Day 15

We put together this futon tonight, and a rhino immediately moved in to the new habitat.

Those brown sheets are extremely temporary, until the futon cover we ordered comes in.

The missing chair

A quick note before I go to bed for day 14.

As part of our big furniture buying event yesterday, we picked up a couple of dining room chairs. We bought the current table/chair setup used, and we’ve been making due with four matching chairs and whatever we had around the house when we needed more.

My parents are coming to visit this coming weekend, and R’s parents will be coming over too. We scrambled for several days last week, trying to remember what had happened to a wooden, old-fashioned office chair that we often used for having people over for dinner. It was big and took up precious real estate in the old apartment, and we discussed getting rid of at least a few times a year.

Well, we couldn’t figure out where in the new house this chair was, and concluded that we must have gotten rid of it after all. R became convinced briefly that he had taken it down to the apartment dumpster at some point, where everyone always left their decent old furniture for someone else to find.

So we bought two new chairs yesterday, after much sitting and discussing and sitting again in an overwhelming variety of dining room chairs.

This afternoon, R walked into the kitchen while I was making lunch to tell me something. He knew where the old wooden office chair was. In fact, we had both been sitting in the damn thing on a daily basis, as it’s the chair at the front of the house we sit in to put on our shoes.

I stared at my husband for a long moment, trying to process this information. Finally, I started laughing and pronounced us both completely insane.

It’s fine, though. I’m glad we have two new chairs for the dining table. The old office chair was big and bulky, with arms, so it sat awkwardly at the table.

And we’d both been sitting in the stupid thing at least twice a day for several months. This sort of thing is a daily occurrence at our house.

Day 13 – just barely

Managing to squeeze in today’s blog post around 11pm after a very long day.

We went to the Families Belong Together rally at the Texas Capitol Building this afternoon. That was uplifting. The lawn was pretty full early on with a good turnout. I think that as people get re-acclimated to the idea of going out for rallies and marches, we’ll start seeing numbers comparable to the protest events against the Iraq War during the Bush years. And it may keep growing from that.

After that we spent way too much time and a lot of money at Ikea for some things we need around the house. And I now have to make a run to the craft store for supplies to hack an Ikea futon frame to make the mattress we already have and ridiculous purple microfiber cover we bought for it actually work.

We saw the West World second season finale last night, and wow. I wish I was more well-read on the various philosophical ideas about the nature of reality, because I really want to pick that whole thing apart with a sharp scalpel to figure out why it works so well. I was blown away by the whole season. I need to sit down and gather all my thoughts and vague ideas about it, because it’s like I just saw an evolved form of a lot of my ideas about mythology. It was so good. I have no idea what they’re going to do or where they’re going to go in the third season, because arguably everything that mattered was completely tied up, all the important questions answered. But their writers are really fucking good so it’ll probably be fun.

I had an epiphany the other day about marketing, which I hate but need to get over if I’m going to go full bore with this freelancing thing. I’ve been stuck in a loop of reading all this advice on techniques, tactics, tools, and metrics, but never quite able to push myself outside of a low confidence loop where I was convinced I just didn’t know enough to do it right, that I’d fuck up any possibility of getting work if I started my marketing efforts in a way that was somehow wrong. But here’s the thing.

Marketing is stupid. Really stupid. It doesn’t have to be smart. It doesn’t need precise measurements, despite the whole industry’s convictions to the contrary that has led to nightmarish levels of segmentation and sifting through the incredibly deeply research and pattern-matched deep dark secret desires of every single person in the developed world. But all of that, all of it, is completely unnecessary, a massive waste of resources and time.

Marketing is just making noise. That’s it, that’s what marketing is. You have a thing you want people to know about, so you go out into a place where people are and you make noise about it until someone who needs or wants the thing you’re shouting about hears you and comes over to find out more. That’s it. That’s basic marketing.

Good marketing, where the art used to come in, is figuring who is most likely to give a shit about your thing, and where in the crowd those people are most likely to be. Excellent marketing is when, after you figure out where they’re likely to be, you manage to adjust your shouting and spectacle-making into something more precise, so that instead of making noise about the thing, you’re making noise about the problem that makes those people need your thing. Marketing is just making noise at people who need your thing about the reason they need your thing.

It’s not rocket science, and broad categories are fine. This extremely refined targeting crap that Facebook has been offering for a few years goes way beyond that. If I’m trying to sell a book on self esteem, I don’t need to know why 32 year old mixed race women with expired gym memberships who have recently bought a specific pair of shoes are cheating on their diets today. If you need data that specific, if you’ve got a product that specific, you’re a shit marketer and you have a shit product.

That said, I’m probably about to re-up my Google Analytics and Google Adwords certifications after a lapse of several years, because I need work and, much to the detriment of my fight against looming existential crisis, digital marketing is what I know and if I could just shut my overly complicated and moralistic anxieties down for a couple of months I could make a decent chunk of money.

