Monday, August 03, 2015

Aug 2 Journal

More wandering the labyrinth dreams, I think.  I dreamed that I had rescued a black kitten from drowning in a bath.  She was a small little thing, and I named her Undine.  There was more, but that's all I remember at the moment.

Working out:  Went to the gym Saturday afternoon.  Did the full routine.  Upstairs:  20 minutes on the elipical at 180 cal; 10 minutes on the rowing machine at 100 cal; 3 sets of 12 dips and 3 sets of 7 chin-ups on the assist machine.  Downstairs:  40 lbs pec fly, 80 lbs lat pull-down, 3 sets of 12 curl-ups, 3 sets of 12 reps with 30 lb dumbbells, 3 sets of 12 reps with 40 (maybe 30)lb triceps pull-downs.

Followed by a fabulous 11-1 anniversary dinner date with Mark.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Happy Summer Ides!

We're (more or less) halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox.  Traditionally, Lammas falls on August 1.  Astronomically, the day exactly between the times of equinox and solstice moves around and could be August 4... which it turns out is a different day when the sun is 11.75 degrees above the equator.

In agrarian times, this would have been the beginning of the harvesting season, the gathering of the first fruits and the baking of bread from newly harvested grain.

I like to think of this time of year as the season of the Hunter, the station of the wheel of the year between the Enchanter of the Summer Solstice and the Reaper of the Autumnal Equinox.  The Hunter's motto is: "I am the arrows and the target."   For me this is one of those times (along with the Winter Solstice) to take a look at targets and goals and remind myself that seeking them is supposed to be fun or at least something that feeds my soul (and kick myself in the pants to stop being lazy and get cracking!).

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Eleven Years.

It's my and Mark's anniversary!  Depending on how you count it, it's either our eleventh or our first.

Eleven years ago we got married in our landladies' backyard garden.  It was before same-sex marriages were legally recognized, but we wore suits, and our relatives flew or drove over, and we had a real Unitarian minister perform a ceremony.

We asked the bakery to make a chocolate cake with otters on it, but people thought they looked like stoats.

Last year, on our tenth anniversary, when it was legally recognized in Oregon, we had a civic ceremony on top of the (now demolished) Eugene City Hall.

And I've realized that I don't have any photos from last year:  they're all on Mark's camera or on Facebook.

More here at this blog post.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Aug 30 Journal

We're on day two of a three-day heat advisory here.  It's supposed to be in the low 100's.  Cooling the house becomes an arcane art involving monitoring the inside temperature, the sunrise, the outside temperature, synchronized watering, opening openings in the house, and closing all the openings in the house.  We should install an exhaust fan in our attic space one of these days...

Working Out:  Wednesday night.  Got about 20 minutes on the elliptical (darn, I forgot to look at the calorie count), 10 minutes on the rowing machine (100 calories), and did three reps of 10 assisted dips plus 8 + 5 assisted chin-ups.  Downstairs 40lb pec-flies, 80lb lat-pulls, 40lb-triceps curls, 3 sets of 12 curl-ups, and 30lb dumbbell curls.  While my arms, chest and upper back have responded well to the exercises I've been doing for about a year, I still have a paunch.  I know you can't spot-melt fat, but I do wish it wouldn't spot-stay.  I suppose I have to give up (or cut way back more than I think I do) on something like (once or twice a week, really) Pepsi.

Writing:  Sat down and just wrote whatever came into my head for a little under an hour (oh dear, only 340 words....).  Then the idea of setting something on a city floating in the upper atmosphere of Venus struck me and I spent about fifteen minutes researching.

It was nice writing, but I have a bunch of partially opened manuscripts that I need to finish or officially close.  Working on them feels more like editing than writing, so I guess I've been letting them float.  Some of them really want to be longer than short stories... so maybe I should take the plunge and make them novel length.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Time-lapse Poppies

I discovered I can make time lapse videos.

I've been saying that I wanted California Poppies growing in our yard.  I've always liked the little yellow, orange and red flowers that pop up alongside various buildings around the neighborhood, so I figured they'd grow in our poor, clay-rich soil.   These are some volunteers that got away from me when I was planting their fellows in peat pots and sprouted up on the soil stairs/planters that Mark made last year.  

Post Greasy Food Dream

I don't know if it was the Sprite, the sweet potato fries or the ranch dressing, but I didn't sleep so well Tuesday night and dreamed a lot of jumbled dreams.

