Reliance on Power

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our society has a tremendous reliance on power built in.
I’m not talking about electricity here, although it’s particularly important to the operation of our society on pretty much every level. Electricity, and the ability to produce it, basically determines how prosperous your society and its individual members can be, on average. In any society, slight differences in ability or starting position can make huge difference in the long run. Big differences in those same areas can increase those disparities by orders of magnitude.
And that’s the kind of power, fundamentally, I’m talking about. Even if the electrical kind, however generated, is critical to our overall and individual success, the actual operation of our society requires the other kind of power, at least the way we’re set up.
Let’s start with a little disclosure. For those of you don’t know, I am a straight, white, middle-class, middle-aged male. I reek of privilege. In fact, the only way I could have more of it is if I were also Christian, a discussion for other times. The point is more that, by my very existence, I have a certain amount of power in our society just because of what I am. That starting point, that very nature, those things that I am, have certainly granted me in life free passes I shouldn’t have, power where it isn’t deserved, and a head start in life over a lot of people.
It will also make it more difficult for some of you to believe that I am loath to exercise power almost in any way.
Really. I don’t like giving specific, detailed direction, I don’t like giving orders, and I don’t like making decisions for other people. If our particular power dynamic, and if any kind of relationship exists between us, there is one, places you and I in relative positions where I can do that, please believe me when I say that I will try really hard not to unless you tell me it’s exactly what you need.
So, power. Our society, whether any particular part of it wants to admit it or not, is extremely hierarchical. Our government, pseudo-democratic as it may be, is the most visible demonstration of that when you look at media. Our economy is driven by organizations, from the smallest to the largest, that almost all have clear hierarchies, clear expressions of power dynamics. Someone reports to you, you report to me, I report to someone else, who probably still reports someone else. Everyone is responsible to someone, although not everyone considers it as responsibility.
We can talk about the authorities, by which we usually mean law enforcement, but, in different contexts it can mean different things, like the government-owned corporation that probably delivers your water if you live in an urban center, like your local electric company, like the police and the military, like the policy analysts working for the government who figure out how things affect people, like your HR department.
There are a lot of people out there who study power structures and hierarchies and know a lot a lot more than I do. Maybe you’re one of them. I’m not trying to answer big questions with this post and I only know and understand what I’ve experienced, inferred, analyzed, read on my own. And that experience, limited as it is to one person, tells me that human beings seem to default into hierarchies because it’s comfortable, and easy, and, for most of the people involved, requires less thought and effort. It’s easier to accept direction than it is to be actively involved and intellectually contribute to what’s going on around you.
There’s a quote from one of Hitchhikers books, I forget which one, exactly, but I’m sure somebody will let me know if they want to: “If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, their brains start working.” Okay, not a direct correlation, but similar in principle. And isn’t it what hierarchies come down to? Maximum return for minimum effort for the majority of the people involved in the hierarchy? If I outsource my thinking and decision-making someone else, does that make my life easier?
Whether or not that’s the case, it is a fact of life, of existence, that there are power structures and fluctuating dynamics in every organization and relationship. Personal, professional, political.
Now, my experience suggests that there is Artie a certain amount of power inherent to the existence of any individual, and certain predetermined factors that I had nothing to do with initially have put me in a generally superior position. The nature of my personality has, once I began to show some maturity in my 20s, generally pushed me to seek out bigger, more interesting, and sometimes more intricate, challenges. That has often, particularly in the second half of my 40s pushed me into positions of greater authority and power professionally. If fact, that drive for greater challenges has pushed me to the second tier of power in reasonably large business, one that I’m responsible for about a third of. If I follow a direct line, there are only four steps between where I’m sitting and the person who actually runs the company.
And yet I hate wielding any kind of power directly. Matching that up with my personality makes me wonder how I got here. I like discussion rather than direction, consensus rather than ruling by fiat. Raising my children, I’ve tried to save the dad voice to interrupt a clear and present danger and once I have their attention, we talk.
So every morning, and throughout the course of the day, I ask myself questions that boil down to using the power I have effectively. How can I make things better for the people I’m responsible for? How can I make things better for my family, especially considering the position I’ve risen to at work? Is this thing I’m trying to accomplish going to be a good thing?
And, I suppose, where do I go from here?
Be well, everyone.

