Monday, February 19, 2018

Writing Weekend with Ice

Went to the Gym Saturday afternoon.  About 300 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  13x(30+40+50)lbs o the pec fly.  3x13x30lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(50+60+70+80)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 curls on the Roman chair.  3x13x30lbs on the barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.  5x5x5lbs on a sort of combination arm-flapping motion where I keep my elbows straight and move at the shoulders while alternating the dumbbell vertical or horizontal depending on how I rotate my humorous around my radius.

The gym was filled (or so it seemed) with humorless, square-jawed, blocky folks.  Groany McSlamweights was there (I am not sure why some folks have to sound like their making love when they lift weights), and at one point one of the attendants told him to tone it down. 

Writing:  I spent a lot of time editing; on the plus side, I have a rough first-draft of an opening chapter.  I managed about 800 new words.  I'm reminding myself that forward progress is progress... and right now I am more likely to reach my 90,000 word count by May 1 if I just write without using the backspace key.  I'm thankful for Scrivener, which allows me to break up my writing into scenes, vignettes, character sketches, and parts where I'm arguing with myself into separate, organizable sub-documents.   On days when I don't feel creative, I can always dive into the waiting drafts.  I think the pit-fall I have to be aware of is getting distracted with characters' back-stories... on one hand, it's useful to have some key scenes, but on the other, I'm wanting to start the story when the main characters are in their twenties, not their teens or childhoods.   

On the weather front, we woke up Sunday to a light frosting of snow, which melted, and then returned and then melted and returned again.  The Child was ecstatic at the prospect of a possible snow day (there's no school on Monday in any case) and of extorting the neighbors for money for shoveling drives.   When the snow fell, it came down in cakes of think flakes.  Later in the day, rain drizzled down, as if it came from a greenhouse mister, in a more typical Oregon February fashion.

Mark and I (OK, mostly Mark) cleaned out the garage, so we were able to actually get the car into it.  This enabled me to drive to work without having to scrape ice and snow off of the car.  The forecast warned about black ice on the roads, but the streets were mostly dry.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Selfie ?

Friday Morning . . .

Not much writing the last few days.  I'd say a new word count of 500 words plus some editing of individual scenes and re-organizing them.  On  theplus side, I wrote a scene  with Jerick's sister, Jynene.  So I've got some good back-story there.   Maybe I'll blame the new moon for the low word count.

Went to the gym Thursday night.  260 cal on the Nordic Eliptical.  3x13x30lbson the deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(50+60+70)lbs on the lat pull down.  3x13 Roman Chair curl ups.   3x13x30lbs barbell curls.  3x13x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.

I nearly fell off the Roman Chair laughing because I was thinking I should take one of those post-gym workout shots where you stand at a bathroom sink with a towel wrapped around your midsection and take a selfie in a steamed-up mirror.  That was fine until I started imagining making little tiger growls and various grrr faces.  Part of the humor is the gym-selfie genre of photography.  I realize that regular documentation makes a good motivational tool, but so often I think gym-photos get used on social media as self-advertisements.  Also, the commodification of individual muscle groups often veers into the absurd (Look! I've become these bulging biceps; my pectorals have eclipsed my personality).  And then there's the juxtoposition of a 50-something IT/writer nerd making a grrr face into a camera.

Friday afternoon and evening I felt sore and tired, so I soaked in the bath and read the anthology "Robots vs. Fairies"; so far one gross story and a bunch of really cool ones.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Writing and Valentines

Tuesday night:  about 700 words and some editing from about 7PM to 9PM.  Not the most productive night in terms of word-count anyway... I think I was thinking more about the choreography of the village battle scene I was working on.  I'd found an article on abandoned 15C-17C English villages, and I was trying to retro-fit some of the concepts of a front toft garden and a back crofter field.  (What was "interesting" about the villages was three out of the five presented were abandoned because the landlords wanted the land for a garden or sheep farming... so I guess the farmers were tenant peasants.)   I also was working out some spell usage and technology, so the word flow had to slow while I figured out how a particular spell worked.

At this rate, I'm going to have something like 7000 words in ten days, or 21000 in a month or 63,000 by Mayday... which is 30,000 words under the 90,000 words goal.  Sigh.  Today is Valentine's Day and the new moon.  I've got the March 1 Full Moon (two weeks), and then two more Full Moons after that.

