The Saga of the Hall Light

Apr. 28th, 2017 12:27 pm[personal profile] mneme
mneme: (Default)
So, last night, we came home at, I dunno, 9:30 or so, turned on the hall light as we came in--and it flickered and then went out. Light was dead.

So naturally, I decided to try to change the light.

For a bit of background, we moved into our current place 14 months ago (or so), and it has 9-10.5 foot ceilings.

So...the first question was whether we had a ladder tall enough to hit the lights. It turns out that our normal 6-foot ladder, standing on the highest safe step (ie, the one made of hard plastic), I can -just- reach the ceiling, and thus have enough height to -just- change the bulb. So with bravery-aplenty, and not much forethought, I started doing just that.

The first problem I ran into was that I couldn't figure out how to remove the cover. I didn't take pictures, but our hall light consists of a metal plate, with a big glass bulb on the bottom--with no knobs, dials, or screws in evidence. Of course, I tried turning the bulb in different directions, but when I did, the whole thing twisted (against the wall). So...after much struggling (but not even -close- to the amount that happened later), I eventually had the whole lamp hanging from three wires, each spliced using plastic wire nuts. With this as my starting state, I decided (this was one of the correct decisions involved in this whole process) to just remove the lamp entirely and figure out how to remove the glass cover once it was safely on the ground, and did so -- carefully removing the huge disc of fiberglass foam that had been lodged behind/above the lamp.

Of course, [personal profile] drcpunk attempted to make sure the light switch was off (and to be sure, also that the dimmer switch was on the lowest setting, since with the bulbs out there was no way to be sure the swich was Actually Off unless we'd marked the on and off sides, which we hadn't.


As it turned out, the glass cover -was- easily removable, by twisting it counter-clockwise and lifting it (or letting it fall, when it was on the ceiling). However, since the lamp was attached to the ceiling by two screws, which were locked in place by...twisting the lamp counter-clockwise...this was no easy feat to do without dislodging it from the ceiling.

Now it was time to wire the lamp up and put it back onto the ceiling.

As it turned out, this was a bit more difficult than I might have anticipated.

First, of course, there was the matter of wiring up the three wires -- positive, negative (whichever was which; they were, strangely for the slipshot manner the entire thing was constructed, pretty well color coded), and a very clear ground wire connected to the body of the lamp and unlike the others, uninsulated. The first charged wire went fine; the second had the complication that on first touch, I could tell it was live (with one wire connected, this was noticable; presumably the circuit needed to be nearly complete for it to matter, since I wasn't about to short out the circuit by touching the charged wires as a test; I guesss I could have used a light bulb), without getting more than a tickle of electricity (thank you, self-installed dimmer switch), and got Lisa to turn off the light. After that, the second wire nut went on just fine.

But the third wire? The one that had a ceiling wire connected to the uninsulated wire from the lamp? Well, that one was a bit more complicated. It seems that that combination of wires was quite a bit shorter than the other wires, so I needed to hold the lamp up higher to screw it on, which complicated a one-handed attachment between two very unlike wires that would -not- line up, and there were several false starts and offers from [personal profile] drcpunk to "help" by providing more light (useful, mostly) and provide a book to stand on on the ladder (very much -not- useful; I did not need some way to make it more likely that I'd fall of the ladder and get seriously hurt). But eventually I was able to attach the third connection. It was now time to re-attach the lamp to the ceiling. Also, my arms were very tired.

This was where the trouble really started.

The problem was that it was impossible. The two screws the lamp twisted on to were just long enough to enter the holes, but they were in a cradle that wasn't firmly anchored on its own (although it was firmly-enough attached to the ceiling), so they'd sway and rock and slide as you tried to tactically push the lamp into them. Plus, it was super clear from how the lamp left the ceiling in the first place that those screws needed to be tighter than they started or it wouldn't stay up. I did try borrowing a mirror to see what I was doing, but this was useless; the lamp body blocked out any sight of what was going on, and the result was my arms getting even more tired but nothing getting done.

Eventually -- and I do mean eventually, it occurred to me the screw holes were plainly visible and accessible when the cover of the lamp was off and the bulbs removed. So (with a rest for a minute or so since the lamp could hang from the three wires--well, one wire, really, since the ground was so much shorter than the others, and without the glass cover on, without a -real- risk of something tearing and there being broken glass all over the floor), I got to work. This wasn't as simple as I'd hoped; there was a -lot- of screw, so it took a while to extend the screws, although I could do it by hand, and once I'd done so, one of them went through (and was able to twist in place, making it -much- easier to take periodic rests without fear of something going wrong), but I think the screws were a touch too narrow for their holes; not enough not to lock, but enough that they were at slightly different angles. So I tried to find the other one to no avail for a while, with much gnashing of teeth; involving another rest, and eventually returned, extended the loose screw enough to put the lamp on that one -first-, and was then able to lock it to both.

