Considering this is one of the pools at Talisman for the next month, the other pool wasn't all that busy. Maintenance. It has to happen. I didn't mind so much, but the good hot tub was closed. Sigh.

I've been sleeping really hard lately, but not enough. It was a bit of an effort to drag myself into the pool. Normally I don't do warmup. I just get in and swim. Today I put in about 250 m warmup, slowly getting it together while I tried to decide what to do.

Then I realized I hadn't done the CSS thing for a while, and started that. Normally my first one is fast,  and by the third I'm in the groove. This first 100m was slow, about 1:44, which isn't a good sign. The second was a bit faster, and the third 1:38.

Then my inner shark buddy visited, and I got in the groove, then next 10 or so were 1:41 or 42, cruising along nice and relaxed. The shark was not impressed with the prey at all. We chatted about stuff as I zoomed along. My catch was working really well and it seemed effortless. My reach and roll was spot on, though I noticed a slight hitch as I breathed to my right. Then there were a couple where I was working a bit to maintain pace, and for the last one I busted out a 1:37, just because. I was beginning to feel my arms and shoulders a bit. New goggles made me realize how gunked up the old ones were.

15x100 was enough, and a totally lovely swim with a whole short course lane to myself. Pretty pleased at that, though I can't expect that to happen much in September. Cool down, stretch. I think next time I need to start shortening the rest interval, even though that makes watching the clock and figuring sent off times more complicated. Such is life.

On the way out the sun was just barely visible through the murk.

Still murky this evening. The iPhone camera doesn't do the colour any justice at all. It was a beautiful orange.

We went out for dinner to Patisserie du Soleil. I've been there many times for coffee or lunch, but this was the first time for dinner. I'm really pleased with it. Nice to have a good restaurant within walking distance.

Right behind it is something I'm less pleased about. Do I have to worry about being tainted with it so close? Still building a head of steam, never fear!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Madison via Westlake

The immortal Donald Westlake nailed it, in the words of Chief Inspector Francis Mologna (pronounced Maloney). "No, he didn't take it. No, he wouldn't take it. What did the man think he was? You don't get to be top cop in the great city of New York by takin bribes from strangers."

Used to be your mother's maiden name (and what an anachronism that phrase is) was a common security question. A person's name, address, and phone number might be in the book, or it might not be. The people you actually knew would know more about you, but that typically wasn't a lot of people in the great scheme of things. If they or you moved, you tried to stay in touch with letters or phone calls.

If you were a married person, and wanted to have an affair with someone, your choices were somewhat limited, outside of certain well known professions that involve lots of travel. There was always the risk of being seen with someone you shouldn't be, at the wrong time or place. Oops.

How the world has changed. Social media has changed everything. Some people try to blog anonymously, or used to. That got tricky pretty quickly when they posted race results. When I started this blog I didn't even think about it. I use my real name. I didn't try to hide my address. Why bother? Anybody with the wit to look in any local phone book going back 30 years is going to discover my name, address, and phone number. Good luck calling that number, it's kept to give to people we don't want to talk to.

Then there's Facebook and Twitter, and, and, and. I probably haven't even heard of some of them. Some people share more than others, and thats a personal decision. Someone got the clever idea that hooking together people that wanted to have sex with a non-spousal person would be a good way to make money. What was that Barnum said, "nobody ever went broke underestimating human stupidity." Something like that.

Now, understand me here. I can barely keep one woman happy, and sometimes wonder how well I'm actually doing. Trying to keep two happy is insane. If you want to be out having sex with other people, that's between you and your spouse, and you and the other party. Properly done, nobody ought to get hurt, but almost nobody does it properly. Too many societal expectations cluttering things up. Lots of fallout.

As an aside, the piece of fallout that just baffles me is why someone who has been having an affair with a married person, then convinces that married person to leave their spouse, turns around and marries them. What is the ONE THING beyond doubt they know about their new spouse? That they cheat on their spouse. So, why? Note that trying to be gender neutral here. All those cheatin, lyin, no good men? Think about who they're having sex with.

If you want to have sex with someone, man up, fill your boots, and take responsibility. Be honest about a fundamentally dishonest situation. There's already enough evidence about it. Why would you sign up on a site that takes some information about you, in return for money and a promise to hook you up with someone else, and expect it to stay secret?

As we've seen again and again, it's not the secret that does people in. It's the cover up. Trying to keep the secret a secret in the light of contradictory evidence. It brought down an American president. It's covering the Canadian Senate and Prime Minister's Office with even more disrepute. It's hard to sort out, but there are already claims that people have killed themselves over the Madison exposure. As another side note, anyone that claims God has forgiven them for the sin, and you should too, is trying to steal your money.