Valentine's Day is rainy this year:  lots of rain and sun and hail and sun and dark storm clouds.  I got Mark some coffee; unfortunately, it's got a key lime flavor he doesn't like -- so we're going to see if we can exchange it for something he does like (he likes fruity blends, and I'm glad I didn't try getting him a super dark roast).  

I was thinking of Valentines Past, and how we used to have Valentine Craft Parties . . .  I miss the snarkiness of the anti-Valentines we used to make, but the nuiances of sarcasm aimed at the greeting card industry instead of sarcasm aimed at people is something that The Child would take the wrong way (and run with).  I think next year we should have another go at Valentines and have both styles.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Musing on Fantasy Travel

Sunday was a quiet day, as was the weekend.  We went for a walk around a Eugene nature preserve set between two highways.  I'm not sure how the birds get any sleep.  Mark was very excited to see a nutria.  We had hoped to see more of the beavers than two dams and three lodges (one look abandoned).  There were lots of ducks and geeese, and a few herons.

I was thinking about how fantasy travelers would feel, mostly because there was a light rain and my hands got cold holding the binoculars, so I spent most of the walk with them tucked under the layers I wore (a sweater-hoody under the Romulan Jacket under the wool cloak).  My feet were a little cold because my gym shoes aren't exactly waterproof -- which made me think about horses and walking along roads and tracks and if one were on the road how much firewood would you need or want to carry... and now that I think about it, one of you is a magic user who spent time working in the lighthouses of a port city, so making light wouldn't be a problem.  So two guys and their horses, traveling on a road. . .  so inns or bandits... oh, or coaches.  Right. . . .

On the TV front, Mark found a recording of the new Queer Eye.  I'm trying to think if the new Fab 5 are substantially younger than the originals... and I'm thinking that they're mostly in the thirty-something demographic, which makes them look younger because I'm now in the fifty-something demographic.

Word Count: 750 words.

Monday.  Went to the gym.  300 cal on the Nordic Elliptical.  3x13x30lbs deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+40) pec fly.  13x(50+0+70)lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13x30lb barbell curls.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x30lbs triceps pull-downs.  No free dumbbell work.

Word Count: 750 words. 


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gym and Plotting

On the writing front:  The total word count for the novel so far is 5150 words.  This is kind of bad since probably half of the words existed before I started with the goal of writing 1500 words a day starting at the last full moon.  Also, a good portion is notes to myself on magic systems and character sketches and suppositions about geography.  I'm giving myself some slack for "outlining" with the ephemeris data.  Oh well... moving forward.

Some of the difficulty comes with the inner censor.  The latest incarnation sings a certain filk-song I co-wrote a long time ago that starts out, "I am a young maiden, I live in the sticks..." and touches on many plot points of a popular series.  I keep seeing parallels in what I'm exploring and it stops me to worry/ponder about what I'm writing.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is my first attempt at a long piece, and that it's okay for it to be a beginner's novel.  Still, when I find myself writing "The Call to Adventure" scene or the "I love you. / I know." scene, it's hard not to wince.

Gym:  hauled myself to the gym Saturday.  On the elliptical, I decided that I would risk having "Prince Valient and the Lost Valley of X" series and write different responses to revenants, keeping in mind that various chapters in 'The Fellowship of the Ring" are different responses to The Ring and it would be cool if I could pull off something similar.  Which meant I could have a character like Hypatia of Rhodes (good) who is a revenant (bad) and have my main characters debate the merits of cool research sustatined by requiring the blood of others.  250 calories (I think) at 35 minutes.  Downstairs I was feeling my shoulder so 3x13x30lbs deltoid fly and 13x(30+30+40)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60+70)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x30 lbs on the barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs on the tricepse pull-down.  3x5x7.5lbs on dumbbell extensions.  

Between writing Saturday at Café John and a Secret Location, I managed 1100 new words.  Not the best words, and I wish I had two to three times as much, but at least they're there. 