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Another Manufactured Controversy

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So it’s amazing what becomes a controversy these days.
I suppose I shouldn’t be amazed anymore, with the “War on Christmas” getting more ridiculous every year. But somehow, I am. Still surprised, that is.
I’ve participated in a number of conversations on this one for some reason. Some have gone well and some not so much. Now, I’m waiting for it to die, but it’s just not going away. The amount of indignation over a handful of radio stations dropping “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from their Christmas play lists his pretty @%&king ridiculous, really. In my mind, it’s a very simple business decision. Some small number of your customer base complains that they don’t like a particular selection on your menu. You use some metric or feeling or whatever to determine that the number of customers you will lose by keeping that item is larger than the number of customers you will gain by keeping that item. It’s simple math. But there is so much whining about censorship and banning and “you don’t get to decide what I listen to”. Jesus, Maria, and Giuseppe, that’s the whole point! You listen to a radio station because it plays what you like. If it doesn’t play would you like or if you’re upset by what does play, you go and listen to another radio station. It’s not hard to change the frequency.
And the word “censorship” is being thrown around far too much. Censorship implies premeditation to enforce someone else’s views on a larger audience. Results matter, but intent is critical, and the intent here is to keep as wide a customer base as possible. If your radio station isn’t still playing the song, you can find a station that is, download it, or go out and buy your favorite version is. No one is telling you that you can’t listen to it. The original station made a business decision that enough of their listeners didn’t want to hear it that it wasn’t worth keeping in the rotation.
No one would be complaining if it was some decades-old almost rock song being dropped for questionable lyrics in today’s sociopolitical climate. Actually, probably no one would be complaining if it had just been done without comment, but someone had to stir the pot. Not that it’s even a Christmas song. It’s just associated with Christmas because it takes place in the heart of winter. Snowstorm, you know.
Sadly, this isn’t a new thing, it’s just the latest thing. The latest thing in a long line of Christmas whining and outrage over cups and holiday greetings and a refusal to discuss things like adults. War on Christmas? Yeah, because a holiday our culture takes two months to celebrate is being oppressed.
But hey, I’m clearly the snowflake here, because I think that everyone should have the same basic set of rights, freedoms, and privileges. That includes the ability to celebrate your particular holiday however you want and not being shit on for it.
I feel like that’s a pretty simple thing, really. But what do I know?
Be well, everyone.

Related image

So it’s amazing what becomes a controversy these days.
I suppose I shouldn’t be amazed anymore, with the “War on Christmas” getting more ridiculous every year. But somehow, I am. Still surprised, that is.
I’ve participated in a number of conversations on this one for some reason, but it’s just not going away. The amount of indignation over a handful of radio stations dropping “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from their Christmas play lists his pretty @%&king ridiculous, really. In my mind, it’s a very simple business decision. Some small number of your customer base complains that they don’t like a particular selection on your menu. You use some metric or feeling or whatever to determine that the number of customers you will lose by keeping that item is larger than the number of customers you will gain by keeping that item. It’s simple math. But there is so much whining about censorship and banning and “you don’t get to decide what I listen to”. Jesus, Maria, and Giuseppe, that’s the whole point! You listen to a radio station because it plays what you like. If it doesn’t play would you like or if you’re upset by what does play, you go and listen to another radio station. It’s not hard to change the frequency.
And the word “censorship” is being thrown around far too much. Censorship implies premeditation to enforce someone else’s views on a larger audience. Results matter, but intent is critical, and the intent here is to keep as wide a customer base as possible. If your radio station isn’t still playing the song, you can find a station that is, download it, or go out and buy your favorite version is. No one is telling you that you can’t listen to it. The original station made a business decision that enough of their listeners didn’t want to hear it that it wasn’t worth keeping in the rotation.
No one would be complaining if it was some decades-old almost rock song being dropped for questionable lyrics in today’s sociopolitical climate. Actually, probably no one would be complaining if it had just been done without comment, but someone had to stir the pot. Not that it’s even a Christmas song. It’s just associated with Christmas because it takes place in the heart of winter. Snowstorm, you know.
Sadly, this isn’t a new thing, it’s just the latest thing. The latest thing in a long line of Christmas whining and outrage over cups and holiday greetings and a refusal to discuss things like adults. War on Christmas? Yeah, because a holiday our culture takes two months to celebrate is being oppressed.
But hey, I’m clearly the snowflake here, because I think that everyone should have the same basic set of rights, freedoms, and privileges. That includes the ability to celebrate your particular holiday however you want and not being shit on for it.
I feel like that’s a pretty simple thing, really. But what do I know?
Be well, everyone.

