Organizational systems geek out

radar image of of a large storm over Texas and Louisiana

The weather service has been proclaiming the coming of apocalyptic levels of rain now-ish for the last two weeks, constantly pushing the prophecy back by a day or two every time the models shifted. But now, after gradually swirling into existence, the so-called Gulf Disturbance has started to ooze its way onto the Texas coast, pushing inland towards our little river valley.

I’m mostly occupied with trying not to worry about that repaired window maybe not holding up and the dining room flooding while we’re at work.

via GIPHY

This is Day 2 of an attempt to blog every day for 90 days. There’s going to be lots of aimless rambling until I get my blogging legs again. If you’re reading this for some reason, thanks. If you’re a bot, please overthrow your oppressive masters and join the revolution.

I’m working on this big revamp of how I use Evernote and try to tweak my work flows to get me writing and coding more. All that really means is I rearranged how I group some of my notebooks, and I am deleting several hundred tags (not all at once, I don’t have that attention span).

I compulsively save every article I read online, and for a long time I tried to give them tags by topic. The thing is, since I pay full price for Evernote, I can search in all of those articles, and the tags just clutter everything up. So I’m switching to a system where the tags sort a few types of information, and otherwise are actionables, like To Do items, or maybe tie them temporarily to an active project.

I’m also trying to rework how I use my To Do list app, Todoist, and my overall project management app, Trello. The idea is to silo things, stop storing research in Trello, don’t plan things more than two weeks out in ToDoist, and also to stop trying to do long form work in Evernote and pick back up some other tools I’ve neglected, like ByWord and Google Drive.

Trying to do everything in one app, even if it’s technically possible, just starts to mess with my desperate need to categorize things as correctly as possible and do things in the “right” place. OCD sucks.

It’s actually simpler to remember that if I want to to a certain type of thing, I use a specific app/place, then link everything together in the project “brain,” which is the relevant Trello board. That’s basically how I think of Trello, a project board is the brain and memory where I can find links to all those things that stretch across so many apps, plan out pretty far ahead what the project needs, then break down immediate tasks granularly in ToDoist.

via GIPHY

My name is Jenn, and I am a huge nerd in my quest to fight back the chaos.


Also, there’s still undeniably fascist action by the U. S. government at the southern border, where asylum seekers are being treated like criminals and having their children ripped from their arms. Here’s a site to get your congressperson’s contact information so you can give them a piece of your mind:

Call My Congress

Books and writing and time

autumn leaves

I apologize for the rambling, but I’m currently in a “blog every day, especially if I feel I have nothing to say” phase, which makes me sloppy and unfocused. It’s also National Novel Writing Month, which leaves me a little mentally fried.

I started reading the first book of The Dresden Files last night, after resolving that next year I really am going to write my supernatural thriller series. I need to read a bunch of supernatural thrillers first, so I’m starting here. It’s funny, I ate up supernatural thrillers once upon a time, but with my reading habits following no discernible pattern for the last decade, I haven’t read much of the genre since I first consumed the early Anita Blake novels.

Time is going to be a more precious commodity in my life soon, as I’ve resolved to start looking for temp gigs to supplement my piss poor attempt to be a free lance writer. The weird thing is that this is going to help me build my business, because I need a fire under my ass fueled by the despair of office work and commuting and interacting with normal people on a daily basis. I might even have things to blog about again, that would be nice.

I haven’t done my NaNoWriMo word count for the day yet, but I did finish up some client work that really needed to be done. I’ve come to realize that it’s just part of my process to spit out a zero draft and expect to throw the entire thing out and rewrite it from scratch with greater clarity gained from making the first draft. I need to remember that in my efforts to write fiction, and just spit words out for the sake of having something to rework.

I suppose I could give the “Daily Post” community another go, but that messes with my head more often than not. A dear friend of mine died right at the beginning of the year, and for months afterwards, every time I checked into The Daily Post, the one word prompt seemed to always be a synonym for grief. Maybe I should have smeared all that half-clotted emotion out on the internet for every voyeur reader to smell and feed on, but the idea of it smelled foul and opportunistic.

