Nov 052014

Oh right, hello there.

Some snippets, in no particular order.

I’m 30 now. I don’t generally pay much attention to age, getting older, and so on. So it is with the beginning of my fourth decade. 25 was the last age to herald any practical impact (namely, the reduction in costs renting vehicles, which I so often do–oh wait). From here forward, there are no specific age-based milestones about which I am much concerned. As someone that expects to medical science to soon usher in multi-centennial lifespans, I still consider myself awfully young. Other than things that can come out of the blue and cut life short — most of which remain true at any age — I’ve still got a long way to go.

Writing is happening. Since my last update, I hadn’t made a lot of progress in terms of word count because I’d been devoting all of my writerly efforts toward figuring out plot issues. I continually ran up against the wall of knowing what I wanted to happen in the book, but not feeling rock-solid on the scene-to-scene progression. When November rolled around, bringing with it NaNoWriMo, I decided that I knew far more about my story than I had when I set out to write Ashes and should stop being a giant baby about the whole matter. I started a day late, but have already produced 7400 new words thus far despite great deal of textual reorganization of what I already had consuming about half of my writing time. Alour-Tan II is happening. By the end of the month, the first draft will be done. There, I said it.

For the sake of NaNo, I’m only counting words written since the month began. The total word count is north of 20,000 (plus another 15,000 that I chopped out along the way), which represents roughly 20% of the projected length.

I started playing STO again. One reason you haven’t seen much in the way of 3D art updates lately is that the time I would have been devoting to modeling has gone back to Star Trek Online. I’ve been sinking far too much time into playing in an effort to finish off a number of milestones I left hanging when I stopped (achieving Tier 4 in all the Duty Officer commendations, achieving Tier 5 in all of the reputations — and this across all 5 of my characters). I’m finally starting to get some of these completed (one character has fully finished all Duty Officer commendations and only one character has reputation stuff left to do), which will in turn “free up” time for other pursuits once more. Yes, yes, that time is always technically “free” because it’s mine to do with as I please.

The Stormtrooper project has made great strides and encountered great setb–learning experiences. I had hoped to at least finish the helmet in time for Halloween, but that didn’t come to pass. It almost did, but I ran into a mechanical issue with the CNC carving machine, which left me somewhat dispirited. Specifically, I had prepared four final carving templates that, when finished, would complete the positive mold and set the first of them running — a seven hour carve. The board feeding rate appears to have been registering incorrectly, which lead to cross-sectional slices that were too short by nearly a centimeter along one axis. Seven hours wasted, after a ton of enthusiastic and positive feeling going into it. I finally worked up the gumption to deal with the problem by disassembling the machine, cleaning it, correcting some minor mechanical issues, greasing everything, and reassembling it. I still need to ensure that its sensors are all correctly calibrated before I try again, but signs are positive and the time pressure is off. Next Halloween’s a whole year away.

Here’s where things stand presently:

Hockey is back. I haven’t specifically posted about this here, but Cody and I have become pretty big hockey fans over the last year and a half or so. It started with the Boston Bruins‘ 2013 playoff run and has continued and increased to this day. We’ve been to several live Bruins games, we watch (almost) every game1, we went to Providence to see the “Baby” Bruins several times last year and are season ticket holders this year, Cody now owns a Tuukka Rask jersey, etc. Ain’t no pink hats here, even if we are relative noobs! We also joined our friends’ fantasy hockey league this year. After triumphantly crushing my first game, I have been summarily crushed twice in a row in return, which is fitting. On the plus side, my “draft players I know and like, most of which are Bruins” strategy continues to feel rewarding, even when I lose.

I’m timid about posting. This, more than anything else, is actually why this place has been so silent lately. I have plenty of things I’d like to talk about, to share, to pontificate on, to wonder over. My desire to post those things is opposed by what amounts to fear of backlash. Not only do I worry about engendering enmity for posting something in general, but since I’ve made the profile of this blog somewhat larger (it cross-posts to my Goodreads author profile and my Facebook author page, both of which are listed inside Ashes itself) I’ve more or less directly attached any potential reading audience for my books and for following me as an author to the things I post here.

The last thing I want to do is turn off a reader because of some rambling, half-formed, incomplete polemic that happened to inflame some passionate desire to express whatever thought flit through my head in that moment. There are a great many topics on which I would love to share some thoughts. Having done so in a limited, ostensibly “safe” environment and having garnered the reaction I did, I’ve become even more gun-shy about expressing them. So, instead, this place stays pretty quiet. C’est la vie.