Image result for war on christmas pow camp

So it’s amazing what becomes a controversy these days.
I suppose I shouldn’t be amazed anymore, with the “War on Christmas” getting more ridiculous every year. But somehow, I am. Still surprised, that is.
I’ve participated in a number of conversations on this one for some reason, but it’s just not going away. The amount of indignation over a handful of radio stations dropping “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from their Christmas play lists his pretty @%&king ridiculous, really. In my mind, it’s a very simple business decision. Some small number of your customer base complains that they don’t like a particular selection on your menu. You use some metric or feeling or whatever to determine that the number of customers you will lose by keeping that item is larger than the number of customers you will gain by keeping that item. It’s simple math. But there is so much whining about censorship and banning and “you don’t get to decide what I listen to”. Jesus, Maria, and Giuseppe, that’s the whole point! You listen to a radio station because it plays what you like. If it doesn’t play would you like or if you’re upset by what does play, you go and listen to another radio station. It’s not hard to change the frequency.
And the word “censorship” is being thrown around far too much. Censorship implies premeditation to enforce someone else’s views on a larger audience. Results matter, but intent is critical, and the intent here is to keep as wide a customer base as possible. If your radio station isn’t still playing the song, you can find a station that is, download it, or go out and buy your favorite version is. No one is telling you that you can’t listen to it. The original station made a business decision that enough of their listeners didn’t want to hear it that it wasn’t worth keeping in the rotation.
No one would be complaining if it was some decades-old almost rock song being dropped for questionable lyrics in today’s sociopolitical climate. Actually, probably no one would be complaining if it had just been done without comment, but someone had to stir the pot. Not that it’s even a Christmas song. It’s just associated with Christmas because it takes place in the heart of winter. Snowstorm, you know.
Sadly, this isn’t a new thing, it’s just the latest thing. The latest thing in a long line of Christmas whining and outrage over cups and holiday greetings and a refusal to discuss things like adults. War on Christmas? Yeah, because a holiday our culture takes two months to celebrate is being oppressed.
But hey, I’m clearly the snowflake here, because I think that everyone should have the same basic set of rights, freedoms, and privileges. That includes the ability to celebrate your particular holiday however you want and not being shit on for it.
I feel like that’s a pretty simple thing, really. But what do I know?
Be well, everyone.

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Caturday: This Is Morris

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This is Morris:

And this is the third in a widely-scattered series of posts about my current feline overlords. Morris is a rescue cat who spent a few months in the shelter system winding up with the unlikely name of Pumpkin but, obviously, had to become Morris. Something about old television commercials and orange tabbies.
We’re fairly certain he was a barn cat or semi-feral, used to people being around, but not super affectionate. He didn’t mind a little attention, but couldn’t really stand being held for more than a few seconds and had no real interest in sitting next to you in the chair or on the sofa.
When we brought him home, he looked like this:

But he has no impulse control, and ballooned quickly:

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Well, not too quickly, but too far. He’s on a calorie-restricted diet right now. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too much more time to slim him down than it did to fatten him up. Except it will because it is. Because he has no impulse control, steals dog food, pushes other cats (well, Cyrus) out of their bowls when he can get away with it, and isn’t above thieving some things.