I'm blaming the cloudy weather and rain for some of my soreness Sunday morning.   A writing session at a Secret Location Sunday afternoon yielded 840 words.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Carousel Leaper Vignette

"You should paint," they told him.  So he took off his clothes, covered himself in paint, and rolled on a room-sized canvass.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Cat News and World Building

Yesterday afternoon, (Friday,The Ides of Winter) was practically 70F, so I managed to get some writing done outside. I was visited by a small black spider, who seemed  to be particularly interested in my tea:  I had to shoo it out of my teacup twice.

It appears that what Smokey has been wanting the last few nights is to sleep in our bed.  When Cicero came to our house, there was a divying up of rooms and territories (for reasons that I don't understand, as at the time Cicero was a five pound kitten and Smokey was a sixteen pound cat).  In any case, Cicero somehow got our bed.  The cats get on tolerably well, although Cicero is a little too rough-and-tumble for Smokey's tastes.  Apparently, there's another territory shift going on, or the borders are relaxing or something, because after meowing a few times at 2 AM, Smokey jumped into our bed and began grooming the top of Mark's head (which is an old, familiar trick).  

There's a big wedding for later today -- one of my first cousin's daughters is getting married --  so this morning's plan is to go to the gym when it opens, write, and then go to the wedding and reception.

Saturday workout (since I'd hadn't gone since Wednesday, I decided to try for a fuller session):  30 minutes and 300 cal on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs was very chatty.  3x13x30lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60+70)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x14 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x30lbs bar-bell curls.  3x13x30lbs on the triceps curls.  Bits of free-weight work.  And now I want bacon.

On the writing front... I've hit a point where the magic user is thinking about how to do a spell, and the moons' phases could affect his spell, and I realized that if I was going to be consistant in the story, I really needed an ephemeris of the moons' and the sun's position in the sky.  The variable nature of the length of time the moons take to make a complete orbit means that the concept of a month is more fluid.  Looking back at other fantasy books, unless there's a race to get the McGuffin to the Mystic Place by the Full Moon, there's not much detail -- but it's the sort of detail that's going to shape how the characters speak and think.  

I set out to program a switching set of orbits, and after wasting some time trying to put together a web-based program on Wolfram, I reverted back to a Perl script on the iMac.  Several hours later and about 80 lines of code... I had a program that would spit out an ephemeris table.  Now I have to review it by hand to make sure it's doing the right thing (there's a state where the program will double-switch the moon's if they're haven't moved far enough away from each other).  

What building the ephemeris has shown me is that there will be a Red Moon Season, when the smaller, ruddier moon is larger (and faster) and a Blue Moon Season, when the larger moon is prominent.  Which means the story will have phrases like "Blue Moon Fortnight" (which is 14 days, like ours) and "Red Moon Fortnight" (which is a few days shorter).   So I don't go too crazy, the fantasy world's sun moves at about the same speed as ours... and I think I'm going to use a 360 day calendar of 12 months of 30 days each, with an intercalendary period just before the winter solstice.  


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Gym and Fantasy Body Image

Went to the gym Wednesday (1/31) evening.  20  minutes on the Nordic elliptical for about 200 calories.   Downstairs was crowded. 13x(30+30+30)lbs deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs lat pulldowns.  3x13 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x30lbs barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs triceps curls.  I forgot to do the free dumbell work.  

Crazy sexy dreams last night.  Probably the oddest was that a knee-high Joker (as in Batman) Doll sort of came to life, ran around, and turned into a 20-something, pastey-skinned, green-haired sometimes naked --and always dangerous-- skinny hottie.  OMG, I don't know where that came from--I'm not much of a DC, Batman, or Joker fan.   I'm going to blame some of the fantasy character pictures I was looking at on Pinterest for ideas what Jerick and Vance look like -- apparently most 20-something wizards are white, thin, wear an exessive amount of layers or else a poet's shirt with a plunging neckline to show off gym-pecs, and sport smouldering looks while grasping arcane flames.   I think I saw one black man.  All axe fighers look like Conan's little brother. 