I should figure out how to gamify marketing metrics on my projects, beyond “if x revenue is hit this month, I can finally buy Skyward Sword.” Need to think on that. It might worth going back to Habitica and tying a character to project marketing goals. Figuring out how to automate that would be a good learn-to-code project. I need to think about that.


Day 12

This morning I drove into town to go to the office I’ve been working at, several hours early. I printed out a letter to their HR person, my time sheet for the current period, and a note I left taped to the keyboard. I then scorch-earthed my data off of that computer, slipped a thick envelope under the HR person’s door, and walked out before anyone showed up for the work day.

As much as I might have fantasized about things to the contrary, in real life I don’t care for drama or theatrics. Treat me like shit and I will leave, but I’ll do it quietly. I understand now why it took them six months to fill the job, and I regret not listening to my gut reaction when I met the person I was to be the assistant to. A lesson learned.

I’m very grateful to be in a situation where I could walk out before I found replacement income, and I’m looking forward to using the time to redirect a lot of energy into getting my freelance career going again. The amount of anger vibrating through my body for the last 24 hours has been like a sword of fire melting through a glacial block of anxiety and depression around what I really want to be doing professionally, and I intend to take advantage of it while I have it.

All endings are new beginnings. Excelsior.

Some thoughts

I’m tired of feeling despair every single time I read the news. I’m tired of the Democratic leadership being so damn spineless. I’m glad that a Democratic-Socialist won her primary in New York.

There was an interesting piece in The Guardian yesterday suggesting that unions need to look at how the NRA has build up influence, and figure out how to apply those lessons to their own organizing efforts.

“To even call the NRA a “gun lobby” obscures the real source of its power: its members. The respective opponents of unions and the NRA both focus disproportionately on their money. Gun control advocates organize boycottsto “defund the NRA”; unions still get called “big labor” with a straight face by business lobbies that outspend them 10 to 1. This kind of economic reductionism misses the real added value membership organizations offer to the parties they favor: boots on the ground for elections.”

The NRA is somewhere between a club and a cult in its ability to move a significant number of people in one direction all at once. It grosses me out to admit, but that’s what power is. Unions have had that power in the past, and they could again. Millions of people in this country share in common the fact that they are being paid too little for too much work, and that’s because of the erosion of workers rights. A new labor movement, with an edict to fight racism, sexism, and other intersectional issues that oppress workers, would be the ultimate nightmare of these monsters who have stolen the country from regular people.

The labor movement in the past had a lot of issues that would be need be addressed, from racism to ending the protection of sexual abusers.

Day 11

Day 10

Huzzah, after a session of turning every single one of my plug-ins off and on again, the WordPress mobile app appears to be working again.

Due to these technical issues, I missed posting again yesterday, alas. I’ve decided to start a spreadsheet for tracking how I’m doing. I should find something that can visually represent the stats, maybe gamify it. I’m adding that as a research project to my to do list.

We’re scrambling to get the house ready for my parents to visit, which means dealing with some rooms that are still full of unopened boxes, and getting furniture we intended to buy weeks ago to store all the stuff in those boxes. It’s somewhat stressful.

I went a bit catatonic yesterday over all the news out of the Supreme Court. It’s a grim time. There’s a march this Saturday in Austin, and we plan to be there. And after that I’m going to start looking for volunteer work for either the Dems or the DSA (or both, we’ll see). The thing about anger, horror, disgust, it’s all just energy that can be redirected into a collective effort to stop the things you’re so pissed about.

We’re not helpless. We have the ill luck to be living in a time that all of the rest of history will judge the United States, and perhaps the West as a whole, by. The immigrant issues at the border are born out of the same place that has incarcerated minority youth on a mass scale, so we can’t stop at demanding asylum for people fleeing violence in Central America. It must be demanded, with no compromise, that all human beings have rights, that biased laws and systems need to be abolished, that we all have the right to adequate food, water, shelter, education, and control over our own destinies. That no one has the right to accumulate vast quantities of wealth to the detriment of other people.

We can stop this.

Carrying on

I broke my posting streak yesterday, so no day 7. I have decided that does not mean starting over or giving up, so here it is day 8 of my attempt to blog every day for 90 days. I won’t be at 100%, but I will keep going and keep counting. The point of the exercise to get myself writing again.

This week will be a bit wobbly and likely short-winded, as I’m trying to finish up a class ASAP that involves building three websites and about 12 hours of remaining lecture. I’d really like to be done with it this week, but we’ll see.

I’ve set up a routine, now that the house is a bit more arranged for it, to watch my class lectures down stairs on the main tv and take notes while lounging on the couch, then head upstairs to build whatever it is on the desktop. Once we have the futon set up for the upstairs landing/living area, I’ll probably do my classes in there, closer to the office.

This is all part of an effort to note where I like to be at certain parts of the day and arrange to the greatest extant possible for the thing I need to do be directly in front of me. I probably should have been medicated for ADHD years ago, but I’m still getting by with my coping mechanisms.