He’s come a long way in the almost three years we’ve had him. He can handle being held for several minutes at a time, will get into bed with you for reasons other than biting your toes, and is fairly demanding of attention if you walk by, pushing up off the floor to headbutt a hand descending to scratch him.

He came home to live with us on 07 November 2015, not even six months after Morgana joined us. The introduction was less gradual this time, making an immediate friend of Cyrus and receiving a few hisses and swats from Morgana to teach him his place in the local feline hierarchy.
These days, he has a preference for dog beds, backpacks left on the floor, and the spare bed in the basement. Oh, and windows. Windows are fun. When we adopted him, the given age was two, making him five now and the youngest feline of the local overlords.
And again, a shelter cat. Happy ending for a shelter cat.

Be well, everyone.

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The Writing Life

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSometimes, the writer’s life is easy. Sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes the words don’t come or the story doesn’t work or you suddenly hate your main character.

Sometimes, you forget the rules of grammar so that the ones you break aren’t intentional and what you’ve just written reads like you wrote it while drunk and having bed spins.

Sometimes you can fly by the seat of your pants and sometimes you can’t.

Sometimes your carefully plotted out story bores the crap out of you because you plotted it out too much.

Sometimes, a sentence falls out of one of your characters’ mouths so perfectly and so naturally that it sends you reeling away from the straight-line path of your outline, so far out of the way that’s going to cost you thousands of words and be perfect for the story even though you have no idea how you’re going to get back.

Sometimes, when you’re going back to edit something you’ve written, the thing that has just passed before your eyes makes no sense whatsoever and you have no idea what you originally intended for that sentence, paragraph, chapter.

Sometimes, when you are experimenting with dictation, and you’re not in a perfect sound environment, the transcription software twists your words and the background noise into something nonsensical, hilarious, offensive, or pornographic.

Sometimes, when you’re thinking about that transcription software to closely, you start to lose hope over the fact that you can probably, most of the time, never expect more than about a 90% accuracy, regardless of the claims the software makes, and you’re crushed into realizing that that means 10,000 of the hundred thousand words in your novel are the wrong words.

Sometimes, not counting the words it gets wrong, your transcription software drops words or adds some that aren’t there.

Sometimes, you could get so wrapped up in getting today’s words in that you neglect housework, other projects, plants, pets, children, spouse.

Sometimes, you forget meals, miss appointments, leave for work far later that you should have and risk a significant speeding ticket to show up on time.

Sometimes you wake up with a spectacular idea or have one in the shower or while you’re driving or running or doing something that doesn’t involve writing and by the time you can reach for a pencil or a voice recorder or a phone or laptop, it’s far too late.

Sometimes things work too well and sometimes they don’t work at all, and

Sometimes that’s in the same writing session.

Sometimes it’s in the same paragraph.

So why would anyone choose to be a writer?

Especially since I haven’t mentioned any of the massive frustrations of trying to get someone else to publish your work. Or review it. Or read it. Or even look at it.

I should look up who said it first, someone very famous in the writing world, I expect, but it’s fairly common advice that if you can do anything other than write then you should. It’s a miserable life.

Sometimes ecstatic and others soul-crushing, it’s filled with extremes, and you have to have a life while you do it and a real job and maybe even a family; at the very least there are probably people you care about. So yes, if you can do something other than write, you probably should.

If you can’t, then some part of your energy is almost always going in that direction.

I definitely go through phases where I can’t write, where life intervenes, where stuff is going on that has to be dealt with, but I’m still desperate to, and I’m always, always happier when I’m writing. I can’t speak for every writer, just for myself, but I’m always happiest when I’m learning or creating something, and writing is one of a very few things that can give me both.

Someday, I may even be good at it, but there’s only one way to find that out.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Binge Watching The Flash

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherImage result for the flashSkimming through Netflix a few nights ago, I paused on one of those “because you watched this thing, you’ll like these other completely unrelated things” categories. Sometimes it actually does recommend things I’d like to watch, particularly in the area of stand up comedy. In this case, however, it had nothing to do with stand up. Netflix wanted me to watch The Flash.