That said, I relayed this very frustration to a friend of mine yesterday:

I just have a crapton of pent-up feelings about…well, every aspect of [many topics, though this particular one related to art and sexism] that I tend to keep to myself because not doing so tends to end up (by my hypothetical reckoning) with me screaming at every other participant for how dumb and narrow-sighted they’re being. And I suspect said pent-up feelings are getting closer and closer to a spillover. Have not been very successful at calming them, despite efforts to do so.

So, who knows? Perhaps said frustration will break a dam in the near future and all sorts of things will show up here for people to read!

The Flash is a lot of fun. I’ve been watching Arrow since it premiered and was delighted to hear that it would be spinning off a Flash TV series. So far, it’s been a lot of fun!

Holy crap, Marvel is out to rule the universe. Between the announcement of the upcoming movie slate and the marked improvement in Agents of SHIELD since its intersection with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel has rather clearly marked its territory. While I am delighted to live in the era where comic book movies are emerging left and right, I have to confess to shades of the Marvel/DC rivalry coloring all of this for me. Given the preceding remark, I am by no means a loyalist to either “side” but it takes a great deal of mental gymnastics to compare any of the DC offerings with Marvel’s existing and future catalog. Perhaps Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Really, guys? That’s the title you went with?) will surprise the hell out of everybody, but I’m not holding my breath.

That should just about bring everyone up to speed! That said, I generally post something on Twitter at least once a day, which you can find in the sidebar here on the blog and which also cross-posts to my personal Facebook profile (but not my authorial one…wonder if I should change that). Follow me there if you want your daily dose of, well, me.

  1. Sometimes, we’re just not home; as long as we are, the game is always on. []
Aug 272009

Following my epic battle with the solitary invader, I returned home from work to my fiancee and her sister. We set about preparing dinner…when I noticed a yellow jacket. It had just come through a small hole in the upper corner where the exterior wall meets the ceiling. Another one of these things was in my home!

Of course, my initial reaction was the spheksophobic response. Watching it warily, I tried to keep it as distant as possible. It seemed to sense my loathing and terror, hovering ever-closer to me. Instinct took over and I crouched down into a tiny ball, whimpering. In the back of my mind, shame was washing through me for putting on such a ridiculous display. Little I could do about it; the phobia was in charge.

The wasp got within a foot of me before deciding I had been sufficiently terrorized. It then proceeded to fly around Cody’s sister’s legs for a bit, before returning ceiling-ward. We all lost sight of it. I looked about for it, frantic. The only thing worse than knowing a wasp is present is knowing that it’s present and not knowing where it is.

We finally spotted it. It had landed on the wall above the kitchen window, over the sink. Throwing caution to the wind, I yanked the Swiffer out of its usual corner, swung it around so that I could mash the flat pad against the wall, and slammed it down on top of my nemesis. A partial sense of relief flooded through me, but I wanted to be sure. I started dragging the pad along the wall and over the cabinets, bring it closer and closer to the trash can. When I finally removed it from the wall…the yellow jacket wasn’t there.

This worried me. While the ladies assured me that it had probably fallen on top of one of the cabinets, I wasn’t so sure. Wasps are tough bastards. As a preventative measure, though, I busted out the spackle and covered the two holes (there was a hole in the opposing corner too, though it was an interior wall). I had been planning to spackle anyway, so this just gave me an excuse.

Satisfied that there would be no additional invaders from these spots, I returned to my sandwich. In the back of my mind, I was still thinking about the lack of a corpse. That’s when Cody spotted it. It had fallen into the sink…and it was still very much alive.

Though it was not airborne, it was moving about uninjured in the basin of the sink. Its wings looked undamaged, suggesting that it could probably take flight at any moment. Reacting as fast as possible, we covered it with a small glass jar. It was contained and the immediate threat was neutralized.

That’s when the other half of my phobia kicked in. You see, when you have an irrational terror like this, your threat response is fear. Once it’s contained and you can do something about it, it’s rage. Nebulous fears (I also suffer from mild acrophobia — fear of heights) don’t have this, since there’s nothing to get angry at. In this case, there was.

After running water to ensuring that the yellow jacket’s wings had been soaked, I lifted the jar just enough to let the tail-end of the invader out and slammed it back down, bisecting the insect. Relieved of its primary weapon, I felt comfortable removing the jar.

It was still moving! Still crawling unimpeded, as though it hadn’t just lost half of its body! In the course of its bisection, it had also lost its wings, so it could no longer take flight, either. Nevertheless, the fear started to take control again. Before it could, I slammed a wadded paper towel down on the black-and-yellow demon. Picking up all of its pieces, I crushed the paper towel as hard as I could.

Still not convinced it was dead, I opened the paper towel a bit. It was still moving, but these were the nerve misfiring twitches of something dead.

Finally, some peace.