22 May 2015 @ 03:55 pm

Ireland is going to the polls today to decide whether or not marriage is for everybody. It’s apparently the first time in the world that the question of marriage equality has been put to a national vote, so frankly, it’s going to be a huge fecking embarrassment if it fails.

I voted at about 11:30 this morning. The polling station said turnout was excellent so far. Last night in Dublin I walked by half a dozen people inside a block wearing YES! buttons, and a friend who works in city centre said this morning it seems like every other person, maybe even more than every other person, was wearing a yes badge.

Uber is volunteering free cab rides to and from the polls. The airlines have been adding flights–apparently there were 18 more flights than usual coming into Dublin last night, because thousands of ex-pats are coming home to vote, as Irish law says you can’t vote unless you’re on Irish soil. I’ve seen tweets from so many places. Berlin. Abu Dhabi. Nairobi. Sydney. Toronto. San Francisco. London. Bangkok. New York. Barcelona. Ethiopia. Geneva. There’s a ‪#‎hometovote‬ tag trending world-wide on Twitter (some of the best are collected here), as is ‪#‎YesVote‬, which means the whole world is literally talking about this today.

The #hometovote tag is wonderful, and I was getting sniffly over it while sitting in the café waiting to collect Henry from preschool. One of the dads walked by and said, “Oh no! Are you sick again?” as I blew my nose, and I had to confess, with a faint degree of embarrassment, that no, I was just getting emotional over the marriage referendum.

“I voted yes,” he said. “Everyone I know except one old couple in Offaly is voting yes.”

Everybody I know is voting yes, too, except one misguided mother of a friend. I hope we are in fact the majority, and not a bubble beyond which we cannot see.

I want it to be a landslide victory for equality. I think it may be a narrow one. I’m afraid we’ll lose, but that hardly bears thinking about.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

21 May 2015 @ 03:44 pm

TV on DVD: s3 Arrow: If I were stronger, I would stop watching Arrow now.

It’s not that I don’t like it. I *do* like Arrow; I’ve liked it from the start. I have issues with all the secret-keeping (issues which paid off in spades this season, actually, especially at the end), but I really like it and normally I’d be happy to watch it through five seasons, which is as far as it should go even if it’s probably going to go a lot farther. I want to see what happens with Diggs, particularly, because this could be the Diggs & Felicity Show for all I care and I’d be super thrilled. But it’s not, and my problem here is that I really, really loved the end of season 3.

I mean, really, truly loved it. And I…I want it to be done, with that ending. And it won’t be. It won’t be for a thousand reasons, not least of which is that they’ve, y’know, been renewed for a fourth season, and because there are now two spin-off shows plus Supergirl happening in the DCTVU, so even if Arrow ended, we’d probably see cameos and what-not in all those other shows, and because–

–well, I can’t say the last because without spoilers, so herein lies the spoiler cut. I’m going to say exactly what happens in the final scene and why it means a lot to me, so if you don’t want to know, don’t click through.

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

21 May 2015 @ 01:56 pm

I’ve had several people ask me in the past few days, half-jokingly and perhaps half-not, if I could make them a major To Do list, or if I could come to their house and purge (I totally will, too. It’s way more fun to throw away other people’s stuff. The thing is, you have to let me…), or if I could give an example of my lists to draw from.

I can do that, sure. :) Let’s say you need to Do Something About Your Books. (I reckon this is a fairly understandable topic for those who read my blog. :)) More, let us presume you are actually Willing To Do Something About Your Books, because if you’re not, well, there’s nothing a list can do to help you. Let us further presume that you have a major stash of books in at least three rooms in the house.

Do Something About My Books becomes an overwhelming task, left on its own like that. To deal with it, you gotta break it down. The farther you break it down, the easier it (nominally) becomes, because you have a small step to accomplish and then you get to mark something off the list and it looks like you did something!