Now you know me, you know I’m sometimes all about superheroes, but you also know that I’m much more of a Marvel guy than DC. Never really read The Flash, although I have a little bit of basic familiarity with the comic mythology involved, and we did watch the 1990s series, but on the DC side of things, I was more about Green Lantern, Justice League once in a while, Aquaman sometimes – hey, I like fish – but the Flashes was never really my thing. Still, I have heard good things, and thought maybe I’d give it a try. It’s attached to the so-called Arrowverse, since Arrow was the first series, but we never got into that when it first started.

Not wanting to spend hours flipping through Netflix to finally watch nothing, I clicked on it and watched the first episode. And it was surprisingly not horrible. Cheesy, silly, and very comic book in almost a classic sense, but not bad. A few days later, I find I’m binge watching it.

Now before anyone gets too excited over the phrasing, binge watching doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. I can’t sit down and devour a season of something in a day. The closest I’ve ever come to that was while looking after my sick wife, and sitting (mostly) through half a season of the Big Bang theory in one afternoon. That was very, very difficult for me. I think most normal people consider binging something to be sitting down watching five or six episodes in a row then maybe doing that again the next day as a sort of weekend relaxation exercise. For me, it’s more like sitting down and watching five or six episodes of something in a week. I watched the first half of episode four this morning over breakfast. Having discovered the show three days ago. That’s binge watching for me. Much faster than that, and really, even at that speed, I risk overdosing on something and putting it away for a long, long time. That happened to me this year with the original Battlestar Galactica, which I do want to get back to, because I did loved it as a kid, and last year when I finally sat down here so ago to start watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. In the first case, I watched six episodes in a week, and into the break that’s still going on. In the latter case, I did half a season over about two weeks, and took a break that’s still going on. I’m trying to do a watch through of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which I had a hard time getting into when it originally aired, because I think I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for its method of story telling; at this point, I’m a few episodes into season two and have been watching it for about three months. A much safer pace.

Long-term, if I do much more than two episodes a week of something on a regular basis, I eventually end up putting it down, sometimes for years.

So, after episode four, I’m going to try to slow down The Flash, after all, there’s theoretically lots of it to enjoy. It’s in season five right now on network television, so, if it stays enjoyable, at the average 22 or 23 episodes per season these days (they’re at episode 100 right now – I checked), I should be able to stretch that out over a couple of years, at least, before getting to what will be the present. And while I’m doing that, I should be able to enjoy several other shows, too, maybe in their complete runs.

There’s plenty of enjoyment available there, and I actually want to enjoy it rather than kill it for myself.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Snake Rescue

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherDo you ever have a hard time letting go of an idea?

Reptiles seem to have a place in our family. My son has had a Leopard Gecko since he was nine years old, and, since moving away, taking the gecko with him, has expanded his small personal menagerie to include a Blue Tongued Skink, which was a rescue, and a Peters’ Banded Skink, a species he became quickly attached to. In fact, long-term, he’s considering very seriously joining or starting a species recovery program for the species. It’s native, if I’m remembering right, to the grasslands just south of the Sahara and has had an awful lot of habitat loss in the last couple of decades, so it doesn’t have a single continuous range anymore.

My daughter has kept the corn snake for a pet since she was nine years old. She has, several times, talk about wanting another snake, or a second corn snake to perhaps even. They’re not so endangered, but it comes from a similar impulse.

Now, whether those two impulses are lurking somewhere in the back of my brain, whether I’ve internalized them because they’re coming from my children, or if it’s a completely original idea to me, I had the brilliant thought not to long ago of participating in a species recovery program for something a little more local, but also something a little more serpent-y.