Oh yes, and apparently I need to create a character named Franscesca Labyris, ... who I think is an urban fantasy, lesbian P.I. who sends mystical creatures back to the Otherworld with her magical axe.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Eclipse and Writing

I managed to haul myself out of bed at 4:30-ish this morning in order to see the total lunar eclipse.  When I poked my head of of the door, the moon had a dark bite out of it, and small puffs of cloud skirted over it.  I spent the next quarter of an hour alternately gazing from our deck at the moon in various types and aspects of cover and resting on the couch until it looked like the eclipse was going to be visible through the clouds.  Then I woke up Mark.

The shadowed parts of the moon glowed a kind of rusty orange.  Sometimes it glowed; other times it was a dull brown.  A shrinking sliver of silver at the base made the moon look like a smouldering ember on a silver plate, or like an Egyptian Barque of the Moon.  Then the clouds would cover the moon, and all that could be seen of the moon was a half-closed eye.  

The sliver of light on the moon shifted as the moon traveled through the Earth's umbra, and just before totality, the cloud cover rolled over the show and no further view of the eclipse was possible.  So we went back to bed.

On the writing front...

I've given myself a deadline of May 1 to write a 90,000 word novel.  I suppose if I think of it as nine 10,000 word stories it might actually happen.  In order for this to work, I'm going to have to pound out 1500 words a day for the next three moons.  The new moon is right after Valentines day.  The next full moon is March 2.  The secod new moon is St. Patricks, and the second full moon is March 31.  The third new moon is Tax Day, and the 3rd is May 1, the Ides of Spring.  When I announced my intention to Mark, he was ... pragmatic.

Of course, yesterday's word count was a whopping 350.  But I finally ditched Jerick's larger hand-axes for smaller throwing hatchets.  I guess I'll have different members of the Order of the Axe use different types of axes.

Oh. I got a rejection for a short story yesterday.  Yay.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gym, Le Guin, and Inanna's Gate

I managed to be virtuous and went to the gym Friday and Sunday.  I did the usual routine of 200 calories on the Nordic eliptical.  3x13x30lbs deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs pec fly.  13X(40=50+60+)lbs lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman chair curls.  3x13x30lbs barbell curls.  3x13x30 tricept pull-downs.  Assorted arm/shoulder thingieswith a 5 lb dumbbell.

I've been reading Ursula K Le Guin's blog  collection, "No Time to Spare."  Some of it is familiar, and I must have read some of the essays when they first came out circa 2012.  I think I appreciate her comments on the aging process better than I did six years ago -- I especially liked her comment on "abs, slabs and blabs" in her "Aging Isn't for Sissies" essay, probably because I'm an older man working on his abs and it really does hit me from time to time that there's going to be a last day I go to the gym and the whole reason I started in the first place was when Mark pointed to my "blabs" and laughed.  

And it hits me some times when I catch myself appreciating the physiques of some fine men at the gym that I don't want to be one of those leering codgers ogling the youngsters.  And I suppose one of those Inanna Gates looming before me is the one where The Guardian says, "Now give up Hot Sex."  Man... I can only hope that when that happens I'll be... serene? grateful?  "Too tired to make it and too tired to fight about it"?   

No!  Wait!  I'll say to the Guardian, "You look hot!" and then sneak through the gate in the afterglow.  I suppose that's a younger man's answer.  But I'm sticking with it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wednesday Gym

Went to the gym Wednesday (1/24) afternoon.  20  minutes on the Nordic elliptical for about 200 calories.  13x(30+30+30)lbs deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs lat pulldowns.  3x13 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x30lbs barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs triceps curls.  Some assorted free dumbell work. 

Ursula K Le Guin has passed.  Our High Priestess of Story is gone, and we have to continue her work.  The first story of hers that I read was "A Wizard of Earthsea," back in 1976.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Sunday Gym, Sticks, and Moons

Went to the gym Sunday (1/22) afternoon.  20 some minutes on the Nordic elliptical for about 220 calories.  13x(30+30+40)lbs deltoid fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs pec fly.  13x(30+45+70)lbs lat pulldowns (different machine).  3x13 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x30lbs barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs triceps curls.  Some assorted free dumbell work.  

The gym folks said that I could use the Zumba Studio for bo-stick work, but between the support beams, hanging light fixures, and ceiling fans, it's not a good idea.  I had better control of the stick before my workout; surprisingly, I was more of a butter-fingers with it after (I thought I might be more limber, but I guess not).