So this is how I Deal With The Books:

– get boxes/bags
» check with local bookstore/liquor store for book-appropriate boxes
» arrange to collect boxes at a set time
» collect boxes
– create to-be-read shelf
– cull TBR shelf:
» am i REALLY going to read this? if no, box it
– cull books (room by room/case by case/shelf by shelf: break it down as much as you need)
» will i re-read it? really? really?
» » keep
» does it have sentimental value (signed/rare edition/fave author/etc)?
» » keep
– box/bag up what’s not sentimental or re-read material
– when a box/bag is full, bring it to used bookstore/goodwill/library ASAP

For the record, the number of books I actually regret having chosen to ditch is below ten.

This is basically how I do to-do lists in general. Also, I add things to my lists all the time. They’re constantly evolving works in progress, so you don’t have to imagine you’ve got to get every step down the first time you approach the list.

In general, if you’re not a native list-maker (or even if you are) and would like to become one, GETTING THINGS DONE by David Allen is a good book on making lists and, well, getting things one. It’d be an even better book, of course, if I was rich enough to hire him to come help me get all the high-level shit he talks about dealt with, but in principle and in many practical applications, it’s an excellent book for this kind of thing.

I’ll put several more examples behind the cut, just in case they’re of any use to anybody.

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

20 May 2015 @ 10:48 am

I’ve just spoken with the estate agent. The good news is that although the lease is up at the end of May, they do not expect us to be out of the house at the end of May.

Indeed, it appears we could continue to live here indefinitely until the house sells, with people coming in to look at it while we were living here. Which is not what we want to do, but it’s somewhat nice to know that if for some reason we can’t be out until August they’re not going to throw us onto the street (because even if the house sold tomorrow it takes months to close).

In reality, we have 42-56 days of Official Notice, which gets us well into July if we need it and through the end of June at the least. Which means I can reduce my freak-out level a little and try to get some damned writing/book production work done, as well as doing house-level purging and packing. :p

I need to email my whole production team and apologize for the delay, explain what’s up, and hopefully have stuff incoming to them by next week. Mnargh.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll actually get to work on the Greywalker Papers crossover story, now that I know what’s what.

…I need to write a thinks to do list. Right after I bring this huge bag of clothes to a charity shop.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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19 May 2015 @ 05:17 pm

Yesterday a friend was over and she saw my 20-point Thinks To Do list for the living room and wondered what it was. I explained it was the pre-move to-do list. Not the moving list, just the preparing-to-move list.

“…have you ever considered project management?” she wondered. :) (Later she said, “Seriously. All it lacked was timelines and assigned roles & responsibilities, and I could have put it in Microsoft Project.”)

Anyway, despite the project management levels of lists lying around I’m feeling entirely unsuccessful in getting anything done.

This is not an accurate reflection of reality, mind you. The reason my friend was visiting was because I had a giant pile of 3-5 year old clothes to give her, which reflected approximately a third of the infant-to-5y/o clothes I have washed, sorted and folded. I have two overflowing laundry baskets of the same sitting in the living room, waiting for me to figure out how to get them to the charity shops. As a whole, they represent a *significant* amount of the stuff from the shed. Mostly Christmas stuff, gardening stuff, and things that belong to this house are left in there.

I’ve actually cleared out everything except the two boxes of books written by me (augh) under Young Indiana’s bed, which was one of the to-do items on lists I haven’t even posted on a wall yet, because they constitute Upstairs Work and I’m dealing with Downstairs Work.

Downstairs, 70% of the CDs have gone off to libraries and used bookstores, along with a dozen or so graphic novels, which are turning out to be harder to cull than I imagined. A lot of them seem to fall under “I want to re-read this before I decide if I’m gonna ditch it.” (I did get rid of one of my SEVEN COMPLETE SETS of the original ElfQuest, by giving them to the same friend who took the clothes & who had never read ElfQuest! I’m going to give another set to my nephew, but they have to move too, so it’d just be mean to give it to them before they do.) The laundry room, save for the toy box and camera equipment, Has Been Sorted. The toys requires grandparental intervention, so we can ditch stuff without Young Indiana standing by, and the camera stuff…just requires doing it.

