Okay, last weekend I almost took up the novel again. It's been four months, more than enough time to forget what I was thinking and to view it with fresh eyes.
What I should do is print it out, double-spaced, and mark it up. I don't know if I'm there yet, though, that would make evident the pacing problems, and I'd rather fix those after I fix consistency and logic problems.
That is even more tempting now that I could lose it all when I turn my back on cable and take up with the fragile glass fiber optic network.
Had to do it, if only for the chance to compare my version on the left to Jerry's version on the right.
My copy might look slight, but I say it's at fighting weight. It isn't weighed down with all the tobacco molecules. Or adverbs.
I need to pick up a pen and get to work.
One of my oldest friends called on my birthday and said, "I need to borrow a hat for a tea party."
She brought over some dresses: a blue floral and a pink floral. She tried on two blue hats at first, then she gathered the nerve to go Big.
(Rare photo of Celebrity Hat from behind.)
Of course, Celebrity Hat won her over. No other hat can compare.
Part of switching from cable to fiber is the email address transition. I understand Spectrum will cut off the email address associated with their old company name. I'm switching all contact information and logins to a gmail account. (The time it has taken to do that almost equals the amount of time I spend deleting unfiltered spam every morning.)
Most were easy to switch, but my Flickr account was a pain. At some point Flickr was acquired by Yahoo and they changed my login out from under me. It took several business days to get it fixed, and I'm now paying a few dollars more a month.
I was thinking how dumb it was to keep my photos there, given I haven uploaded anything for years, when I got in and discovered that it has quietly auto-uploaded every photo I have taken for the last seven years.
Over two thousand photos: many crap photos of the inside of my purse, but some valuable photos I didn't appreciate at the time. Some photos were of people I didn't recognize, and I briefly wondered if Gary was auto-uploading his secret second family, but viewed in context they are more likely new in-laws once removed and never seen again.
The renewed access gave me a chance to review photos of our trip to Paris, especially sweet given that I am still ten pounds lighter than I was then.
I haven't even finished Checkpoint One of DuoLingo Russian, and let me tell you, it is getting way harder.
My plan to learn Russian as a natural Russian child would is crawling along. Well, I suppose I speak a little better than a nine month old orphan who only hears Russian 15 minutes a day.
In addition, I took the Places lesson again and the have scaled down the excitement with which they say "Ukraine." Before, it was a Judy Garland "Let's put on a show!" level of excitement, now it's considerably less animated.
I used the Bug-a-Salt gun yesterday to kill a fly on the counter. It was just lounging there, so I snuck off to get the gun, struggled to pump it, stood a yard back, aimed, and shot.
Hit the fly dead on. At first I thought he had been vaporized, because he vanished the instant after the bang, After some searching I found him standing on the kitchen table. He still had all his parts and wings. He saw me and walked slowly away. I didn't want to salt-blast my wood table, so I got the fly-swatter and tapped him. He wandered off in a different direction, shell shocked. I put him out of his misery.
He didn't seem to have any open wounds, so I guess maybe the gun gave him a salt overdose? Teeny-tiny heart attack? Regardless, it was very, very satisfying.
Oh, am I steamed. I have never heard of such a thing before, but the basement drainage company is "giving up" on my basement. Concrete is too thick. Nothing they can do. I asked who their biggest competitor was.
So, they have put in a French drain that leads halfway toward the sump pump and stops. Just ... stops. And based on the even shorter drain they put in four years ago, it will do nothing more than make a weak spot for water to break through.
But, then I think: we had a storm go through last weekend with the job only half done and there was no water. One of the holes in the sump was draining happily into the pump. I could still divert water away from the house by installing a pump at the end of the drain they put in the lawn a few years back. The neighbors next door are being pressured to drain their lawn by the neighbors behind them.
But that optimism faded as I imagined Gary would just reinforce his claim that the more repairs you do on your house the more you break it in other ways. He surprised me, though, he came home and was completely chill. If half a job worked anyway, good, if not, we still had options. I was only half as angry, then but half was still angry enough.
At least I can take this rage and channel it into putting the basement back in place.
This 60th birthday is horrifying. Average life span of MS patients? 74 years. When did Mom die? 71 years. That's less than a dozen years to go. Also, the other day my brother commented, "You look just like Granceil," our grandmother, and it is true. Hollow eyes, wispy hair, only she didn't have a wattle. Mom, however, did, as evidenced by her licenses from 59 on.
The math that gets you from 40 to death is hard. The math from 60 to death is easy, and then from 70 to death? Single digits. SINGLE DIGITS.
Gary briefly turned against the new tennis racket bug zappers. They make a zap noise but don't cause any flies to drop out of the air. I don't know if the fly explodes into atoms, or is re-energized and files off stronger.
After he turned against the rackets, Gary bought some heavy artillery: a Bug-A-salt -gun. It's a little toy long gun that fires a barrage of table salt at flies, preferably from behind. The videos are all of shots in the back. Then the fly dies from a dozen painful salty wounds.
I found the gun in the trash the day it arrived. "'IT'S A GUN!" Gary explained. "I WILL NOT HAVE A GUN IN THIS HOUSE." It was clearly marked as a gun when he bought it, though, so I didn't know what caused the gun reversal. The only thing that stops a fly with a gun is a good guy with a gun, right?
I got the gun and its packaging out of the trash bin. It was clearly a toy gun. Plastic, colorful, orange tip, requiring no license or background check, and loaded with table salt ammunition.
Then I read the packaging. They leaned heavily on the gun metaphor. Also, half the packaging is a manifesto on why flies deserve to die. Then there are the cautions about not Shooting Your Eye Out, and there's a safety on the gun so it doesn't go off unexpectedly, and when Gary saw that he had to pump the thing like a pump-action shotgun, he dropped it in horror into the trash bin.