The Grey Rat Snake has, barely, a population in the region, mostly focused on the Frontenac Axis. My thought is that it’s not that hard to incubate eggs, so long as you are able to control the temperature and humidity appropriately for the species in question. My father has done chickens, ducks, and geese any number of times over the last several decades. I can learn the basic skill set from him. I can learn the basic knowledge of what conditions need to be and what the dietary requirements of hatchlings are with a relatively small amounts of online research, and the environment and conditions they need will take some more study time, although possibly not as much as figuring out the requirements and regulations in Ontario, having a little experience with how murky government websites are. After that, it’s just permissions, right?

Permissions to set up or join a species recovery program, permissions to keep native animals, not as pets, but as part of that program. Permissions from my wife to actually do this, because she’s not all that keen on snakes. That might be the most important permission, really, as we’d want to keep them for a year or so, getting them above the initial delicious fresh out of the egg size so they have a better chance of actually surviving in the wild.

Worth noting that there is also a species of turtle that’s fairly local to the area and is in similarly fragile state species-wise, Blanding’s Turtle.

I think this would be really cool long-term project, and really interesting to do. Plus, it would let me give a little something back to the planet that’s give me everything.

But I don’t think it will be smart to start until sometime after we move and are established in the new house, you know, the one I’m going to retire in, but once we’re there… that’s a whole new sport.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Writing Report for November 2018

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo I wound up taking most of the first half of November off from writing, too, then easing back in slowly. The words counts were decent, if not as frantic as they’ve been in recent months, and there were only a total of 16 writing days out of a possible 30. Not as many as I’d like.

Accomplishments in November:

  1. Short Fiction: I put a whole 5,185 words into short fiction this month, all of them into a story with the working title of “Iambic Tetrameter”, that I think is probably going to wind up being a fairly long novella. At a guess, something over 20k words. Possibly 25k.
  2. Palace now stands at 66,097 words with 13 of 43 planned chapters left to go in the plot.
  3. On the editing side of things, nothing. Next month.
  4. 8 blog posts.
  5. 11 journal entries.

Total word count for the month of 24,676, averaging 1452 words per writing day, which is still a respectable number overall. This might have been just a touch higher if the cold I’ve been trying to fight off for the last several days hadn’t mostly cost my voice for the homeward commute last night. Still not a bat number. If it’s lighter than October, which was already a lighter month than normal, that’s okay. I wrote what I wrote.

On the publishing side of things:

  1. I’m just going to go ahead and admit that very little happened here. I’ll do better next month.

December is going to be a bit different. I’m targeting my writing efforts based on whether I’m working or not and setting goals accordingly. There won’t, generally, be any drafting, fiction or non-fiction, short or long, on weekends. It’s possibly I’ll break that rule, but likely not in a big way. There will also be a few extra days off due to the holiday season, which will further drive the overall count down, and so the average.

Goals for December:

  1. Short Fiction: 5,000 words. No writing on days off, remember?
  2. Palace: 20,000 words. I think this will carry me to the end of the plot, considering I’ve only got 17,500 words left in my expected plot. But I’ve gotten sidetracked before.
  3. It would be really nice to get the final read through of Hero’s Life done by the end of the month, also being the end of the year. Lots of extra editing on days off. Only editing on days off.
  4. Once again, there should be some short fiction editing, too.
  5. Non-fiction goal is also set at 5k for the month.
  6. 5 short story submissions. Keep trying.
  7. Small Press/Agent hunt continues, getting ready to pick who I want to send Ancient Runes to first, starting in January.

So, the total word goal for the month is only 30,000. That is higher than November, but a lot lower than I worked at in the late summer and early autumn (not a big deal – since I dove back into writing at the very end of July, I’ve put in 230,000 words). With holiday adjustments and because of where the weekends fall, I’m only going to have 18 drafting days in December. And I may continue that habit for at least the first quarter of the new year to balance out the editing a bit more.

But I still need to type faster.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Office Fish Tank

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The promo picture. We’ll see.

I’ve been talking about doing it for months, but, in the last few days, I’ve spent about $200 in getting all the stuff together for a fish tank for my office.

And this is in the nature of experiment. I want it to be a truly awesome fish tank.