I’ve arranged with my friendly neighborhood bookstore to collect boxes appropriate for books. I did a rough count of the books, which, horrifyingly, added up to probably in the region of 12-1500 books. And that’s with me being ruthless for years. (A third of those are graphic novels and gaming material, which is not precisely spoken in our defense, since it means there are still 800-1000 or so BOOKS. 200 of which are copies of BOOKS I WROTE. #dies)

I…can’t think of anything else I’ve actually accomplished, at this point. And all of the above doesn’t seem like much, because I’m Not Writing. I’m like clockwork. I worked really hard the first 3 months of the year and have had about 6 weeks off now and, as generally happens, I am now beginning to feel that I am getting NOTHING DONE AT ALL because I’m not writing. So I may go out in the crappy weather and write something, anything, tonight, just to be working on something, and maybe tomorrow I’ll feel like the moving work I’ve done is some kind of accomplishment.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

15 May 2015 @ 11:22 am

I have just about completed ripping our CDs. This is a task that has been done in the past, but I’ve been unable to find the damn drive upon which the old rips were saved, and probably a new rip (10+ years later) is better quality anyway (it’s certainly faster), and because I have little need to own physical CDs, it will reduce our physical possessions by some percentage when I’m done. I’m trying hard to buy music digitally now, although mostly that means I just forget to buy it at all.

In ripping them, I’ve discovered we have a lot of great music we never listen to. @.@ I got a digital music player a few years ago but it hasn’t proven as satisfactory as we’d hoped. We have another Android-based one that’s better (if I can find it), so we’re going to have to get a decent speaker set for it or something and go from there, because really! Lots of good music here!

But I am MISSING a Jim Byrnes CD! Missing like I didn’t even know it existed, not missing like I have a copy and can’t find it (although I’m missing one in that sense too)! Love is a Gamble, 2001 from One Coyote Music. How can this BE?!

I’m also reminded, as I periodically am, that somehow I do not own Bon Jovi’s Keep the Faith on CD. I don’t know why. I must *have* at some point, because I think there was a digital copy of it made at some point, but I don’t have it and I don’t understand why. :) I own every other album they (and he) have done, so I just have no idea where Keep the Faith is. And it’s one of my favourite albums!

I also own every album Meat Loaf has ever done, even the stupendously bad ones. But I don’t feel any need to keep the physical copies of those. :) (Bon Jovi, Jim Byrnes & Martin Hayes are the 3 that for some reason I wish to retain physical media of. Possibly because I think they’re all hot.) Anyway, I’ve gotten a large, sturdy, well-made CD carrier so the CDs and liner notes can be kept tidily and the jewel cases can be ditched for everything we’re keeping.

In an attempt to Do Something about the TV on DVD, I found these DVD binders, who have turned out to be pretty good. They’re advertised as holding 20-25 pages of DVDs & liner notes, which appears to be pretty accurate, although it turns out Buffy & Angel together basically fill 2 of them and Highlander overflows one by a considerable margin. So I have to get some more, but they’ve reduced the space taken up by those 3 series by about 2/3rds, so they’re WORTH getting more of.

(I was putting DVDs into the pockets & being amused at the various pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Adrian Paul & Jim Byrnes at different ages and looking different sorts of sultry or noble or whatever, and then I picked up one with Peter Wingfield on it and made a sound inappropriate for company. #laughs And it’s clear to me from Twitter chat that some day I need to have a massive Methos Chronicles sleepover party weekend thing and basically all the women I know need to show up so we can giggle and squeal like idiots for three days straight.)

Oh, my, Ted’s been much braver culling his selection of CDs (his music is the hard rock, the pop, and the country; mine is the rock, the blues and the soundtracks, generally speaking) than I expected him to be. I didn’t need a 200 CD case to save what was left in. Well, that’s okay, it won’t hurt to have it. :)

All right, there we go. 366 albums ripped. I’m gonna go…listen to some music now. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

14 May 2015 @ 11:21 am

So we have to move. Again.