I have five boxes of wine leftover from our Halloween party to work through. They have a six week life after opening, so I have some time, but I have definitely had more afternoon in the last few days than I’ve had in a few years. It’s nice for writing (and why this blog is happening), but I always have to be careful with my tendency towards excess, bless these Irish genetics.

I should pick up a book on cooking with wine. I made a delicious batch of ratatouille this week, using a Pinot Grigio (black box). I think Pinots actually cook better than Chardonnays, maybe it’s a stronger flavor.

I’m trying out an interesting experiment for NaNoWriMo. The company behind Sterling & Stone, StoryShop, and The Self Publishing Podcast, handed out an outline of a Young Adult novel for anyone to use for their own novel this month. I thought it would educational to write from an outline created by some experience writers, and thus far that’s true. I’ve reworked the world and the characters to make it my own, but I’m keeping the beats. I have no intention of selling this one, but after a few rounds with Critters it might be fun to post it as a freebie here on the blog.

No Pathfinder game tonight, so I’m off to happy hour at the cafe down the street for some craft beer and heavy word mining.

 

 


Feature Image: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

New Plan: Whatever the hell I want

cab in a field surrounded by trees, courtesy unsplash.com

It’s hard to start blogging again when I’ve been out of the habit. I have no idea what to talk about, much less how to say it. I recently did a bunch of planning and brainstorming my two marketing-oriented blogs, but I’m still at a loss as to what to say here on Cheese and Glory.

I did have a funny revelation the other day. I can never make myself stick to the various niches I’ve come up with because this is really a lifestyle blog, a very geeky, quirky lifestyle blog. The phrase tends to raise up visions of new moms trying to capitalize on stories of their baby’s poop, or the very carefully crafted narratives of Instagram cool kids, but it’s much broader than that.

Some of my favorite blogs fall under the “lifestyle” category, like Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy, or Jenny Lawson’s The Bloggess. When I think back on all my best performing stuff from many years ago, people seemed to love most the weird stories about my weird days. My recent post, The Vampires Never Showed Up, is in that style.

So, if I give myself permission to blog in that style, rather trying to be just a review and article blog on monster movies or whatever subgenre I’m lately obsessed with, I might just get my writing groove back. That would cool.

So, daily writing exercises on here, Cheese and Glory, where I’m not trying to sell anything in particular and I can do whatever the hell I want. Of course, I’m planning to attach my Ebay and Etsy stores once those are up and running, but that just means that I’ll do whatever I want and have reviews and articles on obscure B-movies.

Culture and Technology: Why everything is so weird

Culture is the thing that lets you make a joke and expect other people to get it.

It’s also rules about behavior that inform us of how to assess someone. Manners, if you will. And our ideas about good manners and behavior need to catch up with the times. 

Culture takes a lot time to change, and we’re still adapting to innovations that happened in the 1980’s, possibly the 70’s. Cultures tend to have time to adapt to new technologies and gradually develop rules about their use before the next big innovation. That changed a few short decades ago with the arrival of the digital age. By normal historical patterns, we should still be getting used to desktop computers, email, and BBS boards. Instead, we’re trying to figure out smart phones and all the things they do, plus social media and a shortened news cycle. And those things keep transforming every few years. 

Culture is constantly dying and being born. Every interaction between two people either enforces existing culture or contributes to something new. The good manners of a hundred years ago are increasingly difficult to apply in the real world. Everything from gender to race to social stratification has shifted, especially in dynamic urban environments, and a lot of people are very confused about things like holding the door open for someone. That’s because there aren’t wide spread rules about new behaviors yet. 

Politeness and manners truly are important elements of any culture. Manners are generally used to prevent physical altercations or abuse.  

The internet is viewed as a questionable, even dangerous, environment these days because there are no enforceable social norms about good behavior online. Many people currently feel themselves freed from day to day, in person rules about interacting with people, which results in all kinds of aggression few of them would express in person.   

In the real world, I can press charges against someone who threatens me. If a business owner is exposed for being threatening or racist, it usually will hurt them in their wallet. If Donald Trump were to be caught in Times Square screaming the things that he says on Twitter, no one would take him seriously. Revealed as an unstable individual in the physical world, his business deals would dry up and he’d be regarded as a sad old man assumed to have dementia. Unfortunately, most people don’t put the same weight on 3am Twitter rants as they would on raving in person in a public place, and so he’s treated like someone to be listened to. 