On the writing front, The Family went on a hike Sunday, so I was able to get in about 700 words in of back-story.  I also found a Fantasy Map Generator on Saturday, which was cool, and made me think about the landscape--I'd had the characters in a fairly "grey" hilly landscape or else a generic fantasy city, and the map generator was a reminder that most early cities are going to be on the coast or along a major waterway.  The other "writing" project was figuring out the story's moons -- in a moment of insantity, I gave the world two, co-orbital moons.  Several hours of pen-and-envelope calculations later, I figured out that larger moon (which is like Earth's Moon), takes either about 30 days or 41 days to make an orbit, and the smaller moon takes either about 24 or 48 ... and they switch places high or low orbits every 79 or 106 days.

Of course as I'm writing this I'm looking at all the influences and thinking too many times, "I can't make it like X" or "Ooh, this is really derivative of Y."  I should just write it and then go back and edit it.  So... The next step is to spend a little more time exploring characters and places and then doing a kind of slow NaNoWriMo over the next eight weeks (eyes a calendar).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gym and Fighting Mechanics

Went to the gym Thursday (1/18) evening.  It was very full.  Only 15 minutes on the Nordic elliptical.  Downstairs, 13x(30+30+40 lb on the deltoid pulls.  13x(30+40+50lbs on the pec fly.  12x(40+50+60lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair pull-ups.  3x13x30lbs barbell curls.   3x13x30lbs triceps curls.     Back upstairs for about five minutes on the cable rowing machine.

I've been doing some experimentation with short sticks to get a feel for how Jerick, my fantasy axe-wielding character, would actually fight someone without opening himself up between swings.  In order to not tire out his wrists and arms, he'd have to keep his axes spinning.  In order to keep his guard up, he needs two axes:  one for striking, one for guarding.  If he's doing Parkour, it's going to be hard, because his hands will be full of axe-haft -- so I'm not sure how he's going to leap over and up walls unless he can use the axe as hooks, which will only work on wooden obstacles.  If he's doing backflips up walls and landing behind an opponent, that's going to require some intense sprinting -- so physically, he's going to to have to have the build of a gymnast, be able to sprint into striking range with his axes (or throw them) and then sprint back out before a more traditional fighter (or animal or magical beast) can whack him with a sword.  Which means padded leather armor, or "magical" metal armor that's super-light.   One net, or caltrops, or broken glass, or an oil slick, and he's either going to pull a muscle, or otherwise be unable to spring all over the place.   Good thing I'm making him twenty-two-ish.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Afternoon Gym

Went to the gym Tuesday afternoon.  20-ish minutes and 200-ish calories on the Nordic elliptical.  10 or so minutes on the cable row machine (I got a tip to reduce the tension on the machine from 10 to 6 and focus on maintaining a high rep-per-minute rather than hulking out on a high setting).  3x13x30lbs on the delta flies.  13x(30,40,50)lbs on the pec fly (I got another tip to try to focus on the middle of my pectoral majoris -- I think I've been holding my arms a little too low or a little too high during some exercises, which is developing the muscle unevenly).  13x(40,50,60)lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13 Roman chair curls.  3x13x30lbs barbell curls.  3x13x30lbs triceps curls.

The last couple of times, there have been cute guys at the gym, which is simultaneously distracting and motivating.  (There's also been obnoxious folks with private nick-names like, "Grunty McGruntface" and "Clanky McWeightSlam"... )


On the writing front, I got a session of writing in--mostly character exploration as I work out the underpinnings of a novel.  So far I have a wizard and his axe-wielding boyfriend set in a high fantasy world; all of which need more thorough fleshing out (if I'm not too careful, the boyfriend is going to look too much like Orlando Bloom's Legolas).  I'd written the characters in a flash piece and I wanted to play with them some more.  The world's loosely based from a short story that I've been shopping around, and some map making is in order so I can keep track of the setting.

Carousel Giraffe Vignette

Jack always wanted to be a ninja -- every day he practiced with his fond so he would be able to blend in anywhere.  If he stood still long enough, birds landed on him.  If he stood still long enough, ants other bugs explored him.  If he stood still long enough, he knew something special would come his way.