Our landlord died and the people who inherited the house have decided to sell it. (Precisely the same thing is happening to my sister right now.)1qq We don’t know when exactly we have to be out, but we have to be out. We also don’t know where exactly we’re going to end up, because the median rent in Dublin is more than we’re currently paying, which is more than we can actually afford, which means: not Dublin. Ted’s job is north of Dublin, so unless circumstances change, we’ll be going north. Somewhere. But most of the commutable distances are also getting vastly more expensive because nobody can afford to live in Dublin! It’s all very exciting.

I have, and I am not joking, a 70 point Preparation For Moving bullet list. (I counted. It really is 70 points.) I’ve spent the past ten days or so working on it. Much of it–most of it–is a room-by-room “get rid of stuff” list, with details on what I need to do/have/accomplish to Get Rid Of Things. This bullet list does not, sadly, include, say, packing, or finding somewhere to live. Or, indeed, me getting any actual work done.

I’m getting a tiny bit of work done anyway. I’m working on the crossover/fan fiction by the authors themselves/mashup Greywalker Papers story with Kat Richardson, and it’s GREAT FUN. It’s not, though, revising either book I have to finish revising, or writing REDEEMER, which was supposed to be my May project. The best-laid plans, etc etc etc.

The Get Rid Of Things side of things is going fairly well. I’m ripping CDs. We have a lot of great music we never listen to. I’m collapsing our TV on DVD into DVD wallets so it takes up about an eighth of the space it currently does, which will do my soul a gladness. I’m washing vast amounts of baby-and-small-child clothes and intend to bestow them upon other people. We have to do…something…about the graphic novels. Possibly re-read them all and see what we actually want to keep. So on and so forth for another 60 or so bullet points.

Anyway, the result of all this is I feel exceptionally un-bloggy, not so much that I don’t want to but almost literally all I’m doing is packing prep, which doesn’t make for a very exciting journal topic.

So, uh, that’s the fun going on here. How are you? O.O

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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11 May 2015 @ 03:11 pm

Picoreview: Woman in Gold: well worth watching.

Woman in Gold is based on the true story of an Austrian Jew whose family artwork was stolen by the Nazi occupation, and her international legal battle, sixty years later, to get it back. Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann and Ryan Reynolds plays her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, who comes from a long line of highly distinguished Schoenbergs and who has thus far totally failed to make his mark.

And good god, Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black plays the younger Altmann. That woman is an incredible chameleon. I had the vague idea I’d seen her before, but I never would have placed her. Good lord. Wow.

Anyway, Mirren is good, Reynolds is his usual affable self (I’m not particularly convinced he can act, although there were a couple of emotional moments in this where he was as good as I’ve ever seen him), and the story, which appears to be a reasonably accurate version of reality, is worth seeing it for.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

08 May 2015 @ 06:53 pm

I’ve spent this afternoon Getting Rid Of Stuff. Some of this was of the prosaic “empty the trashes” nature, but the bulk of it was involved in going through boxes that have been sitting around with the intent to be gone through. The big thing to tackle was a large box of received correspondence from roughly 1990-1998. A few months ago in another one of these Getting Rid Of Stuff binges I almost threw it out wholesale, but held off, and days later realized with a shock that I was really glad I hadn’t tossed it, because the 4 page handwritten letter that AC Crispin wrote to me when I was 15 and had asked for writing advice from her was in it.

So today I opened the box with the intention to find that letter and throw everything else away.

I threw a *lot* of it away. Probably 75% of it, some of which were letters from (now) complete strangers. A few of them I remembered after a while, but others? I genuinely had no idea who they were. So those weren’t so hard to part with. Neither, as it turned out, were most of the letters I had from people I *do* remember and am mostly still in contact with.