I’ve done a lot more reading and information gathering than ever before in terms of aquariums, and I’m going to document the process a little bit. Some pictures and video, not that I promise to post anything, but I want to keep records to see if I’ve actually learned anything. There are no fish yet. It’s actually not even set up yet.

I picked up the tank on Friday last week, a very cool one, the Fluval Flex 9 gallon which has some funky lighting, a lot of integrated filtration, and curved front face. I unpacked it to the top of my filing cabinet yesterday. Today, I’m taking rocks, and driftwood, and sand to work. In between running two training seminars and regular stuff, I am going to do the Aqua-scaping of the tank, deciding how I want things arranged. After that, and probably tomorrow, the plants. The process involves:

  1. Disinfecting the rocks I’ve chosen with boiling water and rinse any debris off. Taken care of already.
  2. Soaking the driftwood to reach out some of the tannins, which will be in progress within a few minutes of my arrival of work. I’ll change the water several times while I’m there, and maybe let them soak overnight.
  3. At that point, I get to arrange the rock and maybe the wood in the tank. Having something vague in mind already, I don’t expect to do an awful lot of rearranging once I’m there. I picked things to fit my approximate mental vision of how things look.
  4. Four, a quick rinse of one bag of two bags of substrate that I bought, a black sandy aquatic soil designed to help plants do well, then will add that to the tank.
  5. Add the introductory fertilizer to said soil
  6. Six, unpack and plant the plants. It’s a relatively small tank, the interior dimensions, length by width by height, running in the sort of 30 to 35 cm range. It’s not far from a small cube, and it is only 9 gallons, so when I made the decision to do a heavily plant tank, there was a lot of reading about foreground, midground, and background plants. For the size the tank I’m doing, I don’t think there’s an awful lot of midground so I’ve selected some easy to care for specimens, I’ll put details in later, for foreground background, with the idea that both will spread over time. I have a combination of three different plants to grow to some significant height along the back. At least one of the background plants, a beautiful little red one, will shoot out roots from the sides to glom onto whatever surfice it can, so the Dragon rock and driftwood will be helpful here, as well as to help anchor some of the creeping stuff in the front of the tank.
  7. Gently fill up the tank from the rear to avoid disturbing the substrate too much.
  8. Let that sit for several days for the plants to adjust.
  9. Turn on the filter and let the plants grow for a week or two or three.
  10. Only then do we think about adding fish or invertebrates to the tank.

And I say fish or invertebrates, because I actually plan to have both. The I’m thinking half a dozen brightly colored shrimp, or maybe transparent Ghost Shrimp, because they’re kind of cool and very easy to take care of. These, paired with an single large snail, and considering the plants, will keep things very clean and minimize the amount of actual vacuuming I’ll have to do. The idea is that this is a relatively low maintenance tank. There might be a small school of Corys in the mix as well.

The main fish will probably be a single species school of something that actually likes confined areas, because it is only a 9 gallon tank, but I haven’t decided on them yet, either.

In approximate order, and probably spread a week or so apart each: the shrimp, the Corys, the snail, the school.

At this point, I hope the vision in my head is what reality comes to look like. While I’ve learned a lot more in the reading and research I’ve done in the last few weeks than I ever knew about keeping fish before, there’s still a lot I don’t know. Honestly, considering the low level of crappy equipment we used to use on a regular basis, I’m not certain how any of our fish lived longer than a week, and we had some live for several years, most notably my giant pleco, who was one of the first additions to our first tank before my wife and I were married. We brought Frank with us when we moved from Toronto and my son still remembers him. My oldest daughter might, too. He was 10 or 11 years old when we lost him.

I’ll put some pictures of the process up in the next few days, but I’m going at this slowly, so it’s probably going to be after Christmas by the time everything is in place and swimming.

And I haven’t even mentioned things like water testing yet.

There’s a lot more to keeping fish then just throwing some water in a bowl, you know.

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Back On Track?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo I’m starting to feel like I’m back on track with the writing.