I grabbed a couple of books over the last few days; The Collected Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Steve Hassan’s Combating Cult Mind Control. The former I picked up because I’ve been meaning to do a read through of her works, and the latter was the result of rabbit holing down Google for an idea for a story.

I’m about half way through Sanderson’s Shadows of Self, and it’s picked up the pace. I forget how slow his books tend to start out; they’re usually better to take in as quickly as possible. There is something about Sanderson’s style that feels like his stories are much lighter than they are. There was just a gruesome scene that involved a person murdered by being nailed to a wall through their eye sockets, yet listening to this story still feels like I’m being told a fairy tale. It would be an interesting exercise to dig in and really analyze his style some time. I suspect it’s something in his language choice, a sensation I sometimes get from reading John Scalzi or Chuck Wendig. I also note that all three of these writers are men. Every woman I’ve read lately feels heavy, dark, and visceral. Gods, that would be a weird exercise; why are these gendered authors different?

On the other hand, I think that more classic women speculative fic writers do that have “fairy tale” feel. Anne McCaffrey’s stuff, Vonda McIntyre, any of the weird shit by Andre Norton.

It has just occurred to me that Anne Leckie’s stuff reads like a fairy tale, and she has some truly nighmarish stuff in there.

If I’d made different life choices, this is the sort of thing I’d be publishing papers on right now. I’m not sure what the proper thesis would be, as right now it’s sort a question about what it is about different spec fic authors’ stylistic choices that tickle different parts of my brain in what is likely a wholly subjective and un-measurable way. “Reads like a fairy tale” is terribly vague, and if anyone is bothering to read my stream on consciousness here, I do apologize.

Ah, but I have an example of an author doing both. Kameron Hurley’s The Stars are Legion is really fucking weird, but it also had that old school scifi-fairy tale thing going on. Most of her other stuff I’ve read has been stimulating in other, often horrifying (delightfully so), ways. Maybe it’s the type of story, or the angle of it. I would have to re-read so much stuff to figure out what it is I’m even talking about, and I’d probably just end up using it for a class on book marketing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, we all have bills to pay, and there probably is something genuinely useful in this vague question I’m trying to ask.

I may shelve this idea until the fall, when I hope to have a little bit of slack for an utterly ridiculous project like a research paper on why different books give me different feels.

posting day 6

Not much time to write today. I wanted to do an image post of some pictures I took in Rome, but this old Chromebook I’m working on has decided to demonstrate its increasing obsolescence, and the WordPress mobile app is throwing some sort of fit today when I try to add pictures from my phone.

I’ll have to find a work around for that, if I want to maintain my daily posting streak.

Day 6!

We’re going to a play this evening, and I’m sure I’ll have all sorts of things to say about that tomorrow. It’s a very unique production of Richard III.

Octopath is going to eat my brain

drawing of woman holding a bow, text says "octopath traveler"

Octopath Traveler is pretty much everything that I like in a game. It’s an RPG-style adventure that uses pixel art in a 3-D world. There are eight characters with different stories to play through, and the world seems fun and complex.

I played for an hour in the free demo on Nintendo Switch last night, and it convinced me to buy the full game when it comes out next month. It uses turn-based combat that has plenty of opportunity for strategizing to defeat opponents. There are lots of weird monsters wandering around outside the towns for random encounters.

I started out playing Tressa, the young merchants’ daughter who sets out on an adventure to see the world. I got killed fighting pirates, and stopped for the night there. I easily could have played this game for a few hours.

It has a very classic games feel, between the art and the mechanics, that promises lots of fun. The setup for all the stories feels well thought out, too, which will also help to keep my attention.

I’m looking forward to the full release in a few weeks!

Day 5 of posting a blog every day for 90 days.

On finding The Great Courses on Audible

columns of an ancient ruin

Yesterday I figured out that most of the Great Courses are available on Audible at a pretty significant discount, so I may not be listening to much fiction for a while. There’s a whole series on ancient civilizations, and I might be salivating a little.

So much science, and a series on writing craft.

I started looking at Great Courses because I had the thought yesterday, during my daily slog through The Penguin History of the World, that I never had the chance to take a class on Homer’s works, so I’ve never actually read The Odyssey. History of the World was making the argument that Homer’s works are the collected stories of memories of the fall of the Aegean civilizations that led to the first Dark Age, which may have been triggered by a major assault on Troy around then that is visible in the archaeology. Thinking about Homer’s works that way, as an eye into the end times of an ancient civilization, I suddenly wanted to read the work in its entirety, but realized that having a guide in the form of a class would let me get more out of it. That led me on a search for a good online class and the website of The Great Courses.

I’m not jumping into that one right away, but I have realized that I’d like to go through classes on the major mythological works of the ancient world, from the Bible to the Rigveda. It’s a fun goal that could easily occupy me for a few years, and is certainly relevant to my desire to write epic fantasy and science fiction.

Day 4 of 90 days of blogging.

Luckily, I don’t have a daily word count goal or anything, I just want to post something every day.