Of course, with this much standing on a ladder with my arms over my head, I -really- needed a rest, but there was much more to do--still, I thought if we could, we should really find the electric screwdriver rather than spending many minutes turning the fully extended drivers back to the point where things were nicely locked down. Which involved looking through the tool shelf (I should really get rid of useless stuff and compact that down to a tool case plus maybe an appliance or two) fruitlessly, then a few other places we sometimes put tools, then [personal profile] drcpunk suggested it might be in one of the chair-stools we put things in when we had a housefilk, so she resolved to look in the easier one and I looked through the harder one in the corner (where it wasn't), but there were keyboard ephemera on top of the "easier" one, so [personal profile] drcpunk declined to try to figure out how to move it; eventually I finished up with the far box, opened the nearer one, and...there it was. And my arms weren't quite as tired either.

So I used the electric (it's kinda amazing how much better simple battery powered motors are at turning screws than muscle power, really; we're super good at big motions, but simple tiny motions tire us out nearly as much and we're much less efficient and fast with them) and was able to lock down the lamp nicely, put the bulbs back in (tested them, because you always test them), swapped the dead bulb that had somehow got among the live bulbs and replaced it, and put the glass cover back on, twisting it in place. All good.

At which point, the entire lamp twisted, and came loose from the ceiling again. And I saw a golden wire peeking out, indicating that the ground wire (which, you'll recall, was shorter than the others) had finally snapped under the strain.

So, -much- faster than anything else went, I removed the cover and the bulbs, tried to loosen the screw that had attached the ground wire to the lamp (and failed) and decided to just tie it to one of the loops hanging up from the base of the lamp instead (metal be metal, for ground), took cardboard lying around and made -shims-, loosened the screws on the ceiling and put the lamp on them and then tightened them again (this time all with the electric so it went fast), shimed the screw holes so the lamp wouldn't twist off them without the shims being removed,, put the bulbs back into the lamp, tested the lamp (and determined that one of the bulbs was a cfc didn't work great with the dimmer switch, flickering like mad when it was dim, so swapped it out for a cfc that was fine with our dimmer), put the glass bulb back on, and -now- were done. Only, oh, an hour and a half after I started trying to change a light bulb.

Posted by Rachel

Okay, here’s a summary of the titles that have come up so far in comments related to the last post, here and on Goodreads:

1. The Steerswoman series by Kirstein. A couple of you said no no, it’s not under the radar! But I think it kind of is now, among the general population of readers, even if it was more noticed at the time it was originally published. I mean, *I* didn’t notice it in 1989, and I never would have realized it existed, much less tried it, if some of you here hadn’t mentioned it. So I’m tentatively leaving it on the under-the-radar list.

If you ask, she will answer. If she asks, you must reply. A steerswoman will speak only the truth to you, as long as she knows it—and you must do the same for her. And so, across the centuries, the Steerswomen— questioning, searching, investigating—have slowly learned more and more about the world through which they wander. All knowledge the Steerswomen possess is given freely to those who ask. But there is one kind of knowledge that has always been denied them: Magic.

When the steerswoman Rowan discovers a small, lovely blue jewel of obviously magical origin, her innocent questions lead to secret after startling secret, each more dangerous than the last—and suddenly Rowan must flee or fight for her life. Or worse, she must lie.

2. Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson.

Katie Chandler had always heard that New York is a weird and wonderful place, but this small-town Texas gal had no idea how weird until she moved there. Everywhere she goes, she sees something worth gawking at and Katie is afraid she’s a little too normal to make a splash in the big city. Working for an ogre of a boss doesn’t help.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Katie gets a job offer from Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., a company that provides tricks of the trade to the magic community. For MSI, Katie’s ordinariness is an asset.

Lacking any bit of magic, she can easily spot a fake spell, catch hidden clauses in competitor’s contracts, and detect magically disguised intruders. Suddenly, average Katie is very special indeed.