I found the AC Crispin letter. I *also* found the letter from Anne McCaffrey, inviting me (and the friend I was travelling with) to Dragonhold, after I’d written to her before my first trip to Ireland and said I had to ask, at least, if I might be able to meet her. I didn’t think I still had that, so that was a lovely thing to discover.

I also found a number of letters from my grandmother, who died several years ago, and an old (really old, like, 6th grade!) journal, and a Beauty and the Beast short story I wrote around 1991-92 and which I’m considering posting, unedited, to my Patreon page, now that I’ve switched it over to being a short story project. :) And a bunch of other somewhat random memento-style stuff, much of which can probably be thrown away but which has for the moment gone back into the box because I’d done enough for the day.

The thing that really got me, though, in going through the box, was that I found what I had been sure would be the last pictures I’d ever see/take of a friend of mine who was very, very ill with Crohn’s, at a Christmas party in 1997. She was 5’8″ and about 92 pounds, and we all thought it would be her last Christmas.

It was not. She had surgery not very long after that, and she is alive and well and strong, and tomorrow is in fact what she calls her Phoenix Day, the 17th anniversary of her surgery, but my God, seeing those pictures. #feels

So I’m very very glad I didn’t just throw the box out.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

05 May 2015 @ 03:03 pm

I’ve owned Kim Stanley Robinson’s SHAMAN since it came out, but hadn’t read it because I was still writing the Walker Papers, and regardless of how different his shaman and mine were likely to be (which was very, given that his book is set 40,000 years ago), I didn’t want to be reading about somebody else’s shaman while writing mine. :)

SHAMAN is one of those books that’s either going to work for you or it isn’t, I think, although a lot of KSR’s work can be summarized that way. I mean, I’m a tremendous fan of his and he still doesn’t always work for me.

SHAMAN did, though. Not because of the similarities between his shaman and mine, of which there was exactly one (Loon, our hero, is also a reluctant shaman), but because I thought he did a really nice job building a prehistoric society. Or several, rather, as Loon goes on an adventure to the North, and we also get a glimpse of Neandertal society, all of which I thought worked together as a pretty solid and believable set of societies. And having studied as much about shamanism as I have, I very much liked his depiction of the shamanic magic and duties, which are vastly more realistic than mine.

I had some problems with it. The young male narrator’s obsession with sex got a little tiring, and the nature writing didn’t sing the way I feel it does in the Science in the Capitol trilogy (although really, I think that series is exceptional in its nature writing, so any comparison is by necessity a little harsh), but the bit that really aggravated me was that I couldn’t figure out what continent it was taking place on…which I just realized is because I misplaced the origin of horses. I had it in my head they were like potatoes and tomatoes, originating on the American continents, but no, that’s backwards. Okay, it was me, not the book, and my confusion is all my own fault. Everything ELSE pointed to it being Eurasian in setting (in fact, I’m pretty sure I should be able to set it more preci–well, I can, because I know where the cave he used is, which is part of why it was confus–anyway.) Yeah, okay. I’m just an idiot.

There was a section-long chase scene in SHAMAN that was one of the best I’ve ever read. The only thing I can even think to compare it to is the chariot race in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosaic, which it’s tonally completely different from, but it was genuinely edge-of-the-seat reading, which is pretty stunning in a book.

There was also a moment where I thought he was going to turn the entire book on its ear, and I confess I would have been *delighted* to see it happen. I’ll illuminate behind a cut, because it’s a spoiler, but broadly speaking it’s like that moment in Winter Soldier where the heart of every woman watching leapt with joy and then collapsed again into, “Oh. Oh, well. I mean, that’s okay too, but…but it’s not as cool as it looked like it was going to be.”

It also made me tear up a little–twice!–which I think is a first for a KSR book. I was more emotionally invested than I thought I was, which is kind of wonderful.

Overall, not easy to recommend, but I find very little of KSR’s work easy to recommend. I thought it was worth the journey, though. In the end it’s a fairly powerful coming of age story, and I enjoyed it.

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)