It's hard for some people to believe, but nothing put on line is ever going to go away. I wonder what will happen as the current generation of children grow up and are confronted with images or text about their parents doing things they would rather not think about. Or see images of themselves as young people that their parents put out there.

Anybody that thought their signing up with Ashley Madison would stay a secret is stupid. End of story. They didn't think it through. It's not like security breaches are a new thing. Credit card numbers and identities were being stolen long before the internet happened.

Several potential politicians have been caught saying stupid things on social media. Donald Trump seems to be getting away with it so far, but that can only last so long. One recent example was a 21 year old who had some tweets from 4 years ago surface. Oops. I can remember some of the things a 17 year old self might have said in the heat of the moment and I blush. Good thing there was no internet then. Anybody with a trace of honesty will say the same thing.

We need a new paradigm. A new way of thinking about lots of things. I don't know what that looks like, but it starts with honesty, and is based on reality. People want sex, and drugs, and are going to buy and trade for them regardless of what the laws say about it. Whether you think it's right or wrong, the transactions have been a fact, are a fact, and will continue to be a fact. People will say stupid things at inopportune times. We might as well face up to it, and deal with reality.

How do we tell the difference between a 17 year old who says something stupid, and someone who really does mean what they said? Should the person that grew out of that 17 year old be barred from running for any office for the rest of their life? Is an apology enough? Is some form of restitution necessary? How much? How long? So we find out a public official cheated on their spouse, does that disqualify them for office?

More questions. Why do we let politicians get away with their lies? Why aren't we laughing at them to their face? Why do we put up with behaviour from them that would get them fired in any other profession in the country? No other workplace would put up with those antics.

One advantage of social media is that there are the beginnings of grown up conversations beginning to happen. There are still way too many trolls, of course, but we're learning to deal with them. I like to think of this blog as one of the places for those grown up conversations. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A smokey swim

Calgary is under an air quality warning. Smoke from forest fires in BC and Washington are a thick blanket over us. When we can see it at all, the sun is blood red. This morning it looked foggy out. One a scale of 1 to 10 for air quality, we are currently and 11 or 12. Parts of BC are a 14. My eyes are watering when I walk outside. I see people running but I don't think I'm going to until it clears up.

Michelle and I scored an open water swim in Lake Mackenzie tonight! Yay us! Really, yay her for organizing it. I was thinking of doing the under the bridge thing, but since the sun was already gone into the haze, I figured it would be pretty dark. I did an out and back, probably about a K. The water was lovely.

I'm still getting caught up after the cable modem failure. I was thinking about the lack of internet, and how things changed. Maybe I'll blog more about that. Some Sunday post swim photos to hold you over.

In the mean time, must zoom!

The death of a cable modem

It worked Sunday early morning. It didn't work Sunday mid-morning.

I played with it. Encouraged it. Talked firmly to it. Tech support was willing to talk firmly to it, but it wasn't taking calls. It wasn't talking to anybody.

So I'm not ignoring you, it's the cable modem. The plan is to pick up a new one tonight on the way home.

In the meantime I actually had time to read, and (gasp!) finish a book. Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond by my buddy Jayne Barnard. It's a fun steampunk romp. I'd read more of it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The shoes of a stranger

Well, not THAT strange. One of my best friends and all.

It's said that if you want to know someone you have to walk a mile in their shoes. Firstly, I'd never get my feet into them. But I was thinking about that during my run today. (5K, 34 minutes, mostly nice and easy trying to keep cadence up.) We've been talking about all sorts of interesting things. Buying vs renting a house vs condo. Working. Retirement. Places to live. What to do to enjoy living.

It's all been quite wonderful. This is why I think it's important to keep your social circle well mixed. It keeps your opinions and thoughts well mixed too. You don't get stale going over the same old same old.

The same happens with writers too, and explains why we need editors. We get too close to our words, to our stories. We need that outside voice to tell us what they think after reading our words. Just because I can see and hear the characters in my mind, along with all the nuances of the setting, and several variations of the major plot points, does not mean the reader will, unless I give them the right words in the right order. It's very difficult.

So difficult that I want to go back to my book universe, consider what I know about it, then try to set it aside as I think about what the actual story is that I'm trying to tell. See which bits of writing so far, if any, support what I'm trying to do. Then build upon that.

Wish me luck.

If you don't see me for a while, send out a search party. I'm likely bogged down in the Great Swamp of Plot Possibilities.


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