She quickly learns that office politics are even more complicated when your new boss is a real ogre, and you have a crush on the sexy, shy, ultra powerful head of the R&D department, who is so busy fighting an evil competitor threatening to sell black magic on the street that he seems barely to notice Katie. Now it’s up to Katie to pull off the impossible: save the world and–hopefully–live happily ever after.

3. ThiefTaker Chronicles by D.B. Jackson.

Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can’t stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.

4. Twelve Kingdoms series by Jeffe Kennedy

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.

Andi doesn’t mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she’d thought was no more than legend–until he claims her as its queen.

In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn’t know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.

For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

5. Another Twelve Kingdoms series, this one by Fuyumi Ono. This one seems harder to find than some, but (fairly pricey paper) copies are available on Amazon.

For high-schooler Yoko Nakajima, life has been fairly ordinary–that is until Keiki, a young man with golden hair, tells Yoko they must return to their kingdom. Once confronted by this mysterious being and whisked away to an unearthly realm, Yoko is left with only a magical sword; a gem; and a million questions about her destiny, the world she’s trapped in, and the world she desperately wants to return to.

6. Jasper Fford’s work. Here’s one that’s not part of the Thursday series and in fact looks like a much more serious SF kind of story: Shades of Gray.

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey, which is low-caste in this color-centric world. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

7. Lazette Gifford’s work, such as the Devlin’s Team series . Hanneke warns that this self-published author lets more typos and grammatical errors slip through than would be ideal, but recommends her work anyway. I must say that the description below sounds catchy to me. I like the idea of the native creature. If Gifford’s done her homework with species design, I might really like that.

Devlin is a top agent for the Inner Worlds Council Security force — a spy in common terms — and she’s not very happy with an assignment to the backwater world of Forest. Settled by the Work for Man fanatics, the government has restricted not only the use of tech equipment but also regulate nearly every aspect of life for the small population. The settlement is boring and the people don’t like outsiders.

There is one anomaly, though: The brutal show known as bear dancing pits a human against a native life form. Devlin’s work is to learn about the show and report what she can about the bears themselves because there is suddenly outside interest.

The people involved in the bear dance are secretive. She’s gathered all the information she thinks she can, and she’s ready to move on. However, when a top-ranking scientist arrives on world, Devlin thinks she might be able to pick up a little bit more information.

And that’s something the locals fear.

8. The Summer King Chronicles by Jess E. Owen

Shard is a gryfon in danger. He and other young males of the Silver Isles are old enough to fly, hunt, and fight–old enough to be threats to their ruler, the red gryfon king.

In the midst of the dangerous initiation hunt, Shard takes the unexpected advice of a strange she-wolf who seeks him out, and hints that Shard’s past isn’t all that it seems. To learn his past, Shard must abandon the future he wants and make allies of those the gryfons call enemies.

When the gryfon king declares open war on the wolves, it throws Shard’s past and uncertain future into the turmoil between.

Now with battle lines drawn, Shard must decide whether to fight beside his king… or against him.

9. In a comment on Goodreads, Sherwood Smith suggested Ghost Point by James Hetley. I will add that I loved Hetley’s duology Powers and Dominions and highly recommend them. If I’d thought of them the other day, those are the ones I would have suggested rather than Steerswoman, because Hetley’s work is definitely under the radar.

About Ghost Point, Goodreads says:

Eight years ago, Dennis Carlsson returned from Vietnam with a chest full of medals, a head full of nightmares, and a plastic foot. Now he just wants the world to leave him alone on his isolated point of Maine coast, caring for injured animals and living as simply as he can.

However, both real and spirit worlds have other plans for his guardian strength. His nightmares have followed him home in a face from those memories, wildlife biologist Susan Tranh — prickly as a porcupine and with some strange bond to eagles, stalked by criminals for no reason she can see.

Tied deep into land and lore, the Haskell Witches know a lot more about Ghost Point than he does. The Naskeag tribe calls his home Spirit Point, a place to meet spirits and find visions. They avoid the place because they know the spirit world is dangerous.

And winter has its own deadly agenda…

10. Also from a comment on Goodreads, Megan says as far as she can tell Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace is still under the radar, even though it was nominated for multiple awards last year. I would certainly love to see it on everybody’s TBR list — it’s a great book, one of my favorites from last year.

Wasp’s job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They’re chosen. They’re special. Or so they’ve been told for four hundred years.

Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won’t survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

Update:

11. From Twitter, @quartzen adds several more recommendations, starting with Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

I definitely second the motion for Hoffman! I only discovered her a few years ago. My personal favorite of hers is A Fistful of Sky, which incidentally is one of the stories that reads exactly like YA but with a protagonist in her early twenties.

The LaZelle family of southern California has a secret: they can do magic. Real magic. As a teenager, a LaZelle undergoes “the Transition”–a severe illness that will either kill him or leave him with magical powers. If he’s lucky, he gains a talent like shape-changing or wish-granting. If he’s unlucky, he never experiences Transition. If he’s especially unlucky, he undergoes Transition late, which increases his chances of dying. And if he survives, he will bear the burden of a dark, dangerous magic: the ability to cast only curses. And curse he must, for when a LaZelle doesn’t use his magic, it kills him.In Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s A Fistful of Sky, Gypsum LaZelle is unique among her brothers and sisters: she has not undergone Transition. She resigns herself to a mundane, magic-bereft existence as a college student. Then one weekend, when her family leaves her home alone, she becomes gravely ill…

Other works and authors @quartzen adds:

12. Five-Twelfths of Heaven and the rest of the trilogy by Melissa Scott.

In a space-faring civilization where a single woman is increasingly sisenfranchised, the star pilot Silence Leigh is defrauded from her inheritance by a greedy competitor. Forced to ally with two men, Silence is dragged into a deadly political struggle, and is tantalized by the hints of the legendary Earth, as well as the dread and the glory of Magi’s power. Her dreams of having her own ship and of escape from the Hegemony’s oppressions take on new direction and focus when she joins the crew of “The Sun-Treader.”

13. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

You’ve never read a fantasy novel like this one! The deep well of Japanese myth merges with the Western fantasy tradition for a novel that’s as rich in place and culture as it is hard to put down.

Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

Update 2

In the comments to the previous post, Mona added:

14. Spinning Starlight by RC Lewis.

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men shows up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home—a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for its very survival.

15. As Old as Time by Liz Braswell, which is a Beauty and the Beast retelling I hadn’t previously heard of:

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

16. Charlie N Holmberg’s work. Let’s see, here’s one that sounds unusual: The Fifth Doll.

After discovering a room full of matryoshka dolls wearing the faces of her village, a woman learns she may be trapped inside one–but unraveling the sorcery carved into each doll unleashes dark consequences that rip her from the only home she remembers.

17. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. It’s my turn to say I didn’t think this one was under the radar; it seems to me I’ve seen a lot of buzz about it.

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

18. Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee. Nothing of Tanith Lee’s has ever worked for me personally . . . not that I have tried a great many of hers . . . I don’t know, maybe I would like this YA title better?

All her life, Claidi has endured hardship in the House, where she must obey a spoiled princess. Then a golden stranger arrives, living proof of a world beyond the House walls. Claidi risks all to free the charming prisoner and accompanies him across the Waste toward his faraway home. It is a difficult yet marvelous journey, and all the while Claidi is at the side of a man she could come to love. That is, until they reach his home . . . and the Wolf Tower.

Feel free to add other under-the-radar titles in the comments!

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

(no subject)

Apr. 27th, 2017 10:54 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)
Joe and I did not realize that the anime Fate/Zero was a prequel to Fate/stay night, thus leading to a brief WTF??? when we hit the ending of the former. Can anyone who's familiar with both tell us without being too spoilery, in general terms, whether Fate/stay night is as, um, traumatic and Nightmare Fuel-laden as Fate/Zero?

P.S. We also did not realize it was an Urobutcher show when we completely randomly picked it to watch. HA HA HA HA HA the more fool us.

Books read in 2017

Apr. 28th, 2017 12:38 am[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

24. Xamnesia, Lizzie Harwood (e)
23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
We are planning to do a code push late this weekend, at approximately 8pm PDT / 11pm EDT / 3am UTC on Sunday, Apr 30 (or May 1 for you transatlantic types.).

I don't have a list of changes for you yet, but most will fall into the following categories: things users have complained about to support volunteers, things support volunteers have complained about to developers, things [staff profile] denise has complained about not working the way she expects them to (and as we all know, The Boss is Always Right), and things that were printing warnings over and over in the production server logs, making it hard to spot when less frequent, more urgent errors were being printed. Oh, and also all the unused code I ripped out at the roots, which if you notice that, I did it wrong.

To sum up: we are rolling out a bunch of requested changes, so thank you all for your feedback!