I did a lot of wandering.  I'm pretty sure I had the "family reunion in a large confusing house" dream (featuring a conversation with my Dad and Aunt Margot about something--hmm, usually it's my Mom's side of the family...), and I did a lot of walking around the mid Willamette Valley.

Near the end of the dream, I walked to a party being held in an old barn.  The paint had long ago flaked off and the wood was weathered to a silver-grey.  It was close to sunset.  I want to say the party was hosted by some Albany friends, but what really struck me was that Jay Lake had come back from the dead and was at the party.

I was really glad to see him.  He looked pretty good; he was restored to how I remembered him from 2007.  I very much wanted to ask him what it had been like being dead because, Writing Research!  But I didn't want to be all awkward with the sorts of "so, what was it like being dead?" questions he probably got all the time.

It turned out he was entertaining everyone with post-mortem stories.  "So I walk into the DMV to get a driver's license, and they ask me for some ID, so I pull out my death certificate...."  I got the sense that Jay was driving without a license, but that there was this whole, "So what are you going to do, officer?  I'm dead." vibe.

Then the party was over and everyone was leaving.  Jay gave me a ride in the GENRE mobile (which was painted red) and we traveled along a curving mid-Willamette Valley off-shoot of highway 99.  I discovered that I hadn't put on my seat-belt and fixed that.  At some point in our conversation, I said, "Wow, I can hardly wait to see the look on my kid's face when I tell him I got a car ride from a formerly dead man."

There were flares along the side of the road, and the landscape was suddenly under construction, and then the dream went on its wandering-dream way, and I wandered into a battle with devils and angles who were dressed as 1980 New-Wave rockers (slacks, lose blouses, narrow neckties, retro-fifties' buzz cuts).  Everyone was walking around in a dimly-lit, orthogonal, blocky kind of indoor mall.  The devils wore red and grey and had electric torches that shot flames; the angels wore white and grey and I had to help them by invoking The Power of Christ's name, and as the flames whooshed around us and the devils were cringing back I was thinking, "Wait, how does it even work that a NeoPagan like me can do this ... ?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Late July Journal

Working Out:  Monday, I did 20 minutes (145 cal) on the elliptical, ten min (100 cal) on the rowing machine, and 20 assisted dips and 10 assisted chin-ups.  Downstairs, I did pec-flies (3 sets of 12 reps at 40 lbs), lat pulls (3 sets of 12 reps at 80 lbs), and 20 curl-ups.  Then I had to leave a little early.

Writing:  I'm about ready to abandon the current piece I've been working on.  I'm afraid if I fiddle with it for too much longer it's going to get over-edited.  Mostly I've been pecking away at it here and there.  It's at a point where I need to send it out, and it will be good to focus on the more creative end of drafting a story instead of editing one.  

The weather has been in the 70's and 80's the last week, which is nice; but we're about to have another spike of mid to upper nineties (bleah).  We had a little sprinkle over the weekend, but there was no measurable precipitation.

More Fair Rides

I rode this.  It was a little more alarming than I thought it would be, mostly because I was very conscious of how I was about nine stories above pavement, and how I was held in place with a little metal pin.

I pretended I was skydiving, which helped a little.

The centripetal force pulled my feet sideways, which didn't help.

Every so often, the ride made a sideways shiver motion, which was disconcerting.

Monday, July 27, 2015


We rode on the Tilt-A-Whirl.  The ride was invented in 1910 in Minnesota; the factory there still makes the ride and parts.

I think I rode for a little too long in the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Pulling several G's while our car whirled around was fun while it lasted, but once we got out, I didn't feel so good.

On little girl who was exiting the ride with us threw up.  I had to limit my later rides to ones that mostly moved in one plane.  I remember when I used to be able to not have to worry about spinning around and around and around.

When we got home, I needed a little mint tea to help settle my stomach.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Ferris Wheel

 We rode the Ferris Wheel and rocked out to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
 The shadow of the wheel was cast upon the fair buildings.  "Shadow of the Wheel" sounds like a good fantasy story title.
The view was nice, but it was hard to hear Joan singing from where we were.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

More Ankh Goodness

 The ankh saga continues...  since I had an SVG file created by Inkscape (see yesterday's post), that meant I could import it into Blender, turn the vectors into a manifest mesh, and then render the design as a 3-D object.