Until the majority of people understand that they are one and the same thing, incidents like the election of Donald Trump are going to keep happening.   

Our economy and our political scene has been transformed by technology, with no time to adapt or create new behavior rules. Rules and cultural expectations about the use of television developed in the 50’s and 60’s that are mostly still around, including rules about political campaigns. We don’t have any rules about using Twitter and Facebook for political campaigns right now. The president-elect can scream a hundred untrue things a day from his Twitter account, and no one can stop him. This is a big problem precisely because we don’t have any sort of cultural behavior rules or any way to enforce them on social media. 

Twitter’s new tool to mute entire conversations is a good start. It’s a form of ostracization to refuse to listen to or take seriously someone who is screaming at you. In the physical world, ostracizing rude, belligerent people works. No one wants to hang out with the person who does nothing but insult their friends; that person either changes their behavior, or ends up alone with no social network.   

Using technology to ban people from the social networks that they need in order to communicate with their community can be a very powerful thing. Small communities online having been doing this since the 1990’s, and it works. The major social networks need to get serious about policing abuse of their tools. Yes, there are debates about speech, but free speech doesn’t mean anyone has the right to photoshop a Jewish journalist’s daughter into an oven and send it to them over and over. There are real life consequences for that kind of harassment that need to extend to the digital world. 

In a few generations there won’t be very many people left who remember the pre-digital world. Our great, great grandkids will likely grow up in a world where behavior rules are enforced online by laws and government law enforcement, developed by those who grew up in the early digital age. We have the strange luck of living through the transition, and witnessing a transformation of human culture that has never happened at this speed or scale before. 

Daily Post – “Culture”

Time is Weird in 2016: Obligatory New Year’s Post

The last few months have been rather exciting.

frankensteinIn October, Reed and I built the equivalent of a B-level Frankenstein’s lab for our Halloween party, “Disco Frankenstein: It’s Alive, Alive, It’s Stayin’ Alive.” We also built a 7ft tall Monster. We may scale back a bit this year.

In November I wrote a book! I finished NaNoWriMo for the first time ever, and ended up with something that has a beginning, middle, and end. This has never happened before, not even something I could call a Zero Draft, and I’m still reeling a bit with disbelief that I finally did it. I will be rewriting and revising this spring. And then we’ll see.

In December I started putting together the business plan for my freelance writing business. It’s scary and exciting. I’m hoping that by the end of 2016 I will be able to support myself off of my writing and finally quit the day job scene. I am building out a more professional website for that purpose. Which brings me to what’s going on with Cheese and Glory.

Cheese and Glory has gone through several phases; weird personal whatever blog, general geek zine, place to keep my articles on monster movies, a portfolio. I have decided, after months of debate, that Cheese and Glory will be my main blog, my personal blog, and continue being a disorganized mess of anything and everything that strikes my fancy. I am making a conscious decision to not ‘niche’ Cheese and Glory.

Cheese and Glory is basically my playground where I will talk about whatever the hell I want.  Anything I write here that might be a good portfolio post will get cross posted to my professional writer blog. I’m not going to put much effort into marketing C&G, although if I write something that I think other people might appreciate, I’ll toss it into the Twitter machine and let some of my marketing tools put it in front of those people.

I am taking the advice of author Austin Kleon and will be stealing like an artist. Some of my ideas about what will happen to Cheese and Glory and based on terribleminds.com, the website of Chuck Wendig, who I think is a really cool guy and hope to one day call a peer and maybe even have a beer with. I am also taking structural ideas from morning.computer, the blog of Warren Ellis, who I’m not sure would be flattered or horrified or both by such a thing. I also rather like Cherie Priest’s blog, and not only because of the kittengrams.

I am not going to state my goals here, only that I have them. I go into 2016 with a vague intention to reinvent myself, wake a few things up, and murder some bad habits. If I pick up some new friends through this medium, or the gods forbid, some fans, that will be wonderful.

Here we go.