If you're new to Dreamwidth and interested in tracking our development process, our commit logs are published to [site community profile] changelog and [community profile] changelog_digest, and every month or so, one of our volunteers will translate those often-cryptic entries into witty, informative code tours! The most recent one was published on April 1, so we're about due for a new one. Hint, hint.

We'll update here again to let you know when the code push is imminent!

Posted by Sharon

I may have mentioned once or twice that The Gathering Edge by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the twentieth novel set in the star-spanning Liaden Universe®, will be published in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, on May 2 (holy cow, that’s Tuesday!)

Just to get the love going, here are some pre-Book Day activities for you.

First, if you haven’t read it yet, there’s “Cutting Corners” at Baen.com.  It’s free to read, until May 14, and it’ll get you in the mood for The Gathering EdgeHere’s your link.

On Saturday, April 29, Patreon patrons will have a new goody waiting for them — Sharon Lee (hey, that’s me!) reading “The Gift of Music”.  Yes, it’s set in Archers Beach, instead of the Liaden Universe®, but it’ll get you psyched, I promise!  Not a patron yet?  Here’s your link.

On Monday, May 1, Steve and I will be doing an A(sk) M(e) A(nything) at Reddit.  You do need to be registered with Reddit to participate, so get that set up beforehand so you don’t miss a thing!  Here’s the link to sign up.

Tuesday, May 2, is the Big! Day!  The Gathering Edge will be released to the thousands who have been patiently awaiting its arrival, and!  It will get Very Quiet on the internets, while people settle down to read their book.

Wednesday, and Thursday, the internets will be abuzz as people discuss The Gathering Edge, quietly, so as not to spoil it for those who read slower, or who are waiting for the mass market, and Friday!

Friday, Steve and I will be featured on the Baen Free Radio Hour, talking about?  The Gathering Edge.

Wow, what a line-up, am I right?

But, wait!  There’s more.

On Saturday, May 13, from 1-3 pm, Barnes and Noble in the Augusta (Maine) Marketplace will be hosting Steve and I at a meet ‘n greet book signing.  We hope to see you — yes, you! — there.

I’ll tell you a secret, just to kick things off.  Back when, just after Agent of Change came out the first time (as a mass market original, in January 1988), Steve and I, ahem, were really, really excited.  And our elders in publication at that time told us that, if we survived to publish more books, the release of a new one would become. . .mundane. Boring.

You know what, though?

We’ve published nineteen novels now, with the twentieth, as we may have mentioned, coming right up, and?

It NEVER gets old.

Let the dancing being.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Writing and depression

Apr. 26th, 2017 07:26 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
I don't think I have anything new to say about writing and depression, but I'm struggling with it right now and trying to reboot myself out of it, so I thought I'd talk about that.

For anyone who's new here: I have bipolar I, which means that I spend significant periods of time depressed. I also cycle very quickly sometimes, so I can go from elated to suicidal within a single day or the course of hours. Needless to say, besides sucking in its own right, it makes writing, which I think of as a somewhat neurosis-inducing career [1], an additional challenge.

[1] I am pretty sure there are non-neurotic writers out there! But I am literally, professionally diagnosed crazy, and I have spent time in the psych ward for suicide attempts, so...

When writing gets hard, it comes down to routines. Writing is easy when it's a fire in the mind and the words blaze to be let down on paper (or typed into the computer, or whatever--I write both longhand and on a computer depending on my mood or the particular project). But inspiration is completely unreliable, especially when depression comes calling.

My routine goes something like this. Note that I don't claim that this works for everyone! Just this is what I do, and it more or less works for me. Sometimes better than others.

1. Get out of bed. Sometimes this is the hardest step.

2. Get food into myself. I have this rule that no writing happens until I have eaten something, even an oatmeal packet. Bodies are weird (or anyway, mine is! maybe yours is perfectly fine :p). If my blood sugar drops, I turn into a depressed suicidal wreck. I find this completely maddening considering that I'm overweight so you'd think that I could survive for a couple extra hours off fat reserves, but nope! Not so lucky. So I try to remember to eat at intervals. Even so, there's this period in the late afternoon/early evening where I usually have to take a break from writing no matter when I started because my blood sugar is too low for me to concentrate. (This is usually because I'm trying to time dinner to be convenient for my husband and daughter. If it were just me, I would eat smaller meals every four hours and that might work better.)