After fiddling around with the ankh, a white light and a blue light, and various planes, I came up with some designs that look like they should be on the cover of a 1980's ambient synthesizer band's album.

The images I liked the most had a white light behind the ankh to back-light it and a blue light just above the ankh in order to cast blue anti-shadows onto the plane behind.  I got different shadow effects by moving the backdrop farther or closer to the ankh.

I like the first image because the blue light behind makes the ankh look like it is descending from space, or like there's some mystic teleportation going on.

For the second image, I moved the blue light so it was in the junction of the vertical and horizontal openings in the ankh.  I like this one because the light is implying a second ankh behind or somehow extending out of the solid one.  It does look a little like a sword hilt, though.

The third image has some hour-glass suggestions going on in the background.   It's a little distracting, and makes the ankh look a little like a tattoo on some woman's mid-drift.  I placed the blue light at the base of the ankh, so there's a saturation of blue there.  There's also the teleportation ray going on, too.  I think I might crop this so that it's square.

The fourth is one of my favorites because it looks like the ankh is being put into a box made out of the sky.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Designing Ankhs

The other day I was fiddling around with sketches, and I wondered if I made an ankh using a half-circle and a triangle made out of two 3 x 4 x 5 right triangles how it would look.  My sketch looked better than the design I came up with, so I must be bad at guestimaiting what kind of triangles I use.  Actually, I often find that the designs I come up with which appear to use circles, squares and triangles in my sketches look wrong when I use Inkscape to make geometrically accurate circles, squares and triangles.

Once I saw that the loop wasn't going to work with pure circles and triangles, I reworked it by tweaking the spline-points on a regular circle and then finding a triangle that fit the loop and used it as the serifs for the ankh's arms.

During the process of moving thick-lined polygons around, designing the arms to be hollow suggested itself, and I ran with it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Journal Stuff

Working Out:  Monday's session was truncated.  Only managed the eliptical, rowing machine, and assistend dips/chin-ups upstairs; then only lat-pulls and pec-flies.

Writing: I've been attempting to re-write the beginning section of a story.  Right now it's week on setting details and the reader isn't sure who the main character is and what her main problem is.  The most receint round of critique suggested that for a short story I should just call some of the relatives aunts or aunties, and save aunts=your mother's sister, auntie=your father's sister, and auntins=your aunt-in-law and a similar kin-ship construction for uncles for a novel.  

I managed to put at dent into the beginning this afternoon.  Tomorrow's task is adding more setting details in the second scene.

Thinking of Designing....

Here's a rendering from a few years ago.

At one time I thought it would be fun to 3D print a ceramic or metal lamp like this, but it would end up being prohibitively expensive.

It's fun to design them in Blender, though.... and now that I think about it, I ended up creating a paper version.

Some times I think it could be fun to laminate enough of the paper version to create a plaster casting that I could pour tin into.  Then I could somehow wield the tin into something cool and shiny... Hmmm.. .

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Journal for July 12-19

Working Out:  Monday evening I went to the gym.  Someone was on the rowing machine, so I only did the elliptical.  Followed up with assisted dips and chin-ups.  Downstairs for the lat pulls, pec flies, curl-ups and dumbbell work.

Writing:  Finished up critiques for Tuesday night.  I saw a useful exercise over on Mary Robinette Kowal's website, and tried my hand at a few.  What I like about it is that it gets right to the story, and I'm hoping that it's a good antidote for my tendency to over-write and back-pack story beginnings.   I'm going back through the pile of critiqued manuscripts and cleaning them up... which feels more like editing than writing.

Working Out:  Thursday afternoon I went to the gym.  Upstairs managed the elliptical 20 minutes, um 130 calories?), the rowing machine (ten minutes, 110 calories), and the assisted dips and chin-ups (tried for a wider grip on the chin-ups).   Downstairs did the 80 lb lat-pulls, pec-flies, curl-ups, and 35 lb dumbbell curls.

Writing:  Thursday and Friday I did some critiquing, and tweaked a science fiction short story manuscript up for Saturday Night Crit.  Despite my efforts at tweaking, I managed to confuse most readers through unclear setting details and too many supporting characters in the first few paragraphs.
This weekend is seeing temperatures back in the mid to upper 90s.  At least the week previous was in the more reasonable mid 80s.