While I’m not back up to the daily output of August to October yet, there’s at least some word count. Some days are pretty solid. Others are lighter. This past weekend, I actually had no words on Saturday, but that was due to a set of all-day seminars in the karate part of my life. Whenever I take all day for something like that, there are other things are left done, so I when come home, there are a whole bunch of chores to do. By the time I was caught up to where I wanted to be, I really had very little energy left, and let myself sink into the couch to watch a movie with my wife and my oldest daughter.

But otherwise, the word count is on the upslope again. Yes, there are some days where I’m under a thousand, where I choose to listen to something on the way home from work rather than dictate, and the novel progress is suffering a bit that way, but that’s okay, if I think about it a little. I have lots of stuff that needs a lot more editing, and the more time I spend drafting, but further behind I’ll get on the editing side. To stay even, or get ahead, I need a whole more editing time than I’ve been getting, and that’s a lot harder to come by.

I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I do four drafts of most things: story dump, fix what’s broken, make it pretty, read it out loud. Actually, technically there is a partial draft in between story dump and fix what’s broken, where I read through the story and make notes so that I can figure out what needs to be fixed. All told, on average, every hour of drafting probably needs about 2 1/2 hours to get through the various editing passes.

I’m thinking that means I’ll never catch up so long as I am working a regular job five days a week with a commute that lets me dictate. Ah, well. I have a lot of stories I want to tell. Maybe I’ll get most of them out of my head before I die.

My current process makes more specific use of my commute, as well. The morning commute, or the commute to work, whichever phrasing seems make more sense that day, is about evenly split between a blog or journal entry, and a piece of short fiction. Although, based on where my mind is going with it, the piece of short fiction I’m working on right now is probably a fairly long novella. Evening is dedicated to the current novel project, which is still Palace for another 22,000 words or so.

In practice, if I’m on the ball for all of both commutes, that’s around 2500 words once it’s been run through the transcriber. Twelve to thirteen hundred in each direction. And that’s a good total for me, even if it is divided among three things. At an average of 22 working days per month, that should usually wind up in excess of 50,000 words each month. And that’s not a bad monthly total. If I can find some evening time and get a couple of hours of work in each day on the weekends, the numbers should only go up from there, right?

But I really, really need to find some editing time. Lots of it.

If I could just afford to take a year or two off work…

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Faith-Based Schools

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherThe title of this post should probably serve as a warning.

I have a great deal of sympathy for children sent to the faith-based schools.

Yes, that sounds patronizing, and, I suppose, to a large extent it is. But, in the vast majority of cases, those children are being cheated of anything resembling a real education or a legitimate, functional worldview. If school is supposed to, at least in part, help prepare you to join the real world, a faith-based school only does so if you stay with in that same faith-based bubble after you graduate. Try to move beyond that bubble, and you will be confronted by a harsh reality that not only do most people not share your particular bubble, but some significant portion of them will actively push back against you, and if you’ve never been exposed to anything that disagrees with you, it seems unlikely that you will have any significant defense against it.

I think, if that happens, there are only a couple of possible choices for you. Question your beliefs and worldview, and either adapt to the world as it is and merge your views with reality or watch your worldview and beliefs crumble under the pressure. Alternately, you can choose to deny or reject anything that doesn’t match up with your comfortable beliefs, and either become a crusader against the infidels and those you will see as oppressors or retreat back into the bubble your parents carved for you.

I don’t feel like there’s a lot of in between.

Either way, the parents of those children in those faith-based schools have deliberately set out to make their children’s lives far more difficult than they need to be. The modern world is a difficult enough place as it is. Why would you want to make it harder for your successors, biological or otherwise?

I’m not adverse to the concept of faith, whatever higher power you might like to attach to it, at least until you decide that the rules governing your faith also apply to people who don’t share it, but a lot of people who are so secure in their faith they pity those of us who don’t share it (or try to demand that we share it anyway) don’t seem to understand that they also live in the modern world. That’s a choice, and one any adult is free to make, but don’t parents usually want better for their children?

At least, I thought that was the idea.

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