3. Get exercise. Sometimes I skip this, but I read somewhere that you should try to do the most important things first in your daily routine. I figure exercise is more essential than writing, or anyway, it should be higher priority. Also, I sort of cheat in that right now I'm mostly doing the world's wimpiest exercise biking, on a bike that has a built-in desk, and I use that time either to do reading (right now I'm beta reading for someone, for instance), or write fanfic. I could even use that time to do work-writing rather than fanfic-writing. It all depends.

4. Get shower. Because I am so wimpy, even wimpy exercise-biking leaves me drenched in sweat.

5. Make tea. I allow myself one cup of caffeinated tea a day. Right now that's a Republic of Tea black tea flavored with almond, which honestly I don't like all that much--I tried it out of curiosity and discovered the almond flavor didn't agree with me. So when the tin runs out I'll switch it for some other black tea. After that runs out, I start making herbal teas instead. Too much caffeine can trigger mania or hypomania, or just generally screw with my sleep (and screwing with sleep can mess with bipolar cycling--it's a whole Thing), so I try to not to overdo it.

6. Settle in to write. I turn on iTunes, set the whole thing to Shuffle, and attempt to write at least one sentence/song. Most songs are pop/rock songs of 3-4 minutes. This is not a recipe for blazing fast writing. What it is, is conditioning. My brain gets the idea that every time we switch to a new song, I should get back in gear and get writing. My philosophy is that slow and steady wins the race. I don't produce words particularly fast--I know there are fast writers out there, but I'm never going to be one of them. But I do believe that accumulating words a little at a time consistently will also work.

One of my problems is low morale, and a related problem is being intimidated by high goals. So I set low goals. One sentence during a song of that length is eminently doable. In fact, spurred by one thought, I usually end up writing more than one sentence. And that's good! Likewise, when I am at my most depressed--when I can barely string two thoughts together, or when I feel like everything I have ever written is completely worthless, I set my goals very low. As in 250 words/day low. These days I have novels to write so I can't do that forever, but even 250 words/day is better, in terms of sustaining momentum, than 0 words/day. It's simple mathematics. If you write 250 words/day, you can eventually write a novel, even if it takes you a while. Whereas with 0 words/day? You'll never get there.

This is not to say that you should never take a break! I have 0-word days. Weekends are usually dead time because I have family obligations. Sometimes the depression is just too much to deal with. But there is a difference between occasionally taking a break, and never writing. The latter is what I seek to avoid.

In the meantime: what helps you when you're dealing with doubt or depression? Tell me one thing you like about your own writing, if you like. :)

Posted by Rachel

Over at Fantasy Book Cafe, a post by Megan Whelen Turner, writing about the problem of discoverability.

I believe that Discovery, the process of finding books and authors that are new, is the most important aspect of increasing diversity in publishing. Some people find their new books by reading reviews regularly and getting newsletters in their inbox, but the vast majority of readers pick up the thing that’s on the endcap at Barnes and Noble.

Probably true, although in fact when I lived within 10 miles of a bookstore, I found most books and authors via the library. Physical bookstores are still really important for my sales, though. So I think that bit about tables at B&N is still basically true.

Here’s the bit I found most interesting:

I fall into reading ruts pretty easily. When I was a kid, I read all the Black Stallion books, all the Susan Cooper books, all the Alistair MacLean books. It took effort and sometimes blind luck to get me out of my comfort zones. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my favorite books and I only read it because it was on the shelf in a small apartment where I was trapped as a nanny to a sleeping baby. I love Iain Banks and I am not sure I would have if his books hadn’t constituted 40% of all books in English in the Oslo Public Library the year I lived there.

… This is interesting because I really don’t think “reading all of x books” can be called a rut. I mean, I totally did that too as a kid, and still do as an adult. All the Black Stallion books, check, all of Alistair MacLean, check. Also everything by Dorothy Dunnett, say. Or everything by CJ Cherryh. Or much more recently: all of Martha Wells’ books, all of Andrea K Höst’s books.

But how can that be called a rut? Unless you read them and then re-read them and then read them yet again, rather than going on to something else. Does anybody ever do that? Because that’s a little hard for me to imagine.

If you read all of Martha Wells’ books, that’s only, what, fifteen or so novels. Then you’d go on to something else, right? So, that doesn’t sound like enough novels in a row to really count as getting into a rut.

Which of course does not derail the main point, which is that Discoverability Is Really Important and Really Hard.

MWT says: As more and more of my purchases are made online, as more of my reading is online, I worry about the algorithms that are used to put books in front of my eyeballs. Amazon’s whole imperative is to show me books just like ones I’ve read already. Even as I am trying to diversify, I can I see myself going down a narrower and narrower tunnel.