I brought it back in and danced around the house for a while in various Charlie's Angels poses, but I was unable to get it to fire. Gary went into debug mode, showed me I wasn't returning the pump to the right position, used aluminum foil to prove salt was coming out, and now he's interested in the gun again.
I doubt we'll be able to use the sight and kill a bug from three feet away. More likely I'll take the finish off the furniture inside and salt the earth outside.
Usually when a song is stuck in my head I can hear the whole tune, and most but not all of the words. They says that's why it's "stuck" -- if you look up the lyrics and sing it all the way through it becomes unstuck. That works for me. Other people recommend math problems. I would need to revisit math.
Last week I spent two days with only a fraction of a song stuck in my head - just a singer insisting "Get OVER it," followed by a series of descending notes. Google showed me all the songs with "Get Over It" in the title, but that wasn't it, it wasn't the title. Just a part of a line.
But ahhhh, the relief when the neurons finally connected. I finally remembered the song it was from: "Politics in Space" by Kate Miller Heidke. It's 2 minutes and 17 seconds in.
There are times during my job that I am expected to call strangers. It's not cold calling, which would kill me, but just "Call Jane Blahblah in Compliance and get her sign off."
I hate calling Jane Blahblah. She might be perfectly nice, but I hate calling her, because we're strangers, and it's all the unknown. For all I know she hates strangers too and this will escalate and I will be fired.
I don't know how I survived by brief college stints as a telemarketer. Well, I do, I held those jobs no more than two weeks each.
On the other hand, if I'm writing to a stranger, not talking to a stranger, I love strangers. (Waves wildly at all of you.)
I suppose I could investigate Live Relay, evidently they had an Alexa-like voice you could generate from an iPhone keypad.
So here's my plan: hang in there until the text-to-voice technology becomes seamless. That way I can just type: "Hi, I'm Ellen from Enterprise Development," and a voice will come out the other person's earpiece saying what I type. It could be any voice, maybe not Alexa or Siri, maybe that of a young girl with Vocal Fry, or perhaps a Canadian man, whatever.
Of course, I would need to be able to type accurately, and that is a lost cause. Imagine autocorrect changing not just what you type but also what you say.
The slow-moving Real ID Act has finally crawled into my reality and I need a new driver's license that will conform across states, prove I am not a terrorist, and oddly change visa limits for Australians.
This means I had to go in person to the Department of Motor Vehicles. No way to duck it. So over the course of two days I drove twice a day to the DMV, double-masked, checked the line, and noped out. Not a big deal, it's only two miles from the house.
Visit four was the charm. Start to finish was ten minutes. And, based on the blurry black and white image on the temporary license, it's even a good photo.
Recently, I'll be weeding or some other mundane chore, and I'll think, "Maggie and Joe need to come to an agreement at the start of the resolution chapter."
I wouldn't call it inspiration, I'm not struck by the genius of these ideas. It's pretty mundane stuff. It's just odd that they bubble up out of nowhere. I have the itch again.
I think it might be time to revisit the novel. I glanced at the first paragraph to see if I could see it with new eyes. I did, in that I said, "What was I thinking when I wrote this garbage?" So I may be back to it next week, if not, I did take Labor Day week off.
Lord God in heaven, the cement in the basement is too thick and they have to come out next week with the BIG jackhammer.
The crew did explain what was wrong - the "footer" that the basement wall sits on is increasingly deep, so it works against the downhill slope we have that you think would help with drainage.
Here is some conceptual art for you: a drawing I made for Gary to explain the problem.
(I recognize this could all be an ornate lie. How would I know?)
They only finished half, but luckily there was a downpour this week and the remaining leaks were illuminating. There are two, and they both are clearly a result of spots where I have outside dirt piled up to the top of the basement wall. Ironically, I did that to get some vertical drainage going on the outside, not the inside. Also, the team was able to drill one hole into the sump pump area to alleviate the pressure underground (only one, all others were impeded by the concrete that reaches to Hell).
So, home construction takes precedence over art for another week, but next Thursday they should be done. I have art plans:
I had an interesting divergent thinking challenge last week.
The power went out while I was working from home, as it has too many times recently, and the cable and phone went out too.
I assumed the cable was out because the power was out, but the cable company sent a message that they were working on the problem, and the power company didn't. It was particularly annoying because I was messaging my team at the time.
I looked around and assessed my resources. I had a cell phone at 20%. After about 20 minutes I remembered that I also have an electric car.
I thought these thoughts:
"Hey, I could use the Mini to charge up my cellular phone." I momentarily paused when I realized I'd have to struggle to get the garage door open without the power, then I realized no, no deadly exhaust with the electric car.
And then, "Well, if my phone is charging I could use my cell phone as a wifi hotspot and get the internet on my iPad." (The mini is a hotspot too, somehow. I see it sometimes on my list, but sometimes I don't. It didn't matter; I could link my iPad to my phone and get the internet, anyway.)
When the iPad connected to the internet, I started typing. Then I had my next genius idea: instead of sitting in the driver's seat and reaching over to type on the iPad passenger's seat, I could join my iPad on the passenger's side.
That blew things wide open, and I took my work laptop and hooked up to the phone wifi hotspot, and that actually worked, and I joined a zoom call from the garage of my house with no cable broadband or power.
Sadly, I didn't get the audio synced in the Zoom call before the power came back on in the house, and then twenty minutes after the Zoom call ended the cable came back.
I kind of want to test out the whole thing while the power is on.