Which also makes me wonder, do any of you pay a significant amount of attention to Amazon’s suggestions? Or do you, like me, get nearly all your reading recommendations from bloggers? In that case, since no one’s taste overlaps perfectly, you should find yourself being pushed toward books you wouldn’t ordinarily notice, right? Chachic got me reading romances. Charlotte got me reading more MG. Brandy and Maureen got me reading contemporary YA. And I have no idea how many books on my TBR pile were recommended by commenters here, but lots.

Discoverability is still really hard, obviously. Bloggers don’t use algorithms to suggest similar titles, but on the other hand some titles come with a LOT of buzz and hype and every. single. blogger. in the entire universe reviews those books while a thousand others fall under the radar. I see no solution to that, basically.

But to do my tiny bit about the issue: in the comments, please mention one under-the-radar novel or series that you read recently (or semi-recently) and really loved.

I’ll start, obviously.

My pick: Rosemary Kirstein’s The Steerswoman

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

[ObMeme]

Apr. 25th, 2017 10:09 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: (FMA:B Mustang Hellbound)
By way of [personal profile] likeadeuce:
Name one of my fandoms and I'll answer some questions!

1. the character I least understand
2. interactions I enjoyed the most
3. the character who scares me the most
4. the character who is mostly like me
5. hottest looks character
6. one thing I dislike about my fave character
7. one thing I like about my hated character
8. a quote or scene that haunts me
9. a character I wish died but didn’t
10. my ship that never sailed

(no subject)

Apr. 25th, 2017 05:10 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
Rick Riordan Imprint Acquires First Three Titles:
Lee’s book, Dragon Pearl, a standalone middle grade novel, stars Min, a teenage fox spirit whose brother is missing and thought to have deserted the Thousand Worlds Space Forces in order to find the pearl of the title, an artifact that may have the power to save their struggling space colony. Lee says the toughest part of writing for a new audience was working with shorter chapters and a different vocabulary; the idea for the story itself came to him quickly. “I was pretty sure nobody else would come up with a space opera based on Korean mythology,” he said.


(IF THERE ARE OTHER KOREAN MYTHOLOGY SPACE OPERAS PLZ TELL ME I WANT TO READ THEM THE MORE THE MERRIER!!!)

The other two, which I am super looking forward to reading, are Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the End of Time, first of a projected quartet about "a 12-year-old Indian-American girl who unwittingly frees a demon intent on awakening the God of Destruction," and Jennifer Cervantes's Storm Runner, "about a 13-year-old boy who must save the world by unraveling an ancient Mayan prophecy." I may have to fight my daughter over who gets to read them first. =D =D =D

Anyway, that's what I'm working on right now!

Good News Tuesday

Apr. 25th, 2017 02:07 pm[syndicated profile] rachel_neumeier_feed

Posted by Rachel

Forgot about these good news posts last week — that happens when I happen to take Monday off; Tuesday just doesn’t feel like Tuesday. But that means several links piled up.

Like this one, for example:

Possible new treatment for neuroinflammation in stroke

Researchers have identified a potential new treatment to reduce the effects of intracerebral hemorrhage, or ICH, a severe form of stroke causing blood vessels to burst and bleed into the brain, which can lead to life-threatening edema and neuroinflammation.

I expect like every other treatment for stroke, timing is important. But anything that reduces the damage from strokes is definitely good news.

Here’s another, even better:

Scientists Halt Growth of Colon, Stomach Cancers

Australian researchers have discovered a “revolutionary” new way to stop the growth of colon and stomach cancers, which could lead to a new cancer-fighting drug within three years. … When researchers used a drug-like molecule to inhibit the protein in animal tests, existing colon and stomach cancers stopped growing. The appearance of new cancers was also reduced.

I expect we all know someone who has died of gastrointestinal cancer. I certainly do. Plus the rate of these cancers in younger people has been spiking, I believe. So this is very good news.

Here’s hoping this next one pans out:

After Decades of Work, a Malaria Vaccine Is Here

Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will begin piloting the injectable vaccine next year with young children. The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures. … Malaria infects more than 200 million people worldwide every year and kills about half a million, most of them children in Africa.

Well, even a partial vaccine would be a great thing. Good luck to those trying it!

Here’s a very cool one:

South Indian frog oozes molecule that inexplicably decimates flu viruses

A compound in the frog’s mucus—long known to have germ-killing properties—can latch onto flu virus particles and cause them to burst apart, researchers report in Immunity. The peptide is a potent and precise killer, able to demolish a whole class of flu viruses while leaving other viruses and cells unharmed. But scientists don’t know exactly how it pulls off the viral eviscerations. No other antiviral peptide of its ilk seems to work the same way….

Click through and read the whole mysterious thing.

Here’s a somewhat misleading headline:

Elon Musk Outlines His Mission to Link Human Brains With Computers in 4 Years

This instantly makes one think of real SF computer-brain interfaces, as is shown particularly well in the Touchstone trilogy, for example. But the immediate intention is to use these little devices in a medical capacity:

Tesla founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said his latest company Neuralink Corp is working to link the human brain with a machine interface by creating micron-sized devices.
Neuralink is aiming to bring to the market a product that helps with certain severe brain injuries due to stroke, cancer lesion, etc, in about four years.

A bit creepy in its potential! But we’ll see.

Now, this last one is just cool:

Strange new ‘superfluid’ boggles the mind

Physicists have developed a fluid which has “negative mass” — meaning it accelerates toward you when it is pushed away.

Well, that sounds totally crazy. Maybe those of you who are more into physics than I am will understand better how this is even remotely possible. Very cool thing to use as SF handwavey magic technology, though.

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Books read in 2017

Apr. 25th, 2017 12:35 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

23. Convergence, C. J. Cherryh, (read aloud with Steve)
22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Con or Bust is live!

Apr. 24th, 2017 04:29 pm[personal profile] yhlee
yhlee: Gunn pointing his finger (AtS Gunn)
Con or Bust, which helps fans of color attend sf/f conventions, is running its annual auction to raise funds. Please consider taking a look and perhaps bidding on something or signal-boosting! Offerings include signed books and ARCs, critiques, jewelry, food, and other items. (Be sure to check whether shipping is offered to your country--for food particularly this can be an issue due to customs.)

I am offering a critique of a full novel up to 120,000 words, which I will honor through the end of 2017, and return within 60 days of receipt of the manuscript. I hope some of y'all will consider bidding or spreading the word. =)

Books read in 2017

Apr. 24th, 2017 08:46 pm[syndicated profile] sharonlee_feed

Posted by Sharon

22. Rock Addiction, Nalini Singh (e)
21. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel
20. Etched in Bone, Anne Bishop (e)
19. Rider at the Gate, CJ Cherryh (re-read)
18. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
17. Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggs (e)
16. The Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman
15. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
14. Memory, Linda Nagata (e)
13.  Bonita Faye, Margaret Moseley (e)
12.  Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews (e)
11. Snuff, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
10. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (e)
9.  Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
8.  Thud!, Terry Pratchett (read aloud w/Steve)
7.  White Tiger, Kylie Chan
6.  The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
5.  Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon (e)
4.  The Wolf in the Attic, Paul Kearney (e)
3.  The Cat Who Saw Red, Lillian Jackson Braun (read aloud w/Steve)
2.  Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (e)
1. Sand of Bone, Blair MacGregor (e)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Posted by Rachel

Frans de Waal posted this on Facebook recently and I finally remembered to go find it. I may make it the background on my computer forever.

This image, by Ben Hall Photography, shows flamingos soaring through the Chilean Andes.

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Drawing tutorials

Apr. 24th, 2017 07:01 pm[personal profile] green_knight
green_knight: (Konfuzius)
By chance I stumbled across this set of tutorials (hosted by one particular piece of software, but completely agnostic, you don't even need to work digitally).

In fact, the tutorial that made me go 'oooooh' was

http://www.sketchbook.com/blog/how-to-draw-dragons-step-by-step/

which teaches you how to draw a dragon, complete with anatomy. (I like this way of working. Iz impressed.)

The horse one is mostly accurate (it gets one coat pattern wrong and most of the horses move much stiffer than they should) but there's nothing egregiously _wrong_, so I hope that the other species - cats, big cats, foxes, wolves - are equally accurate.

I am starting to see the first improvements in my drawing - the lines I draw are smoother and more confident - so I'm hoping to eventually move out the line exercise phase into one where I actually begin to draw stuff.

Right now, these tutorials are way beyond me - I could copy the lines, but I cannot decide where they should go and vary postures or phases of the stride - but if I squint sideways, I can see there from here.

August 2016

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14 151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 29th, 2017 07:36 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios